“OK, we’re on our way!”
Such was the conversation, with my daughter Charissa, which altered the carefully planned events for the evening of June 5, 2014.
Linda and I had been packed and ready to go for several days while we awaited the onset of labor which would culminate in the birth of our sixth grandchild, Margaret. Her due date (May 31) came and went and as each successive day dragged on the suspense built. Carefully orchestrated activities increasingly became part of my routine as the days passed. I remember deliberating whether or not I should mow the lawn on Wednesday. One cannot hear the phone ring, nor detect the phone’s vibration when gripping the vibrating handle of a droning mower. On the other hand, unless I mowed the lawn, I faced the strong likelihood of a pygmy colonization in my back yard and seeing the smoke from perhaps a dozen village cook fires rising up in the morning mist from settlements hidden in my grass. I could envision screaming pygmies dangling from Noelle’s jaws as she stalked her domain. No … I needed to cut the grass! I compromised by stopping every circuit around the yard to check the phone.
I also discovered that pocket-less running shorts should not be worn by expectant grandfathers unless they are willing to carry a purse; at least not while exchanging an empty propane tank for a full one. It’s not easy to pull open the door at the convenience store when carrying keys, the essential phone, wallet and empty propane tank. I am thankful for polite old ladies who hold the door open for me so I don’t have to carry a purse!
For three days I took a shower with the water at half force (to reduce the noise) with the phone just outside the curtain next to a towel so I could answer Charissa’s call.
I sat in the church service on Sunday morning with my muted, but still able to vibrate, phone in one hand and my electronic Bible in the other.
I began texting my daughter once or twice a day to ask if anything were happening in the “baby factory.” She always answered sweetly (though in texting you can never really tell whether it is sweetly or not) with assurances that if anything were to happen I would be among the first to know. I knew that, of course, but explained that texting her to ask was helping me to be patient by providing something for me to do while waiting.
Once we moved past the due date, each time the phone rang my adrenalin spiked as I quickly looked to see if it was THE call or not. Linda and I began talking about plans for each day with the caveat, “If we are still here …”
In that context came the dawn of June 5. Linda went off to work at ECS Ministries where they were in the midst of the annual Prison Workers Conference. I was scheduled to be the banquet speaker in the evening and was looking forward to sharing from Psalm 1. With the heightened instincts of an expectant grandfather, though, I sensed that I would not have that opportunity the moment I got a 9:30 AM text message from my Muffin which reported: “A little crampy this morning and just had a bloody show.” She went on to say, “Doesn’t’ necessarily mean things will happen soon, but this is how it started with Lucy so just wanted to give you a heads up. :)”
[Doesn’t necessarily mean anything? Are you kidding woman? This is NEWS of the first degree! The waiting is over!!!! You’re having a baby!!! Yay!!!!]
I was in the process of navigating to my FB page when the next text came: “Also … Nothing on Facebook please! I know that’s hard for you, but I don’t want everyone getting all excited ;)”
My daughter is the master of downplaying things … it’s maddening!
I quietly responded, “Facebook? Me?”, and closed my FB window.
I forwarded her initial message to Linda and got an immediate phone call from her in response. We discussed strategy. I suggested she come home at lunch time and we’d make the 70 mile trip south. She was hesitant and began explaining why she couldn’t just pick up and go … something to do with resolving a computer issue in printing certificates in the queue!
[What’s the matter with you woman, our baby is having another baby!]
I yielded to her sense of things and contented myself with instructing her to make notification to those in charge of the banquet that they should have someone on standby. After hanging up, I began to move the suitcases etc. to the front door and started preparing the house for our leaving. I knew we were going … soon.
Shortly thereafter, Linda called again and suggested we plan to attend the ECS “State of the Ministry Address” by Rob Tyler, Executive Director, at 4 PM and then go to the banquet after which I would speak and then head to Davenport immediately after. I consented.
“How goes it?”, I texted to Muffin at about 2:50 PM.
“Good! Just hanging out! 😉 having contractions but nothing I can’t walk and talk through so no need to rush here. This could go on for a while but I’ll let you know when I think you should come.”
[The girl has no sense! She’s as bad as her mother!]
One hour later, as Linda and I headed toward Emmaus Bible College for the meeting, the banquet and the speaking engagement, the phone rang.
“I think my water broke!”
“OK, we’re on our way!”
We stopped at Emmaus and communicated the change of plans and then made our way out of town.
Linda was now in high energy mode now as she began speaking to the drivers around us on the road (and would do so for the entire trip) and began telling me how to drive (something she did not do for the entire trip). At one point I said to her, “Linda stop, you are going to make me crazy!” “That’s good!”, was her response.
We arrived at Charissa’s home at 5:15pm to find her on all fours in a pool of water set up in her dining room.
I still haven’t mentally processed all that transpired over the next 20 minutes prior to Margo’s birth and the ensuing aftermath of that event…but I will write more directly about that later.
For now though, I want to spend a few days watching … enjoying … and loving.