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Our Newest Addition


  12:51:59 pm, by Nimble   , 2761 words  
Categories: Announcements [A]

Our Newest Addition

Our second son has joined us on the outside and been with us now for about three weeks. It has been a little bit of an adventure so far!

He was supposed to be born on November 15. Why so sure? Well, we had a scheduled Cesarean section booked. We went into the Rockyview General Hospital early that Sunday as one of the only two scheduled C-sections that day. Sundays are pretty sedate there, and the parking is good. There are, however, very few doctors on site on Sundays and this was to play an important role in how the rest of the day went.

In advance of any surgery, they do not want you eating or drinking anything 8+ hours beforehand, due to the possibility of general anaesthesia, under which you cannot prevent vomitus from entering your lungs. If you only have to make due for 8 hours or a bit more, that's just fine.

The gal next to us was scheduled for 9:00 am, us for 11:00 am. I had a bit of a fun double-take, as it looked like she just got up, got dressed and walked out for a while - it turned out that she had an identical twin sister as one of her support people.

The day started wearing on. We knew that our roommate was scheduled to go first, so we keep watching for people coming to talk to her.

There were emergencies that day. That's fair - if we were ever in an emergency position, we would be pretty grateful that we would pre-empt any regular patients that day. We weren't getting many updates, though, and the hours were ticking away.

When we finally managed to get some information, it sounded like both doctors were actually performing surgery on one lady... and it was taking hours. There must have been some profound complications, because the updates kept on being of the 'they're still not done' variety. Meanwhile, Dena is starving, the bed is applying bad pressure, and everyone in the room is getting anxious.

Finally, at around 9:00 PM, they came to us and said that the anaesthetologist, due to the amount of time the staff had been in surgery, was vetoing doing our C-section that late. On the plus side, that meant a sleep at home, food (Dena said that was some of the best spaghetti she ever tasted that night!) and a fresh start. We were assured that we wouldn't lose our place.

We actually got sent home before our 'roomie', since she still had the possibility of getting a C-section done that night. We saw some deer by the road on our way home, to make a frustrating day a little more special.

The next morning, we got in bright and early, ready to hunker down for a while, but not too long after we got there, they wanted me in scrubs. Usually, they don't have you hanging around in scrubs all day, so that was pretty exciting.

Their scrubs go from elfin to petite, though, even their putative "extra large", so I got to wander around like a stuffed blue sausage!

I came back, and they came to wheel Dena down the hall to surgery. We got all the way to the operating room hallways...

...when someone came running out of the OR to tell us that they had an emergency.

If we'd been five minutes earlier, they said, we would probably have gotten in.

So back to the room we went!

They had two more emergency C-sections on the go after that, too. "Very unusual," they said, echoing the sentiments of the hospital staff the previous day!

We were all set for the day to be a repeat of the previous day, too, but at around quarter past one, they came for us, saying that it was the real deal this time.

In the operating room hallway, half-expecting to be turned away at the last minute, we met some of the people who would be with us in the operating room. An older student nurse asked if she could be in on the proceedings - Dena said yes and the surgeon (the 'Attending'?) said if it was okay with us, it was okay with her.

It's definitely better when you know what to expect, even with the expectation factor.

This time, they let me in just after Dena had been given the spinal anaesthesia. It was nice to have more time with her, to look around at all the people in attendance and the equipment. There were quite a lot of people in there, eleven apart from us... oh no, thirteen! (Personally, I'm pleased that triskaidekaphobia seems to be pretty much laughable these days :)

They blocked us off with a blue paper curtain, and there wasn't enough detail in the reflection of the lights to see what was going on properly, so I didn't get to see as much of the surgery as I did the first time. That said, it seemed to proceed remarkably quickly once they had set out a plan. No uterine contractions in the middle of the operation this time, either.

At 14:05/2:05 pm, out he came! Another big baby, and the techs (?) taking him to the plastic bassinet were agog at the size of his umbilical cord. We showed him to Dena, someone in attendance took a quick family picture, and then I bid Dena goodbye while she was getting stitched up as I went to follow our new baby.

Dena, Ritchie and new baby Brom

(I do find it interesting how they put two ID anklets around the baby's legs with the same ID as the mom to avoid any later baby mix-ups)

I went to the nursery where our new boy got his vitals checked, given his Vitamin K shot and erythromycin gel on his eyes. I know we're supposed to be all metric here, but there's something satisfying about old country pounds, and this boy was 9 pounds, 15.4 ounces.

