Thursday, September 09, 2004

the saga of nos. 1 and 2

well, not a proper saga, really, because no. 2 has a therapist coming over at eight, and to do the story properly would take a few days, but here goes the cliff-notes version, as promised:

no. 1 was born 5 weeks early. not really a huge deal, but spent a couple hours having oxygen blown into his face, and then two weeks under special lights to break up billiruben (sp?) in his blood. this is the stuff that causes jaundice.

after that, no. 1 progressed screamingly well, though it took dad a bit to adjust to taking care of a kid who sometimes screamed for hours on end for no reason (some of the furniture suffered).

we meant to space the kids out a little more, but got lax with the birth control, blah blah blah, and, hey, presto, a very very late birthday present to me. but for him, a very early birthday. two-and-a-half months early. my wife and i were at our wit's end. they life-flighted my wife and her unstoppable contractions to albaquerque (again, sp?), where the hospital was better equipped for taking care of a premie of such magnitude. i got to drive with no. 1 the long and lonely and more or less empty stretch of 380 to join her. i was a wreck by the time i got there.

very early the next morning, no. 2 was born via c-section. breathed on his own just fine right off the bat, no problem with billiruben. but he was small, had trouble staying warm, had trouble eating, and his heart would stop for no reason (this is normal in premies). then he was actually progressing well, and it looked like we might go home. then no.2 got rsv. this is a common cold virus, but for premies, it's serious shit. they moved him to a different, more intense part of the hospital, started him on fentanyl, (a heavy narcotic), and intubated him (if you watch "er", then you know this means a breathing tube down your throat). he just lay there, he looked dead. every day they would call us at the ronald mcdonald house with some new thing that we needed to worry about. the calls stacked up, our nerves were raw, our visits to no. 2 seemed to serve little or no purpose. finally, one night, remembering a lesson from sunday school that taught me that god would not put me through anything i couldn't stand, i looked up at the ceiling of our little room (cause apparently that's were god or allah or zuess or whoever resides) and i cried, "god, i just need one fucking day where we don't get called. i don't care if no. 2 does any better, i just don't want him to do worse."

i cried myself to sleep, and the next day, no calls. then no. 2 started to do a little better every day. maybe god or allah or whatever was just checking to see if i remembered she or they or whatever was still there.

but we weren't out of the woods. no. 2 needed to be weaned off the fentanyl, and was given methadone to help (i have a mental picture of ewan mcgregor running down the street to iggy pop's "lust for life"). well, it is possible to od on methadone, and they od'ed no. 2. it was a miscalculation, methadone stays in the body longer than fentanyl. no. 2 was dead for a full minute. luckily, i was not there, or i would've been a disaster. my poor wife was there while nurses fought to bring no. 2 back.

and finally, he was. then he was doing better, but not eating well. turned out he was swallowing his food down into his lungs. our best bet was laproscopic surgery to put a feeding tube into his stomach, so that's what we did.

we ended up spending 4 months in that hospital, meeting people who had it much worse than we did. one couple we had made friends with had spent thousands of dollars to get pregnant in the first place, had twins at 25 weeks (that's almost half the pregnancy time), and eventually lost one. we just happened to be there when they came out of the room from being told. the look on that father's face. fucking burned into my memory forever. i think of them sometimes, and hope that the other daughter is doing well.

as a result, no. 2 is a little behind developmentally. not stupid, at all, matter of fact he's very smart, and he's got a fighter's spirit. but he isn't walking yet, though he is dangerously close. if all goes well, he'll have his feeding tube out in the spring. he furniture walks, and occasionally he lets go, and stands for a few seconds before sitting on his bum. he is 20 months old.

because we were in the hospital dealing with one sick kid during his crucial language development, no. 1 is behind in speech, though he is rapidly covering ground. but as a result of not being able to communicate what he is feeling, he throws horrible tantrums anytime we're somewhere new or his routine gets messed up in a way he doesn't like.

so when i talk about therapists, and going to playgroups i don't want to attend, it's all so that my beautiful boys will catch up developmentally.

and there you have it, the story behind the story. and even typing out the cliff-notes version here has caused me to relive some shit i thought i was past. i need a cigarette.


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