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Friday, April 4, 2008

Grandparents Survive Trip to California for Miracle of Lucy's Birth

Once again I should have gotten an inkling of a suspicion that our trip to California to witness the birth of our first grandchild would be another adventure as we sat on the plane in Atlanta for 45 minutes waiting for our pilots to arrive onboard. Apparently they were coming from another plane that had not landed and besides being a little aggravated at the delay I hoped their previous flight was a short local one and not transatlantic so they would be awake and alert. I had enough anxiety about flying without worrying about the pilots falling asleep at the helm (I think that's stick in a plane). I found out a few days later that I was right to be worried about exhausted pilots as there was an article in USA Today about pilot errors due to fatigue.

We were finally off and running (flying) and I pulled out my knitting project which was a dress for baby Lucy. Surprisingly the security guards had not confiscated my knitting project but I had switched to a round plastic needle which didn't look threatening and I don't think would have made a very good weapon except for poking someone's eyes out.
The onboard movie was not interesting and besides we were sitting too far away from the screen to see anyway. Actually I had also brought a portable DVD player with several disks so I was prepared to be extremely busy for the entire flight so I couldn't think about claustrophobia. Dick immediately put his head down and went to sleep. It's amazing that he can't sleep at home but always sleeps on a plane. Maybe a good reason for him to take more flights.

The flight was mostly uneventful and we were both very excited about reaching LAX and I was secretly hoping that Kerri would have gone to the hospital and had the baby before we arrived. I am not one of those grandmothers to be who wanted to be present at the birth since I am not comfortable seeing someone I love in pain. We had thought for 2 weeks that Kerri would have the baby as she had many labor symptoms, but alas it was not to be.

After a safe landing, our luggage amazingly arrived with no delay and we found our way over to the rental car shuttle and got our car. For some reason Dick had been unable to rent a car from several agencies and was only able to rent a GM (yes I said GM) product. He rationalized by saying it would be an opportunity to drive a competitive product.

Now we were off to find our rented apt. which Kerri had found on the internet. It was in a nice location in Manhattan Beach and supposedly one block from the ocean. I had talked with our landlord and gotten directions so we arrived in about 20 minutes and Paul, our landlord met us outside the garage. As we looked around I have to say that we weren't very impressed with the homes as everything looked extremely old and worn. But hey we could see the ocean. When Paul opened the garage I gasped as I saw every kind of box and crate lining all sides and back and there was barely room to pull the car in. Well as Dick drove the SUV in we heard several crunches coming from either the top of the garage or car. He stopped and got out and he and Paul determined that the car was too tall and was wrecking the garage door control. So Paul suggested we just park the car parallel outside the garage and Dick agreed as neither of us really wanted to be inside that garage anyway. Who knew what might be behind the endless boxes?

Paul offered to help us unpack the car so we got the bags and followed as he led us through a gate, up steps and past the door to the main house, down more steps, and around the back yard, down more steps to the side door of the basement apt. By the time we made that trek I was having severe second thoughts about the place but since we had paid in advance we didn't have much choice at that point. Beside I was hopeful the inside would be an improvement over the unkempt outside. Not so!! As we walked in and saw the living room and kitchen my heart sank. It too was old and dark. The bedroom was small and dark with queen size bed and closet which had mildewed odor. But worst of all was the tiny bathroom which barely had room to turn around in. The sink faced the window so the only mirror was a small one hung on the wall at a height that I could only see the top of my head. Now I wondered how I was supposed to see to put on my makeup unless I stood on a stool which wasn't available. The shower was about 3' by 3'so there was not going to be any leisurely tub soaks as there was no tub. I checked out the kitchen which was also small with old wooden cabinets with doors that didn't completely close. There was no dishwasher and the dish rack was overflowing with newly washed dishes which I guessed I was supposed to put away.

Oh and I forgot to mention as we walked to the apt. we were followed by 2 little yapping Chihuahuas. One seemed to be very aggressive and Paul suggested that we walk around the street (quite a little trek) to get to out apt. as the dogs had a doggie door and always came out when anyone came to the front door. He said they were not dangerous but just liked to attack your ankles.

By the time we finished unloading the car and checking out the apt. it was dark and time to make our way to Kerri and Ron's condo which was a 20 minute drive. We decided on the way to the car in the dark that we would have to buy a flashlight so wouldn't stumble over uneven bricks in the sidewalk or unseen hazards in the backyard of the house. We were anxious to see Kerri and Ron and their new condo which was in a brand new high rise village close to the airport. The drive in LA traffic was bumper to bumper which is par for the course, plus we made a wrong turn and got lost. We actually knew where we were but it wasn't Kerri's condo. We called and got further directions and finally arrived. A 20 minute drive turned into 45 minutes and we were already tired from a very long day.

Kerri and Ron's condo is very eclectic and colorful and suits them perfectly; at least it suits Kerri. The kitchen is red, living room orange with huge red sectional sofa, bedroom sky blue with clouds painted on the ceiling. Master bathroom is purple and guest bathroom is blue in an aquatic theme. Of course the cutest room is the Winnie the Pooh nursery which has a mural that was painted by an artist from Disney. It is all Pooh with a mailbox with "Lucy" on it. I just wished at the time that Lucy was in the crib.

