On Saturday morning I woke up at about 6:45, which was equal parts much too early and much too late. I walked the dog, came home and woke up Marley who surprisingly got up without the usual teenage grumble and we were out the door by 8:25 headed to my mom’s house. I was meeting my brother there, who was going to fix the ignition coil on my car and Marley and my mom were going to watch the Great Gatsby for the thousandth time because apparently you can never get enough Leonardo DiCaprio. (I don’t quite know how to break it to Marley that he’s pushing 40.)
I had planned on coercing my mom to do a Costco run with me (we were out of everything – surely she had to be out of everything too). I also had to pick up a few things at Target, maybe Bed Bath & Beyond. Then I’d head home and cheat on my hairdresser (again) with some long overdue root maintenance before meeting my girlfriends for a 6:00 dinner and then a concert at The Canyon Club.
But when I got to my mother’s my brother wasn’t there. I was slightly annoyed because I had rushed and was late (the story of my life) and had forgotten my Costco list and now wished I’d turned around to get it.
“Where’s Richard?” I asked my mom as I walked in.
“He’s at the hospital,” she answered.
And a smile spread across my face.
My little brother was about to become a grandfather.
“Did she have him?” I asked.
“Not yet,” my mom told me.
“Can we go to the hospital, Mom?” Marley asked me.
It was very considerate of my niece to have her baby on a Saturday so we could all be there. I was hoping for a speedy labor (for her comfort of course and not because I was rudely and selfishly thinking of my month-long plans with some girlfriends that I rarely get to see). She was only at four centimeters so we took our time and made eggs for breakfast; lingered a bit. I helped my mom clean up and made a new Costco list.
We headed over to the hospital a little after ten. My niece was doing great and we plopped down next to her boyfriend, my brother, his girlfriend. and my younger niece ready to meet the newest member of our family. At 11:30 Ashley was only at five centimeters and everyone was hungry so my mom and I decided to go to Costco and pick up a couple pizzas while we were there. My list was long, but we barreled through Costco knowing that the baby wouldn’t be coming for hours, but still nervous that we’d miss it if we took too long. We dropped the groceries off at my house, dumping them on the kitchen table and into the fridge (we’d worry about separating them later), gave Dave a couple slices of pizza and rushed back to the hospital. My older niece had joined the group and the pizzas (now warmish rather than hot) were devoured.
At 2:20, Ashley was moving steadily, but slowly. I took a risk and headed home to get ready for my night out, stopping for hair mascara along the way, taking my cheating on my hairdresser to a new low. At 3:40 my mom texted me 9 1/2 maybe 20 minutes. 30 minutes.
I unplugged my flat iron and flew out the door. On my way I texted back. I made it to the hospital in 20 minutes flat.
He still wasn’t quite ready to come out yet. Wombs are warm and cozy places. The nurse came back in the room to check her at 5:00. “The baby’s coming,” she said as she went to call the doctor. Ashley’s boyfriend and her two sisters stayed with her. And even though she left our earth way too soon, I know the girls’ mother was there too. Marley sat on the floor outside the room. The rest of us headed to the waiting area down the hall.
A little while later Marley texted me The baby is out and we rushed back down the hall.
“How do you know the baby is out?” I asked as the door was still shut. “Did someone come out?”
“No, I can hear him crying,” she said and we all pressed our ears to the door.
At 5:37 PM I became a great-aunt. He was 7 pounds 7 ounces and perfect. Mama and baby were both doing fine.
We congratulated the proud parents and took turns holding our new little treasure. We called and texted family far away. We Instagrammed. We Facebooked. We were in awe and in love with our new little family member.
About an hour later I drove my mom home and left Marley there. I’d missed dinner with my friends, but still had time to meet them at the club. As I was driving home to change I thought about Ashley and her new little family. She is so young – just one year out of high school, two weeks away from nineteen. Yeah, her life’s going to be hard. Motherhood is so damn hard.
But also so very wonderful. Quite possibly the most wonderful thing in the world. They are surrounded by love. They’ll be okay.