Almost 7 months ago now I became a grandparent for the first time! Now I know the endless love I feel for my 3 kids grows by leaps and bounds each passing day, but I was not prepared for how special a love it is to love a grandchild!
A little back story. My oldest daughter gave me such fits of stress and worry as a teenager. She was defiant, rebellious and despite being an intelligent person she made some really crazy decisions. Yes, I realize that teenagers do that, and no I wasn’t a perfect teenager by any means, but I was never this out of control. Doesn’t make me better than her just different generations. Her issues are too long to explain and deserve a post of their own, and that is a story for another time. At the time she got pregnant her and I were not speaking. It had come down to “tough love” and although I hated it, it was necessary. She had moved out on her own and actually lived just a few streets away. Unbeknownst to us she had taken in the boy who caused many problems and heartache for her and for our entire family, despite our efforts to help him when they were younger and dating. He was not good for her at all, he was destructive, manipulative and later we found out abusive both physically and emotionally. But she was an adult, on her own and although we worried tirelessly we couldn’t forbid her to see him or even talk any sense into her. The tough love was not accepting this boy who wreaked havoc in our lives. He would not be allowed in our home, we didn’t want him anywhere near our other children and I didn’t even want to hear his name uttered from her lips.
Yes it was that bad!!
One day I was browsing through my Facebook feed and saw a post from her to the world announcing that she was pregnant along with a picture of her first ultrasound. I cried, I sobbed, I wanted to scream and I was terribly hurt. This was not how this was supposed to go. I had always dreamed that when the time came and she had settled down and figured out that he wasn’t good for her that she would come back and we could begin to build our relationship not just as mother and daughter, but as women and friends. I was crushed, to find out this way made me want to rush to her house and shake her. I knew it was his child and that scared me. I asked our family counselor for advice on how to approach her and if I even could or should. She suggested calling her and just listening, no judgements, no lectures just listening. I was scared to call her. I had texted her and called and left messages on her cell phone and on Facebook and finally one evening after supper she called me. My heart was racing, and I felt flush and hot all over. JR got the kids settled in with a movie downstairs and he sat in the adjacent room in case I needed him. He reminded me to ‘just listen’. I did the best I could to listen without judgment. (I must say it was very hard for me….it seems I am kind of judgy, which is something I am not proud to admit) . I started to tell her that I was hurt to find out the way I did, and JR appeared in front of me mouthing the words, ‘just listen’! I snapped my mouth closed and clenched my fist, wanting her to know just how much I loved her and how hurt I was. She was hurting too, she wanted to share all of this with me, but due to my closed mind at the time I couldn’t hear her hurt over the sound of my own.
We slowly began talking more regularly, she invited me to an ultrasound appointment and I got to hear the heartbeat for the first time. As with each of my own children that sound is the most amazing sound in the world! The sound of life, growing and developing and it was inside of my very own flesh and blood. She invited JR and I to an ultrasound appointment after they had discovered a shadow or spot on our developing grandchild’s kidney. They sent her to the University hospital to be checked by the high risk team to see if they could shed any light on what this could possibly be.
That day was very scary for all of us. Several doctors came in after the technician had finished scanning and measuring all the little organs and parts, highlighting what they saw as “bright spots”. They questioned her about genetic mutations in family bloodline, said words like “cystic fibrosis”, growth, tumor, not sure what that spot was etc……Then they suggested an amniocentesis and genetic testing of both her blood and the baby’s father’s blood. He was not with us, but she called and his father brought him to the hospital to have blood drawn. We went in to the procedure room with her as she received her amniocentesis and it was very scary. The doctor to perform the test was asked by the tech to wait till she found the spot on the ultrasound so that they could watch the needle to be sure it didn’t hit anything it wasn’t supposed to. To which his reply was, “No, it’s okay I am going to free hand it”!! WHAT?? We all looked back and forth with huge eyes as we were watching the huge needle go into her abdomen. I think we all held our breath a bit. They gave her instructions to rest and what to expect, what to watch for and when to contact them for results. Just like that….like nothing happened they left the room. We sat there stunned, worried, and just plain freaked out.
