Friday, July 25, 2008

Flashbacks and Dreams

Kai had to get ultrasounds of her head, abdomen, liver, spleen and spinal cord this last week in order to ensure that there weren't any hemangiomas growing internally. It is routine to do ultrasounds any time an infant has more than 3 hemangiomas, and Kai has about 12 of them (most of them quite small). And, even though she hasn't had any blood in her stools the last few weeks, the fact that she had that problem recently was all the more reason to do the tests. Ultrasounds are no big deal. It isn't an invasive procedure. It doesn't hurt. Combine that with the fact that there was a very low probability that the hemangiomas were growing internally (our doctor was just being cautious and following procedure, which we obviously appreciate) and I convinced myself that I wasn't too concerned about the upcoming tests. Leave it to my subconscious to disagree. The night before the ultrasound, I had horrible NICU nightmares. I haven't dreamed about the NICU ever. Even when we were in the middle of it. But, Tuesday night, it's all I could think about.

The next morning, as we approached the hospital, I realized we hadn't actually been in the hospital since May 22nd, when Kai was discharged. Her doctor's office is in a different building, and so we hadn't had to park in the dreaded garage or cross that street making the trek we had made each and every day for 5 consecutive weeks. And, as we made that familiar trek once again this last week, I had the overwhelming urge to run the other way. I did not want to walk back into that place, even if this time we were walking in with a healthy baby in our arms and we knew that we'd be leaving with her at the end of the exam (which does make it infinitely easier than walking in without a baby and leaving a few hours later similarly babyless). When Kai was in the NICU, both Eric and I dealt with it. We had to. We made the trek every day, multiple times a day. We held her, fed her, talked to her and kept our chins up. We saved our biggest cry for a few days after she came home, when we could finally let go of all the stress and feel happy for the first time since she was born. And, while I feel back to my old self these days, returning to the hospital this last week made me realize that I have not fully dealt with the experience of the NICU. And, I may never deal with it. I don't have to. I can just file it away and hope to never return to that place again. Which is what I had done until we had to go back to the hospital this week. And, even though we were only there for a couple of hours, I hated every minute of it.

Before we went to the hospital, I thought we might stop by the NICU and say hello to the nurses and doctors that we had gotten to know so well during our extended stay. But, as soon as the exam started, it was clear to both of us that we weren't in the visiting mood. We wanted to get the test over with and get the hell out of there, which is what we did.

But, the good news is the ultrasounds didn't reveal anything abnormal (did I bury the lead?). Yea!! I suspected as much before we went. My new dairy-free diet seemed to have resolved the issue Kai was having with her bowels, and I knew from my research of hemangiomas that it is quite rare for them to develop internally (and, yes, I know that statistics don't mean much when you are on the losing end of them and that just because something is rare doesn't mean it doesn't happen. You're talking to someone who has been hit by a car, spent 6 weeks in the hospital and 8 weeks in a body cast, had jaw surgery at 14, and - most recently - had severe preeclampsia at 32 weeks resulting in her baby spending 5 weeks in the NICU... I, as well as anyone, know that bad things can happen and that statistically improbable events occur. But, I also know that more often than not, things turn out OK and that one bad run doesn't doom you to a lifetime of bad runs...). Anyway, so my research indicated we probably had little to worry about and I'm pleased to report that this time, the statistics were right!

The other good news is that we're done testing for awhile. No more scary doctor appointments on the horizon. Kai has a clean bill of health, as long as she (meaning I) remains dairy-free.

As anticipated, my new diet has led to cravings (that can't be fulfilled). I DREAMED of macaroni and cheese this week. It was so good. But, being the sort that can't live in a dreamworld -- even when it ACTUALLY IS a dream - my dream took a turn for the annoying... as soon as I finished the last bite of the imaginary mac & cheese, I immediately freaked out and called the doctor, confessing that I had just eaten dairy. I had to wake myself up to quit freaking out. How pathetic that I cannot allow myself to enjoy pretend dairy products without feeling guilty. Honestly, sometimes I just want to slap myself. Relax! It wasn't real! Enjoy it, you freak... the dreamland dairy is all you have for the foreseeable future.

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