There is something incredibly special about watching your friends become parents. The first time they tell you their special news, the light in their eyes, the smiles on their faces. The little grin on their face as they gently rub a growing belly. Hearing their hopes and dreams for the future. And dreaming along with them. Watching as they become more, different. As their life changes far before that first breath, that first baby wail. Their lives change just with the knowledge of what's to come. The hope of the gift God has started behind the scenes that they just can't wait to get to know...
And as I think of the many friends who are pregnant right now or have just had a baby, I can't help but think of the babies I see in the hospital here. Of the parents I see who come with hope, hope of a normal life for their little ones.
You see, I met Joy this weekend when I worked in the PICU (you read that right, my friend volunteered me because I'm a pediatric nurse... hehehe! It was great! Made me think for once!) Her mother told me how she had two older children, Peace and Justice. She named them after words in a bible verse that speaks to her heart. And while she was still pregnant with Joy, she chose her name. She loved on her before she came. Had dreams for her. Knew her name. She was no different from any one of my friends in her anticipation for this child.
Except she is different. She is living in a culture where if a child is born different, they should be put aside, left to die. A culture where she would likely be pressured to get rid of her child or might even fear her own child if it is born looking different. Joy is different. Her skull bones fused to early, and her eyes bulge out of her face. You can't miss that she is "different."
But as her mother told me.... "it doesn't matter, I chose her name before she was born. She is still Joy." We talked about it a bit. Joy can be that crazy happy emotion that leaves you "shouting for joy," but it is also a state of happiness. It is a choice. It is something that God can give us. And her Joy, was a choice, a God-given gift that she kept and loves. This small baby with the big eyes is loved soooo deeply. Her mama set herself up on a stool by the big bed, one hand lovingly holding her baby's arm for so long that mama rested her head on the mattress and slept sitting up.
Surrounded by beeping monitors, dripping IV's and pumps slowly infusing them. Pillows and blankets carefully propping the baby in just the right position to breathe easier. Thick white bandages engulfing her small head, eyelids so thick and puffy you felt they might pop if you touched them too hard. Amidst all this, mama sat, holding her baby however she could. You could see the fear in her eyes as she looked at her sleeping girl. Fear of the equipement, of the possibility that her baby might not get better.
Amidst the fear, community stepped in, as it always seems to do around here. The next bed over were parents who had been through these surgeries before. They had seen their son through many surgeries to slowly reshape a face that also wasn't normal. And knowing the fear that clutches at you to see your child go through this, they comforted Joy's mother. They explained how things would go, how she would heal, how God's hand was in it all. I explained the medical side, but no one knows like a parent how the heart feels in the midst of all that, and they were there to comfort. That's the beauty of community, there's always someone around, and when community works well, it is amazing to watch.
I worked PICU this last weekend, I stepped out of my comfort zone to take care of two children who had cranial surgery. No ventilators, so I was fine. But it was intense, it was emotional, and it was beautiful, to watch them interact. To see the love of a mother for her baby. To see the dreams she has for this little one, and the Joy she won't let go of.