"I flew right in… I just missed the birth but I was there right after," O'Donnell said, recounting how she got a call from her 21-year-old daughter, who lives in Wisconsin, and immediately hopped on a plane to visit her in the hospital.
"It was something really beautiful," the 56-year-old actress said of becoming a first-time grandmother. "It's very trite, but it's what everyone says -- when you're a grandparent, it's like [having] a baby times a million. And that's what it felt like."
O'Donnell's daughter welcomed her baby girl, Skylar Rose, on Dec. 18, and the actress reflected on how the joyous news came just a day after the emotionally painful passing of her friend and colleague Penny Marshall, who directed O'Donnell in her feature film debut, the 1992 sports comedy A League of Their Own.
"It was a big, big heartbreak when she died, and then my granddaughter was born the next day," O'Donnell shared. "So I got the call that she had passed, and then I got the call [about my granddaughter]."
"It reminded me about the whole circle of life, and to remember every great thing that I had with her and that she really did give me a film career," she added. "I'll be eternally grateful."
O'Donnell previously opened up about the "trippy" experience of holding her granddaughter for the first time when she sat down with Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb on the Today show earlier this month, and went on to explain that she's particularly excited about her daughter -- whom she adopted as a baby with her ex-wife, Kelli Carpenter -- getting the chance to welcome her own little girl.
"[It's been great] to see my daughter so happy and so content, and this guy who loves her so much, loving that baby," the actress shared. "I think a lot of adopted kids feel, until they have their own child, they don’t have that unit, to look at someone who looks like them, to see genetically that they have their own kind of history. So it was really a very beautiful thing."