Kerri was so very uncomfortably pregnant and ready for the baby to come. Her due date was in 3 days and it looked like she might make it. By the time we toured and visited with them it was getting late especially since we were still on EST and very tired so we said goodnight and found our way back to our lovely apt. As we walked through the cluttered back yard I noticed that we could see right through the bamboo shades into the living room which meant no parading around unless completely dressed. We were both exhausted so fell into bed and slept. At least as well as could with all the traffic noise from the busy street we were next to. Then at around 6 A.M. the family awoke upstairs and it sounded like a herd of elephants walking above our heads. Add to that the crying three year old and 2 barking dogs and you can imagine it wasn't a restful night's sleep. My thought was how in the world were we going to endure for 3 more weeks???

Around 7:00 I decided against trying to sleep anymore so got up and managed to take a shower in the stall, make coffee, and toast a bagel. I had borrowed a small lamp from Ron which attached to a table in our bedroom so I could see to put on my makeup and comb my hair. I had resolved to not even try to see into the bathroom mirror. After Dick got up and dressed we went out to the grocery store to buy some food staples. We were to meet Kerri and Ron for lunch at a nearby restaurant. We bought a few things and went back to the apt. As we walked down the hall I saw water all over the floor and we then looked into the bathroom to see the toilet overflowing and black yucky water coming up out of the shower drain. What a nightmare!!!! I immediately tried to call our landlord and got his voice mail so decided to go upstairs and see if his wife was home. I knocked on the back door but no answer so went around to the front door and knocked. Well the 2 little yapping dogs ran out of their door and began trying to nip my ankles. As I was jumping up and down and trying to kick them out of the way I kicked one of my shoes down the stairs. About that time the wife came to door apologizing profusely while trying to grab the barking dogs. When she finally got them back inside I explained our dilemma and she acted mortified and said she would call the plumber immediately. Then she added that next time I should knock on the back door to avoid the dogs and I told her I had done that already.

Since it was time to leave to meet Kerri and Ron, Dick and I just hurried out; both silently thinking that we had made a huge mistake. We had a nice lunch and when we got back in the car, Dick said "we're going to find a hotel and it doesn't matter if we lose the money we had paid for the apt". I agreed and silently said "thank you Lord".

Our first stop was the Embassy Suites close to the airport where we had stayed on previous visits. Dick said he wanted to talk to the manager so I waited in the car. After about 30 minutes I decided to go inside and see what was going on. I found Dick and the manager chatting away, but the bottom line was that the hotel was remodeling 2 floors and had no rooms available for 20 consecutive days. He recommended 2 other hotels to check so we thanked him and drove off in search of the other hotels. We found the Marriott Residence Inn and got same results. No long term availability. We were getting tired and discouraged but decided to try one more hotel; the Hawthorne Suites which is close to the apartment we were renting. Dick went in and was gone quite a long time and I was just ready to go inside when he came walking out to the car with a short blonde woman in 5 inch heels. I thought maybe he had met a long lost friend as they seemed very chatty and friendly. He motioned for me to get out of the car which I did. He then introduced me to Deirdre or Dey as she liked to be called who was one of the managers of the hotel. He explained that they had a room but he wanted me to see if before making a commitment. So we went inside and both found the suite to be very clean and nice and I said a very definite "yes" so we booked the room and left to go and pack our belongings. Dick called Paul, our landlord who immediately said that the plumbers were working at the apt. When Dick explained that we were moving, Paul seemed almost relieved and said he would refund our money which was a huge relief. When we got back to the apt. we saw all sorts of equipment outside but no human in sight. Inside the bathroom, there were hoses, mops, plungers, towels, and the worst mess we had every seen. Obviously the problem wasn't resolved and the plumbers had left when they heard we were moving. We quickly packed and loaded the car, both anxious to be out of there. Neither Paul nor his wife made an appearance which we thought was rude, but we imagined they were embarrassed at the condition of the apt. Whatever, we were just elated to be leaving.

We quickly checked into the hotel and drove to meet Kerri and Ron for dinner as they wanted us to go to a prayer meeting with them that evening. I have to say we would rather have gone to bed, but knew it was important that we go and meet their friends and also receive badly needed prayers. Kerri assured us we could just stay a short time and leave early. We followed their car just in case Kerri went into labor and had to make a quick trip to the hospital. The meeting was at a home and began with informal chatting, refreshments, and discussing specific prayer requests. Kerri of course wanted the baby to come soon and be healthy. She also wanted her friends to pray for improved health for Dick and me. According to Kerri, some of those people were powerful prayer warriors and actually healing had taken place in their assembly. Well I was certainly open to that possibility. All the people were very warm and friendly and very complimentary of Kerri and Ron and parents always eat that up.

