Little C, still with his milk spots, puckered lips and just a hint of ventouse comes to visit.
One month old, he is my husband’s son’s son.
Are we used to being grandparents yet? Not really. We had been anticipating a pregnancy for two or three years, but still. When I tell people, their expressions remind me that it is unusual.
“You’re 42? Wow. You were a young father,” they say to husband.
“It wasn’t exactly planned,” husband says, encapsulating twenty difficult years of fatherhood first time around.
“Wow, it must be weird to be a Grandad.”
“Not as weird as it is to sleep with one,” I say.
It is weird. I went from geriatric mother to nana in two and a half years.
Husband -or Grandpa as he now is – is a natural with babies. He is employed to wind Little C. I watch him, rubbing little C’s back, the baby’s chin is cupped in husband’s big hands. I feel emotional. Our baby days are over. A jealousy that I’ve never felt before, sneaks up at me, at this baby that is not ours, but his.
Husband wants me to hold him. I’m not sure why. Maybe he is concerned that his son and his girlfriend will have noticed my reticence. This isn’t our first meeting, little C and I. I have cooed at him in the hospital and I have taken one hundred photos of him at his home. And he has visited us once before, on boxing day, when I dashed for water to heat up his bottle and I have admired his outfits and collected some old outfits of Arnie’s, but I haven’t held him yet.
It is our fourth date – physical contact is long overdue.
I’m no baby whisperer. I prefer babies when they are less fragile, like when they are eleven or something. I don’t know what to do with them when they cry other than to offer them the breast. And they always cry with me, I think they know I am scared of them.
When she was pregnant, step-son’s girlfriend asked what I would like to be called, and I said, “well, there are two other women in front of me, let them go first.” It looked like politeness but I think really, it was something else. Not an age thing but an unease. I was never really a living breathing ‘step-mother’. Husband and I met when step-son was fifteen. He didn’t live with us and he didn’t need an extra mother. But now, I’m a step-grandma. And I am just emerging from the nappy and milky way of life with my own children, that I don’t think I have the capacity to do all that for someone else’s baby.
I sit carefully on the sofa and arrange myself first – like you do when you are preparing young children for their first hold – and then carefully, reverentially, husband passes me Little C. His Grandson. His blood. I mustn’t drop him. I feel this more strongly even than I did with my own babies. Little C stares at me and I stare back into his dark blue eyes and wonder what he sees.
He is lovely, little C, little fat mittens, waving and scratching out the past and giving us hope for the future.