It’s Father’s Day. Where’s the Baby Book?

It’s Father’s Day. Where’s the Baby Book?

I remember our daughter Eve’s first haircut.  It happened on Saturday night, at 2 AM.  She was 9 days old.

Paul and I were in the usual half-sleep that comes with having a child in an ICU.  We were down the hall from the PICU at the University of Minnesota Children’s hospital, and had just heard the dreaded “code blue” come over the intercom system.  This time was different.  About 2 minutes later, my cell phone rang.  It was the ICU attending physician asking us to come down.  I flew out of our makeshift floor-bed and RAN like hell the 50 or so yards to where Eve was.  “Is it Eve??”  No, calm down, they said.  Apparently all her tiny veins were blown out from days of fluids and meds being pumped into the body of 5.5 pound newborn…the only place left to place the IV was in her head.  They needed to shave some of her beautiful dark hair

Eve Saarinen, with Elle and Jack, 10 days old, U of M Children's PICU

- and didn’t want us to freak out when we came in the morning.  They saved her locks of hair for us.  We still have them to this day.

What we don’t have is the proverbial Baby Book to put them in.  There’s nothing on paper historically documenting Eve’s first coo.  Her first smile. Her first babble, first tooth or first roll-over.  This, I suspect, is a sad reality for too many of the families whose babies face critical illnesses. There are simply more important things to focus on when your kid is fighting to survive. I just told my mom this morning that I cannot recall being at Eve’s baptism. I know we had one…it was at our church even.  But it wasn’t long before we were prepping to go to Boston Children’s Hospital for her heart surgeries and our brains must have been mush. Gratefully we live in the era of cell phone cameras, or we probably wouldn’t have any photos of Eve. Frankly, it’s a little tough to be in “photo shoot” mode while your baby is hooked up to a dozen lines and monitors.  While these images may be hard for others to look at, we treasure those grainy pictures.  She was so serene and lovely – yet tough as nails.

Eve Saarinen, April 2009

We also live in the era of Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Eve is fortunate to have a daddy who qualifies as an “early adopter” of these methods of communication and historical documentation. Random fact: Eve’s older sister Elle’s birth was hailed by the Sydney Morning Herald as the first live-tweeted delivery).

Paul was a champion at keeping our close friends and family posted on what was happening with Eve in the hospital.  It’s hard to express how grateful I am for this.  He took photos, he blogged. He DID the baby book.  Virtually.  We can still access most of it.  And may go through the process of pulling Facebook and blog posts into a more permanent format, so Eve can read her own story someday, as so many others have told it too.  Some of Paul\’s posts were so profound (still are, even this week)  that I still revisit them now and then for a moment of thankfulness and grounding.

Eve and Paul, Children's HeartLink gala, 2009

We think she’s a pretty cool kid – with a pretty cool story (minus the actual baby book).  For now, the locks of hair, the pulse ox wrap and her ankle bracelets can stay in a keepsake box.  Her life continues to be full of firsts.  The dates don’t really matter.  What matters is that she came to us, she powered through, and she is here to ask her daddy all about it.

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One Response to “It’s Father’s Day. Where’s the Baby Book?”

  1. e-Patient Dave 16. Jun, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    Annamarie, having known you for a few years now, I’m in a better position to understand the whole context of this post. Just wow.

    I wonder if you could find a grad student at the U who would like to pull together this story as a term project. It would be pretty educational – I’m not sure what course would be best, but it might be worth working the grapevine. There are aspects of patient engagement, and aspects of patient experience, both of which are hot topics.