After awhile everyone assembled in the living room and the female minister asked for prayer requests and said they would first pray for Kerri and then Dick and me since we needed to leave early. Well I have attended Wednesday night prayer meetings most of my life, but Dick, being a Catholic is not familiar with prayer meetings of any kind. I have to say this was different from anything I had ever witnessed. I've only attended prayer meetings where the pastor or leader begins praying and then others take turns as the spirit moves them to pray. Not so at this group. Several people placed their hands on Kerri's huge abdomen and seemed to all pray out loud at once. Around the room other people just prayed out loud on different subjects or said "amen" at intervals. Some stood, sat, or lay on the floor. I just kept my head bowed and glanced at Dick several times to see his reaction. Now Catholics do not bow their heads when they pray so Dick was just looking around the room and I could only imagine what he was thinking. After the prayer for Kerri and baby was finished several people asked Dick and me to come into the living room where they placed hands on us and prayed for quite some time. They were very sincere prayers asking for healing and I truly prayed that God would hear and answer in a positive manner. After they finished, one of the members asked me if I felt any different and I had to honestly say no as did Dick. We both know that God can heal anyone at any time and appreciated their sincere efforts on our behalf. I know that Kerri wanted a miracle to happen for us, but it wasn't in God's plan for that evening. By that time it was very late so we said goodnight and drove back to our nice clean hotel room with working plumbing. We slept like logs, but I was still on EST and woke early the next morning.

Our plan for the day was to meet Mark at Kerri and Ron's condo then go out to lunch at one of their favorite restaurants. One of Kerri's good friends was to meet us there. We were happy to see Mark and I was even happier when he opened his trunk and brought out 3 gallons of sweet tea from Chick f let. People in Ca. don't know what sweet tea is and I happen to be a huge fan of tea from Chick f let. Mark was thrilled earlier in the year when the franchise opened a restaurant in San Diego close to his home. That may be the only one in Ca., but hopefully people in Ca. realize what they're missing and there will be more; especially in the area close to Kerri. Anyway I hugged Mark again for his thoughtful gift. He also brought several bags of special potato chips for Dick.

We then proceeded to the restaurant where we met Gina who arrived with a huge box of cookies from an Italian bakery. She knew that would please Dick which it did. As we walked toward our table, an inebriated woman sitting at the bar (I guess most Ca. restaurants have bars), stopped Kerri and said "you're going to have a boy" Then she told her to go to Costco and that would bring on labor. Well I had already mentioned to Kerri that ultra sounds sometimes make mistakes and not to be shocked if Lucy turns out to be Lucas. She wasn't pleased with that statement as she wanted a girl and only had pink clothes. So the woman's prediction rattled her a little. I guess the trip to Costco just meant that walking might help the labor process. Anyway after lunch she too tired to do anything but go home and rest. Mark was attending a wedding that evening so he left and we spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening at Kerri's.

The next morning, (Sunday) I woke up early as usual and turned on the television intending to watch Dr. James Kennedy's weekly sermon. The first thing I saw was alerts on every local station about a huge forest fire burning out of control in Malibu which wasn't very far north of where we were and even closer to Kerri. Now I knew about fires in Ca. because we had experienced the last big fires in 20002 when Kerri had emergency surgery and we were with her in an un air-conditioned apartment for 7 days. I tried to think positively and prayed they would get the fire doused before Kerri went into the hospital in Santa Monica which is the next city to Malibu. I switched channels and watched Dr. Kennedy.

Mark had spent the night with friends so met us for lunch and then started the drive south to San Diego. Kerri decided she wanted to go to Costco in hopes the rumors were true and her labor would start. Well, it seemed that everyone in LA was at Costco and we could hardly move our cart down the aisles. Thankfully we weren't hungry so didn't wait in lines to get the free samples. Kerri tired very quickly so decided she needed to go home and rest. When we arrived at her condo and turned on the television we saw that several fires had broken out in the San Diego area; one very close to Mark's home. The newscasters were lamenting the fact that the Santa Ana winds were blowing and there were drought conditions and no rain in sight. By nightfall there were 12 fires burning out of control surrounding San Diego and the city of Los Angeles. All I could think about was that we couldn't leave for three more weeks and I might have to breathe smoke for the entire time. I was worried about Mark's safely as well and Kerri's baby being late. Mark called to say that he was home safely but only a mile from the fire so might have to evacuate.

Needless to say I didn't sleep very well that night and woke early the next morning to find the fires intensifying. The phone rang around 9:00 and it was Kerri saying not be panic but her water had broken and she was going to the hospital. She told us to wait to hear from them before doing anything. So I decided it would be a good thing to get my hair done if I could find a beauty shop open on Monday morning. I asked the lady from the hotel who had been so nice to us and she said she would call her salon to see if they had an opening. She then explained that it was always rated one of the best salons on the coast but it was also an unusual shop. That aroused my curiosity. She said it was decorated like a bordello all in red with cheetah walls and ceilings. Then she added that the beauticians did the hair of the Playboy bunnies. Now I wondered, "did I want to look like a Playboy bunny"? After a short wait, I had an appointment at 11 so Dick and I set out to find the shop. As Deirdre had explained, the shop resembled on old west bordello with red velvet everything and cheetah accents. The young girl did an "okay" job on my hair and then said it would be $35. That was only for a blow dry. Wow, welcome to California!

We called Kerri and she said they were doing tests at the hospital and for us not to come for awhile. Ron called later to say that Kerri was definitely having labor pains but they weren't sure her water had actually broken. Kerri then asked if we would go over to her condo and change the bedding and when we saw how drenched the bedding was down to the mattress we couldn't imagine her water not having broken. It took us all afternoon to wash and dry everything and then we decided to drive to the hospital and find out what was happening.

