Monday, July 18, 2011

TCH- Day 3

Texas Children's Hospital is an amazing place. While I am constantly reminded that a lot of pain and sorrow is experienced within the walls of the hospital, I choose to focus on all of the positive things that happen. Each day that I came to the hospital I watched as doctors, med students, nurses, PCAs , techs, custodians came to their place of work. I was constantly in awe of the amount of people it takes to keep this hospital running 24 hours a day 365 days a year. I was also incredibly grateful that so many people took up the calling to serve others in the hospital. It's not all the bright colors, the cool food court, and the floors with patient activities that make the hospital. It's all the people that say that TCH is their workplace that make the hospital. It took me over 26 days in the hospital for me to focus on this perspective because the first day I walked into the hospital that was definitely not how I felt. 

It was the Saturday that I was discharged and I arrived with my parents at TCH around 2pm. I would never admit at the time, but I was in a lot of pain. Not just emotionally, but physically. I was completely afraid to tell anyone that I was hurting because I was afraid that Edgar or my parents would make me stay home and away from my baby. I tried going without my pain medication initially for the first day. I couldn't make it. My pain felt like my stomach was literally on fire and being ripped off my body. Eventually I started taking a half dose of my pain medication every 4 hours. As the days wore on, I took the full dose just to make it through. 

Edgar's family had been with him while I was still in the hospital. To say that I was jealous doesn't even begin to describe my feelings. I know they had to support their son, but it absolutely killed me inside that anyone was spending more time with my son than me. When I arrived in the CVICU, I was terrified. Max wasn't in his own room. He had a station on a floor and he had a nurse taking care of him exclusively. Rebecca was Max's nurse and she was amazing. She was warm and welcoming. She explained everything they were monitoring on Max and then she asked me if I wanted to hold him. I got to hold Max for the second time in the 3 long days of his life. 

It's weird because I think in your mind, before you have your second child, you have an idea of how everything will be. When that idea or plan didn't play out in real life, I found myself feeling very lost. I felt like I was being swept away by a river. And there were times when I would have to swim left or right to avoid hitting a rock, but all the while I'm reaching for the shore to grab onto something to get on solid ground. And then there were times when in my mind I felt like I should have completely surrendered to the river and just let it take me over, but something reached out and saved me. It was those moments that I felt the power prayer. It wasn't always my prayer because there were times when I didn't even know where to begin to pray. I could feel the power of other people's prayer reaching out and pulling me back to solid ground, and surrendering to that is the most amazing feeling in the world. 

Holding Max in the CVICU was incredible. It was like I got to meet him for the first time and fall instantly in love all over again. I must have held him for at least 20 minutes when the doctors came by to talk to me. They tried explaining everything to me, but in my postpartum, I found it extremely difficult to focus and comprehend everything that was said. Edgar repeatedly had to translate what the doctors were saying. I call it postpartum ADD, but I would also throw in a huge amount of being lovesick. I truly felt helpless. The first couple of days after having a baby, the role of the mother is to nurse and cuddle her newborn. I didn't have that. I was completely disconnected and very much in my own hormonal lonely place. 

As night time approached, it was time for me to leave and go home. My parents didn't want me staying by myself because I was supposed to be healing from my c-section, so I stayed at there house the entire time Max was in the hospital this first time. It was difficult personally, but I never would have survived without their help. I pumped every three hours around the clock. I was tired. I was sad. I was going home without my husband, without my newborn son, and I felt alone. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Max Antonio Tavares: 5-5-11

I think a lot of times when it comes to health I take a lot of things for granted. I was never sick growing up except one case of mono in Junior High. Even though I was exhausted, my mom never  let me miss school. I never broke any bones. I never even got seriously injured with all my years playing soccer. Except for the delivery, my pregnancy with Clare was completely normal. Almost too normal because I didn't have any symptoms. This pregnancy was the same. The only issue that came up was that I was hypoglycemic. Not really a big deal, I just needed to eat little snacks throughout the day (and gain tons of weight in the process).

