Thursday, January 27, 2011

Zack Attack: Day 1 of the ICU

I debated with myself whether to write this and then I realized that I had documented Liz's death for the world, Zoe's gestation, the early parts of her life, and the entire in vitro process as podcast .
We also announced Zack's birth on facebook, so it would do him a disservice not to continue the reporting.

I don't believe in "God". I'm an atheist. I believe that when we die, we die and our contribution to the world and the universe and the multiverse is we become part of the soil and feed the planet. I think its too coincidental that just about every creatures' blood is the same color, even fish! There is too much in common with potato bugs and horses and pigeons to dispute that we are all interrelated.
It's for this reason that I was deeply offended when Lizzie was buried in a pink sarcophagus with little or no chance to decompose and become part of the earth. She's alone. In her pink tomb. It made me sad.
I was raised Jewish but I cotton more to the traditions and lifestyle guidance than I do to the dogma. It didn't rain for 40 days and nights and if it did it was just a pretty bad flood. But it didn't cover the Earth. It covered the small patch of land that was the neighborhood that the dwellers of the bible lived in and to them, that was the world. The stories are better suited as parable. They are Aesopian at best.
But, if I did believe in "God" I would seriously wonder just what he has in mind today. Because I'm sort of trapped in a cosmic joke.

At 11:30 AM yesterday, just under 28 hours of life, Zachary stopped breathing. He turned blue. I wasn't there to see it. Beth was and we were fortunate that she was awake to notice. She's on a lot of pain killers and little sleep, the C-Section and all.
To her credit she reacted quickly: She yelled for help. Then she called me and I raced through the streets of Los Angeles from West Adams to West Hollywood. Anyone who has had to deal with the San Vicente/Fairfax intersection knows what a feat it was that I made it, door to door, in 15 minutes.

When I arrived I made a beeline for the nursery. I could see Beth soon, but she was a few doors down and I really needed to check in on my son. There he was, in his lucite bassinet, sleeping behind three nurses who were going about their administrative business.
I breathed a sigh of relief and walked to Beth. She was so upset. I could see it in her eyes. Why shouldn't she be? But I assured her that her son was great. Come on, I implored, come, I'll show you.
I helped her to her feet and she, with great pain, ambled down the hallway to the nursery. As we walked in we approached the plastic crib. There was our son, all right. But he was turning blue. Again.
The nurses sprang in to action, especially the one nicknamed "Milkshake". That's what it says on her scrubs. "Milkshake". Wouldn't it be really great if that was her given name?
Alas, it wasn't.
I explained to her my previous experience with Liz (for Liz's story, please click here) and my understanding of O2 levels and the like. (Of course, in my panic, I misread the machine and thought her oxygen level was 120. And that was ridiculous.)
There's something about Cedars that has actually gotten even better over the past 4 years since Zoe was born there. The bedside manner has become even more helpful. It's now a case of "the customer/patient is ALWAYS right. Always where they need to be. Even if they are in the way." I came to learn that this was actually a dictum handed down from on high. Customer service and positive experience is the mantra of Cedars Sinai. Amazing. Liz would have loved this hospital.
The doctors determined that Zack needed to go up to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). I went with him. I've been down this road before. Liz had been in hospital something like 45 times and I think I only missed a handful of those visits.

I held Zack's hand as they stuck him to draw blood. I held him as they put in the IV stick.

No one could figure out what was happening, why this newborn had decided to stop breathing 3 times in 3 hours (it happened again while in the NICU), dropping his O2 to as low as 65 and turning blue.
Was it an infection? Was it neurological? What was the problem?

The doctor spoke with me for a bit and assured me that this is something they see in a great many newborns and 50% of the time it disappears without warning. 25% of the time it's infection. 25% of the time it's something else. He wasn't worried about it being fatal. Zack is healthy is every other way. He just...has some issues.

And that was yesterday. They put him on a CPAP mask which is blowing oxygen into his lungs about 20 times a minute. And they would monitor him all night. In the meantime I took a call from his pediatrician.

Zack and Zoe's ped is the best in town. We adore this guy. But in his effort to be thorough he did tell me that one of the tests they would run would determine the level of risk Zack would have for "crib death". Good that we can test for that, I guess. But, take a neurotic guy and tell him that and, well, that's all he's gonna hear.

See, while they see this type of thing a lot, my only experience that I can call on is being bedside by my daughter as she coded, turned blue and died. That's my "go-to". That's my frame of reference. Add SIDS to the affair and, let's just say, if there is a God, he's got one hell of a sense of humor.

Actually, that's ridiculous. Because it would paint him as just over the edge from Heath Ledger's Joker.

But, I can't help thinking that, actuarially speaking, this shouldn't be happening, right? I mean, once you bury one child, that's sort of it, short of sending them to war.


So we wait. He will be fine in the NICU. Hopefully they can figure out what this is. They were hoping to take him off the CPAP this morning and see how he fared, but before they could Zack did it again and went all blue. Just for 20 seconds but it was enough to put him on 48 hour watch before they take off the assistance.

So, that's where we stand. I'm home with my daughter, who is oblivious and just wants to know when her mother and brother are coming home. Beth is with her sister at the hospital. I'm thinking a LOT about Liz. I'm worried about my son. I'm drinking a nice glass of lowland scotch.

And, for some reason, I keep thinking about Job. Or is it Gob?