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Letter From Home: “Leopold And Lincoln” 2/14/14

February 14, 2014

While dressing and preparing to leave today for the hospital I told James my wish that our visit would coincide with when the babies would be in the room for a feeding.

“The babies are right there in the room with her all the time, ” was his instant reply.

I had never before been to a hospital to greet a new addition to the world and so I instantly realized that the images from books and movies when folks looked fondly through the glass at newborns as they slept, stretched, or cried was long over.   I had read newspaper stories about birthing centers in hospitals but really never spent much time thinking about how it all was assembled or played out for mother and baby.

What I had been concentrating on with growing excitement over the past months after learning our friend was not only pregnant, but having twins was how it would be to again hold a warm squirming little bundle.  What I was not prepared for was the rush of emotion that flooded over me with this experience.

As we entered the large amply-spaced room my eyes were drawn to our friend’s mom sitting on a sofa holding one of the babies.  I just stood for a moment and soaked the scene into my senses.  Two large hospital bassinettes were placed side by side, and a nurse was doing some business about the room.  One of the babies was cuddled in a white blanket and nursing on the bed.  I took my coat off and placed it on a shelf to the side and washed my hands.

“Come over here and sit by me,” the grandmother said.  “I would like to introduce you to Leopold.”   My eyes were already getting wet as she continued “And this is Uncle Greg.”

Wearing a green knit cap that the hospital had provided for warmth, but also to allow everyone to identify the babies, Leopold was ever so gently and tenderly placed into my arms.  The perfect face and long fingers that stretched out from scrunched up arms on the 48-hour old baby produced instant tears down my cheeks.

And I am not sure why.

Perhaps because it was all such a joyous occasion, perhaps the mystery of life and birth and renewal strikes to the core of our humanity.   I sat there and gently rocked the child and took in all the features of his face that seemed perfect.

When it was time for the babies to be swapped for their breast feeding time I walked to the hospital bed and leaned down to give our friend a hug.  As I looked down something in her eyes and smile made the words tumble out without my thinking it over.  “I have never seen you more beautiful.”  It was true.    She was tired, had been through a lot with the birthing procedure, surely was experiencing the start of a very large responsibility, and yet looked more pleased with the world than I had ever before witnessed.

Uncle James had been holding the other twin, Lincoln (born on February 12th for those loving this story as much as I do), and photos were being snapped with his arms full of a nearly 6 pound bundle with a yellow knit cap.  James may not know it, but he looked like he had always been around a baby.

In a few minutes I  took over baby-holding duties and was able to sit for the longest time cuddling and comforting Lincoln as James sat on the hospital bed talking with our friend.

It was a very special moment when the hospital clergy entered the room and gave the first blessing to the babies and family.  I was most pleased when she opted not to read a prepared prayer but said, ” I am just going to pray from what is inside.”    As I held Lincoln she asked for God to guide and shape both of the newborns, and to give healing to the new mother.  It was perfect.

As I sat there I am not sure what made me think of it but a list started forming in my head of the things uncles–even ones in name only–can teach kids.  They are the things that might get left behind by the ones with parenteral authority as they may not seem important enough given the day-t0-day rush of life.

For whatever reason as I looked down at Lincoln’s little eyes opening for just seconds, or watching the suckling motion of his lips while he slumbered I thought about a blade of green grass.  I want to be the one who teaches Lincoln and Leopold to find a nice sized piece of grass and hold it just so between two thumbs and blow sharply across the blade to create a sound.

Then I thought of how amused young kids are with water poured into a small pail and swung overhead quickly, but how the water does not pour out.   Every one of my nephews and nieces at one time in their lives found this to be fascinating and uttered the same words. “Do it again”!

Perhaps the reason we are drawn to newborns is that while there is a real profound universal awesomeness to the fact a new person has entered the world there is also the awareness that as adults we again get a chance to rekindle some youthful memories by imparting our ‘wisdom’ to someone else. The cycle of life is renewed, and in some way we all get to play a part.

As we left the hospital today I could only smile.  But the width of that smile and the deepness of its meaning are all thanks to a wonderful and long-standing friendship we have with a new mother, the perfection found in the  faces of Leopold and Lincoln, and their futures.

May they grow to be resolute, able to always laugh with life, and find the joy in each new day.

With over-flowing joy, welcome to the world.

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