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Oh, Henry! Confessions of a first-time grandfather

I'd heard from so many veteran grandparents about what to expect when our first grandchild was born. Even with all their advice, holding my grandson for the first time almost tipped over my world mdash; and taught me a wonderful lesson about life.
Donald Smurthwaite, KSL Modified: June 16, 2014 at 10:25 am •  Published: June 16, 2014
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My wife and I recently became members of a large and highly esteemed worldwide institution. While not very exclusive, it is celebrated and venerated in all corners of the earth.

On a mild spring Sunday afternoon in American Fork, Utah, our first grandchild came into this world. Henry arrived bleary-eyed and blinking, quickly followed by cutting loose a howl to ensure everyone on the hospital’s third floor knew of his arrival.

Life changed for us at that moment: Welcome to the club, grandma and grandpa.

I wondered what it’s like to become a grandparent, and we got plenty of pointers before Henry’s birth.

“It’s the best experience ever, better than even having your own children,” was the most frequent comment.

“No diaper changes, no 3 a.m. feedings; and when they get fussy, you hand them back to their parents,” was another common piece of advice.

“You’ll want to sell your house and move to Utah,” was another prediction.

And from a friend with a sardonic streak: “Grandchildren are the reward for not giving away your own kids.”

Because of a slight concern about his health – his mother ran a fever the week before giving birth – Henry ended up in the neonatal intensive care unit the first night. So we had to wait until Monday before we could hold him.

When the moment came for us to enter the NICU, I stepped aside so that my wife could hold Henry first. After 37 years of marriage, I have developed some intuition about women. In this case, my horse sense told me not to stand between a new grandmother and her first grandchild. It could be dangerous.

An hour later, I cleared my throat and fidgeted just enough to make it known it was time for Henry to formally meet his grandfather.

How can I describe it?

Oh, Henry. My world almost tipped over. Sky rockets going off one second in pure elation, followed by a deep feeling of contentment. The words that came to mind: peace, perfection, sweetness, joy, gratitude, beauty, innocence, and (my wife’s favorite word) adorable.

The phrase "this is what life is all about" echoed over and over in my mind.

We spent the next week at Henry's home alternately trying to be helpful and stay out of the way. That comment about changing diapers? Not true for us. We were happy to take on that chore, and to try and calm him during those fussy moments.

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