Last week I struggled mightily with an emotional challenge. My oldest son, who has had (if I may understate it) an extremely difficult two years mostly based on his own actions, was expecting a baby. This baby was not going to arrive into this world with much aplomb from my family. There are missing legalities, which includes a legal divorce from wife #1. Additionally, this baby was being born into a relationship that was barely older than her incubation. I was also experiencing flashbacks to my first marriage to the father of this son who mistreated me in equal measure. There were too many similarities and the pain was boiling up from a long-buried wound. It was a difficult week.
Yesterday, on a Monday, we had an employee whose grandmother was at death’s door. This young lady, who is the oldest daughter in a group of 11, was called to be with her grandmother because her own mother was out-of-town. A few hours after this happened, another employee learned through a phone call that her sister had died unexpectedly. The emotions were all over the place. I walked out to a flat tire, which was a very small difficulty in comparison, but was an added problem.
Then I got the text. The baby was on her way. I continued with my evening plans before heading to the hospital, where I faced both my son and the mother of my soon to be granddaughter. I also conversed with another son who was also dealing with many struggles in regard to this birth. Once I knew the mother of my son’s partner was on the way, I headed home. To fight my way into sleep.
At 4:40 AM, I received a phone call that the birth was soon. I gave my good wishes, but did not get up to head to the hospital. Physically and emotionally wrought, there was no way I could manage to do so. So I tried to return to sleep, only to dream of huge roller coasters and fearful slides. Doesn’t take too much to figure that dream out.
When I managed to stagger from bed after 8, I saw an email. Time of birth, weight, length. Picture. I stared at the picture and felt nothing. I claim to have a ton of maternal instinct, but this little red face and a head full of black hair did not raise in my heart any feelings of love. I felt frozen. I laid my head on the bed and cried.
I decided I could not go to the hospital at that moment. I would need some support and a feeling of backing. My husband offered to go with me at lunch time. I took the offer.
Once I stepped into the hospital room, I saw her. Lying there in the bassinet, eyes open and appearing to be gazing (which we know newborns don’t do), I asked if I could hold her. I picked her up and gazed into a most beautiful face. A calm face, an adorable body with long fingers and toes, and the most gorgeous skin tone. I was enraptured. So was my spouse (her step-grandfather if there is such a thing). So is my son. For now. I hope it lasts.
Babies are transformative. They can take us above the petty emotional upheavals to the miracle of life. I knew I would fall in love. I was terrified of falling in love. And she did nothing to make me do so. It is just the manner of babies.
My sister reminded me that as a child I had a few people in my life who loved me unconditionally simply for who I was. No connection with family dysfunctional actions, no despair over what I didn’t have, simple and gracious appreciation of who I was. I don’t know what this little girl’s life will entail. I have no idea where she will live next year. But she will be loved by me simply for being.
Sometimes life changes moment by moment.