“She is beautiful and healthy; mom and baby are doing well.” Finally the long awaited news came from my brother-in-law who spoke these words full of joy and love, but also nervousness. He was now a father. His whole world was changed, and I felt as though mine had as well. But just hours earlier, my niece had been fighting for her life.
It was just after Christmas in 2013. My younger sister and I were driving to Virginia from Ohio. Our older sister had gone into labor, and we were en route to the hospital. About mid-way through our drive, we got a distressing and unexpected phone call. In a panicked tone, my brother-in-law told us that the baby’s heart rate was dropping rapidly and the doctors said that it would be in her best interest to do an emergency cesarean section.
For the next few hours, my sister and I prayed for a healthy delivery. As we drove, I considered how precious life really is. Although my sister and niece had been healthy all the way through the pregnancy, there was never any guarantee that the baby would make it. This situation was out of our control, and all we could do was trust and wait patiently.
Before arriving as the hospital, we received word that the surgery had gone well and we could visit at any time; mom and baby were healthy. The words of my brother-in-law immediately brought a sense of relief and peace. It was almost as if I felt like this long awaited journey was over, but it was actually just beginning.
As my sister and I walked into the hospital, I turned to her and said, “This is what life is all about.” A new person had come into the world. A new life had entered into my existence, and this new life was different, special. I would get to watch as she walked, learned to talk, read, develop, and maybe even fall in love…a new journey had begun!
Memories and experiences that I shared with my sister growing up began to flood my mind. For all of the years that my older sister and I had shared a bedroom, taken ballet together, imagined that we were epics heroes, shared our deepest secrets with one another, discussed our dreams and plans for the future, and given one another advice, the birth of her daughter brought about a new meaning and dimension to our friendship and relationship.
My niece is now two and every time I look at her I see beauty and goodness. It seems like that cold December day was so long ago. She has quickly grown and changed and she continues to be a tremendous blessing in my life. While I wait to hopefully someday have my own children, I am grateful for all of the laughter and joy that she brings to me; her innocence shows me that even amidst the chaos and confusion our world, there is love that needs to be shared and received.