When my oldest child, a daughter, reached her early twenties, I began teasing her about my desire to become a grandmother. Although it was meant to be lighthearted joking (honestly), my comments were met with a serious roll of the eyes coupled with intensely arched eyebrows, which in our house is better known as “the Devon look”. I chuckle as I write this because Devon’s infamous “look” first appeared in her toddler days. Believe me when I say that we have all been on the receiving end of this death glare a time or two ever since.
Time marched on, we all grew older,and my “desire to be a grandma” comments waned somewhat, especially after my friend heard me tease Devon one day. This friend, who is childless by choice, jumped in to offer her opinion, telling me to back off, that perhaps Devon would choose a different path from the one I had chosen, and whatever she decided would be right for her. That comment caught me off guard, I did not see it coming, but my friend was absolutely right. Whether Devon opted for motherhood or a life without children, was her choice, not mine nor anyone else’s. It was time for me to cease and desist with my comments. Which I did. But my daughter knows me well, had always been aware of my love for babies, and children in general, so despite the clamp I’d placed over my mouth concerning this subject, I knew Devon would never forget. From that point on it was a taboo topic of conversation.
More time passed, with boyfriends coming and going, some lasting longer than others for Devon. I could usually tell if she was serious about the candidates by whether she introduced them to us. Sometimes a name would be spoken, accompanied by a faint sparkle in her eye, hinting at the possibility of a new romance but then a deafening silence would ensue. Regardless of how nosy I wanted to be, I learned early on not to ask questions unless my child opened that door first.
And then along came the summer of 2010…when Devon met Bryan. Actually, they knew each other from their years at N.D.S.S, our local high school, as well as from Bryan dating one of Devon’s good friends during that time. Many years had passed since then but they struck up a conversation, and soon began spending time together.
Our family didn’t meet Bryan for a while, not sure why, but when we did it was instant likeability. From our first introduction Bryan seemed to fit perfectly into our family, which was great, but it wasn’t even the best part. What I could see written all over his face was pure, absolute love for my daughter, and not just in his facial expressions but also in his actions, as he treated Devon like a queen. What more could any mother hope for her child? It was more than enough for me.
Flash forward to June 29th, 2012, to a little chapel in Las Vegas, where Bryan and Devon uttered those two magical words…I do! Knowing how happy my girl was, that she was embarking on a whole new journey, one she would walk with Bryan, filled me with such joy, and was an answer to my prayers.
After they were married, perhaps a few months, the subject of children came up during a visit with Devon and Bryan, and believe it or not, it wasn’t me who initiated it. It may have been my new son-in-law who started the conversation, telling us more about his son and daughter (from a previous marriage). We had not met his kids yet but of course we wanted to know more about them, afterall, they were now our step-grandchildren, a part of our family. And then the word “babies” was spoken. Again, it wasn’t me. Devon casually mentioned that although not right away, they were contemplating trying for a baby. My daughter’s eyes seemed to focus on me, waiting for my reaction but I did not allow myself to show any crazy excitement, I simply smiled.
We all carried on with our lives, everyone busy with jobs, school, or the myriad other events or activities we were all involved in. Devon and Bryan lived close by however we didn’t see them much. Family birthdays, holidays, or other special events brought us together for a meal, a visit, a celebration. It was around Christmas time when we heard the latest news, that Devon and Bryan would be starting testing (fertility) in the new year. We also were informed that there could be some difficulties although no one appeared to be concerned. My job was to pray for a positive outcome to this testing, and so my prayer journey began.
Over the next several months, Devon and Bryan proceeded with various tests and appointments, learning through each phase what it would involve to have a baby. For them it would be more than the usual way. And then more tests, more procedures. Ups and downs. Hope given, disappointments crushing. Through it all, they supported each other, remained positive and kept going. At times I wondered, if I were in their position, would I handle it as well? Occasionally I shed a few tears for my daughter when I saw her at a low point, which spurred me on to pray more, pray harder.