(The informal birth weight pool winner was Ian at 10 pounds even, followed by Sharon at 10 lb 2 oz and Marian at 9 lb 11 oz)

We met up with Dena in recovery, where she was doing quite well, and we got to have more time with our son. We reaffirmed our choice of name, which seemed all the more appropriate with his darker hair.

We called him Brom Valge Annand with a nod to both our heritages. Brom is Scots Gaelic for raven, and Valge, with a hard 'g' sound, is Estonian for white.

We had to get out of the way as Dena was being taken to her room. We opted for a private room, which is an extra $40/day not covered by insurance, but well worth it.

Due to H1N1/swine flu, there were severe restrictions on visitors: two adult support people only, no children, no other relatives. (Lots of Microsan pumps for sanitizing as well, which can really wreck your skin after a while!)

Dena's parents did us many favours by staying and babysitting Axel.

Dena's recovery went a lot better this time around, and she even managed to come off the catheter and IV in relatively record time, although not before a somewhat thoughtless nurse complained that Dena was 'nursing wrong' and should be sitting in a chair, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Dena was hooked up eight ways to Sunday to equipment and couldn't sit in a chair. Grrr.

Brom, like Axel, had newborn jaundice going on, but when they tested his levels of bilirubin, they were high... high enough to warrant intervention.

(Bilirubin is a breakdown product of hemoglobin, and babies are often breaking down the excess blood cells they have. It's the same compound, if I recall, that turns your poo brown. The big danger is that it can be neurotoxic, i.e. brain-damaging, in high enough concentrations.)

So, our lovely little boy got treated to intense phototherapy, lying in a plastic bassinet with lights that help turn the bilirubin into a soluble, and thus excretable, form. His eyes had to be protected, so sticky dots with Velcro were put on his head and cutesy eye guards placed over them, to be removed only for feeding.

Blue, not UV, light to help make bilirubin soluble

It took him a while to get used to this, that's for sure.

His levels did not come down, though, for days. As a matter of fact, they kept creeping up, making us wonder what all the numbers meant in the first place.

(A few days in, one of the very cool nurses, Jen, actually brought us the chart they used, and it showed that Brom was actually in the lowest of the risk categories, but definitely in there, and it also showed that the expected levels actually climb for the first 96 hours and then flatten out)

Dena, in the meantime, was doing really well. She was there long enough and doing well enough to have her staples out, which is something that is usually part of the duties of a public nurse that visits your home later. Taking Brom home was a fairly unattractive option, since we could not be readmitted to the nearby hospital - we would have to take him to the Peter Lougheed much further away, and it would just be Brom being admitted, making for some very awkward scheduling.

We cheered Brom on to little avail for five days, and his heels became utterly pockmarked with lancet marks. On the Sunday, though, his levels dropped, and dropped significantly. They wanted the levels to be below 250 or 240, and it dropped to 217 (if I recall correctly).

Freedom, freedom, freedom, oy!

I want to pause here for a second to reflect on the nurses. The nurses were better overall at this hospital, but there were some profound weirdnesses. We had one nurse who would suggest things, then tell Dena not to do them herself... and then take off. There were several nurses that contradicted each other - the "rules", such as they were, would change with each shift.

I swear that there is a not insubstantial subset of nurses who learn something from their professors, or peers, or over the Internet, or something... as rules of thumb, but they turn into absolute rules in these nurses' hands, some of which you know have to be mis-remembered, or made up on the spot because they don't know the real answer but feel that they have to provide one or lose their authority. Worse yet, some feel the need to make you feel like an idiot for not knowing some of these rules, like not putting Vaseline on baby skin when they are undergoing phototherapy.

Why do they feel the need to turn so many ordinary interactions into holier-than-thou lectures?

Other nurses were absolutely stellar, and they really helped make the experience positive overall. Props to Amy, who took a video of Brom's first bath when I had to go home before that point that night. Props to Jen for being pleasant and especially informative. Props to Ashlee for treating us with utmost respect and being particularly pleasant - the sort of nurse we'd want to be if we were nurses ourselves. Props also to the student nurse, whose name escapes me - she had been in hospital on extended stays and seemed determined to make hospital stays more pleasant.

