Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Seven Years Ago Today

This little guy was born:

Gabriel Joseph

This sweet child is a treasure.  A blessing.  A gift. Like every one of our children. 
But he was one that had a bumpy road getting here.  Here's the story in a nutshell:

  I'd had blood pressure problems from the beginning of the pregnancy (my ninth) and was being watched like a hawk by my dear doctor, on bedrest from about the fourth month on.  (Ugh.)  At the beginning of our 34th week, Dan took me in for a regular check up and our OB (who, btw, never once questioned or pestered or even cocked an eyebrow at delivering our 9th child) determined that I was escalating into preeclampsia.  All the signs were there: very high bp, protein in the urine, and a change in my platelet count. But I felt fine.  Fine, mind you, for a forty-year-old mother with eight home-schooled kids that she's been managing from her bedside table for three months....  But, really, I didn't feel at all different than I had at my last check-up.  I'd just as soon let this baby "cook" a little longer and go home and correct math papers.  Really.

"Aren't we being a little hasty?"  I said.

 "Preeclampsia," he said. Like the voice of doom. 

" But," I said, "it's fine. I'm fine."  And what I meant was that I felt no great sense of urgency and, "Doc, will you please stop hyperventilating; I think you need a pill."  Not that he was really hyperventilating, but, at the time, I really felt like he was more agitated about the whole thing than necessary. I knew then and know now that eclampsia is nothing to mess around with, but I guess you don't go through as many childbirths as we already had,with all the mishaps we'd already lived through, without learning a certain measure of calm.  God was in control; we just weren't worried. 

Anyway, Dan and I walked down and around the hallways of the hospital -- skipped "Admitting" as instructed, and went straight to" Labor and Delivery," where I got strapped in, hooked up and generally dithered over for a while.  Then, Baby Gabey hiccuped or something in utero, wherein the powers-that-be decided I needed mag chloride to stop eclampsia from rearing its ugly head.  And, perhaps it was a good thing they did, because who knows when it might just decide to pop in with seizures and all kinds of other maternity ward horror story fare -- but, honestly, to this day, I think the mag was unnecessary.  It hung in my system forever.  And it's awful stuff!  

But Gabe was delivered by c-section a short time later -- thankfully not by an emergency incision.  He was the cutest little peanut you ever saw.  He weighed in at just over 5 lbs -- and was whisked away immediately to the NICU, where he was cared for by some of the best neonatal nurses this side of heaven.  But he was there for a month -- and we lived a solid hour from the hospital.  Ugh.  And, because of the c-section (and the drug-induced brain fog) I had been warned to refrain from driving for two weeks.  But, between Paul and Dan taking me and my inclination to break rules, I got into town nearly every day.  There's no way I would have missed going, even if I'd had to walk.

Moms, you know this.  Any new baby is like an addiction to its Momma.  We need that baby's presence as much as that baby needs us. And I think it may be more true after a difficult pregnancy and an unconventional delivery.  Mothers of NICU babies especially need to know their little (little, little) ones are safe. They need to feel touch of that unbelievably smooth and velvety premie skin, the curl of  little tiny fingers around their pinkies, the sound of beeps going off everywhere, the smell of alcohol and disinfectant soap, the hushed voices of the NICU staff... 

Ah, those baby days in the NICU -- getting to know our itty bitty son, almost as well as we got to know the nurses and the parents hovering around the nearby incubators.

But, our Gabe made it out just fine.  He was a favorite of the nursery and was known for smiling and laughing (Yes, really! Laughing!)  before he'd even reached his official due date birthday.  He snickered in the nursery a couple of times and laughed out loud from his car seat as we carried him through the parking lot to finally take him home. He charmed the bejeebers out of the shuttle bus driver who toted us to our car that day.  He was such a tiny, cute little papoose, people everywhere stopped to take a peek at him.  And he's still delighting us now. 

Our Gabriel.  He's a keeper.

Pics from Gabe's party weekend:

Since it's Lent, Gabe's big (well, biggish -- half the family isn't actually here...) family party  was on Sunday, last. 
Here you see his monkey tree thingamacake.  Yup.  Store-boughten.  But good.  And I can't tell you how much mileage the trees and the little blue monkeys have gotten around here since Sunday.  (Dear Lord, save me from little blue monkeys!)
And what's left of the two dozen monkey cupcakes we made for Gabe to share at school today.  (They look a little traumatized, don't they?)

Here's the start of the Monkey Maze I made for Gabe to share with his friends at school on his birthday, too.  When I was a teenager many moons ago, working with pre-schoolers, we used to make these all the time.  Didn't bother us a bit to spend hours bent in half with a piece of chalk in our hand, drawing lines all over the concrete.  No biggie then.  But, let me tell ya it's a biggie now.  I don't suggest this exercise for a forty-something person...

Can you get the basic idea of the design?  It's similar to hopscotch, but more involved and no "stone" is used.  On each square you chalk in either a "1" on the left to hop on the left foot, on the right to hop on the right foot, a "2" to hop with both feet, a "3" to hop with two feet and touch one hand to the ground, or a "4" to hop with both feet and touch both hands to the ground.  Lots of fun, good exercise, and good practice with numbers for little ones. 

And here's Anna on a left-foot-hop square.
 After all my back-breaking labor on the monkey maze, I don't think I saw Gabe playing on it.  He was too busy playing bocce ball.  His Dad found the set when I asked him to bring the sidewalk chalk to school, you see, so there was plenty for everyone to do at recess.  (Dan and I were at the school subbing for a couple of classes so two of our teaching Sisters could attend and sing for a funeral today, incidentally, so we had the extra benefit and blessing of being around Gabey at school on his birthday.  :0) 

Then, later on Gabe got is mac-n-cheese and hotdogs for dinner and got to open his presents after Theresa got home from choir practice.  (Matchbox cars and tracks mainly, and a glow-in-the dark drawing thingamajig I found on sale at W-mart) He received phone calls all evening from his far-off siblings and grandparents and his Aunt Nina. And, then to bed after prayers and hugs all 'round.  A good day.   Gabey seemed pleased.

Happy birthday, Gabey Baby!
I love you!


MightyMom said...

happy bday Mr Monkey!

GrandmaK said...

So sorry to be late to his birthday! He really is a delight! Wishing you well! Cathy