I don’t remember how many days old Elaina was when the world ended, but I remember the details like it was yesterday. “When the world ended,” you ask. Yeah. When I got the phone call that her bilirubin levels were too high and she had to be admitted to the hospital to sit under the bili lights.
Let me back up, you know how I’m crazy? Well, my mom is kind of the opposite of me. She is laid back and generally calm, quiet and pretty shy. After Elaina was born, my mom had a tiny mini-meltdown. She kind of went cuckoo. My mom would come over to “visit” and she’d spend her entire visit undressing Elaina piece by piece to inspect her for anything out of the ordinary. She would take off her sock and stare at her foot and toes. And then move on to the next foot. She would work all the way up to her head checking for anything that might be a warning sign that something was wrong. She confessed to me (later) that a few times she had left my house in tears because Elaina just seemed “off” to her. Like, when she was 3 days old and not making eye contact. Ha! Anyway, so when my mom came over and told me that Elaina looked a little yellow to her, I wasn’t that worried. I mean, she had been inspecting Elaina under a microscope. Elaina didn’t look yellow to me? But, because I’m psycho, I made an appointment at her doctor’s office to get her checked out.
When we got there the doctor said that she did, in fact, look a little yellow. The doctor suggested we draw some blood to see what her levels were. She said she’d call me when she got the results to let me know how they looked. I actually wasn’t TOO worried. I had a good feeling about this. And then I got the phone call.
The doctor called and said that her levels were too high and we needed to head over to the hospital. They were waiting for us, she said. She said to bring enough clothes for about two days What the absolute f? We have to go to the hospital? And the hospital is WAITING for us?? I completely lost it. I started bawling crying. Now, a few of you may be thinking: jaundice is a relatively common thing in babies. Yeah, I know it is, but when I was told that my baby had jaundice (so severe that we had to head to the hospital) I freaked out. All medical logic and knowledge I had went out the window and immediately Elaina was pretty much dying or at the very least going to suffer brain damage. The doctor was so nice, she kept reassuring me and I kept apologizing for crying so much. I told Marvin we had to go to the hospital “IMMEDIATELY!! ELAINA HAS JAUNDICE”. He just looked at me in horror. He wasn’t helping. We quickly threw some bags together and drove separately to the hospital (he needed his truck to go to work in the morning).
Babies cry when they are in the car. I mean, some are content and just chill, but most cry any time the vehicle stops. As long as you are driving the baby is fine, but catch a red light and the baby lets you have it. This makes you want to punch anyone who drives slow or causes you to stop. I’ve run a few red lights in those newborn stages just to keep her happy. So, I drove Elaina to the hospital. I was bawling crying the entire time. I was talking to her “it’s going to be ok! Don’t worry. You’re going to get better” She was about seven days old and cried every time the car stopped, and now she had JAUNDICE so her crying was really freaking me out. We got to the hospital. We went to the registration desk and told the lady who we were. She looked confused. She took what seemed like EVER to get our information all settled and then we had to sit in the emergency room and wait for our room to be ready.
I was freaking out inside because SHE HAS JAUNDICE and needs to get under the lights as soon as possible so she can get better! Minutes felt like hours. I tried to nurse her in the ER, but it was early in our nursing relationship and I couldn’t do it without flashing people and there were a few men that were looking my way a little too intently. Gross. Then, Marvin looked at me seriously and said: “Diana….is she going to be ok?” Oh, crap. I instantly felt horrible. I know a little TOO much medical stuff and Marvin knows very little. So, when I was screaming crying and acting like a crazy person packing things and telling him Elaina had jaundice and we had to go to the hospital immediately, he freaked out. I guess because I was insane at the time he just did what he was told, but my behavior pointed to the fact that she had a life threatening illness. I explained to him what was going on and how common it was and how she would be fine. I apologized profusely for scaring him. He looked instantly relieved, “Oh ok….I didn’t know.” Oops. Sorry, Marv.
