During breakfast on Tuesday morning, Danny made a comment. “I’m going to stop by to examine TJ after work, if you want to stick around until I get there.”
“Yes, we’ll do that,” Dion and I agreed.
“Ok, I’ll see you then.”
Once again, Dion and I were extremely nervous, yet excited, as we went through the day at school.Would Danny release TJ this time or would we have to wait a little longer?Only time would tell.
As soon as the final bell rang, Joshie and Benny met us at the SUV, and then we went to pick up the other boys.As soon as we had everyone, Dion drove to the house so we could drop them off, and then we switched over to the car and headed to the hospital.
When we got there, we went through our normal routine, with Dion singing to TJ first, and then I read him a couple of stories.It was during this time that I discovered Dad was correct and TJ didn’t fall asleep during the second story.I wondered if it might be the result of him hearing the excitement in my voice about the possibility of taking him home, but I couldn’t be sure.Just as I finished reading, I saw Danny speaking with the nurses and looking at TJ’s chart before coming in to speak with us.
“Can I pry TJ out of your arms long enough to weigh and examine him?” he asked.
“Of course you can!We want to know when we can take him home!”
Danny took TJ from me and carried him over to the infant scale.We waited quietly and held our breath as we watched him weigh and measure our son.When he finished, he used his stethoscope to listen to TJ’s chest, and then he handed TJ to the nurse and walked over to speak with us.
“What’s the verdict, Doc?” Dion asked.I was slightly shocked when I heard Dion’s comment, since I’d never heard him call Danny ‘Doc’ before.
“He’s gained enough weight and now weighs 5 pounds 1 ounce (2.3 kg), but I’m concerned because I heard a little congestion in his lungs.”
“Really?What do you think is wrong?” asked Dion, visibly agitated.
“It’s probably just a result of his being premature, although there may be other causes, so I want him to stay in the incubator a few more days to see if it clears up.I’ll prescribe some medication and have the nurses keep tabs on him, and I’ll come by every day on my lunch hour to see if he’s improving.Hopefully, we’ll be able to get him home in another week or two.”
“That long?” screeched Dion.
“Didn’t you hear the congestion in his lungs the last time you were here?” I followed.
“Yes, it will be a while longer.I also heard this previously, but it wasn’t as bad, so I didn’t get alarmed.I know this is common in premature babies because their lungs might not have had sufficient time to develop, but the situation sounds worse today.It may also be a latent side-effect of his drug addiction.”
“Wasn’t he treated for that?”
“He was, but other problems can still show up later.”
“He’s going to be alright, isn’t he?” shrieked Dion.
“We should all stay positive about his prognosis, because from what you and Dad have told me about your visits, his responses so far have been quite good.I’ll just leave instructions for the nurses on how to handle this, and then I’ll re-evaluate his situation on Friday.”
“Ok, and we’re both hoping this isn’t serious,” stated Dion.
“I am as well. I’ll let you know more on Friday.”
Since Brandon had dropped Danny off at the hospital before heading home, Dion and I gave him a ride to the house.As soon as we got there, we were barraged with questions.
“When is TJ coming home?” pleaded Wyatt.
“I examined him this afternoon and he’s doing well, but he needs to stay in the hospital for a little longer,” answered Danny.“I’ll examine him again on Friday to see if things have changed.”
“So, he still doesn’t weight enough?” followed Joshie.
“He still needs to gain a little more weight,” replied Danny, although he avoided answering the question directly.
Everyone appeared slightly dejected at this point and this continued throughout dinner.It appeared as if the boys were convinced that Dion and I would be bringing TJ home with us this afternoon, and now they were disappointed this hadn’t happened.Therefore, after dinner we decided to have a chat with them, hoping it might lift their spirits.
“Look, I know you boys are disappointed,” I began, “but we all knew there was a chance that TJ would have to stay in the hospital a little longer.Dion and I are disappointed too, but we want to make sure TJ is completely healthy before we bring him home, so we won’t have to take him back to the hospital later.”
“Yes, Danny is just being very cautious so that doesn’t happen,” added Dion, “and we trust his judgment.You should too, and we all want TJ to be completely healthy before he comes home.”
“Remember,” continued Danny, “TJ was born prematurely, which means he wasn’t supposed to be born as early as he was.Because of that, his body hasn’t developed as it should have and that’s why he needs to stay in an incubator at the hospital.The incubator mimics what would have happened if he’d stayed in his mommy as long as he should have, so he just needs to stay in the incubator for a while longer.”
