Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I Remember Summer - part V

The ambulance arrives around midnight staffed with a team of five; a doctor, two paramedics and two nurses. I am told they are here and after their first priority of tending to my baby they will be in to see me. My husband is with them. Easily and quickly they make their assessment, start an IV and prepare for transport. The doctor then turned all his attention to me and my husband. Talking and making sure that any questions we had were answered, saying that it would take at least seventy-two hours for them to know exactly how he was. The paramedics and nurses then came in with the incubator and our precious baby. We said so long, told him we loved him and off to the Big Apple he went at just over four hours old. The ambulance was like a mini operating room, it was equipped to handle almost anything.

My husband returned from Cornell Medical Center late afternoon the next day having spent the day with our little guy. He is oh so small, but his larger (?) size is a blessing. They so expected smaller for his time of gestation. He is 10 weeks early, there hadn't been any miscalculation. They confirmed that; he has no fingernails; no cartilage in his ears; these things had not yet formed, they will soon though. At eight hours old he had some respiratory distress. He is so tiny that when he becomes very relaxed and sleeping he starts to shut down. Alarms alert the medical personnel and they rouse him. He will continue growing, but now in an incubator. His feeding is 1/33 of an ounce. He is in the Neonatal Itensive Care. Here each baby has their own nurse and doctor 24 hours a day. At this time they would not allow any pictures to be taken until seventy-two hours old. Guess this was the magic number, seventy-two, by then they would know all the possibilities and probabilities. God will take care of it.

I will spend the next three days in the hospital, when I am released I am told that I cannot travel for a time yet. I go home holding a picture.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I Remember Summer - part IV

8:28pm on 6/28,
3 pounds, 11 ounces,
16 inches long,
a baby boy.
Did you see that ... he weighed 3 pounds, 11 ounces. My doctor, although wearing a mask, is smiling ... I can tell by his eyes, he tells me that the baby is much larger then they could have ever hoped for ... almost twice as much. God will take care of this. For a brief moment I see this tiny face, an almost exact replica of my husband. He is wrapped in warmed blankets and then wisked away.
A very bad storm is looming outside and has knocked out most of the power and phone lines to many parts of the city. Our pediatrician is affected by this and could not be contacted. The hospital contacts the police and they go to get her. She arrives in short order. The helicopter cannot fly in this weather, Cornell Medical University at New York Hospital in New York City is contacted, an ambulance is dispatched with arrival expected some time around midnight.
I have been moved to the hall outside the delivery room by a phone. Here I make calls to our parents giving them their new status of grandparent. Our pediatrician appears with information on her assessment.
APGAR is a quick test performed at 1 and 5 minutes after birth. The 1-minute score determines how well the baby tolerated the birthing process. The 5-minute score assesses how well the newborn is adapting to the new environment. The rating is based on a total score of 1 to 10, with 10 suggesting the healthiest infant. A score of 8 or 9 is normal and indicates the newborn is in good condition. A score of 10 is very unusual, since almost all newborns lose 1 point for blue hands and feet, which is normal for the transitional phase after birth

The APGAR test done will examine the baby's:
Breathing effort
Heart rate
Muscle tone
Skin color

Each category is scored with 0, 1, or 2, depending on the observed condition.
His scores were 8.5 and 9. 8.5 and 9! She (pediatrician) is in awe. She cannot believe the condition he is in. She tells us that if he were not that early she would keep him here and not send him out but because of how early he is she thinks its in his best interest that he go. Although larger then they thought he still is very tiny. Should a complication arise later it would be best for him to be at the medical center. She wonders did we miscalculate, maybe he was further term along. We don't know.

I Remember Summer ... part III

The wee morning hours passed slowly to the early morning sun rising. By 8:00am we were still holding. In the scheme of things a small feat but one not taken lightly. Doc had said every hour would make a difference so here I was thinking I was now three hours beyond where he thought we would have delivered. We were months away from what was supposed to be and here I was counting hours thinking it was a win. God will take care of this. The morning turned to noon, the afternoon saw moms-to-be come and moms go, evening shadows started falling. My husband had wiled away the day in a straight back chair to the side of my bed. My doctor had left my side only to deliver a baby. We had become a close knit threesome by the end of the day.

The straight back chair was now a straight back bed for the night for my husband. My doctor caught a bit of sleep on the couch in the father's room.

The night's quiet was broken only by the monitor's swishing sounds of our baby's heart beat.

