2016-04-27 / Columns

Memories of my birth—as a newly minted grandmother

SALLY’S WORLD
SALLY FRIEDMAN

It was 22 years ago—and yesterday.

It was the phone call I hade been awaiting for nine long months, yet when it came, it was still a shock.

“This is it,” our son-in-law had said that morning with a certain catch in his voice. “Jill’s in labor.”

And so the adventure began. All these years later, I remember that ride to the hospital, and how my husband and I could not even speak. For a man and woman who were about to become grandparents for the first time, it had all been said. All the fervent prayers for a healthy, whole baby already had been issued up to a higher power.

So we rode in silence, the silence of apprehension, excitement and joy waiting to explode.

At the birthing suite, all was surreal. While the rest of the inhabitants of Planet Earth went about their business and pleasure on this day, the entire world, for us, was enclosed within the walls of this waiting area.

My husband tried to read.

I paced in an unlikely caricature of those fathers-in-waiting from the Neanderthal days when mothers labored alone. Suddenly, I understood how these fathers must have felt.

Every now and then, the midwife would appear with a “bulletin.” Those mini-conferences took on the breathless significance of a pronouncement about the future of world peace.

An hour passed. Two. Three. “Soon,” our son-in-law told us breathlessly in his one and only break from being the on-site labor coach.

And at 3:42 on an ordinary afternoon, standing at the door of a modern birthing suite, I heard a cry. A baby’s cry.

My heart stopped.

Nothing in the world could have prepared me for that moment. Nothing would ever be the same for us in this glorious universe.

Today, I was somebody’s grandmother!

Hannah—all seven pounds, thirteen ounces of her—had burst into the world—and our lives.

I met her moments later, and fell madly, desperately, hopelessly in love. Nestled in my daughter’s arm was this child of my child, a perfect pink and white miniature. I wept and laughed and thanked G-d for allowing us this moment, this gift, this day.

Time was suspended. It was the deepest, most profound privilege to watch these new parents as they cuddled their baby daughter and explored her incredibly sweet face, her silky skin, her downy head.

Our son-in-law’s parents were as speechless as we were. Hannah was the “we” of their son and our daughter made tangible. In this room, on this day, we all knew that this infant was our own link to immortality.

It was another spectacular moment when I watched Hannah’s great-grandmother— my own late mother—meet her. I could witness the awesome, incredible continuity of life’s longing for itself before my eyes.

Today, that “empress” is on the brink of graduating from college. “How can this be?” we keep asking ourselves. “Where did all those years go?”

Despite all we enlightened moderns know of the biology of life—despite all the excesses of this information age—the wonder is the same. The awe remains undiminished.

A baby is born. The universal family of man—and our family— grows once again.

It is as old as time and as new as tomorrow’s dawn.

The dance of life goes on. The circle grows.

And a once dazed, overwhelmed new grandmother still marvels at that miracle of the birth of a child.

And also, if truth be told, her own birth…as a grandmother. . pinegander@aol.com

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