The last time I was around a newborn extensively was twenty-seven years ago when T was born.
E, L, B and I are all learning to read ABC’s signs.
It seems that every cry, squeak, whimper, wiggle, look, stretch and facial expression is trying to tell us something, if only we could discern its meaning correctly.
So far, ABC is doing well, despite her petite size. She had a bit of jaundice, but we were able to do light therapy at home. Her bilirubin count went down so well that we were able to return the unit yesterday.
It is a joy watching our daughter and son-in-law be such wonderful parents in these early days. It is a privilege to be a first-time grandparent with the baby living in our home for her first few months.
I admit that I am cheating on SoCS this week. I had a post that I had to write and it could not be stream of consciousness. My family has had a very eventful week. If you are so moved, you can read about it here.
When I wrote this post in the wee hours of Monday morning, I had no idea what new highs and lows the next twenty-four hours would bring…
At 9:00 AM, Nana and I met with her primary care physician, Dr. T. What began as a discussion of her recent symptoms that had prompted us to be there quickly segued into a discussion of how her numerous health conditions and our treatment plan were not succeeding as we had all hoped, how the trajectory while there were ups and downs was trending downward, and how we needed to discuss and prepare for end-of-life planning.
As I am sure you can imagine, or, perhaps, know from your own experience, the discussion was painful and emotional, but I am grateful for Dr. T’s honesty, care, and concern that made it possible for us to consider our options and get the help that Nana and all of us need. Barring a sudden event like a stroke, we are likely to have some unknown number of months with Nana, which we want to make as comfortable and peaceful as possible, as filled with family and friends as her strength allows.
We are starting with getting home care recommenced, but the new goal will be to have therapists and aides to help care for her so that she can conserve energy for fun things, instead of wasting it on mundane things. For example, while a goal of her physical therapy had been to be able to walk down to the dining room at their retirement community for dinner, a new goal will be to get a wheelchair so she can ride to the dining room and have energy to eat and visit with friends.
We expect that there will continue to be some days that are better than others, but we hope to have enough support to keep Nana at home in the apartment she shares with Paco. They have been married for 63 years and belong together!
I spent much of Monday afternoon communicating with family members that needed to know what was going on and wrapping my head around our next steps. E and L took over dinner preparations and we settled in for an evening together watching television. E wanted to watch the Stanley Cup (ice hockey) game and was ensconced on the couch with L, when, a bit before 8:00 PM, she startled all of us with the news that her water had broken.
In short order, there was a call to the obstetrician’s office, the message saying to head to the hospital, the hurried assembling of some supplies, and the four of us driving off to the hospital where we arrived at about 8:30.
E and L headed into the delivery suite while B and I set up in the waiting room, thinking that, given that E had not been having noticeable contractions, they might send us home while she rested for the night and waited for labor to begin in earnest. The reason we thought this might be the scenario is that, when I was pregnant with E, my water broke at 36.5 weeks and it took 26 hours for her to arrive.
And E was also at 36.5 weeks.
This was a different labor-and-delivery story.
Baby arrived before 1:00 AM Tuesday, on the sixth of the month.
E was also born on the sixth of the month.
Baby weighed five pounds, five ounces (2.4 kg) and was eighteen inches (46 cm) long.
E was born at that exact weight and length.
Baby has a full head of hair, as did E, although E was strawberry blond (later changing to golden blond) and Baby has dark hair, like L’s.
E and L named their new daughter Ada. Henceforth, I will likely refer to her here on the blog as ABC, which are her initials, but I did want to share her lovely name with you in honor of her birth.
B and I got to share a little time with the new little family before heading home to catch a few winks before the sun rose. We each got to hold our precious first grandchild and reflect on the parallels between E and little Ada.
One more: Ada, like E, is the first grandchild on both sides of the family.
L was able to stay at the hospital with E and ABC until they came home on Wednesday. On Thursday, they went up to meet Nana and Paco.
Maybe Ada was in a hurry to arrive so that she could meet Nana as soon as possible.
I’m sure she will bring us all much-needed joy in the coming months.
Today, I took daughter E, who is in residence with us and expecting a baby in the early summer, to her 20-week ultrasound appointment. Her husband L , who is currently in the UK, was able to join us via skype.
When I was pregnant 25-30 years ago, ultrasounds were not yet routine in our area, so I had neither had one nor seen one before today.
It was amazing to be able to see the baby developing. I hadn’t realized that we would be able to see all four chambers of the heart, the stomach, and all the vertebrae, and be able to measure the length of arm and leg bones.
I’m happy to report that everything looks good, with growth right on schedule.
