On the birth of my daughter and running red lights

28 April 2011 by Published in: Family Life 28 comments

Such a cliché, the wake-in-the-middle-of-the-night-and-rush-to-the-hospital-because-holy-mother-in-heaven-this-baby-is-coming, but there we were, early Thursday morning, 1:30 a.m.

At first we thought we had more time than we did. (Doesn’t everybody? Isn’t that the story of our very lives?)
But soon the contractions were coming more frequently, and Stamford Hospital was about 20 minutes away, and we were tossing our bags in the back of the car.

“Do you have the camera?” Liz asked me.

“The camera!” I shouted, though she was sitting right next to me, in the passenger seat. I ran back into the house. We have a row of light switches right inside the door and I used both hands to flip them up, all of them. If I could have thrown in a siren it could have been mistaken for a jail break, the house audibly lit up as if somebody had tossed the sun in the living room window, shattering the glass and rolling across the floor.

I got back in the car maybe three minutes later, which seemed like an eternity, camera in hand.

Liz put her hand on my knee.

“Babe,” she said gently, “I think I’m going to need you to be the calm, cool, in control husband on this one.”

Now, in my mind we were already racing down the driveway, but I managed to nod and smile and ease the car into gear.

The contractions slowed in frequency once we got going, which meant it was not a panicky drive – though it was, as any woman who has experienced contractions will tell you, a periodically painful one for Liz.

“You know,” I said in my calm, cool voice, “we can run red lights.”

“We can what?”

“We can run red lights,” I said. “No cop in the world is going to arrest us. It might even get us a police escort. Can you imagine? A police escort?”

“Conor, please do not run any red lights.”

“I’m just saying if we wanted to…”

“Please don’t run any red lights, Conor. That wouldn’t be very in-control.”

I debated sulking over that, but decided this might not be the moment for it. And anyway it was a moot point – at 2 a.m. the traffic lights in suburban Connecticut merely blinked red, so the best I could do was to come to a rolling stop, hoping flashing lights would appear in my rear-view mirror. Alas, they did not.

The trip to the hospital, at speed limit, was uneventful. We got ourselves checked in, and next thing you know little Lucy – or Lucienne Eleanor Grennan, as the birth certificate reads – was in our arms, safe and healthy and beautiful.

There’s not really much to do after that. Sure, the mother has the responsibility of providing life-sustaining nutrition and all, but the father, he just kind of hangs out.

I did get Liz water and juice and everything I could, but being in a hospital is a bit like being under house arrest where the convicts are forced to wear pajamas and are awoken hourly by tiny little cries.

From time to time I would sit on Liz’s bed, and the anti-bed-sore activation thing would kick in and it would start shifting ever so slightly underneath me.

It was during one of those times, with Lucy sleeping happily on Liz’s chest, Liz resting from the physically traumatic event of giving birth, and the nurse having just left, that I realized how staggeringly blessed we are to live in this country. I’ve seen how babies enter the world in some of the poorest and remote regions on the planet, and it is a risky, dangerous undertaking.

Yet here we were, in a bed that actually adjusted to shifting weight to ensure that we didn’t get bedsores. That bed is more advanced than anything they will have for many, many years to come.

I don’t mean to sentimentalize here – it is only what struck me, there in the middle of the night, dog-tired and looking at my wife and daughter. I was thankful for that hospital. For Connecticut. For what we have and what it provides; not a nicer car or meals at a restaurant or a larger TV, but only the safe passage of that little girl – out of the womb and toward the new, blinding light. Into the air that surrounded her. The air that we’d breathe, now, together.


  1. Jim Hankey
    Thu 28th Apr 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Congratulations to you and Liz!

    • Conor  –  Sat 30th Apr 2011 at 8:33 pm

      Thanks Jim! See you out on the road somewhere!

  2. Megan
    Fri 29th Apr 2011 at 7:43 am

    I just read your book and found this blog as a result. An excellent book. Thank you for writing it and for doing what you do. I’ve made a donation to NGN.

    Congratulations on your new daughter!

    • Conor  –  Sat 30th Apr 2011 at 8:34 pm

      That’s wonderful, thanks Megan! That’s what it’s all about – helping the kiddies! Much appreciated!

  3. Fri 29th Apr 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Congratulations to you and your wife! How wonderful to hear about your daughter. My husband and I welcomed a little Lucy Eleanor into the world just six months ago, so I applaud your name choice! (We didn’t run any red lights, either.)

    I’m always recommending your book– loved it so much!

    • Conor  –  Sat 30th Apr 2011 at 8:35 pm

      Woah, that’s a pretty crazy coincidence – I couldn’t have picked a better name myself. We should try that trick again – okay, think of a number….sixteen?

  4. Joe Breen
    Fri 29th Apr 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Congratulations! I bet Finn is playing the part of the proud brother!

    • Conor  –  Sat 30th Apr 2011 at 8:36 pm

      Like you can’t even imagine. He’s far more loving than I could have ever wished for. No doubt that’ll change when she starts reaching for his stuff….

  5. Lisa Ristuccia
    Sat 30th Apr 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Congrats on your beautiful daughter, Lucy!
    While reading your book, I had these same thoughts myself. We are not rich by American standards. My husband supports all 6 of us on his income. But while experiencing Little Princes, I felt rich indeed. I, too, delivered all of my babies safely in a clean hospital with plenty of good food…food brought to me whenever I called for it. It feels god to be grateful and it allows me to give more…we have so much.

