Someone to watch over me

December 30, 2008 at 8:12 pm 4 comments


Satch and friend

 Oh hello there. It’s 7:19, and somehow I’ve found myself with a thimbleful of time before the commotion of the 8:30 feedings gets a-rolling. I am sitting at the dining table with a bottle of wine to my left, and a bottle of moisturizer to my right, and I know full well which item will be more useful to me in the coming months, and yet I am foolishly drawn to the other. Now comes a faint whimper on my 900mhz Fisher Price baby monitor system, telling me, in all likelihood, that Levi is still working at that lactose, or reflux, or whatever it is that fills his tiny shape with belly and throat grumbles after a feeding – sometimes even for hours. And now he’s quiet again. He and his big brother Pablito are sharing a crib, swaddled to within an inch of their lives, staring at one another with that deep, deep love we’ll call (for now) obliviousness. I am amazed at how totally unmoved each is by the other’s rackets. I guess seven months of getting kicked in the head or punched in the gut renders a little noise pollution pretty tame. 

A word on the above photo soon, I promise. Definitely before 8:30. 

We have a system working here, and it’s quite nice. Two infants, three adults, it’s perfect. So it turns out we ought not have had triplets, but instead twins and a third spouse. As things stand, one of us can each skip a nighttime feeding. I take the 2:30 by myself, because everybody knows what a struggle it is for me to get to bed much before then anyway (I can though, and I can sleep right beautifully from 1:25 to 2:20 – even on the floor of the boys’ room, which I did last night while the monitor battery charged). This earns me a pass on the 5:30 – which, people, we’ll all admit is THE feeding to skip. I woke up shortly before 8 feeling invigorated, refreshed, hopeful, confident, and downright ducky. I’m not sure Alex slept so much though – but we carved out a chunk of this afternoon for that purpose, and so far all three of us, Alex, Alex’ mom, and I, are a step ahead of the exhaustion. 

I will postpone a discussion of the dishwashing. Suffice to say that we have no dishwasher, and we know, we know. Save it. Our situation (renters in an ancient building with shaky electrical wiring) precludes a dishwasher. I’ll give you a tip about a future blog post, though. It will be called “My World and Welcome To It” and it will feature a picture of the bottle drying rack, and you, my friends, should be very afraid. 

Now to Satch. I visited him this morning, and timed my visit well. I came in  just after his nurse – Stacey – had warmed up some milk for him…his first post-surgery feeding! Would I like to give him a bottle? Is that a trick question? So we wheeled over the awesome NICU recliner (the NICU recliners would CRUSH the CCN recliners (which don’t, among other things, recline) in any fair contest), lifted the little Satchmo out of his isolette still attached to his monitor and IV (we had long since begun taking the boys off monitor for feedings, but Satch is in the dire wing so we play by the rules), plunked him on my lap, protected with a cloth diaper (that will – in our world – only ever serve the purpose of burp cloth), and raised the bottle containing 15 cc of Alex’s milk, a third of his normal feeding back in the day, to the boy’s lips.

And as he latched on with vigor and proceeded to suck down that paltry bottle’s contents in three minutes flat, I was suddenly overcome. This boy, who I have been fighting the good fight not to allow to become my favorite, whose inquiring eyes seem to see you to your very core, even if they can’t really see at all, who is the smallest and the oldest and the wisest of the troika, a dancer and an artist, this boy nearly took us to the brink of rational parenting and gave us a glimpse of the sprawling, awful abyss that lays beyond. Did we really have those conversations? Did I really look up Necrotizing enterocolitis on Wikipedia to read this sentence:  “Despite a significant mortality risk, long-term prognosis for infants undergoing NEC surgery is improving, with survival rates of 70-80%”? Did we sit and listen to the young woman from surgery tell us that signs were that Satch’s bowel had been compromised, and that they would need to “resect” it, and if they couldn’t do it smoothly they’d just create an “ostomy” so that the contents of his bowels could drain directly out of his abdomen? As I sit here and listen to Levi’s soft hiccups coming over the monitor, those twenty hours seem distant, a lifetime ago. But today, in the NICU, holding old Satch up on my shoulder and gently rubbing his back – knowing 15 cc probably wouldn’t earn me a burp – I finally allowed myself to let the brief horror of that affair, the stuff Alex and I worked so hard to keep at bay all of that terrible Friday night and Saturday morning, rip into me and contort my face. This little man’s resume may be somewhat thin to date, but he already has an outsized personality. He is a star a among the NICU nurses, who lamented (sometimes too vocally) the fact of his return to the dark side, and he is a necessary and perfect compliment to the two boys currently warming a crib for him.

So this morning, just for a few moments, I offered forth a few whimpers and allowed myself the self-indulgence of a big What If. It didn’t last long, nobody saw, and no-one was listening on a monitor. And then I smiled a really big smile that I may have felt more than any other that I’ve smiled, and placed my improving boy back in his cage. For courage, I snuck that there book into the isolette, giving Satch a photo-op-length moment to be watched over by his illustrious and prolific forebear. I’m hoping ole Satch, the OLD ole Satch, bestowed upon this little one the gift of a long and prosperous life, because what more can you ask for?


Entry filed under: update. Tags: , , , , .

There’s no place like home Everybody’s happy

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Janne Tolonen  |  December 31, 2008 at 4:56 am


  • 2. Charlotte & Jeff  |  December 31, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Where is a tissue when you need one? Sniff, sniff… Love you guys. Happy new year.

  • 3. Neilo (and Toni)  |  December 31, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Wow – we step away for a week and…well…as Dash is fond of saying currently – Holy Moley! (or however you’d spell that)

    Warm, burpable wishes and healthy new year greetings to those of you at home (yeah!) and those still gathering strength in the castle on the hill.


    P.S. Remember that countertop dishwasher that we had in our old apartment? Let us know if you think it might work for you guys – it’s currently not-in-use and you’re welcome to it if you want.

  • 4. Stefan  |  January 1, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    happy new year! x5


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