Monday, June 18, 2012

A Baby Changes Everything

A new baby is expected in our family.

No, for once it's not me who's pregnant.

Our oldest daughter and her husband recently announced they were expecting their first child around Thanksgiving time. We were asked not to say anything for a few weeks because they wanted to be the ones to tell family and friends so that folks didn't end up hearing about it via Facebook. That's a problem we didn't have when I was last expecting.

So, I kept my mouth shut and contemplated all these things in my heart, which was difficult, but good.

I realized that a baby really does impact a lot of people. Besides the fact that I'm going to be a grandma and my husband will be a grandpa for the first time, there are all the excited siblings who will be aunts and uncles for the first time--twelve of them on both sides! Plus, there's another set of excited first time grandparents and several sets of excited first time great-grandparents. (That's what can happen when two first-borns get married). Then there are the excited great aunts, great uncles, second cousins and at least one step great-great-grandma. Yep, there are a whole lot of people looking forward to this kid's arrival; not to mention his or her mom and dad.

A baby changes everything.

When I was expecting, I was either working full-time or raising other youngsters or both and it seemed to me that I was always tired, nauseous or hungry and it was very difficult to contemplate the cosmic significance of being pregnant and creating a new life. That's one of the really cool things about being a grandma-to-be: I have the time and energy to think about these things. Holding a new life inside my body was a privilege and an honor to me. Despite the fatigue, nausea and weight gain, there was always something very mysterious and special about hiding a life inside my womb, very close to my heart. I felt protective of the child growing within me and part of me didn't want the pregnancy to end. It was so much easier to keep the baby safe inside me than to have to deliver him or her into this dangerous world.

But that's not how life works. A baby must be born, if he or she is to live. The child must enter the world, with it's harsh sounds and lights and the baby's first response to this sudden loss of comfort and safety of the mother's womb is to scream. But there is no more precious sound to the parents' ears than that first cry of their newborn infant.

Imagine that, all you parents of toddlers and teens: the most precious sound to a new parent is their baby's cry.

A baby changes everything.

When I was pregnant--I think it was the second or third or maybe fourth time--someone gave me a holy card with this meditation by Cardinal Mindszenty:

The most important person on earth is a mother.
She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral.
She need not.
She has built something more magnificent than any cathedral--
a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby's body.
The angels have not been blessed with such grace.
They cannot share in God's creative miracle to bring new saints to Heaven.
Only a human mother can.
Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other creature;
God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of creation.
What on God's good earth is more glorious than this: to be a mother? 

A baby changes everything. A woman becomes a mother. A man becomes a father. Another human being comes into existence who hadn't existed before.

Yes, a baby changes everything...except it's own diaper!

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