I recently became a Nana for the first time. My older, precious twin, Caleb, became a daddy in a less-than-traditional, but not terribly uncommon manner. During the end of the pregnancy, before we knew with any certainty that He was related to us, we all experienced a gamut of emotions that were extremely difficult and exhausting.
He was born a month early, under slightly scary circumstances. (Did I mention that mama went into labor a full month early, on Caleb’s birthday?!) Caleb decided that he wanted to be in the delivery room to support the baby’s mama and to witness his child’s birth with no regrets. I remember when he asked me what he should do, I asked him if the baby turned out not to be his, could he recover emotionally. He assured me he was fine. My mama’s heart wanted to help him make the right decision without emotions clouding things up, but that was just simply impossible. Caleb was there when Charles was born and he even cut his son’s umbilical cord. A few days after the birth, my son was informed that the paternity test would not be done until little Charles was six weeks old and the results typically take about six additional weeks to return. This would mean that the baby would be around 3 months old before anyone would know who his daddy was. The news was almost unbelievable to our family! Waiting that long was not beneficial for anyone.
I’ve learned SO MUCH since this all began. I found out that you can order a profesh paternity test online for about $120 or less and have the very reliable results in about 48 hours from the time the company receives it. I learned that no matter how hard you try to stay neutral, when you are a 2 Mama and Nana, you are ALL IN as soon as you know that baby is your baby’s, in spite of your wise children doing their best to prevent your possible heartbreak. I know the wonder of having another woman birth a clone of your baby. I finally understand all the hype about how awesome it is to have grandchildren because you have all the fun with very little of the tedious day-to-day responsibilities.
Arlo looks SO much like his daddy – and quite a bit like his Auntie Hannah, as well. Also, Arlo’s parents look like they could be related, so there’s that… He was in the NICU for just over 2 weeks. He was released from there the morning after we got the results that confirmed Caleb is his daddy… interesting. He and his mama then spent several days in the “Nesting” area of the hospital before they allowed them to go home, and she graciously welcomed this Nana and Papa for daily visits.
We received the paternity test results the day after Valentine’s. Caleb came over so he and I could process together. I prayed silently as he experienced the HUGENESS of the situation in every way imaginable. He mourned the end of his carefree life. He expressed deep shame and regret. He questioned whether he could rise to this occasion. He lashed out in anger. He shut down. He began to accept the responsibility of it all, and then, bit by bit, he gave in to the cresting dam of love he had been struggling to hold back in order to protect his heart, in case he wasn’t Arlo’s daddy. At first it was just a little trickle of the acknowledgement of the wonder of it all, leaking out in the most beautiful and fragile way. I watched this grow into the new joy of fatherhood and all the possibilities that lie ahead. I am humbled that I bore witness to this sacred moment in my son’s life. I count it as one of the greatest gifts of my life.
Once he was on level ground, again, he showered and we headed up to the hospital to meet his son (my grandson!!!!). This is when I got to witness another absolutely lovely and horrible moment in my son’s journey to fatherhood. He walked in, worked his way around all of the cords and medical “stuff” so that he could pick up his baby and inform him that he was his father. When about 20 minutes passed and it was time to change his diaper, Caleb told us that it was time for him to learn to do everything. It was excruciating and glorious watching him almost drop Arlo while diligently and lovingly changing his little preemie diaper with three women looking on. I could feel my son humbly saying with his heart, “I’m all in. I’m your daddy. I love you and I will do everything I can to make you feel loved and to make your life better.”
In the past almost 4 months I have watched my baby mature exponentially. As soon as Arlo’s sweet mama had to return to her job, Caleb changed his schedule at work so that he could be with his son Monday through Wednesday each week. He works double shifts Thursday – Saturday in order to do this. He can change a diaper, swaddle and burp a little one with the best of them! He can tell you, with amazing accuracy, what Arlo is crying about within seconds. When they come over for dinner on Monday evenings, we all vie to hold him, feed him and diaper him to give Caleb support for our own selfish reasons, and I am always so proud of him for making it clear to everyone that he is the one responsible for his son’s care. He doesn’t show up and step back while everyone takes care of Arlo. He’s the kind of daddy I have prayed my sons would be. I am proud of the way he has lovingly stepped up and fully embraced the responsibility of fatherhood in spite of the extra challenges it has brought into his life.
Lastly, I am thankful that he repeatedly forgives us for being so excited every time he walks through the door with Arlo and we gush all over our sweet grandboy and treat him like an afterthought…
Honestly!!! Can you blame us?! Just look at that precious little face… 🧡