Back labor, it was back labor... continued throughout the night. It was uncomfortable (understated), I spent most of the time rolled up into a ball to try to relieve the "backache". By the next afternoon all of a sudden it stopped. Early evening I was taken to a private room on the maternity floor. It was nice to be off the gurney of the labor room and actually into a bed. Whatever was going on medicine had no clue. I was more then three quarters dilated, the baby was and had been in position, and labor stopped. Mid evening my husband went home to get, hopefully, a good night's sleep.

I was now more aware of the moving of our little one. On the right side of my abdomen was a tapping, (kicking?), it would go on for a while, then stop. And start again a while later ... over and over again. I actually started to wonder if this little one had two legs or one, it was always just one side, the same side.

Labor started in again about 1:00am and I was fully dilated although my water had not broken ... back to the labor room, husband was called and returned, doctor came in and we all waited. An emergency delivery kit was placed on the end of my bed. It would be replaced with a new kit at 12 hour intervals so that it would not be contaminated. Although contractions were constant and at about 2 minutes apart my water remained unbroken, the baby's heatbeat was a strong 160 and doing fine. The question was me now, as long as I was ok, we would wait this out.

Wait we did ... Thursday, Friday ... At this point, each day my doctor would leave for some office appointments and return late afternoon where he would stay all night with me. If there was any change in me he would leave his office and come at that time. I was truly blessed with such an amazing doctor.

I had not eaten since Monday and now they brought in some light foods, broth, jello, sherbert. I loved the sherbert, wrote a note on my tray cover asking for more then one sherbert if that was possible. I didn't know if it would be seen in the kitchen but on ... Saturday ... I received several, on ...Sunday ... too. Sunday I had several visitors from the hospital. I was well known throughout the hospital at this point and head nurses from other floors were coming by to see me, to tell me that they and their staff were thinking of me, prayers were being said ... Monday ... I awoke to find two nurses surveying the room trying to see could wires be run to get me a tv.

It had been seven days. Then Monday afternoon I seemed to sink. Something had changed in me, I had been doing fine and all of a sudden I was weepy, feeling strange. Next thing I knew my doctor was there. They had called and he had come right away. A short time after that I was told that they had contacted Medical Centers in Albany and New York City to reserve an incubator in the neonatal ICU's. The one which responded with a "bed" is where my little one would go. A helicopter would be ready and waiting.

The doctor broke my water, the time was here.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I Remember Summer - cont'd

Thirty Four years ago ... the year was 1976, it was the bicentennial and a big deal with celebrations being planned throughtout the country. It was an even bigger deal in our own little world that year. We were expecting our first baby. There had been articles and talk of all kinds of things for July 4th and one of which was the baby that would be born on that day. Like the New Year's baby every year but only this was on a grander scale. Our little one was was due in September so no thought given to that, however, I do have to mention that my husband's birthday is July 4th.

I had gone to work on Monday, June 21st, with a back ache starting about mid morning. Oddly I had rearranged my desk, reorganized my files, etc., etc., a few were joking that I was into early nesting mode. My little office space was just so tidy. As the day wore on so did my back ache. Throbbing away, sometimes worse then others. Grateful for 5:00, I packed up and went home. I don't remember what was for dinner but do remember turning in for the night quite early. Sporting a backache all those hours does exhaust a person.

At 2:00 in the morning I was awoken with an incredibly sharp pain across my stomach. Upon going into the bathroom I realized that I was bleeding and in trouble. I called my doctor who told me to go the the ER immediately. They (nurses) were waiting for me when I arrived and took me into an exam room. I told the nurse that I felt funny, had stomach cramps and had had back aches ... she said "honey, those are contractions". Well, knock me over ... I don't know why I had never even thought of that, talk about being naive. For one I wasn't due for close to 3 months yet and secondly I wasn't sure what labor was supposed to be like; I figured someone or something would show up waving flags with a marching band. I had figured that you would just know! After the initial shock of hearing that the chill of fear struct. I had been the fifth child born.

My mother had lost four before me. The first two, girls, had been born at about the time I was at right now, almost six and six months. Their survival had been three days for the first one, less for the second child. I had been her first full term baby, and had reached that with full bed rest during the pregnancy.

This couldn't be, it wasn't time, it couldn't be the time. I asked the nurse what would happen if our baby was born then, all she would say is that with today's medicine things are much better then they were years ago. I kept asking her as I didn't get her answer at all, I wanted more, I wanted to hear it will be fine. She never said that.