Meanwhile Mark called to say that his school was being cancelled and he was still worried about having to evacuate his home. As we drove towards the hospital we could see smoke in the distance and realized we were driving closer to the fires. Another comforting thought. Kerri was in UCLA Medical Center and Ron had told us parking would be a problem as they had no official parking lot. When we arrived we saw a parking lot across the street from the front door but when we drove up the man at the gate said they closed at 10 P.M. and since we didn't know how long we would be there we decided not to take a chance on not being able to get our car out. By that time the valet parking was closed so I went into the front door to the security desk and the guard said we could park in a lot behind the hospital. In order to do that I had to fill out a form and leave my driver's license with him. He then gave me a pass to the gate and directions. He said the hospital parking was 4 levels underground and as we drove down Dick and I were both wondering how safe it was to be leaving our car in the bowels of the earth and taking an elevator or walking back up to the street after dark. We didn't see a single soul in the parking structure and I can tell you we were very relieved to reach the street level and finally the hospital without being accosted. I then had to go through the process of returning the pass and retrieving my driver's license before heading up to the labor and delivery area. As we approached the room a nurse asked who we were looking for and we said Kerri McGehee and she looked puzzled and said they didn't have anyone by that name. We told her we knew that Kerri was there and then we said Kerri Pomarolli and the light went off in her eyes and she said oh come with me and she showed us to Kerri's room.

Kerri's duela and female minister were with her in the labor room and when we arrived it was obvious that she was in extreme pain. Since she had not dilated they couldn't give her an epidural and her doctor had suggested a C section but she was determined to have a natural birth and said absolutely not. The next few hours were a nightmare of Kerri's anguish and our not being able to help. Finally around midnight she begged us to leave and since we knew there was nothing for us to do and the small room was overcrowded we did as she wished.

Another night of little sleep and the next morning I turned on the television to get a fire update. The news was scary as there were more fires and none under control. The newscasters kept saying how dangerous the situation was and especially for people with respiratory problems which definitely included me with my asthma. The whole situation was a nightmare and reminded me of what I pictured a mild version of Hell must be like and I resolved to do all in my power not to go there.

Called Ron to find that there was very little change in Kerri's condition. The doctor had ordered a mild sedative and pain medicine so she had managed to sleep a few hours even though still having contractions. They had given her another labor inducing medicine in hopes it would facilitate the birth process. Ron suggested that we wait and come later in the afternoon and said he would call if anything changed. So we went back over to their condo and finished drying and changing all the bedding. We of course checked periodically with Ron and finally around 3:00 he said we should come because the doctor said they had to make a decision soon about having the C section.

We arrived at the hospital around 4:30 to find the doctor, Kerri's duela and minister all around her bed and heard the doctor tell her she had to decide now before the shift changed or wait until 7 for the new shift but if she didn't dilate in the next two hours a C section was the only option. Kerri was in tears and kept begging the doctor to wait, but she said time was running out for both her and the baby's health. Kerri said she needed time to assimilate this information so would wait until 7. She still believed a miracle would happen so we all prayed with her that it would. My heart just broke for her and I had to leave to have a little crying time in private. Ron asked everyone to please leave so he and Kerri could have some time alone. Dick and I asked found the doctor and asked about Kerri's condition and she said she knew the day before that Kerri couldn't deliver the baby naturally but wanted to honor or wishes and she nor the baby were never in any danger. That eased our minds.

After some quiet time with Ron, Kerri calmed down and by 7 told the doctor she was ready for the C section. Ron and her minister friend were going to be in the delivery room with her so had to don the scrubs. Dick and I gave her a hug as tears streamed down my face as they are doing now as I'm writing this. I just hated so much that she had endured 36 hours of agony and now had to have major surgery. Having experienced almost the same thing when she was born except my labor was only 18 hours, I knew that it would not be a walk in the park recovery.

At around 8:00 P.M. they wheeled her into the delivery room which was just across the hall from the labor room. Dick and I walked down the hall to the waiting room and Kerri's duela Shirley and friend Karen stayed in the room to get everything ready to move. At around 8:45 Karen came down said "do you want to hear your granddaughter?" and we practically ran down the hall where we could hear a definite baby with a strong set of lungs. The nurse came out and said Kerri had a 10 pound 6 ounce, 21 inches long beautiful baby girl. We were stunned to say the least that our little Kerri could have a baby that large. She said Kerri and Lucy were doing well and would be coming out shortly. In just a few minutes the nurse and Ron wheeled Lucy out and what a beautiful sight. She was all swaddled with a hat on and the first thing we said was that she had her Dad's eyes but also looked like Kerri when she was a baby. We didn't get to see her head of hair until later when we looked through the nursery window. We of course took pictures and then the nurse took her away. We waited a few more minutes and then they wheeled Kerri into a recovery cubicle so we were able to see her and tell her how beautiful Lucy was. She was still a little groggy from medication but said the first thing she asked the doctor was "is it a girl?" We stayed with her awhile and then left as it would be a few hours before she was moved to her room. On the way out we stopped by the nursery and they let Ron go in and wheel Lucy over for us to see. Words cannot describe our relief and joy and thankfulness that the worst of the long ordeal was over and we had a new blessing in our lives.

