I mentioned in Calvin’s birth story that he had a few lingering medical issues after he was born, partly because he was four weeks premature and partly because he came out at a breakneck run. They were mostly pretty minor, but one did lead to him being admitted to the local children’s hospital…a place we have become unexpectedly familiar with since we became parents. Sometimes I feel like our parenthood journey is punctuated less by birthdays and more by hospital bracelets.
Calvin’s most obvious minor issues were his bumps and bruises. One of his soft spots was pretty badly banged up during delivery so his head was swollen for a couple of days. Also, one of his nurses theorized that he would have broken his nose on my pelvis on the way out if it wasn’t for the fact that his little baby bones haven’t hardened yet. Luckily, his nose looks perfect but he had a pair of black eyes that are still lingering even three weeks after birth. Poor kid – I can’t even imagine what it must be like to start life believing that you’re always going to feel like you’ve just been punched in the face.
He also had jaundice, which is fairly common with newborns and especially common if they are premature. Eva had it too, but her treatment consisted of a little sunlight and a lot of waiting to see if it got worse. Calvin’s jaundice was more serious, so the pediatrician had a healthcare service drop a little baby light box by the house so he could get treated without having to be at the hospital. It was a little rough since it was a 48-hour treatment and we always had to have someone sitting up with him, but sleeping in shifts at home was still a whole lot better than turning him over to the hospital for light therapy.
Of course, as I mentioned, we ended up having to turn him over to the hospital anyway. One of the big drawbacks of being born in five seconds flat is that you don’t have a lot of time to do important newborn stuff like receive medications before coming out or get all the crap squeezed out of your lungs. As a result, Calvin’s bar for “red flag behavior” is really low and when he started rapid breathing at the pediatrician during a jaundice check she insisted we check his oxygen levels.
It turns out that Cal wasn’t getting quite enough oxygen and his levels kept dropping a little too low. Add to this the chance that he could have pneumonia from having stuff in his lungs when he was born and suddenly we were getting referred to the emergency room of the children’s hospital. Do you want to picture something pathetic? Me, wandering lost between the pediatrician’s office and the E.R. with my naked newborn wrapped up in one of those hospital-issued blankets. Totally surreal.
Little bean kept dropping his oxygen at the E.R. and once they found out that my delivery nurse had totally failed to get me the necessary Strep B meds in time for his birth (LOVE HER) they decided to test him for everything. Absolutely everything. They took blood twice, swabbed up his nose, put in a catheter, stuck an IV in him, and decided to admit him overnight for observation.
It turns out that newborns apparently can be very ill without being symptomatic, so even though he just seemed a little tired, they put him through the ringer. We finally drew the line when they said they wanted to do a spinal tap and they agreed to just wait and see. He dipped through the night, but eventually they turned off his oxygen and found that he was breathing just fine. I’m a little suspicious that they just came up with tests because they couldn’t get enough of him. We saw more than forty doctors and nurses, no exaggeration, and most just came in to rub his little cheeks. By morning, he was So. Over. It.
It turns out that Calvin was suffering from a clear case of being a newborn who doesn’t always understand the rhythm of inhale-exhale-inhale-exhale. Now that he’s older and wiser, we haven’t had any more scares and he’s now been hospital-free for most of his life (barely). Maybe he’s just getting his medical stuff out of the way so we can enjoy a long stretch of doctor-free years?
Random fact – the day that Cal was admitted to the hospital was also the eight-year anniversary of the day that Kyle and I had started dating. I had planned something special for dinner so we could have our first faux-date-night at home while the two kids slept, but we ended up eating cafeteria nachos in our sweatpants while watching Friends and listening to Calvin’s oxygen monitor go off every sixteen minutes. Weirdly, it was still pretty romantic.