Whoa Mama

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Forgive a Repeater

I cannot remember if I've ever written about this, but it's timely so:

My young parents were too young to figure out the root cause of the issue, so at 20 & 21 they were going to welcome their second child. They are both wonderful parents and quite remarkable considering their ages. It recently stopped my in my tracks when I realized that my parents were my age when they divorced. I was a senior in high school.

I digress.

With this pregnancy, my mom went into preterm labor and not for the first time. Her doctor, a wise, educated man, told her to go home and have a shot. My mother didn't drink. My mother listen to her doctor. If one was good then two must be better. My mother got drunk on shots. Then (try to contain your shock) she went into full on labor. She was 26 weeks along. For those of you playing along at home, this is 2/3 of a full term pregnancy, and arguably before there are eyelashes.

So that baby was born 14 weeks premature. That is a full trimester plus before this chicken was fully cooked. The grandparents were called. The grandparents came. My mom's folks came from 3+ hours away. My dad's folks came from about 5 miles away.

My mom's dad told her that she had to name that baby because she wasn't going to live. My parents named that baby. They had that baby baptized. That baby was 2lbs and 3 oz, or half of a bag of sugar my grandmother likes to say. My dad stretches his hand out to say that that baby fit, in fetal position from tip of the thumb to tip of the pinky finger. With very little substance, that baby had a dixie cup on her head to hold the needles in place, plus the feeding tube inside the isolette, where there could only be sterile contact through hand holes.

Remember that the grandparents came. The country grandparents came and cried and prayed. The city grandparents came and cried and prayed, after they stopped to take the edge off. The hard working, proud, strong, Irish grandmother was no more equipped than anyone to hand this. The Manhattan did its job and she marched into the hospital to see her son, his wife and this baby.

One look through the window and she blurted out, "SHE HAS NO ASS!! SHE HAS NO ASS!!"

Well, I've made up for it.

In 1972, I had no business surviving, to say nothing of surviving without any disabilities from heart or lung to motor function to immune system. But here I am.

I love this story for the respective strength and personality and love of my grandparents. But I love the stories from the weeks following when my dad (age 20) would leave his pizzeria job, take the bus down Delaware, get a transfer (raise your hand if you've *Ever* gotten a transfer), and run to the hospital. He would come up a rub my back. Preemies need human contact, but it has to be sterile and within the isolette. So he could put a couple fingers on my tiny back, while watching the clock so that his transfer didn't expire. Then he would run down and catch the bus to Buff State to go to class. By the way, all of this was while my mom (age 20) was home with a toddler and one car, coming in to see me and feed me when she could wrangle my brother in her post-partum state.

So to all of the parents who never knew love like the love of their child, whose strength of character and fathomless devotion arrived with your babies, this is for you.


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