04/22/1996 at 01:00 AM EDT
LIKE ANY SUCCESSFUL HOLLYWOOD PREMIERE, THE BIRTH of Sarah Rose Grandalski was a joyous occasion. First there was the shower in November for Mom—Marlee Matlin, a star of CBS's Picket Fences and the current dramatic film It's My Party—at the Hotel Bel-Air. Hosted by Lyndie Benson, wife of Kenny G, it drew such pals as Jennifer Grey and Nicollette Sheridan. Then, after Sarah arrived on Jan. 19 at 7 lbs., 11 ozs., support poured into the Hollywood Hills home Matlin shares with her husband of two years, Los Angeles police officer Kevin Grandalski. "Melissa Gilbert had an entire turkey delivered," says Matlin. "Henry Winkler and his wife, Stacey, sent enough food to feed the Brady Bunch."
Matlin has been back playing Mayor Laurie Bey on Fences since March 1. But while a nanny tends to Sarah in her mother's trailer, Matlin's thoughts are never far away. "Everything revolves around this baby," she says. For the first-time parents, both 30, child rearing presents unique challenges. Because Matlin is deaf as the result of a bout at 18 months with roseola, a childhood virus, Sarah's nursery has been wired with a system that responds to her crying by flashing a white light in the living room. "I'm always going in to check on her, too, in case the electricity is off," says Matlin.
And, yes, she and Grandalski—who had learned signing to fulfill a college language requirement before he and Matlin met in 1991—plan on teaching Sarah how to speak with her hands. "I don't know what her first word will be," says Matlin, "but I hope it's a nice one."