We went downstairs to the security desk and I left my driver's license again so we could get a pass to get our car out. The guard asked if we would like someone to drive us to our car and we said absolutely so a security guard took us right to our car which was a big relief. After retrieving my license we headed home and thankfully it was too dark to see the smoke. We were both totally exhausted so slept well for the first time in several nights.

The fire news was the same the next morning so I decided to buy a mask to wear outside. We also bought an air cleaner and humidifier for our room since we couldn't open the windows and air quality in hotel rooms isn't very good at the best of times. We also bought some pink roses for Kerri as she loves roses.

We waited until around noon to go to the hospital as we knew Ron's parents were going up and we wanted to give them some time alone with Lucy. Kerri had a huge room with a fold out sofa bed, but since Lucy was in their room all the time, I don't think they got much sleep. Kerri was still in a lot of pain and taking medication, but also trying to breast feed every 3 hours. We visited with Ron's parents and held Lucy for the first time and of course took tons of pictures. She just slept through it all and never knew what a sensation she was causing.

The next few days were spent with Lucy and her parents in the hospital. The air outside was still very smoky and I stayed inside except to go to and from the car. Mark was still confined to his home but hoping the roads would be opened by Friday so he could come up and meet Lucy. Our prayers were answered and he arrived safely Friday afternoon. He immediately fell in love with Lucy and held and rocked her and could get her to quiet down when the rest of us couldn't. He said he had a way with girls and I guess he did. He said his plan was when she was a little older to take her to the beach because babies always attracted pretty girls.

Ron had to fly out town to perform that night so Dick or I had originally planned to stay with Kerri, but once we saw how well Mark handled Lucy we asked if he wanted to stay and he said he would. So Dick and I were able to leave at a relatively early hour and get a good night's sleep.

Kerri was scheduled to go home the next day (Saturday) and Ron was supposed to fly back in by noon. Since he had Lucy's car seat in his car we had to wait for him before Kerri and Lucy could check out. We arrived midmorning and Dick and Mark carried out all the flowers and gifts that were in the room and we packed Kerri's suitcase in preparation for leaving. Shortly after noon Kerri got a call from Ron who was at the LA airport but his suitcase had not arrived and for some reason his car keys were in that suitcase. So he had to wait 2 hours for the next plane which would hopefully have his suitcase. I imagine he was a little harried as he had to drive to Long Beach that night to do a show.

Meanwhile we were all waiting at the hospital and anxious to leave. Mark decided that he would drive home since he hadn't slept much the night before and wanted to be home for a football game the next day. So we said goodbye until the next weekend. Kerri was still in a lot of pain, but trying not to take the strong pain medicine since it made her light headed and dizzy and she didn't want to go home in that condition. We told her the reason Lucy was so calm and slept so much was because she was on dope which was probably true. Kerri had brought a pretty newborn outfit for Lucy to wear home but when we tried to put it on her, she screamed and carried on so much that I told Kerri just to leave her in the undershirt and wrap her in a blanket. The outfit was too small anyway for her 10 pounds. So we didn't have the usual "going home pictures" but we had all taken enough pictures in the last few days to fill several albums and a professional photographer also took pictures so we felt her stay in the hospital was documented enough.

After several delays and many phone calls back and forth Ron finally arrived around 4 in the afternoon. Kerri had already said goodbye to all the nurses and staff so as soon as Ron came in the nurse's aide got the wheel chair and we took off without a backward glance. We were all happy to be leaving. I sat in the back seat with Lucy and of course she was too small for the car seat so she kept flopping forward and I tried to hold her in position. Where were the days when we could just put a baby in our lap and drive away??? I know that would have been more comfortable than all those straps and hooks everywhere, but supposed we had to obey the law. Finally we arrived at their condo and got Kerri, Lucy, and all their "stuff" unloaded. Ron left immediately for Long Beach and Kerri went to bed. Dick and I collapsed on the couch until Lucy woke up for her diaper change and feeding. Dick went out and got carry out food for dinner. One thing about Ca. is that their supermarkets and specialty stores have delicious carry out meals and they seem to have one on every corner. I didn't say they were inexpensive; just very convenient and I'm sure we spent a small fortune taking advantage of that convenience. Worth every penny. Ron arrived home late and I'm sure exhausted but Dick and I were also tired and quickly said goodbye and headed back to our hotel.

The next week is kind of a blur but I do know that I cooked more than I have in a long time since I've pretty much given up cooking lately. Kerri and Ron both had special requests and being the good mother that I am I tried to prepare some favorite dishes and also make enough to freeze for later consumption. Then it seemed I had the washer and dryer going non stop. Lucy had developed diaper rash and thrush so we couldn't use the disposable wipes and instead had to use wash cloths. Well with about 15 or so diaper changes in a day that was a lot of wash cloths to keep clean. So I was quite busy with the domestic chores, but managed to find lots of time to hold, rock, and play with and spoil Lucy which is what grandmothers are supposed to do.

The fires were still going strong but were slowly being contained which made me feel somewhat relieved. The television news still cautioned people with respiratory problems to stay inside or wear a mask as the air quality was poor. That seemed to be an understatement since the air was smoky and looked pretty unhealthy to my untrained eye.

