Thursday, February 24, 2011

Grandma Jan's Journal--Baby's First Week

Thanks to her early retirement, my mom was able to spend the first 5 weeks of Benjamin's life with us. I don't know how we would have got by without her! In the midst of my emotional and physical exhaustion during Benjamin's NICU stay, I never attempted to keep a record of events. Thankfully my mom, who is an avid writer, kept a journal during that time period. (BTW, you can visit her personal blog at! I want to share an excerpt from her journal, which she lovingly compiled for Shawn and me after Benjamin came home. It gives a detailed summary of our son's first week of life. Thanks, Mom!

"May 29 e-mail: The First Week

Dear Friends,

We have so much to be grateful for. I'd like to recap highlights of the past week for you. Because fetal monitoring showed Benjamin to be in some distress, Dana's labor was induced last Thursday in her 35th week of pregnancy. The decision for a c-section was made early Friday morning. Benjamin Lee Hemminger arrived at 5:39 a.m. on May 22, weighing in at 7.64 pounds and 19 inches long. (Yes, he's a chunk!) Immediately after birth he showed signs of respiratory distress and was whisked off to NICU.

Shawn got to see him get cleaned up and take a few initial pictures. Dana waited four very long hours before she got to see him. (It was supposed to be twelve hours, but the nurses bent the rules for her.)

I saw Benjamin for the first time less than 24 hours after he was born. By then, of course, he was hooked up to multiple monitors, tubes, and the ventilator. God's grace was there for me because none of that bothered me. I was (and am) simply so grateful to see my beautiful new grandson and be here for Dana and Shawn. It was an added blessing when Shawn's mother, Cyndi, arrived the next day. Cyndi and I make a very good grandma team!

There were a few rough days in which everything seemed to be going wrong for Benjamin. His oxygen had to be increased, his belly began to bloat, and he had to be catheterized. The medicine given him for his heart caused his kidneys to start to shut down. He had to have an echocardiogram to diagnose his heart problems (which may require surgery in a couple years), and for a brief time it was thought he might need abdominal surgery.

Things started to turn around by Monday, and he has made major improvement since then. He is our little fighter! Yesterday he was taken off the ventilator and is now on a CPAP machine. His bloating is subsiding, and he peed the catheter out yesterday. He is being fed Dana's breast milk through his gastric tube--3/4 ounce this morning!

After several unsuccessful attempts yesterday by other nurses, today's nurse, "the queen of pick lines" managed to get one in his foot (his chubby little arms didn't cooperate) which will mean that Dana and Shawn will finally get to hold him, I hope tomorrow. After he is introduced to a bottle, Dana can start breastfeeding him. In the meantime, she is faithfully pumping every three hours. The lactation specialists are very knowledgeable and helpful.

Benjamin is more precious than I can say. With the ventilator out, he can finally cry. I got to hear him cry when Shawn changed his diaper today. I can say with full assurance that Dana and Shawn will be (and already are) extra special parents for their extra special baby. Benjamin has Down syndrome, confirmed by genetic testing last week. We love him so much, right down to his 47th chromosome.

Please keep Benjamin, Shawn, and Dana in your prayers. There will be challenges ahead, I am sure, but I am also sure of God's tender love for all of us. I know that I am totally smitten with my grandson.

Grandma Jan"

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