Beautiful September, a time of harvest and transition. I was called to Rhode Island to await the newest family arrival, our second son’s second son. The two year old at home would need a grandmother’s care. Leaving the family tension behind me, I drove north. The newborn Jonathan, with his dark eyes and shock of hair was a precious bundle as is any new babe. The morning after coming home from the hospital his mother came to me to say that he had not wanted to nurse all night long. Was this normal? How did my five sons act at first? Did they ever not want to nurse? “Never!” I replied. They were always ready, willing and able. We were both puzzled.
As the day wore on, and he continued to refuse any intake, I became alarmed. This was certainly not a good thing, and he would soon be dehydrated. I have never wanted to be a meddling, interfering mother-in-law, but finally had to speak up. “You need to do something. Take him to your pediatrician to see what he says.”
The doctor’s word to her was less than comforting. “If he won’t nurse, then give him water in a bottle.” What? This mother knew that would never work. No baby worthy of the name will choose water from a rubber nipple over a mother’s breast. I fussed, trying to keep my concerns pushed out of sight. Evening came; Son #2 arrived home from work. “It would be a good idea to take him back to the hospital and see what they say, don’t you think?” My fretting level had pushed through the do-not-meddle mandate.
That September evening darkness encroached further into our lives as we began to hear words of possible heart malfunction, or malformation in our little one. Hospitalization. Heart catheterization. Surgery. All on this little seven pound darling? On his 9th day the first of his eventual five surgeries and 6 catheterizations was done. What had looked like a perfectly formed baby boy on the outside hid a scramble of wiring and disorder on the interior.
Attempts to correct the situation continued for months. Jonathan was in the hospital more than at home. Week after week. Procedure after procedure. His other grandmother and I took turns doing two week shifts to care for the two year old while the mother was at baby’s bedside.
The two year old was upset at missing his mother; the family at home was upset with my absence. Tension swirled around as a tornado searching where to touch land. The lifeline was still there and I was hanging on to it fiercely.