Kerri's birthday is Halloween so we planned to celebrate; plus she wanted to dress Lucy in a pumpkin costume and take her Trick or Treating to several neighbors in their complex. Dick wanted to have an Italian dinner so we ordered a variety of dishes from a nearby restaurant. Ron's parents arrived in the afternoon and his mom brought a green salad with all the ingredients from her garden; plus several other Korean dishes. At around 5:30 we dressed Lucy in her costume and she really didn't appreciate being a pumpkin because she screamed the whole time we were putting in on. She absolutely hated the hat but since we were taking her outside we knew she needed to wear it. I added orange Auburn socks which matched her costume and I must say she was the cutest pumpkin we had had ever seen. Dick carried her and Kerri walked with him and Ron and I took pictures. That was the first time that her friends had seen Lucy so they were surprised and all exclaimed how beautiful she was which pleased us all. As that was Kerri's first outing and she was still weak, she got tired very quickly and we decided to go back to their condo.

I had bought fall decorations and plates and set the table earlier and Dick blew up balloons and hung them all over the condo so it looked very festive. He had picked up the food earlier so soon we were all seated and enjoying a wonderful meal. Kerri invited a couple who are her friends and neighbors and her friend Karen to join us. After dinner she blew out the candles on her cake and then opened presents. By the time she had finished she was totally exhausted so her friends and Ron's parents said good night and left, but not before Ron's mom helped me clean up the kitchen which I appreciated.
Mark came up the following Saturday and spent the night with Kerri and Ron. He has become quite a good chef so cooked spaghetti and meatballs, a crabmeat appetizer, salad, and garlic bread. The next morning he made special pancakes for Kerri and Ron. He also spent a lot of time holding and rocking Lucy.

On Tuesday of the following week, Kerri and I had facials at the Murad Spa. I had seen many commercials about the Murad cosmetics and had even tried a few products over the years. Since I knew the spa was not far from Kerri's condo I had discussed with her several weeks earlier about treating her to facial after the baby was born. I thought she would be feeling well after a week or so and didn't count on the C section. She thought she felt well enough to go so made appointments for us in the afternoon. We did indeed enjoy the facials and pampering at the luxurious spa and each came home with quite a few samples of products. Surprisingly they didn't try to sell us everything in the spa which I appreciated. Even though Kerri enjoyed the spa she was totally exhausted afterwards and thought she should have waited awhile longer before venturing out. I on the other hand thought my face felt wonderful, but didn't see any fewer wrinkles than before the treatment. Still waiting for the miracle.

That night when Dick and I were driving back to our room, we heard on the radio that an earthquake had hit in the San Jose area in northern Ca. My first thought was to pray that one didn't decide to hit LA. They had finally gotten the fires under control and all we needed was an earthquake.

That Thursday night, Ron had a show in San Diego so he left with a friend in the early afternoon. Dick and I packed our bags planning to spend the night with Kerri. Lucy had a doctor's appointment so we drove her and her mom to the doctor's office. We had to put the car seat attachment in our car and then carry Lucy in the car seat. Even with the insert, her little head flopped forward as we drove. I still wanted to take her out of that contraption and hold her in my lap, but also wanted her to be safe. Kerri was feeling very weak so I went in the room with her and watched Lucy play on the examining table until she almost rolled off. The doctor said she was doing find and the thrush was improving. Plus she had gained weight which made Kerri very happy as she had been worried that she wasn't getting enough to eat. I have to say I wasn't very impressed with the Pediatrician who seemed like he wanted to be a comedian more than a doctor. When Kerri asked a question he tried to be funny instead of answering the question. Fortunately he has a young female associate who Kerri who will see from now on and hopefully will have better communication.

Later after Ron arrived in San Diego he called to say that he and his friend had decided to drive home after the show and should be home shortly after midnight. In that case, Dick and I thought we would just wait up and go back to our hotel where Dick could sleep in a bed instead of on the couch. Ron called around 10 to say they were leaving and shortly after that we told Kerri to go to bed and we would watch Lucy. She would get up for a 1:00 A.M. feeding. So Dick and I settled down in the front of the television and tried to stay awake. When Ron hadn't called or arrived by 12:30 I called his cell phone and he said they were still over an hour away because of only one lane of traffic being open. So Kerri fed Lucy and I rocked her until she went to sleep. Still no Ron and it was close to 2:00. We debated going to bed but decided to wait. I actually lay down on the couch and took a short nap. Ron walked in around 2:40 and he was exhausted as were we so we said a hurried good night and left. We thought there would be no traffic at 2:45 in morning and we should be back to the hotel by 3:00. Well would you believe that right in the middle of one of the busiest streets in LA that a train was crossing the tracks and we had to sit there for 15 minutes? I guess they only allow the trains to cross in the wee hours of the morning when there's no traffic and we were lucky enough to be going by at the right moment. So needless to say we were a little "put out" and could hardly make it up to our room and fall into bed. Dick said he was so wound up he couldn't go to sleep, but I didn't have that problem. However I still woke up at 6, but managed to go back to sleep until about 8 which really wasn't enough sleep.

