By the time we were discharged from the hospital, I’d run the gambit of emotions. The constant interruptions, lack of sleep, hormones raging and my failure to breast feed had taken its toll on my nerves. With the epic storm looming on the horizon, we faced the fact that regardless of weather, my son needed a heel stick to measure his bilirubin levels since they were so high at discharge.
As we were packing up to finally go home, one of the nurses told us that we could take him back to the maternity building for the heel stick. She said that we could just run him into the entrance and they would take him in the back because “they discharge so many jaundiced babies.” This news was quite welcome, since the only other alternative was to take him to a general outpatient lab, which was full of questionable people. I was not pleased at the idea of exposing a three day old baby to that.
The first night was full of crushed expectations. My son didn’t like to be put down, so the idea of placing him in his crib and getting a few hours’ sleep was almost laughable. My attempts to nurse were continuing to fail, so we resorted reluctantly to formula. The storm essentially bypassed us, but the high winds shook the still house as I rocked my fussing baby and wept silently at my inadequacy to nurse him.
By first light, I was completely spent. We loaded him into his carseat and headed back to the hospital. Upon our arrival, the surly admissions nurse told me that they did not do the labs there as long as the lab across the street was open. We’d have to take him elsewhere. With our appointment at the pediatrician bumped up, our window to make this happen was dwindling along with what was left of my patience.
We weren’t even 100% sure as to where this other lab was, and spent a tense few minutes circling the parking lot trying to figure out where this place was exactly. We eventually found where we were supposed to go. But the nurse who checked us in told us that the labs could not be done in time for the doctor appointment, and if we wanted it expedited, we’d need to take him to the emergency room.
At that point, I was about to burst into tears. We explained that we’d already been turned away from the maternity building, and the idea of taking my tiny infant to the emergency room was just unthinkable. The nurse took pity on us and offered to call the courier to pick up the specimen to take to the lab for processing.
I took him in the back for his heel stick. The phlebotomist was almost brutal in taking getting his blood sample. He screamed and screamed and I did my best to choke back tears and comfort him. She looked at me with disgust as she continued to squeeze his foot to draw out the precious few drops of blood. After what seemed like an eternity, it was over and we could get him out of there.
We got to the doctor’s office and waited anxiously for the results. The night’s worth of formula feelings did the trick because he was finally starting to gain weight. His color was improving and the doctor praised us for making good decisions to get him back on track. He advised us not to feel guilty for formula feeding, which was the first time I felt like I was being treated like a human being, rather than another set of numbers by a rotating physician or nurse.
A few minutes later, his lab work came back and he was well within normal ranges. We were finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. He was going to be okay. We had another appointment for a weight check the next week, but we were moving in the right direction. Although I still felt badly about not being able to nurse him, I felt less guilty knowing that the formula got him out of the dangerous area he was heading.