This seemed to defuse their negativity and the boys acted more like they normally would have as the evening wore on.In fact, they were laughing and joking around as we sent them upstairs to get ready for bed and they were all smiling when we tucked them in for the night.
Over the next couple of days, Dad would go in and spend time with TJ in the morning, and then Danny would go to the hospital during his lunch hour to examine TJ.Danny would then speak with Dad, Dion, and me in private later, after we’d put the boys to bed.He continued to assure us that TJ was improving and the medication and tasks he’d asked the nurses to perform were having a positive effect, so we remained hopeful.He also told us that he’d meet us at the hospital after work on Friday, so he could examine TJ again while we were there.
We were all a little tense during that time since we wondered if we were going to be able to bring TJ home.When school ended on Friday, we dropped the boys off at the house and then Dion and I left for to the hospital.We were a little confused, because we hadn’t noticed TJ acting any differently since Danny first told us he had heard some congestion in TJ’s lungs, so we held our breath when he came in and began the examination.When he finished, he turned toward us and spoke.
“He’s sounding better, and it appears the tasks I asked the nurses to perform are working, but during that time TJ has lost a little weight.This concerns me, but overall, I’m pleased with his improvement.I’ll come back and examine him again on Monday, and if he hasn’t lost any more weight, and hopefully has gained some of it back, then I’ll release him.”
“So, we still have to wait even longer before we can take him home?” I asked, discouraged.
“Yes, I want to make sure nothing else is going on, since I’m not sure why he lost weight.”
“Ok, we understand why you’re doing this,” agreed Dion, although I could tell he was also slightly upset by this news.
“I just pray we aren’t disappointed again,” I added.
“I’m not doing this to upset you,” Danny added.“I just want to be sure there is nothing wrong with TJ and he’s ready to go home.”
Now that we were ready to go home, we kissed TJ and told him we’d be back to see him in the morning.Danny then walked down to the car with us and we gave him a ride home.Once we reached the house, we faced multiple questions from the boys.
“When is TJ comin’ home?” Wyatt asked.
“Maybe next week,” replied Danny.
“You keep sayin’ that,” protested Wyatt.
“I know, but it’s because I have to see how TJ is improving.We can’t rush him and have to wait until his body is strong enough to do this.”
“Yes, we want to make sure he’s ready to come home,” I concurred.“We don’t want TJ to get here and then have more problems, because then we’d have to take him back to the hospital again, and that stay might be for even longer.”
“K,” he relented, although he wasn’t happy about it.
On Saturday, Dion and I went to see TJ after breakfast, and we were a little tense, because we weren’t sure if he was improving.We wanted him to come home with us on Monday, but that would depend on whether Danny thought he was doing well enough to be released.We didn’t treat TJ any differently, though, and we did the same things with him as usual until it was time to go home and eat.When we got there, Joshie and Benny were making lunch.
“Grandpa Josh taught us how to make grilled cheese sandwiches for the boys,” announced Benny, “and they’re havin’ it with a fruit cup and a drink.”
“Once they were all eatin’, Grandpa Josh helped us make BLTs for the rest of us,” added Benny, “and we’re gonna have it on toast.We already fried the bacon and cut up the tomatoes, so now we’re just makin’ the toast so we can start puttin’ them together.”
“Get whatever you want to drink,” urged Dad, “and you can have cottage cheese or a small salad to go with your sandwich.”
“Me and Benny are gonna have applesauce instead,” said Joshie.
“It sounds good to me,” I replied, “and it sounds as if your grandfather is teaching you both a lot.”
“Yeah, he is,” they agreed.
After we ate, we went back to the hospital, and before Dion began singing to TJ, he talked to him first.“We need you to get better so we can take you home with us, so please do whatever you can to make that happen.”
This surprised me, since we both knew TJ couldn’t understand what he was saying, but I suppose he was thinking it couldn’t hurt.He then sang his songs to TJ and I read the stories, and then we both kissed him and said goodbye before we left the hospital.
When we arrived home, Joshie and Benny were in the kitchen again, this time making dinner.“What are we having?” asked Dion.
“We’re makin’ Manwiches and we’re gonna have them on hamburger buns,” responded Benny.
“And we’re also havin’ French fries and corn on the cob with it,” added Joshie.“And we made a chocolate cake for dessert.”
