A Grandfather’s Tale: Supporting Your Children Through A Preemie

Becky, one of the angels of the NICU, was calling me. Sitting with Jessica while she held Lea was a quiet ritual I had come to look forward to, as it gave me the chance to see the motherly instincts of my loving daughter. I looked up to Becky’s calling, only to be told to hold out my hands. Placed in my arms, and forever in my heart, was Lea.465960_131472267047684_154577982_o

I remember seeing her up close through a veil of flowing happy tears. With her frail body next to mine, I could feel the pulse of her heart. I had time to study and fully appreciate this miracle given unto me. Her tiny fingers were so wrinkled, like someone very old yet so pink and fragile. I noticed up close her fingernails, her sweet elbows and knees. As the tears simmered and her weight nestled in my arms, only then did I have the first chance to view up close her beautiful, oh so beautiful face.

In that time we shared our hearts met and our lives melded together. There was a pounding inside my chest that sounded like a ricochet. That rhythm was the sound of our hearts in sync, beating together in harmony. There are times in all our lives, where the track of your future comes to a fork. I knew then, that the road on which I found myself traveling, would be one of wonder, love and endless surprises. I will forever hold dear that precious moment.

Let me take you back now, to approximately one month before. My wife and I were driving to East Jefferson General Hospital. No words were spoken on our journey, only clasped hands and the occasional glance held us together. We knew we were heading into the unknown and that we were powerless to control the outcome. Our best poker faces on, and our fears and anxiety checked at the entry door of the hospital, we understood our role at this most crucial time. This ordeal was not about us. Jessica and Lain required strong shoulders and constant positive input, both mentally and physically.

375596_10100551450466144_1629367578_nWatching my Jessica being wheeled away was a lesson in self-control. Nothing in my years could have taught me the lessons to deal with this situation. I humbled myself and reached for God’s hand and his mercy. I prayed not for Lea at that time, but for the strength to be there for both Jessica and Lain. I prayed for a light to mark the dark path before me. I prayed to be shown the way.

As we waited after Jessica was taken into the delivery room, the miracle that was bestowed upon me began. It was at that moment the heavy burden of fear was lifted. I know now God answered my prayers. The confidence flowed and my courage grew. My optimism was contagious. I believe everyone whom I encountered after that moment fed off of these feelings. My granddaughter Lea was born on January 4th at 29 weeks, weighing only one pound, fourteen ounces.

It is only in the present, as I attempt to put my experience of those days on paper, that I realize God could have had other plans for Lea. Plans that would have her in heaven far sooner than expected. The strength granted me was given in bounty. No matter what the outcome, I would always have the power and strength for my family.

Years have passed, and I am at peace and thankful. As these final key strokes are tapped, I wish that all Grandparents learn one important lesson. This is the time in your life when your son or daughter is once again childlike in needs. They are reaching for you for comfort. They now again need their Mommy and Daddy. Be thankful for the chance to be there. Pick them up as you once held them, and rain your love upon them.  Trust me on this one.


About Brian “paPa” Clement

Brian “paPA” Clement, was born in the Parish but raised in Metry. He resides with his wife Nancie in Destrehan, La. Together they own PDA of New Orleans. Brian dabbles in art and music, and trying ever so hard to grant every wish to his love, his grandchild Lea. Brian and Nancie are High School sweethearts, married over 32 years. When Brian has no errands, nor work he holds down the sofa in his home.


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