In the fall of 2001 my son Noel and his wife Jenny announced to me that I would become a Grandpa! (I had been sort-of a grandpa by then, as my wife Lynn's daughter had had a son (Alic) 6 years prior, but at that time we were not married.)I was of course looking forward to my own "children" becoming parents, and Noel was to be the first.
In the spring of 2002 things were goin' along smoothly, but that stopped when Jen's water broke, at the start of the 25th week of her pregnancy. This was totally unexpected, as it was a full 15 weeks before this was supposed to happen! There was no indication of anything unusual up to that point...Jen was perfectly healthy. She spent the next three weeks bedridden in the hospital; the doctors would not even allow her to get up to visit the restroom. Through those three weeks she was her usual ebullient up-beat self, and Noel was his usual supportive, upbeat self.
On March 17th I left a day early for my trip to the Suwannee Springfest in Florida so I could stop in Green Bay to see her and Noel. I had made my daily call to her in the hospital before I left, and she was definitely not as chipper as she had been...but hey, the strain on her had to be getting to her.
I arrived to the hospital at around 4:00 in the afternoon. The nurses had moved her from the "birthing room" to a room right around the corner, and a new nurse had just started her shift. The three of us were talking when the nurse noticed something different goin' on with the monitors that were hooked up to Jen and went off to find the head nurse. They both came back quickly and just as quickly moved Jen back to the room she had been in all those weeks. So, there we were, back in the birthing room, wondering what was goin' on. After a little while I went for a walk, ending up in the fathers' waiting room, where soon after I heard a commotion in the hall. I looked out to see a nurse come running down the hall, pushing an incubator and entering the door next to Jen's room. In a second she came back out, hustling back to where she had come from. My thoughts were: "mmm...someone else has just had a baby.."
Turned out that that was my new grandson! Connor David had been born in the couple of minutes after I had left...there were two doors and two rooms where Jenny had been moved to. (It was ony about an hour after I arrived at the hospital.) Noel came to find me soon after, telling me that his son had been born! We went back into the room, and the three of us sat around, wondering just what the heck had just happened...>g<
It was soon after that the doctor came in, explaining the situation: Connor's lungs were not even ready to be working as yet, but that was not even the most pressing problem! He explained that at the start of the 28th week there are veins on the top of the head that connected to the skull, and fortunately seeing as how this was actually the first day of the 28th week that there was a possiblity that that had happened but that he didn't know for sure at that point....the spot of blood needed to be of a certain small size in order for it to be a good connection. It was soon after that Noel and I were allowed to go to see Connor, and I swear that the diaper that they had on him was the size of my thumbnail! He weighed a whole 2lb 4oz, and was the tiniest human being that I had ever seen...and he arrived a full 12 weeks early.
So--Connor David spent an excruciating three months in the hospital, and his chance of survival was always in doubt; except in Noel's mind. (and I was sooo afraid that he was setting himself up for the most dramatic downfall...) Connor had many blood tranfusions during this time, and in a long story-short explanation, he even got to the point where he had a last chance for survival...a steroid shot that was a last-ditch effort to get his lungs to work on their own. Lynn and I were at the hospital when this was administered, and Noel and Jen were damned near completely wore out both physically and mentally by this point. We were all told to go home and with that we said our goodbyes, with us heading home to the north woods (a three hour drive), and Noel and Jen to their home in Green Bay. It was a pretty somber scene...
And we weren't home very long when we got the call...Connor had started breathing on his own!!! (I have goosebumps and tears happening even now as I'm typing...) Oh my goodness...we all cannot thank enough the marvelous efforts and know-how of all the folks that administered Connor's life-saving procedures during all of that time! And Connor David became known in the hospital as the "miracle baby"...a cover boy in a hospital publication, even. >g<
Today Connor David is a super intelligent, way way cute healthy 6 year old spitfire who is about to enter 1st grade! He is a joy to the whole family, and I couldn't be more proud of the father that my son has become or the mother that Jenny is.
Noel and Jenny
My Favorite Photo of Connor David, at the Edge of Turtle Lake (a beautiful little lake near my home)
The day after Connor's birth I had to head south to the festival. I was goin' down the Interstate at 70 miles an hour when this poem simply popped out of my brain. I wrote it down while I was driving...the original scribbling can only be read by me! After the poem was written I called Jen, reciting it to her while she lay in her hospital bed and I continued driving. Actually, I recited and cried my way through it...it is still her favorite version. I stopped at the nearest small town in Illinois and rewrote it and mailed it to them...and there was NOT ONE edit! The poem basically wrote itself...
An exciting thing happened
On the way to the gig.
Connor David is small,
But his impact is big.
He burst in the scene
With a flourish and flair;
A handsome little boy,
And he even had hair!
His mother deserves
All the thanks and acclaim
That befits a true hero,
Not only in name.
And then there's the Father,
A handsome young lad
Whose son will be proud to say:
"This is my dad".
Connor David will choose
A path of his own;
It's direction may vary,
For a time be unknown.
And he'll go down that path
Knowing the truth in his heart,
That his parents have loved him
Right from the start.
And if I remember right...it was a helluva' Springfest!