In late November 2013, my prayers were answered, when Devon and Bryan dropped in and handed me a card, in a red envelope. Sitting down at the kitchen table I opened it to discover a Christmas card, one that said, Nana and the rest of the words blurred before my misty eyes. I bolted out of the chair, grabbed my girl and hugged her tight. Then did the same to Bryan. Of course the smiles on both their faces were priceless, grins from ear to ear. Definitely a day etched in my mind forever. That was merely the beginning.
A couple of weeks later, the now-pregnant couple announced that we could expect not one, but two grandchildren – twins! No words could describe the excitement inside me. And then, at the 16 week mark, Devon had an ultrasound to reveal the gender(s) of the babies. Speculation abounded among all of us in the weeks leading up to the ultrasound. Devon felt she was carrying two boys, Bryan thought one of each, same as me. When the day arrived we all felt giddy with the anticipation of discovering whether we’d be buying pink or blue, or perhaps both. The waiting was almost more than I could stand, but finally, the mom and dad to be strolled into our kitchen. Both of them exhibited no hint, just handed me flowers wrapped in florist’s paper. Devon smiled, instructing me to open it as then we would know. What a cool idea for the big reveal. My hands were trembling. In my mind, during those seconds of frantic ripping, I envisioned one pink, one blue flower, girl and boy. And then there they were…two perfect pink carnations. I think I screamed, “two girls, you guys are having two girls?”. Once again I jumped out of my chair, crying and hugging my daughter and then her husband. Both Devon and Bryan said they were completely taken by surprise, they did not think they were having girls, but were incredibly happy. What an amazing moment, one of the greatest of my life. The high of that moment lasted for days, so did the silly smile on my face.
The weeks and months passed, with Devon’s belly expanding beautifully, and no problems, not even the dreaded morning sickness. Excitement and anticipation increased with every appointment with the doctor, every ultrasound. Family, friends, coworkers, everyone who knew Devon and Bryan had hoped and prayed for this experience for them for a long time. Everyone marked August 6th on their calendars, Devon’s due date, however, her doctor cautioned that twins often arrive early. Of course we wanted the babies to stay inside as long as possible to ensure they were a good weight, and healthy, so I prayed for Devon to continue to feel well, as she had throughout her pregnancy. In fact, she made a comment one day, during her last month, that she wasn’t ready yet to not be pregnant, she was enjoying the experience to its fullest.
By mid-July Devon’s belly was enormous, and daily activities became difficult for her to do. Finding a comfortable position was out of the question, there simply wasn’t one. The time was drawing near. My phone, at this point, never left my side, it was glued to me, day and night. On July 17th, while not in labour, Devon decided to take her OB’s offer to induce, she was ready not to be pregnant any longer.
Devon phoned to inform us they were heading to the hospital, what the plan was, and either she or Bryan would be in touch. Now I could not contain my excitement, nor could I quell my slight anxiety, as this was my first-born child, and I knew the next hours would be intense for her. Prayers were whispered for a safe, and not too lengthy labour and birth. And then I waited, we all waited.
As it turned out, my granddaughters were in no hurry for their grand entrance. Thursday came and went. Then Friday, with minimal progress. On Saturday a different tactic was implemented, which seemed to spur on labour, and by that evening the doctor broke Devon’s water. It was a long night for my girl, and Bryan, in fact it had been a long few days, but at long last, two tiny miracles arrived to greet their mommy and daddy.
My phone rang at 7:30 a.m on Sunday July 20th, and I listened as my son-in-law proudly announced the arrival of his baby girls; Natalie Porter Kellar arrived at 6:30 a.m and weighed 5lbs 13oz., and then at 6:51 Nora Stapley Kellar came into the world weighing 6lbs. 10oz. Both babies were healthy and exercising their tiny lungs. Devon was doing great, and in Bryan’s words, “Devon was a trooper, she did an amazing job”. A prayer of thanksgiving filled my heart for the double blessing of Natalie and Nora.
From those early days of lighthearted teasing to the moment I became a Nana, seems like a long road, but then I remind myself that everything in life happens at the appointed time, the perfect time.