Monday, June 1, 2009
We brought our preemie daughter home on a Tuesday and, by Thursday, my NICU-release instructions demanded that we get our little girl into the office of her "regular pediatrician". The Wednesday in between those days is a blur of phone calls, to be honest. I had so many appointments to make and/or confirm that I felt like the phone was attached to my ear all day long. When I called our pediatrician's office, I learned we would have to see one of our doctor's partners and that they wanted us there at 1 pm (less exposure to sick kids at that time and no waiting time since it was the first appointment after the lunch break). Our doctor is about 35 minutes away, so I was happy to have a "later" appointment to avoid a frantic morning.
Still, even with a one o'clock appointment, I started getting the kids ready well before noon. After all, I had two babies to load up- one who was thirty pounds and not yet walking, another who had tons of equipment to juggle. Also, because of her prematurity and the fact that she was fed through an ng-tube, C. was on a very strict feeding schedule and, wouldn't you know it, one her meals needed to fall right around 1 pm. This meant that I had to somehow rig the tubing to hang from a garment hook so that I could pull over about halfway to our destination and start the flow of milk through the tube. I also needed to fill the portable oxygen tank, make sure her apnea monitor battery was charged, and replace the leads (the little pads that attached the monitor wiring to her chest) and tape all over her. Ah, yes. And, like any mommy, I had to make sure the diaper bag was stocked. For two babies.
Finally, I was ready to hit the road. I had driven less than five times over the past four months. Between restrictions after my surgery, being within walking distance of the hospital, and only having one car with us at the Ronald McDonald House, there simply weren't many occasions for me to get behind the wheel. So, to be honest, I was pretty cautious as I headed out.
I had never been to this particular office before. We had been unhappy with our previous pediatrician and had been fortunate enough to "get in" with a truly exceptional doctor. (The office hadn't been accepting new patients for some time but agreed to take on our family because of our daughter's unique circumstances.) I had directions scrawled on a paper on the passenger seat and managed to find the building with no difficulty. But where to park? I took a gamble, headed right, and found a spot.
It was not even a quarter 'til one, but I still had much to do. I didn't have a double stroller yet, so I got my son out and put him in the single stroller. My daughter was in the infant seat, so I carried her with one hand. The apnea monitor, oxygen tank, and diaper bag all hung across my chest and over my shoulder. I can't even tell you how much weight I had hanging on me. I pushed the stroller with one hand and hauled the seat with the other. Slowly (very slowly!) I started making my way across the parking lot. As I got closer to the nearest entrance I realized...
I was at the surgery center.
I needed to be about half a block over to the left. Now, that probably doesn't sound very far, but it seemed insurmountable to me at the time. I also couldn't even fathom heading back to the car and reloading all that equipment. I pushed forward.
A youngish man in a white coat approached me. Turns out he was a surgeon, returning from lunch. He saw my juggling act and offered to carry the diaper bag and push the stroller, that is, if I felt comfortable letting him.
"It looks like you know what you're doing with all that specialty gear, so I wouldn't want to interfere with that."
I cannot tell you how pathetically grateful I was. As we walked, he asked about my little girl and told me that he and his wife had had a preemie daughter, but that she had been born at 30 weeks (a far different scenario, to be sure!). He ended up going with me the entire way to the ped's office... up the elevator, down the hall, everything. I will always be thankful for the kindness shown to me by this stranger...
We got in to see the doctor rather quickly and, as a whole, she was very impressed with how well C. was doing. We made an appointment to come back in a week and a half for our little girl's four-month check-up. My son would have his fifteen-month check-up at the same time.
As I again re-checked all our gear before heading out the door, I breathed a sigh of relief. It appeared we were all going to survive our first outing...