When a baby is first thrust from the womb and into our world, their tiny lungs fill with our air while a fresh cry rushes out of them. When you pry open their fist to savor the little, the wrinkles, the perfection, it appears their hands are empty. It appears as if they've brought nothing into their new existence but every mother, father, grandparent and relative of that baby knows this isn't true.
From the moment the doctor first confirms our greatest hope, “You’re having a baby.” to that unforgettable moment we hear their cry and hold their trembling body against our own, we know they hold our heart in that tiny, wrinkled fist. There is nothing we wouldn’t do for them. And everything we have is now theirs; our time, devotion, prayers, passion...our very lives we would lay down if it were required. They hold our hearts and our hopes for the future.
When hopes for the future and a hopeless diagnosis collide, the heart breaks. And that baby who suffers; the little one poked with a needle, monitored on a machine and staring outside from the confines of a hospital room breaks the heart of their parents and relatives and of each one of us. Because we have held our own babies, the babies of our sister, the babies of our friends and we know the love that ignites at first touch. The unstoppable and unfathomable love that grows into a force so great we’re willing to live and die for that child.
Tonight, a baby that is more than likely being rocked to sleep amidst a tangle of cords and IVs is what keeps me awake. He’s not my baby but his suffering has reached far beyond the confines of his hospital room and immediate family. The ripple-effect of his life has touched everyone that has come in contact with him and though he is not our baby, somehow his tiny fist has captured the heart of not only his mother, father and relatives but of a watching world. His cry has brought us to tears. His pain has brought us to our knees. His journey has made us seek and question the God that so carefully and wonderfully formed him in his mother’s womb. And answers seem beyond the grasp, beyond the understanding of our minds. And it hurts.
But the magnitude of emotions in this splintering heart does not compare, could not even begin to understand the journey of emotions of his own mother who must have first heard the doctors, “You're having a baby!” and felt that overwhelming burst of love and hope for the life within. How to understand the fear and desperation of the father that must have laid his hand, his ear and his dreams on the swell of his wife’s belly, only to hear months after meeting his anticipated child a dark and frightening diagnosis. How to help carry their burden? Shoulder this pain? Walk with them in this journey?
And answers seem beyond the grasp... and it hurts.
Tonight, I kiss my children’s forehead while they sleep, sure the sweet baby sleeping under the soft fluorescent glow of a hospital light has had his forehead kissed bare. Tonight, I beg God with words that feel weak and shaky to let this be the future for the parents waiting, watching, desperate and hopeful. Tonight, I dream of a night that they would pull warm blankets up to a sleepy, little chin in their own home, away from IVs, needles and fear.
And tonight I know, no matter what the future holds, there is One who loves this baby with even greater passion and more intensity than every person that was in the room when he hollered his first cry in our big, confusing world. Somehow I know if we could see with different vision, we’d see this God whom we seek and question is in this baby’s room tonight too. He’s big enough to command the universe, yet small enough to fit into a chair next to a hospital crib. And that bare spot on the sleeping baby’s head? I think He kisses it too.
And while the baby rocks, while emotions rock, while the future seems to rock between fear and faith, He remains. He loves, creates, rejoices over and gifts each life we cherish. And no matter what comes tomorrow, He remains. He holds. He’s here.
From the moment a baby is born into our world and you pry open their fist, you may not see it, but they hold our hearts. Each day with them is a gift to cherish and through it all, He holds us.