|Joey at two weeks old.|
When you are told at 13 weeks pregnancy that your baby will probably go into heart failure, that your baby’s body isn’t processing fluids and has hydrops (fluid all around the body) and that your baby will most likely not survive past 20 weeks into the pregnancy, you kind of put things like a nursery out of your mind.
Instead, you have mini panic attacks during every drive to the doctor’s office. You tend to hold your breath through every ultrasound until you see his little heart beating. You wake up every day and wonder—“Is baby boy alive? Did we make it through another night?” It’s like receiving a death sentence and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. For the ten weeks after we first learned about Joey’s extra chromosome, we really didn’t even think about him having Down syndrome. All we thought about was whether or not he would survive.
You make deals with God. You make promises you probably can’t keep. You anticipate every doctor’s appointment with the hopes that he is still alive, but you brace yourself for the worst and prepare for the unspeakable. I have so many friends who have been there. Who have had miscarriages and have lost their precious angels. I’ve watched their pain and have tried to comfort them, but there is nothing you can say or do to make such a loss okay.
With Joey, the doctor’s appointments were frequent. After we found out about all the issues we usually had 2-3 appointments a week. As the pregnancy progressed those appointments increased to 4-5 per week. I know it’s not possible, but I think I may have actually held my breath for almost 24 weeks until he was born.
Once we got past the 20 week point I actually started believing that maybe Joey would survive. As each week went by we had all the same worries and at night when I would lie awake at 3am I would think, “Please move, baby boy. Please move. Let mama know you are alright in there.” He always did. Sometimes it would take an hour or so, but he always moved as if to let me know it was okay to go back to sleep.
Around 24 weeks we learned about the possibility of a heart defect. The type of heart defect that would require open heart surgery at some point. We later learned about his ascites (excess fluid built up around his tummy). Through it all, Joey kept fighting.
At some point, I think maybe the 28th week or so, I finally decided that we weren’t going to prepare for the worst, but that we were going to prepare for the best case scenario. My nesting finally kicked in and I started to actually experience the excitement and anticipation that pregnant women have. The fun stuff—getting the nursery ready. Washing baby clothes. Organizing drawers and cupboards.
Joey and Tommy are very lucky to have two very talented Grandmothers. While Grandma Evie did Tommy’s nursery, Grandma Ann did Joey’s nursery.
Back to Berg’s I went and picked out a crib that I thought would go with Tommy’s in case these boys ever share a room. I also bought the biggest and most comfortable chair they carried. I wanted to make sure I could hold Joey, Tommy and Hershey all at the same time. We do it. It’s a little crowded, but we all fit! I went through dozens of websites and stores to find a blue and green crib set. It was such a nice distraction for awhile. Something fun to do to take my mind off all the worry and all the appointments and odds we were facing.
Tom’s mom helped me pick out a lovely, calm shade of soft blue from Sherwin Williams to paint Joey’s room with. Much like gray, soft blue is very hard to choose! Can’t be too cool of a blue. Don’t want red undertones. We finally found the perfect shade.
Grandma Ann also made a beautiful white table cloth to match the comforter I bought. I decided that since we didn’t know what Joey’s health would be like that I should keep a bed in his room in case one of us would need to sleep in the same room with him. She also found a super funky, super cool rug from Garnett Hill. It’s a Lily Pulitzer Catching Z’s hooked rug. The blue and white zebra print trimmed in green is perfect!
Then one day, Grandma Ann came over with a couple of these amazing hand-stitched animals. She brought three over, but told me that she had about a dozen of them. They are incredible! The colors are so vivid and the animals are so intricate. Tom’s mom had three young sons when she found out she was pregnant again—this time it was twins. My husband and his twin brother were her 4th and 5th sons. I don’t know how she found the time, but she hand-stitched every single one of these amazing animals for Tom and Tim’s nursery as children.
I was so excited and so honored to have the same animals that had hung in Tom’s nursery long ago find a new home in Joey’s nursery. They added the ultimate “oomph” factor to his room and really brightened it up.
Our Animal Menagerie is an art collection. Each in its own right and then in a grouping they are stunning. Like my mom, Grandma Ann does a lot sewing for Christmas. Every Christmas she makes every single one of her grandchildren a new ornament (that’s one for all 13 grandkids!!!). She also makes St. Nick’s gifts for each family (five families!!!). She also makes a cross-stitched stocking for every husband, wife and child. These handmade works of art are truly made with love.
Our boys and families are blessed with such talented and amazing Grandmas.
Every time I go into Joey’s room a calmness and peacefulness comes over me. It’s such a comforting room with the white bedspread and the big cozy brown rocker. I feel so grateful that I get to be in a nursery and be holding our little angel. I guess sometimes it’s these really hard and scary things you go through that help you slow down and take the time to reflect on the amazing blessing we each have.
Thank you, Grandma Ann for making Joey’s nursery such a beautiful room! It’s a wonderful room for a wonderful and amazing baby boy.