A new baby in the midst of a pandemic

There’s a new little guy in my life.

My brother’s younger son now has a son of his own — Simon John Compston, born Aug. 5 in Columbus. His parents, Zach and Amy (Knuth) Compston, are over the moon in love with their little bundle of joy.

Of course, I wasn’t able to be there when Simon was born. Actually, nobody was able to be there except for Zach and Amy. They were on their own — no expectant grandparents or aunts or uncles pacing in the hospital hallways. In that regard, his arrival was different than any other in our family that I can think of in recent memory.

Of course, both of my brother’s sons were born in Germany while my brother, Larry, and his then-wife, Julie, were in the U.S. Air Force. Back then, it was distance that kept relatives away. In Simon’s case, COVID-related restrictions barred extended family and friends from the waiting room.

Concerns about COVID have also limited my contact with Simon, as well as with his older cousins, Zadie and Tessa. By the time I got to meet him in person, he was already a little more than 2 weeks old. He and his parents came to spend the night at my brother’s house in Belmont. I stopped by while he was being fed that evening and got to hold him while he drifted off to sleep with a full tummy.

Although his mommy and daddy said he had been fussy that day, he seemed truly content after his dinner. He performed a little stretching and squirming, then settled right into my arms. Soon, he was emitting the tiniest little snores I have ever heard.

It’s funny how you can forget just how small newborn babies are. Simon weighed more than 7 pounds on arrival, so he is definitely not on the tiny end of the scale. Still, when I was holding him, I couldn’t help but be amazed at all the minuscule details about him — itsy, bitsy fingernails, super fine eyelashes and legs that felt only about twice as big around as my own fingers.

Readers who know my family probably have one big question about little Simon: What color is his hair?

You see, Simon’s dad, his Uncle Jim, Aunt Jordan, Grandma Julie and cousins Zadie and Tessa all have intensely red hair. I don’t believe that is going to be the case with Simon. Instead, I think he may have gotten his hair color from his mama. Right now, I would describe his hair as auburn, but I expect it to turn out to be some shade of brown when he gets older.

My meeting with Simon was brief. I stayed just about 30 minutes, and I wore a mask then entire time I was interacting with him. Even people who are fully vaccinated can spread the coronavirus, especially the delta variant that is becoming so prevalent now. Therefore, I didn’t want to take any chances of exposing this little guy to anything I had been exposed to simply by shopping for groceries or stopping to speak to a friend.

I suspect it will be a while before I get to see Simon in person again. Tessa was born in October 2019, just before COVID was discovered. As a result, I have only seen her in person a handful of times even though she is almost 2 years old.

Now that the FDA has granted full approval to the Pfizer version of the COVID-19 vaccine, I sincerely hope that many more people will get the shots. That is the best way to protect not only ourselves, but the most vulnerable people among us. While the vaccines may not make us “immune” to the virus, they do cause our bodies to respond quickly and efficiently to any exposures we may have, ultimately preventing serious illness and hospitalization or even death.

If you were skeptical about the vaccine because it had received only emergency approval, now you can have confidence that it has been fully vetted and deemed safe and effective. Adverse allergic reactions are few and far between and very treatable. That is why those administering the shots monitor recipients for 15 minutes afterward — so that they can provide immediate treatment to anyone who does react.

If you haven’t done so already, I urge you to get vaccinated. The more people who do so, the sooner we can all feel free to be with our family and friends in a relaxed and comfortable manner.

Regardless of whether you have been vaccinated, I also encourage you to keep your masks handy and to wear them whenever you are around a crowd. While you don’t need a mask to go out for a walk, you certainly should wear one while standing in line at the grocery store. Anyone, including people who have been vaccinated, can contract and spread the virus, even if they have no symptoms. The simple act of wearing a mask can help guard against its spread.

Please, listen to the experts. Follow their advice. Let’s get this thing under control so that we can all be together again.

∫ ∫ ∫

On another note, this is your reminder that most local schools are back in session or return to classes next week. That means that children and school buses will be out just about everywhere, especially in the mornings and late afternoons as classes dismiss.

As drivers, we cannot be too careful at this time of year. Kids are excited and unfamiliar with their new routines. Our routes to and from work or regular errands could be impacted with delays.

Remember, you must stop when a school bus extends its stop sign arm and activates its flashing lights, whether you are following it or coming to meet it.

Please, be patient, be cautious and allow extra time for your commute.


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