When I found out that I was pregnant, mom had just come home from a three week hospital stay. At that time, her care was very hands-on. She was almost learning to walk again (as she called it) because her legs were so weak from laying in the hospital bed. For roughly the first six months we were lifting her from the seated position to either standing or a wheelchair.
Needless to say this was not the time that I was thinking I would be pregnant. We were even starting to wonder if I would ever get pregnant. I was 36 years old, and although my internal clock was ticking, I was already spread thin. Along with being a co-caregiver, I had a full-time job, working at least 40 hours per week, sometimes more.
Mom immediately started talking about wanting to go home. She was concerned that she would be a burden to the family. Of course she knew what it was like being pregnant and having a newborn in the house, but little did she know that having her with me made some incredible memories that I will cherish the rest of my life.
One of mom’s deepest concerns was that my son would be afraid of the oxygen line and equipment. She thought that he would cry because of this “thing” she had to wear and the loud coughing that she despised. I tried to reassure her that everything would be okay, but really it took seeing it for herself to prove that he did not care about anything other than the fact that she was his grandma. He knew that she loved him, and that is all that he needed.
Mom stayed with us through my son’s birth. Just a few weeks after that, she started going home for a week or two at a time. This was allowing my dad and I to tag team some of her care, and it was still giving her the ability to be with us.
During the time that she was with us, she began to realize that my son embraced everything about her. The thing that mom had feared the most became an endearing icon. As a newborn, he would find the oxygen line when she held him, and he would hold it. It was comforting to him and to her.
Later, as he began to be playful, they would play with it. He would grab it and give it a tug, and she would give him a “look.” As he got older and began to crawl, we had to teach him not to grab the oxygen line and play with it, simply for fear of him getting wrapped up in it, but he would still crawl close to her, grab the line and give it a good playful tug.
In addition to my son embracing the situation with the oxygen, he never even flinched when my mom would have a coughing spell. I had read that babies hear the loud noises of life while still in the womb. He had already heard the coughing. He had also heard the comforting sound of my mom’s voice. He knew that both sounds were okay. It was simply life, as he knew it.
Never underestimate a child’s ability to adapt. Embrace life with all of its mess, and rest in knowing that love is the ultimate communication. Make memories with them. Answer their questions as they get older, and enjoy every moment that you have together.