Before You Were Born
by Daniel Griswold
I promised myself that I would record everything when my first son, Ransom, came into the world. I’ve become so wrapped up in the wonder, and immense life changes of fatherhood, however, and have not kept that promise and this is my moment to rectify, in a small way, that transgression against myself and my family. This blog will be more personal than previous blogs, and there are many people in here that I am incredibly thankful for. There are those I know I will forget (likely due to “Father’s brain” or some human frailty, but I am so thankful to you as well. So, so thankful. So Ransom, this is how I remember your genesis.
August 2013, Amanda (your mom), started acting a bit funny. I can’t say exactly what tipped me off, but I began to feel like something was up. Maybe she looked at me differently a few times. Then, one day she came down the stairs of our home on a sunny day and said, “Guess what?” She looked serious but smiley and expecting something from me. I think I responded, “Are…you…pregnant?” (Background information – Amanda had tricked me into believing a baby was on the way on a prior April Fool’s day, and it was not funny to me, so I didn’t think she’d do it a second time. Totally ruined that day for me.) This time it was different. She said, “I think so.” She had the test, and I was pretty excited about the whole prospect but also worried now. Could it be a mistake. So we tested a few more times and guess what – you were on the way!
The next few months are a blur, but here are a few details. You vacationed with us at Lake Junaleska in the Kilgore summer home. We walked around the lake and talked about our future with you and pondered how different life was going to be. We also worried a bit about money (births are expensive), but we kept having to lean in on God’s provision. If you were coming, God would give us a way to support you in the way you would need it. When we came back we got some loans out and paid for a midwife group in Savannah, GA that friends had mentioned was amazing. We wanted you to start out right and with lots of care. The birthing center did all your checkups, we took lessons on how to know when you were coming and what to do, Amanda’s mom came and spent a bit more than a month and a half with us as we prepared, and our church family at Saint Andrew By-The-Sea UMC in Hilton Head became more and more excited!
I’m not going to lie. I wanted you to be a boy, and my wish came true. I’ve wanted to name you Ransom since I was in High School. I met a young man in New York with that name, and I thought it was amazing. Your middle name Kelly, is my mom’s name, but I’d met guys who had it as their name, and I thought it was cool. It means Warrior. Ransom means to “Redeem”. You are a Redeeming Warrior in my book. I’m glad your mom liked it too. If you had been a girl you’d have been Gwenfair, but perhaps that’ll be next. I also prayed you would be good looking. I think that is a tradition my grandma passed on. I remember her telling me she prayed for that and it came true of all her kids and grandkids. Seems vain, but I thought – why not? Overall, though, I prayed that you would be a great man of God full of faith and wisdom and compassion and justice. I hope this comes true.
So what did we do waiting for you? We kept exercising until Amanda couldn’t. Running slowed and then you became so big that we had to chill a bit. That was okay because we bought lots of ice cream. I gained 15 lbs waiting for you (stress weight). I wanted you to be healthy, I wanted to meet you, and everyone we talked to asked how you were doing. As far as I could tell, you were doing good, and the doctors confirmed it. Our church launched a second campus, I played guitar a bit and helped lead up some new initiatives, but I slowly realized, as you were coming that I couldn’t do as much.
I let go of a few things in preparation to take care of you. Lots of hobbies, writing, and some things that felt good to drop for a while. I’d been doing some things for five years or more and it felt refreshing to reset for you. All I wanted to do was see you and hang out with you. The church was so loving and generous and we were blessed by their support as their gifts stocked you up on diapers, cute outfits and lots of gear we now use all the time. Oh, and toys…and books! So glad we can read to you all the amazing books full of rhymes, stories, and prayers. I hope you really like to read.
The time started coming, and it became harder to wait. Amanda’s mom was there so she helped out so much as it became harder for Amanda to move around the house and get around town. She kept both of you safe and kept you both company when I was working at the church. And as time came to your date, we prepared a kit to take down to Savannah (about 30 minutes from our house). We thought you would be born in late February, but you didn’t think you needed to yet. Each day we anticipated and thought, “Is this the day?” We visited the midwives and they thought we had more time. It wasn’t until March 16th (much later than we’d thought), and one day before we would have to have some help, at 42 weeks, you started to give signs you were ready.
Contractions began around 8 PM on March 15th and we timed them. They were long and were becoming more regular. We called the midwife center at about 9:30 PM, and they told us to meet them at 11 PM there. Nancy was your midwife, and she was wonderful. All of us drove down a little road dividing a marsh leading from Bluffton, SC to Savannah, GA in the middle of the night. It was the day before Saint Patrick’s Day, so the roads were busy and it was dark. We were very careful that we protected both of you by driving safely. I remember worrying that the contractions would stop, and it would be a false alarm, but it wasn’t. Nancy took the readings and guess what, you were on your way! But it wasn’t easy.
Very soon, a strange heart issue appeared. It was minor, but after a contraction your heartbeat slowed when it should have sped up. Because of that Nancy made the call. We would have to go from the midwife center to the hospital. Nancy packed her stuff, and we packed ours and we drove over to Memorial Hospital about 8 minutes away. The next 20 hours were amazing.
Over the course of your birth, we had a two midwives (Nancy and Jill), a Doula named Erin, and several nurses. There was a lot of waiting, and your mom was incredible (if you’d been there, you would never ever disrespect your mom, and I think I’ll hold you to that in the future). at 8:08 PM on March 16th you were born with the help of nurses, Jill the midwife, Erin our doula, your grandma Frankie, and myself. I’ll never forget being with you when you were born. Again – respect your mom. Forever.
That night we were exhausted. We didn’t know what we were doing, but I was proud. I called your Grandma and Grandpa and Great Grandma and Great Grandma Griswold in New Hampshire and in Texas, respectively, to give them the news. A baby boy named Ransom (“Handsome Ransom” as per Jill Whitfield, our midwife) would sleep in the basinet we’d prepared for you next to our bed.
You were tiny, soft, and not as loud as I’d expected. Your eyes were dark blue, and you had little tufts of brown fine hair. Your hands were wrinkly, and you slept a lot (which we were thankful for). And after a doctor checked you over, we took you home (after a call to AAA to replace a flat tire – that’s another story).
Now you are almost 5 months, and you’re giggling and laughing and playing with a strong grip and I’m pretty sure you’re going to be somewhat athletic. You’re smart and like to see everything that’s going on, and you’re already an extravert. Ask anyone at the church that’s held you. You’re awesome and we love you incredibly. We feel this when we creep into your room and watch you sleep. We’re so glad you’re here.
I’ll try and keep you updated as you grow and we figure all this stuff out as your new parents. May God keep us all in His hands.
1 Samuel 1:27–28
“I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.”