Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Little Piece of Info That Spared Me Gray Hair

There have been many instances in my life where I could honestly say that what I didn't know, didn't hurt me.

Monday, that just didn't apply.

***

I was at the hospital, witnessing my best friend give birth to her 5th child. She had had an abnormally long labor, with various degrees of difficulties and speed bumps. Nothing physical, per se (well, beta strep, but that's manageable), just false labor and long labor and puttering labor (which, in case all you guys out there don't realize, is a HUGE annoyance). Seemingly, the baby just coasted through all this, as his heart rate didn't fluctuate in any serious manner, and he handled himself in all the appropriate neonatal ways. Nothing to make the docs cry cesarean or anything. But it WAS long. Painstakingly long.

Yet, as most all babies do, he finally made his grand entrance. And I would like to say he came out kicking and screaming.

But he didn't.

At all.

Of course, no one panicked at first. Babies do that silent thing sometimes, and you just need to rough 'em up a little. Get a towel. Flick their feet. We hate it when they don't scream bloody murder the second they're born, but we don't fuss at them if they take a moment to look around. As long as they DO scream. Then our hearts beat normally again. And we forget all about it.

But when the neonatologist comes running in.......that's just pure heart stopping material. Prayer is not planned, it just seems to happen without any thought at all.

***

So here we were, a slew of people to witness the birth, and that many more people to make sure it WAS a birth and not a death. And all of a sudden, you could tell the fear factor stepped up a notch. There didn't seem to be a dry eye amongst the observers. Especially not the Daddy, or the aunts, cousins and other friends. It was controlled chaos, but it was emotional chaos, just the same.

Except for me. I honestly wasn't scared at all.

Not at all.

Now, I'm not saying that my heart wasn't thumping. You just can't help it when adrenaline flows, and it was an intense situation. But I definitely wouldn't describe myself as scared or nervous or emotional. In fact, I wouldn't be the least surprised if everyone there thought I was completely insensitive and stone-hearted (although they probably didn't really notice me). But I wasn't that either.

I was informed.

I knew what was going on, knew how they were going to fix it, knew that those docs are the best at doing exactly what they were doing to that little guy, right then. If he needed a kick-start, they knew just how to use the jumper cables.

And I also knew that this was not a rare occurrence for a newborn. Sometimes their bodies just get a little shocked, a little confused, a little out-of-whack. Especially after a labor like that. And yes, they need some help. But again, the docs that help are not new at what they do, and they do their job well. Just another day at the office for them, really.

I tried to do what I could to reassure the others. The silent nod of, "It's gonna be ok", and "He'll be fine, don't worry." But they had no clue that I had some understanding behind those comments, and not just faith (which, by the way, is just as powerful, if it really IS faith and not just positive thinking). And they weren't so sure. My friends would've liked to be able to say that, but he was so gray. He wasn't crying. He wasn't breathing. They were still working feverishly. Kelly, how can you be so sure?

I guess if I hadn't done a little reading on the subject, hadn't heard enough happy-ending stories just like this one, then maybe I wouldn't have been so confident. Maybe I would've been very scared. Maybe I would've been distraught. It's very likely. For all intents and purposes, it looked as if my best friend was going to lose her last baby. That's nothing to sneeze at.

But it wasn't like that for me, and I was really grateful. It was good to know that I didn't need to be afraid. That, yes, something could still go terribly wrong, but at that stage, his odds of being anything short of perfectly fine, were really slim. A little bit of knowledge really went a long way that day. That was a nice reassurance. It was also nice to be able to help someone else by my confidence. By my lack of fear.

***

He still didn't cry a whole lot before they took him to the NICU. Yet, they took him to his Mama first, and as I stood there with her, he seemed to be just fine. Call me crazy, but that baby didn't look any different than any other newborn: pink, wide-eyed, and content. I mean, does he really need to scream all the time in order to be healthy? I don't think so. Maybe, just maybe, for the first time, she got a quiet, pensive little guy to take home with her (instead of the rambunctious, full-tilt boys she has at home). He was breathing, and that's what really mattered. We like breathing babies, crying or no.

