When you arrive at the hospital to pick up your child and his nurse says, “Let me go see what the plan is,” your kid ain’t goin’ home that day.
Jack’s mom has described the Cardiac Care Unit, the step-down unit/purgatory in which Jack currently resides, as the world’s most expensive daycare.
I’ve come to think of the CCU as a sort of Hotel California: sure, they might tell you that your kid can come home today, but when you arrive, if your baby isn’t doing one-armed push-ups and running wind sprints in the hallway, they’ll want to keep him another night “for observation.”
Jack’s mom has informed me that my impression is mistaken, that Jack has been lapped by patients who were far behind him in line. The only patient they seem to want to hang onto, in other words, is Jack.
Well, why wouldn’t they? I reply. Those cheeks. And such a gifted politician, this kid, a shameless flirt, a bon vivant. I half-expect when I arrive in his room to find him reclined in bed wearing a smoking jacket, bantering with his pedicurist about the best place in Antibes to watch the sun set.
His mother’s scowl invites me to check my dad privilege. She’s not enjoying his extended sleepover at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
So the issue is his weight. He lost weight after his surgery, and although his weight has fluctuated, the resident doctor I spoke with today said they’d like him to return to pre-surgery weight before releasing him. In the meantime, the resident doctor reported, the attending doctor wanted to start fortifying Jack’s breastmilk with some formula-based whatever.
One of the most frustrating aspects of the CCU as compared with the CICU is the seemingly uncoordinated nature of care. Different doctors and nurses appear to follow their own plans regarding care, with ad hoc coordination. It would be an exaggeration to suggest that they approach their plan of care by shaking one of those 8-balls and reading what floats to the top, but it is not an exaggeration to point out that they don’t seem to talk to one another. Or enter anything into a computer.
For Jack’s mother, who is legendary in her professional life for running fat-free meetings, and who conducts family outings to the beach like a field marshal, this state of affairs is intolerable.
I’m thinking as I hear the resident doctor explain the attending doctor’s wishes that he and his colleagues don’t realize how close they are to having a six-pack of full throttle mom-whoop ass opened on them. But they mean well, and this resident doctor — who looks like he was conceived when I started college — is an excellent emissary: warm yet with his head screwed on straight.
So I reply that agreeing to such a plan is above my pay grade and that I would have to consult the boss.
After several minutes, Jack’s mom and the attending physician reach a negotiated settlement: Jack can stay there another night, but no fortification, or frozen breastmilk. He was given formula fortification the first time he was in the hospital, mom explains, and the results weren’t pretty. Think freshman year bender; 3 am; the Taco Bell bathroom.
Plus, CHOP’s secret laboratory already tested mom’s breastmilk and judged it to be more calorically dense than astronaut ice cream. I think some government health fund wants to send a team from NIH to study her.
Anyway, I would bring back a crate load of the fresh stuff, plus one of Jack’s Level 2 nipples from home. I was appalled to find out they had him using the same Level 1 nipples he was using when he was a month old. Of course he’s not eating that much, I bellowed in paternal righteousness.
Let me briefly dadsplain. I do Jack’s nighttime feeds, which means that until 3-4 am I’m in a dark bedroom with a little baby without anything to do except dance with him to whatever’s on my headphones and study his eating habits.
This kid eats, with attitude. His brother eats too, but differently. When he was a baby, Ryan just kinda moved through space open-mouthed, like a whale, ingesting anything that came along his path: breastmilk, avocados, bottle caps, my hand.
Jack eats like he’s trying to prove something. And he’s an episodic eater. He eats, does some Kung Fu kicks, looks around, eats some more. I call him The Munch. Ryan would eat until he blacked out, then after regaining consciousness he’d bounce around in his jumper like nothing happened. Jack’s always got food somewhere in his mind. Different philosophies.
So I noticed several weeks before he was 3-months old that Jack was trailing off at the end of his feeds. Time for Level 2 nipples. Boom. Volume soared, pediatricians gazed at growth charts and nodded approvingly. Dad is a genius.
He’s been feeding using his setup from home since this afternoon. I gave him two bottles today at the CCU and he took ’em down like the Munch of old. His nurse reported similar Munchiness after I left. So we’ll soon find out how smart Dad really is (spoiler alert: in most cases, not very. Hopefully this one’s an exception).