Saturday, September 11, 2010

day three

We got to the hospital around 11 and went directly to the nursery. It was fun walking in this time because we were carrying Luke's car seat (for his "car seat test") and felt a little less like random visitors and a little more like Luke's parents. The nurse behind the front desk remembered us and smiled, “You’re back! I’ll go get your son!” We felt awesome. Our son.


As she wheeled him out in his little bassinet, the nurse gave me some updates that he could probably eat some more - and if we could just write down how much he drinks on the form, that would be great. Ryan handed the car seat to a different nurse and they started talking. I was done feeding Luke when I realized they were still talking, so I decided I wanted to be part of the conversation too. I heard the word “billirubin” and made my way over to the nursery door. The nurse looked at me and said, “We really don’t want you walking around with the baby. I understand we don’t have anywhere for you to go, but…”

“That’s fine” and I started to turn around.

I could hear her still talking about hospital policy and blah, blah, blah. (Fine. I hear you. I’m going back to my corner. With my adorable baby.)



When I looked up again, Ryan was sitting next to me and Kelly’s nurse from the day before was standing over us.

“I just wanted to let you both know that Kelly has a ‘no visitors’ sign on her door today. Basically, the two of you should never have been in her room yesterday. You should not have had any contact with her from the moment you arrived. I am in charge of her health at this hospital and I am here to tell you, she is not doing well. Your presence yesterday was really upsetting and inappropriate. Her blood pressure shot through the roof after you left because you were badgering her.”

“Well…we weren’t badgering her.” (Ryan said calmly)

“Well…I think you were. And I am here to tell you that she has some major medical issues. She’s not going home today if she can’t get her blood pressure under control and her bleeding stopped. I understand where you’re coming from, but I am here to protect my patient and part of that is keeping you away from her.”

“We’ve been in contact with her, supporting her financially and emotionally since July. This is an open adoption. And the only reason we were in her room is because she asked us to come talk to her.” (so why don't you mind your own business?)

“Well, I don’t know what the laws are in Kansas, but in Georgia – for the next ten days - that baby is not your baby, that is her baby.  I don’t care what she’s signed or how many papers you put in front of her, that is her baby, not yours.” (oh, hell no.)

I completely stopped listening to her. I just stared down at little Luke and focused on him so I wouldn't stand up and punch this woman in the teeth. I made a promise to get him out of this hospital as soon as possible – away from all of these crazy people for good.

The nurse said something else about how she adopted her son 37 years ago and she knows exactly how we feel right now (if her overwhelming compassion and this totally appropriate confrontation weren't strong enough indicators) and her son turned out "just fine". I wanted to ask her how long it took her to find us today, considering we hadn't seen Kelly since 2:00 yesterday and we were having this conversation on a completely different floor of the hospital as her "critical patient", but I decided it was best to just keep my mouth shut. I just wanted her to go away.

Ryan’s phone rang. It was Ronnie, our Georgia attorney. He walked away as the nurse walked away and I started to cry. I picked up my phone. I had a message. It was Tony. He wanted to know what we were going to do for them after they got out of the hospital because Kelly was getting released today.

See?  WE are not the ones badgering HER! 

I called my mom. I could hear organ music in the background as my mom whispered, “hello?”

“Where are you?”

(Duh. It’s Sunday. She was in church.)

“Are you okay?”

I took a deep breath.

“Kelly’s nurse just came down here and told us to stay away – that we were badgering her and upsetting her yesterday.”

“What?”

“Yeah…she went out of her way to find us on a different floor of the hospital to tell us that we needed to stay away from her patient and that our conversation with her yesterday was completely inappropriate. That we never should have had contact with her in the first place. Also, that this baby is not ours.”

“Oh my gosh. Why would she say that?”

Crying harder. Looking at my son. Heart breaking. “I have no idea.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw two black shoes that weren’t Ryan’s. I heard, “Hey, mama!” and as I looked up, I realized it was Tony, staring at me. He could see that I’d been crying. “Sorry. I won’t disturb you.” And he went around the corner to talk to Ryan.

