I had coffee with a pregnant friend Monday morning to catch up and share what little I’ve learned about the mechanics of early motherhood. I was surprised how much talking about the first few weeks already felt like looking in the rear view mirror. Emmett was feeling less and less like an alien creature with a few recognizable settings and growing into a member of the household who has his own quirks and personality. I’d already packed away most of his 3-6 month outfits (our guy is a tall drink of water at nearly 4 months) and he’d been sleeping through the night for weeks. (I take no credit for this good fortune. Cluster feeding then swaddling the bejesus out of the boy seemed to do the trick, because wild arms were the thing keeping him awake, but every baby is different. Also maybe he sensed I’m much more fun if I’ve had solid rest?)
Later that night, I was reading blogs in bed (so many new babies!) and high-fived Joe for his part in getting through the first few harrowing months of parenting a newborn.
The self-congratulatory moment lasted about three hours, broken by piercing howls in the middle of the night. At first, I chalked Emmett’s fussiness up to the dreaded four month sleep regression I had read about. I changed a diaper and did the swaying soothe-back-to-sleep dance, only to have E wake again with even more intense screams. It was 3 a.m.. Joe and I flailed around, taking his temperature (no fever) and redialing the nurse hotline. As Miss Clavel would say: something was not right!
The next big diaper had blood in it, and then Emmett couldn’t keep anything down. His pain seemed to come in waves, and he’d writhe and wriggle. He calmed enough to sleep for a few hours, but before dawn Joe was looking up symptoms online. Signs pointed to intussusception, a random intestinal issue where a portion of the bowel telescopes in on itself. Joe’s instincts were right. We were at our pediatrician as soon as they opened and our doctor not only confirmed the diagnosis but then marched us to the ER with Emmett in her arms. (I was definitely in tears, feeling like a big failure of a mom.)
I did not expect to be donning a lead vest on Tuesday morning, watching our baby’s intestines get pumped full with air (the first mode of treatment is a kind of air enema) on an x-Ray machine. It looked like blowing up a bicycle tire! He had a stubborn spot, so then he went for surgery. The scariest part was knowing he’d be under anesthesia. The surgeon had to gently massage the bowel back to its elongated shape, and they took out his tiny appendix while they were in there, to help reduce the possibility of the problem reoccurring. (And apparently an appendix is pretty much pointless, although I told Joe it’s probably secretly an organ the aliens use to track us. So when we’re all beamed to the mothership, E can rule the world.)
Everything went smoothly, and we stayed in the hospital overnight for observation. Emmett couldn’t eat for 12 hours after surgery and he was pretty P.O.ed about that. The little guy has a scar (like Madeline!) and a scratchy throat from his breathing tube, but he’s definitely on the mend. As kind as the hospital staff was, I made Emmett swear on his E.T. toe that he wouldn’t make a return trip.
I also know our scare was minimal and our hospital stay short in comparison to what a lot of families who have sick children go through. I am so grateful for insurance, the kind words of encouragement from friends and family and awesome neighbors who bought us dinner as we recover!