I fancied having a granddaughter first because the first born since my great great grandma had been a daughter to the first born daughter. S. J. O'Neill became the seventh generation in this family line. On July 13, 2011 I became S. J.'s grandma but the event was not so grand. In fact the two and a half weeks leading up to that day flung us all onto an emotional roller coaster. Not the fun kind of ride, more like the old, rickety, half broke down type that you pray with white knuckles will end well.
Saturday June 25, 2011 while wandering the farmer's market with out-of-town family (a providential gift of grace) I got a call from Rachel.
"Mom, Niall and I are on the way to the hospital. I lost my mucus plug. Please pray."
She was only twenty four weeks along. the doctor at the ER admitted her into labor and delivery immediately. there Rachel would stay on bed rest for as long as they could hold off labor. My husband, his cousin and wife and I stopped and had a crisis prayer meeting on Main Street. We held each other and cried out to our God. God's provision of Jim and Renee's company at that time was a gift I treasure to this day. They love Rachel as their own. We were not alone in our concern and yes, even fear.
That night as we learned more about what was going on three thousand miles away (we lived in Oregon. Rachel lived in Pennsylvania) Bill and I decided some one should be with them if they lost this baby. My son-in-law's family were just as far away. The O'Neill clan lives in Galway, Ireland. The logical choice was for me to fly out. So two days later I hopped on a plane and headed for the hospital in Scranton.
There's a baby in there?!!
The two and a half weeks that followed proved to be a precious time. I helped do the nesting for my daughter. They had moved to a new apartment just a week before she went into the hospital. There were boxes to unpack, pictures to hang, and a nursery that needed painting. This filled my evenings while Niall spent time after work with his wife at the hospital. I did the day shift with my daughter. Rachel and I had lots of mother-daughter bonding time. I also got to go with her for a few ultra sounds. What a joy to see my granddaughter wiggle in the womb. Rachel seemed to stabilize and we began to hope for the best case scenario; labor would hold off until 32 weeks then Rachel could go home until delivery.
With things looking good and my husband missing me, we decided I should head home. Three day later labor started again and the doctors couldn't stop it. S. J. came into the world via emergency C section, at only twenty seven weeks old, three months early. My granddaughter weighed one hound fifteen ounces. She fit into the palm of her daddy's hand. The medical team rushed her over to the NICU. My poor daughter did not get to meet her first born until three hours later.
Mama's first kiss. S.J. three days old.
I chose not to fly back to Pennsylvania when S.J. arrived. I felt my presence would be a source of greater stress rather than blessing. I needed to step back and let my children walk through this trial without imposing upon them. Rachel and Niall belong to a wonderful body of believers who walked and prayed them through this trial.
As for my wandering in this wilderness of being a grandma to a micro preemie, I kept glued to Facebook so I could pray when my son-in-law posted updates. I also took those Facebook statuses along with picture he posted and began scrap booking. I think I win the prize for worlds largest grandma brag book.
The nine weeks S.J. spent in the NICU grew my prayer life. God proved Himself faithful over and over again. Today, four years later, I have a healthy,active, granddaughter. I know this is not how every NICU story turns out. I had a good friend who was expecting her first grand child at about the same time S.J. came. Her grandson came a week late at over nine pounds. He died eight hours after his birth.Such pain we traversed. Mine ending in joy her's in sorrow . Yet, God is good and in both our circumstances we found His grace sufficient.
Today I thank God for filling my arms with grandchildren. My friend's grand arms are full now too. I think she now has three grandchildren. It is good to be grand! Thank You, Lord!
I enjoyed the blessing of being with S.J. for her first three birthdays. Those trips kept me busy and engaged. This is the first of her birthdays I've had to miss. I guess that's why I'm scrap booking again, reminiscing on her story. Thanks for letting me share it with you.
Omnipresent Father, Thank You for being with my children and grand children when I cannot. Thank You for the privilege of being a grand parent. Thank You for S.J. and W.S. I also praise You for the many lessons You taught me in that NICU wilderness and for always giving me grace. Amen