Friday, February 22, 2019

Little Leo - It's A Boy!

Another grandchild has entered our lives. Its a boy! I'll repeat that. It's a boy. My daughter, Lana and her husband Rich, had a baby boy. He's a bright eyed little bundle with an eager smile, blue eyes, and features still defining themselves. He's now almost four months old and has the same right cheek dimple as his mother when he smiles. He's getting perfectly chubby.This guy is a cuddly, contented baby. We're so in love with him. 

From zero to three in two plus years. This one's personal. I now have as many grandchildren as I do children. It's not an error or a fluke. I'm now a grandmother. I realize this has been factually correct since Lila was born in July 2016, but somehow it didn't really sink in until recently. I didn't really feel like a grandmother until I could see how much I was adored by these new little people. As amazing as it is to fall in love with the tiny humans, it's even more incredible to feel how much they love me. 

Sally took a while to attach. She was so busy wailing in her first colicky five months that she really didn't have much space for extraneous emotional involvement. It made me a little sad that I was so close to Lila, an extrovert by nature, and Sally was a bit standoffish. I had so much more time with Lila, starting with the month she spent in the hospital after her premature birth. 

I knew it would happen eventually, and it did. Sally and I really sealed our bond when her "baby bruddah", Leo, was born. It was a rather traumatic day for both of us. Baby Boy Mason was due at the end of November 2018. He was supposed to be a Thanksgiving baby. Instead, he was just a tiny turkey. I saw Lana on Tuesday, October 23rd. She was almost eight months pregnant and feeling good. The idea that she would have a premature delivery was the furthest thing from my mind. Sally had been slightly overdue so I figured it would be similar with baby number two. I was wrong. 

Mama Lana four days before the surprise
I slept late on Wednesday, October 24th. I was tired and didn't have any early appointments, so I turned my phone on silent and didn't set the alarm. When I woke up at 7:45 am I looked at my iPhone. There were eight missed calls from Lana as well as many text messages. Something was obviously wrong. Fear coursed through me. I called her in a panic. 

Lana was in the hospital. Her water had broken at 4:30 in the morning. Rich had already left for work. He's a chef and was prepping for his busiest week ever. Lana took Sally (almost two) and drove  herself to Kaiser Hospital Oakland in the dark. She couldn't reach me or Rich for hours. The baby was five weeks early and breech. They were going to do a c-section, but meanwhile Sally was in the hospital bed with Mommy, while Lana tried to reach us. 

It was stressful like the day Lila was born all over again. I needed to get there, but had no idea how long I would stay. I needed to stay calm, to think, to gather a few essentials and get out the door. The traffic was the usual East Bay quagmire, plus an accident to top it off. I called Lucy and Allie from the car. I kept calling Lana to update her and get news. Finally, Rich had arrived. Now they just needed me to care for Sally so Rich could be with Lana during surgery. 

I made it to the hospital. I had to wind up through all eight floors of the parking garage to find a spot. I couldn't see the elevator so I ran down eight flights of stairs and across the courtyard to the hospital elevators. By the time I got through security and found Labor and Delivery Lana was headed off to surgery. I saw her with her cap on and her big belly, waddling down the hall to the operating room, with a nurse on either side. I gave her a quick hug, then found Rich and Sally. Rich went off to join Lana. 

Gigi & Sally waiting to meet baby
It makes me anxious to think about it, because I was so worried. Was the baby ok? Was Lana going to be alright? Why did her water break so early? Was there an underlying problem?  People romanticize baby births, but bad shit can happen. Fortunately for me, Allie was able to come straight to the hospital and work from there while we waited. She grabbed her computer and took BART and two Ubers. I was alone when Lila was born and I didn't want to be by myself again. 

Baby Boy Mason

Baby Boy Mason was born at 10:17 am. He weighed a respectable 5 pounds, 8 1/2 ounces and all seemed to be well. Until it wasn't. The docs didn't like the way he was working so hard to breathe. He had some fluid in his lungs and they advised he be admitted to Neonatal Intensive Care. We were really deflated, but what are you going to do? They put him in the NICU and started hooking him up to all the equipment we knew so much about because of Lila. It was depressing and I couldn't really fathom it. My mother had five kids and my siblings and I had eight. Not one of them was premature. Now two out my three grandchildren were premies. How could it be? 

Meeting Gigi
On the bright side, the hospital was fantastic, Lana recovered quickly and Sally was a champ. I thought it might be our moment to shine as a duo, and shine we did! She owned that hospital, charming her way up and down the halls. She loves to eat and I kept up a steady stream of food and snacks. She's seriously like a Labrador. She will play ball endlessly and has major food envy. Sally was sweet and affectionate and well-behaved, except for the time she hurled a container of milk at me in the hospital cafe. In her defense, she's got incredible aim.

We were all sad that Leo (who took a couple days to be named) couldn't leave the hospital when Lana went home. We adjusted. Rich started his paternity leave and his work just had to cope. I cancelled everything on my calendar and went to help with Sally and be with Leo every day. The one day I stayed home was really hard. It was much better to be there and see the progress in person. Unlike CPMC, the NICU rooms at Kaiser were private. The nurses and doctors were so nice. They really let us be involved in his care and soon we got to hold him and change the tiny diapers. 

Leo was a very alert newborn. He would lie there looking around. When I spoke to him he seemed to listen. Something about him reminded me of his aunt, Lucy, when she was born. When Rich would hold him on his chest he opened his eyes wide. After a week Leo had made tremendous progress. They began weaning him off the machines. We were able to feed him breast milk in a bottle and he started to nurse. I was so proud of Lana. She was really strong. 

Checking out Dad

Snuggling with Mom

Leo was in the hospital for Halloween and big sister Sally's 2nd birthday. Great Grandma Juju also had a birthday that week. She turned 89. Mom had been in the hospital several times during the fall and was finally sprung on October 4th, just a few weeks before Leo was born. I'd spent enough time in hospitals. When the baby was released after ten days in the NICU, we were thrilled. 

Right after the baby came home from the hospital the Camp Fire started and our air quality was terrible. Lana couldn't take the baby outside for even a minute. Not with those tiny lungs. He'd lost weight and was so little. It seemed to take him forever to grow.

Leo's 1st Thanksgiving

The day before Thanksgiving we finally had our first rain. Wet, glorious liquid pouring from the sky for the first time in 6 or 7 months. The fires went out and Leo was able to come over for his first Thanksgiving. There were just six of us which was a perfect amount for a premie and his shell-shocked sister and exhausted parents. I did a little too much baby snuggling and not enough keeping an eye on the cooking. It wasn't our finest meal, but it was wonderful to be together. We were all so thankful and very grateful for our many blessings, especially for little Leo.


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Mill Valley Realtor, A Life Well Lived

Article by Jim Welte