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Friday, December 12, 2014

Heartbeat Of The World

In a blogpost dated 4/16/2012 I wrote:

Today my daughter texted the answer I'd feared, the answer I knew the way mothers just know:  '+'...

She is my first born, the most anticipated child of four.  She arrived in the winter of 1987, three years after my own mother passed away.

On ultrasound the beginning looks like the glowing rim of a full moon, the inside hollow except for a pulse, the heartbeat of the world.

I sense this first grandchild must be a girl because she will come in winter, a favorite season for our females, another gypsy.

So I ordered Anne Lamott's book, Some Assembly Required, to quell my anxiety and laugh about this grandmother thing.  But I still want to crawl into my daughter's womb, pull up a chair and sit beside this unique pulse to monitor intricate vitals, to wipe away the fever and sweat of becoming.

L was born seven months later, 11/1/2012, and was indeed a girl.  She's now two years old, but only chronologically.  In spirit, she's just shy of seven centuries.  'Old Soul' doesn't do her justice, and neither does 'smart' nor 'funny'.

But I won't brag you to death.  In fact this post isn't even about my most precious genius granddaughter; it's about her unborn brother, G.  He's due by scheduled c-section on 12/17/2014.

Who is G?  Well, he's not small.  We know this much.  We also know he'll share a birthday with a former club bouncer, His Holiness, Pope Francis.

That's just cool.

I haven't been as fearful this time around.  My daughter's got this mama thing down to a perfect science, complete with her own brand of moxie and a personalized Citrus Lane subscription.  She has a vast collection of vogue baby clothes and cloth diapers, earth friendly and state-of-the-art everything.  She's a cooler mother than I ever was, maybe even a better mother, period.

Isn't that the goal of reproduction?  Of any production line?  To make better product?

I've got to stop reading the New York Times.  It's killing me -- the wars, ebola and U.S. government nonsense, abuses of power and people.  My brain freezes over every morning when I see the headlines, then my heart skips and overheats as I scroll down the list of atrocities.  What kind of world will my grandchildren inherit?  I don't really want to know.

When I sprouted in 1964, we hadn't yet put a man on the moon.  Today, we're gearing up for space tourism.  We can transplant faces, hands and uteruses.  We can make a baby in a test tube, or clone one.

In 1964 the term terrorism was most often used domestically in the context of violence against blacks and civil rights workers in the South.  Now we use the word to mean something else.

In 1964 we were a different people.  Or were we?

There was no internet in every back pocket, no Keurig, microwave, electric car or Kim Kardashian.  We've doubled our vaccination schedule, can treat erectile dysfunction, enhance our anatomy and alter our gender.  We have a drug for EVERYTHING.

Have we malfunctioned, or are we equal parts messed up and progressing sloppily toward evolutionary maturity?  I honestly don't know.  We're either going down, or this is that terrible moment just before dawn.  I can't help but hope.  I still have young children to raise, grandchildren too.  I have to keep my mind open, but wrapping it around this world is a challenge.

The reason strangers Oooh and Awww over babies, besides the fact that most babies are so stinkin' cute, is because a baby represents hope.  Every new life is another possibility, a casting of fresh DNA into the world, our round asylum on its wobbly axis.

A newborn doesn't have a criminal record or a leaked sex tape floating around the internet.  He or she isn't a member of ISIS or Westboro Baptist Church.  A baby is, as far as anyone can guess, "good".  Infants are the closest a human being will ever be to sacred.  And that's what we want, something sacred, or at least something better that what we've got.


I'm not as worried about the health of my daughter or second grandchild this time around (lie), nor do I have any concerns about my daughter's mothering ability (truth).  I also know that I can be a pretty decent grandmother.  L has confirmed this with her explosive enthusiasm when we see each other.  So we're good, and aside from a wee bit of anxiety regarding standard surgery risks, I'm comfortable with what will happen next Wednesday, 12/17/2014.

G will be lifted out of his cozy gestational nest, and he will cry because the room will be cold and the overhead fluorescence glaring.  He'll have to process strangers' gloved hands, the sudden shift in gravity and proprioception.  A stranger will weigh his bigness, and measure his longness.  They will listen to his steady heartbeat, wrap him in a warm but unstylish blanket, and hand him to his fabulous parents.

Someone will then find the slightly (extremely) nervous grandmother waiting nearby and tell her that everything is better than okay.  Baby and mother are spectacular.

Beyond this bright beginning, the journey depends on G's particular genome, his parents' influence, this place and time, his future choices, and circumstances beyond his control, most of which are the choices of others.

Fate is a committee.

For now, G is a new heartbeat in the world, the most important heartbeat there is:  HOPE.