Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Everyday Holiness

For Meredith, who loves her sisters

It was a week before Christmas when our daughter Victoria and her husband Mike stopped by with a gift for Peter and me. I tore off the wrapping paper and found myself staring at a picture frame with the image of an ultrasound in the center. I gasped, squealed and began to weep, pretty much all at the same time. “Really?????? Really?????” I screamed.

Mike and Torrie were pregnant. The baby was due August 14 in Bangor, Maine.

A week later, the family gathered for Christmas. In the midst of the commotion, our daughter Tierney and her husband Andrew handed us a gift bag. Peter reached in and pulled out a bottle of red wine from an unfamiliar winery called The First Trimester. The logo was the imprint of two tiny feet. I screamed, then launched myself at Tierney as I kissed her and sobbed. Later, we read the fine print on the label: “Cram-Keg blend. When aged nine months, this red will come to life with flavor.”

Tierney and Andrew were pregnant. The baby was due August 14 near Pittsburgh.

That’s right – the same day that Mike and Torrie’s baby was due.

I couldn’t make this stuff up.

As the news became public, family and friends shook their heads at the improbability of two sisters expecting their first babies on the same day. Unfortunately, the couples live 850 miles apart, and I was determined to be in the hospital for both births. I didn’t anticipate a problem, however, since babies rarely arrive on the due date.

Precisely on August 14, Victoria called from Bangor to say that she was in labor and they were heading to the hospital. Peter and I left immediately to drive to Bangor, then commenced pacing.

Less than an hour later, Tierney called from Pittsburgh to say that she was in labor and they were heading to the hospital.

Seriously? These babies couldn’t have planned this better? Reluctantly, Peter and I enacted our let’s-hope-we-don’t-need-it contingency plan. Peter remained in Bangor while I said a tearful goodbye to Mike and Torrie, then hopped on a plane to Pittsburgh. There was a good chance I would arrive in time for the birth of Tierney’s baby.

I had a layover at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. Severe thunder storms had grounded outbound flights, leaving no available gates for arriving planes. We sat on the tarmac for more than three hours on a stifling August night with no air conditioning. While we waited, I learned that Torrie had given birth to Nora Emily Lalime. Peter held Nora soon after birth, and together they whispered secrets and conspired to keep her parents awake all night.

Still on the tarmac, I was frantic about making my connecting flight. Eventually I was informed that there would be no connecting flight because all flights had been canceled.

I sank my face in my hands and wept.

Finally deplaning at 10 p.m., I rented a car and drove all night, arriving in Pittsburgh at 5:30 a.m. as the first tinges of pink peeked over the horizon. Somewhere along I-80 in the wilds of Pennsylvania, I learned that Tierney had given birth to Addison Grace Keogler. Both babies were born on their due date, four hours apart. I missed both births.

I met baby Addison in Tierney’s hospital room. Pink and tiny, she slumped in my arms and made those sweet baby cooing sounds. She was exhausted from her eventful day.

Peter lingered in Bangor with baby Nora for a few days while I cherished every minute with baby Addison in Pittsburgh. Then we switched.

After that, we went home and slept, but not before giving profound thanks to God.

For the record, I recommend births of no more than one family member per day, unless they are twins. Twins may be harder on the young parents, but they’re a whole lot easier for traveling grandparents. Trust me on this one.

Regina Cram lives in Glastonbury and is a freelance writer. She is the author of Do Bad Guys Wear Socks? Living the Gospel in Everyday Life.