My wife, The Lovely Sharita, and I were Zero Population Growthers for the first 16 years of our married lives. It was a situation that suited our nomadic lifestyles in pursuit of a variety of newspaper jobs.
When we were asked about children, we’d refer to ourselves (in hindsight, perhaps a little smugly) as happily child-free, not childless. And then, 21 years ago in what turned out to be somewhat of a baby boomlet explosion at the then-Telegram-Tribune, we found ourselves parents of the love of our lives, Caitlin. She didn’t enter the world easily.
Cait apparently liked her amniotic world just fine and lingered a couple of weeks beyond her due date. And when she did decide it was time, I forgot every single coaching technique I’d learned in Lamaze classes. She and Sharita labored at her coming out party for 30-plus hours before a C-section was decided upon.
I was in the operating room and held her in my arms as the cord was cut and oxygen filled her lungs, turning her color from plum to pink. I soaked my surgical mask, weeping as I held her, counting my blessings along with her perfectly formed little toes and fingers.
The Lovely Sharita and I had walked into the hospital as a couple; we walked out a child-fulfilled family.
The Crouton. That’s the nickname I gave to Cait’s baby after she told us she was pregnant. I suppose the name came to me as much from being in shock as it was a sense of denial that our baby was having a baby.
Over the summer and fall, as her belly grew along with her discomfort, Cait’s natural beauty — both personality and physical — also grew, if that seems possible.
More and more people began to refer to the baby in terms such as, “When The Crouton comes … How big do you think The Crouton is going to be?” I began to wonder if it was really so wise to be saddling the little nipper with a re-baked bread nickname.
On another front, friends began to ask us what we wanted to be called as grandparents — Nana, Granny, Grampa and Poppy were taken by our parents. Considering the leafy leitmotif surrounding The Crouton, I wondered if perhaps Beans and Olive wouldn’t be fitting.
Madden William Vaughn, like his mother, took his time in celebrating his birthday, coming into the world Monday, Oct. 5, at 8:36 p.m. after 25 hours of labor. Like his father Kenneth, who’s a tall drink of water, Madden is a whopper, weighing in at 9 pounds, 6 ounces. And, like his mother and grandmother, he’s beautiful beyond description.
Now, here’s something they don’t teach you in Parenthood 101: Grandchildren are different than our children. It’s difficult to explain, but when I first laid eyes on Madden, it was like a long, slow gong sounded in the depth of my soul. It was an echo of eternity, a feeling of warmly bound connectedness with the family of man.
A dear friend of mine, Margaret Mehring, probably came closest to articulating how I feel when she wrote after learning of her impending death:
“There is a continuity to life and I realize I am a part of the whole process — of people living and doing and dying. We come from each other. We’re not just in the same room (planet), but we come from each other. That’s pretty exciting to be a part of all being.”
So, thank you, Sharita. Thank you, Caitlin. Thank you, Kenneth. Most of all, thank you, Madden, for joining our family in our continuity of life and being.
Your loving (tentatively named) grandparents, Abuelito and Abuelita