Saturday, January 23, 2021

New Year, Same Bullshit (Part One)


The calendar may have changed to 2021, but 2020's mindfuckery rages on.

It didn't start this way. On New Year's Day, I was hopeful. My mouth was no longer in agony. In fact, most of the time I felt nothing at all. So on the first Monday of January, I sent an email to my treatment coordinator at West Coast IVF imploring her to reschedule my embryo transfer as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, my baby had an adenoidectomy scheduled. I packed up all her stuff (it's amazing how many things a baby needs just to get through the day) as well as pajamas, a change of underwear, and a toothbrush for myself. On a Thursday morning, I awoke at 4 a.m. for a run, and after getting myself and the baby ready and in the car, my husband drove us all to the children's hospital.

I was amazed at how well everything was going. The baby had blissfully slept through the night, and even though she was going on 12 hours with nothing to eat or drink, she was a content little love bug. She even seemed amused by all the sights and sounds as we checked into the hospital.

We were taken to a pre-op room, where we changed her into a hospital smock and she was weighed and had her vitals taken. The ENT came to check in with us, as did the anesthesiologist. Then we had to wait. And wait. And wait. We read every book I'd brought with us, played with every toy, sang all the songs. The baby was starting to get fussy. I really didn't want to send her into surgery more upset than she had to be. Finally, an operating room opened up and a small group of masked women in scrubs came to get her.

“Does she have a pacifier?” one of them asked.

“She’s never liked them,” I said.

“A lovey?”

I shook my head.

“A favorite blanket?”

No again.

I’m her comfort object,” is what I should have said.

The goodbye happened too fast. I kissed the baby’s face through my mask and handed her off. She didn't start crying until she was down the hall, but when she did, the sound echoed in my ears. Then my husband started crying, and I did, too.

Thinking it would be a while until the surgery was complete and the baby woke up, my husband left to run home for his cell phone charger (I'll spare you the argument about how I'd kept a list on the table for the past week of things to bring to avoid this very scenario). About 10 minutes after he left, as I was struggling to get on the Wi-Fi network so I could do some work, the ENT appeared in the doorway. The surgery was already done. He said the baby’s adenoids weren’t that big and that she had done wonderfully. She would be awake shortly.

A nurse came to fetch me not too long after, saying that they usually don't let parents into the recovery area but that the baby was "unhappy" and needed her mom and a bottle. As we walked down the hall, I again heard that heart-stopping cry.

We turned toward a recovery room, where a nurse was holding my blanketed baby against her bosom and swinging her back and forth aggressively, trying to calm her down. I didn't know the baby would be ready so soon to take a bottle, and I assumed the hospital would have bottles of pre-mixed formula available, so I didn't have one made yet. But they didn’t have formula at the ready. They didn't even have water available so I could mix my own.

I dropped to the floor and rummaged through my suitcase to prepare a bottle, making a huge mess in the process. Luckily, the nurses didn't care; they just wanted the baby to calm down. They helped me get in a hospital bed, handed her to me, and she quieted immediately. She sucked down her bottle and fell asleep.

The nurses wheeled us up to an overnight room, and took the hospital bed away, which peeved me because I'd told them that we co-slept and needed a bed.

The rest of the day was mostly uneventful. The baby seemed like her usual self, following her schedule of play, eat, sleep. I was impressed by how well we were all coping, despite being cramped in a tiny room with nowhere for the baby to crawl except the cage they called a crib. 

In the afternoon, the ENT swooped in, saw how well we were getting along, and told us we didn’t need to spend the night. We were more than happy to agree to going home.

We packed up all our unused things and headed out. I couldn’t believe how well things had gone. I felt like we had gotten away with something. (If it seems too good to be true…)

Reassured that we had finally “fixed” the baby's breathing issues, I decided to push on that other issue: rescheduling the embryo transfer. After we arrived home, I emailed my West Coast IVF treatment coordinator to ask for an update. No response.

My husband says I should not connect things that are likely coincidental, but I can’t help it. I look for signs and patterns in life, either to explain away why things happen or to feel more in control amidst all the chaos (or to blame myself for the bad stuff). So here is my theory: I poked a stick again at the baby dream, and God came down – hard – in response, as if to show us how full our hands were already.

The chaos started around 10 p.m. the night after we came home from the surgery. The baby kept waking up, seemingly unable to get in a comfortable position in bed. She was only calm if I was holding her upright, which didn’t make sense to me because I thought the adenoidectomy meant there should be nothing blocking her airway. I tried to suction her nose with both a bulb aspiration and an electric aspirator but didn’t get much mucus out. The electric aspirator always freaks her out, so I tried to calm her down with a bottle, but she couldn’t swallow.

Then she really ramped up. I paged the on-call ENT, who was not our usual doctor. He sounded completely checked out, like he was on copious amounts of the narcotics I would have liked to get my hands on during my dry socket ordeal. He told me to do a couple sprays of Afran and to sleep upright in a recliner. This did not sound like a long-term solution to me; it sounded like a Band-Aid.

“I’m just confused,” I said. “Is this normal for a child that just had an adenoidectomy?”

“No, it’s not normal,” he said.

So if this was abnormal, why wasn’t he more concerned? He was as calm as if I were complaining that my kid had a cold.

I did the Afran as instructed and the baby totally lost her shit. She was crying and gulping for air so hard I was worried she wouldn’t be able to breathe. Remembering how unhelpful an ER visit was the last time this happened, I instead put her in the bathtub to calm her down. That didn’t help. Now she was so distraught she started choking on her own mucus.

“Call 911!” I screamed at my husband. Crying, I got on my knees on the floor and gave the baby back blows until she threw up. It was at least a cup of mucus.

I could hear my husband talking to the 911 operator downstairs, but I couldn’t hear any sirens yet. The ambulance couldn’t come soon enough

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