The year was 2006, the month was March. I’d been longing to be a grandma for oh so long. Prayers were prayed, decisions were made to adopt, and we traveled to Guatemala with our daughter and son-in-love and Grandma Cindy to meet the baby who would be our very first grandchild.
We met him, we held him, we watched him react with his new mommy and daddy. And we fell in love. My grandma heart was fully activated.
Though we lived two hours from the new grandbaby, I made an immediate and firm decision that I would drive two days a week to their home to provide childcare while Mommy worked. I’d waited all these years, and my time was NOW to be this little guy’s Grammy B.
On that very first day of just me and grandson, I must admit I was a little unsure of my skills. The very first time he woke from a nap and started crying I walked into his room. He looked at me, I looked at him. I picked him up and held him close, then fed him his bottle. As I held him over my shoulder to burp him reality flooded over me. “What in the world have I gotten into? This is beyond my skill set. It’s been too long.” The fear was real. But the longer I held him close with his body close to my heart and his face close to mine, the bond was sealed. He was mine.
Naptime quickly became quite precious and necessary. (I was tired, okay?) Baby boy loved to be rocked and I was happy to comply. Normally it took him a while to relax and sleep. To speed up the process I decided to sing to him. The first song that came to mind was Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I knew all the words and I sang it to him as our eyes remained locked on each other. This became my normal naptime routine. I sang it over and over, sometimes just humming the tune because, for real, I was very tired. And sometimes I’d continue to rock him and continue to softly sing even after he’d fallen asleep. I could do that. He was mine.
And so it happened that I developed a lullaby voice in the year 2006. Fast forward to 2017. Grandbaby number four. This one has a favorite word: Book. He says it all the time, while holding out a book for me to read. It’s our naptime ritual. So when it’s time for him to nap, I don’t sing to him with my lullaby voice. I read to him in my lullaby voice. Soft, soothing words with a sweet tone of voice. All the words read at the same volume. Lullaby reading. And he listens and I rock him and he goes to sleep.
This lullaby reading thing is really quite simple unless you’re trying to use your sweet soothing soft tone of voice while reading Wonky Donkey, which is one of his favorite books. Imagine if you will the following excerpt read in lullaby voice: “He only had three legs, one eye, he liked to listen to country music, he was quite tall and slim and he smelt really, really bad. He was a stinky-dinky, lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey” Oh, yes, that’ll bring a tear to your eye. (from laughter!)
As it happens, I’ve found another use for my lullaby reading voice. The News.
I refuse to watch the news on TV, but I do read the news. With an inner “lullaby voice” to dull the effects of what I’m reading. It works pretty well as a rule. Not much different than reading Wonky Donkey lullaby style. 😜
With one recent exception where the news was so very horrifying and bone chilling that no sweet soft tone of voice could soothe the ugliness.
I don’t do politics, I don’t do controversy. I have no intention of bashing anyone’s beliefs or bringing up painful memories. But listening to the recent decisions about full term abortions? Listening to the graphic description shared rather nonchalantly by a physician of how the procedure would be done? And the words “just see what might happen” after the process was over? There is no lullaby voice for this story. I tried to read the words closed caption on the volume-muted video like I make a habit of doing, but I was too overcome with horror to accomplish that. I had to listen. This story hits way too close to home for this grandma.
Our third grandchild was born around 24 weeks, 1 lb 10 oz. Many weeks away from 38-40 week full term status. His birth mom wasn’t able to make the choice to keep him. The words “just see what happens” have entered my mind many times when I think about that surgical suite on the night of his emergency birth. I can envision doctors and nurses and surgical techs, and that mommy, looking at a fragile little piece of humanity fighting to live. High risk? Oh, yeah. The chances that he would not be developmentally disabled were quite slim if he lived at all. Especially if the thought would have been…”just see what happens.” Especially since…. he wasn’t planned, didn’t have the promise of a mom and dad to go home to, needed heroic expensive care which meant transporting him hundreds of miles to an appropriate NICU.
Decisions were made. Transport was quickly arranged, he spent 3 months in NICU fighting for his life. No visitors, no family contact. Wonderful compassionate care by loving nurses and doctors. They saved his life. I believe from conversations with my doctor friend that anything over 23 weeks gestation is considered viable and care is given no matter what. Anyway that’s how things work now with current laws.
Current laws could change.
On the day our daughter and son-in-love first learned of his existence, and later that day met him, he was three months old and weighed 6 pounds. He was on oxygen and an apnea monitor. No promises were made to them that he wouldn’t have special needs. Instructions were given for his care that were far more involved than taking a full term healthy infant home. He was high risk. And they chose him as their own. They chose to adopt him. High risk and all…. they wanted him. He is so very loved. So. Very. Loved. I cannot imagine life without him.
Right now as I’m writing this I received a text message from his mommy. With this picture of his Valentine box that he made to take to school. He’s in second grade. No developmental delays. No physical issues. Perfect. One unique fun little fellow.
The high risk was so very worth it.
And now for my first and last political opinion: instead of making abortion such a cheap and easy option even up to full term gestation, I wish that adoption laws could be changed to make it affordable and a simpler legal process. There are so very many couples out there who are longing to be a mommy and daddy. And my heart also goes out to women with unplanned, complicated pregnancies. Nothing is easy about either scenario…. but the option of adoption is a blessing beyond description. Just see what might happen!
Further reading: I just have to wonder about that day.