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From time to time, children meet people who read this column. They say things like, “Oh! I know all about you!” Or they ask if they mind being featured here so regularly: perhaps not realizing that the details I divulge are sparse compared to what you can find about them on Instagram .

These conversations can take place anywhere: at the post office, in the pub or during a driving test. But if there was a prize for the weirdest interaction, it would go to girl number one. She was asked, “So what girl number are you?” It was from a doctor, who had several fingers inserted into her cervix at the time.

In a very strange way, this was a useful lesson for girl number one: the words “worthy” and “childbirth” rarely go in the same sentence.

She had been pregnant for what seemed like 17 months, but that was actually the standard amount. After the initial announcement – which wasn’t really an announcement – every news item in my family is telegraphed in advance – there had been a strange process of acclimatization, where she had started to feel like she had always been pregnant and always would be. That it now resulted in a child was slightly shocking.

She herself was just as bad, so when we finally learned that the baby had arrived and everything was fine, we were still nervous. We couldn’t sleep, so we got up. I drank a beer. She herself did some ironing

Shocking, and to me, a bit terrifying. I’ve been there for quite a few births, but it was different. It was, to paraphrase Sly Stone, my baby making a baby, and there was nothing I could do to protect her from the pain and possible anguish if something went wrong. I went to work as if it were a perfectly normal day and depended on regular messages from the boyfriend: “2 cm dilated”, “5 cm dilated”, “In the delivery room”. Physically I was in a building, but mentally I was 2 miles away, standing outside this hospital, constricted with worry.

And I stood there as I finished work and drove home, compulsively checking my phone. She herself was just as bad, so when we finally learned that the baby had arrived and everything was fine, we were still nervous. We couldn’t sleep, so we got up. I drank a beer. She was ironing herself.

Due to Covid rules we couldn’t visit so it took another two days before I could collect them from the hospital and bring them home: both stunned and glowing with joy and quite happy to to have been victims of what seems to be a genetic fatality in my family: another daughter. Granddaughter number one. Hobbies include sleeping and pooping.

The new parents also seemed different; suddenly adult. My kids, like all young adults, often come out silly: the kind of stuff that deserves an eye roll or a hoot of derision. As a responsible and loving parent, I do this behind their backs. But this time it was different. It wasn’t an idea they hadn’t thought about. Girl number one had done all the research and gotten all the gear. On the refrigerator door of their apartment: a long list of things to do, as well as instructions on who to contact and what to bring when labor began. Girls two and three were recruited to take care of the cat, keep the place clean and even do the laundry. I didn’t know they even knew how to operate a washing machine. My babies are no longer babies.

Due to the aforementioned Instagram, I didn’t have to tell anyone about her arrival. Instead, I get congratulatory texts and people ask me what it’s like to be a grandfather. I don’t feel so different. I’m more impressed with how there’s a new generation of my family stretching into the future. The wheel of life and death and love is constantly refreshing. When I filled out the census form, I used the time capsule section to write a message to my granddaughter number one. In 100 years, with a bit of luck, she might be able to read it.