Becoming a Grandfather

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Can’t write about diabetes today. Or self-care, or the medical system, or science, or politics, or any of that stuff. Our granddaughter Anaya Grace was born on Saturday, and she has taken most of my mental space.

I started to write about how excited I was, including worrying that maybe I’m not excited enough. But an hour ago I got a call from our son, and they’re back at the hospital. Anaya became lethargic this morning and stopped nursing or wetting, and her temperature dropped to 96°. So the doctors told them to bring her to emergency, which is where they are now.

Probably, she’s just dehydrated. It was an extremely long labor, like 60 hours, and Mom and baby are both worn out. Seems like Mom’s milk isn’t really in, either. So probably it will all work out, but the drama makes it hard to think about other things.

Before this morning’s mini-crisis, I was really excited to be a grandparent. My friends who are grandparents kept telling me it’s the one of the greatest things that can ever happen to you, but Aisha and I thought it was not happening for us. Neither of our sons seemed too interested. Then all of a sudden, sort of, the baby was coming.

So all weekend I was taking BART across the San Francisco Bay to see the family at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center. My 88-year-old mother, now a first-time great-grandmother, met us there twice. She lives near the hospital and walked over to see Anaya and hang out.

But I kept thinking, “I’m not as thrilled as I expected to be.” Anaya was beautiful and really alert for a one-day-old, but you know, they don’t do much at that age. I think she’s great, but I didn’t feel an emotional rush. Not overwhelmed with love or gratitude, just kind of happy and pleased that she’s here and everyone seemed to be doing well. I wondered if there was something wrong that kept me from feeling more joy.

Of course, this morning they’re not doing well, so now I’m more anxious than thrilled. Dad and Mom are exhausted from being up nearly full time since last Wednesday with labor and everything since. Nobody can figure out how to help them, since we don’t know what’s wrong, really. Just be here for them, I suppose. As Diabetes Self-Management readers know, I don’t trust doctors much, but in this situation it seems we have to count on them.

Our son said they don’t need me over there now. When you’re disabled, sometimes you can’t help that much anyway. I do have a lot of knowledge of hospitals and medicine, but they’ve got other supporters for that, so I’ll probably save the three-hour round trip and stay home, unless I get too nervous.

So how can we help? And looking ahead, after they get through this rough time, what will Anaya need from her grandparents? Are there books on how to be a grandparent? I’d heard it was great because we’d get all the fun without all the responsibility we had as parents. But maybe responsibility isn’t all bad; it can make one feel needed. Replacing responsibility with powerless worrying, like this morning, has not been an improvement.

I write often about reasons to live. I had just posted a lovely piece on my blog, about animals enjoying life and why we should, too, when all this drama started. And now I’ve got this 7 lb, 10 oz reason to live, in the emergency room trying to stay alive herself.

I’m sure it will all work out. I’ll let you know what happens.

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