By: Tanya Dodd-Hise
By the time that Harrison was four days old, the doctor was saying that Erikka was doing well enough to go home. She was a bit pensive about this decision, and told me and the doctor that she didn’t feel like she was ready, didn’t feel quite right; nevertheless, we loaded up everybody and brought our brand new bundle home on a Friday. When we arrived, I took her and we did a walk-through of the house, where I showed her everything, including her cool Dr. Seuss nursery. We got settled in fairly quickly, and Erikka planted herself on the couch to rest, while we passed our sweet baby girl back and forth between us. Soon, we had our first visitor at home, with more on the way over the weekend. Erikka’s parents came to visit, while sorority sisters came to meet baby Harrison and brought meals for us to put in the freezer for the following week. Over the course of the weekend, Erikka still didn’t feel very well and her blood pressure was steadily going back up. It got to the point that whenever she tried to lie down she couldn’t breathe, which we totally did not understand. Needless to say, she didn’t get much sleep in the first three days that she was home from the hospital, unless she was in a sitting position.
Monday came and Erikka was still feeling lousy. It was Halloween, and we had been looking forward to handing out treats at the door while Noah went Trick-or-Treating with my sorority sisters. But by the time he was getting into his costume, Erikka had taken one too many very high blood pressure readings, so I was ready to take her to the hospital. She still was having a hard time breathing, and would get winded just going from our room in the front of the house to the den in the back. So when Noah got picked up, I told my friend that I was taking her back to the hospital, and that I may need her to keep him overnight again if we were really late. Off they went, and I went back into the house and told Erikka that we were going to the emergency room – which is what her doctor had recommended if she still had trouble breathing. We loaded up, and they got her back fairly quickly, considering they had a pretty packed waiting room. I waited there with the baby while she went through triage, and managed to call Holly, who was headed over to our house that night anyway. I also called her parents, who I think went into panic mode and quickly dropped everything to come back to the hospital (they live just under two hours away). Soon Erikka came and got me to come back with her, saying that they were going to put her into a room for monitoring – her blood pressure was high and her EKG showed some kind of abnormal reading, although she was unsure exactly what it was. Once she was in an ER room, they started running tests, scheduling CAT scans of her heart and lungs, and waiting on the ER doctor to see her. Once she did, she said that she heard fluid in her lungs and ordered lasiks. While we waited, Holly arrived first, and later Erikka’s parents. I was trying not to be freaked out, but I was scared and worried that something was really wrong. After a while and many tests, the ER doc came back and said that she was admitting Erikka for the night so that they could try to get the fluid off of her heart and lungs – but thankfully there was no blood clot in her lungs like we had feared. Oh dear. They were admitting her. Fluid on the lungs and heart. What the hell was happening?
At around midnight, Erikka was in her room in the cardiac care unit, and Harrison and I were heading home…alone. Thank God Holly was coming back to the house with me – I was freaking out! I had a one-week-old baby, after not having ANY kind of baby for over eleven years now, and I was having to take her home and take care of her – MYSELF!! I also had a big photo shoot scheduled for the next day and was going to have to leave the baby for the first time. How blessed were we that Holly was available to come and stay with her, and we totally trusted her!
Holly ended up staying for three nights with me and Harrison, while Erikka remained in the hospital. She made food and filled our freezer, helped me with the baby, and watched her while giving me precious time to shower – she was a lifesaver indeed. Every day we would go to the hospital to visit Erikka, and every day I worried a little bit more because they were trying to get her blood pressure down, get fluids off of her heart and lungs, and try to figure out what caused this to happen in the first place. On day five of this stay – her second stay – she wanted to come home so badly. We thought that she was going to get sprung, and then late in the afternoon the doctor came back in and said that she wasn’t comfortable sending her home again until Erikka saw a cardiologist. Well THAT didn’t go over well. I finally decided that I would go home and get clothes and supplies, and Harrison and I would stay the night with her at the hospital so she wouldn’t be sad. On my way back up there, as I drove I finally broke down from all the worry that I had carried all week. I cried and cried – I was so scared that something was happening to my wife that the doctors weren’t able to correct. I was so scared that I would lose her and have to do this alone. I was terrified that Harrison wouldn’t know the wonderful mommy who had risked her health to carry and deliver her.
The next day, Saturday, a cardiologist came to see Erikka, having already gone over her tests and such. He didn’t seem to be as nearly concerned about whatever was going on with her heart and blood pressure as our doctor had been. He said he wanted to change her meds and see her in his office in two weeks, where he would monitor her condition. Then he gave us the words that we had been waiting for days to hear: You can go home. Within about an hour, for the second time in seven days, I was driving Erikka home from the hospital. Hopefully this time it would be the last time for a while.