Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Christmas!

Christmas is wonderful! Christmas at the hospital probably sounds gloomy, but it isn't. Not here, anyway. The kids have piles of presents from the hospital. I rearranged Sarah's room. Well, I did not do it. i requested that it be done, and i stood watch as three people who worked here did. I thought I had made a simple request. I wanted to turn the bed perpendicular to the way it was, so that i could set up a Christmas tree where Sarah could see it. I wanted a little Christmas corner, where we could sit together as a family and unwrap presents, and I wanted Sarah to be a part of it.

It was quite a thing, watching these nurses and techs maneuver the various lines and tubes. They are all hooked up to big bits of equipment, and connected to the bed. Have you ever played the game where you get a group of people to all grab hands- any hands- and then try to untangle temselves without anyone letting go? It was kind of like that. I kept apologizing. I had no idea it was going to be so difficult, They did it. They assured me it was no problem. I draped a hospital tray with a white sheet and I set up the tree on top. I piled the presents around the tree and scattered them down- not on the floor which is a dirty hospital floor- but on the sheet fell to the floor and trailed a bit.

Josh and Lily came, and we all went to Mass at the Shrine of the Immaculate heart of Mary. We were blessed with confusion about the appropriate time to arrive. We thought Mass was at 4, so we arrived at ten till. It was at five, but the seats were gone long before that. It was beautiful. The choir was good. Some children performed a pageant. Lily loved the angels!

After Mass we came back to the hospital and unwrapped presents. lily chose Sarah's presents first, She unwrapped Sarah's first doll, and she climbed on a chair so she could reach high enough without help to place the doll in Sarah's arms. It was lovely.

Josh and Lily celebrated Christmas Eve at his grandmother's house. I was not there, so I have little to note excpet that Lily asserts that the excursion keeping her out well past her bed-time was worth it.

Christmas morning was lazy here. Sarah and I slept in peacefully. Josh, on the other hand, had a very excited three year old. They did the Christmas morning thing, complete with a feast for breakfast, stockings filled brimful next to the fireplace, and mountains of presents. They did this all at my parent's house.

I did go home, to my parents' house, for Christmas dinner. It too was a feast, followed by yet another round of gifts. Aunt Lucy and Uncle Peter were there, and I had a lovely evening with only minimal worried for my Sarah. We left her in the care of a wonderful nurse.

Our house never did get decorated. That's OK. No one is there anyway. Our hospital room is decorated.

Sarah is looking well. She is still intubated. Tomorrow they are going to reevaluate, but they say they would like to give her a test to see if she is ready to extubate.

They have given Sarah a full sized hospital bed this time. She looks tiny in it! I have, thus far, resisted the growing urge to pile all her stuffed animals around her. We'll see.

The bed is cool. It does all kinds of neat things. It inflates in a rotation in one mode. That keeps her body moving, gently, while she is sleeping- sedated. That way the pressure moves around, so she does not get stiff muscles and bed sores. It also has a "Chest PT" operation. It basically thumps her back, gently but firmly, as you might if you were trying to burp a baby. That solid bounce helps her loosen some of the stuff in her lungs. It raises and lowers and inclines, as hospital beds do. It alarms if we forget to put the sides back up. It knows enough to not want to drop the baby. Its cool.

Christmas, so far, has been pretty wonderful. I have been surrounded by good people and laughter. I have enjoyed a feast. I watched my daughter thrill at one present after another, and very sweetly make sure her sister was not left out. What have I missed really, except the breakfast feast with scrapple and egg nog?

This really is the best place that you do not want to be. Maybe I will make it home before the end of Christmas. I am a Catholic, after all. We celebrate Christmas for a few weeks!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Home and back again

I knew I'd be busy when I got home. I knew that bringing a baby home when I have a child at home was going to be difficult. I even knew that I was going to get less sleep than I needed. I have joked that it is a pleasure to be facing these particular problems. These are normal. Some days have been harder than others, but things have been generally wonderful at home. As long as I set aside schedules, stress levels hover between moderate and manageable.

My calendar reminds me of the doctor's appointments. My cell phone reminds me to feed the baby every three hours. Lily reminds me that she needs to eat. My husband reminds me that I need to eat.

I have been supressing my inner-grinch. I love Christmas. The magic of the season, for me, begins with this mysterious and exciting time. Waiting, anticipating, preparing. During Advent, we read all the prophesies. Wait in joyful hope!

Jesus is coming. There is a contagious energy in the sharing of this mystery. We are not just getting ready for a giant birthday party. He is coming again, and this preparation is not merely superficial. Prepare ye the way! Deck your halls, but don't forget to prepare your heart. This season is for sharing in the mysterious, joyful, and exciting anticipation of the Messiah. A joyful celebration of His first coming is incomplete if it does not remind us to reflect on and prepare for his second coming.

As the decorations come out earlier and earlier, I choose between grinch, self-rightious moralist, and a very quiet version of myself. I try to bite my tongue, but the commercial "25 days of Christmas" undermines Christmas by erasing Advent.

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. (Isaiah 9:2) ...but they ignored it because they had red and green glitter in their eyes.

Inner grinch unleashed.

So, I do not like to put up decorations until it is almost Christmas. We only took the boxes out of the attic last week. Christmas does last a few weeks, but it begins on December 25th. We have a a wreath wrapped in a purple ribbon, because Advent is a penitential season. The table cloth is pink, with a purple runner. Christmas colors won't come out until Christmas.

A twinge of regret afflicted me last night. If I was less fussy about seasons, colors and decorations, my house would be decorated. It is not. It will not be on Christmas.

Sarah is sick. Last night, Sarah got her first ride in a helicopter. They brought her to Children's hospital, in DC, again. She was admitted with pneumonia in both lungs, and RSV. She is intubated and sedated. And speaking of colors, she is a lovely shade of pink today- White and blue are well enough for Hanukkah decoraions and candles. Skin color, not so much.

i do not know how long we will be here. Last night they told me that a normal length of time to be intubated with RSV as bad as hers is about 4-5 days. And then they have to wean- both the vent settings and the sedation. Again. It is discouraging to see her like this again. But there is no arguing that she needed it. Yesterday I hope that breathing treatments would be enough, but clearly not. In truth, she is not less responsive today (sedated) than she was yesterday. Yesterday, she was so miserable, so tired, so unable to fight that my little fighter did not even yell when she got a heel prick, or when she was suctioned. Today, though sedated, she is fiercely resisting these necessary intrusions.

So we are back at Children's hospial. There is no better place in the world to hate to be.

Pandora expressed my feelings well this morning:
But the waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. 'Boy, you'll never win!'
"You'll never win"

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
And the voice of truth says "Do not be afraid!"
And the voice of truth says "This is for My glory"

"Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"" Revelation 5:13