Sunday, June 21, 2015

Guess Who's Back

passing the car seat challenge at GW
I was both excited and relieved when Kraemer made it to the delivery room. I could hear nurses and doctors congratulating him on his way in, and a smiling but maybe a slightly nervous Kraemer insisting, “Don’t tell me!”

Unlike with Calder, we had a list of names – both boy and girl names – before we even stepped foot in the hospital. But like with Calder, it still took us nearly the entire hospital stay to settle on one. We picked Beckett Rider Lovelace, more than anything because we liked how those names sounded, but Beckett, of English origin, means “stream,” which coincidentally seemed to fit nicely with Calder’s meaning, “rocky river.”

The first thing I remember asking the doctors after delivery was whether my baby would need to go to the NICU. Turns out he had a healthy set of lungs, but his blood sugar level was dangerously low (hypoglycemia), so they recommended skipping the breast and going straight to bottle and formula in order to get his numbers up – he needed to meet a certain threshold, 45 mg/dL, to stay out of the NICU, and he was only at 27. We fed vigorously over the next 24 hours, as much as Beckett would allow, and kangarooed as much as possible to keep his body temperature up and respiratory rate steady. Despite satisfied responses from the doctors and nurses regarding his health, I was skeptical. Even after he passed his car seat challenge (just barely, I might add), I was waiting. My plan was to hold off on any celebration for eluding the NICU until we were discharged and home, and once that happened, I happily announced the birth of our son to friends and family.

home for a hot second and
meeting Grandpa (aka Papa?)
chilling with Grandma (name in
progress - ask Calder)
Alas, even then I had spoken too soon! At Beckett’s first visit to the pediatrician on Thursday, there was some concern about him being jaundiced. Upon seeing his skin tone, my mom called it immediately, and although I was seeing more red than yellow at the time, and trusting that the reading at the hospital had been accurate and had not increased, the next morning I could see yellow in the whites of his eyes and his gums. We weren’t surprised then when the pediatrician sent us to the hospital to have his blood drawn and tested. What’s acceptable varies according to how old the baby is, but the results we received that day were that his bilirubin levels were “bordering” the danger zone. We were instructed to feed him as much as he would take, and some doctor and nurse friends recommended we expose him to indirect (definitely indirect!) sunlight, before returning the next day for another reading.

first stop, the beach

The second reading showed only a slight increase, but that was enough to push him over the limits and to demonstrate that we were not moving in the right direction. Without giving us an option on hospitals, our pediatrician arranged to have us admitted to the Inova Fairfax Children’s Hospital’s pediatrics unit. We didn’t fight the choice, though – before we’d walked in the door, anticipating this outcome, we had already agreed Fairfax would likely be our top choice. Within less than a couple of hours I received a call telling us a bed was ready.

As we settled into our room and the nurses took Beckett’s vitals, we were still in pretty good spirits. Beckett was struggling with jaundice, but we’d caught it, a stint in his sunnies on the “beach” would fix him up, and we’d be home in 24-48 hours. The dry erase board with his name, his vitals and the names of our nurses and doctors for the day instructed him to eat, pee and poop, which all seemed easy enough. The room was set up with an open crib for Beckett, a hospital bed and a pull-out bed, which made it seem palatable to stay for a night, maybe two if need be.
Keeping B warm
Given that Beckett has had an extremely (and increasingly) low body temperature since we left GW, I was concerned that they were putting him in an open crib rather than an incubator since, for the lights to be effective, he’d only be sporting a diaper. The nurses nodded in agreement and set off to see whether an incubator was available.

No sooner had they left the room did the attending fly in, introduce herself breathlessly and explain that she *normally* doesn’t see people this quickly upon check in – but that Beckett’s vitals scared her enough to want to visit promptly. She cut to the chase and told us she was worried Beckett had meningitis and wanted to draw his blood, collect his urine and do a spinal tap. He’d certainly have an incubator. And an IV. The nurse behind her shook her head and looked at me sympathetically, mouthing not to worry. Not exactly what we’d signed up for – what happened to eat, pee, poop?

Now. That was Friday afternoon, and it’s now Sunday evening. We are hoping to leave tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday at the latest, but no one is comfortable yet projecting our discharge date. Although his blood work came back okay, and his spinal tap okay (ruling out the meningitis fear that instigated this whole mess), his urine sample has sprouted a growth, and they’re waiting for more information from the culture. His bilirubinemia has resolved but he is still struggling to regulate his temperature. They’ve still got him on prophylactic antibiotics. I cannot believe I’m going to say this – and I have to admit I’m not entirely sure I mean it – but I wish we were in the NICU. It’s not that they haven’t taken good care of us here but more that I feel I know and trust the neonatologists in the NICU more than I trust the pediatric attendings and residents here. I recognize that that probably isn’t fair, but on more than one occasion it’s been clear to us, sometimes directly stated, that they do not specialize or even frequently see children this young. Who can blame them? Our kid is only a week old TODAY and almost certainly should never have left GW without a few days in their NICU.

In the meantime, Calder is totally kicking it into high gear in the speech department. A few weeks ago I pointed out the moon to him on our way to get milkshakes one evening after dinner, and the other day when I pointed to the crescent moon in one of his books, he said “moon” for me! He says “(ba)nana,” “ball,” “door.” We get regular updates from my in-laws, who have graciously extended their stay in order to care for him while the three of us are holed up in the hospital. I miss him SO MUCH and can’t wait to go party with him.

Make mischief?


  1. Congratulations on your new baby boy, little Beckett Rider! Love the picture where his head is resting on his daddy's (I assume) hand -- he looks simply wise! Warm regards to you all! Jeff and Kadri

    1. Thank you, Jeff and Kadri! He is a sweetie pie. His little baby snores have me always forgiving him for keeping me up the night before. :) It is so great to hear from you guys -- I hope all is well! Sending love, Taryn, Kraemer, Calder and Beckett