When our grandson was born two years ago, my husband and I were at the hospital and were able to both see and hold him within hours of his birth. In the weeks that followed, I often stopped by my daughter’s house to help out so she and her husband could run an errand or take a much-needed nap. I quickly learned just how strong the bond between a grandparent and grandchild can be, and what a gift that relationship was.
So when I heard that happy news that my son and daughter-in-law were expecting a child in June, I believed that I knew exactly what to expect. I thought that I’d get to meet my new granddaughter at the hospital, and had already told her parents that I’d be more than happy to help out when they brought their new baby home. Truth be told, I was really looking forward to it.
But then a sneaky little virus wormed it’s way into our lives, and I knew that I wouldn’t be meeting our new granddaughter at the hospital. When we got the call that she was coming six weeks early, all we could do was pray for a safe delivery and a healthy baby. She spent her first two weeks in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, and when she finally came home, we counted ourselves lucky to see her for the first time outside and from a distance.
The weeks went by and she grew bigger and stronger, and our son and daughter-in-law were very good about letting us visit whenever we asked, even allowing us to hold her. But something still felt just a little bit “off.” I loved my new granddaughter, but I didn’t feel as if I actually knew her. The fact that she was a preemie, born during a pandemic, created some barriers, at least in my mind. And while I knew it was for the best, it still made me sad.
That all changed last Saturday, when I had the privilege of babysitting for her for the day. It was my first time alone with her, and the first time caring for her. You learn something about a baby when you rock her to sleep, feed her, change her diaper, and sing a silly song to keep her entertained. And when she (almost) smiles at you, and you feel the unmistakable bond between a grandparent and a grandchild, your heart just sings. This was exactly what I had been longing for, I finally realized. I wanted the chance to really know my granddaughter, and to connect with her.
Sometimes we just need to be patient in this life, especially when we’re living through such unsettled times. I may have had to wait until it was safe, but the time did come when I was able to interact with my granddaughter in all the ways I had envisioned when I first heard my daughter-in-law was pregnant. And you know what? She was absolutely worth the wait.