I'm using this column to announce the birth of a most remarkable baby. All babies are, of course, but this one happens to be mine. Well, sort of.
Prepare yourself. I intend to speak quite personally and oh-so-tenderly about my newly arrived grandson. I know, the birth announcements are in another part of this section, but I'm unapologetically choosing a little indulgence of privilege. May what I am about to say about babies and the birthing process call up memories of happy endings in your own life.
He was "a miracle baby" according to the doctors who delivered him. In a moment of exhausted jubilation following a lengthy emergency caesarean delivery on New Year's Eve, the surgeon said, "It is amazing this baby was ever conceived, let alone successfully carried for 33 weeks."
He was lodged deep under the 40-year-old mother's rib cage, and this first-time mom, my daughter, had a severe case of preeclampsia (high blood pressure and related conditions not favorable to an easy birth).
But as happens with miracles, it all went well and continues to amaze and delight us. Jordan Kaleo Kai Baisa (his middle names mean "voice of the ocean") is, at this writing, just over a week old. When he entered the world he weighed 3 pounds 4 ounces — "Less than some of the cans of soup in our pantry," is how my husband puts it.
But Jordan gained 10 grams yesterday and he breathes on his own, and everyone in the family believes he grins just a little when he hears his name. You can already see his personality, and I'm thinking he might be a rascal.
"Jordan boy," his loving parents call softly to him as they stand outside his isolate in a Portland-based neonatal intensive care unit. His heart-rate monitor bumps up at the sound of their voices. After the first day, mom, and then dad, have been allowed to hold him "skin-to-skin," and when they do that, you hear the hum of Hawaiian music (dad is a Maui boy) or the coo of the "By-oh" song, a wordless tune I invented long ago when my daughter was an infant.
Jordan entered the world with an APGAR of "7" and "9," really good scores considering the trauma he went through during the birthing process. Ever heard of that? The APGAR is the very first test given to a newborn to quickly evaluate physical condition at one minute and five minutes after birth. It seems like it might have some relevance to older adults, too. (But that's another column, another day.)
The letters stand for Appearance (skin coloration), Pulse (heart rate), Grimace (reflex irritability. i.e. if stimulated, does he respond? Activity (movement and muscle tone) and Respiration (breathing rate and effort). Health professionals subjectively score each category in a 0-2 range at one minute and five minutes after birth and total the scores on a 1-10 scale. It is rare for any neonate to get a 10.
This remarkable little guy wowed everyone in the delivery room. And with a name like "Jordan," don't you think he'll continue to be a high scorer? Me, too.
Sharon Johnson is an associate professor in health and human sciences at Oregon State University and on the faculty of the OSU Extension. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 541-776-7371, ext. 210.