Missing that unexpected bonding experience
By Joe Black | (email@example.com)
I got some serious one-on-one time with a 23 month old recently.
Let me back up ... my latest grandchild, Nichols Andrew Black, II, decided he needed to arrive a little early.
Eight weeks early to be exact.
This all came as a bit of a surprise. When my wife called me on that Thursday afternoon and asked me where I was and what I was doing, I knew for sure that she wasn’t being nosy. Something was up.
She said “I need you to come to Knoxville as soon as you can ... we’re having a baby.” Obviously there were some issues.
The decision to take the baby was swift yet calm and calculated. A little after 9 that evening, little (and I do mean little — 3 pounds, 2.5 ounces) Nicky Nick got here. My job was to be the care of the 23 month old sibling, Mariella.
Lock, stock, and barrel. Me and her, 24 hours a day until sometime Sunday morning.
Meals, baths, diapers, naps, bedtime stories, cartoons, visits to see Mom and Dad — all that stuff. I put her to bed at night and was there when she woke up in the morning.
Dad stayed with Mom while my wife stayed with Nicky Nick in the NICU at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
And let me pause for a non-paid announcement here: What a wonderful place! First-class care.
Compassionate and understanding staff. A facility dedicated to the care of babies delivered prematurely. In the years to come, we will all be grateful to Children’s Hospital for how well they took care of the newest Black child.
Now let me go back even a little further.
The day before the birth, we had buried my good friend Steve Newman. At 52, Steve had died suddenly and unexpectedly.
An avid biker, I can sum up my insight on him by saying he was a genuinely good guy; someone that you always looked forward to seeing.
Obviously that week was an emotional roller coaster for me. Sadness at my friend’s passing.
Fear of the unknown problems the new grandson was facing. Concern for the baby’s Mom.
So now it’s Friday and it’s all about Mariella and Daddy Joe.
She didn’t care what I wore, who I was, or how much was in my bank account. She wanted to feel safe and comfortable in my arms.
She wanted three books and two songs before climbing in bed. She wanted milk and Mickey when she woke up. She ate most of what I cooked and even liked my Benton’s bacon (so the girl definitely has taste).
And when help arrived, I moved down the priority list and that was alright. I had my time and things were likely changed forever between us.
Mom and little Nicky Nick are both doing great. He’ll get to come home in several weeks. Meanwhile, the NICU is his home.
Despite the anxiety of the first couple of days, it was wonderful to experience this new life.
But at the same time, I’m sure gonna miss my friend.
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Write to him at (firstname.lastname@example.org)