    • Conor  –  Sat 30th Apr 2011 at 8:37 pm

      I couldn’t agree more, Lisa. I’ve thought so much about those mothers in far off lands who do this all themselves. We are so blessed.

  6. Dawn
    Sat 30th Apr 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Congratulations! So happy for you and Liz.
    I just finished “Little Princes” and I loved it. I cried and cried when you located the parents, and again when you showed the laptop photos to the children back home. What a blessing you were to those children/families! Thank-you for writing it all down so that we could share both your experiences and your burden for those children. I will be making a donation and keeping them in my prayers.

    • Conor  –  Sat 30th Apr 2011 at 8:38 pm

      Thank you so much Dawn!

      • Magalys  –  Tue 22nd May 2012 at 6:52 pm

        Lynette, These turned out great!! Thank you so much for erthyeving that you did. I am so happy that you were able to do our pictures!!! I know you would be a good match!!! Can’t wait to see the rest!!

  7. Sun 01st May 2011 at 7:43 am

    First of all, congratulations to you and to Liz! Bringing your lives into the world in another life is the most special undertaking in life. It’s all about love.
    Secondly, your writing inspires me, each time I read your blogs. Few people can bring their internal stories to the forefront the way you do. Your writing is a blessing to all readers.

    • Conor  –  Tue 24th May 2011 at 9:02 am

      Thanks Marcy! I’m so glad you enjoy it, those kind of comments always inspire me right back. Much appreciated!


  8. Mon 02nd May 2011 at 2:51 pm

    I too found the site because of the book! I will now be a faithful blog reader! You can count on it. Congrats on your happy family. If anyone deserves it, you all do.

    Making my donation very soon! And repeatedly.

    • Conor  –  Tue 24th May 2011 at 9:03 am

      That’s awesome, thanks so much Lily!

  9. Sapna Kotak
    Fri 06th May 2011 at 2:20 am

    Hey Conor congratulations to you and Liz… Would be great if you upload some pics of your little family 🙂

    • Conor  –  Tue 24th May 2011 at 9:03 am

      That’s a great idea – just have to figure out how to do that….

  10. Frith Barbat
    Fri 06th May 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Congratulations Connor on your new baby. “Eleanor” was top on my list of girl names (I had a boy). I too just finished “Little Princes” in two days and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have dear friends here in Seattle who started a non-profit to support kids in a village near Simikot (http://www.namastechildrensfund.org/) – inspired by the photo one of them took of a boy greeting her many years ago. His gesture changed the lives of the children in his village, many years later. Your story strikes me as the equivalent but in the opposite direction – one person doing something that moves many lives, powerfully, in the direction of good. Blessings and good wishes upon you and your family.

    • Conor  –  Tue 24th May 2011 at 9:04 am

      That’s wonderful! Such a small world when you meet somebody working in such a remote region! What a great story!

  11. Perfecta
    Sat 07th May 2011 at 7:08 am

    Connor and Liz, congratulations to your new baby. I expect Finn is very much excited with his new sister.

    Connor, congratulations also to the success of the book, you have a very special skill of bringing the reader into the story. I finished the book already and re-reading it again. It is entertaining and the special connection you have with the children is visible through out the book.
    I am wondering if Raju and Priya are still with the Little Princes, I know that they are true orphans and I would like to see if I can assist with their education. Please let me know if this could be done and who I should contact.

    Thank you and kind regards,

    • Conor  –  Tue 24th May 2011 at 9:05 am

      Hi Perfecta,
      Thanks so much for your note! Raju and Priya are indeed true orphans, but we can ALWAYS use help with funding education for the kids! Please write to us through our NGN website, and we can talk about it!

      Thanks again!

  12. Tue 14th Jun 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Hi Conor!!
    Congrats and great to hear (read) that mother and child are safe. Yes we are indeed very fortunate and blissful to have all the modern comforts of hospitals and the ready availability of modern medicine.

    Sorry for this rather late message! Been swamped for the past few months. 🙂

  13. Wed 15th Jun 2011 at 8:12 am

    Conor, I JUST found your blog. I used to read your Bootsnall blog ages ago when you were on your round-the-world trip and I remember when you and Liz got engaged. Even now, I laugh when I remember that post you wrote WAY back when about running outside for some random reason – I think the meter stopped working – and the firemen came. I stopped reading a while back and, then today, I was on Vagabondish’s site and saw your site link. I am so so pleased to find your blog and am going to add it to my blogroll.

    And congrats on your baby! How wonderful! This was a lovely post and so true.

    • Conor  –  Wed 15th Jun 2011 at 9:33 am

      Great to reconnect Akila! I LOVE your blog, BTW!!

  14. Loralee
    Fri 17th Jun 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Hi Conor,

    Congratulations on the arrival of Lucy!

    I also came across your blog after having just finished your book – it is one of the most profound reading experiences I can recall! What a beautiful story of love and commitment on so many levels – I feel that in some way I know you and Liz after reading your story. Those beautiful children literally jumped right out of the book and became so real for me, and made Nepal (a place I knew not much of prior to the book) truly come alive in my mind! How wonderful to continue to hear about your lovely, growing family through this blog too.

    I literally went straight to the NGN website to donate, after closing the book. I look forward to making future contributions and staying informed on your efforts towards such an amazing cause!

    Best Wishes,

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