For Jo, who has waited so patiently

I started babysitting when I was 11. From the ages of 19 to nearly 23, I was a full time nanny. From 23-26 I did some live in work but it wasn’t full time- anywhere from 4-8 days a month I’d stay at a house with two kids while their mom was away on business, but I had a full time office job too by that point.
One of the jobs I had during my full-time nanny years was for a family that had a little boy named Jess. He was 14 months old, and cute as a button. His mom, Mom, was home with us, but pregnant with Jess’ sister and was on strict bedrest. Half my job was keeping her in bed or on the couch. Jess had been born 12 weeks early (for those who don’t know- that’s *really* early) and Mom had been having contractions for several weeks, and she was only about 20 weeks along (halfway) so she was on total bedrest. When she had Jess, he was born in about 20 minutes- water breaking to baby out- because he was so teeny. The ambulance had barely arrived when he popped out.
On my first day, I was shown “The Box”, by a homecare nurse at the apartment, and then I had to attend some classes. “The Box” contained everything I would need to deliver the baby, should Mom go into labor and have the baby before the ambulance could get there. And in “The Box” was a little thing that looked like a garage door opener. What it really was was one of those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” boxes that calls a serevice for you. This one did not ring a service however. This one did not have someone call you back if you pushed it. This one dispatched an ambulance immediately upon recieving a signal. But just in case it didn’t get there in time, I got to learn how to deliver a baby.
I was terrified of the prospect, and tried to avoid looking into “The Box”. It contained some innocuous things like baby hats and blankets and towels, but also contained things like cord clamps and rubber gloves and scissors and an aspirator. They also had an oxygen tank, but I wouldn’t have to deal with that. I learned that a baby born that prematurely was likely to be breech. There really wasn’t that much I would be able to do, but I had to know how to get the baby out safely, suck all the stuff out of her nose and mouth with the aspirator, wrap her warmly in towels and blankets, then deliver the placenta. (*Eeeeeuuuwwwww*)
Thankfully, Hannie stayed put until a week before her due date and was born in a hospital while I was at the house with her big brother Jess. So no, while I learned *how* to do it, I’ve never delivered a baby. I’m kinda glad I learned how to do it though, you know, in case I’m ever stuck in an elevator or become a cabbie in New York, but I’m just as glad I did not actually have to deliver a premature baby- both for my own sake and the sake of the family I worked for. I mean, given the choice, would you rather have your baby full term in a hospital, with real doctors and nurses, or a premature baby in your apartment, delivered by your 20 year old nanny? Yeah. Me too.

3 thoughts on “For Jo, who has waited so patiently

  1. Almost Lucid (Brad)

    Yikes! That’s a unique situation, indeed. I’m glad things worked out well for the mom though. The youngest I’ve seen a baby survive is 27 weeks, and even years later, the kid is still trying to catch up with her age.

  2. Caryn

    Crazy. You’re good to have around. 🙂
    A guy I work with had a son who was 12 weeks early. His son was in the NICU for 3 months. The poor little boy had many surgeries during his first year. But now (about 3 years later), aside from being blind in one eye, he is a perfectly healthy little boy. Cute as all hell, too.
    My nephew was only 3 weeks early, but he has a ton of medical problems. Fortunately, most are minor enough to not require surgery… but I hope to never be inside a NICU again for as long as I live. Sad, scary place.

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