Last week, my nephew and his wife had a little baby boy who entered the world weighing 6 lbs. 6 oz. The little guy had some respiratory issues, so he spent nearly a week in the NICU. During his stay, he lost some weight and was down to just over five-and-a-half pounds.
When Cheryl went to see him, she was amazed at how little he was. I reminded her that our daughter Grace wasn't even four-and-a-half pounds when she was born, and she, too, lost a couple of ounces before we brought her home.
Cheryl said that she could not remember her being that little. Maybe the eighteen years since has clouded her memory.
Well, let me tell you... I remember.
When Grace was born, I remember the look of concern on the doctor's face. I thought she looked small, but this was the first time that I had ever seen a baby right out of the shoot. They are born little, right?
They announced her weight and a fairly low Apgar score. The nurses were all moving pretty quickly... only adding to my confusion and concern.
Fortunately, the second Apgar score was higher, and the tension and urgency seemed to ease up a bit. As things settled, I remember the nurse telling me that Grace had long, slender, beautiful fingers and was someday going to be a pianist!
I wanted to punch him in the face. I may have misheard what the nurse said... but Cheryl quickly cleared it all up!
He said pianist, as in piano player.
Oh... pianist! That is not what I thought he said!
To be fair, after Grace was born, I had a lot going on. Cheryl was just lying there doing nothing and could afford to just sit and listen to what the nurse was saying.
Grace was originally sent to the regular nursery. Unbeknownst to us, she was transferred to the NICU in the middle of the night. I learned of this transfer after skipping down to the nursery to see Gracie... only to find that she was not there. I then hurried to the NICU and was told that I had to scrub up and put on a mask and gown.
I was the only person in a room full of babies that were no bigger than a little baby doll. We're talking one-and-a-half to three pound newborns. Grace was, by far, the biggest baby in the room. They all had tubes coming out of their arms or heads. They were all in little individual incubators and seemingly could only be touched through armholes. I left to call my office to tell them I would not be in to work. They asked if everything was okay, and I could not speak... I had no idea.
I have always said that the day Grace was born was the best and the worst day of my life.
When I went back to the NICU, I was greeted by a nurse named Cathy. I never remember anybody's name, but I remember Cathy. She explained that these babies would all survive but would probably be hospitalized for months. She let me know that they were all premature for one reason or another. She pointed out the DeVito twins who had to be delivered early.
As I got more comfortable with things, I told Cathy that I thought that Grace needed a diaper change. Cathy shot me a look and told me to change her myself. Because Grace was so tiny, I was afraid to touch her, but Cathy was having none of it.
I am not going home with you... so do it yourself!
The irritation in her voice convinced me that things were going to be okay.
I will always be thankful for Cathy. The last thing I said to her was to keep the DeVito boys away from my Gracie.
She assured me that she would.
Grace was in the NICU for eight days. Each day, Cheryl and I would go to the hospital thinking that we would be bringing her home. Each day we were disappointed. There was a very young doctor that kept finding "issues." We got very tired of hearing... maybe tomorrow!
On the eighth day... an older doctor told us to take her home. I asked him about her lungs, her heart, her size, and her hearing. When they had tested her hearing, they had told me that they could not get an appropriate response. To each of my questions, the doctor assured that she will be fine!
I asked him, How is it that the other doctor keeps saying keep her in the hospital and now you say take her home.
Because we have put her under a microscope... and when we do that to any baby, we will find problems.
What about that bleeding in the brain?
That is common in many vaginal births.
She was a C-section!
Oh, well... she will be fine! Take her home.
Can I take a heart monitor with us so if she stops breathing we will hear the beeping?
What about her hearing?
Get her tested when you get her home... She will be fine... Take her home.
Uh, about her hearing... Poor Grace. For five days I tested her myself. I would sneak up behind her and clap and take note that she was easily startled. I was convinced she could hear and mentioned this fact to Cheryl... several times.
When we finally took Grace for her hearing test, they told us they could not do the test because she was awake. I commented that she had been awake when they tested her in the hospital.
It turns out that the baby has to be perfectly still and they are just seeing if the process works by sending a noise into the ear and seeing if there is a noise response that bounces back... an otoacoustic emission from the inner ear.
So stupid! My tests were better.
All of these memories came flooding back when I went to the hospital to see my nephew's baby... and I am here to report that this little guy is as cute as can be.
And get this, while I was there, I was able to save my nephew some money by running a few of my preliminary hearing tests.
The kid can hear. He is now home... and is going to be just fine!
Congratulations to Joseph, Jess, JP... and welcome to the family baby Cooper!
Remembering the days...
|Newborn Gracie in her isolette.|
|Gracie and Dad.|
|Mommy with her happy girl.|
|Teeny-tiny on a standard-sized pillow.|
Not quite two weeks old.
|Two-and-a-half weeks old... Happy to be home.|