Before I announce my GRAND news for the week I thought I should mention (for those of you who are who live in Utah) that Richard and I will be doing signings for our “companion” Grandparenting Books Grandmothering, Secrets to Making a Difference While Having the Time of your Life (released just in time for Mother’s Day) and Being a Proactive Grandfather _at the Midvale Deseret Book (1110 E Fort Union Blvd) store on Saturday May 5th from 12:30-2:30 p.m. and on Saturday May 12 at the downtown City Creek Deseret Book store (45 W. South Temple) from 12:30-2:30. We would love to visit with you if you are in the area!
This week I have been up to my neck in Grandmothering! Richard and I just arrived home last night after a three week historic (at least for our family) journey that included the arrival of two new grand babies in one week on two different continents. That is about as good as it gets when it comes to Grandmothering, especially when I got to be at the birth of one and see the other one within the first two weeks of her life!
Richard and I had a speech in New Jersey on April 9th, just before the imminent birth of our new little granddaughter in New York. So while we were there, we enjoyed a fun three days with our son Eli and daughter in law Julie, 5 year old Zara and 2 year old Dean just days before the exciting arrival!
We got to see Zara’s “Miracle Christmas Bike” and admire Julie in her very pregnant, always upbeat, nurturing state, waiting for the arrival of her mother for the birth of that baby on April 15th.
On April 11th, the Braxton Hicks contractions were going strong and signs of a 2nd birth for our youngest daughter Charity in London were prominent, so rather than take the risks of missing the home birth she had planned so carefully with my presence requested, I boarded a plane for London and send Richard on alone to give a speech in Canada while I flew across the pond. I must have meant to go then as an airline fare from NYC to London popped up just as I decided to go for $127.40! Serendipity!
Charity (along with two year old Moses) and I enjoyed some halcyon days together awaiting the arrival of that baby who stubbornly stayed in until his very due date (April 21st). During those luxurious nine days of waiting we saw many of the magnificently manicured parks of London...
Including Hyde Park (on our way to church)
The gorgeous gardens at Regent Park
Stunning Holland Park
The Princess Diana Memorial Playground
Not to mention spending many hours with Moses at the incredible private garden for residents across the street from their flat.
We even went to an early birthday Afternoon Tea at a wonderful little Hotel suggested to us by Charity’s friend. My birthday was on April 22nd but we thought we would be busy with a new baby by then.
On Friday afternoon, the 20th, Ian met us after work at Kensington Gardens. Charity and I had so much fun chatting and watching Ian and Moses play at the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, which is a huge “lazy river” circling around the garden where hundreds of kids played in shallow water. Great idea in the memory of Diana, who loved kids!
Although we’d had several false alarms on steady contractions five minutes apart, they started in earnest first thing in the morning on April 21st. By afternoon we “Called the Midwife,” She is a 25 year old, very competent young woman with a stellar education in everything having to do with childbirth. I have to admit some worry/skepticism about whether their firm plan about having a home birth was wise, but by the time I was thoroughly “educated” about the safety of a home birth, I was placated and decided to go with the flow!
As soon as the contractions had been steady for a couple of hours, Ian sprang into action…filling up the birthing tub in the living room of their flat, It had been purchased and was sitting in a box after being been set up on a trial run a couple of weeks earlier! They were so excited!
After a very unhappy experience with her last birth, she was more than delighted to get into the tub and do it “her way” this time! The contractions were pretty steady but not changing much so the midwife went home and waited for the call saying that things were getting serious. By 7 p.m. they called the midwife again and she called her back-up midwife who arrived shortly after she did and the real labor began. This face was a different kind of happy during the next four hours. :)
Ian was an incredible supporter and during the pretty intense details that followed, he was remarkable. But for the next four hours of hard labor, Charity was astonishing! She was thrilled to be experiencing the delivery of her dreams, although she had to admit that the last hour she was “ready to be done!” :)
By 9 p.m. when she had “enjoyed” two hours of hard labor, I asked her (tongue in cheek) if she would like to wait for just three more hours for my birthday which would begin at midnight. She smiled and declined. Sparing you the amazing details of those sacred next couple of hours, that little cherub finally emerged in the water and Gabriel James Wright took his first breath at 11:05 p.m. Heaven filled that room to the brim! That space was soaking with joy! (Pictures are shared by permission).
Here are the two midwives who attended and did such a beautiful job of guiding Charity through this miraculous process! These pictures makes it look easy, but as those of you know who have given birth…it isn’t! Hard labor in an exquisite way (in every sense of the word) to bring a child into the world!
I know they look young, but they were just amazing! The British health care system for helping with the birth of babies as well as attentive care for 4-6 weeks afterward is a marvel!
The baby may have missed my birthday, but he hit the Queen’s birthday which counts for something :). And the new Royal Baby was born on the 23rd. There must have been some royal blood in the air because this baby is truly a little prince!
The next nine days before I left were halcyon days that only a new baby can bring! I kept the fridge stocked and prepared meals while the new parents reveled in introducing the new baby to 21 month old Moses, who had been staying with a kind friend during and after the birth until they were ready to “show him off.” The normal worries and wondering and rejoicing and excitement of having a new baby in the house all added to the wonder of those first few days in the life of an infant.
As you can see, Moses LOVED his new baby brother!
And you can see why! (Even though his world is about to be rocked!)
On May 30th we returned to our darling family in New York City who had a pretty exciting birth story themselves after we left. On April 15rh Julie was having serious contractions every 3 minutes and amniotic fluid leaking when they called us from an Uber to say they were on their way to the hospital downtown. Her labor on the last baby from start to finish was 3 hours so they were In a bit of a panic to get to the hospital!
Of course, as life goes, as soon as they got there, the pains slowed down and they hospital told the to come back when contractions began in earnest. They were warned that Julie would have to deliver the baby within 24 hours because of possible complications with the amniotic fluid. Unfortunately they live a long way away from the hospital in that big city, especially considering New York traffic and flooding in the subway stations at that moment.
Our daughter Saydi who adores the childbirth experience and was taking a class to be a volunteer doula in Salt Lake, “happened" to be in town from SLC with her 9 year old daughter and she gleefully rushed to the hospital, only to find they had been turned away. To make a long story short, they got a hotel room a short walk from the hospital ad they all three ended up getting about 2-3 hours of sleep in a king size bed! Eli slept in the middle. That will be a night to remember for all!
The labor finally kicked in the next morning, but still wasn’t progressing when the 24 hours expired so they gave Julie a tiny tiny dose of pitocyn, which kicked everything into gear. Saydi and Eli helped Julie through the garganuous contractions and Little Etta Joy (Saydi’s middle name) Eyre shot into the world with her little amniotic sac intact in less than an hour. Again jubilation filled the air!
There is nothing like holding a newborn baby, especially by a father who adored her with love at first sight!
Here is little Etta with the lights of the Brooklyn Bridge in the background! Living in New York has its perks!
Actually the hospitals downtown is not one of them. Julie had to walk a long way for a shower and share a room with a roommate and her baby who were about four feet away, separated only by a curtain.
That baby girl has to stay under the lights in the hospital for three days because of Jaundice so we were so glad when she was home safe. Did I say safe? If you only know what these two are capable of, you would wonder! We arrived in NYC just in time to take these pictures of these three little buddies who live in about 700 square feet in a five story walk-up in the Upper West side of Manhattan. They’re as "snug as 5 bugs in a rug!” Truly amazing!
What a dazzling week three weeks I've had helping with these two little grandbabies (along with Richard) and being amazed at their parents who are well-prepared for the exciting, exhilarating, exhausting, joyful road ahead!
It was one of the greatest times of my life!