Becoming a Grandfather

Can’t write about diabetes today. Or self-care, or the medical system, or science, or politics, or any of that stuff. Our granddaughter Anaya Grace was born on Saturday, and she has taken most of my mental space.

I started to write about how excited I was, including worrying that maybe I’m not excited enough. But an hour ago I got a call from our son, and they’re back at the hospital. Anaya became lethargic this morning and stopped nursing or wetting, and her temperature dropped to 96°. So the doctors told them to bring her to emergency, which is where they are now.


Probably, she’s just dehydrated. It was an extremely long labor, like 60 hours, and Mom and baby are both worn out. Seems like Mom’s milk isn’t really in, either. So probably it will all work out, but the drama makes it hard to think about other things.

Before this morning’s mini-crisis, I was really excited to be a grandparent. My friends who are grandparents kept telling me it’s the one of the greatest things that can ever happen to you, but Aisha and I thought it was not happening for us. Neither of our sons seemed too interested. Then all of a sudden, sort of, the baby was coming.

So all weekend I was taking BART across the San Francisco Bay to see the family at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center. My 88-year-old mother, now a first-time great-grandmother, met us there twice. She lives near the hospital and walked over to see Anaya and hang out.

But I kept thinking, “I’m not as thrilled as I expected to be.” Anaya was beautiful and really alert for a one-day-old, but you know, they don’t do much at that age. I think she’s great, but I didn’t feel an emotional rush. Not overwhelmed with love or gratitude, just kind of happy and pleased that she’s here and everyone seemed to be doing well. I wondered if there was something wrong that kept me from feeling more joy.

Of course, this morning they’re not doing well, so now I’m more anxious than thrilled. Dad and Mom are exhausted from being up nearly full time since last Wednesday with labor and everything since. Nobody can figure out how to help them, since we don’t know what’s wrong, really. Just be here for them, I suppose. As Diabetes Self-Management readers know, I don’t trust doctors much, but in this situation it seems we have to count on them.

Our son said they don’t need me over there now. When you’re disabled, sometimes you can’t help that much anyway. I do have a lot of knowledge of hospitals and medicine, but they’ve got other supporters for that, so I’ll probably save the three-hour round trip and stay home, unless I get too nervous.

So how can we help? And looking ahead, after they get through this rough time, what will Anaya need from her grandparents? Are there books on how to be a grandparent? I’d heard it was great because we’d get all the fun without all the responsibility we had as parents. But maybe responsibility isn’t all bad; it can make one feel needed. Replacing responsibility with powerless worrying, like this morning, has not been an improvement.

I write often about reasons to live. I had just posted a lovely piece on my blog, about animals enjoying life and why we should, too, when all this drama started. And now I’ve got this 7 lb, 10 oz reason to live, in the emergency room trying to stay alive herself.

I’m sure it will all work out. I’ll let you know what happens.

  • Sheri

    Please write something soon! The powerlessness of being apart and unable to do something to help one’s dear child is something we all can relate to. Praying for you all and baby Anaya.

  • David Spero RN

    Thanks, Sheri. Well, Anaya went home two days ago, apparently all better. I guess she had a urinary tract infection. I don’t know how a three-day-old can get that, but that’s what they said. Anyway, it’s over now and everyone’s doing well, if tired.

  • calgarydiabetic

    Congratulations David. Don’t worry once they start talking you will wish they stop.

  • Cathy A.

    We are expecting our 1st grandchild in December. You are having the same feelings I am having. We waited so long for this little guy and now I don’t really know what to do or how to act. Our daughter has developed gestational diabetes and has a lot of questions, but she won’t come to us for answers, even though both of us are diabetic. Did you expect a bit of a bonding experience with your adult child during this process? I must have, because I am feeling a bit let down. Baby is due in December.

  • John_C

    Hope everything works out OK for your granddaughter!

    David I wouldn’t feel too bad about being a little slow off the line at the bonding thing… I wasn’t very good either (took some time). Matter of fact I wasn’t that great with my own children (at first) and I was there for the births.

    For a lot of men it just takes longer than for the Mothers (gee I wonder why). However once the children grew on me and we got to know each other it became a beautiful love story.

    And I never was a good mother either… it really took some work. Good thing my wife understands men better then I did :)

    You’re a good man David — you and your Granddaughter will find each other.

  • Beth


    With my babies, I fell in love very quickly. But with my grandbabies it was different. Although my husband had a rush of emotion and felt very involved with them immediately, I did not.

    I just cannot explain that. I was very concerned about helping my daughter become a mother. About the grandbabies, I was pleased and proud and glad, but not really all that emotionally bonded until later.

    Now they are 8 and 10 years old. There was no one moment when the strong bond developed, it just grew gradually over time, and now is very strong.