Thursday, February 27, 2014

Welcome, Kataleya!

On Tuesday, February 25, 2014, at 3 in the afternoon, my first-ever grandchild, Kataleya Lee Wahl, entered the world via cesarean delivery (she was breech), weighing 7 lbs. 1 oz. and measuring 20 inches. As you can see, she's beautiful. Her mother, Ashley, is doing well, so much better than I was doing the day after I gave birth to the baby who grew up to be her husband and Kat's father. That baby, my older son, Christopher, was the one who cut the umbilical cord and first held his daughter in his arms.

Boy, it's hard not to cry as I type those words!

Christopher and Ashley both live with me, and that means that come this weekend, Kataleya will live with us, too, in our very small house. As I greeted Kat on Tuesday, I noticed not only how beautiful and perfect she is, but how helpless you feel when a little baby cries, how desperately you want to do anything to make her feel better, and how sometimes you . . . can't.

I'm actually writing a book right now about a girl - Nora, the girl with the ant farm - who in the second book of the series becomes a ten-year-old aunt. I've been writing about the disruptions this brings to her family, and how much Nora dislikes disruptions. I wondered if I might be exaggerating a bit. But when I held my crying granddaughter and tried to soothe her with a lullaby (a doomed plan, as all she wanted to do was to have her first go at nursing, which happened a few minutes later), I realized I hadn't exaggerated at all.

Babies are disruptive. Period.  They disturb the universe when they make their entrance into it.

Now, I'm a lot like Nora, except that while she's focused on her ant farm, I'm focused on writing books about her and her ant farm. I love order, both in terms of my living space (I'm a near-fanatic neatnik) and in terms of how I structure my time (all those to-do lists!). What am I going to do now, as I try to keep my own projects marching merrily along (my busy teaching job, FOUR books that need to be completed by the summer, lots of travel, and more)?

I'm going to have to make some changes. But you know what? Those changes are NOTHING compared to the changes little Kataleya made on the day of her birth. She, too, liked things just the way they were, safe and snug inside of Ashley, getting all her nourishment, everything needed for life itself, from her mother's support system. Ashley could have tried having Kat turned from her breech position to avoid the surgical birth, but it seemed to her too violent to do it, to make this contented little person give up the cozy position she had created for herself.

Then on Tuesday afternoon a team of doctors and nurses plucked Kat out of that cozy safe, snug spot and wrenched her into LIFE: to the blooming, buzzing confusion that is the world. On her very first day she had to figure out how to breathe, to suckle, to poop.

So how can I worry about how to make space in my cozy safe, snug life for a new grandchild to love?

It will all work out. Things always do work out, especially where is so much love and good will. I worked hard all during February to clear as much of my calendar as I could for "grandmother leave." I didn't have to clear out a huge place in my heart for her; she has that already. Plus, hearts have a way of expanding as new opportunities for love arise.

If Kataleya can change, I can change. She's already changing every day.

And so am I.


  1. Such a beautiful granddaughter, Claudia! Congratulations to all of you. Act III will be an exciting one for you. Enjoy it all.

  2. Congratulations Claudia!!!! (Deepa)