I hung up with my mom and tried to eavesdrop on their conversation – knowing I would get yelled at (again) by the nurses for walking around with the baby (that wasn't mine). I could hear Ryan telling Tony that it was just “really upsetting” and “we didn’t mean to upset Kelly”. They talked for another 25 minutes and I could tell it was mostly Tony doing all of the talking.

We’d been at the hospital for 45 minutes and we were already in the middle of our third intense, emotional, conversation.  What the hell? Had things been going too SMOOTHLY? Was it time to wratchet up the crazy?

Ryan came back as Brandon and Sarah arrived. I gave the cliff’s notes version of our morning before they could even sit down. Ryan said, “Okay…well…Tony said Kelly was upset because I evidently indicated something yesterday that we wanted to get all of this paperwork done in the hospital because we didn’t want to have to track them down – like we were worried they were going to disappear, which they found incredibly insulting, so I apologized to him and said that’s not what we meant – that we were just aware of how badly Kelly wanted to leave so we were trying to help move the process along, so then he just bitched some more about Mary and told me all about his brittle bone disease again and how he’s a good father and he’s got his shit together. Also, he asked if I could give him five bucks to get out of the parking garage.”

“Good lord.” (deep breath)

The four of us sat there, trying to process all of this without passing our stress on to Luke, who was calmly sleeping like an angel. I said, “you wanna go see Aunt Sarah?” who was by far the most mellow of all of us.  Ryan had just read that morning about how babies could sense stress and if you are calm then they are calm. Sarah was calm. She held him and talked to him and bonded with him. The whole time, I just marveled at how perfectly this had all worked out. Brandon just happened to be coming to visit on the same weekend that Kelly gave birth. And Sarah's place just happened to be 10 miles from the hospital - with plenty of room for all of us, including our baby and all of his stuff.

I felt really glad that Sarah and Brandon could be there to bond with Luke. We hadn't seen either of them since Christmas and we don’t really know the next time we’ll see them, but they get to be here for the most important (stressful) event of our lives. They get to watch Luke's little face change every day and take turns with us – holding him and feeding him with the same tenderness and love we have for him. Thank God something was working out for us!

After we'd calmed down a little, Ryan decided to call Mary to let her know what was going on. We felt like Mary could reassure Kelly that we are all doing everything we could to make her comfortable (besides, that's what we were paying Mary for). Mary indicated to Ryan that she’d left Kelly a message but hadn’t heard anything back. Also, that she knew perfectly well that Tony hated her and she could care less.

When Ryan hung up, he had three texts in a row from Kelly:

“U know [Tony] doesnt even have money to get in and out of the gate…thats distressing in itself..much less gas to come and go..this is sad. I love [sophie]. “

“This is overwhelming for us too..we have nobody to help us in this world with [sophie] or anything..its really sad. I love [sophie]”

“I think Mary sucks to leave me out here to fend for myself…very unprofessional..im not impressed at all. I love [sophie]”

After reading those, Ryan immediately called the agency back and left a message for Mary to contact Kelly as soon as possible. He also texted Kelly back that we were here for her – whatever she needs. He told her we could run out and get her some food or some magazines? It seriously broke my heart that she suddenly felt like nobody cared about her, but we were JUST TOLD to stay away from her…that our presence upset her. Ryan asked to talk to Kelly’s nurse again and asked if we could (and how we could) go about paying for her prescriptions (and anything else she might need when she got released) because they were on Medicaid and couldn't afford it.   

As Ryan talked to the nurse, I could see Brandon getting all puffed up and protective, like he sort of wanted to go kick her ass for the way she’d talked to us earlier. Just then, another nurse walked out of the nursery to take Luke’s temperature. She asked if we knew how to do it, so we eagerly watched as she explained the buttons and the blinking and the perfect place in his armpit where skin touches skin. After a reading of 95.8, she asked if she could wheel him away to sit under some warm lights for a while. We figured it was a good time to get out of the hospital, get some food and clear our heads.

