In my twenties I was quite busy having babies. Four. Four daughters in seven years. Inevitably each time I announced I was pregnant someone would ask or question me: how are you going to love another? They asked this question as if every time I birthed a new baby that the love present in my and their father’s heart would have to be divided--as if we had a pie with only so many pieces.
The prevailing theory seemed to be that each time a child came the pieces of the mothering pie would have to be cut smaller. More narrow. Perhaps this is true of time, of resources, of material things.
But not of love. Love expands. Love enlarges. It grows.
On September 13, 2012 my love multiplied again. My second grandson, my second grandchild, came into this world on a Thursday at 6:05 p.m.
Judah Nathaniel Vaughan.
Judah, your name means a gift of praise. Indirectly Nathaniel is a family name: it would have been my name had I been a boy and it would have been your mama’s name had she been a boy. I’m very glad she wasn’t. Your mama was my first child and the very reason I wanted more. Because of her you have three aunts. Plain and simple.
I heard about you one night in a quiet, short conversation with your mama. The conversation was brief, but I felt its impact for days and days. My mind was too finite and too limited to wrap around your existence yet.
But your existence grew. And my imagination exploded.
Judah, I remember the day your mama called and told me that the black and white images on the screen revealed you were a boy. A little boy. Later your mama would have a 4-D ultrasound and the image of your little face impacted my reality. I studied your little face often.
At this point Aunt Babz nicknamed you little lion man.
Lions seemed to appear everywhere or I became acutely aware of them. Suddenly this nickname became something more. In many ways it seems to be a marking of who you are, of who you will be.
I watched your mama grow with you. Yours was a quiet growing. Unobtrusive.
And in direct proportion to her physical expansion she grew as a woman.
At the end the weight of you pulled on your mama. Pulled her forward. You were almost too large for her.
The night you were born, in the late hours of the next morning, I slept in a chair in your mama’s hospital room. During the night I woke, and I watched your mama. Several times she looked over at me and later she told me I looked miserable in the hard, want-to-be recliner.
In reality, I was trying not to cry. I was damming the walls around my over-productive tear ducts because I had tried very hard all day long not to cry. I wanted to be strong for you and your mama. I hadn’t wanted tears to interfere or get the best of me. Your Noni has a reputation for crying. And on your day I just wanted to be a rock for your mama. An unemotional one. But in the middle of the night I woke from my light slumber and peered through the half dark at you and your mama. And when she thought I was miserable? I was really just holding back the flood, the release and dam of tears, which had been held back all day long.
Judah, she was beautiful in the faint light. And you were splayed across her chest like the giant of a man you will be. And I was enthralled. I watched her wake as you grew fitful. Her voice soothed and quieted you. She whispered in your ear and you would go limp again. She sensed I was watching her. Perhaps, she thought I was assessing, but in reality I was admiring and accepting. Your mama had been a woman grown for a long time, but she stepped completely over the threshold with you.
This revelation came to me during her hours of labor with you. I watched her. Was near her. I’m not sure she really needed me. But someday, Judah, you will discover and run headlong into your mama. You need to know that she is a compressed package of stubbornness, strong will, strength and stoicism.
Even so when you were born, the whole great long length of you, I was astounded that her tiny little frame had held, carried and encompassed you for nine months.
She let me cut your cord. The cord that tethered you to her, that had fed and sustained you, I cut. And I was both ecstatic for the privilege, and awed by the enormity of the task. Others could have done this—the doctor or your mama. But your mama allowed me. And when I finished they laid you on your mama’s chest. I was speechless and stunned (this too is a rarity for your Noni).
God’s provision for birth and the miracle of it—the absurdity of it--can only be explained by his grace. The profoundness and the simplicity of it could only come from his hand. I felt like a little child getting to be privy to something much bigger and more wonderful than I could ever comprehend.
I, who had been present to see you arrive, felt like I had just arrived. I stood by the head of her bed and peered at you, and I was totally oblivious to anyone or anything else. I got to see your mama’s face when she saw yours. Just know, Judah, she loved you before. But in that moment she fell in love with you. Her heart broke wide open and she pulled you back into herself.
I think I got this now.
I think I got this, now. She said it for me, but in that moment she believed her own words, her own prophetic statement.
And it was time for me to go.
I left you and your mama alone. You, who had known each other for nine months, needed time to recognize each other’s faces.*
I left the room and went out to deliver all the news of you. And through the long walk from the delivery room to the waiting room love was multiplying exponentially.
During that walk I kept thinking of your mama’s statement:
I think I got this now.
She does, Judah.
*This is an allusion to a text that my youngest daughter sent Judah's mama (my oldest daughter):
He wants to know your face. He knows your voice and your heartbeat, now he needs to know your face.
|Judah--about 1 1/2 hours after birth. His mother's tattoo? Greek word for grace.|
|Little Lion Man's roar.|
|Judah loves his fist.|
|Mama and her Judah.|
|Noni and Judah|
|Judah Nathaniel Vaughan|
September 13, 2012
8 lbs and 5 ounces
21 1/2 inches long