We were finally home. I’ll probably never be able to truly express the relief I felt after walking through the door with the Monkey. We made it. He was home. No more hospitals (knock wood). We had an appointment with the pediatrician in a week and a vial of allergy spray to give him for that week to help with his nose. We had strict instructions to only bulb his nose once a day, to use saline solution and a q-tip to clean his nose, to have him sleep on a wedge, and to buy an ultrasonic humidifier to run 24-7 in the room he’d be sleeping in (ours), to help with his breathing.
But we were on our own. It was more than slightly terrifying, once it all sank in.
We were used to looking up at monitors when they’d beep — telling us that the oxygenation level in his blood was getting too low. We’d look to the nurses for advice. Now we had to rely on our eyes and ears: Was his diaphragm caving in? Were his lips turning colors? Did he seem to be working extra hard to breathe? How could you possibly tell under all those clothes? But we couldn’t let him lay around in only his diaper. It was too cold. And then he’d get sick. And we’d be right back where we started.
We had new-parent paranoia to the nth degree. And the ICN nurses had warned us about it. We had it even more than most parents, because we KNEW how bad things could get.
Luckily, we had visitors to distract us: My parents and brother came up that afternoon to finally visit and hold the baby the way they had imagined. My brother saw his nephew for the first time, and agreed to hold him — but only if he was sitting down and I was sitting next to him. I think the Monkey was the first baby he’s held.
They left a few hours later, when the Monkey and I fell asleep together in the master bedroom, where I had gone to nurse him.
It was all so blissfully normal. In that second week, our first at home, we fell into our own routine — which is to say there was no routine. We were at the beck and call of a demanding little dictator.
When he realized he was hungry, he was starving and needed to eat RIGHT NOW and why was it taking so long to get the boob over to him? Why?!
When he wet his diaper, it was EVIL. The diaper is evil and get it off! But having a naked bottom is evil too! Put it back on! But once he was fed and changed and warm? Contented sighs. Big eyes checking everything out.
But his nose was still congested, and he didn’t sleep well.
Have you ever had a cold? (Of course you have.) Remember how hard it is to get a good night’s sleep when you’re stuffed up? You can be fine when you’re upright, but once you lay down, it all settles up in your nose and prevents you from breathing. Miserable, right?
That was what it was like for the Monkey. Laying him down was near impossible. Even the wedge didn’t help. He’d sleep in my arms, in a nearly upright position. He’d sleep while swaddled and propped up on pillows next to me on the couch. I barely slept. The Hubbs barely slept.
When he was a month old, his pediatrician (we’ll call her Heels, because of her faboo footwear) referred us to a pediatric ear/nose/throat specialist, (the Hubbs has since dubbed him McDreamy) because his nose hadn’t cleared up as she had expected.
During the following months, we learned the issue was much more than small nasal passages — although they don’t help matters any.