My experience at the birth of my first grandchild today was quite different in certain respects than when I became a father nearly 28 years ago, and not just because I wasn’t the Lamaze coach this time.
Shortly after noon today, my son-in-law Travis’ father and I were out in a lobby at Johnston Medical Center in Smithfield, shooting the breeze.
Travis’ mom and my wife were in the delivery room with Travis and my daughter Hilary.
Starting at 12:27, a series of texts ensued from my wife that gave clinical details describing a birth in progress.
At 12:37, I got a one-word text: “Born.”
I have seen a lot of dramatic wire service bulletins in my time as a newsie. I’ll put “Born” right up there.
I texted my big sister up in New York and she immediately went up on Facebook.
At 12:47, another text from my wife: “6 lb 11 oz. 21 in.”
Meanwhile, Bill had gotten a text from his wife of the Apgar score. Ten.
I asked, out of what? Out of 10, he replied. Good sign, I said. She tests well. Both her parents are high-achievers.
I posted “6 pounds, 11 ounces” on Facebook. Bill started getting photos texted to his phone, and he sent me one to get me started. I put that up on Facebook, a picture of little Charlotte Renee in the delivery room, being measured by a nurse.
It was about 20 minutes since she was born, and pretty much all Rabbit’s Friends-and-Relations knew the vitals and could see this little pink baby.
When I became a dad for the first time during Ronald Reagan’s second term, it took a while to get the word out to parents, siblings, colleagues. There was a hospital pay phone and lots of quarters involved.
In the last decade, Steve Jobs, may he rest in peace, and Mark Zuckerberg changed everything about how we communicate, and I really saw that exactly nine hours ago.