Letter from America.
I am having a baby in a few weeks. Well, not I, exactly; my daughter is expecting her third daughter, but it might as well be this now-seasoned grandmother who is experiencing the joys of pregnancy. You see, when I speak with my daughter over the phone, I seem to feel every kick she describes to me, every comment made by others to which she is subjected, every little worry that sneaks into her consciousness in the middle of a sleepless night, and all of the excitement so evident in her voice when she mentions the impending birth.
I have stared at countless sonographic snapshots of this soon-to-arrive bundle, searching for the slightest resemblance between the babe-in-utero and her mother, her father, her sisters, and, of course, for any resemblance to me! I wonder what color hair she will have and whether or not her personality will be noticed mere days after her birth, as they were in her sisters. Will she be an “easy” baby, a “difficult” baby, or a combination of both? Will she be an early talker? An early walker? Ah, who the heck knows? Only time will tell.
Time (or the lack thereof): That’s what has kept me going like a house afire in this late stage of pregnancy. Because my first two granddaughters were born precisely two weeks prior to their respective due dates, I’m preparing for another early arrival. But babies don’t place too much stock in timetables, so perhaps I shouldn’t, either.
Maybe I’m jumping the gun; this wee lass, whose name is Jillian, by the way, could make her grand entrance in mid-April, as her anticipated date of birth was originally calculated. On the other hand, if my daughter’s obstetrical history means anything at all, I can’t rule out an April Fools’ Day birth, either. In any event, because I will have to drop everything to hop on a plane the minute Baby Jillian decides to make her appearance, I’m fully prepared to leave New York for Atlanta with minimal advance notice. My carry-on bag is sitting on the floor, right next to my closet door. It already contains a few travel essentials.
Anything I forget to take with me can be as easily purchased down South as it can be up here (with the exception of pizza—there isn’t a decent pizza made anywhere in the State of Georgia, no matter what anyone tells you—but I wasn’t planning to take a large pie with me, anyway). I have treats for the big sisters who, while their mama recovers from childbirth, will be in my care until my other daughter—Aunt “Deedee” to these two older girls—flies from Chicago to Atlanta in order to assume my duties after my (sure-to-be-tearful) return flight to New York. After my relief childcare provider leaves, the newly enlarged Morhaus family will be on their own.
In the meantime, though, I am going to savor these last days (or weeks) of “my” infanticipatory state. I won’t have swollen ankles, nor will I have difficulty finding a comfortable sleeping position at night. Unless I gobble up more than my fair share of a New York pizza, I’m unlikely to suffer from even a mild case of heartburn.
When labor begins, I won’t feel the slightest twinge of a contraction, so there is no need for me to take a refresher course on Lamaze breathing techniques. Most certainly, putting a midwife’s phone number on speed dial will be entirely unnecessary. But if there is one thing I am positive about it is that I’ll imagine all of the above. Going through pregnancy and childbirth with one’s daughter is surprisingly close to the real deal, although I have no idea why that is so. What I do know is that I’d do it again in a heartbeat!
In parting, as they say in the southern U.S.A., I’ll keep y’all posted.
By Cara Sheridan O’Donnell.
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