My Little Miracle

by: cassandracarolina

Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 13:29:21 PM EST



Last week, my life was transformed in a most marvelous way: I became a grandmother, quite an accomplishment for an infertile person who spent nearly two decades in the pursuit of motherhood.

I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that both my ex-husband and I brought our own biological limitations to the conception process. Either of us paired with someone else might have been able to reproduce, but that really wasn't the point. Still, when one marries into a large Irish Catholic family, childlessness is a suboptimal outcome.  In the end, though, my childlessness enabled me to divorce amicably and without complication after 19.9 years of a marriage that lacked a great deal more than the pitter patter of little feet.

In an ironic twist, I then married Mr. Carolina, a man who'd fathered two sons, then had a vasectomy back in the 1970's, when this was A Very Progressive thing to do. Now that I've turned the corner of menopause, it's clear that reproduction is off the table... not that I would have wanted children in this marriage. Relations with my two step sons who were in high school and college when I married their father were already strained. The older son ("James") remained estranged for over a dozen years; the other ("Drew") who was always closer to his father held out for a short while, then yielded to the inexorable pull of love and enjoyed a great relationship with both of us.  

cassandracarolina :: My Little Miracle
Stepmothers get a bum rap, but I was determined to overcome that. I made sure I let my stepsons enjoy quality time with their father. I opened my home and heart to them, paid their college tuition (even during the time when neither would speak to us), cooked plenty of Cincinnati-style chili, did tons of laundry, and chipped in for a tour of Europe for Drew when he graduated. I also supported my husband emotionally during the Time of Estrangement, assuring him that it wouldn't go on forever. It didn't. Gradually, things became Fine.

My husband and I grew attached to each of Drew's girlfriends, and our hearts broke when he severed ties with one who'd been living with him. It was his call - and the right call, for the right reasons - but his heartache had its origins in the death - albeit temporary - of his dream of starting a family.

When he became engaged to "Nell", we were thrilled. In addition to good looks, moxie, talent, and a great work ethic, this fine woman truly loved Drew as nobody else had. You could not find a more awesome daughter-in-law in all the land.

By now, Drew had become an honest-to-goodness job creator, expanding the successful company that he'd launched a few years earlier. Nell worked for a local non-profit, and last Mother's Day (not my favorite holiday), they announced that they were expecting a baby. My immediate visceral reaction was one of joy... and relief, as though a tremendous weight had been lifted from me. My slate had been wiped clean. Others would carry on from here.  It felt... good. Really good.

Still, I was a step-mother (albeit with a step-daughter-in-law and a step-grandchild on the way), and while nobody else in the family seemed at all concerned about that status, I still felt "separate" and unequal. I wasn't entitled to claim these fine people as my "real" family. I was happy for my husband, (who was overjoyed upon learning that this baby would be a boy), but this was still "his" experience, not "ours".  

Mr. Carolina assured me that this wasn't the case at all, and nothing that Drew or Nell had ever said or done would have supported my stubborn stance. It's just... well, an infertility thing, some emotional baggage that you carry with you, for no good reason.

We had planned to pay a visit after the baby had settled in, so as not to be underfoot with all of the local relatives, but Drew  was insistent that we - both of us - be there for the birth. The due date was Mr. Carolina's birthday, and we arranged our flights to arrive in the Frozen Tundra of New Hampshire that day.

Nell's water broke on the morning before our arrival, and after 26 hours of effort, the doctors decided to perform a Caesarean section, which - given Nell's petite size -seemed inevitable.

By the time we arrived, mother, father, and baby "Brady" (yeah, we're all Patriot's fans, so I'll call him that to protect his identity even though that game against the Ravens didn't turn out our way...) were doing fine. Mr. Carolina scooped Brady into his arms, beaming with pride, and sat with him for a long while. Then he asked me to hold him. "Really?" I asked apprehensively. I don't know a thing about babies, but before I knew it, there he was, swaddled and sleeping, warm and adorable, far off in dreams about his adventures on the Amniotic Sea.

