Wednesday, February 09, 2005

the launching pad

The NICU cracks me up sometimes. I was walking around just now checking on my kids and just as always, every single radio in every single pod was playing Light FM. Rod Stewart was singing "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?" The unplugged version.

You fill my heart with gladness / Take away all my sadness / Easy my troubles / (voice breaking with emotion) That's...that's what you do... (thunderous applause, whistles)

I don't know why this is funny. Rod Stewart is funny. Ha, his name is Rod. Also funny is Clay Aiken, who's always singing "You lift me UUUUUUP so I can stand on mouuun-TAINS!" when I'm running around pre-rounding in the morning. Clay Aiken is funny. Also, he looks like Cynthia Nixon from "Sex and The City."

Yeah, so I'm on call in the NICU tonight. I'm hoping for a good one--all the planets are aligned for me to (knock on institutional formica) get some rest. The main factor playing into my good call night is that I'm not carrying the delivery room pager overnight. There's double-coverage on the other NICU team (this place is so huge that we're split up into "teams" covering roughly 25 patients each) so one of those other guys is going to carry the pager for tonight. I am so happy about this I can't even tell you. My kids on my floor can crap out all they want, but the assurance of knowing that I won't get called upstairs at 3am for some 24-weeker twin C-section is priceless.

Of course, just the possibility of sleep isn't enough for me. There's also the quality of the sleep. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that the mattresses in the call room are for shit. Yes, in our luxurious bunk beds are mattresses the approximate texture and hardness of a coroner's autopsy table. It's all cold and hard and clanky, and if you're lucky enough to get to lie down on them for any amount of time, your back will not be thanking you for the nice night you just spent together. I love getting rest on call, but those beds, they kill.

But. BUT. There's this place next to the NICU resident call room called "The Launching Pad." What the launching pad is is this mini apartment for parents who are getting ready to go home with their little NICU graduate. The night before discharge, the parents and baby (or babies) spend the night in the apartment, which is set up to recreate the home environment. There's a rocking chair, a little changing table, a bathroom, a nightstand, and a big digital clock. And lo, friends, there's also a bed in there. A GIGANTIC, QUEEN SIZED BED with a REAL, QUEEN-SIZED MATTRESS made for HUMAN BEINGS. With pillows! And sheets! And a comforter! (For comfort!)

Let me further state that there is never anyone in the Launching Pad. I mean, sometimes there is, maybe once a week (if that), and those nights, one of the nurses puts up a sign on the door that reads, "LAUNCHING PAD IN USE! PLEASE DO NOT ENTER WITHOUT FAMILY PERMISSION!" or something to that effect. But one thing that you learn in the NICU is that kids don't always go home so fast. Well, sadly, some don't go home at all. And some stay with us for months before they leave. We have maybe on average one or two discharges a week. And what happens to the Launching Pad when there aren't parents and babies in there spending the night? That's right, it just sits there. Empty.

Did I mention that there's this queen-sized bed in there?

OK, so I'm probably not going to break into the Launching Pad to sleep tonight because I'm just generally too obedient and authority-fearing, but oh, I am so tempted. Because these bunk beds in our real call room make me feel like I'm at camp. And not a fun camp with bonfires and sack races and picture frames made out of popsicle sticks and painted elbow pasta. It's a camp where your parents send you when you're bad, to shape up, or else they're shipping you off to military school. Hail to thee, Kamp Krusty.

Currently reading: Lab results. Lots of lab results.

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