Tomorrow Little Champ will be born. I’m not sure I will get too much sleep tonight – and I’m just the grandmother-to-be.
Because we’ve known for a long time that Little Champ is a boy, and because we have seen amazing 4D scan photographs showing us what he looks like, we feel as if we already know him. But tomorrow we will meet him for real, we will hold him
and we will call him by his name.
Today (because I’m like that) I’ve been remembering the stories from those special days when the other seven grandchildren
were born, in the case of the First Born Grandchild, sixteen years ago next month. We’d whiled away some of the waiting time at a local fish and chip restaurant, Mr B, the Youngest of the Darling Daughters and me. It was a nervy, nail-biting
time and hard to concentrate on medium cod and chips, however tasty. Back in the hospital waiting room and suddenly I could hear people running along the corridor outside and my heart went cold. Not my daughter! I was shouting inside. Not my grandchild!
It was, indeed, my new grand-daughter who had been born “flat” but, thank God, soon revived. When we saw our Katie for the first time she was looking up at the Eldest of the Darling Daughters intently, as if marvelling “So you’re my
We didn’t know it at the time but the Youngest of the Darling Daughters was already pregnant with the Second Born Grandchild at the time. Eight
months later, she found herself an emergency admission three weeks before her baby’s due date. I remember her phoning me at work saying “Well, I’ve been induced” - in the kind of completely matter of fact voice she might have
used to tell me she was enjoying a Decaffeinated Skinny Latte in Costa Coffee. Jack arrived in a snow storm and Mr B was not sure we would be able to make the long drive to meet our new grandson that day. “But we have to. We have to...”
said the sing-song voice in my head. (We did.)
Nineteen months later and the Third Born Grandchild arrived. We were looking after her Big Brother (as grandparents
do) and I was lying awake waiting for news when the phone rang in the middle of the night. “Karen has her little daughter,” said the Son-in-Law, adding, softly: “I knew you’d be awake...” We took the Big Brother to the hospital
the next day, carrying an “It’s A Girl” balloon. His mother burst into tears as soon as she saw him and held out her arms for a cuddle but he walked straight past her, completely intent on examining the rosy-cheeked bundle that was Hazel,
tucked up in the hospital cot.....
Nobody was ready for the Fourth Born Grandchild. Usually with a fortnight to go I would put my work colleagues on
“red alert” – as soon as The Call comes through, I’d tell them, you are to drag me out of whatever meeting I’m in and I’ll be off. Except that young Eleanor arrived early, and every time my poor Son in Law tried to
ring me, he found himself put straight through to Voice Mail. For a while there I wasn’t the most popular mother-in-law on the planet. But she was born and we were there – and the Big Sister was allowed to help wash and dress the new
arrival. “What a lovely midwife!” I remarked to the Eldest of the Darling Daughters who muttered that she hadn’t been quite so kind and caring while she was in the throes of labour....
There followed a bit of a gap on the Grandchildren Front. The First Four started growing up, from babies to toddlers to Children With Minds of Their Own. It was six years later when I received the call from My Boy,
telling me in a shaky voice, full of emotion, that the Fifth Born Grandchild - a little boy, later to be called Samuel – had been born. I was conducting a Performance Appraisal at the time and, ever mindful of the Voice Mail Fiasco,
I had asked the appraisee if he would mind me keeping my mobile on and at the ready. He was almost as delighted as I was at the news, remarking happily: “I suppose this means you’re bound to give me a good appraisal...”
Just two years later and the Shaky Voice is at the other end of the phone again. “You have a grandson,” said My Boy and my first thought was “Yes, I know I
have” because this was a good five to six weeks before the new baby was due. “No, I mean it,” said the Shaky Voice, “it’s another grandson...” James, the Sixth Born Grandchild, was tiny but perfect and slept much of the
time, as if he still believed he was tucked up safely in the womb. “Sleep and grow,” I told his mother, the Darling Daughter-in-Law. Sometimes I like to pretend I am a Sage and know what I am talking about.
Then back in May last year, the Seventh Born Grandchild arrived, heralded once again by My Boy’s shaky voice on the telephone. The Third Little Welsh Boy had joined his big brothers.
And, praise be, it was Sunday so we could hot-foot it to Wales straightaway. We arrived on the ward with an enormous teddy-bear in tow, which the Big Brothers fell upon with enormous delight. (My Boy tells me later that he and the Darling Daughter-in-Law have
decided their family is complete because they simply don’t have any more room for over-sized teddy bears...) When the boys have been taken off by their father and their maternal grandparents for tea, bath and bed, I spend a happy hour or more just sitting
and holding little Morgan (named by his Big Brother). “Look, look!” I tell the Darling Daughter-in-Law, transfixed with delight, “He has enormous dimples!” Every moment is a discovery where a new baby is concerned.
Tomorrow there will be another miracle, another birth, another precious baby. And another never-to-be-forgotten story to hold in my heart...