The guessing games are over and I don’t have to wonder what it feels like to be one any more. I can stop looking at babies in grocery carts pushed by women who look a bit too old to be their moms and stop feeling jealous. I also can look on Face Book at all the pictures of everyone else’s grand children, and now feel the camaraderie: I’m a Grandma.
As of 7:33 PM, November 22, 2012 (which, by the way was Thanksgiving Day, my favorite holiday), I joined the ranks of millions and possibly billions of women who have gone on before me: Eve, Grandma Moses, the old woman who lived in a shoe, Mother Goose (I know, she’s a bird, but then again, so am I), my lovely grandmothers, Edna and Annis, Sarah Palin, my mother-in-law, Patricia and my mother, Virginia, who is my hero, weighing in with eighteen grandchildren and plenty of bragging rights.
Arriving a couple days ahead of the blessed event, to ensure that I wouldn’t miss one jot or tittle of the labor and delivery of John’s and Mesha’s baby, I found myself staying at Peter and Isaaca’s house in Nashville, Tennessee. All of my children live there and we were hoping to kill two birds with one stone; celebrate Thanksgiving together and have a baby while Bill and I were visiting everyone. It always helps to have a plan, right?
With plans in mind for Thanksgiving Eve, I put together a hearty stew and invited all the kids over, setting the trap, luring them to help me prepare for the next day’s feast by plying them with good food and wine. It worked! Cody was the DJ, playing his favorites- Merle Haggard and George Jones. We alternately ate, danced, chopped vegetables, made cakes and watched the oven while we also kept watch on another oven…our radiant, gloriously pregnant, Mesha.
She was fascinating to watch in her pregnant splendor, her dark hair spilling over her shoulders, her belly stretching to seemingly unnatural limits and her legs and feet a bit swollen from carrying the extra weight. She sat as a queen upon the couch, all of us anxious to jump at her requests, bringing her more bread, propping up her feet, pouring her more water, all the while wondering when her body timer would go off and make a buzzing sound, alerting us all that the baby was done and needed to come out of the oven. I supposed she fascinated me so much because she carried my first grandchild, my own flesh and blood besides my own children and the next cycle of life in our family.
We got the call at 3:15 AM, Thanksgiving morning. “Momma Byrd…my water’s broken and I’m having trouble waking up John”. I don’t know why men want to turn back over go back to their dreaming when they hear news like that in the dead middle of the night, but he did, believing that she had to be joking. Mesha cried, “I was dreaming that my water broke and I woke up and jumped out of bed and it broke…right there on the floor”. There was no time to spare, I thought. “Bill and I will be over in about twenty minutes. Girl, this means you are, for sure, having a baby…Today”! I clicked “end” on my cell phone and went to wake up Bill.
She labored all day and early on it became obvious that we would miss the Thanksgiving feast. I called Natalie, Stacey and Isaaca and said, “Looks like we’re having the baby today. You girls are going to have to cook everything we didn’t cook last night”, which was really a lot of food because we were too fascinated with Mesha to do much cooking. “I know we had big plans, but you guys just cook the turkey, ham, dressing and make all of the side dishes. I know you can do it.” And just like that, I shirked all of my normal Thanksgiving duties as “the mom” and handed them off to the second generation so that the third generation could be born.
At about 6:00 PM, the kids began to wander up to the second floor of the hospital to wait out the birth. All of the men stayed in the waiting room and my daughters and I watched Mesha and John have the baby. Even though I had birthed six of my own, I had never actually watched a baby being born. Mesha wowed us all as she let her body take over and push out another human being, another little girl, our Lilyana Espen Byrd.
With my eyes full of tears and my heart filled to the brim with wonderment and joy at the sight of my Thanksgiving bundle of love, I looked around the room, busy with women cleaning up an exhausted but relieved and beautiful Mesha, nurses clamoring to make sure the baby was normal, all eight pounds, eleven ounces of her royal highness, Princess Lilyana! My daughters were punch drunk with “aunthood” and my son, beaming with pride looked good in his new role of fatherhood, as he gazed lovingly into the face of his perfect daughter. One by one, the men in my family, the new grandpa, Bill and uncles, Jeremy, Cody and Peter, trickled into the hospital room, peeking around the curtain, anxious to see a child they had months ago decided was their baby too, to love, defend and protect.
I felt like it was a scene from “Parenthood” as we stood in a circle around the bed and it was, but only our own version. Our own episode. The Byrd family at it’s finest. I was getting my feast. A love feast. Quite a perfect Thanksgiving Day, my favorite holiday. I have to smile and say, “Thank you Lord”. ‘Cause God always did love me best.