Monday, November 13, 2017

The Kindness of Strangers

Thank you NICU nurse Kerri for this adorable keepsake with KPB's little handprints
"Faith is the only thing I know of that is stronger than fear."
Joyce Meyer

Monday, November 13th - Days in the NICU: 12

Brian and I woke up around 6:30am - our minds were heavy with anticipation for the day ahead.  Both of us were hoping that today's procedure would allow Kieran's right lung to improve even just a little bit.  Our prior days had all started with physicians and NPs confirming there had been no change from the previous day or that the x-ray even looked worse.  We left the house with our best intentions to remain positive and hold on to the fact that the surgical team seemed really confident that this was going to be the ticket to get his lung going.

After a bit of confusion surrounding who would actually be doing the procedure and when it would happen, we received word that a Pulmonologist (lung doctor), assisted by her team, would execute the bronchoscopy bedside in Kieran's room.  As far as we understood it, this was going to be a very quick and easy procedure.  They would insert a small camera into Kieran's breathing tube, investigate the right lung and suck out any clots or gunk they could.  We opted to vacate the room and surrounding space because I needed to pump and I wasn't interested in having a front row seat to anyone putting a camera down my son's throat, regardless of the fact that he already had a breathing tube.  After twenty minutes of hiding out in the lactation room, Brian and I returned to his room only to discover that they were only able to remove a small clot, but they needed another camera because the one they had broke and they wanted to make another attempt with a different size tube.  So now what was supposed to be a five minute quick in-and-out, was turning into a hour long or longer ordeal.  This is a great example of how the hospital time continuum creates a scenario equivalent to emotional waterboarding for anxious parents.

After turning my back on his room to ignore the fact that I could see the inside of his throat on a television screen and quietly existing in a state of self denial that tears were streaming down my face,  our wonderful new attending neonatologist, Dr. Matoba, encouraged us to get some lunch.  We wolfed down some Potbelly and thirty minutes later we received a text that we could come back up to the room.

The good news was that the camera showed a lot of healthy, pink lung tissue.  The challenging part was that there really wasn't any 'gunk' to suck out and they only got two small clots... if there wasn't any gunk, why wasn't his lung working?  Brian and I felt so deflated.  We were so sure that they would go in, find the river of slime equivalent to Ghostbusters II and eradicate this burden, allowing his lung to start working.  Dr Matoba did her best to ease our disappointment, highlighting that this wasn't a step back, but rather we just needed to try another strategy.

As I cupped my hand over Kieran's perfect little head, I managed to squeak out "I just want to fix him" to our nurse Jen.  Jen has been a Godsend.  Not only has she helped me immensely as a lactation guru, but she has also been a listening ear, confidant and advocate for our family.  She suggested I hold Kieran - it would be good for both of us.  Again, I was apprehensive because I knew he had gone through a lot today, but his vitals showed he was comfortable, so I jumped at the opportunity to have my baby as close to me as possible.  Jen suggested I hold him upright against my chest - "Holding a baby in your arms is for grandparents.  Holding a baby against your chest is for moms."  She was right.  He nestled right in under my chin and the moment I was able to lay my cheek against his soft, wispy hair, I felt whole again.  We rocked for about two hours like this.

I am complete.
 As my hand was on his back, I could feel his chest rumbling as he breathed, like when you have a really bad chest cold and you need to take a really deep breath and cough.  It's hard for babies to cough - instinctively they don't really know how to do it at this age, but I could tell a couple of times that he was trying to get something out.  I think I could have sat in that rocking chair all night, but we decided it was time to let him get some rest and we needed to get some dinner too, so the nurses helped situate him back in bed.  As I've mentioned before, Kieran really doesn't like his breathing tube and he doesn't like being moved, but this time he seemed extra mad.  As the nurse suctioned out his breathing tube, to our surprise, a large clot came out!  Brian was paying closer attention to this part and it seemed as if Kieran was struggling a bit to get good breaths, so he asked the NPs to come in the room, Kasey and Chris.  They opted to do some more invasive suctioning and more junk came out! 
Kasey checked his breathing with a teeny, tiny stethoscope and confirmed she could hear good breath sounds on the right side!!  Hooray!  Everyone took a turn listening with big smiles on their faces.  Whoever thought I'd be so elated for my kid to hack up disgusting stuff?!  Obviously, we need to wait to see what the x-ray shows tomorrow, but we are feeling so much better considering this progress.  Maybe the bronchoscopy disturbed things just enough to get stuff moving out or maybe Kieran just needed a good old fashioned chest cuddle from his mama (thank you, Jen).

After this emotional and physical victory, Brian and I decided we needed dinner... and a cocktail (I'm so glad I can have cocktails again).  We opted to head to our favorite neighborhood spot for comfort food - Tuscany on Taylor.  But, not before we ensured our buddy Kim was working behind the bar.  Kim has a larger than life personality - she's a straight-shooter with a heart of gold.  Brian and I have been going to Tuscany since before we were married and while the food is awesome, Kim is what really makes it feel like our very own cozy Chicago Cheers.  As soon as she saw us, Kim was on the other side of the bar, arms up in the air exclaiming congratulations and offering hugs.  We settled in - me with my favorite Chianti and Brian with a scotch and we caught up on our roller coaster day and what was new with Kim and her two daughters.

There was a couple sitting adjacent to us finishing up an antipasti while we enjoyed an asparagus salad.  The woman offered a kind smile and apologized that she didn't mean to listen, but couldn't help but hear that we had a child in the hospital.  We told them about Kieran's adventure thus far.  She offered her sympathies and told us she would be praying for us all.  Her husband was wearing a Kentucky sweatshirt and I heard them make mention of a hotel room, so I asked if they were visiting.  Turns out they were in town for the Champions Classic at the United Center - Kentucky plays Kansas tomorrow and they come every year.  We wished them a pleasant stay and finished up our meals... with dessert to go.  As Kim wrapped up our leftovers, she generously tucked an extra box of steaming, fresh pasta in the bag for us to enjoy tomorrow.  As if that wasn't enough, when we asked for our bill, tears welled up in her eyes and she told us that she and our new friends from Kentucky had taken care of our tab.  Speechless.  Brian and I were just so humbled by the generosity - hugs and tears around as we thanked our new friends, Laura and Bud, and our dear friend, Kim.  We promised them that we would be sure to pay it forward and that we would be cheering for the Kentucky Wildcats tomorrow.  Funny how a tiny baby can cultivate touching moments of love and kindness among strangers.

Prayers for a positive x-ray tomorrow morning.  Thank you to the Drott family for the Instacart delivery!

"Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you."
Princess Diana