My youngest daughter, Bubbles, is seven years old today.
I have become a cliché; that mom who cannot believe how fast the time has flown past and who cannot fathom how here “baby” has become a big girl so quickly. It feels as though it were yesterday that I brought her home from the hospital.
Her eldest sister, Blossom, who was a sprightly four year old at the time, was enchanted to meet her:
Her two year old sister, Buttercup, was more skeptical about this small package that was proclaimed a sibling but didn’t really do anything other than sleep and squeak:
Although all three girls were being good as gold and my mother was there to help me, the first 72 hours following Bubbles’s birth were rough. Bubbles, who had gotten her daddy’s type A+ blood instead of my nice O+, was developing serious jaundice as a result of blood type incompatibility. Now, a lot of babies get jaundice just because they have so many red blood cells and such an immature liver that the bilirubin released in the bloodstream by the breakdown of red blood cells cannot get filtered fast enough. Those babies have a faint yellowish tinge. My baby, however, was turning the color of an Oompa Loompa:
This made her very sleepy … too sleep to breastfeed. Without milk, the jaundice was getting worse. Severe jaundice can lead to kernicterus, which causes permanent brain damage. Our pediatrician started Bubbles on phototherapy, which is just UV light on the skin. Sunlight changes bilirubin so that the liver can clean it out of the bloodstream with less effort, but it was winter in Indiana and thus sunshine was in short supply, which is why I had to carry my baby around with a photo array on her back like a wee Ghost Buster.
The pediatrician told me that if Bubbles didn’t start eating and if the jaundice didn’t go bye-bye ASAP, then Bubbles would have to be hospitalized. So not only were my boobs filling with milk so fast that I was afraid they would explode, my baby was sick and my toddlers were crying because they missed mommy being with them rather than at the hospital. I was a weepy mess.
Sweet Babou to the rescue!
He fetched me a professional grade pump that would have serviced a milch cow, and after expressing what had to have been several liters of milk, I felt much better. Then, while I cuddled Blossom and Buttercup, he made sure precious mommy-juice made it down out babies gullet. He used an eyedropper, and put a teeny bit of milk on her tongue, which she would reflexively swallow in her sleep. He did this for HOURS. Eventually, there was enough milk inside her that she woke up a little:
Once she woke up a bit, she started to nurse. The more she ate, the more alert she became, and then the more she would eat. Her jaundice backed off. She no longer looked like a sweet potato in a wig. She wasn’t hospitalized, the UV lights were returned to the pediatrician, and she wasn’t hospitalized. All because Daddy had the patience of a saint with an eyedropper.
She turned out to look just like her Daddy, which is fitting after all his efforts.
Now, that wee baby is a tall seven year old.
She is smart and funny and cute and loving. She brings us constant delight. The other day, in a much aggrieved tone of voice, she said, “I thought I saw a magpie. Oh man, I just saluted a pigeon!” The disgruntlement in her voice cracked us up.
Her empathy is incredible. We were going into Cardiff the other week and when we were getting ready she brought down a the duvet off her bed. We asked why she thought she needed to take her bedding with us, and she explained she had seen a homeless person before Christmas and wanted to give it to him. Her house is warm, she told us; she didn’t really need much to sleep under at night and HE did. We compromised and allowed her to donate to a homeless charity, rather than carry her duvet around Cardiff.
God in Heaven, how we love that little girl.
Happy Birthday Bubbles!