Walk With Me—Two By
Josh was in the high risk center at St. Francis, Peoria for a full week before I got the green light to travel. My sister-in-law, Ellen, offered to drive my mother and me. I wanted my baby with an intensity that can’t be adequately described. For my mother, I think she stepped into her own memories.
There wasn’t any way we could be prepared for what we saw. It never occurred to me that babies that tiny and so much at risk even existed. I come from a big family. My mother delivered eight healthy babies but several of my siblings were born early and I’m quite sure seeing those preemies, hooked up to all kinds of wires and monitors took her back to a time and place where her own tiny little babies didn’t have the medical help those little ones were getting.
By the grace of God, my siblings grew up healthy and happy and I’m sure my mother gets all the credit for that. She adored babies and seeing those little ones moved her to tears. She wanted to scoop them all up and do what she did best, mother them. For me, all I wanted was my own baby. Josh looked so big and healthy in that ward full of preemies. He weighed 9 lb. 2 oz. at birth. If he hadn’t had the large swelling on his head he would have looked like a healthy, normal baby.
They allowed me to don a gown and go in with him. A rocking chair was in the room and they brought him to me to hold. They gave me a bottle and told me I could feed him but they also warned me that his sucking reflex was weak. I sat and held him and cuddled and fed him. The whole world went away for a couple of hours and I didn’t want to go home and leave him there but that’s what I had to do.
Another week would go by before I would have another ride to the hospital. I found out a friend of the family was going to Peoria and she agreed to give me a lift. Mom stayed home and took care of Richard. Even though I wasn’t supposed to drive yet I got myself to the ride.
When I walked into the high risk ward the doctors were making their rounds. I stood by waiting for them to move past Josh so I could hold him. I overheard the doctor say, “If you can get the mother in here for instructions, he can go home.” I stepped forward and said, “His mother is here.” Time blurred for me after that. I received my instructions, contacted the friend who had driven me and warned her that she was transporting two back. I was going to get Josh home no matter what kind of obstacles lay in front of me.
Looking back I realize that the high risk center in Peoria was the beginning of a different life. It was the first awareness I had that medical problems happen. You never know when or to whom or how but they happen. No matter how bad you think your situation is there are others out there going through worse. It’s humbling, it stretches the heart and it strengthens the soul. It’s also painful, heart wrenching and scary. I don’t know that I would have chosen to go through such a hard experience but when I think about what I have vs. what I would have lost, I’d rather have Josh, here and now, regardless of how difficult the journey we traveled.