My daughter, our "baby" is expecting her first child, a little girl, grandchild number eight and granddaughter number six. This is a brand new experience for me in that my other precious grandchildren came by the way of my three sons. My daughter was born six years after our youngest son, and, it has been six years since we had a little baby grandchild around.
I am SO excited and I am proud of the way she has handled an extremely difficult pregnancy. She apparently was the 1/100 women who suffer from a severe form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition, according to the American Pregnancy Association "characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and electrolyte disturbance . . . severe cases often require a stay in the hospital . . . (to) receive fluid and nutrition through an intravenous line." Her experience resulted in several hospital emergency room visits and two overnight stays. She had managed for several weeks without intervention, then two kinds of anti-nausea medications, then weekly IV ports inserted by a visiting nurse, and finally, a PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter) was inserted in her arm. Thankfully, about a month ago, the PICC line was removed and she is finally enjoying a normal life and pregnancy.
I have to admit that I was extremely grateful that the part-time status of my job this past school year permitted me to be available to help her get through it. But, I am keenly aware that whatever help I gave, I was not able to take the sickness from her. Most days it felt like emptying puke buckets and begging her to eat and drink was of little consequence. The level of worry accompanying her weight loss and weakening body was something I could not understand, and I still do not understand why she had to suffer like this. She had, after all, lost one baby the year previous and was still in many ways grieving for that little one when the sickness began. I asked myself why she had all of this to contend with. I felt guilty that I had had four "normal" pregnancies, very little sickness, no sonograms, and four normal births. It was not fair and it was all I could do to remain positive and encouraging for my daughter.
But, happily, she has reached week 31 and the family is very much anticipating the birth of this little girl, especially the other grandchildren.
But there is more to this experience for me than helping to nurse her through the sickness: our relationship is stronger and sweeter than it was before, if that were possible. She is experiencing what I have experienced. She is creating life. She is participating in the unbroken circle of all the generations before her. She has fought for this child while letting go of another. She does not cease to educate herself and sacrifice for the life of this little girl. It truly is a miracle and she and I know it. In the past month I have had the privilege of helping with the nursery, with the baby shower, and with her questions and concerns. Now we wait for the little one's arrival and count our blessings one by one. I am truly thankful.