Shortly after we returned from vacation, my daughter started having a lot of right-sided pain just under her ribcage and nausea. After a week, instead of it getting better, it was getting worse. She called me to “consult” on what I thought it might be (nurse to nurse). I ruled out liver problems, thought it might be muscle irritation but knew she needed to get it checked out. I told her to bring me the baby (2 1/2-month-old Elijah, Eli if short) and go get it checked out. Being that it was the weekend, she and her husband went to the emergency room. A quick work-up ruled out anything serious but they suggested her gallbladder might be the issue and recommended a follow-up to her primary care doctor.
Her pain was not getting better and was at times worse so she got an appointment the following week. The doctor immediately scheduled a STAT CT scan. As she was coming into our house to pick up Eli, she was hanging up her phone, “Mom, I’m going to have to have surgery!”
I immediately went into “mama” mode, getting what details she had and reassuring her that we would be here to help her out. Apparently, she had multiple gallstones which were periodically blocking her bile duct. If one lodged there, it would be emergency surgery. Regardless, she needed surgery as soon as it could be arranged. He also told her she could not “jiggle, bounce, or do any other jerky movements and could not carry heavy items.” Eli is a fussy baby and we do a LOT of bouncing with him to calm him down. So, we came up with a way to reduce her risk of bouncing.
After I get Lynn through his morning routine, I run over to her house, about ten minutes away, pick up Eli, and bring him back to our house. During the day I rotate taking care of Lynn’s needs with Eli’s often while handling requests from work. The first week wasn’t so bad. My parents came up and totally took over the “Eli” job. They were awesome and loved every minute of it; however, when they went home to take care of a few things, they found their floors had been flooded by a cracked toilet fixture and there was mold and ruined carpeting to address. I felt awful. Had they not been here helping me, their things would not have been ruined. I also admit though I was very disappointed they could not return here because they had been wonderful with Eli and I really enjoyed their stay with us (they live five hours away from me). But when life throws you a curveball, you take a swing and see what happens.
Actually, though it’s like Grand Central Station here with everything I’m trying to do, it’s really rather enjoyable. Eli is a great diversion (in more ways than one). He’s now three months old and loves to smile. He recognizes me and my voice, as well, as Lynn and his voice. Though Lynn can’t do as much with him as he would like, we have developed a way of allowing him to help out with “sitter duty”. When Lynn is lying down, I put Eli under the arm that has limited movement and wraps it around him. Eli is then lying with his head and back against Lynn’s side. Lynn sings and talks to him and Eli coos and talks back. When Lynn is in his wheelchair, I have a “rocking chair” for the baby that allows me to strap him in and it has a play bar over it. Lynn keeps the rocker moving when the baby gets fussy and entertains him with songs and stories. I also often lift Eli so he’s eyeball to eyeball with Grand-dad for some heart-to-heart conversations.
Eli is like a drug for Lynn. Before I go and get the baby, Lynn might be feeling tired and out of sorts. Once I come back and Eli gives him a few of his famous grins and gurgles, Lynn just lights up! He laughs with him and forgets for the moment all his frustrations and hardships. He told me after the first day that we kept Eli that he was the best medicine he had ever had. He calls me to bring the baby back to his room for a visit, often throughout the day and each time, their bond gets stronger.
My daughter’s surgery is now scheduled for September 7. She will not be allowed to lift Eli at all for three weeks afterward so his Dad will drop him off here when he goes to work and pick him up when he comes home. Mom might come initially but I expect it will be easier for her to resist the temptation to pick him up if she stays home. It will certainly be hectic but I’m actually looking forward to it.
Having a baby around is healing. He brings joy and the promise of bright tomorrow. It’s wonderful to watch him discover the world through his hands and feet and see the amazement he experiences over things we take for granted. It’s really a blessing of healing having him here. … (Though if you want to send up a few prayers for my sanity and stamina for the next four weeks, I wouldn’t object!)