Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Doctors, Babies, and Phone Systems, oh my!

For the last two months of my pregnancy, my ears were stuffed up. I thought it was seasonal allergies. My nurse midwife told me I could take Claritin. That didn't work. Before trying another allergy med, I talked to two pharmacists. One told me that allergy meds wouldn't help my ears. Sudafed would help, but given I was pregnant I would need to talk to my doctor. Another pharmacist asked if it could be wax, but since the pressure moved from one ear to the other, I told him that I didn't think that was it. He told me I could try the drops that swimmers use for water in their ears. That didn't work either. In the meantime I was getting closer to my due date and had read that some pregnant women experienced pressure in their ears as part of the general congestion that comes with pregnancy (pregnant women tend to be champion snorers). So I decided to wait and see.

A week after Olivia was born, I called my primary care doctor's office and discussed all this with a nurse. She said it was probably pregnancy related, and if it continued I might need Sudafed, but that could lesson my milk supply, and so I was best off waiting a few weeks to see if it got better on its own. When Olivia was four weeks old, I woke up with no ear pressure or stuffiness whatsoever. Hooray! Three months of compromised hearing (really, I was beginning to feel like one of those old men who refuse to wear a hearing aid) was over. Two weeks later I couldn't hear out of my right ear again. After a week of hoping it would go away I called the doctor's office this morning and made an appointment. Adam works from home on Tuesday, so I made the appointment for noon. He could take a long lunch, feed Alessia, and put her down for a nap. I would take Olivia (who has refused our attempts to offer her a bottle) with me to the appointment.

I sat down to feed Olivia an hour before I needed to go. Of course she decided this was a good time to snooze rather than eat, and so she wasn't really even getting started until a few moments before I had to leave. At the same time, Adam informed me that his phone system at work was imploding, and when I needed to leave, I should just bring Alessia up to him in the studio. Right before it was time to go, I told him that if it was that bad, I could take both girls with me. He told me that no one could get a call through on either the main phone number or the 800 number. So, yes, that's pretty bad. So I bundled both girls into the stroller and off we went. Olivia complained the whole way to the train station, having been interrupted just as she was really starting to eat. I nursed her on the train. At State Street I put her in the stroller. Well, I guess being interrupted twice was just really too much, because by the time we got to the doctor's she was pretty hysterical. I took her out of the stroller while I checked in and paid the copay, and then I carried her, screaming and crying, up to the 6th floor, while pushing the stroller with the other hand.

I got to the waiting room ten minutes early. I knew she was way too upset to nurse, but I figured I had at least ten minutes to get her in a sling and asleep. I set her in the stroller, got out the sling, and heard the assistant call my name. Really? When are they ever running early in a doctor's office? So I wheeled the stroller in, apologizing for having both babes with me. They found a room big enough for me and the stroller. As Olivia was still crying, the assistant asked me if I wanted someone to hold her. I said we would be fine if she gave me a minute to calm her in the sling. As I'm getting Olivia in the sling we made small talk, and I noticed for the first time the heart beat monitor in the assistant's hand. That should be interesting, I thought. Once I got Olivia asleep she held out the monitor and I obediently stuck my finger in it. "Your heart rate is through the roof," the young, obviously childless assistant said to me. "Yeah, the baby is pretty upset. Could we do that at the end?" I replied. She said she would explain to the doctor.

After nine months of prenatal appointments, Alessia had gotten used to being on her feet and sitting on my lap during doctor's appointments. So she started asking to get out of the stroller. It occured to me that while ob/gyn doctors were used to small children accompanying adults during appointments and even seemed to enjoy it, a male, internal medicine doctor would probably not approach the situation the same way. So I amused Alessia with books and crackers (remember my brilliant plan to make the appointment for noon, lunch time?). The assistant must not have told the doctor about Alessia, because he looked surprise to see her when he came in. My assumption about him was right as he proceeded to ignore her completely. She only fussed once, during which the doctor proceeded to talk as if it wasn't happening, and I thought, "I did just tell you I'm having trouble hearing, right?" So I interrupted him to say something to Alessia and hand her a cracker.

Well, it turns out that I can't hear, because I have ears full of ear wax. That's it? I totally could have dealt with this months ago. The doctor explained that they could irrigate my ears today, but it was a wet process and the drops need to sit in my ears for ten minutes. He looked at Olivia while saying all this. I said alright. The assistant came in and explained that the process involved me laying down as the drops sat in for ten minutes, per side. The whole process could take half an hour. She looked at Alessia while saying this. Remember my brilliant plan to make the appointment for lunch time, also known as the pre-nap event? So I made another appointment for next week.

Alessia fell asleep the last five minutes of the trip home, which meant no afternoon nap, and I pushed the stroller with one hand all the way through downtown Boston and Malden as Olivia slept in the sling, so I know have really buff arms.

And that's my courageous story.


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