After the dust had settled over the little medication mishap and all the “naming a wing of the hospital after us” jokes had subsided I casually suggested that the suits could appease me by making a way for Frank to meet his sister. The NICU has a strict policy on visitation, only two people near the child and everyone who enters must be at least 18. Kids are a walking petri-dish of germs and microbes, so I get that. Not quite as clear on the 18 years of age cutoff. It seems a little arbitrary. I mean I’ve seen some germy 18 year olds. Hell I was one.
Anyway, one of Anne Marie’s docs said he could make that happen, no problem. Once she didn’t need as much support with breathing etc.. he could set it up. This was one moment I thought was ripe for the over promise – under deliver column. Like so many other times in my life, I was wrong.
We got the call on Saturday. Bring Frank to the NICU at 1:30 on Sunday and they would bring him to a back hallway between the NICU and the Cardiac operating Room. The hallway passed right behind the “Butterfly Cove”, the wing of private NICU rooms where Anne Marie was. Frank would be able to see her through the glass doors that separated the NICU from the hallway that normally serves as a quick shortcut for surgeons headed to the OR. Shortcut, that’s funny right there.
Of course around 12:00pm on the big day Frank promptly crawled into the pack-n-play set up for his little cousin visiting from North Carolina. He wasn’t just exploring, no he went complete with blanket, binker, and his stuffed lamb Lenny and commenced to cutting lumber. That’s snoring for those of you un-afflicted. He finally snapped out if it on the way to the hospital. Then much like the military it was hurry up and wait.
The nurses and respiratory techs were in on it and they were busy setting up a portable breathing system they could move to the glass doors. So we sat in the family lounge watching the Indy 500. Frank thought he saw Francesco, or Acesco as he calls him, about 100 times. Francesco is the Italian open wheel race car for the movie Cars 2.
After what seems like hours, the nurse who figured out the medication error and saved our daughter’s life, came through the door. She was waiting for a new baby to be admitted so while she was in hurry up and wait mode for the new arrival she came out to meet Frank. She had heard so much about Frank she felt she knew him already but nothing beats seeing in the flesh. After I made the introductions she led us down the zig-zaggin hallways to the glass doors where Tracy was standing on the other side with Anne Marie.
Something was familiar about the winding hallways and all the turns. We passed a room with a five button lock. Then it hit me. That was the room where we said goodbye to Linda Claire, these were the hallways they led us down after she passed away in the NICU. Most of that day is a blur. A nurse will speak to me as if she knows me, thenTracy or my mother-in-law will say, “she was in the OR when the twins were delivered.” Yeah, I don’t remember them. They remember me because I went through 3 boxes of tissues that day.
When we got to the glass doors I could see Tracy holding Anne Marie, surrounded by the nurses and repository therapists that made this all happen. Frank’s expression was priceless. He had a huge smile on his face and his eyes were locked on his baby sister. The staff standing with Tracy were watching Frank. He didn’t disappoint them. It reminded me of our wedding day. When Tracy came down the isle, a lot of our female friends turned and looked at me. They were making sure I had the appropriate expression of happiness and admiration on my face. My expression nine years ago was the same as Frank’s yesterday.
Frank was a lot more excited than I thought he would be. I had explained to him what we were going to do, but how much of that he understood is hard to say. I mean, he just turned three last week, he knows colors, counts to 15, can count to three in Italian, and knows how to operate the microwave, iPad, and the TV remote. I didn’t know most of that stuff till I was in my mid twenties. But we were never quite sure if he was able to understand he was a big brother and had a little sister named Anne Marie.
Like I said, nothing beats seeing in the flesh. He called her name as soon as he saw her. Tracy unwrapped her a little bit, just enough for Anne Marie to get her hands free. The arms went straight forward, palms out, fingers stretched. It looked like she was trying to move the glass door. Apparently she has grown tired and bored of removing measly little feeding and exhaust tubes from her belly. The force is strong with this one.
Frank thoroughly enjoyed meeting his sister. Until his mother mentioned ice cream. Through the glass she says “y’all going to get ice cream?” She just chucks it out there like a grenade. We never talked about ice cream. Well I guess we’re going to get ice cream. Food and sleep is where Frank’s Jedi focus become apparent. He heard ice cream and immediately he was like a blood hound. Led us right out of the labyrinth to the elevators taking us to the Lido Deck, or in this case the first floor cafeteria with a fridge full of Nutty Buddies.
Love that kid.
It was a weekend of firsts. Anne Marie took her first bottle and earlier, while on kangaroo detail in her mothers shirt, took matters into her own hands, latching on and feeding. She is weighing in at 4 pounds 10 ounces, measuring 17 inches.
Frank was all smiles on Sunday. He got to meet his sister and because of that meeting he got ice cream too. Ironically, if she ever makes it out of there and gets home to touch all his stuff, those smiles will be a thing of the past.
Alert Reader Segment
Ok gang, look at the picture below. What item in the picture would tell you that this baby, premature by three and a half months, has grown significantly? To my sisters, cousins, aunts and in-laws, (looking at you Dan & Diane) directly in the business, e-mail me your guess. Everyone else respond in the comment section.
To my brothers and sisters in arms Happy Memorial Day.