Summer 2011 will not soon be forgotten in the Bauer household. It was anticipated as a last hurrah for The Bauers Three before the arrival of our fourth member, including trips to the beach, the zoo, the park, Colorado, sleeping in on weekends and so forth. Not only would personal enjoyment be the order of the season, but professionally I was on the cusp of completing a rigorous training program and achieving a goal I’d worked and sacrificed for for the past 18 months. Alas, none of it was to be.
Our summer excitement began as explained in the last post, but in many ways that was just the beginning. If you haven’t read that post yet I’ll wait while you get caught up…………done? OK good, now you’re up to speed.
With my wife and as yet unborn son admitted to a hospital two hours away from home and the looming potential for said unborn son to make his entrance into the world at any given moment, there was obviously no way I could stay in Santa Rosa. Jen’s wardrobe and most essentials would be provided by the good people of Kaiser Permanente (Thrive!), but I had arrived with little more than the shirt on my back and hat on my head. Oh, and pants. I did have pants. I managed to grab a few necessities before leaving, but there wasn’t time to do a proper packing and anyway I had no idea of how long we’d be there. But here we were: Roseville, California, everyone’s # 1 summer vacation destination. It is–and I can say this from experience now–as nice as you’ve heard.
As Jen and the baby stabilized those first couple of days we were moved from the second floor delivery area to a third floor room with a wonderful view of the the sprawling campus below. And it is sprawling. If you have to spend nearly an entire summer in a hospital and don’t happen to be among the super rich (or even the fairly well off) I suppose the Roseville Kaiser is about as good a place as any. It’s new (less than two years old), has a freindly and helpful staff, the cafeteria is actually not terrible, and by your second or third week there the security guards know your name and have your badges printed up and ready before you even ask. If I could make one small complaint, the sleeping accomidations for any non-patient are not ideal. I had the option of a chair that folded out into a “bed” or 18 inch wide window seat bench. I tried the chair/bed contraption the first few nights, but the divide where the first two sections came together when in bed mode caused your neck and head to be turned at approximately a 75° angle when lying down. I’m no chiropractor, but that can’t be good for the spine. So, I tried out the thinly padded, narrow bench seat, which wasn’t exactly Sealy Posture-Pedic, but at least it was consistant. It was there that I slept for two weeks.
For the most part, things were pretty uneventful after those first couple days. We had some visits from friends and family, played some board games, watched a lot of Food Network, Price Is Right, and Family Feud, and prayed the baby would stay put for another five to 10 weeks. Jen’s meals were provided, but I was on my own. There was the hospital cafeteria and it’s un-terrible food, but you can only eat so many hospital cheeseburgers and club sandwiches before you crave a little variety. Fortunately–or unfortunately if you’re my waistband or wallet–the hospital is surrounded by 4,372 chain restaurants of every variety. And I sampled just about every one. I didn’t keep track of the weight I gained in my time in Roseville and there’s a reason for that. I love eating out as much as the next guy, but after awhile what I wouldn’t have given for a homemade meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and vegetables that weren’t deep fried. That request was not wholly denied. Thanks to a very close friend and her friends and family, we were provided with several home cooked meals at the hospital. They couldn’t have been more appreciated.
The hardest part of this phase of our “vacation” was being apart from Lily so much. She came to visit a couple times, but a hospital room is really no place for a three year old to hang out for much more than a few hours at a time, tops. It wasn’t easy for me to be away from her, but Jen took it especially hard. This was supposed to be their summer of mother/daughter fun. A last girls hurrah before The Boy showed up and evened out the score. It was bad enough when Jen was put on bed rest at home and they couldn’t go to the places they wanted to go. But at least Jen got to be with Lily at home. But now, Lily was two hours away and could visit only occasionally. Every goodbye was met with tears.
But there was hope. As I mentioned, we had friends in the area and they graciously opened their home to us. Eventually, Lily came to stay (mostly), she and I staying at our friends’ homes at night and the hospital during the day. It went a long way to making life a little less….crappy.
Of course we did still have a life at home. I was in the throes of a very intense training program, which, to be perfectly honest, was not going so great. Now I would be gone for who knows how many weeks and this isn’t the kind of training you can easily jump in and out of. It obviously wasn’t my top concern at the moment, but it was not all that far behind. I planned to return home to resupply after about six days in Roseville and my training officer agreed to meet me at my house to give me some paperwork necessary to apply for family leave. He showed up with more than just the paperwork.
To Be Continued.