Like all grandmothers, I am totally overwhelmed with love for my new grandson. Reward is to see my daughter and her son together, knowing that years of caring for her, teaching and nurturing her, contributed to forming a strong young adult who is now able to care for another generation.
I was sitting on my bed holding the fussing baby when Paka my usual companion jumped onto the bed. He saw the baby and promptly crawled underneath the comforter peeping out at me and the baby as if to say ” Mom there is an alien in my bed.”
Twenty five years after having my last babies , there is a baby in the house again.
He arrived unexpectedly 5 weeks early from planet van Zyl bearing gifts from the past and dreams for the future His arrival caught us totally unawares, causing mild panic and a scramble to prepare a place for this new member of the family.
He brought eyes like his dad, a mouth like his mom, the length of his maternal great grandfather, fingers and toes like his mother, dark hair like the van Zyls. Gifts with the amazing ability to change depending on who he presents it to. To the van Zyl family he presents pure van Zyl gifts, to the van der Walt family van der Walt and Louw gifts.
In the midst of the excitement and discussion of his gifts, he placidly lies waiting for his needs to be met. Beware however if the service is poor or slow. He will let you know in no uncertain terms that he is dissatisfied. He makes his needs known in an alien language with grunts, moans grimaces, hiccups, sneezes and if all else fails angry screams which echo through the house.
Caring for his needs becomes an all consuming passtime. We stumble through sleep deprived days. We rejoice at each dirty and wet nappy. We cheer loud burps and wipe baby spit with joy. We marvel at the way he sucks and co-ordinate breathing with swallowing. We sit staring at him while he sleeps, afraid that he might just forget to breathe. After all only a week ago he was still in hospital and a very sick baby.
Soon we learn to understand his language and the alien becomes a beloved member of the family. All the discussions about the inheritance of his traits fade away and he becomes Nico, a little boy wrapped in a package all his own. We forget that he came from planet van Zyl , we forget that his eyes looks like this one’s and mouth like that one’s. We love him just for who he is.
For Nico: You are You
That is truer than true
There is no one alive who is
Youer than You – Dr Seuss
Sometimes we say, do or write something without realising what life has waiting for us around the corner.
On the 16th January I wrote a post here about the beautiful rainbow clouds we saw while sitting on my verandah.
My last words were: I will take this beautiful sight with me as a reminder when difficult times come to trust in the Lord and know that I am never alone.
Three days later my daughter went into pre term labour with her first baby. As she was living with me at the time while her husband was still in Dar es Salaam Tanzania I rushed her to the hospital where the long anxious wait began.
With dad still in Tanzania, frantically trying to get on a flight in time, it fell to me and my younger daughter to stay with her through the labour process. Needless to say it was a long and anxiety filled day. The baby was born at 21h00 that night and yes dad made it with exactly 45 minutes to spare.
All was not well. The baby a little boy named Nico had to be delivered by forceps and came into life bruised, blue and ill. He was rushed past us into nicu, where he was put onto full body cooling to minimize the possibility of brain damage. The next 72 hours would be critical we were told.
Did I remember my words written only three days earlier.?
Yes of course I did, but being human, I succumbed to all kinds of feelings. Fear, doubt, anxiety, even anger at the Lord for allowing yet another “bad” thing to happen to my family. My own words seemed to mock me., seemed to say:” Now show the world how you handle this curveball life has thrown at you.”
In the midst of the crises I couldn’t pray, but countless others did. All I could do was hang on to my emotions and try to be strong to support the children.
72 Hours passed slowly, feeling like eternity. Then the warming up process began and disaster struck again. At three in the morning he “crashed”, nicu speak for he stopped breathing. This time he was put onto a ventilator, the verdict pneumonia and sepsis. Big words meaning he was critically ill with infection . Where did it come from? No one knows. He probably had it allready in utero and caused the pre-term labour.
Another anxious five days followed and then he slowly started recovering.Day by day I waited anxiously for news and the odd photo or video from the nicu. Day by day he slowly became stronger. Every small change was a celebration of life. We celebrated his first breaths without the respirator, the first day free from UV lights after jaundice, the first feed without a nasogastric tube, his first tentative attempt at breast feeding, his first bath and above all the first day his parents could pick him up and hold him.
The corridor outside nicu became my world as I often sat there waiting while his mom visited. Nicu staff became family and the nurses his substitute mothers.
Yesterday exactly three weeks and three days after he was born Nico was declared well enough to come home. Now he is at home and at last I feel like a grandmother. We still have a way to go as he will be susceptible to infections due to his illness, but every day he seems to be stronger than before.
In retrospect I can agree wholeheartedly with the promise in
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
I will remind myself to remember every time I feel discouraged or scared by life of this promise and hope you will too.
In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Scale.”
Size and scale are both only relevant to the context in which an object is seen.
A passenger jet seems enormous when seen on the ground.
However seen against the size of the sky it becomes a tiny speck.