The next day Ron's parents came up and his mom prepared another Korean feast. Dick and I were still tired so waited until late in the afternoon to go over. Kerri's neighbors came over so we had six for dinner. I could tell that Kerri wasn't feeling well so when she took Lucy into the bedroom to feed her I went in to see if she was okay. She was feeding Lucy and when she saw me she started crying and asking me if we couldn't stay a little longer. You see we were looking forward to going home on Sunday (in 2 days). I of course felt very sorry for her because I knew Ron was leaving the next day and also would be gone the following weekend. Even though a friend had volunteered to stay with her I knew that she was nervous and little scared which was very normal considering what she was going through. So I called Dick and he went in and talked to her and in a few minutes came out and said we're staying an extra week. That was providing we could change our plane reservations. The next weekend would be the Sunday before Thanksgiving and I knew would be a busy day at the airports. So I looked at the schedules on the internet and saw that there were empty seats on our same flight, but we would be sitting in the middle in the back of the plane instead of on the side in the front as originally planned. Okay so I could cope with my claustrophobia. Kerri felt much better after our decision as did Ron because he was worried about leaving Kerri and Lucy, but did have to work after all.

We left early as we had to go back to our room and unpack our suitcases which we had packed earlier. Also Ron was leaving at 5 the next morning so we had to be back at their home early. Mark came up again that afternoon and couldn't believe that we were staying. He said he couldn't come back the following weekend because he had a blind date and couldn't cancel. I was disappointed, but since I want him to find the perfect wife I'm all for him going out on dates. That afternoon he made a huge pot of vegetable beef soup which we enjoyed for several days. He spent the night with Kerri and Lucy so we could go back to our hotel and hopefully get a good night's rest. As Ron wasn't coming home until Monday we packed bags to spend Sunday night with Kerri. Mark stayed until after lunch and then we said a sad goodbye, but knew we would be seeing him a Christmas so that helped somewhat. Kerri is going to be performing in San Diego in early December so she asked Mark to baby-sit while she did the show so he was excited about that prospect. He and Lucy have become good pals, except when it comes time to change diapers and then he hands her over to someone else.
Once again I slept with Kerri and Dick and Lucy slept on the couch. I heard Kerri and Dick with Lucy a couple of times but since they didn't seem to need help I just went back to sleep. I got up early and fed Lucy some pumped milk so Kerri could sleep. Then Lucy and I played until she went back to sleep. As everyone had predicted a bond was forming between us and I knew it would be hard to leave in a week.

Ron arrived home the next afternoon. Since we were supposed to be back in Ga. Kerri's friends and neighbors had arranged to start bringing meals every other day beginning that Monday. They would continue until Christmas. How nice was that???? So no more cooking for this grandmother. I still had to clean up afterwards and do several loads of laundry each day. The food was all very good and we ate well for that week and Kerri and Ron are still enjoying the kindness of their friends.

Ron and I had taken tons of digital pictures and I wanted to make copies. The internet is okay for sending pictures but I still like to have something to put in my albums and show my friends. So I went to CVS and selected about 50 of Ron's pictures and put borders and touched them up. Just as I was getting to the end, I hit the wrong button and they all disappeared. I tried everything to get them back, but no luck. I could have cried I was so frustrated, but I started over again and after an hour finished with Ron's disk. Then I put my disk and got to the end of another 30 minutes of work and pushed the wrong button again and "wham" the vanishing act. No pictures. By then it was almost lunch time and I had left Dick sleeping in the room so I called him to tell him what had happened. He said he wasn't in a hurry so I started over with my disk and finished in another 30 minutes. Then of course I had to wait about 20 minutes for them to be printed so I went to the California Pizza café and ordered a pizza. Back to CVS to pick up pictures and realized it had taken almost 3 hours for me to finish that task. The good thing was that I had now had some beautiful shots of Lucy with all her family so I was pleased with my handiwork. My friends would probably start running when they saw me coming because they knew I would have several photo albums of Lucy's candid shots. I can't imagine that they wouldn't want to see them all.

The news of the week was that people had been finding headless animals in plastic bags all along the beaches. There were goats, chickens, and pigs with no heads and no one seemed to know where they came from. How bizarre is that and why wasn't I surprised that something like that would happen in California and especially while we were there.

We spent most of the week just helping Kerri get organized. We put away summer clothes and took out fall and winter clothes. That meant cleaning out her closet which took most of one day. Fortunately they have a storage unit in the basement of the condo complex. Dick and Ron took Lucy for several walks and Dick and I took her out one sunny afternoon. Yes, the sun finally came out and we had several beautiful days that week

One evening Kerri's friend Sheri Shepherd from "The View" and other television shows and movies called and told Kerri she was sending her a girdle so she wouldn't have stretch marks. Sheri and Kerri have been friends since Kerri first started doing Christian stand up comedy and they talk and email often. Sheri wanted to visit Kerri in the hospital but Kerri wasn't up to company. Sheri understood as she had a C section 2 years earlier. Anyway Kerri laughed at the girdle idea but several of her friends told her it wasn't such a bad idea and her doctor told her she could try it, but didn't think it made much difference. The girdle had not arrived before we left.

Wednesday was a big day as Kerri and Ron's professional photographer who does all their publicity shots came over to do pictures of Lucy and the family. We all got dressed in our finery and got Lucy all decked out in several outfits and took both indoor and outdoor shots. The photographer shot pictures for 2 hours and we're now waiting to see how they came out. I'm sure Lucy was beautiful and I hope the rest of us just help showcase her. I've decided I'll only do photographs that can be air brushed as the wrinkles seem to be front and center in all my pictures. No more close-ups for me.

