In the early part of August, 2012, I got an interesting phone call while at work.
Daughter: Mom, if you had to hear some big news, would you want to hear it on the phone or in person?
Me: (at work, busy, surprised and happy to hear from the child. Yet somehow I know exactly what it is she’s about to tell me. I’m cold all over and am able to astrally project to her location and smack her on the back of the head, hard.)
Daughter: Are you there?
Me: What. What. What is it? Just tell me. (Even I can hear the desperation in my voice)
Daughter: Well, (tears start) I took three pregnancy tests and they all were positive.
Me: (I’m unable to speak. I fumble for my insurance card and touch it several times for comfort.)
Me: I’m here. And if three tests say you’re pregnant, then you’re pregnant.
Although I’m still in shock, I make the appropriate it’ll be ok noises through frozen lips and hang up to call the insurance company. Oh, God. Although marriage has been talked about, they haven’t made it official, and now there will be a baby.
Babies are a blessing.
The next few months fly by and I see her figure blossom from a lithe, lanky camisole & tight jean-wearing 20 year old to looking like she was shoplifting a big pumpkin.
Feeling the baby kick was new and magical. The baby squirmed and pummeled her bladder mercilessly. Privately, I alternated between crying, being excited, and giving thanks that the baby was healthy.
It is a girl.
I want to tell my daughter all the things that would change when the baby came. Number one on the list that will change:
1) EVERY SINGLE THING YOU DO, EVERY DAY, ALL DAY LONG, FROM NOW ON, FOREVER.
As you can see, it’s a short list. As a new mother, running to the store, running anywhere, takes on a whole new dimension. You can’t just hop in the car and go. You have to orchestrate it just right, which means to say you leave once the other parent tags in. You’re done sleeping. You’re done thinking of things to do for the weekend because you already know it’s going to consist of diapers and formula.
I also want to tell her that despite the lack of sleep, the endless feedings and diaper changes, the 200 pounds of equipment you need everywhere you go, there are also moments of absolute bliss and they far outweigh the bad stuff. The sweaty, solid weight of your child against your collarbone. Their unbelievably good baby smell. The tiny, trusting hand resting on your chest as you rock. The first smiles. The first words.
I try to tell her giving birth is going to hurt but those of us who have given birth know it’s a pain unlike any other and therefore hard to describe. I also don’t want to scare the living daylights out of her. I needn’t worry. She listens respectfully but tells me that the tattoo she has going down her side from boob to butt was really painful and if she can get through that, she can get through this.
I listen and laugh. And later, privately, I cry. She doesn’t know.
I’m so glad for her when she comes home after work on her birthday and there’s an engagement ring hanging off the Christmas tree. They’re happy. That’s a wonderful thing. I help her paint the baby’s room, roam through Babies R Us, plan her baby shower, and fall a little more in love with this granddaughter I haven’t met yet with each ultrasound picture I see.
This latest picture looks exactly like my daughter. Exactly. Same cheekbones. Same forehead. Same nose, lips, chin, and hands.
Her due date comes and goes. She’s so big that MY back and feet hurt to look at her.
I have been eating for two her entire pregnancy out of nervousness. I don’t tell her all the bad things that can go wrong. During pregnancy. During delivery. After delivery. I find myself in tears now and then and pray for an easy pregnancy and safe birth .
I’m scared in a way I haven’t been in a while.
Finally, her doctor has her admitted on a Sunday night to have her cervix dilated. Twelve hours later, the dreaded pitocin drip is administered.
The word pitocin sends chills up my spine. It’s not pretty. I remember doing backbends in labor with the force of a pitocin contraction.
It’s not long before it kicks in, and her low moans start up. Steven (daddy), my other daughter, and I have all been in the hospital with her for almost a whole day. I’m grimy and tired from spending the night in a chair. She’s in more and more pain and I hunt down the anesthesiologist in the hallway, because he should have been in there half hour ago.
My daughter’s in pain, I tell him. I watch him like a hawk as he administers the epidural block. He doesn’t want me to watch because he says I could faint. I tell him I’ve had two spinals myself but he says it’s different when it’s your child. He’s right but I watch anyway. He cautions me that if I faint he’s going to administer New York CPR. I’m not amused. He says, do you even know what that is? I just kick you til you wake up. It’s not funny but I appreciate the effort. I only laugh at his feeble joke because she’s not in pain anymore.
We’re told it could be a few hours now, so my oldest daughter and I run home so I can shower and change clothes. I take a hurried 2 minute shower and while dressing, I get the phone call that a certain someone is about to meet her grandmother and if I wanted to be there, I’d best get down there quick. What happened to “it’s going to be a few hours now?”
We’re there in no time, stopping on the way to quickly buy three stamps and jam three state tax returns into the post office box so they’re not late. It’s tax day. Way to procrastinate.
They’re ushering visitors out of her room and into the hallway once we get there. She is about to begin pushing and my other daughter and I each are in charge of a leg, as she won’t be able to move them very well because of the epidural. We are given instructions to push her legs backward to help with each contraction. Dad stands, wisely, at the head of the bed.
Everything happens quickly. She is told to take a deep breath and hold it and puuuuuuuuuuussssshhhhh!!!!!
Unfortunately we too hold our breath and push with her. As embarrassing as it is, I believe I pee a little. My oldest daughter, holding her breath and the other leg, almost faints.
I’m amazed at how hard the obstetrician grasps the baby’s head and pulls with each contraction but before you know it; the little shoulders are slipping out. The proud daddy cuts the cord with shaking hands. I’m a snotty mess. I have not only just witnessed the unbelievable miracle of birth but also the birth of my first grandchild.
At 8 pounds 2 ounces of beautiful, little Alyssa Rose makes her way into the world. I’m amazed at how roughly efficiently the doctor and nurses handle the baby. They competently towel her little slippery body off, throw drops in her eyes, diaper her tiny butt, weigh her, wrap her in a blanket and give her a hat with a bow before handing her to her tired, happy mama. I begin to take pictures with my phone and those waiting in the hall see pictures of her on Facebook before the child is even 10 minutes old.
It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. My tears are streaming, uncontrolled. I feel honored that I got to watch the birth. I will never forget it and even now, years later, cry when I remember.
The new mother tells me later that I kissed her big toe repeatedly during Alyssa’s delivery. She seems to think that is hysterical. I seem to remember that it was the only safe place to kiss during delivery. I felt I needed to help her relieve her pain in some way and kissing a safe area, i.e. the big toe with the freckle on it, seemed to be the only way I could do it. It made me feel better, in any case.
Time passes quickly. The baby is now 6 weeks old. Each time I see her, I fall a little more in love with her. It’s funny, because I told my husband that after I met him; I was done falling in love and I meant it.
But you can fall in love again. I was wrong. I didn’t know how a grandchild could make you feel. How hard it hits you in the stomach when you lean in close and croon, “How’s Grandma’s girl?” and you’re rewarded with adorable crinkly eyes and a big gummy smile. Ermehgerd.
Between then and now, I bet I’ve taken 1000 pictures or more. My friends and family and coworkers can back me up on that. I say I’m taking them for my family who lives south of Rockford, but it’s not true. I just can’t believe how amazing and perfect she is and want everyone to see her. She’s two now, and more fun every single time I see her. We spend Sundays together, coloring and drinking chocolate milk.
I believe she is easily the most beautiful child ever birthed, and although I am certain I’m not the first grandmother to think that, I am the only grandmother who’s actually right.