Entry 10 - A hug and a shoulder.

Some things you can fix; some things you can’t. The trick is figuring out when to keep trying, when to let go and when to just be a shoulder.

My youngest had fallen in love, married and was living in the Chicago area. She was about to present us with our second grandchild and had asked me if I would like to be in the delivery room with her to watch the miracle happen! Silly question. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited! This was not a possibility when I was having babies. They didn’t even allow the Dads in the labor or delivery rooms back then. And since Hope had been five months old when we met her this would be our first experience with the entire process of becoming a grandparent. She was due just before Thanksgiving. We would have something very tangible to be thankful for this year! I immediately went shopping!

Since we had moved to the Minneapolis area the year before I drove the seven hours to her and her husband’s home the day before she was scheduled to have her labor induced. A scheduled birth! How convenient for me! I had been apprehensive of the thought that she would go into labor and give birth before I could get there. We had a family history of expeditious labors. Her appointment was two days before Thanksgiving. I felt as if I had wings for what was normally a tiring trip and could hardly contain my excitement. If I didn’t have to stop for gas (and the restroom) I certainly wouldn’t have!

I should preface this entire story to let you know that the longest labor I had experienced myself was five hours with my first born. My labor with each of the girls was only two hours. I think my body was tailor made for pumping out babies. The nurses were not able to get my mom to the delivery room in time. She delivered my brother in the labor room. My daughter did not expect her labor to be any different.

The appointment was at 7:00 a.m. Everything was ready. We set up her music. The nurses prepped her and gave instructions to Andy and me. We turned on the television to pass the time until the excitement would begin.

Ten hours later our grandson had still not presented himself and I think my daughter was starting to be a little irritated with the entire process. I’m very lucky I was not within reaching distance when I said (tongue-in-cheek to lighten the mood), “Well, who was it that made you think this was going to be a short and easy procedure?” The look in her eyes told me that humor was not going to be appropriate at this time.

Another five hours passed before Lucas entered our world. I was in awe of the experience. Being at the receiving end was totally different than the shipping end. He, of course, was perfect; round, pink, and soft, with all of his digits attached.  My son-in-law and I went home to make last minute preparations for the big arrival.

Overnight his breathing had become shallow. It was a concern enough for the doctors to insist that Lucas stay in the hospital another day. My daughter, her husband and I went home without a baby.

The house was thick with absolute stillness and silence. You could hear yourself breathe. That evening I found her sitting on the edge of her bed with her head hung low - just sitting. My heart was breaking when I sat next to her. She was supposed to be bringing home her child. It was supposed to have been a joyous day. I put my arm around her and said “I have no words of wisdom for you. This stinks. This hurts. This is scary.” We both cried.

“I'll lean on you and you lean on me and we'll be okay.”
 Dave Matthews

Thanksgiving was not what we had intended. Although the baby had improved he was not with us that day. The day was filled with forced smiles and conversation. The feast was not quite as tasty or succulent as was anticipated. This had nothing to do with the skill of the cook!

Almost immediately after dinner the telephone rang and we all stopped moving. My daughter seized the receiver. We were all on the edge of our seats and watching intently for any sign of what the caller was saying. There were a lot of “yeses”, “no’s” and head nodding. Then it happened.

She always had such a beautiful smile.

The doctors had taken very good care of him and Lucas came home the day after Thanksgiving. He was as perfect as we first thought he was.

The Lesson: You don't have to have the solution to every problem. None of us has the solution to every problem. There are many situations where trying to offer a solution will not be accepted as assistance. Sometimes offering that shoulder to cry on is exactly what is needed.