Holding Brady in my arms, I marveled at his ability to simply be. He didn't squawk. He didn't squirm. He didn't grimace. He just allowed his 7-pound, 11-ounce self to be, sinking into me like a stone finding the bottom of a quiescent pond. The gurgling of his digestive system, adapting itself to life "outside" of the womb, was the only sign that this little being was immersed in any activity beyond sleep.

Born into a world of loving parents, uncles, and grandparents, he slept in peace, never imagining how he has transformed all our lives. Here we were: a tiny little family, the new parents grinning with joy, all of us amazed. It was as real as it gets. I dared to say it to myself: I was a real grandmother.

Mr. Carolina, to his everlasting credit, never once said, "I told you so." One more reason I love that guy to pieces.  

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My Little Miracle | 46 comments
Tips for being a better grandparent (1.93 / 30)
Seriously! Let me know how you've done it (or wished that others had done it!)

cc

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


What do these reply buttons mean? (2.00 / 3)
I'm so used to "rec" being the first one that I ticked it and then found it says "fail"!  Argh!

I'm new here so I don't know how to behave.  Sorry about that!


[ Parent ]
beautiful...awesome and congrats... (2.00 / 21)
I love babies..!!

"No disrespect intended, please accept my apology and disregard my previous comments."~GTP

Thanks, GlenThePlumber (2.00 / 20)
Until now, I'd been pretty disengaged with babies, even my nieces and nephew, but this has been really transformative! It's like unlocking a door to a hidden kingdom. So cool!!  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
well enjoy...I've always loved babies and little kids... (2.00 / 18)
I love to watch as they see...learn...realize something for the first time...so refreshing.

and worry not about not knowing how to be a grandparent...I don't think I've ever met a kid who didn't love their grandparents...I've seen you to be a kind and thoughtful person...he is going to love you...a lot.

"No disrespect intended, please accept my apology and disregard my previous comments."~GTP


[ Parent ]
I grew up with 6 grandparents due to my dad's parents (2.00 / 18)
having divorced and remarried - kind of a bonanza. Each was unique in their interactions with me, and I learned a lot from them.

Thank you for your kind words. I try ;-)

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
Congratulations! I'm also a "step" with no kids of my (2.00 / 22)
own.  Our grand kids are a treasure like yours.

"Pin your money to your girdle and don't talk to strangers."  My Grandmom's advice when I went away to school.  I don't wear a girdle and have never met a stranger.  Sorry Grandmom!

Thanks, nannyboz... I have the feeling that many (2.00 / 20)
families don't fit the traditional mom + dad + biological kids template. As long as kids know we love them, and we do all we can to prepare them for the world, it should all work out.  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
I was a single dad (2.00 / 22)
for a few years, after the first marriage. A 4 year old boy, and a 1 year old daughter.
I met my present wife, and married. 25 years later, my daughter knows who the real mom is, and their relationship is total love. First grandkid due in April.
No child forgets who was there when they needed someone. It sounds like you have a wonderful family, and more of that to come. Congratulations.

Thanks, meagert (2.00 / 19)
Kids do know who loves them. I hope you have as great an experience with your upcoming grandkid as I have so far. It's a whole new world, and a great sources of joy. There's so much negativity in the world, and this just washes it away. Amazing!  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
This is so true (2.00 / 12)
My brother married a woman who had a 3 yr old and a newborn; together they also had a child.  5 years later, they divorced.  My brother got custody, and lo these years later, all 3 kids call him "Dad" even though biologically only one is his.  Pfft.  Biology doesn't matter.  Love does.  I think you'll be a great grandmother.

[ Parent ]
Yes, Avilyn, modern families will continue to amaze us (2.00 / 12)
There is enough love for everyone, and all we need to so is feel it and show it freely.  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
Thank you, blue jersey mom (2.00 / 19)
for your kind thoughts and for leaving me a trail of bread crumbs to find this wonderful new home where it's safe for my diaries.  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
I had two children when my husband and I met (2.00 / 18)
His parents were, may I say, somewhat less than fully accepting.   They would constantly refer to my son & daughter as his "step-kids".  One day my husband made me fall in love with him all over again when he replied to his mother "the only STEPS in this house go to the second floor.  They are my children.  He didn't just say it, he lived it every day and they have told him many times how they may have another "father", but he is their Dad.


