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Monday, September 19, 2005

The Epic Story of Our Sick Baby ...

I am not feeling well. I have a screaming mad headache. My back is on fire. My eyes are hot. Muscles that have previously remained silent are now being extremely vocal about their feelings for me. My arms are running at about sixty percent. My stomach is screaming for food but I can't get myself to work properly enough to make me some food.

However, of my wife and myself, I am the one that is feeling less not well. So I'm in charge. My wife and I have had an incredibly trying, incredibly sad, incredibly painfully three days. A lot of tears have been shed. But despite the numerous road blocks in front of us, we are going to fight this thing. We are eventually going to be okay.

Thursday night, immediately after her birth during the c-section while Natasha's stomach was still cut wide open, little Isabela was rushed to the nursery room where she was placed under an oxygen tent. Natasha never got to hold the baby, touch the baby's hand, or even look into her eyes. I, being the father, had to run past our families into the nursery and look on as they poked and prodded and went through the whole "intense scene from the show E.R." routine. It was almost midnight. I was in a room with twenty or so sleeping babies. Somewhere a little radio was playing "Tears in Heaven." I cried as I heard my newborn baby cry as they placed tubes and I.V.s into her.

I thought she was going to die.

Eventually, as things calmed down and Bela stopped crying, a really cute nurse with short dyed hair and thick glasses that suggested she once worked for Starbucks told me what was up. Our baby was sick. She told me the name of Bela's disease and I had no idea what it meant. I wished Natasha was there. She's so much smarter than I am. I wished she wasn't bleeding through her stomach and that she was right beside me explaining things in a simple way like she always does.

The following excerpt is taken from a medical web site called and it explains what Isabela has ...

Meconium Aspiration Syndrome occurs when a newborn inhales (aspirates) a mixture of meconium (baby's first feces, ordinarily passed after birth) and amniotic fluid during labor and delivery. Although meconium is passed in up to 20% of births, not all infants who pass meconium develop MAS. Of the babies who pass meconium, 20% to 30% either inhale the meconium in utero or with the first breath.

The inhaled meconium can cause a partial or complete blockage of the baby's airways. Air flows past the meconium trapped in the baby's airways as she breathes in; however, it becomes trapped in her airways when she exhales. In addition, the inhaled meconium irritates the baby's airways and makes it difficult for her to breathe.

The severity of MAS depends on the amount of meconium the baby aspirates. Generally, the more meconium a baby inhales, the more severe the condition.

Usually, the nice nurse told me, babies poop out this meconium during stressful events, so usually during labor. Well, Isabela pooped WAY BEFORE Natasha had the baby, so she was swimming in it for an unknown amount of time. Her fingernails were green. Her tongue was green. Her umbilical cord was bright green. I didn't even get to cut it. It was severe. But they said that she didn't seem to be too affected by it and that they were going to place her under 24 hour watch in the nursery under the oxygen hood.

They told me that she was fine, that she would be fine, that she was just having a little bit of problems breathing and that she would be alright tomorrow. I was able to hold her little hand. She gripped my finger with a strong grip and I could see her long green fingernails. They say that long fingernails is a sign of M.A.S. but I'd like to think she got them from me. She had black matted hair just like mine. She wasn't crying. She was looking right at me with massive hazel eyes, sometimes yawning, sometimes smiling. I felt bad that I was able to spend an hour in the nursery with Isabela right after she was born and Natasha had seen her for less than a minute, but I thought that everything was going to be okay.

I wasn't allowed to stay the night. It's customary for women who have had c-sections to have their own private room. But apparently a lot of women like to screw during December like us because the entire hospital was packed. Not a single private room was available so Natasha had to share a room with a skinny little mexican teenager who just had a baby and couldn't speak english. I was allowed to sit with her for a few minutes, then I had to leave. I had promised Natasha when were were married that I would spend every single night with her, that I would never sleep without her. This was the first time in over two years. It was two in the morning. And it was then, walking down a dark maternity ward, that I remembered that I was afraid of hospitals.

But I drove home happy. That's what came back to bite me in the ass, the fact that when I drove home I was smoking a cigarette and listening to "Layla" and drinking a soda and smiling. I had a baby, a brand new baby girl, and that she and my wife were going to be okay. In the literary world that is called setting one's self up for an ironic tragedy, like when Tom Hanks says "I'll be back" in the movie Castaway. I shouldn't have been happy that night. I shouldn't have drank half a bottle of Boone's in celebration and gone to sleep slightly buzzed sometime after four in the morning. I should have been preparing myself. I should have known.

