Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Curmudgeon becomes a grandfather again -- Part III

Parts I and II of this series available by scrolling down or clicking here and here.

The maternity floor was on the third floor of the very modern hospital. It was a large room, but oddly shaped, long and narrow.

Our in-laws were already there, of course, at the far end of the room. There was a huge flatscreen TV on the wall showing the NBA playoff game between the Indiana Pacers and the Atlanta Hawks, but neither of them were really watching.

They were watching us. They didn't look entirely pleased. It could have been the stress of the moment, of course.

But there's no getting away from the fact that this is their grandchild. A child in which they feel -- understandably! -- that they have a proprietary interest. Bought and paid for.

IVF treatments are not cheap, and Older Daughter has endured so many. So many false starts. So many failed attempts. So many, many tears.

But this night -- this birth -- could not have been possible without the funds so generously provided by my in-laws. Older Daughter and Hank laid out an awful lot of money themselves, but Hank's parents paid a boatload of money, too. Long Suffering Spouse and I could not have helped. I couldn't afford the cost of gasoline for the trip to Indianapolis.

I understood their point of view. I'd like to think I might not have thought that way, were I in their shoes, but I'm only human. We all are.

I resolved to be friendly. I sat down by them and began chatting.

Long Suffering Spouse and Younger Daughter took up posts a bit further away.

It was the Baby-Who-I-Still-Have-To-Name who bridged the gap. She saw the long room as a runway. And she ran up and back that runway multiple times, grabbing my arm and shrieking in her loudest, shrillest, happiest voice. I'd turn and growl at her and she'd flee in mock terror, only to repeat the process immediately. The in-laws watched carefully. "The kid hates me," I explained, while my granddaughter readied another charge.

"Obviously," said Hank's father, with a four-syllable delivery that would have done Professor Snape proud.

This was further evidence, to them, if any were really needed, that we already had our grandchild. This one -- the one being born down the hall somewhere -- was theirs. So why we were intruding on their party?

Granddaughter #1 charged me a few more times, shrieking every time, ignoring our suggestions that perhaps she might cultivate an 'inside' voice. Well, the kid had been stuck in a car seat for over three hours. Finally, on one return trip, her mother detected a whiff of something that suggested that all this running around might have had another purpose than merely to alienate the in-laws. She scooped up her child and, making apologies, disappeared in search of a bathroom.

The in-laws stared at me. "I guess I bring out the best in her," I shrugged, feigning momentary interest in the Pacers-Hawks game.

More careful small-talk ensued.

Granddaughter #1 had returned by this time and, at their far end of the long room, Long Suffering Spouse and Younger Daughter were trying to interest her in various toys and books. She was still noisy.

Finally, Hank's mother had had enough. She stood up.

"I'm going to see what's going on."

"Good luck," I offered.

This particular hospital had a strict no-visitors policy for the first two hours after childbirth -- the idea being to give Mom a breather, after her ordeal, and a moment or two for the new family to introduce themselves to each other -- and Older Daughter told us that this rule would be strictly enforced.

Why were even at the hospital then? Truth to tell, we had nowhere else to go. Long Suffering Spouse and Younger Daughter had arranged to stay at Older Daughter's house even before the blessed event began unfolding -- so we had to wait where we were, if only for the purpose of receiving keys.

I didn't much care one way or the other. I could spar with the in-laws or sleep in my chair or pretend to watch an NBA game or, if all else failed, look solemnly at my phone. I could read my Twitter feed or play Solitaire. I can hang around doing nothing with the best of them.

Granddaughter #1 would become increasingly cranky, of course. It was getting to be her bedtime, and she'd just accomplished something besides, and she had run around like a crazy person for some time. No, her fuse was lit. And Long Suffering Spouse was distinctly uncomfortable; she knew the in-laws weren't thrilled to see us, and she also understood why. Younger Daughter wasn't as uncomfortable; she had a basic understanding that the present situation was a tad awkward, but she was too focused on her ticking time-bomb toddler to worry much about her sister's in-laws.

Anyway, at that point, we had no idea whether Granddaughter #2 had even been born, so we had no idea where the two-hour clock might have stood. But neither did the in-laws.

This did not discourage Hank's mother. "I'm a pediatric nurse," she said, and she is, "so I'll play the nurse card. And, if that doesn't work, I'll play the cancer card." She said it lightly, as a joke, as she marched toward the labor and delivery area. She has suffered from breast cancer, diagnosed last year, and while there was some initial concern about what she had and how serious it was, the story now seems to be that she's responded well to treatment -- surgery and chemo and radiation -- and, indeed, she even scheduled her treatment regimen so that it would be concluded before the baby was born. She didn't want to give anyone any excuse to deny or limit access to her grandchild.

