Marines.Together We Served

Monday, December 03, 2007

Ain't it Grand!

Well, it finally happened! My wife and I are now officially grandparents. Our oldest daughter, Laura, gave birth to Alyssa Grace, Monday, November 26. It has been a lot of years (twenty-six, to be exact) since my wife and I had our last child, Jenny. You do forget some of those things that you were sure you’d never forget about having kids.

The delivery was at the Family Birthing Center, connected to Memorial Hospital in Modesto, California. Even though the distance from our home is about twelve miles, it takes a half-hour to get there. This was not a problem because we would be bringing mother and baby home in a day or two. Not so fast!

Though the birth went well, and mother and baby were enjoying those initial moments of bonding, the medical staff expressed some concern early on that Alyssa might have a problem in one of her lungs. So, with reluctance on the part of both parties, the nurses took our granddaughter to the Intensive Care Nursery (ICN). This left us sitting in Laura’s hospital room looking at each other wondering what was happening. It is at moments like this that our faith in God becomes critical. We prayed together, placing this little one in the Lord’s hands.

Over the next several hours we contacted family to inform them of the situation as we knew it. We also notified our church’s prayer chain. I also e-mailed a Navy chaplain friend who sends out an e-mail prayer list to selected “prayer warriors.” On top of that, I was to attend two military meetings that same week: one in New Orleans, and the other in Pensacola, Florida. I notified my Marine commanding general that I would not be able to attend his conference. His response: “No worries about missing the conference. You are right where you need to be and right where I would prefer you to be. All the best to Laura and Alyssa Grace. Will look forward to more good reports about them. Congratulations to all.” I also received an e-mail from the command chaplain heading up the other meeting I was to attend. He wrote: “Our prayers are with you, Isaura, Laura, Alyssa Grace and your whole family in this time of both joy and concern.” We were heartened by these words of encouragement, and by many other notes and e-mails of prayer support.

Laura spent four days in the hospital before being released to go home. She has been driving to the hospital every day to hold her baby, providing her the essential sustenance of mother’s milk. It’s hard for her to leave Alyssa each time, but she has handled this challenge with dignity and grace. Perhaps the most difficult part of this is seeing Alyssa Grace hooked up to various monitors. She has an IV in her left hand which is all taped up so she doesn’t rip it out. Then there are the electrodes attached to her tiny chest since her problem is associated with breathing. There’s also another probe attached to her foot. So holding her is a bit challenging!

As I sit watching my daughter hold her daughter, I find my eyes continuously straying to the monitor screen that shows the current heart rate, respiration, and oxygen flow. There are soft, colored, blinking lights, as well as various beeping alarms when something is amiss. Alyssa has had company this past week in the ICN, since many babies are born with an assortment of complications. I have also observed the amazing level of care provided by the doctors and nurses for these little ones who are starting out life with uphill challenges.

I’m pleased to report that Alyssa Grace is progressing very well. She has a voracious appetite which is definitely a good sign. But as I watch her sleeping contentedly in her mother’s arms, I’m reminded of that Bible verse that says,
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.


Each day I drive to the hospital and spend time just holding this small, precious bundle that is my granddaughter. The weather has become quite cold, so I’ve been wearing my black leather Marine Corps jacket. As I sit with her in my arms, I pull my jacket around her cocoon-fashion. I look at that face with its chubby cheeks, curious eyes, and cleft chin, and I am speechless. Fearfully and wonderfully made indeed! And I’m her Grandfather!

By the time you read this, Alyssa Grace may well be home. The doctor told us this morning that she is steadily improving and will soon be released. I can’t wait! We’ll make cookies on Friday nights like I did with her mother and auntie. And we’ll prepare a family breakfast on Saturday mornings which is still my tradition, to include pancakes, waffles, bacon, an omelet and various other goodies. We’ll make crepes one evening, and perhaps an Orange Julius. Won’t we have fun!

Did I mention that our other daughter, Jenny and hubby Josh, are expecting their first child, a girl, in April? Another girl for granddaddy to play with and shamelessly spoil!

Ain’t it grand!

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