Family bringing in family.
On Friday morning April 23, 2004, I had the most extraordinary experience of a lifetime. I held my daughter’s leg. Yes, that is correct. I held her leg. During the growing years there were many times I bandaged a knee, cleaned out a cut and massaged out a cramp in one of her legs, but this time, I held on to her muscular shapely left leg for dear life. Actually, it was for the life of her daughter. You see my daughter was bringing her daughter into this marvelously mysterious world. The watchful nurse held the other leg and her husband lovingly curled her up as each contraction squeezed her like a gluttonous boa constrictor.
Several months ago when my daughter told me I would be in the delivery room with her and her husband, I was ecstatic. Oh, how happy I was in my obvious ignorance of what was to come. Once again, ignorance was proven to be bliss for when I realized I would be hugging a leg and yelling at her to thrust out a baby, I’m not sure what I would have envisioned. You see, I thought I would be like a Miami Dolphin’s cheerleader – only there for a little cheering and maybe even a little ditty of a dance. A spectator on the sidelines with hip-hip-hurrahs of encouragement – not there as an up close first-hand witness.
As the pushing continued, oddly enough, I felt I was betraying my daughter. Here I was bellowing in unison with husband and nurse to push in bulldozer style while I watched the flush of agony engorge her face. Part of me wanted to scream “stop it now and just pull the baby out. Get the baby out!” The other part of me realized that my precious dazzling daughter would have to go through the same thing I did, as all of us mothers do, to bring new life into this cradle of humanity.
There were pauses of “I can’t do it” and cheers of “yes, you can”. There were screams of suffering and tears of exhilaration. I should mention that not all of those screams were coming from my daughter! Finally after hours of pushing, it was opted for a suction method to help my grandchild take her first peep at these oddball mouthy people on the outside. Since we had arrived at the hospital at 7:30AM on Thursday and it was approaching 3 AM on Friday, it was definitely time for this little girl to vacate the human tote once and for all.
When the head finally emerged I was stunned. If all the rainbows that ever existed revealed themselves all at one time – it still would not have awed me as much as the twirls of dark hair approaching the spotlight shining on her arrival. I frantically held on to that leg but my heart was palpitating joy bubbles for the newborn as tears streamed down my face. The tears were not for newly born Samantha. The tears where for my daughter. Never in my life had I wanted my daughter to be on drugs or wanted her to feel such pain and now I was desperate for both.
My husband paced for hours wearing ruts in the industrial carpet outside the delivery room. He steadfastly listened while worried droplets of sweat beaded on his forehead as he heard shrieks of distress (which he insists were screams of absolute horror). He, like many dads, can’t handle his daughter being in pain. It is a bit much to ask a person who has always been the protector against such pain to stand by and be undisturbed when he hears out cries of suffering. Once he saw the freshly wrinkled Samantha and knew our daughter would be fine - all worries floated away. A man who claimed to not have a fondness for babies got all goose pimpled up beaming with excitement as he gently caressed the newborn.
My son-in-law is a fine man. Being a doctor, I thought he might be an old hand at this. Well, I have to tell you that he was like a five year old finding the largest yummiest and free candy counter on the planet. He was all a twitter. He was jitterbugging on tippy toes while fluttering hands waved with electrifying delight. His voice flew up a few octaves and tears flowed as he praised this miracle. He wanted to comfort my daughter and grab his new daughter all at the same time making an absorbing sight to observe.
Family bringing in family is a wondrous adventure. As we are about to celebrate Mother’s Day, let me say this: until a child has a child of their own they can’t embrace the true meaning of giving birth. We mother’s look at each other with a certain nod for we share something special. Something unfortunately men can’t share. We share a bond in what it took to bring a wad of humanness into the world. What we do share with our partners is growing this person into a meaningful and compassionate human fitting comfortably into the measures of society.
This newborn made us grandparents for the first time and represents a new challenge to us. We need to maintain our health and continue to grow wise to help her as she sprouts. After all, when her parents don’t behave whom else is she supposed to turn to?