I did some reading online to discover that these “bright spots” can be amniotic fluid the baby just swallowed or it could be just the frequency the ultrasound machine was on causing it. We tried to not worry. Every test came back fine but they gave her many more ultrasounds, still seeing the spots but never really having an explanation, just a wait till the baby is born and they would ultrasound her belly, but she was growing on schedule and doing fine otherwise.
The months ticked by, sometimes slow, sometimes fast. Due date came and went, no baby. Finally she was overdue enough to discuss induction. She arrived on a Friday afternoon and got settled into a room and was hooked up to Pitocin. She labored all day and no changes happened so this went on for two days. Finally on the third day she was having some regular contractions and the Pitocin was working its magic as it does with ultra strong contractions. She asked for an epidural and I arrived at the hospital at 5am because she wanted me there when she got it. (It seems I am the one who can talk her down when she gets freaked out). It had been a long weekend with not much rest for her or anyone else really. So the epidural helped her rest some. We waited patiently, or as patiently as we could all day. Dinner time rolled around and a few hours before then JR and the kids had come up to be there for the birth. We left to eat dinner in the cafeteria and let the kids stretch their legs a bit, when we got a call telling us to come back upstairs that she was about to push.
Excitement grew and the room was buzzing with activity, we all were there cheering her on as each push came and went. After about 4 hours of pushing and no baby, I could sense concern in the doctors eyes and my daughter was exhausted. Wrung out she continued to push to no avail. Decisions needed to be made, forceps, vacuum or C-section? All very scary options but after being assured by the doctors that because the baby was in the canal she wouldn’t need much help along with some pushing so the forceps it was. I immediately sent the kids from the room, and JR went with them. This is just not something I wanted them to see. It was scary for me as well and I didn’t want to see it either to be honest, but I wasn’t going to leave my daughter alone to traverse this obstacle. Teams of doctors, nurses and who knows who else came into the room. Oddly enough she was the only one laboring and delivering at the moment, and since it is a teaching hospital there were all kinds of people in there “learning”. They pulled those giant metal spoon-like things out and I was more than freaked out, but worked hard at keeping it together to keep her calm and focused on the job at hand so this could go smoothly and quickly. After a couple of pushes, out came this beautiful baby girl. Momma got to see her for just a minute and as they whisked her away and prepared to repair the tearing labor and delivery caused my daughter told me to go and be with the baby and make sure she was okay. I did as instructed, and as they examined her they explained everything to me that they were doing to her and what they look for. After all, teaching hospital!
It seemed like an eternity before my daughter could even hold her daughter due to the level of tearing and damage this little wonder caused her mommy. But once they were reunited it was bliss!
Now many things have happened since this little angel came into our lives. Her parents split up, and believe me I couldn’t be happier and so is my daughter. She moved back in with us for a bit and we helped her get back on her feet since he pretty much left her with nothing but the clothes on her back and a baby. She found out that he had been cheating on her while she was pregnant and that crushed her, but her own daughter talked her down by just being an amazing little miracle baby. She had ultrasounds and tests all which found nothing. No bright spots, tumors or anything. She was perfect in every way!!
My daughter has come full circle and is now a mom, who not only has her own place to live, but she is working part-time and going back to school in just a few weeks as a full-time student. (Doing most of her class work online for now getting her essential pre requisites out-of-the-way). Her desire is to be a high school English teacher. She lives for making a good life for her and her daughter. Our relationship has grown by leaps and bounds and where I would hold my tongue before, I know feel safe in expressing concerns in a positive way. She asks advice and I give it to her honestly and from the heart. She has grown so much and has a bright future ahead of her. I babysit our granddaughter everyday while she works and I feel like I have bonded with her so much. She is so special and so smart. I never knew this level of joy, love and amazement. When I was a mom of babies I remember always seeming to be rushing here or there and trying to get things done. Now, I get to sit back and take in the wonder of that innocence of my granddaughters mind working. Watching her do things for the first time and seeing the pure joy of her smile is so precious to me. She knows how to make me feel better even on my crankiest, pain filled days. When she wrapped those fingers around mine for the first time minutes after her birth, I was hooked and there was no turning back. She has taken our hearts and helped them to grow exponentially!!