Baby Watch: Intersecting Paths

labor process

Have you ever experienced your past intersecting with your present in unexpected ways?

I have. The birth of my grandson a couple of weeks ago, led to some connections from my past that brought back memories.

But before I talk about the past, let’s talk about the the present and the birth of baby Eric and how it did not go as well as planned.

A few days ago, I shared about how the labor process was not particularly smooth – 40+ hours of labor and then pushing led us all to the OR and a c-section.  You can read more about the process to this point here.

Baby Watch: Intersecting Paths

So, I was waiting outside the door where my daughter was having her c-section and I was straining my ears for a baby’s cries.

Well, it turns out that I didn’t need to strain my ears at all – I could hear the baby’s cries loud and clear when he finally emerged at 3:17 pm – about 42 hours after we first entered the hospital.

My husband came out with the baby and gave me a ‘thumbs up’ sign and then I went with the nurse and baby to the nursery.

 baby crying is a welcome sound

When we arrived in the nursery, Eric was still crying, which was a good thing. It’s funny how that is the only time that a baby crying is a welcome sound, isn’t it?

I stood right next to him while the nurse was checking him out and he was absolutely beautiful. Eric Marshall Johnson was 7 lbs. and 20 1/2 inches. Definitely not the small baby that the doctors had anticipated.

stopped crying

After a few minutes, he stuck his fingers in his mouth and stopped crying for a little while. It was funny to see him do that since he often did the same thing during his ultrasounds.

Not surprisingly, there were signs of the rough time he had being born. He was so stuck in the birth canal, that the doctor had to really struggle to get him out.  He had a bruised ear, which you can see above, along with a bruise on his hand, his ‘manly’ parts, foot and on his head…

sweet little boy

But let’s be honest – I was just focused on this sweet little boy who was melting my heart from where I stood.


My oldest daughter and husband watched on through the v as I got the privelege of putting on the first diaper…

diaper on a newborn

I had forgotten how hard it was to put a diaper on a newborn.

It was at this time that I found out from my husband that my daughter hadn’t seen her baby yet. Due to the spinal that they had given her, she was very dizzy and felt like she was having trouble breathing because the spinal left her without the sensation of her chest rising and falling with breathing – she was breathing and had plenty of oxygen, but wouldn’t you feel a little worried if you couldn’t feel yourself breathing?

Anyhow, I felt so sad that she hadn’t seen her precious little baby yet. While waiting for her to be brought to recovery, the nurse asked if I wanted to hold him…

beauty of California


I took him in my arms and told him how excited we all were that he was finally here and that he had the best mom who loved him and couldn’t wait to see him and hold him.

About an hour after his birth, Eric was ready to meet his mom for the first time.  

beauty of California

No matter how often you see it, there is something so miraculous when you see the bond between a new mother and her baby.

I could see in Rachele’s face that it was all so worth it and she would do it again in a second for her son.

beauty of California

He is one cute baby, despite his swollen nose and upper lip. Now that he was with his mom, he was happy.

meet his aunt Brittney.

Rachele was moved to her room and then Eric got to meet his aunt Brittney.

beauty of California

Can you tell how tired and happy we all were?

While we had planned on being there for Eric’s birth and then taking him and Rachele home with us to Arizona to recuperate, we hadn’t planned on how long it would be.

The morning after his birth, my oldest daughter and husband left for home and I stayed with Rachele until she would be released to go home with me.

While there was the initial anxiousness that accompanies having to reschedule appointments and getting things into order, I must admit that I was happy to have to disconnect from home and work and just focus on Rachele and my new grandson.  

beauty of California

Over the days we spent at the hospital, this came to be my favorite view. It looks out on the city of Ventura, the Pacific Ocean and the Channel Islands.

This is where the paths of my past and present intersected. You see, I grew up just a 1/2 hour south from Ventura.  I also went to college an hour  north where I met my husband. We married over 28 years ago in Ventura and my mother served as a pastor at a church there back in the 80’s and 90’s.

What makes this interesting is that we haven’t had any recent connection with this city for over 20 years. We’ve all moved away to Arizona and never came back to this town until my daughter just happened to be stationed at the Navy base nearby.