“Corn on the cob?” I asked.“That sounds great!”
“Yeah, Grandpa Josh took us to the farmer’s market to buy some corn, and then we helped him shuck it and get it ready.”
“I’m impressed and it sounds good.”
When we sat down at the table, we had to teach Xander how to eat the corn on the cob.The boys only got a half-ear each, and we showed Xander how to butter it and add a touch of salt, as well as how to hold it so he could remove the corn with his teeth.It was a little messy, but nothing that we couldn’t deal with using plenty of napkins.
“This is good,” stated Hunter when he finished his ear.
“Yeah, I like it too,” agreed Hayden.“Can I have more?”
“Yes, we have extra for those who want it,” Dad confirmed.
He then got up to cut another ear in half for that pair.I’m sure this made Joshie and Benny feel good and let them know their effort had paid off.
After dinner, the boys washed their hands and faces first, and then they went off to play.As they were leaving, Brandon told Joshie and Benny that he’d do the laundry this weekend, since they were doing all of the cooking.This seemed to please them, so they headed to the family room to watch TV for a while.Once the boys were all busy, the rest of us sat down in the living room to chat.
“I take it you two are going to spend time with TJ in the morning and then meet us at the diner for brunch,” began Pop.
“Yes, that’s what we planned on,” I answered.
“I think they should put the infant car seat in their car tomorrow night, in case TJ is ready to come home on Monday,” followed Danny.“They might also want to add a diaper bag so they can bring home the supplies the nurses will give them.”
“That’s a good idea,” agreed Dad.
“And I’ll take a small duffle bag for the books,” I stated.
“Good idea,” Dion and Dad concurred.
“I’ll go to the hospital after work on Monday to examine TJ,” added Danny, “and I think they should be ready to bring him home if his condition has improved.”
“That makes sense,” Pop agreed
“And if he comes home, then I’ll show the three of you the things I’ve had the nurses doing with him, so you can do them with TJ at home.”
“Ok, we can do that,” Dad, Dion, and I agreed.
We talked a little longer before Brandon and I called the younger boys in to shower and get ready for bed.We let them stay up a little longer after they finished and before we sent them up to their rooms. Once we tucked them in and said goodnight, the older pair started getting ready for bed as well.As soon as all of the boys were asleep, the rest of us decided to turn in as well.The others were planning on attending church in the morning, and we were going to spend time with TJ, so we all needed to get some rest.
We left first in the morning and drove to the hospital.After spending a couple of hours with TJ, we drove over to the diner to join the others for brunch.When we finished eating, we said goodbye to everyone and returned to the hospital, and then we stayed there until dinnertime.When we arrived home, Joshie and Benny were in the kitchen with Dad.
“What’s for dinner?” asked Dion.
“Beef stew and Bisquick dumplings,” Joshie answered.“Grandpa Josh taught us how to make it.”
“Yeah, but we had to do it in two pots, cuz one pot wouldn’t make enough for all of us,” added Benny.
“And we’re gonna have a salad with it as well,” continued Joshie.
“Grandpa Josh also helped us make a cherry and blueberry pie, and he went to buy ice cream so we could put it on top of it for dessert,” followed Benny.
“That sounds wonderful,” stated Dion, “and Grandpa Josh is teaching you a lot.”
“Yes, you boys will soon know as much about cooking as I do,” I added.
“I doubt that,” they both scoffed.
Dinner was delicious and we complimented the boys many times while we were eating.They’d certainly done a wonderful job.
The rest of the night was fairly quiet and we merely watched TV with the boys.Eventually, we had them get ready for bed and then we tucked them in.Once they were all settled, I grabbed the infant car seat and placed it in the backseat of our car.Dion made up a diaper bag to take with us, and I grabbed a small duffle bag to put the books in so we could bring everything home at the same time.
Monday morning, we drove the boys to school, and then Dion and I labored through the day.I say that because it was difficult to keep our minds on our jobs, but we did our best to teach those assigned to our classes.However, we couldn’t wait until it was time to leave so we could take the boys home and then head to the hospital.We had a chance to spend some time with TJ before Danny arrived, and as soon as he did, he came directly in to speak with us.
“I came here during my lunch hour again and examined TJ,” he began.“He’s gained back the weight he’d lost last week and now weighs 5 pounds 1 ounce (2.3 kg) again, so I’m ready to discharge him.”
“That’s great news,” we both agreed.
