2

Up And Down The Rollercoaster

The progress of babies born very premature is not in straight line up. It is more oscillating and has been compared to a rollercoaster ride. There can be complications, and setbacks are very common. When my grandson was first born, I thought about how many weeks he needed to go before he would be home. It seemed like a long space of time where he would have to avoid complications. I read about some of the common conditions that premature babies are vulnerable to, and I did not want him to have any of them. I resolved to block a lot of it out because I did not want to live in fear. It would do no good to live in dread of what might never happen. I wanted to be positive when I was around him. This wall I had built, as a defense mechanism against my fears, did not protect me when he had complications or setbacks.  He would be making progress and I felt secure. Then, he would have a setback and I found my wall crumbling.  Even though I had told myself to take things day by day, I have found it just as hard each time there are setbacks. Through all this I have seen the resilience of my grandson. He has been fighting back against all challenges with his parents right there by his side. I am with them all the way.

6

The Journey Begins

I started my grandmother journey last year when my son and daughter-in-law told us they were expecting a baby this February. At the beginning I thought my task was to adjust to the idea of becoming a grandmother and to pick a grandmotherly name. I did not want to be Grandma, Granny, or Nana. I chose Mémé which is Grandma or Granny in French. Before I had a chance to get used to my new name or role, my beautiful grandson was born prematurely. It has been a different journey from the one I expected. My grandson has had to stay in NICU while he grows and gets strong enough to come home. He was not ready to meet his grandparents except at a distance. In the early days, he had to rest without a lot of stimulation. When he was first born I thought it was good for him to hear my voice talking, reading, and singing to him. But I found out this is not really beneficial for very premature babies. The stimulation is too jarring for their developing nervous systems. You have to the learn the proper way to touch the babies because their skin is very sensitive. You can’t hold them because they need to be kept warm in the incubator. My husband and I were pretty much just viewing him through the walls of the incubator. Sometimes the incubator was completely covered with a blanket. Again, this is done to cut down on stimulation.  It is to make the environment quiet as if he were still inside the womb. The nurses would lift up a section of the blanket so we could see him when we visited. I did find all the restrictions frustrating at first but understand the need for them now. Having to keep my distance and being a bit removed from the situation has caused a sense of helplessness at times. I couldn’t help my grandson or his parents very much. There wasn’t much for me to do but to stand by and be supportive in any way I could. He has grown and is getting closer to coming home. In recent times, we have been able to touch him more, talk to him, and hold his pacifier in. Soon we will be able to hold him. I will be able to read and sing to him. I hope he doesn’t mind if I am a little off key.