Kerri was exhausted after the photo session, but also excited about seeing all of Lucy's pictures. She and Ron are going to do a web site called "Little Miss Lucy" so all her fans can share the pictures as she grows and probably becomes a Star. At least in her Nana's mind.

One of Kerri's friends came over that evening and in the course of watching television we saw that a huge warehouse fire had broken out in southern LA. I wasn't too concerned until Karen mentioned that our hotel was in southern LA and the fire might be close to us. Now you can imagine my reaction to that. It could only happen to us and thankfully we only had 4 more days before flying home to the quiet country side of Georgia. I also prayed that the skies around our hotel weren't smoke filled and God answered that prayer with a positive as we saw no sign of smoke. The news was also filled with announcements that the Santa Ana winds were picking up and the firefighters were preparing for more fires. I prayed for no more fires period, but that if they had to happen it would be after we were safely on the plane. Not that I wasn't worried about my children and new grandchild but I had pleaded unsuccessfully many time with them to move out of Ca. and closer to us, but for some unknown reason they loved California which is beyond my comprehension.

On Friday morning, Dick and I checked out of our hotel and said goodbye to the employees who had been very kind and nice to us for the month that we had resided with them. They invited us back and I'm sure we will stay there again on some of our visits to see Lucy. Ron flew out to Indiana early in the morning. His plan was to arrive back home by noon and Saturday and then he and Dick would return the rental car so we wouldn't have to fool with that on Sunday morning on the way to the airport.

That afternoon Kerri's friend Candice Cameron (from the television show Full House) came over and brought a cute outfit for Lucy. Candice is now a Christian speaker and she and Kerri met on a cruise several years ago and have become good friends although Candice is now married with three children and lives in West Palm Beach. Her family is still in LA so she visits often. Dick and I chatted with her a few minutes and then went shopping in order to give them time to visit. When we returned 2 hours later they were still talking so we joined and had an enjoyable afternoon. She talked about the experience of growing up on television and wanted to have a normal life and how shy her brother Cameron is and how he hated all the attention the young girls gave him. Their mother has written a book about raising child stars and Kerri says it is very insightful and interesting. Kerri also is friends with their mother and talks to her quite often. So it was an enjoyable afternoon and seemed to lift Kerri's spirits.

The next morning Ron called to say that his flight had been cancelled and he was being rerouted and it would be late afternoon before he got home. Once again he had a show that evening in Long Beach at 7. Since he had taken a cab to the airport his car was at the condo so Dick and I decided that I would follow him in Ron's car and we would return the rental car. So there I was out in the middle of heavy LA traffic driving a strange car and trying to follow another car. My prayers were answered and we reached the rental car agency without any problems.

That evening we spend all of our time with Lucy and we knew we would be saying goodbye in the morning. We made a makeshift bed for Ron on one end of the L shaped sofa and I slept with Kerri. Ron arrived home late and I was sound asleep. Of course Lucy woke up during the night but Kerri, Ron, and Dick took care of her. I took the early shift as I woke up before 7 so was able to feed her and let everyone else sleep.

At around 9:00 we said our goodbyes to Lucy and Kerri with a few tears flowing and then Ron dropped us off at the airport. The parting was made somewhat easier by the fact that I knew we were coming back in 5 weeks to spend Christmas with them. The flight home was uneventful except that movie was "Mr. Bean" and 2 hours of Mr. Bean is more than I could take. So I worked puzzles and played with my laptop and the time went rather quickly.

It would be hard to summarize our almost 5 weeks in California, except to say that it was a once in a life time experience in more ways than one. We loved being with our children and new precious granddaughter, but did not love being in California with all the natural disasters, multiple languages, and bumper to bumper traffic. I'm sure now with Lucy in our lives we'll be spending more time out there so hopefully will adjust.
In the mean time we were thrilled to be home in Georgia and in our own bed and roomy home. There's just something to be said for "space"

P.S. The night after we arrived home as I was driving home from church a deer decided to run across the road at a high speed and into the driver's side of my car. He or she hit the front bumper and then my door. Fortunately no glass was broken and since it was very dark I didn't want to stop so just kept driving. I was more mad than shaken as I should have been because I was trying to get home in time to watch "Dancing with the Starts' and now I would have to deal with a damaged car. As I drove along I heard a scraping noise so decided I'd better pull over and see if something was dragging ground. I couldn't get my door open so just decided to drive home as I wasn't far by then. I called Dick and told him what had happened and he was of course relieved that I wasn't hurt and surprised that I wasn't crying or screaming. When I got home he looked at the damage and said that the front bumper was scarping the tire and that's what was making the noise. Since there was nothing more to be done that night I hurried in to watch the remainder of my show. We could deal with the car the next day.

Then a few days later we received a call from American Express asking if we had charged $700 at Macy's in California the day after Thanksgiving and Dick told the lady we weren't in California on that day. After more conversation we learned that someone had been using our number to charge hundreds of dollars at a variety of stores throughout the LA area. Fortunately for us, someone was alert and they stopped payment on the card and called us. Now we have to get new cards. Then I wondered would that happen again on our Christmas trip to sunny (so they tell me) California???? Time will tell!!!!!

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