“You may not think so when I tell you this.I tried to get the hospital to let you take him home tonight, since I’d filled out all of the paperwork to release him, but the administrators were insistent that discharge time is 11:00 am.”
“So, we’ll have to take off from work?”
“Unfortunately, unless you’d like for me to arrange for Dad to sign him out.I believe I’ll be able to get that approved, since he’s TJ’s grandfather and the county is picking up the hospital tab, if that will help.”
“Yes, that would be easier than trying to clear it with the principals at such late notice.They’ve probably gone home already and it might be difficult to get ahold of them to approve the time off now.”
“Let Dad do it then, and you can just go home tomorrow night to be with TJ.I’ll talk to the three of you again later, after the boys are in bed.”
Danny rode home with us again, and as soon as we walked in the door, Wyatt looked at us and spoke.
“No TJ again?” he whined.
“No, not yet,” Dion answered.
Wyatt moped around for a while, but it wasn’t as bad as on Friday.We chose not to mention that TJ would be coming home tomorrow, just in case it didn’t happen again, and if it did, it would be a nice surprise.
Joshie and Benny didn’t help Dad with dinner this evening, because they had a lot of homework to do, and as soon as we finished the meal, they went back to work on it again.Brandon and I made sure the other boys had done their homework, if they had any, and then we let them do whatever they wanted until it was time to get ready for bed.Once they were all in their rooms, the rest of us met with Danny in the family room so he could explain a few things to us.
“The medication I prescribed for TJ seemed to work, but I’m not going to continue it at home unless I see it’s necessary later.He may still have a little congestion in his lungs, but there’s other ways I want you to handle it.First of all, I want you to get a cool mist humidifier to keep in his room, and you should run it while he’s sleeping.I’ll also teach you how to loosen up the congestion in his lungs and that will make it easier for him to breathe.You’ll also have to use a bulb syringe to suction the mucous out of his nose every time you feed him.Unless you have any questions, I’ll show you what you’ll have to do to loosen the congestion.”
We didn’t, so Danny demonstrated how to place TJ across our laps, face down, and how to pound on his back to loosen the buildup.He emphasized how hard we needed to do this to make it effective, but not hard enough to harm him.Once all of that had been covered, he spoke to Dad.
“Rather than have Dion and Trey take off from work tomorrow just to bring TJ home, they’ve agreed to let you do it for them.I’ll call the hospital first thing tomorrow and make sure the administrators don’t have a problem with this, although I doubt they will, and then you can sign the paperwork and bring him home.”
“His room is all set up,” I told him, “because we did it when we first heard we were getting him.We’ll set up the bassinet in the family room so you can use that for him during the day and not have to run up and down the stairs.”
“And you already have a rocking chair in there that you can use, and we have another one in TJ’s room for us to use,” added Dion.
“If it will help,” said Dad, “I’ll run to Kevin’s pharmacy before I go to the hospital to purchase a cool mist humidifier for you.In fact, I’ll purchase two, and that way you can have one in his bedroom and I can leave the other one in the family room, for when he’s sleeping down here.”
“Thank you. That will help a lot,” I agreed.
“And I’ll call as soon as I know if you’ll be able to sign the discharge papers,” stated Danny.“If not, I’ll text Dion and Trey at work.”
“Ok, I’ll wait for your call before I leave,” confirmed Dad.
“And don’t forget to take the infant car seat in with you,” said Dion.“I cleaned it with Clorox wipes, and you can take the diaper bag and duffle in with you as well.The nurses will probably give you things for the diaper bag and you can put the books in the duffle.”
“Ok, I think I can handle all of that.”
I think Dad, Dion, and I were all keyed up as we headed to bed.
In the morning, after we dropped the boys off at their schools, Dion and I went to our classrooms.Once again, it was difficult for us to focus on what we were supposed to be doing because we were afraid something would come up and TJ wouldn’t be home when we got there.In fact, we both called home on our lunch period to make sure TJ was there with Dad.
“Yes, Danny called shortly after you left and said everything was set, so I drove over to Kevin’s pharmacy first, to purchase the cool mist humidifiers.”
“We’ll pay you back for those,” I told him.
“No, consider it a gift from Jake and me to keep TJ safe.I then drove to the hospital and carried everything inside, and I packed up the books first, before I went in to see TJ, and then I sang, but just talked to him, rather than read to him.”
“What did you talk to him about?”
