It was July 2020, smack dab in the middle of lockdown, when I received a call from my daughter announcing she was pregnant. Lexy and her husband, Andrew, had just purchased a home—in Oregon. A little bittersweet as I could only enjoy this remotely. I had the real estate listing of their house locked in my phone, going through the pictures daily. I was so happy for them. I felt like a stalker when I went on Google Earth. There I could walk up and down their neighbourhood like a needy ghost stopping to stare at their front door. I was aching to be there with them.
In December, they braved a border crossing and came to Victoria to spend Christmas with us. It was a delight to walk my grand-dog, Oscar and pick up whatever groceries they needed while they served their time in quarantine. Looking at them through a glass door was way better than staring at them on Zoom. Finally, we became a bubble. This took the term family enmeshment to a new level, especially when we shared Lexy’s food cravings.
Like all of our visits, time went too quickly and once again, we found ourselves saying goodbye. I can usually contain my tears to drives from an airport after dropping Lexy and Andrew off. This time was different; as I hugged Lexy goodbye, I could feel my granddaughter between us. More to love, more to miss and more to worry about.
The third trimester was traumatic. At 32 weeks, Lexy had complications, scary ones. She was admitted to the hospital, where the doctors were contemplating a C-section. I found this out via text message. While the baby would survive, she would be spending two months in an incubator. And what about my daughter? She was so scared and stressed. How could I help her? Even if I were to fly down there, I wouldn’t be allowed to visit her in the hospital. My only choice was to faint; the helplessness was overwhelming.
Later that day, she called me. She had been discharged under the condition that she would be monitored closely. She was determined to stay pregnant as long as she could. Days turned into weeks, each one feeling like a miracle. While there were concerns, Lexy had the backbone to make tough decisions every day. I tried to keep my anxiety in check, but I would become frozen with fear if she didn’t answer my texts right away. Then I would hear the ding of a message, Sorry mom, Andy and I just took Oscar for a walk. Okay, breathing again.
At 39 weeks, Lexy went into labour. I was right there beside them via text. iPhones don’t faint, so I was good with this. The greatest relief and thrill came through a picture. Arlow is her name.
Time to get down there. I thought I could drive down, and that felt safe to me. I even upgraded my car to something more reliable, but the borders were closed. Flying was the only option. Yikes. When I saw all the hoops I would have to jump through, my anxiety said, I can’t do this. For about two hours, I just sat and cried. It is funny what anxiety can do; not only does it shrink our ability to think creatively and rationally, but it tries to stop us from doing meaningful things. Once my nervous system calmed down, the mature and very new grandmother, part of me, stepped up. When that happened, nothing would stop me. I was off.
I was thrilled to see Andrew at the airport in Oregon. We were able to catch up on the last seven weeks, the hospital experience and debrief about the trauma of childbirth from a different angle than the mother. There is so much that we aren’t prepared for when we have a baby. It is something that you just don’t get without the experience.
Arriving at their house was surreal. I’m here now. I’m going to see my baby and her baby. There are no words, just grand-feelings.
For 12 glorious days, I vibrated with love. I was awed by Lexy’s maternal instincts and moved by Andrew’s care for both his wife and his daughter. I fell in love with Arlow, the most beautiful baby on the planet, who looks so much like me I’m surprised they didn’t call her Allison. ;) Every time Lexy thanked me for cooking or cleaning or doing a baby shift, I told her it brought me joy. She was beginning to understand how wonderful it is for a mother to love her daughter as I was experiencing the grand-feelings of loving them all.