Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Twelve Gifts: #2 PURE GRACE (In the form of a heaven-sent Mother and a Baby at Christmas)

Once upon a time when we were truly in crisis, the fact that I was pregnant (something we should have rejoiced over) only seemed to add to the stress. I was self-employed and had a rambunctious toddler at home, and was so sick I could barely keep down a teaspoonful of water. I wanted to give up on all of it. But none of this is what this story is about.

This post is about Delivering. And Deliverance.

During six months of this difficult pregnancy, every night I had a dream about my mother. She had passed away nearly three years earlier, and in all that time I had only dreamt about her once (that I can remember). But now that I was in crisis and desperately needed her, miraculously she was there. So every night when I fell asleep I had a different dream about her. Sometimes she would give me comforting advice and tell me everything would be all right. Other times she would just be there, part of our normal family routine, as though she'd never left. But somehow dreaming about my Mother was very healing to me. Somehow, every morning I had the strength to get up and do it all...again. These dreams were like manna sustaining me in the wilderness.

My wonderful mother-in-law came down for Thanksgiving. She was so excited to be there when the baby came...the first girl in two generations! She tore through the house like a white tornado, helping me wash and fold little layette clothes and set up the bassinet and scrub every inch of the house. But the due date came and went, and no baby. Finally, Bonnie had speaking engagements lined up and had to leave. But what blessings and cleanliness and order she left in her wake! Once again, a Mother came to the rescue.

Finally, over two weeks later, the baby actually came. I had just finished a press check on a project I'd designed when I got home and my water broke. When you run your own business, Friday night is the ideal time to go into days off (and no clients calling you in the hospital!). This was my easiest delivery ever. We joked that it felt like we went through the hospital drive-through and they handed us out a baby. But the real miracle occurred when (after months and months of begging people to remind me never to do this again) I took one look at the baby and said, "Oh, Honey, she's so sweet.... Let's have another."

She really was THAT sweet. Sweetness surrounded her like an aura, and it affected everyone and everything around her. This child came like a ray of hope from heaven, erasing all our doubts and fears and strife and bringing in their place a cushion of peace. It literally felt like she wouldn't let go of Heaven and pulled some of that light and love through the veil when she entered our lives.

That Christmas was one of our best ever. Having a newborn caused us to cancel all the parties and shopping and obligations and just stay home. The house somehow stayed clean and orderly. All the decorations and celebrations were simplified, which left us to focus on the real meaning of Christmas: The gift from heaven. The hope. The baby. The peace.

Her birth announcement was not just one photo...but a small booklet we mailed out, with stunning black-and-white photos my husband shot on every page. The only text was a line from Wordsworth: "Heaven lies about us in our infancy," followed by this sentence that seemed to sum up the whole experience: "A baby girl has graced our home." That was it. Pure grace. I have no doubt that my mother hand-picked and hand-delivered this baby, straight from heaven. In fact, when our Angel Baby was a toddler and could finally speak in sentences, one of the earliest thoughts she expressed was this: "I miss your mom." Clearly she knew her, she remembered.

Fourteen years later, I am still at times in awe of this creature who has graced our home. She has my mother-in-law's gift for making everyone feel loved and included. For gathering people around her and nurturing them. For speaking her mind in compelling ways that move people to action. For looking the part of the angel she is.

Happy Birthday, Princess. You (and your birth, and everything it symbolized) are one of my all-time favorite gifts.


LisAway said...

Lovely. This is a great reminder to look back on and realize that sometimes in the most difficult times of our lives a gift is being prepared for us. One that is bigger and more beautiful than we could have imagined. (I need to remember that. The blessing always WILL come and make you wonder why you worried so much.)

Kazzy said...

You choked me up this morning, C. Especially since I know that little princess and can testify to her glowing. She really does have a sweet candy coating.

Immediately after I delivered boy #3 I had the same feeling you described. Let's have another baby right away!

I am so glad to know you and your fam. You are a blessing to me!

Heidi Ashworth said...

Just too beautiful for words! (Annex)

Melanie J said...

I'm sure you've probably heard me say that my son was born five weeks early, a year to the day that my dad died. I know he was a gift. Love this post.

Jessica said...

You are a master storyteller, Charette! There is magic in every word. I LOVE LOVE LOVE how you are so open and aware of the magic. Love the previous post, too!

Jo Beaufoix said...

So so beautiful. Happy Birthday to your special girl.

breckster said...

You know how most bloggers exaggerate the qualities of their children, I'm glad you don't because it would be really hard to believe. I'm glad Princess is you your home, and that we have benfitted from her spirit, she is a great gift to the whole world (at least the world that she lives in.)

Luisa Perkins said...

I have melted into a puddle. How lovely!

Mrs4444 said...

Charette, I feel like we are sisters. I also feel like our daughters are twins! Every single word you wrote fits my Kendall, too. I wish they could meet.

Almost forgot; what a beautiful post. You're a wonderful mom and writer.

Heather of the EO said...

The chills again! This is so lovely. What a beautiful story. This post will be so precious for your daughter all her life. You are just an absolute treasure yourself, lady.

Brillig said...

Darn it all, you got me all weepy.

Happy Birthday, little Princess.

Allison said...

I remember those cheeks!

This post and my raging hormones just have my lip quivering. Thank you, dear friend.

Eowyn said...

You've made me cry Charette, and she truly is beautiful. I'm glad I got to meet her before this post. Tell her happy birthday for me. :)