Back to the story :)

Strangely, it was Dena's paperwork that held us up, but we were at last discharged. Here is the happy look of freedom:

Dena on her way out from the post-natal ward

We did a minor amount of shopping to celebrate, and then went to get Dena's prescriptions. This is where things turned into a minor comedy of errors. We didn't want to go to the closest drug store to us, because it is on the very small list of stores that could possibly be implicated with bank card copying fraud (the bank won't tell us who, so we have had to rely on the process of elimination), so we went to the next drug store out.

Well, it turned out that the prescription given Dena had no amounts on it. Better yet, the folks behind the prescription counter didn't bother flagging us down on any of our numerous circuits around the store as we waited. Better yet, the head pharmacist would only fax the hospital, which would take a "few days *shrug*" instead of calling the number on the pharmacy slip. On top of which, he scribbled on the bloody prescription. What the hell?

The next furthest drug store was closed, but the next one out came to our rescue: the pharmacist there was nice, professional, knew the questions to ask, and actually phoned the hospital. The hospital provided an amount, and we didn't have to wait very long. The Shopper's Drug Mart location on MacLeod trail near the London condos across from the Co-op has been especially pleasant on more than this one occasion, so we're going to give them our business more often, I think!

It was really, really nice to be home at last!

Brom, asleep

It has been hectic in the days since.

Since coming off phototherapy, Brom's bilirubin levels shot up, unfortunately, and started creeping towards ever higher levels... never quite enough for readmission, but enough to keep a very close eye. This meant a lot of appointments, mostly to draw blood.

Our designated pediatrician was downtown, of all places. Just a note for anyone going to Gulf Canada Square with a stroller... they do not have ramps, they have a very strange, slow, gets-stuck-if-you-pressed-door-open elevator that you need to use if you park in long-term parking, so park in short-term parking if you can (the rates there shoot up after 3 hours, so be careful :) Our pediatrician, at least the one assigned to us, was pretty cool - I'll have to get the name from Dena - and actually used the internet to verify a couple of things about which she was unsure.

The pediatrician needed blood work done - of course - and said, "well, we'll try the lab downtown here" (I'm paraphrasing). The dubious tone in her voice was borne out - when our name was called, the lab tech shrieked "oh no, I didn't want the baby". The lab tech she fobbed us off onto didn't really know how to take blood from a baby, and his supervisor helped... but not very much. In the meantime, our baby is screaming, and we wanted to take the whole kit away from them and do it ourselves. At last, a fourth lady came along and actually did a decent job of it, but what a song and dance to get to that point. They also put on some rather ineffectual gauze "booties" that came off pretty much by themselves.

The new Children's Hospital up by the Foothills was, by contrast, excellent. It's bright and cheery, though the parkade is like a steamy jungle on snow days, and they can draw blood from babies no problem. It even has enough around to amuse Axel, though it's so big that I didn't even notice the play area by the cafeteria seating until after we had eaten.

The south non-emergency centre is a lot closer and pretty decent, although it was hard to amuse our toddler there, apart from letting him ride the elevators and press the buttons, which he is getting pretty good at.

At long last, Brom's bilirubin levels declined. Poor little chap - his feet are so poked. This is also the longest stretch we have gone without blood tests and doctor's appointments, some three weeks later... wow, has it been three weeks already!?

Thank you so much to Dean and Sharon for babysitting Axel, visiting Dena, giving us food and fixing things in the house. Thanks to Bonnie and Ross for babysitting Axel all day for our big downtown foray - he really did enjoy himself; he didn't want to leave when it came time to go :) Thanks to Adam and Denene for visiting and bringing an M&M meats care package; food is so important to tired parents :)

Axel has been pretty good to his baby brother - he can say "baby'", "brother" and "Brom" - he has patted Brom's head, even said "I love you" to him a time or two. The only issue so far has been that if we're carrying Brom, or Brom's sitting on our laps or somesuch, Axel gets a bit standoffish. It's a bit tough to divide attention - hopefully, this will work in future.

Brom is slowly starting to become more aware of things, and he has a powerful neck and legs like his older brother. I hope he enters the smiling and bouncing stages as early as his older brother.

Welcome to the world, Brom!

Brom in a car seat with his eyes open

1 comment

Comment from: Adam [Member]  

Glad to hear you’re all home safe and sound! Welcome, Brom!

12/07/09 @ 19:10