| LifeTakes |

On the Other Side of the Door


Her front door is going to stay closed for the next six weeks. I completely understand. I completely agree. And I am so sad

Any day now, b’ezras Hashem. Any day. The butterflies in my stomach are momentary, but deeply felt.

It’s in the early days of corona, but some measures are in place. I’ve come to terms with the idea that I’ll not be going to the hospital with my daughter when she gives birth. Instead, I’ll be the babysitter. She’ll drop the kids off on her way to the hospital with her husband.

I set my phone so only her calls will wake me and prepare for an early night. As I’m brushing my teeth, the call comes. It’s time.

I can hear the kids chattering in the background — two very excited seven-year-old boys getting ready to go to Grandma and Zeidy’s house, making big plans for having a real, live baby join their dynamic duo.

Quickly, we set up beds for them. Fifteen minutes later they bound in, pajama-clad and bubbling over with excitement. It’s delicious fun talking to them, laughing with them. Eventually I leave them to the care of my own kids and get into bed. Sleep is long in coming.

Around two a.m., the phone jars me awake. It’s a girl! I wake my husband. A girl! We try to wake the twins. We poke them, we jiggle them, eventually succeeded in rousing them. They call their parents so they can hear the news directly.

I go back to bed. Burrowing deep under the covers, my eyes fill with tears of gratitude. Baruch Hashem, a healthy baby! A girl!

And then a rush of guilty relief. A girl means no bris. How would we have safely managed a bris under these conditions? I shake the thought away. We have our simchah, right in the middle of all this craziness.

A simchah!

A girl!

I can already feel the weight of her in my arms as I cuddle her. My nostrils fill with the remembered scent of clean baby, fresh after a bath. My fingers trace her tiny features, brush her smooth cheeks. Eventually I fall back asleep, nuzzling my nose in her neck.

When I wake up, Modeh Ani bursts out of my mouth past a huge grin. I dance my way to the twins. They’re sprawled on their beds, breathing deeply. Does the new baby look like these two did as newborns?

I run back to my room and lunge for my phone. Yes! Photos! Mommy and baby. Daddy and baby. Baby by herself. These will have to do for now. The hospital is completely off-limits to visitors, but soon they’ll be home and then I’ll…

I stop short.

 

I’ll what? I’ll hold her? Bathe her? Diaper her?

How can I possibly hold her? What if I sneeze? What if a breath escapes my mask? What if a single germ lies dormant on my sleeve? How can I take that risk? For her, for her exhausted mother?

Her mother. My daughter. She needs to relax, not be busy entertaining energetic first-graders. She needs to sleep, and eat nourishing meals, and get her strength back, not make do with scrambled eggs and pasta.

She needs help.

And I want to be the one to help.

But she, too, is being careful. She’s declared that her front door is going to stay closed for the next six weeks. I completely understand. I completely agree. And I am so sad.

I offer to make supper. It’s a tiny, pathetic gesture.

I put on a clean shirt and wash my hands. I touch the drawer handle and wash my hands. I sigh. I put the pot aside and disinfect every surface, every handle, anything that might conceivably need disinfecting in my already spotless and disinfected kitchen.

I wash my hands again and cook the simplest of foods. I transfer the food into containers and find an unused shopping bag. I carry the food down to the car and start the ignition, praying I will not be pulled over. No one is allowed outside except to “air out” in a 100-meter zone from their home, to shop for food or medications, or to take care of those who can’t get out. I think this qualifies.

The streets are deserted; the drive takes six minutes. I shun the elevator and walk up four flights of stairs. I knock. I step back a full two meters and wait.

“Who is it?” a little voice calls out.

“It’s Grandma.”

I hear little feet pattering away.

I wait. I hear little feet coming back.

The voice sings out, “Thank you.”

I know that’s my cue to walk away. The door will not be opened as long as I’m there. But I linger, just for a moment, to ponder, to feel.

My heart swells with love, with joy, with gratitude. While my arms ache with longing.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 691)

Oops! We could not locate your form.