Wednesday, May 7, 2014


My love for little Tove is wrapped up in those early days at the Special Care Nursery. Visiting your child means you feel like both vagabond and queen. Each morning I packed my back of food, pumping parts, baby gear, and big sister Solveig for several hours near machines and wise nurses. Each day was about gaining confidence and breath.

I'm so grateful for the SCN, which caught things this sleepy mom would not. Tove had a very low resting heart rate and forgot to breathe sometimes. Her little body was a bit immature and she needed to grow into some basic skills before coming home with us.

I watched her mouth turn blue on three occasions. Once I was alone with her when the beeping began and I couldn't jostle her back into breath. I ruffled the scruff on her neck and begged her to breathe. But she didn't comply until a nurse intervened. Remembering those moments still makes my voice quiver and my eyes well up. I am grateful for this Peanut Brittle and the color that filled her face again each time.

This apnea process has been both scary and reassuring. She's always been in good hands. We were well trained to bring her home with us. The monitor gave us three months of good confidence - we slept well on the quiet nights and were up in an instant whenever we heard beeps.

On Friday her nurse called and gave me the big news: we could stop monitor use immediately! Someone would come pick it up on Monday. I was thrilled, of course. The false alarms are annoying and the chord is never quite long enough. She's been doing really well and we knew the day was coming. But as much as I hated the monitor, I also loved it. I relied on it for deep sleep and some assurance that the littlest one was still with us.

I thanked her and said goodbye while wanting to celebrate a new beginning - while becoming ready to banish the fear and lean forward into this gift of new life.

But when I hung up the phone, I noticed a text message from Matt: "Grandpa Wally died at noon."

Matt's grandfather has had a really low heart rate for the past year - as low as 22 beats per minute on one occasion. I remember his grey skin and slow speech last autumn. Dementia symptoms increased and his physical balance disintegrated over the winter months. Last week he broke bones in a gruesome fall. After thirteen months as a widower, Wally's slow beats gave way to to beeps.

During the funeral yesterday, I starting thinking about Wally's view of life and death this spring. He met the girls just once - a few weeks ago - but was certain he'd seen them dozens of times. He was impressed with little Tove's alert eyes and sneaky smiles. And he was confident about her progress regarding the monitor. "Oh yes, she's doing just fine. She's going to be just fine," he'd say.

After the service I watched Tove with awe and gratitude. She was passed around freely from aunt to cousin to friend without the short leash of monitor wires slowing her down. Oh yes, I said to myself. She's doing just fine. She's going to be just fine. And then I banished the fear and leaned forward into this gift of new life.

1 comment:

val said...

I get it. I'd be willing to keep monitors on all of them for life.

Grandpa Wally--I get that too.

xo. love, Val