I’ve been in the hospital for fifty days. FIFTY DAYS. That’s a lot of time for something completely unplanned. It’s been both as terrible as you could imagine, and also as good as it could be. I’m able to walk around the unit by myself, I’m healthy, and I’m carrying a baby who is doing exceptionally well under the stress, which all makes me feel more like a cat in a bookstore than a hospital patient (I can roll out all the sad stuff, too, but since we’re heading for a happy ending, that doesn’t seem to matter).
Our friends and family have been awesome throughout all this. If I could afford it I would take them all out to nice dinners to thank them personally, but I can’t afford anything after living in a hospital for two months. The best I can do is bring home little containers of apple juice for everyone. You know how some people want to fake a funeral to see what they meant to people? Isn’t that a thing? I feel like this experience has been a version of that – I was not expecting the support we got. It’s been very touching and I’m too much of a robot to effectively communicate what it’s meant to me.
I know a lot of awesome and thoughtful people, and that must mean that my husband and I are good people, too, for anyone to want to help us. So if you are an asshole, you better make it right. You never know when you’ll need support.
Here are some notes about the past 50 days.
Weekdays go by quickly, weekends feel slower.
How I’ve spent my time: During the week, wi-fi is really slow. I spend half of my time waiting for web pages to load. I’ve finished seasons of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Fargo, and Orange is the New Black. I only read two books: Bringing Up Bebe and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I’ve written a journal entry every day. I wrote several columns and a couple of articles for RVAnews. I watched a lot of Mad Men. I played games including Wordbrain (phone), a cool puzzle that my friend sent me (kind of like a logic puzzle meets Tetris), and for about a week I was into puzzle books (Logic, Crosswords). I’ve read through lots of magazines, and watched lots of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (I like Guy Fieri – deal with it), and other dumb shows. My husband and I watched a lot of the hit movies from 2014, so at least I’m caught up on what everyone was talking about last year. I even played Minesweeper. Remember Minesweeper from when computers were invented? And being able to bank online and keep track of school events helped. Whatever I could to do keep my husband from having to do it helped me feel more useful and less bad about everything.
How I spent my time with my daughter: I’ve seen my daughter every day while here (with the exception of one day when she stayed at home since she might have been sick. She wasn’t). My husband has brought her at least twice a day (before and after school) and they spend most of the day with me on weekends. Seeing them so much is mostly what has made this past 50 days tolerable. Even though it’s a small room and I’m more aware of them here than when at home (my daughter especially leaves a messy path), at least it’ll make our house seem big when I get home.
Anyway, a big, mushy thank you to my main associate and roommate for working so hard to bring home to the hospital. They’ve both done beautifully with all the adjustments.
As for ways to spend time with my daughter, we play lots of Chutes and Ladders, she works on art projects (my aunt sent us a lot of supplies), we watch cable TV (Clarence on Cartoon Network is a weird favorite now for me, and she likes Teen Titans Go). We got some mileage out of Don’t Let The Pigeon Finish This Activity Book! (although I plan to throw away most of the activities we’ve done). She has also become best friends with all the nurses. They let her check my temperature and blood pressure, and they’re all very sweet to her. My friend Susan (who, among a million things, brought me one of the best meals I’ve had here) sent a stack of books for my kid to borrow, which has been nice for hospital naptime.
I have access to a kitchenette with juices, cereal, little ice creams, crackers, peanut butter, milk, and soda. My daughter can enter the key code to unlock the door and will help herself to drinks and snacks. Even my nephew will go to the fridge and pick out his favorite juice when he’s here (my sister says he asks to visit “the Kelly” a lot, but she’s not sure if he loves me more now or likes having access to the kitchen). Also the ice machine makes the best crushed ice. Drinking a cranberry juice cocktail over a cup of crushed ice is delicious. It’s not unreasonable for a woman to choose where to deliver her baby based on the crushed ice availability at the hospital.
There is a nice courtyard area outside, and also a water fountain and a little wooded area. I’m impressed with how well my young visitors have made do with this as a play area. I guess I don’t give kids enough credit. Plus, there are at least two red-tailed hawks that live around the hospital, and they’re fun to spot. It stinks that I missed spring weather, but I at least got outside on some nice days.
I normally would never buy watermelon pieces because it’s too expensive. A whole watermelon cut up and sold in packages would cost at least $50 (a pure, uncut watermelon is about $5). But I have been craving watermelon and asked several times for people to bring it. I feel bad because I know it’s so expensive, but it’s all been delicious. No regrets.
My husband hates grocery shopping and it’s one of the normal-life things that I miss the most.
My friends’ photos online have made me miss getting a garden started, and want to eat a dozen King of Pops popsicles and go to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.
I’ve gone back to being a night person. As a single gal, I woke up earlier than my friends (like, 9 AM). When I first moved in with my associate, I started to get up a little earlier and go to bed earlier. I felt like I owned my day more if I could be up to do something other than get ready for work. Now I would prefer to sleep in every day but can’t, and still stay up until 1 AM. It’s a terrible balance but now that Letterman and Saturday Night Live are done, I have no real reason to stay up late.
Since I’ll be out of here in the new few weeks, I’ve been packing up and throwing things out. Days are less sad. I’ve gotten over my lack of accomplishments (I did organize a photo album for 2013 and 2014 – though that unfortunately sets me up for needing to create photo albums every year). I didn’t work on my novel or start any new stories, but this is basically my maternity leave, and I wouldn’t have done any of that anyway. I have time to think about the new baby for real. This pregnancy has gone on forever, although it’s ending a month earlier than it could have. I sometimes lose focus that the end result is a new child but now I’m in preparation mode (or as much as I can be without having any hand in getting the house ready) and excited to get started on our next phase in life.
Nothing about this year has worked out as planned (bed rest isn’t the first of it). I won’t have much time at home – I was hoping for 12 weeks but I will get just 6 or maybe 7, and with a NICU stay, I don’t know when the baby will be joining us for that. But since I’ve not been able to do much for the last two months, I hope that I make the most of the time I do have at home with the baby. I don’t care about being tired or sad or frazzled or in pain – I just want to be there.
Also, my nurses have been amazing – both here and the hospital that I transferred from. And red-tailed hawks are cool. And it’ll probably be another year before I update Burgerphone again.