Today, I read a beautiful and touching story of a mother's first hours and days with her newborn daughter Nella, whom she immediately recognized as having Down's Syndrome. A beautiful testament to unconditional love. I expected to be emotionally moved by the story, but I wasn't expecting the emotional journey-in-time I encountered.
Nine years ago this summer, our precious Kate was born. I told her birth story a while back (in six parts, starting here). My unexpected emotional journey-in-time was sparked by this simple picture, borrowed from Nella's birth story:
While I had somehow refrained from crying as I read this lovely birth story, when my eyes absorbed this picture, the tears started falling. I wanted to weep. I sputtered out something to Jonathan ... what I would have given to have had a setup like that when Kate was back in the hospital. He gently reminded me ... Babe, it's been eight years.
My head knew it was eight years ago, that time heals and God is good. But my heart was suddenly there again...
* Our first (and only, to date) hospital birth.
* The miraculous victory of the vaginal delivery of our transverse-to-breech baby ... in St. Louis.
* The illogic of the gestational age misdiagnosis ("The reason her hips are so loose is because she was a frank breech. We're only judging her to be 34 weeks gestation because her hips are so loose. Everything else looks like a 37 week gestation baby.")
* The successful manipulation by the hospital staff, particularly the pediatrician, to get us to to agree to what they thought was best, despite the fact that everything in us was screaming they were wrong.
* The extra days in the first hospital ... the loneliness of being stuck in a hospital room alone while my baby was alone in the nursery, of Jonathan needing to be gone taking care of our other Blessings, of longing for my newborn daughter in my arms and for the arms of my Mama around us both.
And then, the return to the hospital after a week at home, just hours after Jonathan had departed for a business trip...
* The kindness (and yet loneliness) of a friend I barely knew taking Kate and I to the hospital and dropping us off at the door... because there was no one else to do it.
* The bili-bed the nurses were so excited to see in use for the first time; the bed Kate and I hated.
* The hours of trying to find a comfortable position on the hospital bed that would allow me to at least touch my baby as she lay in the bili-bed.
* The CD the kind nurses brought in of music with a heartbeat in the background to try to soothe my baby... when what she needed to hear was my heart.
* The countless tears of longing and loneliness that Katie and I both cried through those two eternal days
There was also good in those days - the kindness of the hospital to provide cafeteria tickets for a mama who arrived in haste, with no money in her purse; the arrival of my Papa and Mama from Kansas on Sunday, just in time to take Kate and I back home; the faithfulness and unceasing love of my Heavenly Father; the eventual homecoming and health of our sweet baby. I don't mean to seem ungrateful for these blessings.
But as I looked at this picture and thought of how different the whole experience would have been if I could have only held my precious baby under the bili-lights, I was once again that lonely and hurting new mother.
If you've stuck with me through my need to re-process this experience, thank you. The suddenness and intensity of my emotions today makes me more understanding of how things that happened years ago and that have been "dealt with" can come rushing in on someone.
God is good, and He is the great Healer. Even of wounds that get ripped open when you least expect it.
Katie's Birth Story -
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, The Power of a Picture