Grace Elizabeth Serra
June 25, 2014, at 9:39 PM.
Lawrence and Memorial Hospital,
New London, Connecticut
The telephone rang at 5:00 AM. Before I was awake, I knew who it was and what she would say.
“Caity’s water broke last night at 10:30. Pete took her to the hospital. She has been in active labor since 1:30 this morning. You need to cancel your meeting and get up here!”
Although my alarm was set for 5:10 AM, I would never hear it go off. My “Go!” bag was packed, and I threw most of what I would need in my gym bag. I was downstairs and out the door and on my way toward the hospital in New London, CT.
There are a couple of things about 5 ½ hour road trips; first is that intuitively I know I need extra caffeine. It doesn’t matter what time it is or how tired I am – I just know “more is better”. The second thing is 5-1/2 hours is a lot of time to think!
And I did.
I thought about the unlikelihood of a child, much less a first child, actually arriving on her due date. Punctuality is not a bad trait to start out life’s journey with! I wondered if she would actually arrive today. This kept me calm in the early morning traffic around New York City.
As this is our second grandchild, I thought there might be a little less excitement and anticipation; I was wrong. Admittedly, my personal excitement level leading up to Levi’s arrival last year was predominantly about me becoming a grandfather (or the anticipation of sleeping with a grandmother). It wasn’t until just before his arrival that I succumbed to the unexpected immeasurable joy as I watched my son Chris become a dad. (See “I Am The Father”).
In anticipation of Gracie’s arrival, I have found myself far more excited for Pete and Caity’s looming joy than my instinctively self-absorbed emotions (although sleeping with a grandmother is still high on the list!)
I thought about Chris and Caity being born 13 months apart to the day; now their first-born children, these cousins, Levi and Gracie, will be born nearly 13 months apart to the day. This is just cool.
I thought about my Mother who died in 2007. In 1958, she had been a nurse in the hospital where Gracie would be born . She would so have so loved to be around for her granddaughter Caity to give birth to her great-granddaughter, both who share Mom’s middle name – Elizabeth. Perhaps she would.
I thought about a letter Muppets creator Jim Henson wrote to his children, which they would not read until after he passed. There was a line I really liked; I would remember to look this up later when I was sitting in the waiting room with Pete’s parents, Bob and Judy Serra.
Henson wrote: “Know that I’ve always loved each of you with an eternal, bottomless love. A love that has nothing to do with each other, for I feel my love for each of you is total and all-encompassing.”
That’s the line I remember; it rings so true for me with my children and grandchildren alike.
A significant difference between Lindsey’s and Caity’s pregnancies has been the flow of information. Any notion that I had evolved as a new age millennium man able to comfortably answer questions about daughter-in-law Lindsey’s pregnancy (see “The “C” Word”), would be dispelled during my own daughter’s pregnancy. The amount of technical data that I’ve been bombarded with on Caity’s progress has been overwhelming: way too much information about my daughter and her body parts.
Send me back to the stone age. “Can’t you just say ‘she is doing fine’?”
Of course my thoughts led me to think about Gracie and how she’ll leave her hand prints and footprints on the world. If she is anything at all like her parents, she’ll be kind-hearted and warm and loving. In some areas she’ll have no choice – she will be a beach girl. If my read on Pete is even remotely close, Gracie will likely be a Daddy’s girl, perhaps picking up on both his surfing and ukulele strumming skills.
Even with all her daddy’s influence, I imagine an early years of favorite pinks and purples that will evolve into a style all her own. That’s the way Caity has rolled.
The vocational possibilities seem endless. Her blood lines include doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, carpenters, accountants, engineers and a nuclear submarine Captain; there’s even an not-so-anonymous restaurant critic in the mix! Grace is born into a family where she can be anything she’ll want to be, and do anything she’ll want to do. That is what I’m excited for – to see where her heart and feet will take her; to learn what I will learn from her.
I imagine Gracie will be a strong woman; she comes from a long line of strong women. Her mother, grandmothers, and great grandmothers on both sides have all been tested by life’s trials and tribulations, yet each has lived life with a dignity, strength and grace of their own. Grace Elizabeth won’t need to bear the weight of her past generations, for her past generations have passed on their strength to Grace Elizabeth.
If Gracie wants to be a mom – she will be in line to be a great one.
At 9:51 PM, Leigh finally walked into the waiting room. The smile carved into her face confirmed the tears in her eyes were joyful. It had been an emotionally grueling 2-plus hours since we had an update (2 hours-14 minutes to be precise – according to the first unanswered text time stamp!). Bob had already driven Grammy Boler home. Leigh and Pete were in the room actively assisting with the last 2 ½ hours of “hard labor”, each with hands full and unable to communicate (apparently there is a “No Texting while Laboring” law in Connecticut??). The tortuous ticking of the world clock (I know – all I had to do was sit there and Google stuff) had finally subsided.
While I have blocked from my memory most of the technical information that flowed, I do proudly recall Pete describing Caity as “swearing like a sailor through Gracie’s arrival, then immediately becoming a gentle pool of matronly serenity.” That’s my girl.
One of the first things Pete said after holding his newborn daughter, was, proudly “Hey Caity – she’s got swimmers feet just like me!” You can take the boy off the beach, but you can’t take the beach out of the boy!
I met Gracie for the first time about three hours later. The soothing sounds of Jack Johnson’s music played gently through the room as Leigh and I walked in with Bob and Judy. Caity looked like an angel glowing (although exhausted); literally glowing. Pete beamed. I knew I loved Gracie as I held her immediately, just like I had loved Levi the first moment I held him 13 months before. Many grandparents try to describe it – but it’s just an indescribable joy. It is pure, unadulterated love and joy. It’s what Henson said.
A little Grace has touched our lives. I imagine we will all be better for it.