Thursday, January 17, 2019

And another thing we never dreamed we'd have to worry about: Breaking the seal on social media

Long Suffering Spouse and I welcomed our eighth grandchild into this world on Monday.

Thank you.

Another girl -- that's seven girls and only one boy so far -- that boy, our seventh grandchild, is one year old today.

Thank you again.

Anyway, Middle Son gave us a little warning that Margaret's time was getting really close. But his mother-in-law was coming in for the weekend (she lives in Michigan, but winters in Alabama and doesn't much like it, so she comes up here as often as she can) and we thought she might be tasked with taking care of their older daughter (our fifth grandchild, if you're keeping score at home -- she just turned one in August).

Thank you. Really, you're very nice, but stop interrupting, OK? I have a lot of work to do this morning.

Anyway... Middle Son disabused us of this notion over the weekend. The MIL would go with them to the hospital when the time came. We would take care of Grandchild No. 5. I reminded Middle Son that he should call his mother's cell phone when he needed us; that is the phone we keep in our bedroom overnight (we cut the landline awhile back -- but that's another story).

Hmmm. Now I'm interrupting myself.

The phone rang at 3:50 a.m. Monday morning.

Older Daughter installed custom ring tones on my wife's phone some time ago, apparently at a time when she was miffed with her brother: When Middle Son calls, we hear the Imperial March from Star Wars. It's distinctive, certainly.

The phone is charged on my side of the bed. So I answered. And fairly promptly, too.

Middle Son was impressed. "Were you awake?" he asked.

I looked at the clock radio on the nightstand. "No," I said, "I was up at 3:00 as usual, but I'd fallen back asleep." (Hey, this is what happens as men age, OK?)

"[Grandchild No. 5] was up then, too," he told me.

"That's nice. We're in sync," I said. "So, is it time?"

"Yeah. I'm just going to jump in the shower and we're going to go. Can you come over?"

Now, as I'm writing this, it looks like a two-person conversation. This shows the limitations of my art. Long Suffering Spouse woke up during this -- if not while the phone was ringing, then immediately after I started talking -- and was sitting bolt upright, instantly on Red Alert. As soon as I heard her moving, I put the phone on speaker. No point in repeating everything.

"Sure. We'll be right over."

"The front door will be unlocked."


I terminated the call -- I'd say I hung up, but of course you don't hang up with a cell phone, do you? -- and told Long Suffering Spouse I'd run downstairs and turn the coffee on.

We always have the morning coffee ready to go; this was not the result of any baby-related anticipation.

And it gave me a chance to slip away before I would have to plead ignorance to all of Long Suffering Spouse's first dozen questions -- did her bag break? how far apart are the contractions? -- I heard a couple of them as I worked my way down the stairs.

I was going to say that I bolted down the stairs. "Bolt" is a nice action verb. But at 3:51 a.m., in January, in Chicago, it's dark out. The expression "it's always darkest before the dawn" has some scientific validity, at least if my observations mean anything. Also, while I am still reasonably limber, it generally takes at least a little while for my legs to respond efficiently to commands. So I plodded at best. I turned the living room light on at the switch, dispelling the early morning gloom. I got into the kitchen and turned on the coffee. Perhaps I can accurately state that, by this point, I could, and did, bolt back up the stairs.

Long Suffering Spouse was up and moving. Middle Son lives about 10 minutes away. His shower time was our driving time. So we conducted only the most basic, abbreviated ablutions, threw on some clothes and headed out.

With our coffee.

I'd never have made even that short drive without a few sips of that life-giving fluid.

When I say we are 10 minutes away from Middle Son's house, I do not exaggerate. But, on this occasion, at least, I underestimated. There are precisely six stop lights between our home and his -- and we got stopped at the first five of them. At 4:00 a.m. Long Suffering Spouse was exasperated with me, with our route, with the persistent 'check engine' light on our failing van, with traffic signals generally, and with the ones along our route specifically, and she let me hear about all of it. She was nervous. She knew, better than I ever can, what Margaret was experiencing, and she wanted Margaret to get the hospital as soon as possible. Sooner, even.

Imagine our surprise, then, when we walked into Middle Son's house -- the front door was not just unlocked, it was open -- and found Margaret sitting, alone, on the couch, watching television.

She didn't get up to greet us or anything -- but she was remarkably composed, given what was going on. She's a tough kid.

We even chatted a bit, while Middle Son finished writing out detailed instructions, and Margaret's mother stood ready by the door. At one point, a contraction hit. Margaret did not cry out or even wince -- I only noticed because she paused to enter something into her phone. It turns out there's an app for that, too.

There really is an app for everything.

Off they went, finally, and Grandchild No. 5 stayed asleep for a reasonable while longer.

We had a lovely day with her, our fatigue notwithstanding, and Grandchild No. 8 made her appearance before the morning was done.

Margaret's mother -- and Margaret's sister, who'd driven five hours from Michigan when the labor started -- came back to relieve us late in the afternoon.

Long Suffering Spouse had made arrangements to pick up her mother to meet the new great-grandchild (her 12th!) something that had to happen Monday evening or not at all for a month, inasmuch as Abuela was scheduled to undergo a procedure on Tuesday morning that would leave her radioactive for about that long. That's still another story.

And Long Suffering Spouse had a present for the new baby all ready to go -- but we had to stop home to get it.

And Middle Son asked if we might also stop at the restaurant across the street from the hospital and bring them dinner. Well, we had to eat, too, didn't we?

We did all these things -- I went to the restaurant alone, of course, after dropping off Abuela and Long Suffering Spouse -- but I eventually got to meet the new arrival, too. Youngest Son and his wife Danica were already there. We ate. The obligatory Grampy-holding-the-new-baby-like-a-football pictures were taken. As were pictures of Middle Son and Margaret with Grandchild No. 8, and Long Suffering Spouse and the new baby, and Abuela and the new baby....

You know the poses. You've seen them all a million times on Facebook. From a million different families.

Which, of course, is where I'm busting to put these.

But I can't.

Not yet.

With all of our grandchildren so far I've given the parents first dibs on posting about their new arrival. It seems only fair, right? Middle Son deleted his Facebook account -- not that I blame him -- Facebook is getting darn near as hostile as Twitter -- but Margaret still has hers. And she does post from time to time.

But so far... nothing.

So I want to put up a post -- and bask in the glow of the many 'likes' I will receive, some of them from people I've actually met -- but I don't think I should. Yet.

At what point, if the parents don't do it themselves, can I break the seal and make my own post?

This is another question I could never have imagined having to ask 30 years ago... or even 20.

And how do I find an answer?

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