Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Guest Blogger: MorFar Tells the Story

Guest Blog Post from MorFar – The Birth of Meera
by Don Johnson on the occasion of the birth of his granddaughter Meera

It is truly an honor and a privilege to be so close to the beginning of life for another human being. I’m sure that the witness of this miracle is even more intensively emotional when the person giving birth is my daughter and the person whose life is beginning is my granddaughter.

One of the truths that this experience has reaffirmed is that there’s very little in life that we can be sure of; and even less that we have control over. The plan for MorMor (Janet) and I has been that as soon as and whenever labor was to have begun, we would get in the car and drive for 8 hours from our home in New Hampshire to Pennsylvania. It was a commitment we were happy to make because of the honor of being invited into the process in such a profound way.

So when the report from Heather’s doctor visit on April 28 was that it could be any day now – our bags were packed and our night ears sensitized for middle of the night phone calls. It almost seemed like we were working round the clock to get our work obligations completed ahead of schedule for the next few weeks. We were ready!

As we have all learned, Meera was not ready. We went to Pennsylvania for Kyle and Owen’s fabulous birthday party on May 5. We returned to NH so we could be with our granddaughter Sadie’s birthday party in Maine on May 10. Surely Meera would arrive by her May 15 due date but where was she? I called off a work trip to South Carolina scheduled for May 19-21 so I could be here in NH with MorMor when the call came – convinced that the extra gravitation of the full moon would beckon Meera into this world. We started to joke around that maybe Heather was faking it for who knows what reason and then we started to think that maybe we shouldn’t joke around anymore. Finally it was May 24, Memorial Day Weekend, and we made the trip to PA without a phone call in the middle of the night. This sure wasn’t the frantic departure in the night as we planned it – it turned out to be a nice leisurely trip to PA without the urgency of an any-minute-now birth.

Never did it cross my mind that Heather’s intention of a totally natural childbirth experience was not going to happen.

After the 3-day weekend, we had a great Tuesday afternoon with Kyle and Owen when Heather and Braydon were at the doctor appointment. But it did seem like they were at the doctor’s for an extended amount of time. When they returned to their home to tell us that they would be checking into the hospital at 8 that night for the induction process to begin – that’s when things started to really seem a little surreal. Inducing – that’s not how Heather had planned it.

Heather and Braydon put the twins to bed and shortly thereafter headed off to the hospital. Nobody had planned it this way. How come it wasn’t happening the way it was planned?

May 28 dawned pretty normal – for us. Kyle and Owen got up, wondered where their parents were (even though they were fully apprised the night before), and Janet brought them to pre-school while I got caught up on some work details. We went out to lunch, knowing that Kyle and Owen would be picked up from school by Alex, their Nanny. A call to Braydon informed us that things were moving slowly at the hospital and allowed us to find out what he wanted us to bring him for lunch. Janet and I arrived at the hospital around 2 pm.

You know how on Christmas Day you lose all track of time because no matter which day it falls on, there’s no other day like it – it’s not Monday or Thursday or Saturday or Sunday – it’s Christmas. May 28, from 2 pm on, was like that – totally swept up by what was happening in Room 304 of St. Luke’s Hospital. It was like no other day. I’m pretty sure Heather will agree with that.

Now I’m not one to stick around a whole lot when someone is going through lots of pain and/or distress, especially when that person happens to be my beloved daughter. Give me a support role and I’ll take it hands down. So I surprised myself a little that I spent so much time in the labor room. Most of the reason for that is that Heather endured several hours of serious labor in very stoic fashion – it was quite amazing as I now look back on it. I tried to divert attention by chit chatting about absolutely nothing and I’m still not sure of that serving any redeemable function. And of all the people in that room – Heather, Braydon, Janet, nurses, etc. – I know I’m the one who achieved most familiarity with the hospital gift shop, cafeteria, corridors, and maternity section waiting room. I was the volunteer and very eager gofer for whatever anyone needed and I could easily manufacture the needs of others when what was happening in room 304 necessitated a relaxation of my daughter’s modesty – there’s no way I needed to be witness to that.

Those hours of labor were indeed tedious and slow-moving. So when I was fetched from the waiting room with the news that the doctor had decided that it would be best to do a C-Section, I was relieved. And when I went to the room to see Heather before she got rolled into the OR, there was noticeable relief coming from her direction as well. I was there when the anesthetist explained what would be happening and witnessed his attempt at humor when he asked Heather if she preferred to go to the OR by walking or on the gurney. He sure did a double-take when she said, “sure, I’ll walk”.

It’s one of the most vivid images that will always be with me. I’m now at the end of the corridor, waiting to see Heather get rolled into the OR. The door from Room 304 opens, and out comes the entourage. Heather leading the way, shuffling down the corridor as pregnant as anyone can physically be; Braydon at one arm, right beside her; a nurse, pushing the IV stand, on the other side and one step behind; a student physician, right behind her; all followed by another nurse, rolling the gurney that Heather was supposed to be riding on. It was amazing! Heather Beth Johnson marching triumphantly to the operating room. That was at about 10:00 pm.

After all the waiting (a month’s worth) it was almost a surprise to see a nurse come down the corridor, rolling a baby on whatever they roll babies on, Braydon right behind, smiling and as proud as could be. They stopped to let Janet and I take a look and observe that Meera had a great pair of lungs and also all of her fingers and toes, and then into the nursery. We just stood outside staring into the nursery at Meera in amazement and wonder and awe with the miracle of new life. It is truly one of the most emotionally and spiritually stimulating experiences of my life.

And it was a relief to talk briefly with Heather as she went from the OR to the Recovery Room. Yes, this time she was being rolled on the gurney. It’s not how we envisioned that it would be happening. The whole experience is a reminder that as much as we try, we aren’t in control.

If there is a sequel to this story, it might be the total sense of gratification and love that I experienced on the day after Meera and Heather came home from the hospital. Not once but twice having Meera fall asleep in my arms and stay there so contentedly for at least a couple of hours each time. I sense that there’s a lifelong bond beginning between Meera and MorFar – just exactly as I envisioned it!


Claudia said...

Ohhhhh how sweet and wonderful. Thank you for the lovely post. We absolutely loved it. You will make a wondeful MorFar to Meera as you do to Kyle and Owen. Thank you so very much for your heartfelt post.

Isabella's Mommy & Daddy said...


Anonymous said...

I have tears in my eyes. From reading MorFar and MorMor's entries I can see where Heather gets her story-telling abilities and deep heart. A beautifully written account of a beautiful love shared by all. Amazing!

100 Good Wishes said...

Thank you, Morfar, for sharing your experiences. Your love for your daughter and grandkids is so wonderful and the way God intended. Thank you for your perspective!

Bek said...

I love these posts from the the grandparents. It made me get a bit teary.

I only know the J-Mc family via blog, but have been very blessed to "know" them. My newborn has DS and Heather has shared with me some of the work that you both have done with special needs kids. It was something that was very important for me to hear at that particular time... so your blessings continue to roll...

I love the stories about when you come to visit. You must be the greatest grandparents ever!! THey are all as lucky to have you as you are to have them.

Bravo Heather. I am so proud of you for doing what needs to be done. I know you wanted to do it natural but in the end you did what mom's do, they bring their kids home safely if they possibly can...

Malia'sMama said...

Man plans and God laughs. But, it was with the good humour that he knew Meera was all right, as was your dear Heather. :)Lovely post, MorFar!