28 September 2015

Thoughts on the CICU

Trixie has been home from the hospital for about three weeks. Having her home seems so natural, and I've loved how quickly the boys have adjusted to her being in our family. Even Felix, who at first was not really thrilled about having her around, always makes sure that Trixie comes with us if our family is going somewhere. (We haven't ever come even close to forgetting her, but even if we did, Felix would remind us frequently that the baby should come with us.)

In the time since we've been home, I've thought a lot about her time in the hospital, especially the days in the CICU. I have been filled with gratitude for all the things that went well for us while we were there.

First of all, I'm constantly in awe of the nurses, both in the CICU and on our regular floor. I never once encountered a nurse who was rude, rushed, abrasive, inconsiderate, or indifferent. They were always willing to answer my questions, and I ask a lot of questions. They were always helpful in every way, and I felt confident that even when I wasn't around they were doing their best for my daughter. It was such a reassuring feeling to know she was always in good hands.

While in the CICU I ran into a lady from my neighborhood whose son was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Basically, the left side of his heart didn't function, and he required major surgery a few days after he was born. I didn't know the woman personally, but I recognized her, and it turned out she knew my boys because she was friends with their babysitter. The day after Trixie was moved out of the CICU to a regular floor another boy from our neighborhood was admitted to the CICU. He was born with coarctation of the aorta, which means the aorta was too narrow, and he also required open heart surgery. Again, I did not know this family personally, but I recognized them, and I know they are also friends with my boys' babysitter.

Neither of these families knew their sons had heart defects until after birth. (I'm not sure how they missed the hypoplastic heart in the ultrasounds.) Both boys were life-flighted to the hospital shortly after birth. I can't imagine how frightening the whole experience must have been for both families. It made me all the more grateful that Trixie's heart defect was detected early, and that we could avoid open heart surgery for a while.

I witnessed some great sadness in the hospital. I saw a woman weeping in the elevator. The one night I stayed in one of the sleep rooms attached to the ICU waiting room I was awoken by a waiting family sobbing. I had noticed them there quite late in the evening, and I figured that a loved young person had either been in an accident or had taken a turn for the worse. Hearing their sorrow in the middle of the night was absolutely gut-wrenching and is something I will never forget. This was less than 48 hours after Trixie's catheter procedure, and it made me so grateful that everything had gone so well for her.

The next morning in the CICU I watched as doctors and nurses literally ran to treat a baby who had gone "code blue." Again, it was a very traumatic scene for me, and I didn't even know the child or her family. It was short, and the doctors were able to revive her quickly, but  it was a scene that I will never forget. And for the second time in only a matter of hours, it made me grateful that my little one was doing so well.

I don't know that I'm usually comforted by "it could be worse" scenarios, but spending time in the CICU had that effect on me. I know that eventually we'll be back there. Treating Trixie's heart defect is something that will go on over the course of her life. Still, I'm grateful that her heart condition was detected early and is so treatable. Her life as a newborn right now is pretty normal, and it will continue to be fairly normal. I really can't ask for more.

1 comment:

Jenn said...

Sounds like a very emotional time. What a strange coincidence to see 2 neighbors that week. I hope their babies get well!