She feels so light in my arms.
What if I cannot hold on to her?
We buckle her into the carseat that is supposed to carry her safely home. I sit next to her, watching her stomach rise and fall, keeping her wobbly little head from falling to the side.
Less than five minutes after we drive away from the hospital a nurse calls to tell us that I have left my face soap there. They saw the Dermalogica label and knew it wasn’t cheap, so they call us to say that already we have forgotten something. We turn around and drive back to get it, and I wonder if maybe we are meant to stay in that room, safe behind the sterile walls.
I have lost babies, and years, face soap – and what if I lose my daughter’s heart?
Now that her body is outside of mine, the doctors’ monitors will no longer search to make sure it is still beating. And the heart that cannot be monitored is a much trickier thing. I know, because I am a woman. What if this forgetting of the soap is just the first of my missteps?
What if I have brought her safely here, just to lose her heart?
We drive home, and all is sunshine, wonder, and fear. My husband opens the van door, and I carefully lift my mending body out. There are our rose bushes; life is the same and yet it is completely new for she is here. This is miracle that I raise her from her carseat and walk those ordinary steps to the front door. Barely inside and my boys crowd round, their eyes full of worship. We stand still. This is a moment you do not rush by.
I shower, and she sleeps, and we are home.
Then the power goes out inexplicably. My mom is cooking dinner over a gas range so she continues, and the rest of us gather in the backyard to watch the sun set as the light fades. It is beautiful – I watch Joy’s face bathed by pink and gold.
But then the rest of her first night at home is navigated by flashlight. I wear a headlamp to change her diaper and walk careful not to trip with my broken and healing body. The panic builds. How will I see her breathing rise and fall? How will I keep her safe without the light?
Shame follows close on fear’s heels… I hear myself believe that I am a mess. I cannot even light the way for her first night at home. On the night I bring her home, I again listen to the lies that my babies have died because of me – my fault, my mess, my inability to protect them.
I tell my husband I should be able to do this, but I simply cannot. So he drives late at night to Lowes and returns with a generator. Several hours, some sweat and many extension cords later, and there is a glow by my bed to watch her by. There is enough light for me to remember this is just life, where soap is forgotten, the power goes out for a night, and sometimes babies slip from their mother’s wombs with no explanation. This is just life, and lying next to me is a babe who will become a young woman who holds a heart more intricate than anything I can see by the light of this lamp.
In this soft glow I remember that I do not hold her heart, and I breathe prayers for our Maker to carry her. We are home together, and we fall asleep til the morning.
images from November 12, 2016 – the day we brought Elizabeth Joy home
for unplugged moments this month check out Childhood Unplugged