The Birth of a Grand Daughter

1 08 2018
img_1189In twelve hours, my life changed.  Everyone said that would happen: friends, neighbors, church members: even complete strangers told me that there was nothing like it in the world.  But their words fell on deaf ears!  I listened politely to their grandiose grand-parenting stories, but then quickly wrote them off as overly exaggerated experiences – like a first kiss or a trip to the Grand Canyon.
And then it happened!  Two weeks earlier than expected, something inside me opened, and exposed feelings that I was not even aware were there.  A side of me that I didn’t know existed began to emerge, and my life changed.
As an ‘off-the-chart” NF in the world of Myers-Briggs, I have always felt things deeply. My marriage, the birth of my own three children, all kinds of spiritual ‘thin spaces’, and countless sunrises on the Potomac and sunsets on the Currituck Sound – they have all touched me. But on July 15, 2018, the “touch” was different!
Late Sunday afternoon, our son warned my wife and me that our daughter-in-law was having contractions that were about 7 minutes apart.  But the due date was still weeks away and so we attributed his nervous excitement to that of a soon-to-be, first-time father.  We were going to spend the evening at a concert in the city, and so that’s what we did . . . until we got his one-word text: “Leave!”
They had told us they wanted us in the hospital as close to delivery as possible, which actually surprised us.  When our kids were born we wanted to be alone, at least for the first few days.  So their request came as a pleasant surprise.  They said they’d call when labor began so that we could hop in the car and begin the 4 1/2 hour drive south.  And we didn’t question their desire.  Not once!
Everything happened very fast!  My daughter-in-law’s blood pressure was unusually high and so within an hour of our departure she had an emergency c-section.  And frankly, I was fine with that.  The thought of her being in labor for hours still frightens me; and frankly I wouldn’t mind if everyone in my family gave birth in this manner.  I know, I know!  Women have been pushing out babies since the beginning of time.  But that process — which I recently heard a woman compare to putting a watermelon into a balloon — still scares me.  I remember what my wife went through, and so a little slice of the flesh sounds so much easier.  And at least in this instance, that was the case.  The surgery went smoothly, and before my wife and I knew it, we were grandparents.
The birthing unit was unusually quiet when we arrived, and when we walked into the room, our son was holding the most beautiful baby I had ever seen.  Isla Marie Melone was 7 pounds, 11 ounces, and 20 1/2 inches long.  She had a beautiful head of dark black hair, and was peacefully sleeping in the arms of our first born.  It was a picture I will never forget.  And for the next several days, all four grandparents took turns holding and swooning, usually doing little more than staring into the face of this tiny miracle that was irrevocably changing all of our lives.  Even today, two weeks later, I still find myself just staring at her . . . amazed! . . . in awe! . . . and feeling things I don’t think I’ve ever felt before!
Needless to say, I’m still trying to figure our what’s going on.  Why such emotion?  Why such indescribable joy? Why such an intense affection?
I dearly love my wife and kids, but the love I have for each of them is distinct and unique.  One isn’t better or worse, stronger or weaker.  “Love is love is love” . . . as the saying goes.  But that doesn’t mean that love doesn’t vary depending upon the people involved.  So I’m not surprised that this new love for my new granddaughter is distinct.  But it is very different from anything I’ve ever experienced before.
Further, like so many things in life, love doesn’t exist in an economy of scarcity, but in an economy of abundance.  I learned this after our oldest was born.  I distinctly remember talking to my wife about my fears of having a second child because I wasn’t sure I had any more love left in me, and didn’t know how I was going to be able to love anyone else.  The thought of dividing it up among more people had me convinced that the amount given to all the people in my life would be diminished.  But she assured me that wasn’t how love worked!  Love just keeps coming: and I saw that after both son #2, and then after our daughter 3 years later.  Love grows, and multiplies, and expands, taking on new shapes and forms.  I witnessed that again when my two daughters-in-law came into our family; and that’s what appears to be happening now.  The love in my life is growing yet again; and I get that.  But this time, it is happening so fast, and so suddenly, that it has startled me.  It has caught me by surprise; and the feelings are extremely unfamiliar, and so strong that they scare me.
You see, I’m not a . . . baby kinda’ guy!  I never have been.  I like kids when they start talking, and develop a personality.  I like it when they can tell me why they’re crying, so I can fix whatever is wrong.  I like it when they can respond to the world around them . . . when they do more than . . . “pee and poop.”  (. . . two words that I hate and heard way too much of while in the hospital. . . )  I like it when we can get up early, and while everyone else is still sleeping sneak out of the house and go get warm donuts together; when we can walk along the beach and pick up shells together; when I can tuck them into bed we can read “The Giving Tree” and “Goodnight Moon” together.
So no, I’ve never been a ‘baby’ person.  But this baby is different.  And I can’t figure out why!  I know that it’s my son’s child, and that it’s my first grandchild; but as significant as those factors are, they don’t explain the intensity of my feelings.
So what’s going on?  This just isn’t how I normally operate. What is happening?
Could it be, that perhaps I just need to stop asking all these questions? Could it be that I just need to stop being my normal self, always trying to think things through and figure things out? Could it be, that like the freshly fallen snow, or a beautiful song, I just need to stop trying to analyze this . . . and simply allow myself to feel . . . to remain immersed in this unexpected joy that has come into my life.
Maybe I just need to accept this miracle that makes me smile whenever I think about her.  Maybe, all I need to do right now is keep opening my heart to the love that this little girl is bringing into my world, and allow it to merge with all the other love that makes my family as special as it is.  Maybe, I just need to stop worrying about trying to explain it, define it, and understand it; so that I can rest in it, hold it, sit with it . . . so that I can more fully experience it, and just enjoy it.
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