Before we get into the gender news, I just wanted to give a quick update on our first meeting at Children’s before we left for the holidays.
I don’t know if it was the holidays or just a busy afternoon time (our ultrasound appointment was for 2 pm) but the whole area around Children’s and especially the parking garage were packed! We had to drive up to the tippy top level and park outside in the rain. Walking up to the building, it looks like some kind of giant ship or self-contained city. The place is massive. It has its own CVS, Au Bon Pain, Bank of America ATM, and that’s just what you see when you walk in.
We got directions to the Advanced Fetal Care Center (AFCC) at the front desk and then proceeded to get a little lost. Hallways are color coded and lead in all directions, turning this way and that. It’s quite the maze in there and nothing quite makes logical sense. Crazy to think one day we might know our way around at least part of that place.
Finally we get there (10 minutes late) and then we have to wait about 20 minutes for the ultrasound. The tech was super nice and warned me going in that it was going to be a longer ultrasound. My high-risk OB had said that too with our Level II so I wasn’t worried but this was hands down the LONGEST one ever. It was quite uncomfortable given that I was feeling particularly nauseous and gassy that day. She was pushing really hard and was using three or four different wands (transducers?) of all different shapes and sizes. Some of which hurt more than others. Especially nasty was the one with the squared off corners that showed all my lovely layers of fat, and revealed a cyst on the outside of my uterus (supposedly no big deal?).
When all was said and done, I was being scanned for a solid hour, and they took over 80 pictures (none of which we got to take home!). A rather brusk radiologist came in and asked us some questions. They didn’t seem 100% convinced it was gastroschisis but we assured them that Dr. Kind was absolutely sure and had made the diagnosis on two different occasions.
When that was over, we were starving, so they gave us some snacks and sent us to a little tiny meeting room to await our meeting with one of the surgeons. Except, the surgeon never came. We waited and waited and waited. Finally they told us that surgeon was stuck in the OR and they were trying to get a different one. So we waited and waited and waited some more. Ultimately they tried paging three different surgeons and none of them could make it. We were not upset about this – it’s a hospital and these things happen. It just sucked waiting around for so very long. Finally, our nurse manager, Donna, came and just walked us through everything herself and answered all our questions. We wished she did this from the beginning! She was so knowledgable, patient and kind (as she had been on the phone) and we felt completely confident getting all of the info from just her.
None of the info was particularly revelationary, but hearing everything again in more detail gave us a better sense of what this journey will be like once Turtle is born. We learned more about the medications the baby will be on, how they begin the transition to breastmilk from the IV, the signs they look for, the potential complications, the time it takes. We need to be prepared for an 8-12 week hospital stay. If it is closer to 12 weeks, I’m not sure how that will work for me, given that I only have about 12 weeks of maternity leave. If I never get ANY time at home with Turtle before having to go back to work? Well, that might be really hard.
The hardest part seems like it will be mostly figuring out the basics of life with a child in the hospital (showering, eating, etc.). In a lot of ways, it will be like being home, just with the help of nurses all the time. Once Turtle is out of the NICU, we can dress him/her, and handle most of the care in the hospital room. We can hold the baby, he/she will just have an IV in but it will be taped down to the arm. One of us can sleep in the room with the baby. The other can sleep elsewhere in the hospital. It will most likely be a shared hospital room with another child or baby.
The biggest financial hardships are meals, parking and gas. These really add up fast. I understand it’s helpful if you have someone at home taking care of your laundry/household/pets, packing meals for you, etc. so you can just come home occasionally to rest, shower, get stuff, get food, etc. and go back to the hospital. Luckily (so luckily) my parents will be living at our house and available to help with all this. We’re going to try to only ever have one car downtown at a time, if any. DH can ride his bike and use public transportation as much as possible. My parents can even drop me off and pick me up. I have a feeling I’ll essentially be living at the hospital. It’s hard to imagine sleeping comfortably at home knowing my child is in the hospital and being cared for not by me. But I’m giving myself full permission to change my tune on this once we’re in this for real.
Anyways, that was the gist of it. We spent over four hours there. We are set to go back in mid-January for another ultrasound and to meet with a doctor this time. One interesting thing that happened afterward: after I went to sleep, my phone rang at around 8:45 from a Boston number. I turned over and picked it up and it was actually one of the surgeons we were supposed to meet with, calling from the OR! He gave me a mini schpeal on gastroschisis (nothing new again) which I listened to half asleep. I was just so touched that he took the time to follow up with us. I know we’ll be getting world-class care at Children’s and that eventually it won’t feel like such a big, scary place.