Thursday, April 11, 2013

Baby pictures

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If you live in my little corner of the universe, you may know that I became a step-grandmother last week.

Yes, after many prayers over many months following a devastating loss a year and a half ago, my stepson and his wife became parents to a beautiful baby girl on April 5th. And the allelujah chorus rose to the heavens.

Little Robi Drew is beautiful and pink and perfect, with 10 little toes and 10 little fingers, a head full of dark hair and a scrunched up little face. Her parents are over the moon, as are all of her grandparents (step and otherwise) and her aunts and uncles. And her great-grandmother, who lives in my spare bedroom.

But you'll just have to imagine that.

Her parents have proclaimed that there shall be no pictures on social media. Or on this blog.

Dammit.

You can probably imagine how difficult that is for a social media junkie like me. For a reporter like me.

I'm dying to post the photo I took of The Coach, still wearing his game day hat, as he held his granddaughter for the first time. I wish you could see the look of love and joy in his eyes. I wish you could see how they have the same eye shape.

I wish you could see the photo of her with one eye closed -- just like him.

"People who know us know what she looks like," said the stepson, as I held, basically, a blanket and hat and a little nose.

"She won't look like this tomorrow," I told him.

They have their reasons. I don't have to be happy about it.

I expressed my disappointment to my stepdaughter the other day, to which she replied, "People had babies before Facebook, Lolo."

No shit.

Twelve years ago when my baby girl was born, there was no Facebook. No Twitter. No Lyons Din. No Tumblr. No Reddit. And phones weren't smart.

There was an America Online message board I frequented -- my support group as I made my way through six years of infertility, of years of trying to adopt, of waiting, of the one we lost. On the day my daughter was born there was a photo of her nursery on "the wall."

When, finally, a real, live child was placed in my arms that January morning, I couldn't wait to share the news with the world, to let them know we had crossed the finish line. Whew. We made it.

But, back then, cell phones were considered the spawn of the devil and had to be turned off in hospitals. So, after my baby was whisked back to the hospital nursery for tests (and while the staff tried to figure out what to do with these alleged adoptive parents wandering around the ward), I ran to the phone. The payphone in the waiting room. With quarters. Then I proceeded to call my mother, my sister-in-law, my sister, my brother, my stepkids' schools, my husband's school, my husband's ex-wife's school, my boss downtown, my office in the River Parishes and everyone else I could think of. They couldn't call back either.

Hours later, when the nurse finally did let us in to see our baby girl and when my high school friend took pity on me and decided it was time I held her, there was no camera in my pocket. No. It was in the car. In a bag. And my husband had to run to the parking lot to get it.

He did still have it later that night when the whole family came to the hospital to meet our new daughter. We took dozens of pictures of her through the nursery window. Unfortunately, as we learned the next morning at the local pharmacy/photo developing center,  there had been no film in the camera.

And that night, after a hurried dinner and a quick trip to Walmart for the baby supplies I had refused to allow myself to buy until that day, I was exhausted. But before I fell into the spare bed at my brother's house, I sat at my niece's ancient desktop computer with its ancient dial-up Internet to post a message to my friends on the AOL message board, then dash off a mass email to everyone else. With no pictures.

Then, once I got home with my daughter two days later, I didn't have a Facebook page to spread the news. I had to call everyone. Everyone in my address book. Aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, co-workers, coaches. 

To assist in the process, we did put a huge pink stork in our front yard. Our next-door neighbors thought we were proclaiming the birth of a grandchild even then.  But it worked. One friend said she nearly gave herself whiplash hitting the brakes.

And, while most people get a nice little birth announcement in the newspaper to tell the world their child has been born, we did not. Not even me, the newspaper lady. Because I did not give birth to my child, they would not run it. So I had to purchase one, in the classified ads. With no photo.

And a few weeks later, I did send out a little birth announcement via regular mail. With a photo. 

So, believe me. I know about Babies Before Facebook. I'm also thinking all of my Facebook friends are rather glad for it. Lora Leigh was, perhaps, the most photographed child in America for a time. Hey, I did my part to keep the Eckerd's photo center in business. And Marty and I both had little brag books in our pockets.

But we also appreciate the value of such photographs. All of my husband's baby pictures are somewhere in the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico now, thanks to Hurricane Katrina.  A lot of mine got eaten by a standard poodle puppy.

And we know that little Robi will be a snarky tween in the blink of an eye.


So, yes, we were excited to whip out our iPhones to take photos of little Robi with her grandfather, with her stepgrandmother, with her great-grandmother. And with my baby girl, who is now an aunt. Those are wonderful memories. And we will cherish them forever.

We'll just keep them to ourselves.













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