Oh, Actbriniel, that's wonderful! (2.00 / 17)
Thank goodness for those who speak up to their parents and take a stand for their spouses and kids and - as you say - live their values every day. I'm sure that your kids must love him a lot!  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
They do and we will celebrate 25 years in July (2.00 / 14)


[ Parent ]
Congratz Grandma (2.00 / 18)
My third grandchild is coming on Feb 1st.  It is truly a wonderful thing to be a grandma.  

Congratulations and the (2.00 / 15)
fun is just beginning!!!

I know, Portlaw! (2.00 / 15)
Living so far away (Texas to New Hampshire), we will be relying on electronic visits for now, but I hope that once we're settled at our beautiful place in North Carolina, we'll be the home base for many fun visits!!  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
I knew you were in NC. What part if it's ok to ask? I'm (2.00 / 8)
in Wilmington.

"Pin your money to your girdle and don't talk to strangers."  My Grandmom's advice when I went away to school.  I don't wear a girdle and have never met a stranger.  Sorry Grandmom!

[ Parent ]
Well, I am in Texas for a while longer, but will be settling (2.00 / 8)
right near you beginning this fall. I'm basically a New Englander who moved to Texas as a trailing spouse. Don't move to Texas without an exit strategy. Our move was brilliant financially: we sold our house in NH and bought a much larger and more elegant house in the Houston area with enough left over to buy land in NC where we built our eventual retirement home in 2010. We've been enjoying it for weeks at a time ever since, and will move there "permanently" in late summer or early autumn. Can't wait!  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
I so understand. We moved to OK to be near the grand kids. (2.00 / 7)
Dear Lord, you need an appointment!  They're so busy.  I said babe, this is so not for me, planes will take care of this.  So we're here in Wilmington, a long story.  Hope to see you sometime!

"Pin your money to your girdle and don't talk to strangers."  My Grandmom's advice when I went away to school.  I don't wear a girdle and have never met a stranger.  Sorry Grandmom!

[ Parent ]
Mr. Carolina and I built our "Casa Carolina" (2.00 / 7)
in a gorgeous spot where visitors can enjoy the beach, fishing, boating, biking, walking, swimming, golf, tennis, relaxing on the porch, and any number of other diversions, so everyone can visit US!  We don't mind traveling, but everyone loves our beautiful home, and I want them to feel free to hang out there. Maybe I'll regret that at some point, but it's hard to see that now ;-)

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
Beautiful post.... (2.00 / 13)
I cried through most of it lol...Congratulations to you and Mr. Carolina. A grandchild! I hope your wait to be closer to your little one is over quickly and you and Mr. Carolina know the sound of a child's laughter in your NC home for many years to come.

"A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle"...."We make a Living by what we get...We make a Life by what we give."  

Thanks you, LeftOverFlowerChild (2.00 / 10)
I am grateful for your kind words and the chance to post here among friends in a welcoming and safe environment!  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
hooray! (2.00 / 12)
the baby doesn't care about the legal arrangements.

my stepmom is the only parent i have left.

and good to see you here.  ;-)  


Good to see you here also, jlms qkw (2.00 / 11)
I am cutting back my time over at the Other Place as it was adversely affecting my mood and health. I am not interested in growing a thicker skin or otherwise arming myself for mortal combat. I just want to write my quirky little diaries and share them with thoughtful and kind people. This new home seems very welcoming indeed, and I am grateful that so many folks left unambigious bread crumbs so I could find my way here ;-)  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
it was easier (2.00 / 9)
for me to walk away from a blog than it was to sever ties with my family of origin but in both cases it was a logical response to an illogical siutuation. There are some things we can not change but if we butt up against them too often they will often change us. I regret neither although both brought with them some genuine losses.  

