Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Hospital Time Is Slow Time

Life inside a hospital is slow time. It is almost so slow that it feels more like a prison at times. You know that there is life going on outside without you but your own life is revolving inside the hospital. I find myself staring out the window at times wondering what so and so was up too right about now.

My daily life of the past week started at around six a.m. with a hungry baby. I would get the always poopy diaper changed and made sure my little girl was awake before handing her off to my wife for feeding. One thing about breast feeding, it is always there, warmed up and in plentiful supply. Fifteen minutes later, I regain control of my little charge, burp her and sometimes change yet another diaper.

My daughter seems to be somewhat of a night owl, a fact that I knew when she was still in the womb. My wife works on her feet most of the day and I think the jostling coddled Little Abbey causing her to sleep most of the day. Then in the evenings when my wife was at home asleep in bed, I could see her abdomen stretching this way and that for hours as if an alien was trying to pop out as in a horror film. So it was no surprise that I find myself in the wee hours of the night trying to get a wide awake baby to fall back to sleep.

Since that really hasn’t been working too well, I’ve been trying out a different tact by trying to keep her awake during the day. I tickle her feet, stomach, arms, etc. all while calling out her name. As the time has worn on, I think this method has succeeded based upon the last couple of nights but I'm not holding my breath yet.

But back to the schedule. Fed, changed, and hopefully kept awake for awhile, baby goes to bed and mom gets freshened up. I straighten up the hospital room and then head down the hall to the buffet wagon that the hospital wheels up to the birthing floor. I load up two plates and take it back to the room to eat with my wife.

Initially when Little Abbey was still in the nursery, we filled our mornings with catnaps for the two and a half hours between feedings. When she was in our room permanently and we are getting our schedules synched, we are able to get more restful sleep at night and thus do other things in the morning. I’ve sometimes used these times to drive home and look after the house, do some laundry and bring back the ever present list of things that my wife needs back at the hospital. I wonder if you can rent a U-haul to take a baby home?

After the noontime feeding and Little Abbey is tucked safely in her bassinet, I make a trip downstairs to the hospital cafeteria or nearby restaurant to round up some grub for the parents. Because life in a hospital is pretty much sedentary, it doesn’t take much to get full. In fact, we have been piling up extras in the corner of the kitchen counter in our room and nurses are starting to make remarks of all the food. If you can live off peanut butter, jelly, potato chips and some plastic baggies of various fruits, we could probably hunker out a medium sized nuclear winter here in our room.

After lunch, everybody tends to nap. Lately, I’ve been getting enough sleep so I try to do some righting or catch up on reading but it definitely is a quite time. I’ve spent some of it compiling a baby book of sorts on request of the wife, which requires a great deal of imagination to answer some of the questions. If anybody knows a popular song right now, please let me know. The only popular songs that I can think of are probably a decade old and might confuse my daughter when she is old enough to comprehend what I wrote.

After scrounging for supper at the cafeteria, restaurants or food corner of the room kitchen counter top, things begin to wind down. I start picking up things around the room again and making sure there are such necessities as ice water for the wife and a stack of diapers for the baby. We do a little watching of the cable channels that we no longer get in our household and exhaust ourselves watching food network, HGTV or if I have control of the remote, the history or discovery channel. Being around the history channel on the anniversary of D-day brought lots of interesting shows and facts to my attention.

Darkness falls and we anxiously nurse Little Abbey one last time trying to keep her awake to swallow every last drop that she can. Where most babies loose 10% of their body weight in their first week of life, Little Abbey packed on another 5 ounces from her birth weight bringing her up to seven pounds. She nurses like nobody’s business.

As soon as she is asleep, I bed the wife in the reclining chair which she prefers to the hospital bed for comfort, and I hop into the hospital bed and try to get as much sleep as I can cram into the next two and a half hours. Then it is changing, feeding, and back to bed, repeating through the night until dawn and another day. Perhaps it is the exhaustion that has finally caught up or my body has adapted, but I now have the ability to literally fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. I hope I can keep this newfound talent long after Little Abbey starts sleeping through the night.

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