As we walked back up to the desk, a nurse said, “I just want you to know that she’s basically just gonna need a bunch of pads.” (realized she was talking about Kelly). “If you go buy the prescriptions and stuff...it’s just like she’s having a really heavy period. She'll need the really heavy, over-night pads and maybe some of those wee-wee pads you buy for a puppy? She can lay those down to protect her sheets, just in case.”

It finally occurred to me that she had overheard Ryan talking to Kelly’s nurse about buying her prescriptions and stuff. She was trying to be helpful, since Kelly’s nurse clearly hadn’t answered any of Ryan’s questions.

I decided to offer up some extra information – about how emotional the day had been for us and how hard it was for us to hear someone say that he wasn’t our son…that we’d been through so much with this birthmother and now she seemed to be sending a lot of negative messages to us – through bizarre text messages and evil nurse messengers – that it just made us feel bad. We’ve tried so hard to do the right thing and be there for her – and now we were hearing that our presence was upsetting her?  “We just want to do the right thing, you know? I mean, this process is hard enough as it is. We want her to feel good about it. We want to feel good about it. It’s nearly impossible to make everyone happy all at the same time, but that's been our goal from the beginning.” and that’s when I realized all four nurses behind the desk were completely captivated – learning more about this little guy in the nursery and the people who were making it nearly impossible to enjoy the process of adding him to our family.

One of the nurses suggested that we get social services involved – that they could be a huge help in guiding us through the process. As we stood there talking, I noticed that the nursery blinds were suddenly open. I got Brandon and Sarah's attention and we eagerly gathered around to see all of the babies. We didn’t see Luke, but we all laughed at how ENORMOUS those full-term babies looked, compared to our little guy. They were all meaty and fat. They had HAIR!  They looked like toddlers...like they might be cutting teeth soon.

As we walked outside, we ran in to Tony and Kelly coming out of the parking lot. (were they out there smoking? were they trying to escape?). Tony was pushing Kelly in a wheelchair. I felt instantly nervous - like somewhere her nurse would sense that we were talking to her and suddenly show up to yell at us. We had an incredibly brief conversation about how we were going to get some food and we would be back later…could we bring them anything? Some food? Some snacks? Some magazines?

Kelly replied by mumbling, "They won’t let me out today.”

We'll take that as a "no"?

We said we'd be back in a little while and we asked again if we could bring them anything. They seemed irritated and not at all interested in talking to us, so we moved along. In hind-sight, I wish we'd taken a second to introduce my (giant, special-forces-trained) brother and my (heat-packing, FBI-trained) sister-in-law standing behind us, but we were trying hard not to intimidate and upset them.

We found somewhere called "Krystal" near the hospital and decided to try it. As we ordered our "pups" and "cheese krystal" burgers, Ryan's phone rang. It was Ronnie. She'd just been screamed at by Tony for the last 20 minutes. Evidently, he was SUPER PISSED about how we just left the hospital and he can't even afford to get out of the gate - he doesn't have any money for gas or to fill Kelly's prescriptions and we just left without offering to bring them anything. And now, evidently he's been waiting for us downstairs because that's what the nurse told him...that we were going to fill the prescriptions together.  

Ryan and I were in shock. What the hell?

How many times do we have to offer to bring them food? How many times does Ryan have to give Tony 5 bucks to get out of the parking garage? How many people were going to yell at us and make us feel like pieces of shit for not doing this right? 
  