There's nothing like eavesdropping to show you that the world outside your head is different from the world inside your head.--Thornton Wilder

[ Parent ]
I agree with you, wordsinthewind (2.00 / 8)
Leaving the Other Place has been a slow disengagement for me. I've gone from posting several diaries a week to just several comments a week, along with republishing some diaries to groups and of course generously doling our tips and recs.

Like a dysfunctional family, there's still some good there, but the daily grind of venom and negativity was depleting me and spilling over into other parts of my life.

It also became clear that very few people really cared. Some folks that I held in high regard seemed only too pleased that people were being driven away. That was depressing. I did get some very nice Kosmails from a few people, and I've told them that they can find me here. If nothing else, I've found out who truly cares.

May we all find the welcoming home we seek here.  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
I think (2.00 / 3)
some of us need some healing and I'm not sure what is an appropriate venue for that. The MM do not want this to be a place that bashes other blogs which I can understand but I'm seeing some traumatized folks who need to let go of those feelings. I unfortunately have plenty of experience so I knew what I needed to do for myself but I think a lot of people have never been in that position before so need some help here.

There's nothing like eavesdropping to show you that the world outside your head is different from the world inside your head.--Thornton Wilder

[ Parent ]
Wise words indeed, wordsinthewind (2.00 / 3)
Maybe we could have an "orange to purple healing" thread where we could corral these discussions away from all the other diaries that they currently permeate. I agree: I need healing, and I have viewed this as my responsibility, my problem. What I am seeing, though, is that many other people seem to feel exactly the same way.

From what I see so far, the folks who've made the trek over here are some of the nicest, kindest, and most thoughtful of those I came to know. Also some of those least likely to have thrived in the harsh environment that has taken over.

As we leave that baggage behind - whether in days, weeks, or months - I think we will emerge with a much improved mental state, ready to tackle the Progressive challenges.  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
CC this was a wonderful diary. (2.00 / 8)
i really enjoyed this sentence, a sweet image.

'He just allowed his 7-pound, 11-ounce self to be, sinking into me like a stone finding the bottom of a quiescent pond.'

there really is no equal to having a newborn in your life, as a parent, a grandparent or a step parent. seems to me, your dedication as a stepmom will be richly rewarded and i'm very happy for you.

oh and that Mr.C......sounds like a keeper.  

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


Thank you, my dear occupant (2.00 / 6)
Please consider this a modest down payment in gratitude for your encouragement in making the orange-to-purple trek. This is a much more appropriate venue for someone of my sensibilities ;-)

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
well.....(adjusting his green visor), (2.00 / 6)
according to my records, my RescueRanger Credit Card with bonus miles to the Community Spotlight is way maxed out.

hows 'bout we just call it even and just love on each others work?

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
I love the way you think! (2.00 / 7)
Now just promise me that you'll write more awesome diaries!

Oh... In looking back on your previous comment, yes: Mr. Carolina is indeed a "keeper". I think he was beginning to notice that my involvement in the Orange Quagmire was getting to be a problem, but he gave me the space to figure it out myself.  There is always something empowering about taking action when things are getting dysfunctional. A good friend, spouse, or boss will give a person the latitude to learn that lesson ;-)

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
oh that's a promise i can make, CC. (2.00 / 6)
i'm working on a few as we speak but my progress is slow these days. the orange to purple transition has been a little disconcerting ( i'm a sensitive boy ) but mostly it's the lingering effects from the mental fog and intermittent memory loss from West Nile i got in August.

i'm determined to get there though.

and i'm not sure there is any other way to make an exit like we've all made, but on our own terms. he's a wise one, that Mr. C.


time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
Well, I will leave you with one thought, dear occupant (2.00 / 6)
Before I was laid off, I was getting very fearful about memory loss issues, what with my father passing away from Alzheimers. The constant threat of layoffs had all of us freaked out, and the mood in the office was tense and morale was just awful.

