Tomorrow is a special day here on the Front Porch. Lil’ Miss 20 Prospect will be turning ten. The Big One-Oh. Double Digits. Yes, she is growing up.
Words cannot express the feelings I have on the matter. (But don’t worry, I never let that get in the way of my writing). Since 1999, the end of Summer will always bring back memories of her birth. It was a typical Minnesota August. Blasted hot, and dry. Mrs. 20P had been on bed rest for about 4 weeks, and since this was our first child we were the typical over the top, anxious, expecting parents. I would rise early before work, and fix Mrs. 20 Prospect a big breakfast in bed, and make sure she was set up for the day before leaving for work. Her Mom had come to stay with us to help out. Around 10 O’clock in the evening on Sept. 1st, her water broke and we went into high alert panic mode. Our due date was still 6 weeks away. We new from the ridiculous amount of reading we had done that 36 weeks was the goal line for a preemie. Short of that and complications could be serious.
Lil’ Miss was born sometime in the early evening of the 2nd. I remember during the birth, a Helicopter landed outside the window on the Heli-pad. (Yeah, typical guy, here my wife is in labor and I’m looking out the window at a Helicopter thinking “cool”) . The nurse said to her, well little girl, you must be special to get company like this.
I remember the concern about her breathing when she was born. She was weezing a little as they cleaned her up, and swaddled her. They let me carry her upstairs to the NICU, and place her in the incubator while they checked her out. She was so beautiful, I could not take my eyes off of her. She weighed just a titch under 5 lbs, and her breathing quickly steadied. They put the silver nitrate drops in her eyes, and gave her a good inspection while I sat next to the incubator, gently stroking her forehead with my thumb.
The next 10 days were one long blur. I had to return to work, and save my vacation days for when she came home from the hospital. My days began with a visit to the NICU at 6 am to hold her in the rocking chair, and feed her a bottle. (only 2 cc’s at first!) Then I would return at lunchtime for another visit, and at the end of the day to hold her again. It was so peaceful and wonderful to sit there and hold her in my arms. Despite all the beeping, and wires, and activity going on around us in the NICU, it was just me and her rocking away, listening to music. When I had to leave I would smell my hands all the way down in the elevator trying to savor, and remember that new baby smell. There is no greater smell in the world.
After 10 days she came home with us, and life began again. Diaper changes, midnight feedings, restless nights straining to hear every little coo, or cry from the nursery. I used to handle the 3-4 am shift. Holding her on my chest, and stroking her head with my thumb as we listened to Gershwin, and the world slept. If only I knew how quickly those days would pass. Within a blink of an eye she would be sleeping through the night. Then crawling, then walking, then talking, and going off to school. And now, becoming a tweener.
Oh, the awkward days that lie ahead. I get teary thinking of the pain, and the joy that lies in front of her. She has no idea, and while a part of me wants to whisk her away and protect her from the world, another part smiles through the tears thinking of all the wonder she is going to discover. Ain’t that just life. Smiling through the tears.
Happy Birthday Lil’ Miss 20 Prospect, may God Bless us both with many more.