They Really Are GRANDparents

I’ve thought to myself many times over the past 2 weeks, “what do people do if they don’t have good families?” I know there are people who have babies every day with virtually no support system at home, but I’m so grateful I’m not one of them. My family has been beyond fantastic, and Lee and I are so thankful.
For the first week and a half after Camille’s birth, my mother stayed with us to help. She cleaned, did laundry, cooked, and wouldn’t even let me near the kitchen. I think I microwaved one hot dog during that time, and she seemed a little displeased that I would dare cook for myself. But the best gift was the late-night company. When Camille would cry, mom would meet me in the nursery and talk with me during the feedings, helping keep me awake and sane. I loved our midnight chats. Then if Camille continued to cry, she’d help me think through some techniques for calming her. If nothing worked, she’d take her into her bedroom for some Nana-Cami bonding time and send me back to bed to catch up on sleep.
Then Granddaddy came and joined us, and spent an entire day scouring our house clean. He met us in the nursery during some late-night cries, and I enjoyed watching how my parents interacted with Camille. I learned some techniques, like the Granddaddy carousel. He’d hold her close and bounce her gently while walking in a small circle. She’d calm down right away.
When they left, I was terrified, but reinforcements were on the way.
Grammy came to spend several days with us. She cleaned, did laundry, and cooked so much food. Before she left, she cooked several meals for us to put in the freezer for the days to come. She kept late-night vigils with me, and I enjoyed the time spent talking together. If Camille wouldn’t settle, she continued the grandmother tradition of taking her to bed for some bonding time so mom could sleep.
Friday was our first full day with no grandparents, and we survived. But we sure do miss them. Not just for the help (which was wonderful, especially after having surgery), but for the companionship. I feel the literal distance between us more acutely than before. I’m already looking forward to our next visits.
And while I have been learning great parenting lessons from all the grandparents, I have been amused at some of the differences in our child-rearing philosophies. Some of the differences are because the safety rules have changed. Others are just differences of opinion. For example, I was going to try to avoid pacifiers for a little while, because I didn’t want Camille to become so dependent on them that I would have to get up every 20 minutes during the night to put the pacifier back in her mouth if she spit it out. But our first night home from the hospital, when Cami had to spend the whole time on that photo-therapy bed, the grandmothers decided a pacifier was in order. I didn’t protest, because I was so upset about the Bili-bed I would have given her anything – a turkey dinner, a Barbie dream house, a pony – if I thought it would provide comfort.
But even when we were done with the Bili-bed, the grandmothers always seemed to have a pacifier nearby. At first, when Lee or I would walk into the room, the pacifier would suddenly disappear. But after a while, they quit trying to hide it, and looked pleased as Camille happily sucked her pacifier despite my concerns. I’m still undecided about the pacifier issue, but at 2:30 in the morning I find myself reaching for it. And yes, she sometimes spits it out after 20 minutes and cries. But her pediatrician is actually in favor of pacifiers, and the grandmothers felt very vindicated to hear this.
I think the grandmothers had a little bit of a hard time with the new safety rules about crib sleeping. Because of the risk of SIDS, babies need to sleep on their backs with NO BLANKETS in the crib. I guess there is a chance babies could get wrapped up in them and suffocate if they’re not old enough or strong enough to pull away.
When we were babies, we slept on our bellies with blankets tucked around us. One night, Cami was crying and I opened the door to the nursery to find Grammy standing over the crib with a fleece blanket in her hands, leaning toward baby. She stopped when I walked in, looking a little guilty, and whispered, “But she is cold!.” The grandmothers gave in to this rule though – because I would just worry too much if she slept with blankets.
I’m sure some of my rules are overboard. But that’s why grandparents are so important – to provide some spoiling despite my new-mom mania. I’m already expecting to come home one day when a grandparent is babysitting, and find Camille sitting in a bathtub full of chocolate sauce, with a mello-yellow in one hand and pixy-stix in the other. Spoiled rotten. Cami is going to love her grands. In fact, I think she already does. I know I do.