“I concentrated on just being there when they needed me and being sure I wasn’t in the way.” Denese, grandmother
“I took the video pictures so my son-in-law could be with my daughter and be in the pictures. They both appreciated that and it forced me to give them a little space to themselves.” Lynn, grandmother
Maybe you might feel more comfortable being a baby-sitter for other children in the family who are invited to the birth, especially if the birth is to take place in a birthing center. This is a natural role for a grandparent and if you are comfortable with it, then that’s what you should do. Even if you are not in the actual room for the birth, you and the other children will be invited in immediately afterward to see the newborn. The old days when no children were allowed to visit in the hospital are gone, thank goodness. This would be a good time to read a book about a child whose mom is having a baby. There are many available in bookstores and libraries. The New Baby by Fred Rogers and Jim Judkis and The Berenstein Bears’ New Baby by Stan Berenstein are two. Be sure the one you purchase is age appropriate for your grandchild.
“One thing that has an impact on my feelings about people being at the birth is the fact that I am German. I am a lot more relaxed about nudity than most Americans. I was completely naked during the birth and have everything on videotape.” Rika, mother
“When I soiled myself in labor, I was more comfortable with my mother cleaning me up than my husband. I mean, she had done that so many times before (granted, I was slightly smaller then.)” Rika, mother
“My mother was wonderful doing everything I asked her to do and not getting upset when I yelled at her for holding my hand the “wrong” way. (That wrong way only exists when you’re in labor, I think.).” Rika, mother
“I felt a lot of sympathy for my daughter, I felt helpless not being able to do more, and the birth was the reward for our patience. I tried to stay out of the way, tried to be quiet, but I felt that I was helpful.” Ingrid, grandmother
“My son-in-law was glad I was present. I think he felt my being there helped to relax my daughter, and therefore him.” Phyllis, grandmother
The best thing you can do to make this coordination of care work smoothly is to have done some reading and self-preparation by knowing the language the doctor, midwife and your daughter and son-in-law are speaking. The middle of labor is not the time for them to explain everything to you. You and your daughter should have talked; if she shared her birth plan with you, you know her desires. If you went on the hospital tour, you know your way around and you know the hospital protocol.
Regardless of whether you are in the room during the actual moment of birth, or down the hall, your caring enough to be at the hospital trying to help, and being there to see your grandchild immediately after his birth, will be the first brick in the foundation of grandparenthood.