My phone rang. It was Mary. She'd gotten Ryan's message and she wanted us to know that she'd just tried to call Kelly, but Tony answered her phone and he spouted some lie about how her blood pressure was too high - she couldn't possibly talk on the phone. Unbelievable. We called and left this woman an emergency message on Labor Day weekend and she went to the trouble of calling us back on a Sunday, and this idiot decided to make some kind of dickhead power-play to assert control. I told Mary the whole thing just got really out of control today and we'd offered no less than 5 times to bring them something while we were out. She said, "Just call him back and offer to bring them some lunch - whatever you guys are eating. Offer to pay their toll to get out of the garage. Just keep doing those little things because they seem to matter a lot to them." Ryan got on his phone to call Tony and I heard him say, "Hey, man...pardon my rudeness...I didn't even ask if you guys wanted us to bring you some lunch!" I couldn't tell if it was the chili cheese pups I was eating or the fact that we were placating total extortionists, but I felt sick to my stomach. I continued to talk to Mary for a while and express how unfair this all felt. "I don't understand what we're doing wrong.We've bent over backward for these people. How could they be feeling simultaneously stressed out by our presence and then neglected? How could they feel embarrassed by our generosity and still feel like we're lacking "common courtesy". How could they want our help but not our sympathy? Short of just handing them a big bag of cash (which is illegal), what did they want from us? 

Mary said we could always change lawyers or see if he’ll do Kansas adoption law so we don’t have to deal with this bullshit Georgia law for 10 more days. She also suggested that we just take Tony with us to the store. Buy Kelly's prescriptions and anything else she needs so they can see that we're trying. We are compassionate people. Maybe we could even buy some groceries for Sophie to get Amanda off their backs? Maybe that could reduce some of Kelly's stress and help her get out of the hospital faster? Mary also told us to explain to Tony that the hospital told us to leave Kelly alone, so we might not be around for a while...that we could get kicked out for not following hospital orders. (she said we needed to get some distance and this was just an excuse not to subject ourselves to the crazy anymore. Sounded good to us!)

Ryan called and left a message for David that we would like to switch from the Georgia law to the Kansas law, which makes the consent irrevocable. (no more 10 day window where they can change their minds and play this guilt card for 2 weeks). He called us back immediately. Ryan talked to David while I called Kelly's phone (wanted to tell her that we were on our way back to the hospital with food). Tony answered. I talked to him the whole way back to the hospital – assuring him that we just wanted to do the right thing and we were really sorry that Kelly was so upset. I told him I thought he'd been really strong and amazing through this whole process (because he was desperate for somebody to acknowledge him and stroke his ego) and our main goal was to help Kelly get better.

He said Amanda, her daughter, and Sophie were there to visit and they were all out in the garden. I told him we were out front if he wanted to come grab the food - then come back so we could take him to the store. I said, "Just make a list of everything you guys need. We'll go get it now." (again...trying not to disturb Kelly or stress her out with our presence)

He met me in front of the hospital with a flower from the garden. He apologized for the mean nurse and said it broke his heart to see me crying this morning. I thanked him and cried a little bit - emotions still raw from the implication that we didn't care about Kelly's feelings. I handed him Kelly's food and he said he'd be right back...he was going to take the food to her and get the list they were making for groceries.

Tony returned with a piece of notebook paper and 7 items on a list. We decided to go to Rite Aid across the street from the hospital to fill her prescriptions and buy the rest of her "necessary recovery supplies". Things like Super Absorbent Nighttime Large-sized Maxi Pads, deoderant, Midol, Ibuprofen, Juice (Cran-grape), snacks and drinks.

As we walked around, we joked that it was good I was with them because Tony didn't know how comfortable he felt buying feminine products. Then he told us that Kelly thought we'd changed since we got to the hospital...that I didn’t even make eye contact with her the first day (which totally made me cry). He told us every 3 minutes that he was "so embarrassed, you have no idea" and we ran out of ways to tell him not to be embarrassed, just tell us what Kelly needs. Shampoo? A toothbrush? A toy for Sophie? Tony went on and on about how Amanda's been on his case and taking every last dime in his pocket to take care of Sophie while Kelly's been in the hospital. "You don'unnerstand. She's taken everything I got! What kina fren tells you, (annoying voice) 'don worry bout yur dauder. Ahll take care a hur while yall go duh thu hospidul' then turns aroun an drains you for evrie sent you got?" and we actually started to feel empathy for the guy. We decided to call Amanda and ask for a grocery list. What could we do to help her take care of Sophie? Amanda was nice on the phone. She didn't seem at all surprised that we were calling, but she gave us a whole list of groceries...things Sophie liked. Then said, "but if you just wanna buy a gift card, thas fine too".  Ummm...no.  We're giving you groceries.

