He could have been a Danny. Or a Charlie. Or Ethan. Or - we didn't really know. (Sorry, Little Buddy, it's true). The morning of my scheduled c-section with My Little Man, our Baseball Buddy, Me!Me!, who has come to be known as Meiners (rhymes with weiners), I recall standing in front of the sink, scrubbing my morning breath away, and having the infamous discussion with The Man about the baby's name. If he had been a she, we knew what her name would be. But for the better part of his 38 weeks of gestation, we couldn't decide what he should be called.
We walked though WalMart one day when I offered the name 'Ethan Philip.' That was my favorite - our oldest son was named for his dad, grandfather, and great grandfather. Philip was my great-grandfather's name. The Man said of the four boy babies we knew born the same year, all four were named Ethan. We had to move on.
The morning of his birth, Daddy threw out 'Danny.' Hmmm. It sounded nice with our incredibly common last name. No strange famous people with the same moniker. But, being a speech pathologist, I had just discharged a child with that very name and if the mother ever got wind that I'd named my child after her child, she might think me ... odd ... so I threw it right back out of the running. We headed to the hospital, me saying, "I'll know who he is when I see him."
Two weeks later, my daughter visited her cardiologist for a monthly check-up. Her heart had been in decline for a few months and visits were scheduled frequently, with a break to deliver her baby brother, then back into the routine of cardiology visits. I had had a Level II u/s with the new baby in utero with a perinatologist about 22 weeks into the pregnancy. Our cardiologist's partner was supposed to have attended, but had an emergency that day. I waved him off, knowing nothing would be amiss. Our path with Pookie had been a fluke. I had only followed the advice of my doctors to have the in-depth look. I, myself, was not at all concerned.
The cardiologist asked if he should examine the baby. I agreed to it, just to let the dust fall and receive the standard 'stamp of health.' And when the exam wore on and on and, well, on, I suggested to the nurse that I head down to the lab to start Pookie's monthly blood work while the doctor finished up. I was still very much in denial, completely oblivious to the growing tension in the office.
Upon returning to his office after the labwork was drawn, I see in my mind's eye to this day, our tall, blonde, (handsome!), sincere physician push past my husband in a rush in order to arrive in front of me moments after I'd stepped into the lobby. He spoke of my oldest son, assuring me that "His heart is fine. His heart is fine." OK, I thought. That's nice to know. Why would I worry about his heart? The knowledge and understanding of his words had not yet begun to sink in. When I had left the office, the baby was in the ECHO room. Upon my return, my oldest son lay on the table in the dark room lit only by the green glow of the sonogram machine.
Slowly. Very slowly. His words began to sink in. Heart defect. Unusual twice in same family. Same developmental timeframe in gestation. Heart defect. The baby. Heart surgery. Different. Different this time. Not as hard. He promised me. It would not be as hard. My husband took me to the car and drove our family home.
I'm working on the party, baby presents (it's been a summer like that!) and will finish Meiners' story soon. Gotta keep you on your toes!