I was woken up at six in the morning by my father in law. The M.A.S. was worse than they had thought and Isabela was being rushed from Mercy General, where Natasha was, to Mercy San Juan to be taken care of in their N.I.C.U. ward. The NICU, pronounced "Nick-You" in that one episode of E.R. where Abby and the terrorist chick do a rotation there, is the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It is where the really sick babies go, usually preemies that are many months early or are born with some rare sickness. In less than five minutes I was in the car and speeding to the hospital to be with Natasha. In less than a half hour I was by her side. She rolled her in to our room so that we could see her before she left. She was in one of those massive oxygen baby boxes. She was alseep. And because of how small Natasha's shared room was, she could barely see her newborn baby before they took her off to another hospital.

Enter sadness. Enter depression. Enter crying and holding each other and talking and wiping away tears and trying to eat when all you can think about is your sick baby. I had very little sleep and had barely eaten in the last two days. I was a mess. My parents, who are now officially cool, came in to see us sometime that friday afternoon. They took me down the the cafeteria and got me lunch. I pigges out in a way that I didn't know possible. I talked to them about everything that was happening and it was agreed that after lunch we would go see Isabela at San Juan.

My parents, being my parents, got lost on the way to the hospital. And I had Natasha's breast milk on ice. And it started melting. I had to run into a Circle K and steal ice from their soda fountain. That's something to laugh about later. My fucking parents, man.

But after seeing Isabela in the Nick-You, talking to her doctor and her nurses, after seeing the place they have down there, the people that are there to take care of her, after being there for a few hours and touching her and talking to her, somehow everything felt better. I felt better. I talked to Natasha and she felt better. People from work like Jessica and Amanda came to visit and we felt better. Marisa and Nikara came over and we felt even better. We were laughing. Things felt awesome. Isabela was getting better. And so were we.

After that, Natasha made it her mission to get better enough to get the hell out of the hospital. She started walking. She started eating. She smiled. She joked. She looked awesome. She felt awesome. She was getting incredibly better and wanted to get out of there fast. A private room became available and friday night I was able to stay with her at the hospital. I scrunched up next to her on the hospital bed and slept in impossible positions, some including a steel bar in my arms and back, but despite it being the most painfull sleep I ever had, it was also the greatest, most painful sleep I ever had.

And on friday night Natasha was out of the hospital. We had the baby right after 11:40 pm on thursday night and by 6:00 pm saturday night we were getting ready to leave. C-section women are supposed to stay for a minimum of three nights. But not Natasha. Anyone who knows her knows that you cannot make her do anything. And she wanted to see her baby come hell or high water. And driving straight to San Juan fron Mercy General, that is just what she did.

We spent all of yesterday at the hospital, save two hours where we were not allowed there due to a shift change during which we went to Target and made a baby registry. My feet are fucking exhausted from standing up all day at the Nick-You, but considering all that Natasha and Bela have been through, I would stand from now until the end of the world to prove my love for my family.

Yesterday Natasha and I were there with Isabela. And we were there to see her amazing transformation. We were there when they took off the oxygen hood and put little breathing tubes in her nose. We were there to bottle feed her for the first time. We were there to touch her face and give her a pacifier and hold her hands and talk to her and sing to her and tell her everything is going to be okay. We were there when she first met her big sister Emerald. In fact, Isabela is the queen of visitors. She's seen my parents, my brother, Natasha's parents, her cousin Deinna, her big sister, and her godmother Nikara. I think Isabela is going to have both godparents and Woodparents. I would really like that and Natasha doesn't mind.

She's doing better every day. She's doing great at the same rapid speed that her mother got better after being sliced at the hospital. Every day we watch as she gets better and better. In fact, we JUST got a call from Bela's doctors who say that she's no longer on the antibiotics and in a day or two they say that she's getting better so quick that in a day or two they should be able to take all the tubes out of her.

We haven't even held her or taken her home and already Isabela is completely and absolutely amazing. She's incredible. She's kicking ass and taking names. Soon she'll be home. Soon Natasha will be up and feeling better.

And soon we'll be a family.

Did I mention Natasha and I have a baby registry at Target? Look under Galindo, Natasha and Steve.

1 comment:

Gregorio said...

Holy shit dude... congratulations, and I'm sorry. Fully not intending to quote the title of a Gin Blossoms album (one that sucked, I might add), I truly mean those statements. You made a person... wow.

I'm really truly happy for you.