***

If you get anything out of this post, realize this: even the most mundane things can create fear where there's a lack of understanding. A lack of knowledge can be crippling, even. Say, for instance, your newborn has a rash suddenly. If no one EVER told you that it's no big deal for your 1-month-old to have a nasty rash on his face (it's hormonal, it goes away on it's own), then you would very likely freak out. You may rush to the ER. If not that, then you would most definitely be calling your pediatrician, asking to be seen pronto. Who, as soon as he sees your child, would quickly tell you that you have no cause for worry, and explain why.

So, after your next child is born, and gets that nasty rash, you don't bat an eyelash. Why not? You know better. You understand more. You're informed. And you don't incur any more gray hairs than you need to.

Yet, there's not always someone there to tell you these things. At least, not before they happen. Either you find out the hard way, and lose 5 years of your life in the process, or you study up. Perhaps not about everything under the sun. But definitely about the types of things that will affect you.

For example:

Ladies, don't have a baby without studying. Your OB is not giving you the whole story in the 10 minutes they're in that room with you. You're just setting yourself up for some crushed dreams. Oh, and don't try to nurse without reading something about it. There's too many factors against you, to not inform yourself.

Men, read up on health issues that plague men and how to catch those early. More than likely, you're really busy taking care of your family, and not taking care of yourself like you should. And while you're at it, (this is for women too), you'd do yourself a huge favor to know something about how a car runs, for example. Or anything else in your house. It'll just save you from getting ripped off, I promise.

A big purchase, a new vehicle, a new house, a surgical procedure, a childhood illness....these are all situations in life that demand your time and energy. If not anywhere else, the internet has more information than anyone could ever read, just waiting for you to dive in. You don't have to be an innocent bystander. You don't have to be a sucker.

You don't have to be afraid when the going gets rough.

Do yourself a favor. Inform yourself. What you don't know, really could hurt you. Or at least make for a really bad day.

***

By the way, whaddya think of my newest "nephew"?
Yeah, he'll be kickin' and screamin' before we all know it. Let's enjoy it while we can! ;)

7 comments:

JeniBeans said...

gee, wonder who he looks like? LOL Amie's got another look-alike in the world! After miss Em, of course. Welcome Griffin (hope I spelled that right!) and congratulations to Amie and Bri! YAY! it's finally OVER...and yet it's just beginning. Love you guys. You too, Kell. ;-)

J. No said...

As a parallel piece of advice to Sister Kelly's:

Do NOT Believe Everything You Read on the Internet!

Huge amounts of the info on the web is complete hogwash.

Also, Kelly...You never shared with us the piece of info that saved you a gray hair...did you?

Kelly said...

Yeah, Josh (J. No) is right. I just didn't put that because it was besides the point. BUT, if you know where to look, you CAN find very good info there. And of course, there's always my personal favorites, books. Although, I'd have to say that many of those are "hogwash" as well....

You didn't pick up on it, Josh? I didn't say it right out, so maybe that's why.

"I guess if I hadn't done a little reading on the subject, hadn't heard enough happy-ending stories just like this one...."

Can't tell you exactly where I was reading, but ya know, it may have been a couple of years ago too. Either way, I retained enough info to keep the fear factor to a minimum.

Alabamabrands said...

Well said.
Information helped me tons! Saved me at least 2 c-sections! Every one of those that you miss is worth it!

Awesome Mom said...

Wonderful post. I am all about information and educating yourself. I have an intense need to know and that has helped me a lot.

Adventures In Babywearing said...

Great post- so, so happy baby is ok! I can't agree enough about being informed...every decision should be an informed decision especially when it comes to your children & your health. *Got Knowledge?*

Jennifer said...

I was looking through blogs and came across yours. I hope you don't mind. I really like it! I make take this one comment with me always "even the most mundane things can create fear where there's a lack of understanding. A lack of knowledge can be crippling, even." How true is that?! I am so glad that adorable baby is fine - what a doll! Congratulations to all of you.