But when my daughter told me that she was pregnant the first time, totally unexpected to me, showed me the test stick with the positive marker, scared to tell me because I'd been rather vocal about her waiting till she was more mature or something (she was 27!!!), unexpectedly my world shifted on its axis.
Suddenly, more than anything, I wanted--no, needed--a grandchild to fill the emptiness in my heart that I hadn't even realized was there, a newborn-sized space that ached to hold my grandchild. I needed a tiny girlchild, someone that I could hold, read to, play with, tell about her Nana (more later), pass on my love of knitting and crocheting.
J and M had been married for over 4 years by that time and had decided that if they had a child, fine, and if they didn't, they were okay with that, too. I think they'd sort of decided that they couldn't have kids, since none had shown up by that time.
Then my Nana died in February of 1999 at the age of almost 91. Nana was that perfect grandmother, loving, tolerant, wanting us kids to stay with her. We lived with her and Grandaddy till I was almost 3, I think; by that time I had a younger sister, Betty, and I can't remember life without her, as we are only 15 months apart. We spent as much time with Nana and Grandaddy as we could while we were growing up. Nana would dress us alike, and since we are so close in age, people would often stop her and ask if we were twins. Okay, that's another story in itself, how much I love and depend on Betty.
So when Nana's health failed that February, J really wanted to tell Nana that there was a great-great grandchild on the way, although there wasn't. Nana loved her grandkids and great-grandkids so much and would have been so happy to know that another little one was coming to the family.
J was pregnant about 3 months later. M has said that he thinks that Nana sent A to them.
J loves carnivals, fairs, and theme parks, and a carnival was in town. She rode the Twister or something, a ride that flung the riders around and around; two large women were in the seat with her (M doesn't do that kind of ride; neither do I, for that matter) and crushed her into the corner. She had so much pain for the next couple of weeks that she thought that her ribs were broken. Totally unaware that she might be pregnant, she went to the ER and was x-rayed (no one there asked her if she might be pregnant). No broken bones were found, narcotics were prescribed, and a week later she was back, still in incredible pain. More x-rays, still no question about possibility of pregnancy. No broken bones.
That night, she suddenly thought, oh my God, I missed my period last week or so, and she took a pregnancy test. It was positive, so she took another, thinking there had to be a mistake. Nope, positive. Still unbelieving, she sent M to the store for yet another test. Yep. Positive. (She should have been born in Missouri, don'tcha think?)
So she showed the stick to me. To her surprise, I was elated! Suddenly I was a grandmother-to-be and loved that child more than I though could be possible. BUT--there were those xrays a week apart, no lead apron, possible damage to the embryo. We were terrified at the thought of that damage.
J called her OB-GYN the next morning and was told to come in that morning for testing. Yep, she was pregnant all right, but the xrays could have killed the embryo. If it was still alive, there could be brain damage (as in only a brain stem left). She was told to come back in a couple of days to see if the pregnancy hormone (I'm too lazy to check what that is; I should remember it) was increasing. It was; the baby was still there.
Can you imagine going through the early months of your first pregnancy knowing that your child might be brain-damaged? I was optimistic that the baby would be okay; I loved it so much that it felt like I could will it to be okay.
I went with J and M to a nearby well-know university that has a teaching hospital for the first ultrasound (second-level ultrasound, whatever that is; again, too lazy to google) (on another note, I find myself amazed at the ease with which I began to use "google" as a verb). On the way (it's about an hour's drive), J told me the names they'd chosen. I loved the girl's name immediately. It's unusual enough that she won't hear it in her schoolroom as someone else's name, unlike J, which was a very popular name for her age group. I was still willing the child to be a girl; I'd have loved a boy, but I so wanted a little girl.
I was present when the monitor showed a perfectly-formed little head, a beautiful little head, its brain intact and the right size for the time of development. And I cried when the nurse said that it was a girl. From that moment on, we called the baby "A". She was real, and she was perfect.
