(this is essentially ramona’s birth story, but because her birth was so crazy, there’s a lot going into it. this is part eight of ten, & all are tagged “birth story,” in order to help you the reader navigate from one part of the story to the next.)
i was in desperate need of a nap, so jared visited the NICU by himself again later & did some more kangaroo care. i never would have foreseen dapper-if-perhaps-overly-modest jared, he of the omnipresent undershirt, the man who probably wears clothes just to shower, being so into whipping off his shirt & holding a baby on his chest, but he LOVES IT. & ramona loves it too. she’ll be a-fussin’ & a -feudin’, but the second she hits daddy’s chest, all she does is snuggle. i kind of expected to feel jealous when jared was holding her because it’s just more time when i am not holding her myself, but i LOVE watching them together. jared has all these goofy little tricks that he uses to calm her down, like palming her little noggin, or breathing deeply & audibly so she can try to match her breathing to his & relax. & it seems like it has all just come to him intuitively. obviously i wouldn’t have had a baby with him if i didn’t anticipate that he would be a pretty decent father, but he is off-the-charts-amazing with her. he talks to her & asks how she’s feeling & tells her how he is feeling. i have actually teared up a bit seeing them together because there is already such a love bond between them.
the next day, the nurse asked if i felt like i was ready to be released yet. i was able to get out of bed & walk around a little bit, though i still had jared wheel me upstairs to the NICU in a wheelchair every time. i didn’t feel quite ready to get all the way to the elevators & down the hall under my own power, & i didn’t want to risk having to be on my feet too much in ramona’s room. i hemmed & hawed a bit because being in the hospital meant that i was at least close to ramona, even if it also meant i was being constantly poked & prodded & medicated & interrupted. it was a moot point anyway because the obstetrician wanted to keep me at least one more day to monitor my blood pressure. i felt pretty good though, so we spent a lot of time with ramona that day.
it was also the first weekday since she had born, so we had a lot of bureaucratic crap to handle. jared called his insurance company to make sure ramona would be covered under his plan. i called medicare to see what kind of reimbursement they offered on breast pumps. it’s always a hilarious conversation to try to get someone to cover something pregnancy-related under medicare. people are like, “medicaid?” & i have to explain, no, medicare is for disabled people too, of childbearing age, not just oldsters enjoying their great-great-grandchildren. even medicare seems to be caught wrong-footed sometimes by the needs of its clientele, as indicated by their complete lack of a breast pump-specific policy. i wound up renting one from lawrence memorial hospital for a pretty decent price. we had to have stefanie pick it up & bring it in to us, but that also gave her a chance to see ramona for the first time. she confirmed my feeling that ramona looks exactly like jared. same nose, same chin, same mouth. she has my uncommonly deep upper lip divot, & she is long-limbed & short-torsoed like i am (“doomed to a lifetime of unflattering sweaters,” i told jared), but mostly she looks like daddy.
jared went out & bought a calzone for us to split for dinner & then we went upstairs to see ramona again. we were really excited to find that she had been taken off CPAP, which meant that the little helmet/tube thing she had to wear over her nose had been removed. she was wiggling around in her isolette with just a nasal cannula, & without all the gear pressing down on her little skull, she was opening her eyes & looking around! i came as close as i could physically come to RUNNING over to her bassinet to bask in her gaze. she must have heard & recognized her voices because she turned her head toward us & looked right into our faces.
i got to try my hand at taking her temperature & changing her diaper. if i had ever changed a diaper before, i have no recollection of it, & it’s not so easy to do when you are limited by the armholes in the side of an isolette & you also have to fold the diaper down so it doesn’t rub on her belly button or any of her monitor wires, & you have to avoid closing any wires or tubes into the diaper. but the nurse observed that i instinctively closed the diaper up nice & tight & that made me feel good. it was tough to leave her when her eyes were open–she obviously just wanted to look at us & we wanted to look at her. she was clearly fighting sleep so she could stare at us. but we had to get back downstairs to pump & sleep ourselves.
the obstetrician finally signed off on my release the next day. i was SO STOKED to get out of the hospital, i almost didn’t even think about the fact that ramona wouldn’t be coming home with us. it was a busy day on labor & delivery–every room was full & three other laboring women were waiting for rooms, so my doctor kept being called away for deliveries & didn’t process my discharge paperwork for six hours. that gave us lots of time to spend with ramona though.
we had hoped to go to boarding, which is something my insurance covers for three days. it allows the baby’s parents to stay in the hospital, in a hospital room, but without any hospital services (nursing, food service, housekeeping, etc). it’s just so they can be on the spot to visit baby as much as they want. we requested a room but with all the laboring women, there was nothing available. we were pretty bummed at first, but during our last visit before we left for the day, we learned that ramona had jaundice, which is why her skin was so red. her doctor has ordered light therapy for her & she had to stay in her isolette for 23 hours a day. we would be permitted to hold her for one hour a day (which we immediately decided to split into two half-hour holds so we’d each get a chance with her). so boarding at that point would have been kind of a waste. we decided to save our free days for after her jaundice is resolved & we could hold her as much as we like, or maybe even after they let us start experimenting with breastfeeding, so i can be there as often as possible. lawrence isn’t too far from overland park–only about 35 minutes. but it’s kind of a trek when you’re making it every single day, & we just don’t really have the time or the gas money to do it numerous times per day.
that doesn’t mean it was at all easy to leave though. i cried for a good chunk of the drive home. it just felt unnatural to leave the hospital without her! we had no sooner gotten into the elevator than i started missing her so much, it was almost physical.