I was sitting on the couch watching a sloppy Christmas film called The Santa Squad. It was Sunday afternoon. I was stir crazy, trying my best to keep calm. Tim was telling me that fussing was a waste of time and I was of no help to the young couple.
My darling daughter-in-law, Elaine, had been in labour for some hours. Yes, Colm and Elaine were expecting their first baby, my second grandson, any minute. Knowing how much joy Ricky has brought into our lives and the lives of his parents, Julie and Dave; I couldn’t wait for the baby’s arrival.
The birth of every baby is special. This new little one has symbolised new hope for me. When I was diagnosed with cancer, the road ahead was set out with the first stop - chemotherapy - to take place over several months, followed by surgery. I was floored, devastated. My nearest and dearest were also distraught and unsure how we would all navigate the months ahead.
Tim and I were invited out to dinner by Colm and Elaine. During dinner, although it was very early days, Colm told us that Elaine was pregnant. I knew immediately that it was a huge gift. The birth of this baby would coincide with the completion of my treatment and I would be well on the way to recovery. They knew, too, that it would give me focus - and it did. I did not write about it so as not to damage the preciousness of my secret.
The most valuable thing a parent can give to his or her children is confidence. I watched my beautiful daughter-in-law’s waistline expand, growing into a big baby bump. Meanwhile, Colm and Elaine have been building their new home next to ours on the farm. It is angled away from ours but visible from our bedroom window. Throughout my tough months, I watched that house materialising: the walls were built, then it was roof time, then the windows came, and so on.
I photographed every step from my window. There were times when I’d run out to snatch a picture when Colm and Elaine were working. It will be completed in the New Year and a new chapter will begin.
The most valuable thing a parent can give to his or her children is confidence.
Baby is born
During my worst moments, I visualised what it would be like to hold my next grandson. I was sure that he’d be a fine thumper and would have a shock of black hair, just like his dad.
It was Saturday morning when Colm rang to say that he and Elaine were in the hospital. By Sunday evening, the two grandmothers were pacing and chatting. We had regular texts from Colm, so we knew that Elaine and baby were ok. Still, it was hard not to fret. The time crawled by. Then there was a long silence and finally around 10pm on the Sunday night, the text came to say that Peter O’Leary, weighing 8lbs 6oz, had been born. The joy was immense.
Cork University Maternity Hospital have continued to restrict visitors to the partner only. On day three, the little family were allowed home. I got a magical text from Colm.
“We are home. Call whenever you want.”
I headed over and Elaine was sitting on the couch with baby Peter in her arms. I sat beside her and she passed the precious bundle over. There are no words to describe the utter joy at meeting my second grandson. My chest was tight with emotion as I took in his little face, his features and head of black hair.
After just two weeks, Colm and Elaine admit that they cannot imagine life without their little man. Nor can we - grandparents Katherine and Tim and Mary and Donal Reilly. I look forward to being a part of Peter’s life.