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Oct 28 2013

Getting Angry with God Over My Daughter’s Rare Disease

By at 12:29 pm

chillinginroom copy

On July 16th, we (OK…my wife) gave birth to our second daughter.

Six weeks early.

By emergency C-section.

The day after our 8-year-old returned from a month-long motor home road trip with Bubbe, Grandpa, and the cousins.

And that was the easy part.

Her name (the daughter, not the wife) is Eliana Tova.  The common translation of Eliana is “God has answered,” and Tova translates as “good.”

We were attracted to the name in part because of the 8-year gap between our children.  Suffice it to say that the gap in time wasn’t voluntary, so we were grateful that God had, it seemed, answered us with something good. Or had He? Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 25 2013

Friday Night: My First Shabbat Visit to the ER in Israel

By at 12:51 pm

hospital

A trauma in three acts:

Act I

The Friday could not have started any nicer; my 4-year-old daughter, Raphaela, celebrated her birthday in nursery school–always a touching and emotional event in the Israeli school system–and as a bonus, my parents had arrived the day before from Boston and were able to join in the festivities.

That afternoon, my parents offered to babysit Raphaela, a luxury for me both as a single mother by choice, and as a woman who moved to Israel 16 years ago, with no immediate family living anywhere on the continent. What a sense of freedom knowing that my child is in capable and loving hands, and that I have several hours with no responsibilities other than to myself.

Then, that evening, while waiting at my parents’ vacation apartment for my father to return from synagogue, Raphaela tripped on a quilt and smashed her chin directly into the hard cold tiled floor that typifies most Israeli buildings. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 24 2013

Yes, There is a Such Thing as a Non-Painful Birth

By at 3:45 pm

lilbabies copy

I stood in the hallway of the hearing clinic, waiting in line for my son’s appointment. I overheard another mother telling her birth story to a 19-year-old girl.

The young girl was slim and trim; her belly skin was so tight that her navel practically kissed her back. The girl responded with something between a scrinch and a smile–it was clear she was trying not to appear grossed out by the gory details, though the contour of her lips said it all. The mom continued to talk animatedly about her painful experience of pushing for 12 hours. She spared no details, explaining how her insides felt as if they had popped out of her like a jack-in-the-box on speed. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 22 2013

You Are Your Own Birth Advocate

By at 10:05 am

newborn baby with identification bracelet“Are laboring and birthing women treated abusively in the hospital?”

Wait…what?

My first thought on reading that sentence was, “That doesn’t even make sense.” I’m familiar with abusive relationships, as well as with labor and birthing. This sentence, from an abstract of an article in the Journal of Perinatal Education entitled “Abuse in Hospital-Based Birth Settings?” piqued my curiosity with its deliberate use of a red-flag word.

I’m not sure if the word “abusive” is warranted for the doctor-patient dynamic in the L&D setting (certainly it hasn’t been within my experiences)–but I do feel, inappropriately enough, that the word “paternalistic” often is. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 15 2013

My Baby Idan’s Fight to Live

By at 9:55 am

baby idanI had a dream the other night; it was vivid and frightened the hell out of me. My son was on a table, and his body looked like a roasted chicken. He was crying because there was a doctor behind him pulling his chicken limbs off, one by one. I screamed and cried with my son, but had no power to stop or reverse his pain.

This dream is crazy but perhaps painfully understandable when you consider my history. Four months ago, my son Idan, who was 8 months old at the time, was rushed to ER because his respiratory rate had increased to a speed of 80 times per minute and he was panting like a dog. Obviously, something was wrong, but we had no way of anticipating what would come next.

We spent three weeks in the pediatric ICU with Idan hooked up to a ventilator and half a dozen tubes and IVs. He had contracted PCP, a rare form of pneumonia and was being treated for it, yet on the day he showed signs of recovering, the doctors came to deliver worse news. “Your son has a severe immune deficiency disorder, but we don’t know what it is yet,” they told us. Weeks went by until we had a diagnosis: Hyper IgM, also known as a CD40 Ligand Deficiency. Okay, it was worse than that: it was X-Linked Hyper IgM, meaning it was passed down through the mother.

Take a moment to digest that one. It came from me. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 31 2013

How Facebook Helped Me Cope with My “Mommy Fail”

By at 12:24 pm

little girl crying“Tonight I failed my baby daughter.”

This was my status update on the night of November 7, 2012. I was sitting on my couch, feeling like the Worst Parent in the World. My 1-year-old twins were sleeping peacefully in the nursery. My husband had gone to bed, too, but I was wide awake, replaying the incident over and over in my head, trying to figure out how I had allowed myself to commit this lapse of good judgment. I normally reserved Facebook updates for cute pictures of my son and daughter, or of the Food Network recipes I was so proud of myself for successfully replicating, but tonight was different. It was a plea: Let me know I’m not the only one. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 12 2012

My 1-Month-Old’s Emergency Surgery

By at 9:56 am

Three weeks after Jared was born, he started spitting up. At first it was normal baby barf, but it became heavier and more frequent.

By his 4-week birthday, Scott and I were living out of the washing machine. We left it full of soap and water, dumping soiled onesies, footies, burp cloths, bibs, and our own vomit-soaked clothes into it throughout the day. We ran the washer at night and as we needed new clothes for ourselves or our son, we pulled them out of the dryer. At the height of the worst, Scott changed Jared’s clothes five times in one hour. The footies were soaked from head to toe and front to back. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 31 2012

Hurricane Sandy and the NICU

By at 12:00 pm

Five months ago yesterday, my son was born. Yes, it amazes me that time has flown by so fast, but today what is really on my mind is where he was born.

I labored, delivered, and cared for my son in the first days of his life at NYU Hospital. The very same one that was evacuated late on Monday night when Hurricane Sandy hit New York City–hard.

When Benjamin was born (and my daughter Abigail too, for that matter), I knew that the folks at NYU were stellar. They took excellent care of all of us, constantly doing more than I would have expected in order to keep everyone healthy and happy. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 29 2012

A 3 A.M. Hospital Visit for my 3-Day-Old Daughter

By at 12:05 pm

“There’s something wrong with the baby.”

Those are the words you never want to hear about your 3-day old daughter. You certainly don’t want to hear them at 3 a.m. It was barely 12 hours since we had brought our baby girl home from the hospital for the first time. I sat up in bed, squinting at the baby nurse holding my newest little girl. The hall light shone behind her, blinding me as I wondered if she had really said what I thought she had said, or if this was some sort of bad dream. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 11 2012

How I Became a Father Six Weeks Earlier than Planned

By at 4:37 pm

avram mlotek new babyWe sat in the waiting room.

My wife and I came up with a list of what we had to do later that day: respond to emails, clean our apartment, maybe watch an episode of Mad Men.

We had been sensitive to the kabbalistic notion of the ayin ha-ra, the evil eye, and refrained from excessive preparation of unconfirmed events. Yet, we figured, with a month away and a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan to reorganize, it was time to build a crib. Earlier that day before the unexpected rush to the hospital, my grandparents surprised us with a rocking chair they had reupholstered for their first great-grandchild. A few hours later, my wife went into labor six weeks before our baby’s expected due date. Read the rest of this entry →

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