I thought I saw Hank's father wince a little at the cancer 'joke." Speaking as someone who's had several feet of innards removed, I am very careful about how I 'joke' about such things. Nothing may be always and everywhere off-limits (as you may note per the linked posts in the preceding sentence). But this didn't seem much like the time or place to bring up the subject. In my opinion.

I don't know what was said, ultimately, or what cards were played. But apparently whatever cards that Hank's mother did play were trumped by the hospital staff. She returned unenlightened. I pretended to really concentrate on the Pacers-Hawks game. Long Suffering Spouse really concentrated on holding Granddaughter #1's attention on a book.

Time passed.

Eventually -- and I do mean to imply an additional goodly wait here -- Hank showed up. Happy. A bounce in his step. Our new grandchild had apparently arrived about the time we pulled into the hospital parking lot. She had 10 fingers and 10 toes and everything.

Hank's father produced a bottle and some shot glasses. One was pressed into my hand. Well, of course, I would not refuse!

But this is the 21st Century. Celebration can't get in the way of notification: All present, Granddaughter #1 excepted, produced cellphones and began texting various and sundry persons.

Then Hank dropped the bombshell. Older Daughter had asked to see Long Suffering Spouse first.

This could not have played well with the in-laws. But, if Hank's mother may have crumpled a bit, Hank's father more than covered for her. I'd provide more detail here, but -- once Hank made his announcement -- I suddenly realized that I'd been just a wee bit nervous, too. I may have surrendered to my emotions. I surely exhaled.

Long Suffering Spouse did not dally. She told me later that she refused Older Daughter's offer to hold the child, realizing that this would go down very badly with the in-laws. Indeed, every moment that she remained in there alone counted against us. So she encouraged Older Daughter to let the floodgates open, promising we would depart promptly and let her get some rest. (Older Daughter, being Older Daughter, didn't want to rest. She wanted everyone to stay -- but that just wasn't smart.)

The nurse had our new grandchild under the french fry warmer when we came in. I'm sure there's a technical name for that lamp, but that's what it reminds me of, and everyone probably understands what I'm talking about, right? She held the child up for inspection and (inevitably) photographs.


That was my first impression.


That was my second impression. But, some part of me remembered, they were all pretty red at first.

"How much did she weigh again?" I asked Older Daughter. "Seven pounds, six ounces," she said. "She's too small!" I protested. "Put her back until she's done." (Older Daughter was our smallest, at 8 lbs., 4 oz.) "Da-ad!" Older Daughter and her sister both yelled. Long Suffering Spouse just rolled her eyes (for better or for worse she may have muttered to herself).

Actually, although she was supposedly two weeks early, her head did not loll and her eyes were open. In my completely un-expert opinion, the child was clearly full-term.

I don't understand how a baby can be early or late when the actual moment of conception can be calculated -- heck, it was charted! -- but maybe that just means we don't know as much about how these things really work as we like to pretend.

We made our excuses to clear out of the hospital room as quickly as possible. Granddaughter #1 was a big help because she clearly had no idea what to make of this tiny red thing and she began to tell us so in no uncertain terms.

"How long are you staying?" Hank's mother asked, but she really meant when are you leaving?

Older Daughter will have her hands full with that one.

But, for now, all is good. It was a very happy Mother's Day in Indianapolis Sunday. I don't care whose grandchild she is; I'm just happy Older Daughter was able to have a baby.

(I know that's very un-Curmudgeonly of me. Tough. I'll try and regain my Curmudgeon-cred in future posts.)


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

awww. i am so glad she asked for HER mama. but i understand both sides of this...

smiles, bee

The Curmudgeon said...

No, I understand also, Bee, and so does my wife. I tried to get that across, trying to finish what I hope is an amusing story without making fun of, or being mean to, or piling on, my in-laws. They only have one son. They had a heck of a time getting one grandbaby. Even if they hadn't laid out a truckload of cash, they'd feel a tad proprietary toward this little one. The best thing that can happen is that -- now that things have worked once -- Older Daughter finds herself in a family way two or three or six more times. Everyone will have more than enough grandbaby time then. But that's not in my hands. And the kids can't necessarily control that either. Some things are in Heaven's plan and some things aren't; we'll find out where we stand in this case eventually.