I distinctly remember the moment I looked down into the cradle at our firstborn thirty-two years ago and thinking that my heart would surely burst from all the love it had in it. Just how could a person love something that much? More than the man I had stood in a church with five years earlier and promised my life to? More than God himself? You bet. And then a little more than two years later, it happened all over again.
|Proud papa with baby Jenna - September 1982|
Through the years, I’ve tried to explain to my girls what a love like that is like. But of course, they can’t know, not really know, until they’ve experienced it for themselves. All mothers say that, don’t they? “Just wait until you have children of your own. Then you’ll know what I mean.”
Three months ago, Romie and I learned we would be grandparents for the first time. Younger daughter Jenna and her husband Joe are having a baby in late September. Maybe it won’t be until October. First babies are notoriously later than early. But before this year is out, my husband will be sleeping with "Grandma."
Jenna felt the baby move a few weeks ago for the first. She texted me to tell me. A few weeks before that, she texted an audio file to me, accompanied by the words, “Here is your granddaughter/grandson’s heartbeat. Enjoy.” Before the short “thump-thump-thump-thump” was halfway through, I was in tears. And that feeling of love that I first felt so many years ago came rushing back. It was exactly the same, but different.
Mother's Day 2012
She’s showing now, and is a tad more than halfway through her pregnancy already. We’ve talked about so many things and I get choked up each time she shares her feelings with me. Jenna’s always been one to carry so much of what she thinks and feels inside. We never really knew there were boyfriend problems until there wasn’t a boyfriend anymore. I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve ever seen her cry in all of her 29+ years. Even in the nursery at the hospital, the nurses marveled at what a good baby she was. All the rest of the babies would be wailing away; Jenna was sound asleep.
A couple of weeks ago, we talked about what it’s like to be physically aware that there’s a human being inside you. The now gentle movements as the baby flails about will soon enough become more forceful as the space in there gets cramped. I told her that it was the thing I missed most about being pregnant once I’d given birth – that feeling that only a mother and child share. Sure, you can put your hand on a pregnant woman’s belly and feel the baby move, but it’s not the same. Not even close.
I told Jenna that now the baby has made its presence known in such a real and tangible way, she’s beginning to feel that maternal love that I first felt and tried to describe to her so many times. In the months to come, it will build until one day, she’ll look into the face of her child and she’ll know exactly what I’ve been trying to tell her over the years. She’ll understand what I meant when I told her shortly after she got married that even though she belongs to someone else now, she will always be mine in a way that only a mother knows in her heart.
Another milestone in her pregnancy occurred this week. Through the miracle of ultrasound, we now know that we're getting another baby girl to go ga-ga over. We do girls very well in this family and my usually reserved husband blurted out when he was told what Jenna was having, "I was kind of hoping it was a girl." For some reason, I didn't have a preference, but now that I know, I'm thrilled to pieces over the prospect of yet again having a baby girl to snuggle and love.