Story - With a Tear and a Prayer
By Joe Ribar
He was a little baby barely over 6 lbs. But lord, he was beautiful, and lord, he was mine. My wife Lynne and I decided to name him Christopher…no particular reason it was just a nice name. He was born on Memorial Day Sunday.
Well that particular year the ground wasn’t quit ready to plant. It rained a lot and with the wife very pregnant, I didn’t really have the time to work in the field as much as I would have liked. Yes, I do love to plow & harrow the field in preparation of planting. It seems like that little red tractor has a calming effect on me, sorta like my personal therapy.
Anyway, the little guy was healthy, the doctors expected the worse, but so far, so good. After Lynne was in her room and ready to try to get some sleep, I headed home to try to get some sleep myself…my sister-in-law drove me home as she thought I might be a little tired from two days of waiting and worrying. We brought the baby home the following Wednesday.
Two days with the new baby and it was time for me to spend a little time with the “old” baby. I finished harrowing the field and felt with a little help I could get the sweet corn in, so I called my father-in-law, hooked up the planter, loaded up the fertilizer & corn, and went in to check up on the little guy. He was sound asleep and so was my wife.
My father-in-law ( now “grampa”) came by and we headed down to the field. It really was a beautiful late spring day, and the planting went off without any problems. It normally takes around 2 hours or so to finish but that day we were done exceptionally fast, and were able to stop and talk a bit.
I mentioned that the baby seemed a lot quieter today than the first few after bringing him home. “Grampa” said he thought the baby was getting used to his new surroundings and all would by fine “ You just got the new daddy worries”. “We better get the tractor put away and the planter washed out while the sun is shining” he said, and we headed back to the house.
Lynne, Christopher and I went down to his house for supper, after the planter was cleaned and left out to dry in the sun till we came back. Lynne’s sister and her daughter, Amanda, met us at the door. Now, Amanda had seen the baby in the hospital but this was Robins first real chance to hold the “newest arrival”.
She was doing the Aunt thing when suddenly she damn near screamed that the baby stopped breathing!
Mom (Lynne) ran over and took the baby, he was breathing, but it was more of a gasp than a regular breath. She called her older sister ( the ride) as she is a nurse to come over and see what we should do. Christopher seemed to be breathing better, but he was laboring with each breath. In the meantime Robin, ran next door to a cousins, also a nurse. The family at that time all lived close, and most still do today. The nurses felt it was not life threatening, but best go to the hospital and let a doctor check things out. The three sisters and Christopher got into the car and headed to the Emergency Room. My wife said to go home and get ready for work and I call, he seems to be fine now. I went home, put on a pot of coffee, and begin the wait.
Coffees done…I pour a cup and can’t just sit and do nothing, so I drive to the hospital. The baby is fine… breathing well …vital signs normal… they are waiting for the blood work to come back and they should all be ready to come home in a bit… “Go home, and get ready for work, we’ll be home soon, it must have been nothing” Lynne tells me and I head home again.
It was almost time to leave for work, and the phone rings…. “ They are loading the baby into a helicopter and taking him to the medical center, I’ll be right home… pack up a few things …I have the directions…We’ll leave as soon as I get back!” My wife is almost in hysterics and so am I.
It was the longest 2 ½ hr. drive I could imagine… funny how when you’re in a hurry, time slows down and when you’re not, time speeds up… When we arrived we were told that they had him in the PICU [pediatric intensive care unit ] and were still running tests. It was now around 4:30- 5:00 am. Exhausted and emotionally drained we both sat and waited for any word. After a bit we were able to go in and see him, he was sleeping now, although I don’t know how with tubes coming out of him and monitors beeping and buzzing. We both just kind of stood there silently watching and wondering.
The next few hours were a blur but he was taken to surgery and had a shunt installed. Pressure inside the head needed to be relieved. He would be staying in the hospital for several days.
To shorten the story a little, all went well and he was home in less than a week. We have been back into surgery 5 more times since. Once to remove the shunt because of blockage, again to have it reinstalled and three times to correct vision problems. Christopher is now 3 years old and anyone seeing him would never believe what he has gone through.
His love for my little tractor is quite apparent… I can’t start it up near the house without him making a fuss and wanting a ride. He has put in several miles on my knee as we go for a little joy ride, or up the road to visit a friend.
The story is getting a little long so in ending…
As I write this it’s planting time again and whenever this time of year rolls around and I’m down the field plowing, and getting ready to plant my thoughts are on the day that we almost lost our little guy. I will never forget that year. I only hope some spring day when he’s helping his “oldman” and I can tell him why, whenever I get done planting, I look up and say a prayer and have a tear running down my cheek.