If you smell baby vomit, that’s probably me.
We had a terrible time with Baby Girl yesterday, so much that we almost took her to the hospital. She has such a small window of time to get enough food in before becoming dehydrated, or worse, dying with very little warning. It is maybe the most terrifying thing we have ever done, trying to care for this baby.
Nathan asked me what would happen if she did die. He was anxious, after having worked so hard to get a few milliliters in her that she promptly sent spewing out her nose. I was just coming home from work, and still in my clinical head space. I replied simply and directly, “they would probably take away all the other kids for at least a few days.”
That did not make him less anxious. Oops.
Last night she finally ate again, and has continued to do much better today. It is not enough yet, but it is consistent and often. And staying down. And that counts.
We are living hour by hour, getting the baby fed one bottle of ten milliliters at a time, sometimes twenty, and once in a while thirty. Or nothing. Or all of it, which may or may not stay down.
She is trying so hard, and we are trying so hard.
The other kids love her, especially because she is so very good and quiet compared to all the other babies we brought home straight from being born and still detoxing.
The baby’s mother’s court date is Monday, so we will see what happens, and if she really gets to stay, or if she has to leave soon to go to rehab with mom the way Two is about to go. Allegedly.
In the meantime, the kids are adjusting to the new summer routine for now: the Threes go to preschool very early, all because they all three adjust better with food and so eat breakfast there. The Sixes have school with me, and then go to summer school, and afternoons at BnG or their various therapies. Nathan and I take turns feeding the baby, who never cries unless she is cold or her tummy hurts.
Oh, and this week, five of the seven children had double ear infections. I lost count of trips to urgent care, the doctor, and the ER, between them and this baby who is almost eating but not quite.
I have had three intakes cancel because they were moving, which means I have not had enough hours for work, which is excellent timing for my personal life while we got the baby home, but is terrible for doing my job. I don’t think I will even get my whole paycheck tomorrow. Nathan has an interview for a symphony job next week, which is super exciting.
I have turned in my final evaluations for my Jewish Studies, and have no more classes there for now. For the chaplaincy at Hillcrest, I have only three more overnights and then it is finished, which feels like a miracle because we thought there were six more. This week and next week were mid-terms for my other school, and I got all of those done but one, plus four papers and two book reviews and three projects. I also had to preach twice at Hillcrest this week, once at the VA, plus another talk to have ready, most all of which I did either while already at the hospital waiting on pages, or while holding one baby or child or another while trying to type. I had to do my final for Hillcrest, and turned in my last verbatim and reflection and book report for them. This only leaves the weekly ones for the VA, which is a great relief.
The Relief Society brought us some meals, which was an amazing gift, and I am so grateful for so many who have helped and been so kind to us. I realized in pondering this that I think I moved in the middle of my grief, that when we came to Bartlesville I was so raw and hurting from my mother being killed that I just needed to disappear. That happened easily enough when I got called to nursery, but even since being released, and since healing so much from my grief, besides the whole cancer drama, I am not sure I ever got the courage up to really be very good friends with the church friends I so adore. Those two years so knocked the breath out of me that I am only just now finding myself standing back up again, and the call to chaplaincy has been so intense that it is only just now that I am shaking it off and looking around and realizing I am breathing again and that it maybe would be okay to reach out a little. I will try. I don’t know how I will do, but I will try. There are people I really admire and appreciate, and would love to know them better, but have felt so weak for so long, and so shy, and so overwhelmed by everything else that it has been hard to know where to start. But that’s where I will start, I think, with finding a place to start.
Tonight I am back at the VA, writing this instead of verbatims while I eat a quick dinner of some yogurt I brought from home and an apple. Tomorrow is my paperwork day for my work, including another intake that allegedly is going to show up, plus a monthly meeting, and then tomorrow night we have a family date with my office if we can make it happen. We need some playtime, after these hard weeks, so I think it will be good for us, if we can pull it off.
While I am here, Grandma Bayles has watched the baby long enough for Nathan to round up kids, and Nathan’s mother is bringing over dinner. She is bringing meatloaf and potatoes, I think, because she knows it is my favorite and she really wanted me to say yes. She is so sneaky. Except now I am not even there, which seems cruel, excepting if I work late tonight, then I don’t have to work Sunday. And so it is.
My goal now is to finish these verbatims in time for me to be able to get home before the kids are asleep, and then, just maybe, read some Winnie the Pooh to them, and then, maybe, just maybe, get to practice cello as they go to sleep.
But that might be in my imagination