While staying with my daughter, I was fortunate to be able to stay at her little townhouse on the Navy base. To do that however, I had to get a special pass for a week so I could get through the guards and gate without being accompanied by a military person, so Rachele’s friend kindly went with me so I could get a pass.

Every morning, I would wake up and drive to the hospital and enjoy the beauty of California. Except for one day, it was beautiful and clear. We did have a day or two of Santa Ana winds, which brought back memories of struggling to walk to school when the wind felt like it would lift you off of your feet – I really don’t miss the wind.

hearing test

Back at the hospital, Eric’s first full day involved a hearing test, which he passed with flying colors.

While Eric was doing fine, Rachele was fighting a fever.  At night, she would get a fever that would spike to 102 degrees. So, they put her on antibiotics and watched closely.

During the day, her fever would leave, only to return at night. So, her stay was extended so that they could keep a close eye on her.

During that time, I decided to help ‘feather Rachele’s nest’. Her kitchen had only the bare essentials and her living room consisted of a couch, a coffee table and a TV.

I told my mother about my ‘secret’ plan and she was so excited about it that she offered to help too.  So, after bidding goodbye to Rachele at the end of one day, I went to the nearest Marshall’s store and bought 2 end tables and much needed kitchen supplies (cheese grater, colander, measuring cups, oven mitts and dish towels). I then stopped by Walmart and bought her a new area rug and door mat for the front door.

beauty of California

Meanwhile, Rachele’s fevers continued at night and now there was a complication with Eric. While changing his diaper one day with the nurse present, we noticed some strange jerky movements on his right side that were unusual.

The doctor was consulted and we were told to observe him closely. That evening, he did it again in front of the night nurse, so an EEG was ordered.    

performed an EEG

The tech came in and performed an EEG.  Eric slept through the whole thing. We were hopeful that it wasn’t anything serious and anxiously waited to hear the neurologist’s findings.

Unfortunately, it was the weekend and we had to wait until Monday for the results. Rachele handled the whole process very well considering how it hard it must be to contemplate something being wrong with your baby.

Sunday morning arrived we got great news – Rachele’s fever had left and she was able to go home with Eric!

beauty of California

I don’t think anyone was so happy about being home than Rachele after her planned 2 day stay had extended to 6.

While Rachele was allowed to leave the hospital, she wasn’t allowed to go to Arizona until the baby’s EEG results came back. Monday morning, we took Eric to the pediatrician so she could check him out again and give us the results of the EEG.

I drove Rachele to the doctor’s office and had to parallel park in a small space in the front.  Now, if you have visited California, than you know that parallel parking is a vital skill.  The problem was that I was out of practice, but with my backup camera and Rachele’s guidance, I did a pretty good job, if I do say so…

how well I parked

Okay, I admit that it is a little unusual to take a picture of your own parked car, but I wanted to show my husband how well I parked 🙂

While seeing the doctor, we discovered that Eric had gained an ounce since birth and more importantly, that his EEG was normal. The doctors attributed his unusual movements as one of the many newborn quirks that they display. He hasn’t done it since the first two times.

Tuesday arrived and it was time to hit the road for Arizona with both Rachele and Eric.

beauty of California
beauty of California

But, not before stopping by the farm shack and buying strawberries straight from the fields.

We had a smooth trip home and Eric loves the car – he slept most of the way home where he was greeted by his aunts and uncle.

so much fun having a baby in the house
so much fun having a baby in the house
so much fun having a baby in the house

It is so much fun having a baby in the house and having my big girl back home for a few weeks.

After a week home, I am almost caught up on work, but I will cherish the time I spent in California taking care of Rachele and Eric.

**Thank you all so much for your kind words and comments during Rachele’s baby journey – I appreciate them so much!

Keeping America (and Phoenix) Beautiful

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
3 replies
  1. FlowerLady Lorraine
    FlowerLady Lorraine says:

    I am so glad everything turned out great with Eric and Rachele and that they were able to go home with you.

    Thank you for sharing this story with us.

    Little Eric is a sweetie pie.

    Congrats again to all of you.


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