Finally, our room was ready and it was somewhere between the 3rd floor and the 288th floor. It took us, like, literally 30 minutes to find it. Why are hospitals like mazes? When we got into the room and got settled the nurse came in and told me that they were waiting for an isolette that had lights on the top AND side, but in the mean time to get Elaina in this one (that only had a light on top). I was annoyed. Ummm, she has jaundice can we move it along please? The nurse asked me if I was nursing or using formula. I was already ready to fight her. I had read that when it comes to jaundice quantity is more important than quality (that’s what “they” say) and sometimes women were pushed into feeding formula for jaundice. The nurse didn’t say anything, though. She asked me the normal questions and then gave me my instructions.
I was supposed to take Elaina out of the isolette only to feed her and change her diaper. I was supposed to write down every time she ate and keep track of the amount of diapers she was having. They had a scale in the room and I had to weigh her diapers and write down how much they weighed. I took this on as a full time job. I was exact with my information. I wanted to do what I could to get her to feel better, even if it meant weighing her poop perfectly. Periodically the nurse would come in and check out the dry erase board and write it down in Elaina’s chart.
It annoyed me how nonchalant all these people were with her “sunglasses”. I had done some research about jaundice and billi lights and if the “sunglasses” aren’t placed correctly, it can lead to (in extreme cases) blindness. I was VERY careful to cover her eyes perfectly each time I put her back in her isolette.
In walked some official looking guy. He introduced himself as Dr. Somethingsomething and he looked YOUNG. He told me he was a resident there. He asked me questions and inspected Elaina under the lights. He took off her diaper while she was under the lights and asked me if I noticed she had been bleeding in her diaper. I told him that she had not had any blood before. I did not freak out about this because, remember, I have a PhD in pregnancy and I know that sometimes little girls (soon after delivery) have a little blood in their diapers because of their mother’s hormones working their way through the baby’s system. This is normal and not worrisome. When the doctor told me she had some blood, though, I got up and went over to inspect what he was looking at. I saw her diaper, and I said “ummm… are you sure that’s not the light making her poop look that color?”. He got nervous “Oh….I don’t know.” He said a few more things and then left. I took her out of the light and changed her diaper. Yep, it was her normal, yellow, seedy poop that just looked a different tint under the lights. Immediately, I didn’t like the hospital. I mean, I’m a first time mom and I knew that it wasn’t blood. And this “doctor” put a bad taste in my mouth. All of sudden, everyone was incompetent. It doesn’t take much for me.
After we got settled in, Marvin called his parents to tell them what was going on. I don’t remember how they took the news, because I was only focused on one thing GET ELAINA BETTER. I informed my parents that they were not allowed to come to the hospital. This was not a visiting event. Elaina was sick and she needed to get better and she didn’t need any distractions. She needed to eat, poop and chill under the lights. I told Marvin to relay the same message to his family. Now, looking back, that was extreme. We were at the hospital for 2.5 days and our families weren’t allowed at the hospital. It doesn’t really make sense to me now, but at the time I was adamant about it! I was in protective, lioness mommy mode (I stayed in this mode for about 8 months.)
Marvin slept on the pull out recliner and woke up each morning to go to work and then came straight back to the hospital after work. I stayed in the room with her. I hated how this particular hospital had fifty million different people coming in to check her temperature and prick her heel and ask questions. I rarely saw the same person twice in those 2 and a half days. I hated this “teaching hospital”. I couldn’t wait to take her home.
Finally, the doctor said her levels were in a good place and we could go home. Awesome!! Marvin was at work and I packed us up. I was ready to go. The nurse was supposed to give me some paperwork. I waited on her. Then, she came in and gave me my at-home instructions: feed the baby. Easy enough. She told me to go get the vehicle and that she would take Elaina downstairs to meet me so we could load her up. LOL. How cute of her. She thought that I was going to leave her with my baby. Ha! I told her that I had it under control. Thanks, bye. She said something about policy blah blah and she had to come with me. Oh ok, then we would BOTH walk down together and then she could wait outside with Elaina (in my line of view) while I ran to the vehicle and pulled it up. She looked at me like I was crazy. I didn’t care.
Here is a picture of Elaina “tanning”.