Our son Hanzo was born on February 14, 2014. Since he was 7 weeks early, he had been taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Boniface Hospital. We were told that he would likely stay in the NICU for at least 4 weeks or so, but that the amount of time would depend on how well he was doing and how much weight he was gaining.
Over the next few weeks we made two visits a day to the NICU to see Hanzo. After a few visits where we ended up staring at him while he was sleeping, we started calling ahead to find out his next feeding time. A typical visit included a temperature check (under his armpit thankfully), a diaper change, feeding, and then putting him back to sleep.
When he first arrived at NICU he was attached to a CPAP machine, an IV, monitors for heart rate and breathing rate, and a blood oxygen saturation sensor. In less than 2 weeks he was only hooked up to the heart rate and breathing monitors. He was gaining weight at a regular pace and was feeding well.
We also discovered that he had an amazing talent – he could take 40ml of milk and turn it a seemingly unending supply of noxious liquid poop. It seemed like he was actually pooping more than he was eating, which shouldn’t be possible while still gaining weight.
On March 3, 2014 we received a call from the hospital. They asked us to bring our car seat so they could test his reaction to it. If he passed, they would send him home that day. We knew he was doing well, but thought we still had at least a week to get the house ready. His baby furniture was still not completely assembled, and all of his clothes and blankets still needed to be washed. Naturally I reacted to this news like any mature, responsible, independent adult would: I panicked and called my mom. She dropped everything and drove into Winnipeg to help us get the house ready. My mom is the best!
Hanzo passed his car seat test, and we were discharged just before 4:30pm. On the way out of the hospital I settled up my bill. Just kidding! I live in Canada! The entire time in the hospital and round the clock care in NICU cost us a grand total of $0. My only expenses were upgrading The Wife’s hospital room (paid for by my company insurance plan) and the parking pass I used for our daily visits to NICU. Canada’s health care system is not perfect, but it is pretty amazing at times, especially compared to some other countries.
At 5:00pm I carried my new son into his home for the first time. It was the beginning of a new journey for me and my family, a journey that will involve a lot of lost sleep. It’s sometimes hard to believe everything that came out of my decision to teach English in Japan just over 10 years ago. Of course you can keep reading that story in my regular blog posts (cheap plug). Thanks for reading!