There's a baby in our house...well, not quite, a baby in my sister's house. Catherine Grace. She was born on November 22, 2011 and those of us with number focus think it's a very cool birthday: 11.22.11. Good birthday karma.
Babies, oh babies. I've been blessed with four tiny bundles to love and squeeze and hold in the middle of the night and whisper and sing and create silly nicknames for and I know I sound greedy but it really doesn't seem like enough. Look what they do...just grow up and away they go! Having a baby in the house brings a quiet sense of wonder, a reverence and a feeling of connection to the bigger world and yes, even the universe. It forces you to pause and soak in that baby goodness. Holding someone so very fresh and brand new always creates in me a feeling of possibly, if I play my cards right, just maybe being privy to the secret of life. If I just hold him long enough, I'll know that connection to the heavens. If I snuggle in close, I might understand for a moment the incomprehensible.
How can it happen? It's as magic as a butterfly. How do the cells know to become eyes, heart muscle, skin, toes, bones and ligaments? How can the heart beat so steadily and just keep going like the never ending waves in the ocean? How does the baby know your voice when it's been hearing it all muffled and under fluid for her whole life? How can two completely different people together create a baby that has a little of her daddy and a little of her mommy and yet be the only one on the planet, forever irreplaceable and one-of-a-kind? It's a breath-taking and breathless time and it stuns me each and every time.
Holding Baby Catherine Grace, my whole world stops. I'm taken back to holding each of my babies for that very first time. My heart is so full with the job and privilege and gift of motherhood. I remember being soooo clueless, soooo tired, soooooo full of doubt and misgivings and honestly wondering how anybody thought I could be capable enough of mothering this brand new baby named Jack.
Seeing Mary Kate for the first time, I was awash with the joy of having a daughter. The possibility of pink. I had convinced myself that I was having another boy and so upon hearing the words, "You have a daughter!" filled with disbelief I begged John to "check again". Hearing Jack call her "Mary Cake" for the first few days of her life renewed in me the deliciousness of babyhood...yes, she was better than cake!
Holding Patrick for the first time I was filled with a sense of the familiar. I "knew" him in a way I hadn't felt with Jack or Mary Kate and the instant message that came through loud and clear from the universe in those moments I simply spoke robotically to John: "This is Patrick. He has Down Syndrome and is exactly as he should be." I was comforted by that message but felt an incredible urge to "circle the wagons" and begin protecting him. Little did I know that he would need no protecting.
And then there's Caroline. "Out of the everywhere and into the here." Never thinking I would be crazy enough or lucky enough to have a fourth baby, I couldn't believe that she was here. To this day, I still whisper in her ear, "Thank you for coming" as she sleeps. I knew she was there "out of the everywhere"...could feel it, and one late night I asked her to come. I know it sounds bizarre. And I guess that's what makes it even more real...yes, the bizarre happens and she is living proof. Someday, she'll get her own blog story about that fateful night. Watching the kids love her, protect her, dote on her and envelope her in love has been amazing.
Babies. Every single baby deserves to be wanted, cherished and held tight in a cocoon of love. So many are not. Many, many babies are thrown away and discarded because of bad timing, the wrong gender, a cleft palate, an extra chromosome. Holding Catherine Grace reminds me to fight for those unwanted babies. There are couples waiting in deep sadness for a hole to be filled. They are waiting to be chosen as an adoptive family. They are waiting to raise enough money to be able to adopt. They are waiting and trying to muddle though layers and layers of bureaucracy trying to wind their way though a maze that has their baby at the end. If for some reason, you find yourself unable to love a baby at the moment you are pregnant, know for certain that there is someone in the world who will love your baby if you just give them a chance. I promise.
I know of many families who have adopted special needs kids, baby girls from foreign countries, children out of the foster care system, kids with the worst stories possible and yet still their family finds them. I know of one family in my own town who adopted a little girl from India with tremendous burns all over her little body, severe health issues, a need for constant vigilant care and still her mom stood up and said, "She is mine."and with her mother's ferocious love she has transformed and blossomed and become the very clever and capable little girl she is today.
Reece's Rainbow is an organization that connects orphans all over the world who have Down Syndrome with their adoptive families. If you are looking for a charity to donate to this holiday season, they might be the one. They offer you a chance to have a Christmas Angel ornament supporting a particular child for $35. If you're not careful, you might fall in love and bring a baby home. That's what happened to Jennifer and Hector Sanchez when they got the Christmas Angel Ornament for baby Sophia in December of 2009. Today she is home with her forever family, thriving and growing in astounding ways, and keeping her three older brothers busy. And the ripple of seeing Baby Sophia exactly where she is meant to be has led to numerous additional adoptions. The Herrington Family will be making their way overseas in January to adopt their special bundle Baby Olivia.
Miracles happen everyday. Babies are born. Families reach out and scale mountains to get to their children. The unwanted are welcomed and the discarded are treasured. During this season of waiting for a Blessed Holy Child, I can't help but think of the many babies waiting. Love is at the center of babyhood. May all children feel it and know it and be surrounded in it. Just like precious Catherine Grace, my little spot of holiness in an ordinary day.