I had missed the birth of my first grandchild, and I was determined to be as present as possible for the birth of my second. I would become a grandmother — again — on October 11 when my granddaughter, Adira Jane, was born. This time I wanted to do it right.
In my defense, my daughter and son-in-law were a week late delivering their baby — and my oldest son had shared his plan and date to marry in Virginia well in advance of the “activity” that had caused this conflict of interest. Plus my daughter and her husband hadn’t intended to need any help.
(They also hadn’t planned five days of labor declared “not real labor” by the midwife at the birthing center or the frustration and lack of sleep that followed those rejections of labor pains that were very real to my daughter.)
Desperation drove them to the emergency room (since I was unavailable due to my own road trip). There the doctor confirmed my daughter’s labor pains were (and had been), indeed, quite real, and an emergency Caesarian-section birth likely saved the life of my grandson.
Suffice it to say, the exhaustion, unanticipated pain and recovery time had educated my child. This pregnancy, she used a traditional doctor and requested help — and nothing was going to stop me from being there for my daughter and her family.
This time would be different
Once the date was set for the advised C-section, I alerted my workout partners and my work that I would not be with them because — happy dance! — I was going to be at the hospital for the birth of my granddaughter.
“My daughter requested my presence,” I would say, “and she wants me to spend the night with her on her last night in the hospital.”
I said it as if a king or some dignitary had requested my presence, but this was so much more important than that. My daughter wanted me there! Then joy would overcome me and the tears would flow.
The night before the scheduled C-section, Laura called to say she needed to be at the hospital between 7 and 7:30 a.m.
By the time I arrived at 7:30, Laura was gowned, hooked up to monitors, and in the hospital bed. She was the only scheduled C-section of the day, and the nurse told us she would likely go back for the birth between 8:30 and 9 — unless an emergency patient arrived.
Two did. So we waited, listening to my granddaughter’s heartbeat on the monitor and watching the increasing strength of my daughter’s contractions. And not eating, because that would have been nothing short of cruel, as Laura could neither eat or drink.
So when the operating staff came to wheel Laura away and her husband Jim suited up to join her in the operating room about 11:30, my husband and I made a dash for some fast food. When we returned to the recovery room, they were back — with a beautiful addition, a sweet baby girl. Just what we needed for dessert.
Adira Jane looked amazingly like her older brother, although I’m taking my daughter’s word for it because I wasn’t there 30 minutes after his birth. How could I compare?
All I knew was this: This little baby is perfect.
The hospital emphasized skin to skin contact and breastfeeding. (My son-in-law pointed out the irony in the posters mounted on walls throughout the unit: they depicted either an alligator mother and baby or an owl mother and baby, two non-mammals nursing their young. At least an alligator has skin.)
Skin to skin — alligator mommy or not — meant I had to wait to hold my granddaughter.
But she was worth the wait.
Once I got the chance, I held her. I held her so long my arms went numb, but I still held her. My muscles started trembling, but I didn’t let her go until a nurse came to take her vital signs one more time. By the time I released this little, not even 7-pound baby, my arms were cramped and sore.
My Gramsy muscles were definitely out of shape.
I knew I had only one way of getting in shape: Hold her again. And again.
(In case you didn’t know, Gramsy is what my grandson calls me. I called my mom Mumsy as a term of endearment, and I thought Gramsy a more whimsical, less “old” sounding name for grandma.)
Day two in the life of a double Gramsy
My husband and I stayed through the afternoon and then returned the next morning to mostly sit and stare, lend a hand or an arm, hold Adira, hear stories about the hours we’d missed, watch the various hospital personnel come and go, and then sit and stare some more. The hours flew.
I had packed my bag, intent on staying the night at the hospital so my son-in-law could go home to tend to my grandson. I’d been excited — mostly — about the thought of quality time with my granddaughter and my daughter.
“My daughter wants me,” I’d told my friends, excitedly.
I wasn’t as enthused about the reality of that quality time babysitting instead of sleeping. Losing sleep usually triggers a migraine for me — and I had a long drive for a business trip two days later. But I was determined to be of help to my daughter and her family. After all, I’d been zero help the first time I’d become a grandmother.
That was when I heard it:
“I had so much fun staying the night with Laura and Adira last night that I think I’m going to stay again,” my son-in-law was saying.
Wait, what? My brain didn’t know if my mouth should say “Whew!” or “Selfish beast!” I was torn between extreme relief and disappointment.
“Great. You’re sure?” I managed to say. I was thankful that my son-in-law had enjoyed his family bonding time and wanted more — and thankful I’d said neither of my initial thoughts. (My son-in-law is one of the least selfish people I know and I would never ever ever call him a selfish beast, except in my head when I was disappointed that I couldn’t be a selfish beast and have what I wanted. He is such a good husband and father.)
I forgot to tell my sister that my all-nighter had been canceled, and that evening Trish sent me this text:
“Hope you have a good night bonding! You three girls!!! A little jelly!!!”
That last exclamation is sister speak for “I’m a little jealous!” Although a grandmother had been born — again — just three weeks prior when my sister’s daughter had birthed a second son. So my sister had no need to be jelly.
This grandmother, too, had been born — again. I was so happy to be present (and not on the road driving away from this birth).
The first time this Gramsy was born
These are the blog posts I wrote about the happenings we experienced while we enjoyed my son’s wedding — while missing my first grandchild’s birth. It was quite eventful (terrible and wonderful) and, of course, blogworthy. You might enjoy reading these posts as well:
A bad tire took us off the highway; a bad mechanic kept us there: Will the real mechanic please stand up?
A mechanic who could use better marketing made it better: On Craig’s list…
My sons acted as our parents and we could feel the love: Humbled by love…
And the dreaded dance with my son became a cherished memory: Dancing with my son…
Thanks for sharing in these special memories. I hope you’ve laughed and maybe teared up a little as you’ve read. I know I have.