And E has some new “baby photos” to bring with her when she goes to visit L and his extended family in a few days. I’m sure Baby’s other set of first-time grandparents will be as happy to see them as B and I are!
As everyone from Massachusetts knows, April 19th is the traditional date of Patriots’ Day. The date should also be familiar to everyone who had to memorize the opening of Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride” as the date of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, which began the American Revolutionary War.
April 19th is also the date of my parents’ wedding anniversary.
This year was their 62nd!
Patriots’ Day was part of the reason they married on April 19th. They thought that my father would always get their anniversary off from work. They had not anticipated the Monday Holiday Bill, which moved many of the holidays from their traditional dates to the closest Monday, giving a long weekend from work, but obscuring the original meaning of the date.
The other reason they married on April 19 was that it was Easter Monday that year. In the Catholic tradition, weddings are not usually celebrated during Lent, so Easter Monday/Patriots’ Day seemed the perfect date to begin their life together.
Of course, given the complexities of life, no marriage could be perfect, but theirs has been a wonderful witness to what a marriage can be when each partner loves and looks out for the other.
Next month, B and I will celebrate our 34th anniversary. I hope and pray that we will be granted the longevity and love that has blessed my parents.
The only reason I remember that fact was that that was the day my friend Angie died.
When she died after fighting cancer for over four years, both of B’s parents were still alive. His dad died in July, 2005, also from cancer; his mom, on Tuesday of Holy Week, just a few days before the 11th anniversary of Angie’s death.
In the early morning hours of March 25th, when I couldn’t sleep, I visited the website of the the charity that Angie’s family established in her memory. I always make a donation on March 25th and on October 25th, which was Angie’s birthday.
This year, the paypal link was broken, so I emailed to ask about it.
Her eldest son sent me a reply and set about getting the link fixed. He also sent me a wonderful photo of his daughter, whose middle name is Angeline, after the grandmother she will never meet on this earth. In the photo, she has a marker in her tiny hand. She may be an artist, like Angie.
While stopped at a traffic light on the way home, I turned the ringer of my phone back on and was surprised to see that there was a missed call from my husband B, who had stayed at home because he wasn’t feeling well. He knew where I was and that I wouldn’t have the phone on during the reading, so I immediately became apprehensive and rushed home to find that my mom (Nana) had called for advice as to whether she should have my dad (Paco) take her to the walk-in or the emergency room when she had suddenly exhibited symptoms of a gastrointestinal bleed.
B advised the emergency room.
B had called my cell phone, hoping that I would put my ringer back on before leaving the bookstore so that I could get to the hospital more quickly, but, as it turned out, it was good that I had gone home first. They phoned again during the few minutes I was home to say that Nana was being put into a room in the ER. I grabbed a few magazines that I could leave with my mother for entertainment during the inevitable waiting times and headed out to the hospital.
The ER waiting room was filled to overflowing and there were so many patients back in the unit itself that some were in the hallway. My mom was in a room, though, because they needed to keep her hitched up to cardiac monitors, given that some of her symptoms could have been a second heart attack. Her heart was okay, but she needed to stay in the hospital to figure out where the bleeding was occurring. There were no rooms available in the hospital proper, so, about 2 AM, she was moved to another section of the ER that had beds rather than gurneys.
The next day, the gastroenterologist who was on weekend call, Dr. B., came in and we decided that it was best to do a colonoscopy on Sunday morning and Nana was admitted to the GI unit when space became available. The colonoscopy revealed that Nana had developed arteriovenous malformations (AVM) and was bleeding from several different sites, which Dr. B. cauterized. Dr. B. explained it to us as being similar to varicose veins that break through to the surface and bleed. Unfortunately, the meds that Nana needs to take due to her cardiac stents don’t help matters, as they act to prevent blood from clotting easily.
Although Nana had lost quite a bit of blood, the doctors decided not to transfuse but to let her try to build back her blood count on her own. This didn’t turn out so well, as Nana had to spend several days in the hospital about a month later when her low iron levels started to affect her blood pressure. They finally gave her a couple of units of blood and, while her iron level isn’t quite up to what is considered normal, she is slowly gaining strength and getting back to some parts of her old routine – with, we hope, more progress to come as spring continues to unfold and we celebrate Mother’s Day and her birthday.
There is no way to tell when the AVMs may recur, so, for now, there are weekly blood tests so that, if she becomes more anemic, the gastroenterologist can intervene before she loses too much blood.
Vigilance is our friend, as is following through on recommended treatment, medication, and lifestyle choices. It’s what has kept Nana and Paco as active as they are as they age.
But fingers crossed that we don’t have any more medical adventures in the coming months.