My granddaughter, my firstborn grandchild, was born 4 years ago on the 26th of this month. I was in the room when my daughter brought her into the world. My daughter was a warrior throughout, giving birth 3 weeks early with no pain meds. It was a relatively quick labor given it was her first time.
We knew she was going to have a girl. We painted the nursery pink, bought pink everyone and anxiously awaited her arrival. She was tiny and prune faced and beautiful.
When they laid her on her mother’s chest, chest immediately stopped crying and just looked around the room with alarmingly open eyes for a freshly hatched little one. She didn’t whimper, she didn’t cry. She just watched. She had dark swirls of hair and her little ears were pointed and for a moment I was convinced she was a fairy.
She was born six weeks after one of the worst times of my life. My grandmother died in January and I thought I was going to wither up and blow away. The pain I felt took my breath away. I was still in deep mourning when baby Rae was born. It was like the taking a deep breath after being under water too long. I started to feel alive again.
We brought her home a few days later. The next day, we noticed a huge abscess under her arm. It was nasty and green. It was terrifying. We took her to the pediatrician and she was diagnosed with MRSA. A sometimes fatal infection in those with immature immune systems. She was given a giant shot of a strong antibiotic and ordered to return the next day. The site was greatly improved, she got another giant shot and she was good to go. Another huge sigh of relief.
The next day, my world fell apart. My marriage imploded in spectacular fashion. What I thought was a pretty rock solid relationship turned to dust in a matter of seconds. The only person I had to talk to was my daughter, postpartum, trying to learn to breast feed and become a mom and I dump my feelings on her. She lived with us at the time, so she would have figured out something was going on when I threw all of her father’s clothes onto the back desk into the snow.
I was destroyed. My mind almost immediately went to that place where you think ending it is the only option to relieve the pain you are in. One thing stopped me dead in my tracks. Sweet baby Rae.
I would get her out of her crib in the early morning hours after that day and bring her into my bed to snuggle. Just holding that new life, that new promise, helped mend my shattered heart. Every little grasp of my finger, every little sigh of contentment when she was asleep patched me back together. Piece by piece.
She has been my savior these past four years. Keeping me from going into the dark places my mind likes to dwell. Knowing that I have kindergarten graduations to see, Christmas concerts and ballet recitals I can’t miss, keeps me sane. It keeps me here. It keeps me present.
When I hear her squeal ‘GiGi!’ with absolute love and excitement, my heart swells with love. And gratitude. To a little girls who will never know how she saved her grandmother’s life.
Happy Birthday, sweet Raegen. I love you to the moon and back.