When Hannah and I woke up on the morning of the 7th, we still didn’t know exactly what was wrong with our new daughter. Neither of us had slept well. Hannah was still in a lot of pain from the delivery, I was finding it difficult to sleep on a reclining chair, and both of us were worried about Charis. Dr. Harnsberger came to visit us around 10:00am and asked how Hannah was doing, to which she answered, “fine, considering.” With a puzzled look on his face Dr. Harnsberger replied, “considering what?” Apparently He had no idea that Charis was in the NICU. When we explained to him what happened, he went immediately to find out what was going on. It’s amazing how quickly a Doctor can get answers from nurses in a hospital. Less than 10 minutes later he returned with comforting news. Apparently Charis swallowed a large amount of Amniotic fluid on her way out, and that fluid went straight into her lungs. The nurses were giving Charis a round of antibiotics and monitoring her vitals mostly as a precaution. Otherwise, Dr. Harnsberger explained, she was perfectly healthy.
We spent the rest of Saturday hanging out in the recovery room. Jessica Chen, my Assistant Resident Director, and one of my RAs came down to visit and brought us some breakfast. The nurses continued to monitor Hannah’s vitals and administer relief measures throughout the day. We visited Charis in the NICU often. She had an IV in her arm, sensors monitoring her vitals and a feeding tub down her throat. Sadly we were not able to pick her up at first. Wanting to find some way to bond with my daughter, I went to a nearby mall and purchased "The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh." That day I read her the first four chapters. I would like to think she was comforted by the story of Pooh getting stuck in Rabbit's hole for a week waiting to get thinner as Christopher Robin cared for him.
The next morning Hannah was discharged from the hospital around noon. We stayed in Hannah’s recovery room for most of the afternoon, and then moved to another room just outside the NICU reserved for parents with children in the intensive care unit. This room was a lot smaller, but it did have a queen size bed and a private bathroom.
Each day we spent at the hospital Charis looked a little better. On Sunday morning she was taken off oxygen and her feeding tube was removed in the afternoon. On Monday Charis started to turn a little Jaundice. However, the nurses put her on a Bili Light tanning bed and her carrot colored skin soon turned back to a healthy pink.
Hannah, Donna and I soon got into a routine in the hospital and quickly felt at home in the NICU. Most of the nurses were incredibly helpful and, overall, the care we received at Parkridge was excellent. I spent a lot of time reading to Charis throughout the week and I quickly got to know several of the other couples whose children were in the NICU with Charis. At one point when I was reading, two of the nurses picked up other children and brought them to hear the adventures of Pooh and Christopher Robin. Hannah later told me that the nurses in the NICU would refer to Charis as the “well-read child.” On her last night in the hospital, Charis was administered a hearing test that measured her brainwave responses to sound. She received a perfect score.