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The Boys Arrive, #5 and 6

Published in ChicagoNow, February 12, 2014


My daughter announced her pregnancy by texting me a picture of a positive pregnancy test stick and his gender by emailing me his ultrasound photo, but Tyler’s arrival on June 11, 2009 was still filled with wonder and excitement. By this time, we were pros at the grandparent thing and arrived a day early to take care of big sister Ava. Little did we know what an expensive proposition that would be! Ava had figured out she could milk this “getting a sibling she didn’t want” thing by finding dozens of small items she wanted/needed every time we entered a store. Plus she was so cute and clever and she knew she had us wrapped around her darling little finger.

Tyler was, and still is, our biggest grandchild. He looked so much like my daughter as a baby that it took my breath away. After a day filled with trips to playgrounds, sprinkler parks and stores to purchase an array of stuffed animal big sister presents, we took A to the hospital (once again doubting the wisdom of this visit) to meet her baby brother. Was she excited to meet her brother? Not so much. But she loved crawling into bed with Mom and polishing off her pudding.

We really needed the blessing of this beautiful baby boy. Near the end of her pregnancy, my daughter suspected Ava had cystic fibrosis and sadly she was correct. I helped Ava decorate the house with “baby brother” balloons, feeling both the joy that comes with a new baby and the heartbreak that comes with learning I had a grandchild with a serious illness. So Ava's entry into the world of CF coincided with Tyler’s entry into the world. Thankfully he escaped the odds (1 in 4) and did not have it.

While Tyler’s birth story was bittersweet, it had its funny moments as well. There was the list of middle names with all of their friends texting in their favorites, only to have the parents select one not even on the list. There was watching Ava squeeze herself into Tyler's bouncy seat, baby car seat, bathtub, and swing as well as squeezing him ever so lovingly. There were Ava and her cousin Maya lying in the crib together sucking on his binkies when the family came to check him out. Poor TT (as we called him) – preview of coming attractions with an older sister and three older female cousins.


Tyler was an easy-going guy, the beloved first dog, Savannah, died, and a new puppy (Flynn Rider – guess who named him?) joined my daughter’s family. Things were so crazy – why not have another child? So, on November 8, 2012, A-2 (same initials as his big sister) joined the menagerie. This time the middle name was selected in memory of my father who had died the previous July. I’m sorry he never got to meet this little one. Like his mother, he had the fun-loving personality of a third child.

This time, I was a wiser (and older) grandmother and insisted my husband stay with me the entire time I took care of the kids. It took two of us to get Ava to kindergarten and Tyler to preschool, buy groceries, take care of the dogs, and manage the chaos of very excited six and three year old sibs.

Once again, we trekked to the hospital for the obligatory sibling visit. Predictably, Ava wanted to mother/smother her baby brother and Tyler wanted to pretend he didn’t exist. Within minutes, they were bored. Luckily, there were many blue rubber gloves in the room and, as any old preschool teacher knows, these make excellent toys when blown up. The next day we visited again, this time with a special lovey blanket selected by Ava for Austin. She had matured since Tyler’s birth and didn’t ask for anything for herself, but Tyler now needed numerous transforming creatures to comfort his loss of baby status in the family.

We planned an excellent reception for Austin’s homecoming, complete with balloons and cake. I guess I got the kids too excited, however, because when Mom, Dad, and baby brother arrived, they yanked Mom from the car. We now have a lovely video of her wincing in pain while I exclaim, “Oh, look at him. He’s so little and cute,” in a fruitless effort to make Ava and Tyler happy he existed. Austin's arrival did not thrill his sibs as much as me. Even the dogs were depressed. But I was one happy grandmother, getting to cuddle "Lucky #7."


by Laurie Levy
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