No one told me that grandchildren are heavier than your own children were. I don’t remember – not once – thinking any of my three babies were heavy. Not when I lifted them by their upper arms out of a crib. Not when I scooped them up by the underarms out of a highchair. Not when I lifted them by the waist from a supermarket trolley seat. Not even when I dangled them (a million times) over a public toilet. However, as a prospective grandmother who has just had a friend’s grandchild thrust into her arms, when you’re 60-something, little babies are heavy.
Also I noticed, I have to rely heavily on my sense of touch. At my age I can’t actually see babies I am holding. They are too close to my glasses. I was trying to make out the little face of my friend’s grandchild. All I could see were big brown eyes and a lot of hair.
In six weeks, I will become a grandmother for the first time. I am trying to work out how I am going to get a good look at this kid. I’m curious because from the ultrasound image I saw I think he has the same upturned nose my son had as a little boy. I have worked out a plan: I will look at him when he lies in his crib. Although – to get a really good look – I may have to bend over and leer which will just engender comments like, “MOM. What’s the matter with you?” and I don’t want people to worry about my eyesight or my surveillance-of-young-children-capabilities. No. I think the best plan of attack is to scrutinize the kid while other people hold him. When it’s my turn to hold him I’ll just sniff (best part anyway) and hold what feels like legs and torso securely.
I am very excited to meet little Henrique or Don Diego. My daughter-in-law is Spanish speaking. I have no idea what names they are considering but she did say, “I could never name my son John or David. It wouldn’t feel like mine.”
Recently I asked her if she would like me to get her the diaper ointment that I used when my children were born and we lived in Switzerland. “It smelled amazing,” I told her. “Not if there are any bad ingredients in it,” she said. I hadn’t used this cream in twenty-six years but by today’s standards, I thought, OF COURSE there are bad ingredients in it.
I considered asking her if I could put it on only my sons half. Then I considered not poisoning my grandchild.
I decided I wouldn’t put it on anyone. I would just buy it for myself.
Out of curiosity I looked up the ingredients. Apparently they have taken the smell out because it was an irritant. I would give anything for just one more whiff.
As the due date gets closer I am learning a lot. I have been informed that there will be upper-torso-swaddling, but the feet will be allowed to kick freely. I’m glad. A straight jacket is enough. There will be a white noise machine because apparently, and I did not know this, evolutionarily speaking, mankind’s head has become so big that if babies didn’t come out at nine months they would be stuck in there forever – and because of this – when they are born they are not really “done”, so for four more months you have to give them womb-like conditions: tight swaddling (I would have thought scuba gear and a heated pool), white noise and movement. A swing is good for this. In the olden days women slung babies on their backs as they bent to till the fields, but today people spend more time binge-watching TV than actually tilling.
I’m sure I am going to learn a lot more about what today’s babies need: schedule or no schedule, burping after one breast or both, laying them down on their front or their back?
Whatever my son and his wife throw at me, I have already decided – I am fine with it. It’s their kid. And maybe modern thinking is better.
I’m very grateful that I figured out how heavy and hard to see little babies are while I still have six weeks until the due date. This gives me time to do something about my eyeglass prescription and to practice lifting my Le Creuset pots.