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Birth of a baby, witnessing the miracle of life continuing

Heather Lende
Just hours old, Silvia Rose is held our honorary Aunt Sue. Photo courtesy of Heather Lende

My daughter said the birth of her second baby was so much easier than the first, which is proof that something Biblical really does remove our memory when it comes to pregnancy, labor, and delivery.

But in Juneau's Bartlett hospital on Saturday morning I did not want to remind Stoli about that August medevac to Anchorage, the measures taken to slow the early labor down and save little Silvia Rose, and six weeks away from home, because here she was, as perfect as a baby could be, plenty big, at 7 pounds, 8 ounces and with all that dark hair and her mother's nose -- and here was Stoli, in her pink pajamas going for a walk down the hall a few hours after delivering her, all smiles.

What's not for a mother to love about that? All I could do was sigh. I promised myself when Stoli's first baby, Lani, was born, well actually when my first grandchild Caroline was born, that I would not worry as much. That would be their parents' job.  I would become the calm, carefree, slightly eccentric grandma with the real chickens, the wooden toys, and all those books.

But it's not in my nature to be “mellow,” although I admire it so. But I keep trying. It's why I attend church and yoga class. So now I allow the worry to help me, because if I imagine all the worst-case scenarios, then I am prepared not only to survive them, but to make the most of them and even find the good in them, right?

Flying to Juneau for the birth, I wore my hiking boots and warmest fleece and rain jacket, with the pockets stuffed with hand warmers, a headlamp, and date bars, figuring that when we crashed, I'd survive and walk down the cliff  to the beach and flag a fishing boat captain who'd pick me up and run me into Juneau on time for the birth with a great story tell.

But that didn't happen, thank God. There is so much good in the miracle that is a newborn baby it's almost overwhelming.

First: how lucky Silvia Rose is -- and we all are -- to be surrounded by so many aunts and uncles, grandparents and even great grandparents, and the cousins. What a big family she already has. There is a tribe watching over this child. But here is the thing I will remember most from Silvia Rose's first day on earth. I will remember our honorary Aunt Sue and Uncle Tim (who were here when Silvia's mother and three of her siblings arrived) being there with us in that maternity ward when Silvia Rose was just hours old, and how Sue held her so close, and smiled and smiled and said, "Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh" over and over, about her tiny hands, her feet, the hair, the barely opened eyes, the mouth all round, or pursed.

Sue had just returned from California, where she had been in another hospital room so full of love it made her gratefully dizzy too --  holding her mother's hand while she exited this life.  It's amazing how that great big circle of love remains unbroken, and how such a tiny baby can make you forget all the things that could go wrong and instead fill you with hope and joy for the wonderful possibilities in store for her.

What kind of miracle is that? The best kind.

Haines writer Heather Lende is finishing her third book of essays, “Finding the Good.” This post originally appeared on her blog. It has been reprinted with permission.