Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NICU Month

Apparently, November 17th is National Fight for Preemies day. I know that because of this amazing essay by Julie at A Little Pregnant. I have to be perfectly honest that I have not become a outspoken advocate for the March of Dimes, even after the twins' time in NICU. (Denial: It's not just a river in Egypt!)

But their time in NICU still affects me. I was a weepy mess after reading Julie's essay. And then on Tuesday, I ended up taking Christopher to the pediatrician because I felt like he was having apnea during a nap. The scoop is that I had left for a while and Christopher had gotten very upset with the sitter. I came back, nursed him, and he went to sleep. Except...

Do you know how children will hiccup when they are crying? They sort of try to catch their breath and it sounds like a hiccup. Well, Christopher was doing that while he was crying and then he fell to sleep. And then he started doing it while he was sleeping--just the hiccuping part, not the crying. And sometimes, between hiccups, he wasn't breathing. He. Wasn't. Breathing. He would hiccup and I'd hear him breathe a few times. Then he'd hiccup again and I'd start counting one, two, three, four, five, six...Hiccup and another breath. This happened for about 20 minutes when I called the doctor's office the first time. They told me it just sounded like he was recovering from crying and to wait for another hour and then they'd follow back. That's when I started counting the time between crying and noticed it was for a period of time. So I called the doctor's office and came in.

Of COURSE, when I woke Christopher up and he started gently crying, his breathing went back to normal. And when we got to the doctor, everything turned out ok.

But what GALLS the every loving HELL out of me is that the doctor spent the visit telling me why Christopher was crying and that I simply should not respond to him when he gets upset when I leave the room. What the ever loving fuckity fuck does that have to do with anything??

Apparently, because I told them that the episode started after he was crying and he was fine when they came in, I was classified as the Typical Neurotic Mommy Who Can't Stand For Her Baby To Cry. My sitter and I were both getting pissed and she was very glad (she later told me) when I said "Actually, I'm not concerned about how we handle crying. I came in here because we were concerned he wasn't breathing."

Two things from that: 1) When I start a sentence what "Actually" I can pretty much guarantee that I'm going to say something in which I think you are completely wrong and I am completely right. 2) No one, that is, NO ONE asked me why I thought Christopher wasn't breathing. NO ONE. They all assumed I was overreacting to his crying and not to the fact that he wasn't taking regular breaths. Since he was in NICU for not breathing, I think my concerns out to be taken seriously. I know this isn't the same as Apnea of Prematurity, but surely, my concerns deserved something more than "Well, isn't she the hysterical little mommy."

I have to say my sitter made me laugh as we were debriefing about the whole visit. Several times the doctor said "Well, as you know from when Conor was young, blah, blah, blah." My sitter said "I wanted to say 'Since you know that she already knows this, then why are you still talking?!'" That has made me laugh out loud several times. My sitter is much quicker on her feet than I am.

I have no doubt that I was very sensitive yesterday about this issue. A Little Pregnant's essay on her son's experiences in NICU stirred up some stuff with me. And I realized I don't have *any* positive feelings about their birth. Yes, I am thrilled to have my twins, but the thrill started when they came home, not when they were born and were whisked away to NICU. (And did I tell you that the first night Bridget came home, Dave was rough housing with Conor and accidentally--ha!--threw him into a ceiling fan? And Conor had to go to the emergency room and get 3 staples in his head? On THE FIRST NIGHT ONE OF OUR TWINS CAME HOME FROM THE HOSPITAL?) So let's just say that to me, the thrill of their being born to me started when Christopher came home, too.

Do you know what I think of when I think of their birth? I think of this picture. This is Bridget struggling to breathe just after she was born. I'm no medical doctor, but that big indentation in her chest does not look good to me.

So that is why yesterday, Dave and I decided to give some money to the March of Dimes. Maybe you'd like to donate some money, too.

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