The baby was late. Nobody panicked—first babies often are. Plus the expectant mother is a pediatric emergency nurse. And boy, does she know her stuff. They fly her in by helicopter to deal with tough situations. Not only that, her sister is a nurse, and her mom, who was coming in from Chicago for the occasion is also a nurse.
It wasn’t like what happened in April, a mere four months prior when my daughter had her first child. Baby Scarlett was early! I barely made it to Tacoma in time to welcome her to the world. After a false start, I relaxed into thinking Eh, this baby won’t be here until May.
I was wrong. I got the text just as I was boarding Southwest thinking I had a week to put the swing together, assemble the crib, and sort the adorable baby outfits that cherished friends and family bestowed upon her knowing it was a girl.
And then I got the text – come now! Get on the next plane. Scarlett is on the way! Gasp. Early. Well, all I could do was make a beeline for the airport. I considered driving, but even if I drove straight through for fourteen hours it would not get me there any faster.
Once I was on the airplane it was out of my control. No matter how hard I flapped my arms we would arrive in Seattle when the pilot landed the plane. On landing, I grabbed my bags and raced for the door to find the Uber pick-up curb. What?! My Uber app disappeared from my phone. Panic! Oh, but wait—there’s a taxi stand. How much more could it be? I did not care. I jumped into the big yellow van and sat in front with my driver, Singh. As we pulled away from the curb, I flashed a megawatt smile and cried, “Hit it, Singh! Gotta get to the hospital stat!”
To which he chuckled, “What do you mean, hit it? The traffic is bumper-to-bumper rush hour. We will not be hitting it!”
I took a look around and we both started howling with laughter!
He screeched up to the hospital entrance, got the handles of the two large rolling suitcases into my outstretched hands behind me and wished me luck as I sprinted down the hall looking for the maternity wing. Make way, here comes grandma!
I came sliding into the room in a cloud of dust to see the new mama and sweet baby girl snuggling quietly. Everything was fine and dandy and it all happened without my presence or assistance. The proud new mother smiled up at me as I tried to collect myself. She eyed me up and down as I stood there huffing and puffing in my leather motorcycle jacket, ripped jeans, and chunky black boots, “Mom! You look like you’re going to a Kiss concert.”
When my son and wife announced they were expecting their first child, I vowed to be waiting calmly in the wings. Well, that didn’t happen.
Like I said, the baby was late. I didn’t want to miss it. I slept with my cell phone under my pillow. I got a text saying contractions had started and they were four minutes apart. Four minutes apart! I better get ready. I packed a bag and put it by the door. Wait a minute—who’s having this baby anyway?!
It was a false alarm. Relax. Wait for the text. Go about your day! And go about it again on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I did not dare call or text. If there was anything to report I would get word. They wouldn’t forget me, would they?
Finally, on Friday morning it was happening. I thought about driving to the hospital that night, but figured I would be sleeping in the waiting room. So, I got into bed with my cell phone in my hand and stared at the ceiling until 4:00 a.m. A couple of hours later my eyes flew open! 6:30 a.m. No text. I paced around my apartment. I could stand it no more! By 7:45, I texted my son. No answer. That’s it. I Googled the hospital and called the nurse’s desk. I tried to contain myself before the phone was answered.
“Hi! I’m the grandma! Is everything okay in room 336?”
“Yes, all is well. They are sleeping.”
“They? You said ‘they.’ Did she have the baby???”
“We’re not allowed to tell you anything. Your son is in the room. You can call him.”
Just then my phone dinged and it said “fully dilated! Still a ways to go so hang tight.”
Me?! Hang tight? Nope, it was time to move into action! I jumped in the shower, threw on some comfy duds, and raced to Safeway for some flowers, a bottle of bubbly, and a family pack of M & M’s. Then I hit the road to Oakland for the hour and a half drive. I found the maternity section easily and dashed to the nurse’s station breathless. Remember the vow to remain calm and quietly wait in the wings? Hmmmm…
I sat in the waiting room after the nurse said it would be at least an hour, maybe two. After fidgeting for an hour and a half, I decided to distract myself by going down to the cafeteria and buying a sandwich. Just as I got out of the elevator my phone rang. “Mom! Where are you? You’re supposed to be in the waiting room.”
“Oh, um, oh, I was getting a sandwich. Boy or girl??”
“Be right there!” As the elevator doors opened there stood the proud dad, beaming.
“Judah? Like the street?” (Street in the Sunset district.)
“Judah, like the N-Judah?” (MUNI line in San Francisco.)”
So, while most people are cooing about how biblical the name, Judah Joseph sounds, we are giggling about fun memories of the city. I know another couple who named their son Zion. In my head, I start singing “By the rivers of Babylon…” along with Bob Marley. In reality, they lived near Zion Park in San Diego, so it seemed as good a name as any. (By the rivers of Babylon…)
Whatever happened to names like Bob and Carol, Ted and Alice?
We shall see what shakes out with new baby—will he be Jude? We played the song for him a few hours after birth and we all sang along. Or will he be “J J?” His personality will determine what he’s called. Just as us “Grannies” don’t really get to choose. When asked what I wanted to be called I said C J, or maybe G-Ma. Scarlett’s mom decided “GiGi” suits me. We all know the kids decide. My own mother got dubbed”Nonnie” but another set of grandkids calls her “Apple Teapot.” Go figure.
No matter what shakes out, it’s all thrilling, wonderful, and exciting. Mazel Tov!
As the great William Shakespeare said, “That which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.” And sweet they are. Precious! No matter what they call me.