My daughter Katie was born in October 1990. Her birth went smoothly and all was well for her first few hours of her life. Later that night, an announcement went out on the loud speaker: "Code Pink to Green West." It didn't mean much to me and I was too groggy to really notice the sound of running in the hall outside my room. A little while later, a doctor came to my room and told me that my daughter had "coded" and had to be resuscitated. She was breathing again but they had taken her to the Level 3 Neonatal ICU for observation.
The next morning I went to the NICU to see my baby, but nobody would give me straight answers. The neonatologist was elsewhere. I got some vague excuse about her not keeping feedings down. They finally sent some poor intern to tell me that she had probably been born without any intestines despite the fact that X-rays showed lots of air in her belly. I spent the next two days trying to track down the neonatologist and get the staff to stop feeding my daughter soy formula, which had really bothered my son and made him throw up.
I finally had to wait for hours to corner the neonatologist. He said that my daughter was dying and that I just didn't want to face facts. I went Mama Tiger on him and yelled at him for hiding, sending interns to do his dirty work and feeding my baby something I told them was a problem. He got angry and forbid me to get her out of her isolette and hold her because he said I might pull out her "wires." I opened the isolette, put my baby on my lap and proceeded to give him a very snotty lesson on exactly how a "pulse oximeter" clamps on like a clothespin. The NICU interns were standing behind him encouraging me to stand my ground. This was the first time I pulled a Mama Tiger routine but it wasn't the last.
By day three, Katie was not keeping any formula or breastmilk down so they transferred her to another hospital across town. The new hospital was a much better experience in hundreds of ways - everything from the level of care to the fact that they had chairs for the moms to sit next to the isolettes.
When I said that I had been forbidden by the first doctor to nurse my baby, she took us both to a comfortable couch and sat me down. She told me to unbutton my blouse and didn't give me a chance to get nervous. Katie gagged and spluttered a little bit while nursing, but nothing too serious. The doctor then gave me a booklet on infant CPR and showed me how easy it is. I'm a Girl Scout and like to be prepared. That booklet took care of any remaining nervousness.
What I wasn't prepared for was the level of care that Katie required once we got home. When we were leaving, the doctor assured me that the medicine should fix things right up and that surgery was an option if medicine didn't work. She made it all sound pretty simple. Boy, was she wrong!
Beth Anderson-Pulsifer is author of "The Reflux Book" and will continue to write about her experiences as a mother with a child with acid reflux and present excerpts and tips from her book in upcoming SharePosts.
Published On: January 23, 2008