May 5th arrived soon enough and I was so excited. Having your delivery day planned out has its blessings because it's like waiting for Santa Claus when you're little. I couldn't get over the excitement of how our little family of 3 was growing to 4 and the anticipation of what he was going to look like and what he was going to sound like. My c-section was scheduled for 12:00pm and we arrived at the hospital two hours prior. We were put in a room where they started my IV, put me in a cute little hospital gown, and made Edgar suit up for the big delivery. Family stopped by briefly, but we told them we wanted to spend the last moments before the delivery alone as a couple. Edgar and I laughed and joked about all kinds of stuff and I took silly pictures of him in a football stance pretending like he was about to catch a hiked football. Eventually it was time and I walked to the operating room. I made a comment about how scary the OR looked. The anesthesiologist got me all hooked up and within minutes we proceeded. I can remember laying there and hearing my baby boy and just being overwhelmed with happiness. Hearing the child you have been carrying for 9 months make his first sounds must be what it's like to hear angels sing because the emotion is overwhelming. Without even getting a glance at him I was in tears. I could hear Edgar's excitement and I guess he was too excited because I had to remind him that I was still here and I still hadn't seen Max. He brought him over to me and I saw his scrunched up little face and I was in love. The only time I believe in love at first sight is when you have a baby. The nurse called Edgar back for what I thought was to weigh and clean Max off, but later I was told it was because she was concerned with his breathing. Edgar said he was going to go with Max to the nursery while I went to recovery. To me, this is the worst part of having a c-section. You have to go to recovery for and hour and you're isolated from everyone else. I was in and out of sleep and eventually I was wheeled back into my room.

I guess when I got back to the room I figured Max and Edgar would be there. But I was alone. At some point my Mom came in and around 3:00pm I was starting to wonder: Where is Edgar? Where is Max? Edgar finally came by and said that they had to take Max to the NICU because of his breathing, but that everything was going to be fine. What felt like hours past. I still hadn't held my baby. Edgar finally came into the room with the NICU doctor to give me and update of Max's health. He said that Max's breathing was irregular and they wanted to monitor to make sure everything was ok. They left again for the NICU. Someone brought Clare into see me and I pulled her into the bed with me. I was talking to her and snuggling with her when Edgar walked in. If you know Edgar you would know that Edgar is calm and really laid back. He's happy-go-lucky and we're always joking and laughing together. It's weird because we can joke about stuff that shouldn't be funny, but we laugh anyway. When he walked in I knew immediately that something was terribly wrong. His face was white. He had tears in his eyes. He had a hard time looking up and he said, "There's something wrong with his heart. They're taking him to Texas Children's." Even writing this today, I have tears in my eyes because I never want to see my husband, my best friend, look like that ever again. After he spoke those words, I lost it. I panicked, I cried out, I lost control in front of my beautiful daughter, my husband, my mother, my mother-in-law, and the lactation nurse in the room. The lactation nurse immediately pulled my head to her head and said, "You have to get it together right now so your daughter doesn't see you this way. Right now!" Harsh, but so true. I took the deepest breath and I pulled it together as much as I could. Clare was worried and I couldn't let her feel what I was feeling. At that point, I calmly explained what little I knew to Clare and I gave her back to my mother-in-law who was going to keep her over night. I also promised myself that this moment was going to be the last time that I felt sorry for myself or let my emotions take control of me during this process. Before Edgar left I said that we need to baptize him before they take him away. At that point, I had know clue how bad the situation was or how long we were going to have with Max. I also said that I wanted to hold him. Edgar said that I would have to come to the NICU if I wanted to hold him.

The nurse brought a wheel chair and I got out of bed (no small task for having a c-section 5 hours prior) and was wheeled down to the NICU. We entered and there was my beautiful baby boy under heat lamps. He really was beautiful. The NICU nurse picked him up and handed him to me. Again I was overwhelmed with emotions. How could something be wrong with him? He looked so normal to me. Full head of Tavares hair. Inquisitive eye brows. Beautiful lips. Little button nose. I let the tears drop off my face and onto his chest. I felt so helpless. How can I fix this? How can I make it right? Where's the magic wand where you can wave it over his little body and make everything ok? I held him for almost thirty minutes and Father Ignatius arrived to baptize Max. It was a powerful moment.

The Texas Children's transport team, Kangaroo Crew, came and it was time for me to say goodbye. It was such a strange moment, and I'm not sure that I knew exactly how to feel. I was wheeled back into my room without my newborn son and my husband. Edgar stayed with Max around the clock for the next 12 days. After two nights in the hospital I was discharged. Those were probably the hardest two nights of my life. My mom stayed overnight in the hospital with me, and friends came to visit throughout the day and at night. If it weren't for them, I'm pretty sure I would have crumbled. 

Saturday came, and I was leaving the hospital. We went straight to Texas Children's to see about Max...