Over the past few weeks, I’ve been collecting stories from people about how they are coping during this COVID-19 pandemic and sharing them here on the Catching Health blog. So many people have responded, I now have several stories in the queue. I am grateful, partly because reaching out and getting responses helps me feel less isolated. I hope that reading them helps you feel more connected and a little less isolated, as well.

The other day, I asked grandparents what they were doing to stay connected with their grandchildren — here’s the blog post that came out of their wonderful responses: Grandparenting from a distance. One of the responses came from Lee Hews. I decided that instead of including it in the grandparenting post, she deserved her own post. That’s because Lee is now in a special category. She is a brand new grandmother. Here’s her story:

I had lunch with my youngest daughter Chelsea on March 12th, the day before the first cases of COVID-19 were announced in Maine. It was an exciting lunch because she had just come from a long-awaited interview for a women’s health nurse practitioner position with her medical practice — and she was 37 weeks pregnant with my first grandchild. She thought the interview went well and she was hopeful that she would be among the finalists. But honestly, most of our conversation focused on her and Baby J, the moniker given to the baby because she and her husband decided not to learn the gender of the baby before birth.

Over the course of the next three weeks, as the world around us changed, so did Maine and our lives in a big way.  Chelsea became increasingly nervous about working in a health care environment in her last few weeks of pregnancy, and she was anxious to deliver and hopeful that her husband would still be able to be present. Within two weeks or so of our lunch, Chelsea was furloughed from her job and thoughts of an advanced position seemed like a distant memory. Now, all thoughts were focused on the health and wellness of the Mom and baby. 

I see my daughters regularly and I often see Chelsea once a week. I had expected to be with her more toward the end of her pregnancy just to help with all the day-to-day things and hang out while we both waited for Baby J to arrive. My hopes of waiting at the hospital while she labored and delivered were dashed and a sense of gloom set in as I and everyone in the immediate families realized that not only were we not going to be at the hospital, we were not going to be able to meet this baby for a long time. Dreams of holding the brand new baby and seeing the joyous parents were completely dashed!

We adapted. We used Zoom and FaceTime to communicate in the days leading up to delivery and even while she was in labor at Maine Med. We got regular updates during the 24+ hours of labor from her wonderful husband and we were “with her” even if remotely. And when Baby J arrived — we saw pictures within minutes — before he even left his Mom’s arms for the first time. Of course, it was not the same as being there, but it was OK. And more importantly, they were ok.

Lee Hews' grandson

Baby J, now called Henry Oliver, arrived at 12:20 a.m. on April 4th.  I have seen dozens of photos and videos and have laughed and cried and felt total joy — like most first time grandparents do, I am sure. The day he came home from the hospital, we went to “visit” him and the new parents and looked through the glass slider — though longing to hug my daughter and hold both her and her new baby — it was OK. It was just as good as it gets during this unprecedented time with COVID-19.

Chelsea has been great at updating the virtual photo album and sharing videos with us, and we chat through messenger or text many times throughout the day. I have been cooking and freezing food for them that I will leave on their deck until I can go in. I am hoping to have a nice social distancing visit with them very soon, maybe even a walk around the farm where they live. Though this is not what I would have imagined my first days to be as a first time G-Mom, I am doing OK. I am so grateful that Chelsea is fine and the baby is healthy and as a couple, she and her husband are adapting and working together fabulously! 

But, I can’t wait to hold that baby and when I finally can, I will cherish that moment even more.

Lee Hews

Congratulations, Lee! Any idea what your “grandmother name” will be? Thank you for sharing your joy with us and please extend our congratulations to your daughter and her husband.