A guest post from writer AND grandmother, Chris Rosen:
Writing a blog was my revenge for being left with an empty nest and moving over 300 miles south to the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was also a way to deal with becoming another type of mother – the Mother-of-the Bride, who rapidly turns into a Mother-in-Law, and then wonder of wonders, a Grandmother. My daughter is the Bride (an ER doctor), her husband is the Groom (an Internal Medicine doctor),and my husband is Bob (another ER doctor). Hospitals are their turf, and this is our story.
Bob and I lost the Bride and the Groom in the hospital parking garage. Well we didn’t really lose them, since we have smart cells and can always find them again, wherever they are. Except for maybe a Caribbean island, our collective happy visualization spot!
We were headed for Labor and Delivery; we picked up the happy couple on another subterranean floor and as we’re going up in the elevator, I repeat “BJ,” maybe a touch too loud. That is where we will presumably find my car again, once we are grandparents. Basment level, row “J.” Except for a small giggle from the back of the elevator, the Bride turns to me and says, “Don’t you have that App?” “What App?” I say.
It seems there is an App that will locate your car for you when you are stuck in an airport or mall parking lot, or even a covered, cavernous hospital garage. Now not only will I never get lost, I’ll never lose my car again! “Interesting,” I said, “Have they created an App that will tell me – “‘Why am I here?’” The whole elevator had a smile about that one. But really, besides the existensial question in general, why do we need grandparents? Let me count the ways.
To Cook! Your children will be busy, very busy with a newborn. Cooking anything will be appreciated. I lucked out cause the Groom does dishes.
To Shop! Of course you need to shop for the groceries to cook, which should include all your daughter’s favorite things…avocados, peaches, grapefruit juice. Don’t forget the new Dad, he needs beer and beef. You won’t go wrong. And be prepared to go on special hunting expeditions for things like Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads – amazing things! Spell it out on your Notes App, L-A-N-S-I-N-O-H. ps Target carries them.
To Burp, Rock and Change the Occasional Diaper! Be prepared. Dads are way more involved than they were in our day. So the actual baby nurse duties will be minimal with a nursing Mom and today’s Dad.
To Give Nursing Advice! Who needs a doula when you have a Grandmother? Well, maybe we did. It’s been over 30 years since I nursed the Bride and for some strange reason this hospital doesn’t employ Lactation Counsultants on weekends. I had a 1-800 La Leche number, and now I have a post-menopausal brain that tends to forget the tough times of sleep deprivation and an inverted nipple. Lucky for me, the Bride has a very cooperative baby girl!
To Know When NOT to Give Advice! This can be tricky. I learned a long time ago never to give anyone advice unless they asked for it. But when it’s your daughter, and your brand new grand daughter you may start to feel just like one of those crazy, old women who would constantly tell you what to do when you were a new mom. “What do you mean the nurse recommends not putting lotion on her bottom?” “You’re going to swaddle her that tight?” Anyway, try very hard to keep most of your opinions to yourself – unless asked. My daughter said she only sees babies in the ER who are either dehydrated or febrile and septic, so I trust her to know what to do in most every circumstance. Still, that leaves a wide range of normal neonate behavior, right? “Wait, you want the dog to lick her face?”
To Take Pictures. My phone has like 4 or 5 picture Apps! Here’s the thing, you get to take pictures as much as you want! And you get to catch those unlikely times with the whole new family. For instance, I think this looks like a soap opera. First time nursing in the recovery room: nurse at the computer, BFF and colleague Kristyn comes in, off camera are many of their friends who are residents…all crying. And bam, the Groom turns. What is he thinking?
I would be thinking, “Should I use my John S Lens, Blanko Noir film/no flash for the next Hipstamatic print I want to upload on Instagram?”
But, later I will tell the new parents to forget all those Apps that help you keep track of wet diapers and feedings. To relax, disconnect from the internet, cuddle and play together and try to rest. Because this is the greatest gift we grandparents can give; the gift of time to enjoy the new baby
Chris Rosen divides her time between Charlottesville, VA and Nashville, TN where her new granddaughter was just born. A contributor to Tangerine Tango, she was a columnist for the Two River Times in Red Bank, NJ. She also wrote for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She has been a UVA Community Scholar and is currently working on a book about her Mother, The Flapper. Check out her blog, Mountain Mornings. She poses below with baby Caroline Rose.