What the books don't tell you

This is hard - a lot harder than I'd imagined. Nothing prepared us for a weeks-long stay in the hospital. The baby books and our birth & baby care class briefly mentioned the possibility of premature birth, but nobody told us we could literally spend months in the hospital, with Anna more or less confined to a bed. Even after being admitted, the doctors told us not to expect a stay of more than 7 to 10 days. We're now starting our 16th day, and there's no indication anything is going to change soon. I've said numerous times that we've settled in for the long haul, but the realization of just how long that haul could turn out to be is only just now sinking in, and it's hitting Anna particularly hard. When the doctor stopped by this morning to deliver the perfunctory holding pattern/hang in there speech, she asked Anna if there was anything special she needed. Her deadpan answer: "Prozac." I laughed, and Anna smiled, but the doctor didn't take it as a joke. "We can get you something if you really need it." Up until that moment, I didn't fully recognize the severity of the toll this ordeal is taking on Anna. I'm doing everything I can to make her stay comfortable, but I can't take her home, and I can't even get her out of this room, and that's really all she wants right now. Even my words of encouragement seem like they may be doing more harm than good. I tell her that she's being strong for Frankie, and that every day she's in here is one less he'll spend alone in the NICU. I can't help but wonder if my well-intentioned cheerleading is accomplishing anything more than instilling in her an enormous amount of guilt and anxiety. And if I can't be a cheerleader, what exactly is my job? How am I supposed to carry my share of this load? I've joked before about how pregnancy can make a father feel both helpless and extraneous, but in the months leading up to this hospital stay, I was able to channel my overwhelming sense of uselessness into various projects around the house, preparing the nest and trying desperately to demonstrate my utility. Now, I'm stuck in this hospital, unwilling to leave Anna for anything more than a couple of hours at a time, and then only to do laundry or pick up groceries. And I don't want to leave. On the couple of occasions when I let Anna's mom spend some time alone with her daughter, I was basically a nervous wreck. She may be the one stuck in the bed, but I feel like I'm right there with her. Dr. Cosantino, one of our rotating obstetricians, likes to remind me that sometimes parental sacrifice starts early. The books don't tell you that.


Anonymous Judy B said...

Having been the person "in the bed" and the person who feels helpless standing "beside the bed", I don't know which is the most difficult but Anna knows that you would trade places in a minute if you could. You're being a wonderful husband, David, and we're so very proud of you. Frankie is a fortunate child, indeed, to have you and Anna as parents. Go ASTROS! (I just couldn't say "hang in there" again but wanted to say something encouraging....sorry Joann!). Love, mom

5:55 PM  
Blogger MommaS said...

I haven't been the one "in the bed", but I know about the sacrifices. My deal was gestational diabetes. It ruled my life the last 3 months of my pregnancy. Chris became a food nazi. I seemed to increase in size, and he lost weight! He went on the diet with me, and was very supportive, but there were times...Dave, all you can do is be there. Anna's tougher than me. I'd probably have alienated everyone around me by this time, simply by me crappy attitude! You do sacrifice ANYTHING for your child. Comfort and mobility (seriously) are 2 of the things you temporarily lose. Sleep, eating on time, going to the bathroom alone, having your shirt hiked up for a snack...(TMI??). It's all worth it. Trust me.


4:17 AM  
Anonymous Paul said...

well this is all terra incognita for those of us with no comparable experience whatsoever. actually i'm feeling a smidgen useless, too, since all we can do is read and gape. so trying to be useful, i'll write something like (ahem) "hang in there, buckaroos." but what i actually mean is "we love you and we're hanging on your every word, even if we're totally inadequate when it comes to lightening your load." heh, wasn't that sneaky?

Paul & Kseniya

6:32 AM  
Blogger dirtyweekender said...




8:08 AM  
Anonymous M Gralnick said...

Dave, I look forward to seeing you in person sometime in the future to just shake your hand and tell you of my admiration for your dedication. Perhaps we can chat over a Cards victory over the Astros? (just like what will happen this weekend @ Busch, ha ha). Anyway, I hope someday to be as giving as you have been. Yeah, Anna, didn't forget ya. Glad to hear things are status quo. You remain in my wishes...Marsh

12:21 PM  
Blogger BobDobbs said...

I know Dave has some fam in Oklahoma, but DAYUM them Sooners are dumb. At least Anna isn't up there with THESE kind of pregnant moms:

July 14,2005 | BARTLESVILLE, Okla. -- A woman has been arrested on child neglect charges after giving birth while drunk, police said. Melissa Irene Tanner, 37, is accused of having a blood alcohol content close to three times the legal limit when she gave birth to a baby girl on June 30.

She is being held in jail with bail set at $30,000 and the baby has been placed in foster care.

The baby was not breathing upon birth and had to be administered a medication to counteract any narcotics that may have been present in the child's system. After an emergency procedure by hospital staff, the child started breathing.

Tanner reportedly has six other children. According to a July 11 probable cause affidavit filed in the case, Tanner told police she and another person had consumed a case of beer.


3:05 PM  

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