“I merely said something like this: Hey, little one, I’m going to take you home with me today, and then your daddies will come home to see you later.I hope you’re ready for this, because you’re going to get to meet your two brothers, along with your cousins, and they are all eager to meet you.Your daddies are teachers, so I’ll be taking care of you during the day, but they’ll be with you at night and on the weekends.”
“Thank you.We’ll see you later, but we won’t tell the boys about this until we get to the house.”
“Ok, TJ and I will see you then.”
Even though we’d been anticipating this for several weeks, it was finally going to happen.Our level of anticipation was through the roof and it was difficult to get through the remainder of the day.
Once the school day ended, we picked up all of the boys and took them home.We were trying to act normally, but that was difficult, and the boys soon picked up on it.
“What’s up with you guys?” Joshie asked.“You’re actin’ weird.”
“I suppose we are, but it’s because TJ is coming home today.”
“Yippee!” we heard the younger boys scream, with Wyatt being the loudest, and now we were all excited as we made our way to the house.
When we got there, we all climbed out of the SUV, but instead of getting in the car, we walked to the house.
“What are you doing?” Joshie asked.
“We have to get a few things from the house first,” I answered, and it seemed to suffice.
Once we walked inside, we saw Dad in the kitchen, so Dion and I walked over to speak with him.“Where’s TJ?” we asked.
“He’s asleep in the bassinet in the family room.”
Dion and I immediately went there, and rather than waking TJ up, we merely called the other boys into the family room.
“What do you want?” Benny asked as they entered.
“We thought we’d introduce you to TJ,” I said.“He’s sleeping now, but you can still see him.”
They all rushed over to the bassinet and looked inside.
“Wow, he’s really tiny,” observed Hayden.
“Yes, he is,” I confirmed.
“Hey, I thought you had to go to the hospital to get him,” countered Wyatt.
“Grandpa Josh brought him home earlier, so we didn’t have to take off time from work,” explained Dion.
“Can I hold him?” asked Wyatt.
“You can do that later when he wakes up.Let’s let him sleep for now.”
“I’m surprised he can do that, with all these guys makin’ noise,” observed Joshie.
“Yes, so lower your voices so he doesn’t wake up.Babies need lots of sleep,” I told them.“Why don’t you go do your homework now, so you’ll be able to spend time with him when he wakes up.”
“I don’t got any,” replied Xander.
“Me neither,” added Wyatt.
“But I’m sure the other boys do, so they should do it now,” I urged.
“Can me and Xander stay in here and just watch TJ then?” asked Wyatt.
“Ok, but don’t bump the bassinet or wake TJ up.”
“K, we won’t,” they agreed.
That’s basically what happened until dinner was ready, except that Brandon and Pop went in to check out TJ as well.They were the only two who hadn’t seen him yet and they wanted to sate their curiosity about him.
“I knew you said he was tiny,” stated Pop, “but I didn’t think you meant this tiny.”
“You should have seen him just after he was born then, if you think he’s tiny now,” countered Dion.
“I wish we could have taken him,” added Brandon wistfully.“I’ve never really had a baby to raise, because all of our sons were older when they came to live with us.”
“Maybe next time, Hon,” stated Danny compassionately.“We just had too much going on this time.”
“I know, but I’d like to have a baby sometime,” replied Brandon, “and my mom would like for us to have a baby as well.She might even come here and help us take care of him for a while.”
“I’m sure she would,” agreed Danny, “but we’ll talk about that later.”
TJ must have awakened while we were eating, but he didn’t cry or make a sound.He was just awake when Dion and I went to check on him.Dion changed his diaper while I went to prepare a bottle, and then I sat down to feed him.
“Can I do that?” asked Wyatt.
“Not until he’s a little bigger.”
He seemed to accept that, and we let him and the others take turns holding TJ later, once he was fed.TJ seemed fascinated with the younger boys, since he was used to the nurses, Dad, Dion, and me, along with Danny, and it was cute watching his reaction as the boys held him.He would smile at the boys, and they would smile back at him and speak, and TJ’s eyes would be fixed on them until he was handed to the next boy.
As it grew later, we sent the boys upstairs to get ready for bed, and once we tucked them in and said goodnight, we pulled out the infant bathtub so we could bathe TJ.He seemed to like this, and his arms and legs flopped around like they did when we sang and read to him, but this time that action splashed all of us.Once we finished, we dried him off, put a fresh diaper and new undershirt on him before placing him in the crib. His first day at home had come to an end.