Columns

2012.07.04 A time to be born

on . Posted in By The Way

By DAVID GREEN

I’m the grandfather of a two pound, two ounce boy. He’s quite a handful, and not much more. Two handfuls, max.

When Colleen came upstairs to wake me at 2:30 Saturday morning, I should have been overjoyed. I would have been under normal circumstances, but this was anything but normal.

I couldn’t muster much happiness. Dread, worry, fear—no problem with that. This just seemed like an impossible situation.

Our son Ben and his wife Sarah were expecting their first child in October. They were scheduled to make a visit home in a couple of weeks and we would all get a look at the expanding mother-to-be.

The uneasiness started Thursday morning when Ben called to tell us they were at the hospital because Sarah was having contractions—lots of them.

The hospital staff managed to slow the contractions during the day, and the hope was that baby would stay where he belonged for a few more weeks, if not months.

I was somewhat relieved by the end of the day. I heard there are some women who go through the contractions routine repeatedly on their way to a full term. Maybe Sarah was one of them.

And if she wasn’t, we kept hearing stories that seem truly miraculous—the miracle of modern medicine, that is. Several people had stories about early arrivals who made it through just fine.

After a day and a half, Sarah’s contractions had slowed to one every half hour. Things seemed to be stabilizing. She had been moved to Miami’s top neonatal hospital just in case, but sleep came easier that night—at least for a few hours. Ben called to say his son had arrived and the preemie adventure was underway.

I was thinking back to Ben’s arrival 30 years earlier. He was much more stubborn about getting out. It finally took an active walk along Bean Creek—stepping over fallen trees in the “Old Bean” channel—that seemed to set things in motion.

Of course I can remember the first glimpse of him when he was fresh to the world and I wonder how it was for Ben when his tiny boy arrived. There must have been that same rush of excitement and wonder that every new father feels, and I hope those feelings transcended the worry.

For me, the situation hasn’t improved much. I dread hearing the phone ring. I can feel something tighten inside me every time a new text message arrives on my wife’s cell phone. Her steps on the stairs—is she finally coming to bed or does she have bad news to report?

I can’t help it. It just seems like such a precarious situation that Ryland Emmery Green has found himself in. And poor Sarah—a new mother who can’t even touch her baby.

I drove Colleen to the airport Saturday for her flight to Miami. I shouldn’t have done it on Town and Country Festival weekend, but I just welcomed the chance to get out of town and put my mind on something else, like driving.

Of course there was an occasional text message arriving to give me something to cringe about. After all, the messages haven’t been too cheery. After the initial “baby is born and breathing on its own” came a report about respiratory distress and intubation underway. But that’s generally the case in these situations.

I told Colleen I would be glad to have her phone out of the house so I wouldn’t hear the messages arriving. She thought that was odd. “I always think every text is going to be good news,” she said.

Are you kidding? Look at this one that Ben sent tonight: “The feeding tube through umbilical cord isn’t working so they are trying a different method tonight. I guess it’s not uncommon.”

I’m trying really hard to be happy without the worry, but these problems—common and uncommon—put me on edge.

Take some pity on your grandpa, boy. Grow strong. Stay healthy. Show us another ounce or two. Give us a little improvement every day. Come on, you’ve got a lot of growing ahead of you.

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