By Janice Llanes Fabry
Our first grandchild, imagine that! Last fall, when our daughter Jesi texted a photo of a positive pregnancy test, we were all delighted. She and our son-in-law Andrew were looking forward to having a family. My husband Jan and I were so happy for them, as was Jesi’s older sister Jena and younger brother Jason.
Three days later, and still basking in the good news, we got a phone call from Jena and son-in-law Rich three days later. “Mom, I just found out. I’m pregnant, too,” she exclaimed. “Excuse me?” I asked, a little dumbfounded. She clarified, “Yeah, Mom, we’re having a baby, too.” More tears of joy all the way around. How could we be so blessed as to have both our daughters expecting at the same time? It seems like just yesterday that I was pushing our little girls, just a year and a half apart, in a double stroller.
We were incredulous, giddy, and a little dazed. Were we even ready to be grandparents? Jan and I had become accustomed to a new phase of life that I refer to as “coasting.” There’s a sweet freedom that comes after parents have ridden out the current of college tuitions, adolescence, homework, and curfews. As much as we cherished raising our family, let’s face it, it’s exhausting seizing every teachable moment.
There’s also an earnest feeling of gratitude knowing our adult offspring are healthy and have carved out laudable lives for themselves. Sure, our son lives at home and those obstinate cell phones are still on our family plan, but everyone is pretty much self-sufficient. Besides, we genuinely enjoy our kids so much as adults that maybe we’re a little reluctant to shift the focus from them to grandchildren just yet.
Walking on a cloud for a few weeks, we knew reality would set in once the girls went to the doctor. Jena, who headed to the ob/gyn first, announced her due date is August 22. How wonderful! A few days later, Jesi visited her doctor and called. “Mommy, the baby is due August 22,” she exclaimed. “Excuse me?” I asked, even more dumbfounded.
Of course the chance that both daughters actually deliver on the same date is slim; nevertheless, upon first hearing the news, I pictured myself running frantically from one delivery room to another. “Thank God for small favors,” I thought. “At least they’ll both be in the same hospital.”
I would also catch myself singing the old ditty from the 1960s sitcom, “The Patty Duke Show” <….they laugh alike, they talk alike, at times they even walk alike; you can lose your mind when cousins are two of a kind.”>
Now that the girls are 22 weeks pregnant, grandmotherhood is beginning to feel like a second skin. My “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” app tells me that our babies weigh 1 pound, are eight inches long, and resemble spaghetti squash. (No spaghetti squash I’ve ever seen.) I take photos of the girls’ growing bumps in their New York City apartments, just a few blocks from one another. I ooh and ah over the sonograms, which, incidentally, are much clearer images than the amorphous blobs we saw in the ultrasounds of the ’80s and ’90s.
I’ve begun making preparations for a double baby shower. I’m planning on doing plenty of babysitting, so here in Rye, we’ve been acquiring cribs and a revolutionary double stroller that allows for two car seats and two bassinets. Who knew?
Just the other day I broke the news to Jason that he would no longer be king of the castle. I took him over to our freezer, where he keeps frosty mugs along the door shelves. “Jas, take a good long look at these frosty mugs of yours taking up all this real estate,” I said. “What about them?” he asked. “In a few months, these shelves might be filled with breast milk, so you may want to find another place for them,” I clarified.
Jan and I know we’re “coasting” for only a bit longer before the birth of our grandbabies, but we’re excited about cruising into uncharted adventures. We may have thought we were not yet ready for prime-time grandparenting, but there’s nothing like baptism by fire!