out walkin' after midnight
Sometimes, on nights like this, after Anna has finished her ten o’clock pumping and crawled into bed for three hours of sleep, I walk around in the backyard, thinking about how ready I am for Frankie to come home. After about a week, I stopped trying to go to bed with Anna at ten thirty. Up until that point, I’d lie awake for more than an hour, more or less still for the first thirty minutes, but growing increasingly restless as I reluctantly drifted toward sleep. Whatever comfort she might have derived from my company was more than offset by the involuntary disturbances of my fitful pre-slumber. So, now I stay awake and walk around the yard, thinking about Frankie. Anna and I are very appreciative of the fine care he’s receiving in the NICU, but we’re both growing impatient. I know D-Day’s still three-and-a-half weeks away, but Frankie seems determined to earn an early release. He’s up to 5.2 pounds, doing a much better job of maintaining his body temperature, and yesterday was his best yet as far as the nippling protocol is concerned. He was obviously showing off for his Grandma Judy, who was up for a brief visit, and to retrieve Grandpa Frank. Still, his performance was hardly out of character. He’s growing stronger every day, so much so that it’s getting harder to recall why exactly it is we can’t take him with us when we leave. I’ve obviously abandoned any pretense of not getting my hopes up.
Thursday was Frankie’s One Month birthday. Anna made cupcakes for the nurses and staff in the NICU. They were extremely appreciative, and even more impressed that Anna could find the time or energy to bake cupcakes – from scratch, no less. Last week she made them a pear cobbler. I’m pretty much in awe myself. But we wanted to do something to celebrate, so we brought cupcakes to the NICU and had a great dinner with Grandpa Frank and Aunt Kristin. And it was all totally bizarre, and in no way compensated for not being able to just sit at home with our boy, but it still made us both feel a little bit better. And we know he’ll be home before his Two Month birthday, and that’s comforting.
Friday marked Frankie’s 36th gestational week, a more significant event than his One Month birthday in terms of development, but we didn’t bring anything for the nurses. At 36 weeks, a baby born without Frankie’s esophageal defect wouldn’t even require a stay in the NICU, being considered pretty much full-term. Even with his difficulties, our doctors and nurses frequently remind us that Frankie is looking and acting like any other 36-week-old baby born at 32 weeks. Hearing that would make us a whole lot happier if we didn’t have to watch one of those other 36-week-old babies get discharged every other day. I don’t mean to sound bitter or resentful. We’re just ready for it to be our turn.
Grandma Judy flew into town Friday night, and she and Grandpa Frank went straight from the airport to the hospital so she could give Frankie his midnight bottle. I knew this even before I talked to them Saturday morning, because they signed into the NICU visitor log at shortly past 11pm the night before. On Saturday, they were back up to the hospital shortly after Anna and I left around 2pm, and they stayed with Frankie while Anna and I got ready to go to his Godparents’ wedding reception. Sarah and Scott were married in Florida a couple of month ago, but their reception Friday night was an opportunity for all of us who couldn’t be there to celebrate with them. It was also the first time since this whole ordeal began that we were doing anything more social than a movie at the Alamo (a one-time event). And we were certainly conflicted, feeling slightly guilty for having fun while Frankie lay in the hospital, but it helped knowing that Grandma and Grandpa were with him. And taking a break from the party to walk three blocks down Red River to the hospital for Anna’s 10pm pumping session seemed more than sufficient penance. In spite of the interruption, it was a great party, and hanging out with friends was exactly what we needed.
Grandma and Grandpa headed back to Houston Sunday afternoon, and Anna and I are already missing my dad. He’s been here for all but a couple of days since the beginning of July, and we’d be lost without him. He’s done everything from feeding Frankie bottles late at night to waiting at our house for the DirectTV repair guy while we were at the hospital. He’ll be missed, even if only for a couple of days.
I can hear the alarm clock. It’s 2:15am, which means Anna’s up for another pumping session. And I’m almost tired enough to fall asleep.