When your first grandchild is born during a pandemic you realise being a grandparent is not going to be how you imagined it would be.
I am trying to keep a sense of perspective about the whole thing. Telling myself that at least Lily Elena, who arrived on May 20th, is safe at home with her mummy (my eldest daughter) and daddy. That they are all safe as they shielded and the maternity unit into which she entered the world had done their utmost to keep all new parents and babies safe and well with adequate PPE and strict rules about comings and goings. There really isn’t a better place for them to be at the moment than all home alone together.
I know all of that deep down but it doesn’t stop the ache of wanting to hold this precious little baby and giving her a gentle squeeze. Booping her nose, sniffing her hair and properly welcoming her to the world are all things I had envisaged from long before the happy couple told us last autumn they were expecting. From the minute we were presented with our mugs telling us we had been promoted to Nanny and Grandpa, back when I wrote a blog post about becoming a granny, I have been imagining what granny-hood would be like. People have told me it is the best job in the world, that you get all the perks of parenthood but you can skip the sleepless nights and go home each night. So to have had my first grandchild born during a pandemic has been a tough one, and is something I could never have imagined.
None of us could have imagined this for 2020, could we?
Certainly I didn’t imagine Caity’s labour would be followed on WhatsApp, wondering when there was a four hour gap at tea time if everything was okay, going through a whole dialogue in my head of “I wonder if she is here yet” / “maybe there has been an emergency C section” / “surely if there was a problem Dan would have called” / “maybe I should call, Dan” / “I wonder if she is here yet” on repeat for the entire time. I had joked that Dan’s mum and I would be happily pacing the corridors of the maternity unit waiting to welcome our grand-daughter from the second we heard they had gone in and, well, that went out of the window in March when lockdown rules were announced. It was touch and go whether or not Dan would even be allowed to be there for the whole labour, so any thoughts of anybody else being there were quickly cast aside. Which was probably also for the best as Caity’s labour ended up being 36 hours, and you all know I can’t go longer than about three without needing a cuppa or a wee. Or both.
Lily has been born into the most extraordinary extended family. At their wedding my dad joked that it was the coming together of not two families, as is traditional, but of four. Lily has great grandmas and granddads, four grandmas, three grandads, a whole clutch of aunties and uncles and countless friends who are all ready to protect her from whatever life throws at her in the years ahead.
We just need that first hug first.