Grandchild’s birth yields more surprises


Grandchild's birth yields more surprises

We had the best of plans. Fly out a few days early. Stay a few days late. With flexible tickets and accessible housing and transportation arranged, we were prepared for just about any birth scenario.

Surely, we thought, my granddaughter would come within the seven-day window of her due date. Nope. After giving her mother a 20-hour labor, she arrived in her own time at 12:36 a.m. Aug. 22. All 8 pounds, 5.5 ounces and 21 inches of her! The exact same size as her mother was – but only half the number of days late (6.5).

I was so excited, but weary. We – my daughter’s trifecta of support, Mom, Step-Mom and Aunt – had already waited at the hospital seven hours, gone out for a quick dinner, rallied, and come back to wait another seven.

Finally, at 2:30 a.m., we were allowed in. “But she still has to keep feeding,” my son-in-law texted. So I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold her. By then, I just wanted to see her.

But when I wheeled into the room, the sight of the three of them struck me hard, knocking off the layers of fatigue. There they were, Mom, Dad, and child, a freshly minted family with new names and roles that would last them a lifetime.

I couldn’t speak. It was if the love and spirit of my own family had joined us, filling the room to witness the birth of this family.

“The Brittany,” as my father liked to call his strong-willed uniquely spirited grandchild, had birthed a little one who would have been his great-grand child, whom I’m sure he would have called, “The Blakely.”

We’d known her first name for months. But the middle name was a secret.

“Oh my, Britty,” I whispered as I watched her cuddle her newborn. “So precious!” is all I could say.

Then the new dad walked over to the room’s dry-eraser board, the keeper of vital information, and pointed. “Did you see her name?”

I wheeled over to read the red letters, hidden by the glare of the shiny board.

“Blakely Faye? Really? Faye is her middle name?” I squinted at the board, hardly believing it – my middle name, my mother’s middle name, and now, my granddaughter’s.

“Wow,” is all I managed to say – I think. By that point, my fried brain and churning emotions had only one mission. See that baby and then get home to sleep so I could come back and hold her.

Twelve hours later, Blakely Faye was in my arms.

“So you leave tomorrow, Mom?” Brittany said when I’d returned her daughter to her.

“Well, honey, I thought I’d delay it a couple of days,” I said. I was so tired, but prepared to stay longer. In the 18 years since my paralysis, I’d never been away from home longer than 10 days. Already at day eleven, I’d double-checked my supplies, ordered extra medication, and dabbed extra concealer under my eyes that morning. I couldn’t imagine holding the baby only one day and then leaving.

“But why, Mom? We go home tomorrow and then you’ll have to transfer into your manual wheelchair to get up and down our steps to visit. You’ll be exhausted from that and then have to fly six hours home, right? We’re fine, Mom. You should go home.”

Again, I was at a loss for words. Who was this young woman, assessing my needs and directing me?

Had I just been parented?

I swallowed hard and looked at my daughter who was cradling hers. Tears welled but I blinked them away.

“Ok, Britty.”

And I left. In awe of my daughter. Of family. And of that circle of life that mutes us with its power of love.

Herald-Dispatch Sep 13, 2015

This column was written by Rebecca Faye Smith Galli, daughter of the late Dr. R.F. Smith Jr., a longtime columnist for The Herald-Dispatch.

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