Or, “Reasons You Should be Nicer to Ronald McDonald”
Reason #1: I’m typing this from his basement.
And, man, is it nice down here. Apparently, Ronald McDonald lends out his extra houses in areas near hospitals so families can stay near their sick kids. It’s called “temporary emergency housing,” and let me tell you, it’s a Godsend. They charge you a $15 key fee on the first day; after that they’ll accept any donation you can afford and you can stay up to 14 days straight. (Long-term patients’ families can check out for 24 hours and check back in.) Community groups bring in dinner each night so families don’t have to pay to eat out all the time, or you can use the kitchen to cook your own meals. It’s even fairly well-stocked in case you don’t have the cash for food.
Of course, I wouldn’t know any of this if Oak hadn’t started turning blue because he couldn’t breathe Saturday night. Really, I wouldn’t know any of this if Oak hadn’t gurgled just loud enough for me to hear that he couldn’t breathe Saturday night. So, I owe this new found knowledge and appreciation of a TV clown I’ve always hated to my equally new found son, Oak Elijah (you probably know him better as Enis), who is now almost 2 days old. He did it twice more while the nursery team and on-call pediatrician observed him. Sunday morning around 11, they transferred Oak down here to Columbia Regional’s NICU, which according to everyone but Joshua’s sister is the best neonatal unit in Missouri. My OB got to the Kirksville hospital at a little after noon, discharged me with a frown, and then Joshua and I were on our way.
When we got to the NICU they let us know two things about Oak:
- He stopped breathing on the drive down and they had to intubate him. Five seconds later he decided he was done with the tube and extubated himself.
- To quote his bedside nurse: “By the way, Daddy [to Joshua], very well-endowed.”
I haven’t been able to speak with a doctor since last night, but they seem pretty sure pneumonia is the reason he couldn’t breathe right (newborns get this in the grossest way possible), and since they started antibiotics he’s turned that nice reddish color that babies get when they’ve finished cooking. The doctors want to run the full course of antibiotics, so it sounds like the earliest we can go home with Oak is next Sunday. But that’s fine because he’ll be alive and able to stay alive, which is what counts with living things.
Want to know what it’s like to have (as in, to give birth to) a baby? Painful. And strangely sudden. One second you’re about to cry because you can’t push the way your doctor keeps yelling at you to push, then suddenly you have this purple and white thing on your chest and everyone’s telling you what a great job you did. And even though everything you’ve read about pregnancy tells you not to expect to fall in love with your baby the first time you see it because it takes time to develop any relationship, you’re still kind of surprised because it really is just this purple and white thing that came out of you. If you’re like me, you can’t even figure out that they expect you to hold him and touch him and that’s the reason they put him on your chest in the first place.
Want to know what it’s like to have (as in, to be the owner or parent of) a baby? It’s like being some kind of big cat living in the wild. Once the weirdness of giving birth to this tiny, purple, helpless thing passes, and you get to see it turn a normal color and dry off some, the weirdness of how you love it sets in. You want to smell it and lick its hair and rest your face against its stomach. That’s really what it’s like.