So this Kangaroo Care is a thing.
In general when babies are born they are laid on the mother seconds after they emerge. Even if they are still all greezy and slick from their perilous journey. It’s a bonding thing and apparently there is enough science behind it that it has become much more common.
We didn’t get to do that with Frank. He wasn’t breathing when they busted him out through the sunroof. So he spent the first two minutes of freedom with a couple of great nurses who revived him, weighed him, cleaned him a little, and I do mean little, then brought me over to see him. All the while Tracy was getting her innards, which were now outside, put back inside again.
A C-section is a fascinating surgery. If you ever get the chance I highly recommend watching one. I’ve seen two up close and it’s just the coolest deal. I’ll go out on a limb and wager Tracy has a completely different view. The docs where pretty sharp though. Never labeled a thing yet somehow it all got back in the right spot and in fine working order.
Anyway I think Tracy got to hold Frank for the first time once we all got back to her room.
Well, needless to say we didn’t get to hold Anne Marie or Linda Claire either. By the time we did get to hold Linda Claire, God had already called her home. When we finally got to hold Anne Marie, it was me putting my hands through the small opening of her isolation box. Old folk like me call it an incubator. I now refer to it as simply the “Iso-box”. I think Isolet is the actual short form of the word but, you know, I don’t care. I name things what I name them. It’s the reason Frank has a binker not a binky or passy. Binker just sounds more funny.
As we became more comfortable with putting our hands into the Iso-box and touching our 1 pound 12 ounce baby, the nurses started talking about Kangaroo Care. This is where they take the baby and tuck her down into your shirt with only her head sticking out through the neck. This promotes skin to skin contact and is great for the kid’s well being. It’s basically the bonding we never got to do at the moment of truth.
This Kangaroo stuff was all news to me. Tracy mentioned to me that a nurse had said something about it and that she had read up on it, but I am too mesmerized by all the equipment and monitors and babies and stuff going on in the NIC-U(Neonatal Intensive Care – Unit) to retain much of what I hear. After the third explanation by the nurses, it turns out that men are more suited for Kangaroo Care. The deepness of a man’s voice, warmer body temperature, and the possible hairy chest all make for a much more soothing environment for the little tyke. Hey, they’re the experts, I’m just the messenger.
The deep voice and warmer temp I have in spades.
SPOILER ALERT: No hairy chest here. Possibly the only Italian male without one, my chance to get on Jersey Shore with Snooky and the gang went begging a long time ago.
As it happens, the one night I go to the hospital by myself, the nurse surprises me with this Kangaroo Care suggestion. At that point I’m still a little fuzzy on the whole deal so I was not completely clear what was about to happen, but again they’re the professionals. If a 30 year old nurse wants to reach down the front of my shirt who am I to argue. No judgment people!
So she sits me in a chair, pops open Anne Marie’s Iso-box and begins to untangle the wires, tubes, and equipment that makes it possible for a 1 pound 12 oz baby to survive. A fact the nurse makes clear to me; 30 years ago a lot of the 1 pounders would not have lived past day one.
The wires and tubes untangled, we begin the very awkward ballet of stuffing a tiny little baby down my shirt. Whitney, the nurse, was trying to be delicate at first but she also had the responsibility of keeping all the hoses and such in tact. Once she focused on that she got over her modesty and got Anne Marie in my shirt pretty quick. That’s the beauty of the nursing corps in the NIC-U. The baby is their sole focus. When their child’s welfare enters the equation all other things, issues, and whatnot just disappear. Make no mistake, Anne Marie is her child, and that’s exactly how we want it. That emotional investment by the nurses is why the UT Medical Center NIC-U has such a high survival rate for premies. That’s NIC-U speak for premature babies. Another sub-culture another set of lingo to learn.
The biggest issue with getting Anne Marie in my shirt was the ventilator hose. It was way too short to be Kangarooing. S0 I had to sit literally right next to the Box with my left shoulder almost under the platform the Box was on. So the nurse had to hold Anne Marie, manipulate the hoses, and step around and over me while doing that. Now I’m not ready for that show One Ton Dad, but I ain’t the svelte warrior I used to be either. So stepping around me became a bit of a stretch for Whitney. Jokes are free today gang.
Once docking was complete, Whitney shifted from nurse to engineer. She had to hang the hoses and wires and tubes in such a way as to keep them from pulling on Anne Marie’s face, puling out of the monitor, and getting kinked. MacGyver has nothing on these folks. The NIC-U version of duct tape is that white cloth tape use see trainers and EMT’s use all the time. She busted out a roll of that and started routing the wires. The final anchor point was my left shoulder. It was impressive, and I spent ten years as an electrician, wiring F-16’s for a living. It is more than calming to realize Anne Marie is the hands of very intelligent and very innovative people.
Whitney’s big mistake was once she got us both settled, she left. She walked two stalls over to work on another Iso-box. Well, it’s now about 9:45 in the evening, I’m more tired than I have ever been. I have a warm baby tucked between what might be the beginning of some man boobs. It’s quiet, the place is just humming along. What do you think is going to happen? I fell asleep. Apparently so did Anne Marie, which was indicated by her heart rate and blood pressure.
Now when Tracy wakes me up through-out the night for any number of reasons, all good ones I’m sure, I usually react as if I’m getting the last bolt of juice from the electric chair. For whatever reason, God’s hand most likely, when I sensed more than one or two sets of eyes staring at me, I slowly opened mine and before they got all the way open I realized I was holding a baby kangaroo in my shirt. I’m going to believe the nurses were marveling at the cuteness of it all, but in reality I was probably snoring and keeping all the babies awake. At least I didn’t drool.
The kangaroo deal was good. When her little hand reached up to hit my chin, it was all worth it. The movement was involuntary of course but who cares.
A few days later I got to hold her again in a much more traditional fashion. She was all wrapped up like a football, had fewer tubes, and no young nurses reaching down my shirt. Oh well, maybe next time. I gotta go do some push-ups.