A few weeks ago I saw a notice that a three day women’s retreat was being generously subsidized and though I usually look at these retreats as something nice but not for me at this stage, this time I really, really wanted to go. I was feeling a lot of pressure to take care of many things (all of which were very important), and I was emotionally salivating at the thought of some time to myself away from everyone and everything.
But when I called about the subsidized price, it was only a discount of 100 shekels from the total price of 750, which wasn’t really a compelling discount for me. So I told myself it obviously wasn’t meant to be, and Hashem would send me what I was meant to have when I was meant to have it.
Today I was thinking how amazing it is that I didn’t have to wait long for my paid for vacation getaway, right here in the hospital! This is just one more example of how sometimes things that look bad really can turn out beautifully!
To recap, I had a baby at the beginning of this week and contrary to my plan to leave the hospital as soon as possible, my baby needed to be in the NICU. And that meant that I needed to be in the hospital with him.
When I was first taken to my room, my initial impression was that it was dreary and depressing. There was no lock on the bathroom door, the room was super dumpy, and I couldn’t get anything to eat since I arrived at the hospital half hour after dinner was served. I was separated from my two roommates by a thin curtain which is pretty normal here but both of them were very talkative with visitors and cell phones. One roommate insisted she needed all of the overhead fluorescents on late in the evening (after 11 pm) because the partial lighting to her section of the room wasn’t enough for her to see her baby. During the part of the night when people usually sleep, I was repeatedly woken from my partial restless sleep by non stop sounds of crying babies being wheeled down the hallways and in and out of my room. I finally feel into a deep sleep out of sheer exhaustion when at 2:30 am, a nurse walked in, turned on all the overhead lights, and loudly asked, “Which one of you is Avivah?” When I told her I was, she told me I needed bloodwork done. The reason I know it was 2:30 despite not having a watch is that I blearily said, “Bloodwork now? Isn’t it something like 3 in the morning?” And she briskly responded, “Of course right now! It’s 2:30.” There’s no time like the present, right? :)
When my baby was transferred from the regular nursery to the NICU, he was on a different floor than I was which meant a long walk for me. And when preparing for sleep and then again in the morning, I had nothing I needed from home like pajamas, a change of clothes, a toothbrush or hairbrush because of having to rush out with the ambulance. Fortunately, that was just the first night!
Then I was offered the chance to be transferred to the high risk maternity ward, which was on the same floor as the NICU, and I jumped at the opportunity. Nothing against women who just had babies, but hearing babies screaming right next to me all night long just isn’t refreshing. When I got to my new room, I was pleasantly surprised to see everything about it was much newer and nicer, the bathroom had a lock (did I mention there are times that I appreciate my privacy? ), and it was much more convenient to visit my baby in the NICU.
Another bonus was when I found out that I had wireless internet service in my new room, which I didn’t have in the first room. This was great because I could be in touch with people to share our good news, not to mention post here!
Though I’m not exactly sitting around all day drinking martinis or lolling on the beach, I do have a chance to spend the day with my own thoughts and without being responsible for anyone but myself and the baby. My day is full – filled with being in the NICU with the baby and pumping for him, speaking with doctors and nurses and eating meals (I haven’t had a chance for a nap yet) – but it’s not a stressful kind of full. It’s really different than having a newborn who is nursing and being held all day long.
I can take a shower when I want, and if I pump an hour later or earlier, it doesn’t really matter. I don’t love being away from my other children but they’re all doing great, working together to get things done and people have been very generous with their offers of help. The food here is decent and meals are served on time with no effort needed on my part except to go get it from the dining room. The nurses have all been pleasant and only come around a couple of times a day to check temps and blood pressure. I’ve figured out where everything I need is without having to ask them to get it for me, which I appreciate because it takes so much longer to get something when you have to ask someone and then wait for them to bring it (I know since one morning I asked for my breakfast tray to be brought to me since I was asleep when it was being served and didn’t want to rush to get dressed before it was cleared away (I don’t walk around in a robe in a hospital, I have to be fully dressed just like anywhere else), and it took them an hour to bring it- and the dining room is a two minute walk away!). So I’m pretty much set.
Today the doctor was filling out my release paperwork, and kind of rhetorically asked, “Right you’re supposed to be released today?” So I answered kind of jokingly, “Yes, but if you want to let me stay here another day I’ll be very happy to stay!” She looked at me and asked if I meant it, and I told her I did, that it would help me a lot since my baby was in the NICU and wasn’t coming home with me. So she said she’d request authorization and let me know.
Dh was already here to pick me up when we had this interchange (and had unfortunately spent a lot of money renting a vehicle since he didn’t want me to have to go home using public transportation), but she came back in a short time later to tell me the insurance company had approved the request, and that I could be here for another day! This was such a nice surprise and a really big help to me! Until now I’ve been able to pump enough for the baby to almost keep up with his feeding schedule, but not to get ahead. By being here a bit longer, I’ll hopefully be able to prepare feedings for Shabbos and Sunday morning, and I’m going to try to take advantage of this last day and actively plan a nap so that I’ll get back home refreshed and ready to fully be available emotionally for my other kids.
I feel really fortunate to have been able to have this bit of a breather. I wrote in a recent post about the stress I felt from the chaos of the entire birth and post-birth process, and this was a really valuable chance for me to recharge before going back home to be with everyone.