Hospitals Can Be Good Places…Sort Of

As Colin McEnroe likes to remind us, we are rapidly aging. This is true. As part of this aging process, I had a baby in February and dammit, it was one hell of an adventure. However, we would not have gotten through it without Hartford Hospital and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC). Let’s be honest, hospitals are genuinely crappy places and no one wants to be in one. However, I want to share my great experiences because I feel extremely fortunate.

Broken ankle, pregnant belly

Broken ankle, pregnant belly

Back in January, I slipped on ice in a parking lot and fell while I was six months pregnant. I know, totally brilliant. I went to the Hartford Hospital Emergency Room where I was given amazing care. There was no delay getting me in a room to check the baby, who was, mercifully, fine.

I had to go through a bunch of x-rays and the techs were not only happy and hilarious but they took so much care to pile lots of heavy gown things on me to make sure that the baby didn’t get radiated. While we were there for several hours, the staff was remarkable. Comforting, upbeat, and professional. There was a really irate, demanding and seemingly impossible older woman in the room next to ours that kept yelling out and screaming at nurses and patient assistants. I think we even heard a racial slur against one, but even then, staff maintained their cool.

Anti-Couric bringing the Target rascal back to the building

Anti-Couric bringing the Target rascal back to the building

I did break my ankle, which made the next few months hell. Imagine a lot of scooting on my bum up and down stairs. Up and down stairs in snow and ice. Incidentally, I do not recommend crutches while pregnant and naturally clumsy. (Both the Pilot and the Anti-Couric took me out and made me ride rascals in Target and Walmart. No one should let me drive one of those ever again.) I finally got my cast off on February 20th and was able to hobble in a boot. My baby shower was on the 23rd. That night, at 33 weeks pregnant (ladies usually give birth around 38-41 weeks), things went awry and I was admitted to Hartford Hospital. They told me that my water had broken and that I’d be giving birth in the next few days. They also said that our daughter would probably be going into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) which is run by CCMC.

First, I seriously thought that if your water broke early that there’s some medical stuff that can be done to, I don’t know, patch that stuff up. Apparently not. Second, I was scared poopless. I sat in Hartford Hospital for the next four days hooked into IVs to ward off infection, got steroid injections to mature the baby’s lungs and generally freaked out. But the nurses, doctors, patient assistants, and even the ladies who cleaned my room and took my food orders were downright kickass. They were funny, caring, sweet, and thorough and gave my hobbly self extra help to the bathroom and shower. They explained what was going on, indulged me in conversation, checked up on me a lot and laughed at my off-color jokes. There was only one issue with one nurse who didn’t know what a probiotic was. Dr. Morgan (formerly, and forever in our hearts, Dr. Gold) wound up having to bring me some Activia yogurt to counteract all of the antibiotics instead.

One PA felt so bad for me that she brought me a walker and a shower seat in addition to my crutches and wheelchair. The next morning, prunes showed up on my breakfast tray and I knew my metamorphosis to a 90-year-old-woman was complete. Let’s fast forward because I don’t really want to make anyone squirmy with the details of birth. Let’s just say, yes I gave birth 6 weeks early with a boot on my broken ankle and yes I got the drugs.

Our daughter was born at 4 pounds and we got to spend 5 glorious minutes with her before she was brought to the NICU. She was in great health and breathing on her own, but needed to learn how to eat and grow, and a few other things that are normal for preemies.

Our four-pound munchkin.

Our four-pound munchkin.

NICU nurses and workers are angels sent from wherever angels are sent from. Whether they had been there for 2 years or 20, every person that we dealt with was exceptional in their own way. The place was clean, safe, and as welcoming as a hospital can be. Our little girl was in the CCMC NICU for exactly 2 weeks and I spent many, many hours there with her. Sometimes I would just sit back holding our girl and watch the staff with the other babies whose parents weren’t there at the moment. They would talk and sing to them as they dressed them or changed IVs or feeding tubes, comfort them and just be so caring and gentle. I knew our baby was in very special care.

What was even more impressive was how supportive everyone was for us as parents. Words of advice, encouragement, praise and just general pleasant chit chat were so comforting over those couple of weeks. Even though our daughter wasn’t one of the more complicated cases, I felt we received such wonderful care and attention. It made us more comfortable and confident when it was time to take our tiny little four-pounder home.

Since we left the NICU, I have had to call with a question or two and even those interactions have been fantastic. They remember who we are and there’s genuine care and interest in how we are doing. There’s no worry about who will be billed for the 10 minutes of time, or anything like that.

While I certainly don’t wish for anyone to have to go through an ordeal like ours…ever…it’s comforting to know that exceptional care from exceptional people is available to our community from Hartford Hospital and CCMC. If I had to rate them, I’d give them each three salt shakers because our rating system doesn’t go to four.