Thursday, September 02, 2010

Snapshot of the morning you were born

Dear, sweet Elizabeth,

Yesterday morning you were born into such a wonderful family. It was a warm morning--the kind that bathed my arms and face with a golden glow the second I stepped out the door. Though we were already three weeks into a school year, there was no hint of Fall in the air. I packed your cousins and their accoutrements into the truck but abandoned the red door swinging in order to run back inside and pluck my forgotten iPhone 3G from its base. You won't know what an iPhone is by the time you're old enough to read this, but at the time I thought it was pretty stinkin' cool.

The monkeys (that's what I called your cousins) chattered nervously in the backseat all the way to school. Normal excitement about third grade and kindergarten paled in comparison to you and the exotic lure of the hospital. "Mommy, why do we have to go to school?" they pleaded, knowing that I was taking a sub day to go greet you. I assured them that we'd visit the second they'd tear out of school. Driving off I remembered that I also forgot my cameras. I jetted home one last time, shoved cameras into jean pockets, and crammed a piece of wheat bread into my mouth as I slammed the door. I ignored my allergy headache from sleeping with the window open. All I could think about was you.

The traffic between my house and hospital was like molasses on a January morning. It stopped me in my nervous tracks, so I filled the restless time with makeup. Lady Gaga blared on the radio. I feel kind of bad about that being the thing I listened to on the day you were born, but it's so catchy. If you want to look up the song, it's called Telephone. Your uncle E always kind of liked it. The makeup was important because I wanted to make sure I had eyebrows in those hospital pictures. Someday you'll understand this because you, Addie, your mommy and I all share one cruel flick of the genetic wand: blonde eyebrows. By the time you're old enough to read this, Addie will teach you about eyebrow pencil and how it can help you avoid looking like a Q-tip.

I muttered "dangit" to myself as I circled the parking lot. It didn't feel like people were any more willing to move along once I got to the hospital. Finally, after twenty slow minutes, I wedged my long truck into a spot in the garage with my mind made up to hoof it inside. The ants in my pants had ants in their own pants already, but they were nothing compared to what I'd feel as I waited for you upstairs. My gladiator sandals slapped the cement as I hopped out and slung my bright orange bag over my shoulder. I was teaching five classes of English then, and I had more on my plate than I knew what to do with. I was bringing papers into the hospital to grade and to try to distract myself from the wait. I couldn't make my feet walk fast enough. I scanned for a familiar face--hopefully your Mimi or Papa's--and tapped my feet nervously at the elevator. I remember that a woman was standing in front of me with a Spanish name on her name tag. Her last name was Blanco, which means white. I thought that was kind of special, since the number 1--your birthday--feels white to me. When you're older we'll talk about my special weird thing with numbers.

All that greeted me at the top of the elevator was a dark waiting room. I peeked inside, still unsure if Meems might be sitting in there. Nobody. To my surprise, a young doctor buzzed me inside and I found your mom and dad. A different doctor was explaining the operation to your mom, so I didn't want to interrupt. I told your dad where I'd be, and I walked down the hall, silencing my feet out of respect to any laboring mommies nearby. The halls were still, like a museum, only instead of paintings on display it was tiny humans. Everywhere little cries popped up to break the silence like the sound of bleating lambs. I couldn't wait to see Mimi and Papa and your grandma and Aunt Cady so we could share that excitement together. Soon your dad brought out your mom's purse and said it would be an hour or so and you'd come.

The mood in the room was jovial. Everyone talked excitedly in the way that people do when they're hopeful. You know--the weather, Kirk Douglas (Google him someday), the furniture that Mimi and Papa bought at an auction the day before--talking in order to be talking. Other families scampered in and out, but we planted our feet like redwoods. I was afraid to move because I was afraid I'd miss your dad. Every once in a while someone would ask how something or other went for me since your cousins were born in the same place. Bathrooms were visited and papers were graded. Your Aunt Cady called your dad "Bud" when she talked about him. I strapped my camera to my wrist, hopeful we'd hear news soon.

But we waited.

And time passed.

Pauses broke the chatter, caesuras (that's a word I'd use if I were making this a poem) in the music of our anxiousness. Your Mimi and I are the same kind of worrier, and I could feel without looking that she was fixated on your safe arrival. The mood in the room grew tense as it seemed too much time had passed. We wanted to see your daddy, to know your mommy was holding you in her arms. I closed my eyes, praying for you, for your mom, for all those wide eyes waiting in the room with me. Every once in a while I'd catch Papa raising his eyebrows to Meem, reassuring, always a calm presence. Your Papa is like a rock; he's amazing.

After it had been nearly two hours and I'd popped every knuckle in my body, your grandma and Aunt Cady got up to call again. Thank goodness the kind nurses said it was okay for Mimi to go and be with your mom. I hope someday you know what it means to love your own child--and in that moment I felt Mimi's love for you, for your mommy, her concern for both of your safety--because that touched me so deeply as well. All I could think was that if it was Addie in that room, I'd go out of my mind to see her. Your Mimi loves you and your mom so much. We all do, so the sigh we collectively exhaled when she said "she's here!" was one of great release. You've never seen people run down a hall as quickly as we did to peek at your little pink body through a window.

The next hour was spent rotating shifts to see you as you awaited your first bath; you lay still under the warmer with your eyes shut tight to the new world of beeps and buzzes. Everyone hugged your dad and he beamed with pride. I snapped pictures like crazy, then zipped them to family and friends on my phone. Your mom looked tired but happy as she waited for your return. Her nurses joked and laughed. We all joined in now that we knew you were here. We held you; I smelled you and you were like warm bread and lilacs. Unruly fuzz from your head snuck out the sides of your hat. The tiny cleft in your chin quivered with your lip when you wailed, then you sucked your fingers and thumb.

It was a privilege to await you, to be there at the moment you became a family. I floated outdoors--the road opened up in front of me--and I marveled at the miracle of your safe arrival, how touched we were to hold your little body in our arms. It was a pleasure to meet you.

With Love,

Auntie Heather







1 comment:

  1. awwww.....i got teary-eyed reading this! i'm so happy for april and grant!! :-) what a great tribute to baby e.

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