Last week we entered Prentice Women’s Hospital via the bridge that takes visitors to the parking structure. We were over the moon, elated that Mary Dahl had burst into our world a week early.
This bridge also leads to what was once Children’s Memorial, and is now the The Ann and Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital. We gazed into its beautiful, kid-friendly, parent-distracting wonderland. I paused to say a few prayers- of gratitude that we were taking the happy path to our Grand daughter, and for the parents on more frightening missions at Lurie. Both Steve and I remarked upon the collision of emotions being funneled into this medical intersection
On Tuesday, just a week later, Little Mary Dahl was admitted to Lurie.
She is home now, so I can speak of this with joy and gratitude. And I am well aware that she was still among the healthiest patients in residence. She contracted peri-orbital cellulitis- an infection that filled her sinus area. The goal was to control it FAST with IV anti-biotics so that her eyes would not be affected, and to figure out what kind of infection caused it, so that it could be corralled before entering her bloodstream.
She will be on meds for 2 weeks, and the kids have learned how to monitor and cleanse any signs of infection. The staff did an amazing job of making Mary’s illness their priority. They were well aware that these new parents, consigned to Lazy Boys, were operating on zero sleep and in Kathryn’s case, the crazy roller coaster of post partum hormonal shifts.
It was scary. This is an instructional hospital, and infants with this are unusual enough that Mary became a “teaching opportunity.” Watching a Doctor pry your baby’s eye open with an instrument cannot be easy. Needles and IV catheters look giant next to 6 pounds, 10 ounces of baby.
It was a Baptism by fire into the responsibility and instinctive decision making that being a parent requires.
Mary had a contusion at birth that was described as a blocked tear duct. She was released with no concern for it, and had been to the pediatrician twice for check ups and weigh ins. Not a word was said about the puffiness on her face. Mike decided on Tuesday that it was getting angry, and he made an appointment. I assured him it was nothing- blocked tear ducts resolved once tears came in. I prescribed warm compresses. I am not a very good doctor. I hadn’t seen Baby Mary for 4 days, and should never have offered any opinion. I said to go ahead and keep the appointment for peace of mind.
Praise God they took her to the office in spite of me. The doc sent them right over to Lurie.
Parental instincts triumphed!
They aced this first test. There will be others. But this will empower them to trust themselves and advocate for their baby. WIN.
Last night, as Steve and I took the other branch from the parking structure, to Lurie- we couldn’t help but comment upon the pendulum that had whipped poor Mike, Kathryn and Mary in a week. Sometimes life is like that. And they were very, very lucky- they were there for treatment, and a rapid return to health.
We signed in, and shared the elevator with a veteran of Children’s visits. Her teenaged son was in a wheelchair, and Mom was moving into the hospital with him. She had two duffels, a blow up bed, sheet and blankets bungee corded to a cart. This drill was clearly not new for her. Yet she made some small talk, smiled, and followed her son as he checked into his new “home.”
The gift of perspective was not lost upon me. The doors closed behind them, and I lost my composure. Steve, my anchor, gave me “the look”; it was enough to calm me. It didn’t take two looks to remind me that A) Mary was going to be fine, and B) that a wobbly Me would make for wobbly Mike and Kathryn. The man is able to convey a world of wisdom with one extended bit of eye contact. It’s one of the reasons I love him…Grandpa Steve.
Little Mary looked tiny in her crib, and the IV looked harsh. The kids had travelled from scared to sad to strong and were anxious to take Mary home. They trusted all the kind Doctors, Nurses and Assistants. They had a dinner break with a bit of fresh air, and were hunkering down in the Lazy Boys when we left.
Steve had been the calm port for me and for Mike. Tuesday night, after Mike checked the baby in, he called home in fear. I heard Steve soothe his middle son, saying “babies look soft and weak, but they are tough and determined. Look how hard they work to be born. Everything will be fine. We are in a great city with a great hospital. Mary is fighting, and she will win. Get some sleep.” Sage advice. I was under the covers, smothering worried tears into a pillow.
And those words calmed me, too. I slept.
Tags: grandchildren, infant eye infection, janet dahl, Kathryn and Mike Dahl, Lurie Children's Hospital, MAry Dahl, new parents, parking bridge at Northwestern, pediatrician, peri-orbital cellulitis, Prentice Women's Hospital, Steve Dahl