The birth of a new baby brings all our emotions to the surface: curiosity, fascination, elation, and joy beyond compare.

There’s also terror!

“Is she breathing?”

“Will I let her down?”

“How do I handle the responsibility for another life?”

Every parent asks these questions, alternating between ecstasy and anxiety.

Fortunately, others have been there before us.

If a new mama is lucky, her mother and her mother-in-law will arrive to help take care of other things so the parents can concentrate on the baby. If the parents are really lucky, they can share their joy with grandparents.

Kate and Nik are some of the lucky ones, on both sides of the family.

Four generations of Anns: Barbara Ann (r), Shirley Ann (l), Katherine Ann and baby Lydia Ann (center)

Four generations of Anns: Barbara Ann (r), Shirley Ann (l), Katherine Ann and baby Lydia Ann (center)

How is it that we were able to get this photo so soon after Lydia’s birth? When we lived so far apart?

You have to know my niece Joyous of Joyous Snyder Photography.

She loves her grandma, and her own five children, and adventure.

So she proposed a trip from Lancaster, PA, to Pittsburgh, loaded up the youngest two children and 90-year-old grandma,

And drove.

Of course, there was a big coal spill on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, delaying them for 1.5 hours, and the two toddlers needed a place to run, and the apartment is small.

There was some chaos, but somehow we all managed just enough time to take some wonderful pictures.

The star of the show: Lydia Ann Stoltzfus.

The star of the show: Lydia Ann Stoltzfus.

The almost-smile of a newborn. The dress was made from a pillowcase and hand dyed by Kate.

The almost-smile of a newborn. The dress was made from a pillowcase and hand dyed by Kate.

Kate called her cousin “the baby whisperer” for seducing Lydia Ann to be alert and yet serene.

Barbara Ann with baby Lydia Ann, Joyous with Kenny and Nightingale.

Barbara Ann with baby Lydia Ann, Joyous with Kenny and Nightingale.

By early evening, all of us went our separate ways, leaving the new parents and baby behind in their apartment.

But Great Grandma and the children continued their journey another day.

Sharing an adventure in Frick Park.

Sharing an adventure in Frick Park.

On the way home, Joyous asked her grandma what she enjoyed most about seeing the new baby: “It just feels so special to watch that baby of mine as she’s become a grandmother — to watch her feel the way I’ve felt.”

I had that same feeling watching Kate become a mother.

And so it goes. The cycle of life.

A little more than 90 years ago, another four-generation picture was taken with baby Barbara Ann Hess.

Baby Barbara Ann, Mother Anna Mary, Grandmother Barbara, Great Grandmother

Baby Barbara Ann Hess, soon after her birth February 27,1927. Held by her great grandmother. 
Mother Anna Mary Herr Hess, November 30, 1895 – June 25, 1951 (r)
Grandmother Barbara Hershey Brubaker Herr, August 29, 1862 – March 19, 1942 (l)
Mary Ann Bowers Hershey Brubaker, June 4, 1839 – June 23, 1932.

Mother is now the only remaining link between these generations.

But they knew the joy and terror too!

What do you know about joy and terror combined? Any words of advice to the new parents, or grandparents?

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