In a landfill somewhere there is a pale green Calvin Klein onesie. But I’ll get to that.
Post-NICU, our 24-weeker was about nine months old, home with her dad and me. It was winter, and she had pneumonia. She was trached, on a ventilator with a three-foot radius, she was on oxygen, and she needed constant care. On this evening, her night nurse didn’t show up, so we had to pull an all-nighter. We could see her fuss and get red in the face, but we didn’t know how to take the pressure off of her and help her feel better.
As first-time parents, we had no idea how mucus and feces (more commonly known as boogers and poop) would be a big deal. We didn’t know that mucus and poop worked together in a literal sh*t storm. It’s a gross process, but our bodies do a fair job of getting irritants out of there. Mucus works to trap germs and expel them from the body. Diarrhea is cued from a fever, as the body tries to purge germs as quickly as possible. When boogers aren’t enough to expel the germs, it comes out of everywhere possible. Hydration, baths and naps are all you can do. It’s important to understand the natural process, to not panic like we did.
In the throes of all-night suctioning and poops, it was awful. Our baby was finally laying down, and we heard this loud, squishy sound. Like thunder, only worse. She’d pooped so hard that it went all the way up to her neck and all the way down her legs. Dad picked her up and it dripped all over her bassinet, his arm, the floor. We looked at each other, horrified.
She was on a ventilator, so cleaning her on a 3-foot radius was not easy. We kind of passed her around, not knowing what to do first. After we got her cleaned up and Mike showered, I couldn’t fathom a way to ever get a pale green outfit clean enough. I know it was a Calvin Klein. I was torn, really. But I knew if I saw her in it again, I’d just smell phantom poop. I’d fear the squish sound. I’d feel the overwhelming pound in my chest: “I don’t know what I’m doing!”
So I put that forever-stained onesie in a plastic bag and tied it tight. I threw it out. I panicked.
In the middle of that awful time, those moments were hilarious. A part of me wishes we still had the onesie, but I’m okay knowing it’s still out there somewhere.
If you can contain your experiences, appreciate the discovery and humor in them, you will get through this journey just fine!