We picked up the prescriptions and paid for all of the stuff in our cart...$200 worth of stuff we'd thrown in the cart to make Kelly's stay in the hospital more pleasant. This HAD to be enough to make her feel loved and cared about. We got directions to the Kroger and I texted Kelly to tell her we would be back soon with groceries. I had three messages back to back. Please hurry back. Amanda needs to go. Sophie is driving her nuts. Please just get a gift card and hurry back. Amanda needs to take her daughter somewhere. A gift card will be fine.

Fine.

As we drove to the grocery story, we decided to total up the stuff on Amanda's list, guessing all of it would come to about $50. Surely that would be plenty of money to buy a week's worth of groceries for a 3-year old?  We all agreed that Amanda would be grateful for the gesture and Kelly would feel less stressed about Sophie. We also bought a $50 gift card for Tony so he could pay for gas - out of the kindness of our hearts (since Kelly and Tony appeared to be united on all fronts again and we were out to make Kelly feel appreciated and slightly spoiled).

As we stood in line, paying for the gift cards, Tony turned and expressed his gratitude for everything we were doing and everything we'd done up to that point. He knew it was an important time for us too and he was sorry (again) about that nurse. I decided to tell him the small detail about the nurse telling me it wasn’t our baby. He looked incredibly stunned and angry. Ryan said, "That’s why we didn’t tell you, man. Please don’t go yell at that nurse or make things any more stressful for Kelly".

He said, "But that’s your son! She had no right to say that to you."

"Thank you."

"I can't balleve that! Wow. No wonder you were so upset."

As we drove back to the hospital, Tony pointed out the place where they were living (he called it "the hotel") and told us (again) how horrible the place was in Topeka and how important it was to get her out of there...like he had absolutely no recollection of the fact that we picked her up in the middle of the night and put her in a brand new extended stay for 3 days before they drove up and took her back to Georgia for absolutely no reason. We talked about music and how much he wanted Luke to play the guitar ("promise me, man...you'll get him a guitar!") and when we got back to the hospital, we seriously felt like hugging him. We felt SO good about ourselves. We'd done the right thing. He seemed happy. We seemed happy. Everything was good. We'd given them enough supplies (and attention) to last the rest of our stay in Georgia. Tony could barely carry all of the stuff we'd bought for them. Surely he was going to return to Kelly and tell her all about how generous and wonderful we were.

Later that night, we went back to the hospital to get our baby snuggles from Luke. There was another couple in the lobby with their baby, so the nurse asked if we wanted to sit in the break room with him. We told her we didn't care where we held him, we were just waiting for the day when we could take him home and hold him forever.


The same nurse came back 30 minutes later to say good night and tell us that her shift was over, but that our son was very lucky to get parents like us. She wanted to wish us luck and then she added, "I think what you're doing is amazing and you deserve to be treated with respect. I'm just gonna go home and cry now.”

What a wonderful way to end the night.

We found out later that Tony stole all of Kelly's prescription drugs that we'd purchased that afternoon and every last penny of the money we'd given them for groceries.

Every. Last. Penny.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I think what you're doing is amazing and you deserve to be treated with respect. I'm just gonna go home and cry now.”

THIS is the TRUTH. Blessings upon that nurse, and blessing you guys and your open hearts. The physical pain I had in labor is nothing to the emotional pain you have gone through for your son. You are both going to make great fifth grade "hero report" subjects!

Take care.

Anonymous said...

BTW, when this is all settled...remember to write a letter about how you were treated to that nurse's supervisor and to the hospital administration.

Sheelagh said...

The letter is a good idea...I would hate to think of those nurses treating another mom and dad like that!

Tom, Christie, & Shannon Malchow said...

Tony is a professional liar. Wow. These people are unbelievable.