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Proud grandfather with newborn grandchild.

The Grandparent-Grandchild Bond

Grandparents aren’t supposed to have favorites, but my youngest grandchild is the apple of my eye. Today, February 20, is her 18-month birthday. Let’s call her “Mary.”

Mary was born 5 1/2 weeks early. Her mom, my daughter-in-law “Sally,” is a nurse practitioner midwife in a local hospital and of course, did everything by the book during her pregnancy. However, when the contractions began way too soon and medication to stop them didn’t work, she was admitted to the hospital for the delivery.

Mary was over 5 1/2 pounds at birth, a healthy weight for a preemie. She was placed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for observation. She was breathing on her own; feeding was an issue as she wasn’t sucking. Mary developed a fever about four days after she was born. Multiple blood tests came out negative. Finally, a diagnosis—severe infection. She was placed on a 30-day course of antibiotics.

I shed many tears the next couple of weeks. Many tears were shed for my deceased parents at the cemetery. I worried constantly about Mary’s prognosis and what challenges she might have growing up as a result of the infection. Earlier that summer, my niece had given birth to a full-term stillborn little girl; that tragedy was always on my mind.

After the antibiotics, Mary’s MRI brain scan results were good. The infection was gone, and she was discharged the day after Yom Kippur. I still worried about her, more then my three other grandchildren. How ecstatic I was the first time I saw a picture of her smiling! She was a “chill’ baby – not too fussy, laid back, quiet, content to sit in her swing and observe her surroundings. We all knew that her milestones might be delayed, up to two months or so. At her six-month check-up, the pediatrician recommended she begin physical and occupational therapy through Child Find.

Within a week of starting PT and OT, we could see progress. She began to move more, reach out for things, turn over, etc. She crawled and walked later then her brother, but within normal limits. She’s steadily catching up at her own pace. She’s not a big talker yet – though I swear one of her words is “Grandma!” We’ve become the best of friends. Her sweet nature, big smile, hugs and giggles fill my heart.

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