I always thought it was “great-niece” but I’ve learned that it’s actually “grandniece.” Whatever it’s called, I have one. First ever. And I’m surprisingly – and often mournfully – absolutely in love with her.
It’s easily the first baby I’ve spent any real time with. Well, since, yeah. There’s still nothing to call it. Moving on.
The process wasn’t easy for anyone, least of all baby. Her first weeks on earth in a hospital, open heart surgery, her parents often blinded with fear. Now that she is home and healing, I’ve had to come to terms with some ugly thoughts.
The thoughts themselves aren’t new, but having them directed at family seems to put a magnifying glass over the shame I feel.
At least she has a baby to fight for.
Ouch. Praying for God to heal a baby girl’s heart put me in an emotional time machine. Suddenly a revolving door appeared between There and Here.
“There’s your baby’s heartbeat.”
“But it’s too slow.”
“Sometimes it catches up, we’ll look again next week.”
“I’d like you to see a specialist.”
“We’ve proven him wrong twice before!”
“I’m so sorry.”
I can remember with absolute certainty walking down the sidewalk, praying with every step, Please God please, heal my baby’s heart. It became a cadence during my walks, familiar and soothing, like the rhythmic, slow rocking of easing into a game of jump rope. Please God please, heal my baby’s heart.
I prayed those words as easily and as unconsciously as I breathed throughout the days I waited. And now I had another reason, another baby, for whom to beg God to intercede. But she wasn’t mine and somehow, that most obvious fact felt cruel and taunting. Not from God, but from whatever hollow nothingness it is that holds the memories of pain and grief.
I know that it’ll never be gone. Or over. But I was unprepared for how quickly I could be taken straight back to the depths of a completely raw place that I thought was behind me.
I went through it in the most shocking of ways. I spent crazy amounts of time with this new baby. In the past I would’ve made an appearance (regardless of how much I truly want to support the new moms in my life.) This time, I sat and stared at her for hours at a time. I was mesmerized by her sheer existence. I mean, she had open-heart surgery at eight days old, for crying out loud. She lay there in that giant bed, swaddled like a tiny burrito, connected to a million tubes and she took it more bravely than I could’ve imagined anyone doing so, had I not seen it for myself.
No matter what kind of relationship I may have with this baby girl in the future, her heart is healed and for that I am more grateful than I thought possible.