Oddly enough, after I lost my job and launched my own business (which has yet to take off), I found my mental acuity vastly improved, my memory issues just erased. It was like I turned back the clock some ten years or so.

Strangely enough, the stress I was feeling with all of the angst and venom over at the Orange Place was starting to send me back down that same rabbit hole. I will be 60 next month; I don't need the aggravation of trying to adapt myself to unpalatable circumstances.

Let's hope that we have found safe harbor here, and that our mood will improve!

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
oh i think we have landed on friendly shores, CC. (2.00 / 4)
the thing is, it takes me forever to unpack.
i still haven't unpacked from the trip to Kentucky for Christmas. :-/

but seriously, our quirky diaries have a safe home here, write away! and i'm really happy you're here.

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
Congratulations, Cassandra! (2.00 / 5)
This beautiful diary of yours brought tears to my eyes.  I'm so glad you're a grandma now!

My boys married comparatively late--well, perhaps not late by today's standards, the younger one at 33 and the older one this coming April, at 42.

Four years ago my younger son and daughter-in-law produced my granddaughter.  When I held her in my arms for the first time and looked at her miraculous self, it was the closest I've ever been to believing in God. How can a being so beautiful and tiny simply appear one day because two people made love months earlier?

You wanted a tip:  whenever the baby comes into view, as he grows, always light up when you see him.  Let him know he's the most precious, adored baby in the history of the world.


Oh, Diana in NoVa, that is the best advice! (2.00 / 3)
I won't have a problem lighting up when I see my grandson. I could probably illuminate the entire town! Just think of it: the ultimate "clean energy": beaming grandparents! I am so happy to see you over here. You will just love it, and the "meese" will love your beautiful and evocative diaries.  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
Congratulations! and I think I know just how you feel... (2.00 / 4)
I have no kids, but hubby (Mr. Pike #2) did. I was accepted into the blended family, and we get along pretty well. So when first grandkid was born, he actually had three grandmothers. First grandmother was MeMe, second was NeNe, and I (the third) became "Bono" when he began to talk. Why, I don't know; he just couldn't pronounce my name, and that's what he started calling me. I don't mind at all. I'm still Bono, and that sweet baby is nine now. How time flies!

Thanks, Lorinda Pike - nice to see you here (2.00 / 3)
Mr. Carolina's ex-wife has already decreed that she will be "Nana". Fine. Not a problem. I'll probably be "Bubba", which is what Mr. Carolina calls me. As long as I'm called something, I will remain delighted.  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
how did i miss this diary! (2.00 / 3)
it's beautiful CC.  i'm so happy for you.

oh, and i love this:

Don't move to Texas without an exit strategy.

all the best to you.  good years to come!  

i fear i'll never have grandkids.  my son shows no inclination to even date much less get serious about a woman.  i worry about that kid.  i mean, he's 28 fer gunness sake! :-)

Does the morgue wagon come with the job?


Fear not, LabWitch (2.00 / 3)
My stepson was 33 when he got married. His dad married Wife #1 at age 21 and had kids when he was 24 was 27. I think there's an aversion to early marriage among some of these kids because of fear that things won't work out.

Either they will, or they won't. I guess I'm the "marrying kind"; a nearly 20-year mediocre marriage didn't sour me on the concept, just on the fact that my main motivation was to get out of my parents' house when I married at age 22.

Second time around is a whole 'nother world. It was worth the wait.  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
thank you for that (2.00 / 3)
i still hope, but, it's fading.  i don't obsess over it, it's his choice.  still, a toddler to spoil would be so nice.  i'm not good with infants ... i was very nervous with my son as an infant, but once he began to be able to communicate verbally we became the best of friends and very close.  still are.  i sure hope, though, he's not waiting for someone like me to show up ... that would be a trainwreck for him.  i'm not the easiest person to be married to LOL.  my husband spoils me too much.  (secret smile)

Does the morgue wagon come with the job?

My Little Miracle | 46 comments
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