It’s been over five years now since Katie has become a part of our life. I remember that when she came, I jumped right in to take care of her. I’m not sure of what I was thinking at the time, I just know that she was so little and needed me. She was eleven months and just sitting up. She didn’t crawl. We could sit her on the floor and walk away and be assured that she would still be there when we returned. She was small and tiny, and according to the doctor in the lower 25 percentile weight wise for her age. Her condition was such that doctor diagnosed her as failure to thrive.
I remember the first weekend we brought her home, I’m not sure which one of us noticed, but she was running a fever and not very happy, to say the least. Well, Janet suggested we take her to a clinic (it was Sunday) so that she could be checked out. The doctor on call, was more concerned about her development than about her fever. So we took her home, but her fever worsened, rising to 105. As her fever rose so did our concern, we decided to take her to an emergency room. Being a first time father (or father figure) I listened very closely to everything that was said. They decided to take x-rays, and from those they determined she had pneumonia. We were sent home with a prescription and instructions for the care of this poor sick child.
Janet decided to stay home and take care of her, and I being the dutiful husband went off to work. Sometime before lunch, I called to see how things were going and I could tell that they weren’t going that great. Janet was having a hard time taking care of Katie and doing things like taking a shower or eating. Every time she would put Katie down she would cry. I asked her if she wanted me to come home, and she eagerly said yes.
When I got home, I took charge of Katie while Janet showered, ate and ran errands. Katie was still running a fever and very uncomfortable. I remembered the nurse said from the night before that we would want to remove clothes enough that she wasn’t shivering and take a washcloth and wipe her down with that. So I remove her pajamas, left on her diaper (I’m not a daredevil) and began wiping her down with a lukewarm washcloth. As I wiped, I could see the redness in her ears and face dissipate and she began to settle down. Eventually she went to sleep on my chest.
She has slept many times on my chest since then and now she is getting so big that it is not comfortable for either one of us. Sometimes, I long for those days and at other times I sit amazed at how far she has come.
I started out being “Poppa” for her and once she asked me if I was “Poppa” or “Daddy” and I said I am whoever she needed me to be. I’ve been “Daddy” ever since.
Tomorrow night, she graduates from Kindergarten. We’ve come a long way and I’ve loved every minute of it. But I think I’m ill prepared for her to grow up, but I am still prepared to be whatever she needs me to be.