So I missed a day of updating, and it was a rather important day too. So I shall make up for it with the gusto and verve befitting such a great story!
As of yesterday, early afternoon, Vivian is out of the NICU and returned to her mother!!!
We had gotten word around 11:30 that morning that she would be able to return back to the byouin with us following a trip back to the NICU. We had expected this and so before I left home the car seat was fitted into the back seat of my awesome, big, sports wagon. We had had a dusting of snow, so there was some concern about my big rear wheel drive tank compared to Cara’s small front wheel drive hatchback, but I said to hell with conventional wisdom, I want my wagon. Good thing too…
When the doctor was telling us she would be coming back to the byouin with us, he also said that one of the clinic’s midwives would be coming with us. Wait, what? Coming with us? In our car? There are some Japanese to English difficulties in communication, and the sentences are short, but this was pretty direct: “You drive (with arm motions of steering), my midwife go with.” Okay then.
The MIL stayed behind to get some lunch, and hit up the walking distance grocery store for some snacks for the hospital room, and Cara, the nurse (I shall call her nurse for the rest of the post, because I find midwife cumbersome) and myself headed out to the car. The nurse brought with her the same portable incubator that she had traveled to the NICU in a few days prior. (I find myself calling it the cooler, since it is about the size and shape of the Coleman cooler you would talk camping, though it keeps her warm.) We were a bit perplexed, and asked about the car seat, but they were adamant, in their almost 100% lack of understanding of what we were trying to say, that they were going to us the cooler instead. Okay, fine. We will figure it out in at the hospital.
We loaded up, did the 20 minute drive in near silence. The nurse speaks no English, so it makes conversation difficult. We arrived, and the ladies went up to the 4th floor, and I met them shortly after parking the car. We walked straight in, talked to another American woman whose premature son, who had been in the NICU for 3 weeks, was going home that day (yay!), and discussed the potential for future playdates.
The same doctor that treated her all along gave us the full debrief, and even did some explanation of blood chemistry, in her decent but not excellent English. Every so often she would stumble and require the translator, but for the most part she did great. So Vivian was proceeding very well. Possibly better than expected. She had been given a dose of baby RhoGAM and her number of A+ antibodies was decreasing to normal levels. Apparently you are supposed to have some level of antibodies against all blood types except O in your system at all times. Her A was too high, her B was just right, and her D was too low. The D was not really a concern, and with how well she responded to the RhoGAM, they felt she didn’t need any further treatment beyond monitoring, and that was within the capability of the byouin. Additionally, her jaundice levels had come down appreciably enough that she hadn’t received any light treatment, nor would she need any. Great news!
So following the debrief, they unhooked her from all of the machines, bundled her up, and gave her to her mother. We all walked out and the nurse prepared the cooler for Vivian. I was still uncertain on the whole deal, but I was assured it is normal. So out came the car seat, and in went in the cooler with my baby girl comfortably inside. I was messing with something else, so i missed her being loaded in the back seat, and didn’t realize until we were nearly driving away that there was no buckle of fastening of any kind of the cooler to the seat. Uh, what?
I asked the nurse about what would happen in an accident (again, almost no English here), and she just motioned that she would grab this very large box and hold on to it.
What the ____?
The first drive with your child in the car is generally considered one of the most tense drives of your life. Now imagine you 48 hour old child in a box, not fastened in to you car whatsoever. I was a bit tense. And accordingly I drove about as carefully as I could muster. 30 minutes later (notice 10 minutes more than the trip there) we were SAFELY back at the byouin. I needed a drink. Or more precisely, I needed to spend some quality time with my daughter. And between the rest of the day yesterday, and all of today, we did just that.
Everybody is now together, or at least during visiting hours, and mom and baby are getting acquainted with each other during all the rest of them. We are still working on when they will get to come home, but early next week looks promising. Then the real fun, without a nurse call button, begins. Just look at her devious smile.