I gotta tell you, I don't even want to write this part.
This part sucked.
This part sucked and involved me crying. A lot.
Like, A LOT.
And I haven't even gotten to poor Champ.
So the part that sucked and involved me crying a lot started with a middle of the night phone call.
Because those are always fun.
At 1:30 a.m., the night after Champ was born, I'm stealing an hour of sleep in my hospital bed while Champ is getting her regularly scheduled "assessment" in the nursery. No biggie, right? They do these assessments constantly. They're just routine.
Unless it turns out your day old baby has a fever.
If your day old baby has a fever, your pediatrician calls your hospital room at 1:30 in the morning.
And lemme tell you, being woken up from a dead sleep in your hopsital room at 1:30 in the morning by a phone call from your pediatrician telling you your day old baby has a fever...
I have to back up for a moment to tell you that I interviewed three pediatricians. The first was in a large practice and the whole place seemed too impersonal and inflexible for me. But aside from the impersonal inflexibility, what stood out from that interview was a casual mention of how bad it is for newborn babies to have a fever because their immune system isn't up and running yet and they don't have the ability to fight off whatever's causing the fever.
The second interview was with a lovely older doctor whose office was close to mine. He didn't mention the fever thing, so... whew!
The third was with a hoity-toity pediatrician with his own practice in a professionally decorated office and a stable of acupuncturists and baby chiropractors and masseuses... and I'm laying it on a little thick. But not that thick, frankly. The guy's fancy.
Of course, I went with the fancy guy.
(To my credit, I didn't go with him because of the fanciness-- although it doesn't hurt. He was by far the most flexible, in terms of both availability and approach to things like vaccines, and he has a strong belief in homeopathy, which I think can be wonderful in concert with Western medicine.)
Anyway. Among other things, of course, in our interview Fancy Doctor talked about how fevers in newborns are really bad news. How it's one of the only things that really concerns him with newborns. And how if it happens, it means they have to be admited to the hopsital immediately. It could be meningitis. It could be whole host of other things, all of which are BAD.
So back to the phone ringing.
The phone rings. Julie, my night-time post-partum doula, answers. I haven't slept much in the last 36 hours, so although the phone wakes me, I'm still in that woozy not-quite-awake state when Julie hands me the receiver.
It's Fancy Doctor. Violet has a fever. It's not terribly high, but he's had the hospital staff check her several different ways, and it's definitely a real fever-- not one caused by over-heating or over-swaddling or anything benign. It could be a virus or it could be bacterial. He'll have to run tests to find out.
Fancy Doctor is calming and kind, but I am instantly filled with terror.
Because, as I swim through the wooziness to process what I'm hearing, the one thing-- THE ONE THING-- that I was most afraid of is HAPPENING.
We haven't even made it home, and suddenly I am imagining my perfect little girl, this amazing being, for whom I have waited a lifetime, who I love in ways I never even understood until she was born, I am imagining horrible things happening to her. I am imagining this fever taking her away, or stealing from her the potential she was born with.
I stay calm until I hang up the phone-- by which time I've agreed to two courses of antibiotics for Champ and a longer stay in the hospital-- and then I LOSE it.
For the first time in years, I wish I weren't single. I feel alone. Massively and completely alone. And all I want is for someone else in the world to feel the way I do, to be as scared as I am for Champ. I want someone to be strong, so I won't have to be. Someone who loves Champ as much as I do, who can hold me and help me through the fear.
Instead, I cry on Julie. Who is wonderful, and I will love her forever for her compassion in that moment, but at this point I've only spent about twelve hours with her, and during most of them I was either groggy from surgery, asleep, or focused entirely on Champ.
When I can breathe again, I haul my post-Cesarean section self from my hospital bed and shuffle down the hallway to the nursery, where-- at 2:30 a.m.-- a nurse starts an IV in the tiny hand of my newborn child.
When the needle goes in, Champ screams. I've never heard her cry like that before. I've barely even heard her cry at all. And suddenly she's wailing, as the nurse clamps down on her hand, shining a red light through the fragile skin to find and pierce a vein. I can barely keep it together, barely keep saying soothing things and stroking Champ's flailing head.
The worst moment, though, by far worse than the crying, is when she shuts down, is suddenly silent, closes her eyes. Sleeps?
It's not sleep, though. It's leaving. Gone. It's my tiny girl saying "I'm not here anymore. I don't like this place. I'm outta here."
And when the IV isn't in correctly? I want to kill the nurse.
But Champ has shut down, so when the nurse takes out the line and does the whole thing again, she doesn't even flinch in her sleep.
The picture says it all, doesn't it?
That's all I can manage for now.
Apparently, this is gonna take a Part Four. Which has some bright spots, I'm happy to report.
Some bright spots... and a lumbar puncture.. and, finally, the brightest spot of all.