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Granddaughters #3 and 4

Published in ChicagoNow, February 10, 2014 (photo by Sam Levitan)


Grandchild number three arrived on March 16, 2006, just as I was starting to get the hang of my first two. My daughter was not due until early April, so nothing was ready for the new baby. Unlike her overly prepared and compulsively organized mother, she felt that there would be plenty of time to find the sheets, blankets, baby clothes, and other assorted necessities.

Luckily, these things resided somewhere in her new home, which had many storage closets (both a good and bad thing). Imagine my shock when I received a call while babysitting for her routine OB appointment that doctor wanted to deliver the baby early – meaning that day!

My daughter and her husband flew into the house, packed a suitcase, and were off to add our darling little Maya to their pink and purple harem. I calculated that, while there was much to do, things could have been more challenging. I still did not have to plan a bris, and no need to shop for baby clothes, if only I could find them. The twins were thoroughly confused by finding Gramma in Mom and Dad’s bed but somehow we all made it through that first day in a stupor.

Maya was small but perfectly healthy, so her excited parents decided that it would be a great idea to have her 2-year-old twin sisters visit the hospital on day two. I dutifully loaded them into the car to see Mommy and meet their new sister. There were some obvious flaws in this plan. The primary one was that Tessa was deathly afraid of elevators and we had to go on two of them. After entering the first elevator, we discovered that Daniella shared her sister’s fear, and I arrived with two howling and bewildered girls in tow. Tessa never pulled it together, so she got to visit with Daddy in the hospital corridors while I wondered how I would ever get her back home. Daniella seemed happy to see Mommy but was totally unimpressed with her little sister (an attitude that has yet to change). Unfortunately, Mommy still had an IV, which Daniella bumped while the nurse was in the room. Nurse Nasty reprimanded Daniella, she dissolved into tears, and the visit was over. I don’t even remember how we got home – like going though labor, this painful memory has thankfully been repressed.

Somehow, I managed to feed, dress, bathe, and entertain the twins until Mommy came home with Maya, at which point they retreated to the top of the stairs and stared down at her with the confused and pitiful eyes of puppies in a shelter. I took Maya and my daughter coaxed them into her arms. All was right with their world again, with the exception of that baby.

Six months later, following major back surgery for me, my baby had her first baby. We knew it would be a fourth granddaughter as well as a c-section. We had a date, September 25, 2006, and the surgeon who operated on my back six weeks earlier assured me I would be in fine shape for this big event.

My husband drove me to Indianapolis and we went straight to the hospital to meet our new granddaughter. Then he left me there, planning to return the following weekend to retrieve a happy grandmother and visit his new granddaughter in her home. In our family, however, very little seems to go as planned. Like her cousin, Ava was really tiny, under 5 pounds. No problem. I brought her cousin’s pink premie clothes and expected things would go the same as they had six months earlier. Different hospital, different child, and different result – our precious Ava was shipped off to the NICU. My daughter sat in her room, in pain from the c-section and totally miserable, while her husband wandered in shock from her room to Ava's NICU room. Clearly something had to be done, and this was a job for an experienced gramma.

Helping my daughter into a wheel chair, I convinced her that Ava was her baby, not the hospital’s, and brought her to Ava's NICU room. The sofa in the room was decently comfy, and it was there my daughter bonded with her daughter and became a mother. A few days later, we were on our way home with her precious, pink cargo.

There was only one more complication — my back. The pain was awful, but not nearly as awful as driving to my daughter’s home from the hospital in the dark in her huge car. Did I mention I am directionally challenged? I got lost exiting the parking lot and pulled over on a side street crying. Luckily, her car had GPS. I have no idea how but eventually I ended up with “your destination is on the right,” fed the dogs, crawled into bed, and fell asleep cursing the doctor for neglecting to mention there could be post-surgical complications. Miraculously, the pain was not bad at all when I held little Ava in my arms. Bad luck with my back, but otherwise how lucky could a woman be?


by Laurie Levy
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