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Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

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A Higher Calling

Grandpa, Family
Jan Morgan-Swegle

I remember everything about Ben’s birth–and he’s not even my son. He is my first grandchild.

I was in grandmother heaven when I found out our daughter was pregnant. I shopped for months buying cute little baby clothes and outfits. Our baby was going to be the best-dressed baby there ever was.

I felt like a child waiting for Christmas. The weeks went slowly by, but finally, it was time. And then, past time. Our daughter had to be induced. My husband and I arrived at the hospital on the appointed day and were surprised by our daughter’s appearance. She was terribly pale, and her blue eyes looked twice their size on top of the dark circles under them. She looked tired, and suddenly, my excitement over the baby took a back seat to my concern for her.

We were ushered back to a waiting area while the induction process continued. Hours went by, and I had a growing sense of urgency. Something kept telling me I needed to get to our daughter. I slipped out of the waiting area and went to the big, cold closed double doors that kept me from my child and hers. I put my hand on it, hoping it would magically open.

A nurse was walking by and told me that I couldn’t be there, so she walked me back to the waiting area. It wasn’t long after that when the double doors slammed open. We saw a medical team quickly propelling an isolette toward a different hospital area. I didn’t know what I was seeing, but I knew it wasn’t good.

More time passed. No one was telling us anything. I thought about all of the clothes I bought and wondered why I didn’t spend more time worrying about health issues than fashion. I felt helpless. Whatever was going on, I couldn’t fix with a band-aid.

Finally, a nurse came to take us to our daughter’s room. The big double doors were open now. I found our daughter and son-in-law in her room. It was obvious that she had been crying, and I think he had too. All of a sudden, I was afraid of words. I didn’t want to hear what any medical person was going to say. All I wanted was for my daughter to sit up in bed, smile, and tell us about her wonderful, healthy baby. But she didn’t.

A doctor came in to tell us that the baby was born with some breathing issues. I didn’t understand half of what he said. Still, I understood the part about our new baby boy being transported to a different hospital with a more sophisticated Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Medical personnel were bringing the baby to our daughter’s room so we could see him before he left. We waited on edge until he arrived. Ben was encased in this little isolette, his head turned away from us, hiding the tubes in his nose and arms. The nurse who brought him in said, “We have time for one picture. Who’s going to take it?”

My husband, who has always been my hero, and definitely was that day, stepped up with camera in hand and said that he would take it. As if our Ben heard him, he turned and looked directly at my husband and the camera. It was like he was saying, “Hi Papa, I’m Ben.” The picture was perfect, with Ben’s big blue eyes mirroring his mother’s.

As soon as the flash went off, Ben was on his way. “Go with him,” my daughter said to her husband. And then, she was all alone. Her baby and her husband were finishing the journey that she started that morning, and she cried because her heart was breaking.

The next day we found out she was checking out of the hospital against medical advice to be with her baby. Ben was in another hospital dealing with health issues, and she was going to be there with him. I was so proud of her. She was a good mother from the minute he was born.

Ben is 14 now, and our daughter has always put Ben and his subsequent siblings ahead of her own wants and needs. She wanted to be a nurse, but I think she realized she had a higher calling. She is a mom.

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About the Contributor
Jan Morgan-Swegle
Jan Morgan-Swegle is the Editor of Cape Fear Voices.  She has been writing for CFV for almost 3 years.  She is originally from the Cleveland area and moved down to Leland 12 years ago.  She and her husband, Tony, and their dog, Dixie, enjoy sitting on the lanai listening to music and sharing wine (Dixie likes white wine but only gets two finger tips full!!)  They have 3 children and 9 grandchildren living in Cleveland, Ohio,  Charlotte, North Carolina and Lakeland, Florida.

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