Monthly Archives: July 2018

I Found My Thrill in the NICU

Like most mothers with newly married daughters, it wasn’t long after the wedding ceremony that I obsessed on becoming a grandmother.   Being Italian, it was very important to join that rank of becoming a  “Nonna”.    It was two years and 6 months later that my daughter and son-in-law  dropped by and announced that they were expecting.   By July 4th, the anticipation day, I would be holding my first grandchild.  Such excitement.

The day came a little early, June 29th which was my father’s birthday.   More excitement.   We waited for the ‘good news'(a boy or a girl?)  but did not expect that  our first grand-baby — a boy — was in one of our finest hospitals – in the NICU.   I didn’t know what that was but quickly learned it meant a neonatal intensive care unit, also known as an intensive care nursery  specializing in the care of ill or premature newborn infants. Neonatal refers to the first 28 days of life. Neonatal care, as known as specialized nurseries or intensive care, has been around since the 1960s.    Here we were in 1995.

Our new baby, named Daniel. was a small being covered in wires, tubes and other apparatus in a small incubator.   A blood disorder was the suspected cause; only family members were allowed in the room lined up with other incubators.  Mandatory clean linens and masks were distributed to be in that room.

Daniel’s parents were there all the time; she was nursing Daniel and brought him her  colostrum, the first secretion from the mammary glands after giving birth, which is rich in antibodies and very good for infants.  She continued to do this everyday until he was discharged.   The traveling. the worry and stress from not bringing a baby home after it’s birth was tiring and disturbing to a new mother.   It is a challenge to mothers who have everything in place except the baby.

The Fourth of July arrived five days later .  Normally this holiday is a family picnic day, and there were little changes in little Daniel.   We talked the new mother into attending the picnic – a much needed change of scenery.   We all attended and it did help.   After a couple of hours I excused myself and left.  To get home,  I had to go past the hospital.   I parked and went into the NICU.  There was little traffic that holiday afternoon and less in the hospital;  since it was a holiday, the hospital was  small-staffed that day.   A baby was crying when I arrived and the nurse, who recognized me,  said that was my grandson.

I asked if I could hold him – I never had.   She said since it was so small staffed, it would be helpful and appreciated since he had come off all his attachments and had been crying off and on.   She got a hard chair for me to sit on.  She left me and then returned and placed Daniel in my lap.   He was so precious and beautiful without his wires and he drew in a big breath and sighed loudly.  Almost sounded relieved.   I pressed his papoose-type blanketed little body close to my own and hummed lullabies until he fell asleep.

He slept while I held him for the next 3 hours.    The nurse came by and asked if she could take him and put him back.   Reluctantly, I said OK.   He didn’t wake up;  he had kinda worn himself out.   When she took him, I felt the very warmth of his body still on my own.

That feeling of warmth and love has never gone away – I still feel it after 23 years.

Marie Coppola  July 2018

 

Summertime Blues

 

As we age, don’t our time spans seem to shorten?   If you are retired, you may remember thinking how much extra time you would have if you could only retire early.  Work days slipped into welcome weekends in which weekly chores, grocery shopping, social events, catch-up events and anything else not work-related took precedence.   Before you blinked twice, Monday rolled around again and back on the merry-go-round.

Somehow all those things got done until we did retire.   Retirement was going to bring meditations, exercise classes, dieting, volunteering, church work, and vacations.   Lots of visiting and long week-end vacations, home or away.    We could lounge at the pool or the beach and read all the books in the bookcase that never got read.    Have tea parties, cook-outs and grandkids visit.   Frequently.   Well, occasionally.   All right – when everyone is available at the same time.

Now that retirement came into fruition and the recent announcement that the highest new age demographic is for folks over 100 years old, is it what we dreamed about?   Nope.  There is so much going on that days slip into weekends and less is getting done than ever.   What happened to those old-time summer-time school vacations?   Do you remember?

By the meteorological calendar, spring starts on March 1. The seasons are defined as Spring (March, April, May), Summer (June, July, August), Autumn (September, October, November) and Winter (December, January, February).

Think back to middle school.   We started school every fall after Labor Day in September and had a school winter and spring vacation.  They were short.   Summer vacation (also called summer holiday or summer break) where students and instructors are off school from doing work typically last between 8 and 9 weeks; summer break is  approximately 2.5 to 3 months, with students typically getting out of school between late May and mid-June and starting the new school year between mid-August and early September.

Do you remember how eagerly we looked forward to summer break?   No more teachers, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks.  Bring it on.  I remember the lightheartedness and happiness of not having to get up in the morning, rush and get to school on time and don’t forget all your books & materials.   Sounds something like the future ‘working days’.

What I remember most about my own personal summer vacations is we didn’t always go on one.  We might have gone every few years or at least visit the beach for the day.   So what did I do for almost three precious months.   I complained incessantly that there was ‘nothing to do’ and repeatedly that I was bored (which brought suggestions to do work around the house.)   I couldn’t wait to get back to school to learn new things but especially to see all the kids I knew from kindergarten who changed in looks every year when we all returned back to school.

Out of boredom mostly, I pleaded with Mom to buy me a pair of moccasins – I have no idea why I wanted them – I guess they were popular with teens to wear with dungarees.   My mother handed me the Sears catalog and I spent quite some time analyzing which ones I wanted to order and then the long wait for them to be ordered and mailed.   It took 4 weeks for them to appear.   I was happy to get them but immediately became bored with them.

I remember sitting in the backyard wishing that school started next week so I could wear my new moccasins to school.   I did little that summer but wish the time away and polish my moccasins.

Imagine having almost 3 months to do nothing — but instead get bored.    Is that why there is a saying that ‘youth is wasted on the young’.

Marie Coppola  July 2018

 

 

 

Flag Day is July 14, 2018

Flag Day is observed on June 14, 2018 .  It began on June 14, 1777, when the Second Continental Congress made a resolution about a flag for our country.

“Resolved, that the Flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation,” it said. 

How did it come about?  The flag was honored on June 14, 1877: “As instructed by Congress, the U.S. flag was flown from all public buildings across the country,”

William Kerr, was involved in setting up the National American Flag Day Association in 1889.  It is said that Kerr would meet multiple U.S. presidents as part of the years he spent trying to make Flag Day be recognized.

After speaking with Kerr, President Woodrow Wilson wrote  “I therefore suggest and request that throughout the nation and if possible in every community the fourteenth day of June be observed as Flag Day with special patriotic exercises.

President Harry Truman later signed Flag Day’s permanent observance into law in 1949.   Flag Day is not a federal holiday but is a state holiday in New York and Pennsylvania.  Some places in the United States hold Flag Day parades. Presidents have also issued proclamations for National Flag Week.

Since these patriotic beginnings, the Flag has been burned, spit on, misaligned and disrespected by people who will not honor it and don’t think America is good.  A US President once said the Star Spangled Banner should be changed because it incites violence with ‘bombs bursting in air’.   Had that President read the story behind the bombs bursting in air, he would have realized that countless men died from bombs bursting in air to keep the flag flying.  It denotes bravery, sacrifice and love for one’s country.     For most of us, the Flag is raised on patriotic holidays and respected.   Our military and veterans have offered their lives to keep the Flag a symbol of America’s freedom and bravery.