The doctor arrived minutes later, although I was not completely dilated I was too far progressed now to try and stop labor. (Back labor, it had been back labor!) He thought that in a few hours the baby would be here, he also said that every hour I continued to hold would be a benefit to the baby and that they were hoping the baby was at least two pounds. I remember looking at the clock, it was 3:05am and the thought went through my head three pounds, eleven ounces. It was then that I just looked straight up and thought God will take care of this.

The doctor had spoken with my husband in the hallway away from where I was. He told my husband "its too early".

They transported me to the labor rooms and there I voiced my thought to the nurse ... God will take care of this. She hugged me.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I Remember Summer ... part 1

Today, June 21, 2010, at 7:28am the start of summer. Once again as it has 59 times before.

The day's start is picture perfect. A gentle breeze is moving the leaves, the sun is peaking through the trees and making its marks on the lawn in the early morning silence. Flowers are in full bloom. The birds are gathering at the feeders, a chipmunk has packed his cheeks with sunflower seeds, the squirels are darting about. Everywhere you look you see the touch of His blessings. I am thankful not only for these moments of grace but for the fact that I took the moment to see. Sometimes (most times?) I just jump into the day "unawares". Glad not today.

I am lazy today, following an unusually very busy week last week. My weeks often are scheduled with 3-4 days of work and this and that and mostly that! I am grateful for today's quiet.
I close my eyes and for a moment I remember summer...

My earliest memory (I had to be under 3) is very short, very sweet ... I remember sitting on a wooden fence, I can picture the fence, with my mother opening pea pods. They were in a brown paper bag. I don't like peas, never have, but that day I was eating the round green peas and I can still remember how sweet they tasted. I can feel the sun's rays and warmth. That's it, nothing more, nothing less. I know that it was in Dobbs Ferry because that was where I lived. I believe it was down the street from our house, actually there was a field on the side of the house to our left ... there was the fence. I'm not sure where we had gotten the peas. It feels good to remember that moment, there's a peace there I can feel. Seems sort of strange for a little one to hold this in memory but its a memory that seems to pop up every so often over the years.

Then I remember summer days of my elementary school years, in the mid to late 1950's ...

School was out, the days were lazy,the katydids sang loudly at night.
Hours were spent absorbed in Nancy Drew books.
Tetherball was a great game, leaving broken or sprained fingers for most of the summer,
ahhhh, it was great!

We played baseball and soccer and a two month long game of monopoly.
Talk about bailouts, we kept tally of the money borrowed to keep us in the game.
During the summer no one was ever out, the same game played from July to
the end of August with the winner being the one who owed the least.

It was 6 neighborhood kids who built towns
and cities, these also remained all summer, making
them come to life. These were built with
lincoln logs and building bricks (these were likeLego's only made of wood).

It was dragging dining room chairsoutside and lining them up along a tree line
and pretending it was a passenger train.

It was playing outside all day, everyday and
by nightfall waiting for the next day to play again.

It was fun.

It was carefree.

It was a lace curtain blowing in the gentle breeze from an open window

It was a special time, a special place.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Beginning In The Spring of 1942

and I'm thinking it was either the last week of March or the first week of April that my parents met. I'm back tracking on the calendar to arrive at that time as they were married on June 17, 1942, twelve weeks after they met. I guess you would say what a whirlwind courtship and I guess you would be right. And I guess you would smile when I say it lasted 58 years, 5 months and 3 days. I was there for the end, obviously not for the beginning.

I always remember though hearing that on their first date it rained. Heavy rains. I don't know where they went, I think maybe a movie...they both were 20 years old. The mode of transporation was most likely walking so how important on a rainy, spring evening to have an umbrella. And this dog head was the handle to that umbrella. It always sat, for as long as I can remember, in the china closet in the dining room in this bowl on this plate. Every once in a while it would come out and I can hear my mother say how it had rained on their first date and this was the handle to the umbrella that they had used. As I got older it struct me how this handle had been saved and what it represented to them and for them.

It was quite a love story, her and him. I have never seen a man love anyone as my father loved my mother. She was his every breath up to his last.

The year after my father passed my mother went into a nursing home. Upon cleaning out her house I handn't given thought to this in quite a while and then I came upon the china boat and handle. With great care I brought it home with me. It now sits, as it has for the past 10 years, in my dining room on my hutch still holding what was in it. Some wheat pennies, a book of matches, the newspaper announcements of the birth of my children and the priceless dog head handle. Six years ago she joined him where the rains have now ceased.

This is another little thing that will be passed on to my children. Something so simple, so profound; a dog head handle that represents a
love for all eternity.

Come this Thursday,
June 17, 2010,
Happy Anniversary,
God bless you both
... 68 years and forever.
with all my love