I insisted on being present when A was born. I couldn't wait to see her and hold her. J wasn't happy; she's very modest and really didn't even want a doctor present. She had a wonderful midwife at her OB-GYN's office; she was somewhat comfortable with that. But I continued to insist, and J reluctantly relented, but "only if you stay behind my shoulders when A is born." M was similarly instructed.
J really wanted A to be born on New Year's day, but she would have been happy with any time before that. The last month of pregnancy is a bitch. For the last two weeks of December, she was having false labor, and she ate Mexican food, took long walks, did everything she'd heard could induce labor, but A wasn't going to be born until she was ready. First glimpse of her personality there.
A few days into January, J called me at work and said she felt funny, so I left work and went to her house. We talked for a while, then she said that she was going to call M and go to the hospital. Shortly after I left to go home to get ready for the big event, her water broke, and labor started in earnest.
I have to say that my mom, my two sisters and I had all had very short, easy labors and births; my first was 2.5 hours (induced, but still) and the second was only about 40 minutes. We lived 25 miles from the hospital; let me tell you, I was ready to deliver after only 4 miles. Anyway, J had heard all of our stories, and I expected her to have a similar easy time.
She later accused me of lying.
Her labor was only 8 hours from start to finish, but she has always felt pain more intensely and would spend three days in bed each month from cramps when she was in high school. After 6 hours her midwife told her she had to start pushing, and J wasn't ready for that. It hurt even more, and J wasn't going to have it. She'd had an epidural, but one "window" of her abdomen didn't numb, and she felt every contraction anyway. And her anethesiologist had been called to an emergency c -section and wasn't there to authorize more meds.
J begged for a c-section to end the pain, but A had already descended into the birth canal and it was too late for surgery, even if it had been an option. She was again told to push, and her wonderful midwife and nurses encouraged her. I don't know how she'd have gotten through it without their help. Her midwife was crying because she'd promised J beforehand that J wouldn't feel any pain, and she felt so bad for J.
Finally, finally that beautiful little head appeared, and I was the first family member to see A. Of course, I cried. She slipped out easily after that, and my Bunny Baby had arrived.
M and I watched the nurses quickly suction and wipe off and bundle A into a blanket and hat, then she was given to him. I'll never forget the look on his face. His little girl. He was already imagining her running to the door, yelling "Daddy's home!" Then he handed her to me. Finally, that empty spot in my heart was filled, and it's been filled ever since. I couldn't love that little girl any more if I'd given birth to her myself.
So, anyway, the whole reason for this post is to announce that A learned to knit last week, while she was still 7. That was so fulfilling for me. Nana had taught me to crochet when I was 7, and while I never really used it till J told me she was pregnant that first time (immediately Nana whispered to me, "Start crocheting! You've got a baby on the way!"), it was something that I could pick up and play with and actually use later. I really wanted to be able to pass my love of crafts on to A, and the OCD part of me insisted that she learn to knit or crochet when she was 7. Keep the karma rolling, you know?
And she did. She'd tried knitting since she was 3, but it was more than she wanted to deal with and would quickly lose interest. Each visit, she'd ask to knit, and she'd try it, and she'd hand it back. But this visit, she picked up the needles with Zippy's sweater on them and she started knitting. It wasn't perfect, it was a slow, labor-intensive process, but dammit, she was knitting. She even wanted to take it with her when we got into the car to go anywhere, just like I do, and she knitted. (Or is it knit? I have problems with those troublesome past-tense verbs, like swim and hang. And knit.) She's left-handed (which, for some reason, has always delighted me, just like B2's big blue eyes), and I cannot knit left-handed, so she had to figure out for herself, but she did it.
And she did it before her 8th birthday.
This is the tummy part of Zippy's sweater (Penny). A's work:
She only did a few rows, but she worked really hard on them and it took a couple of days, working on it in the car mostly, to knit them.
I'm so proud of her!