Lucy, she’s home (Part 2 of 2)

January 21, 2009

So, as you may recall from Part 1 of this post, everyone got the green light to go home on Wednesday (the 14th).  One of the required checkout items was a car seat inspection.  The nurse looked up our model in her book, making sure that there weren’t any outstanding recalls issued for it.  After everything checked out we asked her for a brief refresher on how to buckle Lucy in (after all it had been 6 years since we last used this car seat).  Pack-horse Dad walked down to the lobby carrying almost everything, while Mom got to ride in a wheelchair.  (Sheesh, who’s going through labor now?)

I pulled the car around while everyone waited inside (it was a bright sunny day, but bitter cold out).  Everyone got buckled in and we pulled out of the hospital parking ramp.  We went about half a mile, stopped at a red light waiting to turn, and then BAM!  We got rear-ended – luckily not all that hard, just enough to push our car forward a foot or two.  My wife jumped.  I jumped and went for the horn (don’t ask; I don’t know why that seemed to be the sensible reaction, but it did).  Lucy slept.  The other driver and I pulled into a parking lot to inspect the damage.  The other driver’s car had no visible damage – well, at least no visible NEW damage.  It looked like she had close contacts with at least a couple of fire hydrants already – the bottom third of her bumper didn’t exist.  Mine had a small scratch on it, but otherwise was unscathed.  We let it go, and continued on our way home.  (We would call the nurse that inspected our car seat later that evening to thank her, and explain what had happened less than a mile from the hospital.)

After letting the adrenaline wear off for a few minutes, I made the comment to my wife, “It’s a good thing that happened when we were driving home, as opposed to on the way to the hospital.”  Her eyes got REALLY big, and she said, “Oh jeez, I would have told you to just keep going.  It’s not a crime to drive away from the scene of an accident if you’re the victim.”  After giving it a few more seconds, she added, “Either that, or I would have gotten out of the car and ripped someone’s head off.”  Yep, that’s the wife I know and love.

We spent the next couple of days getting Lucy’s blood drawn to make sure her jaundice was clearing up.  By Friday, though, her bilirubin levels were still going up, so our pediatrician recommended that Lucy be admitted to Bronson Methodist Hospital, the other major medical facility here in town, since they still had their pediatric unit (Borgess used to, but not anymore).  My wife and I were disheartened to learn that we would have to go back to ANY hospital, but we knew it was for the best, and the odds were good that she would be out in a day or so.

We checked in to Bronson at 7pm Friday night and they had the room already set up for Lucy.  Lucy would be on a biliblanket, but she would also be under two sunlamps.  Being doused with light would make the bilirubin water soluble so Lucy could just pee it out.  The light therapy doesn’t work unless the light can reach her skin, so she was stripped down to her diaper and put in an isolet (basically an incubator) so she would keep warm.  The lights were extremely bright, so to protect her eyes they needed to give her essentially a sleeping mask.  Now, you can’t just put a mask with elastic strings on a four-day old – that’s just asking for trouble.  What you CAN do apparently is attach self-adhesive Velcro to her temples, and then put a piece of felt across her eyes.  Basically, Lucy would be on a weekend sunbathing vacation.

The plan was to have Lucy lie on her back on the blanket to maximize her exposure to the biliblanket and the lights above.  What we found, however, was that Lucy likes sleeping on her side – a lot.  We’d place her on the blanket, and she would almost immediately bring her legs up to her chest and roll – well, fall – onto her right side.  We’d set her back up and she’d roll/fall over again.  To make sure that SOME part of her stayed on the blanket, we started to put her on her back just to one side of the blanket so that she would fall onto it.

That worked for the first night, but then we got the bright idea to roll up a pair of cloth diapers and place them at her waist level on either side to keep her in place.  That way her back would be completely on the blanket, and the overhead lamps could do their job.  As a colleague of mine pointed out, we were chocking her like you would an airplane tire.

The meals were the other interesting thing about this stay.  Technically, Lucy was the one who had been admitted to the hospital, so she was entitled to the meals.  However, since she being breast-fed and couldn’t take solid food yet, all of those meals went to my wife.  My wife would do the job of converting eggs and hash browns, chicken sandwiches, and steak and potatoes into breast milk.  It was highly entertaining calling room service to order those items on behalf of a 5-day old.  It was even more entertaining having the food service person show up and confirm that he or she had the correct room by asking “Order for Lucille Gilbert, born 1/12/2009?”  “Yep, that’s us!”

Being that this was the pediatric unit, everything was decked out with murals and fun things to look at – ceilings, walls, and floors.  It also meant that there were lots of kid-friendly things available for the patients (and presumably their families).  I mean, if you were a 10-year old stuck in a hospital for an extended period of time, the last thing you want to do is flip between the Weather channel and C-SPAN all day long.  Our room (and I assume all of the rooms on the floor) had a DVD player hooked up to the TV, and the unit had stacks of family-friendly movies that you could check out.  They also had a Wii, a Playstation 3 and an XBox360 that you could play with.  Unfortunately, convincing arguments for why my 5-day old wanted to play Guitar Hero (let alone HOW) eluded me, so those resources went untapped during her stay.  Sigh.

Saturday came and Lucy’s bilirubin levels had dropped a good chunk, and by Saturday night it had dropped enough that they turned off both of the overhead lamps.  Lucy was discharged late Sunday morning, and we were eager to get home.  Much to my relief, no moving violations were involved in the second drive home from the hospital.

Lucy continues to do well, and we’re all adjusting to a fourth family member.  My wife could really use a six-pack of bottled sleep right now, though.


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