My other two children were late (3 and 9 days), so I pretty much counted on having her in February (my due date was Jan. 27). To my surprise, my water broke with a gush in early January!
(That in itself is quite a story. I was in the middle of teaching a clarinet lesson when I bent over to pick up a book and suddenly felt a familiar warm gush. I sat there in denial for a full five minutes. It's just an accident, I tried to assure myself. Finally, reality kicked in and I excused myself. Sure enough, it was the real deal! Trouble was, I had ducked into the kids' bathroom, where there was nothing for me to change into or even cover up with! Thank goodness that my student was FEMALE, and a very responsible senior at that! I called out to her, and she had to go to my master bathroom and get a pad, fresh underwear, and pants. Talk about embarrassing! She was a real trouper! I was SO glad it happened when it did, though; fifteen minutes later and I'd have been stuck with an awkward, immature freshman boy!)
Between her coming early and her easy birth (2 pushes and she was out!), she must have been really impatient to get here! Although she wasn't quite a preemie, she was my tiniest one at 6 lbs, 6 oz. (DQ and Pete were 8 lbs, 3 oz and 8 lbs, 8 oz, respectively.) She seemed like a little doll!
Two days after we got home from the hospital, Hubby was holding her and noted that she was cold. I just assumed she was underdressed, but he insisted that I take her temp. It was 94! After calling the doctor, I rushed her to the ER. Although there was a waiting room full of people, they placed her almost at the top of the list and she was seen very quickly. Things got really scary after that. The main concern was meningitis (!), a symptom of which is inability to regulate body temperature. They were talking about possibly airlifting her to Vanderbilt. They wanted to search for every possible cause for her low temp, so they did a spinal tap, attempted a urine cath, took blood, the works. I tried to nurse her before they started but she was too sleepy, as she was pretty jaundiced. Wisely, the nurses suggested that I leave the room while they performed the tests. During this time I called Hubby (who was staying with the kids) to give him an update, and my dearest friend from church, who came in a flash. By this time, it was late in the evening. When they came to get me after the tests were through, I heard the most bizarre sound as I walked back into the ER. Sounds like someone is torturing a cat, I thought. It was my baby crying. That sound will haunt me for the rest of my life. All the nurses thought I was handling everything so well, but I was simply on autopilot. If I had really let myself think about what was going on, I would have gone to pieces. They never did find the exact cause of her temperature problem, but they treated it as an infection with a triple round of IV antibiotics for three days. By the time she went home, her temp was stabilized and normal. I still had to take her back as an outpatient several times to have her bilirubin levels checked, but other than that she was doing great.
When she was two months old, we had another big scare. I was playing with her, making funny faces and such, when it dawned on me that she never looked at me. It always seemed that she was staring past me somehow. I'd been having a funny feeling for a couple of weeks prior that she wasn't connecting with me like a two-month-old baby normally would. She never interacted with us and rarely smiled, and even then it was random and not in response to our smiles. When I realized she wasn't looking at me, I did a bunch of things to check her tracking skills. I passed high-contrast toys back and forth and up and down in front of her, and she didn't follow them at all; she just stared straight ahead. I tried moving my face back and forth, and she couldn't see me either. I did this many times from varying distances. She did not track anything. The next thing I did totally freaked me out. I acted like I was going to poke her in the eye, stopping just short of her eyelashes, and she didn't blink at all, not even a delayed blink. I did this over and over. Nothing. She could not see anything! I called a pediatrician friend, who was very concerned, and the next day I took her to her own pediatrician. He was concerned as well, and referred her to a pediatric ophthalmologist at Vanderbilt.
We had to wait over two weeks for the appointment with the specialist, and it felt like an eternity! However, her eysight appeared to gradually improve in the meantime. By the time the appointment day arrived, she was tracking and smiling quite a bit. The specialist said that although her vision development was closer to that of a six-week-old's (she was 2 1/2 months old at the time), nothing was wrong with her eyes at all. He said the delay was due to her being born early and judged her eye development based on my due date, which made her adjusted age 8 weeks old. A few weeks afterward, she was completely normal - tracking, smiling, and interacting. What a blessing and relief!
I guess I have to come to realize how fragile life is, and it has made me enjoy her babyhood that much more (and I really enjoyed DQ's and Pete's!) There was a certain specialness about her being so tiny when she was first born, as well as her looking so different with her blond hair and blue eyes. (She looks so unlike us that there are times that I wonder if she were switched at birth, then that little temper flares, and I think, Yup! She's mine!)