It’d be a bit of an understatement to say that Grandma L. was excited about the impending birth of LG. He was to be her fifth grandchild, but she loves babies and was no less excited about LG than she was about first four, and for months had been plotting ways to make sure she could be in New York for the actual birth. Plans to fly from Iowa, though, were thwarted the vagaries of scheduling. So the plan became: we would call her as we went into labor and headed for the hospital, and she and Grandpa L. would hop into the car and drive the 18 or 20 hours from Eastern Iowa to Upper Manhattan. Their bags and the car were packed weeks in advance of the Aug. 8 due date, and she checked in nearly every day to see if they should hit the road. Each day, the answer was the same: nope, not yet.
“The Call” came at about 6am local time on July 26. “We’re in a car, headed for the hospital,” I said from the West Side Highway, in a voice she would later describe as “slightly panicky.” She wasn’t surprised; we’d told her the night before about what we thought were Braxton Hicks contractions, and it later came out that she had hardly slept a wink that night – out of excitement, or worry, or some combination of the two. Now, she was a bit disappointed. “There’s no way we’ll be there for the birth,” she said. Me, I wasn’t sure; I didn’t know at the time just what was going on.. But within half an hour she and Grandpa were in the car and headed east on Interstate 80.
As it turned out, of course, they weren’t even out of Iowa before LG was born. They pushed on, intending to drive the whole way and arrive at the hospital around midnight. I told them not to push it: driving while exhausted is never a good thing, and in any case, visiting hours for non-parents – even proud grandparents – were noon to 8pm, so they wouldn’t be able to meet LG until the next day. They crashed at a hotel in Happy Valley, Penn. on Tuesday night and hit the road by 8am on Wednesday morning.
Me, I got up around 7am that second day of Nyan’s life and continued to try to clean up and organize the apartment. I’d long since resigned myself to the fact that not everything would be done, but I wanted to get as much done as I could. Around 10am I headed back up to the hospital to see my wife and son; the trains didn’t cooperate and it took well over an hour.
Meanwhile, traffic wasn’t cooperating with my parents, who hit congestion across much of Pennsylvania and New Jersey and then a serious bottleneck at the George Washington Bridge – tantalizingly close to the hospital; so close, yet so far. It took them about 90 minutes to get from the bridge onramps to the hospital itself. They arrived just before 2pm.
We all wedged ourselves into the small room and spend the next few hours talking, relaxing, making sure Nyan Thomas and Beatrice were doing well. And they were. We had a couple of visits from Dr. Hadden, who as it turned out had not just delivered the child of a friend of mine a year earlier, but was also a client of the wealth management firm that Beatrice had been working at. He would later take care of Nyan’s circumcision, an event that seemed to cause more distress for his parents than for the little guy himself. ‘Nuff said about that.
Visiting hours for Grandma and Granpa ended at 8, so around that time the three of us said good night to Beatrice and Nyan, driving back down the West Side Highway and over the Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn. Beatrice and Nyan were due to come home the next day, so we spent a few hours assembling furniture and taking care of some last minute cleaning and whatnot. I gave my folks our bed and crashed on the couch, sleeping fitfully.