Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tilted Axis

You, Elijah David, were born at 5:47 p.m. on September 1, 2012. And your arrival tilted the axes of many, many worlds.

My axis began to shift back in January. Your mom and dad called and suggested an Ice Cream Sundae night on Friday. This wasn’t out of the ordinary. We get together a lot. But this invitation felt different. Somehow I knew. I knew what they were going to tell me. They came, they said, bearing a late Christmas gift. I laughed and messed up their surprise by blurting out that I knew they were going to have a baby. They didn’t seem to know how to handle my announcement. Somewhere deep inside me I understood that you had begun. The bib they brought me to announce this news is still in my room in plain sight.

My axis shifted many more times in the following months. When your mom called me and told me they heard your heartbeat for the first time I wept. When they brought the first ultrasound pictures and I saw your profile the axis within me shifted noticeably.

When your mama and daddy discovered you were a little boy they called and I couldn’t seem to breathe quite right. Oxygen didn’t get to the places it needed to be.

And when your mama’s belly began to round with your growth my heart began to swell in direct proportion. God makes sure that mamas’ bellies and grandmamas’ hearts have a great capacity and elasticity for great expansion. It’s a good thing.

The first time I saw your little foot and the sweep of your body make the terrain of your mama’s belly move there was a tremor in the landscape  of my own.

Your daddy predicted with absolute accuracy the day you would arrive. We sat in the midst of a family gathering and guessed when you would make your arrival. Earlier he had been the only one to know the measurement of your mama’s belly. I was second, but he was first. So, when we decided to try and predict your arrival your daddy spoke. He knew. He thought he was guessing, but he knew. (Your Grandpa Rector was very close, but he was guessing.)

During the last time someone looked at your face and little body through the wall of your mama’s womb, I was there. At first you were too big for me to see. I was looking for the whole of you, but the ultrasound couldn’t capture your entirety. The technician worked until she found your little face obscured by your placenta which tethered you to your mama. And you were sleeping. Your little face peeked through briefly and just a glimpse of you was caught on a shiny paper frame. It didn’t do you justice. It didn’t prepare me at all. My axis shifted five more degree.

I saw your mama three days later. She was buying tiny pants for you. And I knew, Elijah. I knew you were coming. I could see it in your mama’s beautiful face. I could sense it in the weight of you in her body. You had grown too great for her frame to contain.

My phone rang at 4:23 am. Your daddy’s name scrolled across the screen. I laughed out loud. They were going to the hospital. You were on your way. You were coming.

And my axis shifted.

And the waiting began.
I saw your mama briefly in her labor room. Her face seemed ethereal and otherworldly. Her body was shifting, contracting and giving over to the work it would take to bring you here. But she was lovely in the midst of it. Focused in the anticipation of you,  and in the pregnancy of the hour she truly labored to bring you here.

And your daddy. Elijah, your daddy was someone to behold. There was a deep measure of intensity in him. An intensity that had only briefly manifested before—usually in times of deep protectiveness and concern for your mama. His body and demeanor seemed relaxed on first glance, but as I watched I could see the readiness, the tension that he held. And he held it for you and your mama.

Periodically during the six hours of the afternoon he appeared several times to us. An anticipated messenger. He was calm and quiet. Without pomp he would just slide unobtrusively around the corner of the waiting room. Most often he only gave two sentences of information and then he would smile and shrug and turn to go back to his appointed place.

After a while he didn’t come. His absence was an explanation. I knew that you must be moving into this world. The waiting room was crowded and noisy. It was alive. I moved out into the hall where there was breathing space. The clock showed 5:35 p.m.

See, Elijah, your aunt had prayed twelve hours earlier; she had asked for you to please come meet us. And when I stood in the hall I prayed for you. I am sure that the nursing staff thought that this particular grandmother was a little crazy. I realize now that I was praying out loud and my mouth and lips were moving fast. I prayed for your mama to have the stamina and strength to bring you into this world. I prayed for your daddy to be her strong wall to lean on. I prayed for you to come knowing that you had a place in this world. I prayed that you would know your purpose early. I prayed for you to be whole. But these prayers, Elijah, were just a culmination of all the prayers that have been prayed for you since January. That hall was just an extension of my prayer closet.

I looked up to see your daddy come around the corner once again. And the axis shifted me off balance.

His face was something to behold. Elijah. He looked like he had just been given a glimpse into heaven. His face held an awe that I have rarely seen. He was stunned. In courtesy I had to look away. In respect I had to close my eyes and allow the glory on his face to settle before I could look at him again. He was astounded by the miracle of you and the strength and tenacity of your mama.

Later he would come and get your Grandma Rector and me and lead us into the dark, gentle room. There you were in your mama’s arms. My inner axis tilted at an angle I couldn’t quite navigate. You were the whole of our worlds compressed down into one tiny little being. You were your mama and daddy dovetailed into one. Our God had enabled these two incredibly beautiful people to create you. And I blessed Him. I blessed Him for you.

I held you in my arms. I, who have held countless babies, was tentative and hesitant. Overwhelmed. You were almost too much for me. And the complete shift happened. All the terrain within me slid too many degrees to measure.

My world had been shifted before—when your mama and aunts were born, but this was a different kind of shift. I had been warned; I had been told. But I hadn’t comprehended or understood what it would mean to hold the embodiment of the next generation in my arms. I understood what the Psalmist meant when he said, “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him.” *

Later we would all wait at the nursery window to see you through the glass. The nurse wheeled your mama and you into the corridor. Your mama’s arms hovered in the air as your daddy reached for you to take you behind the glass and wash the labor of the day away. She looked bereft and a little lost without you. We watched as a very competent nurse instructed your daddy about the little body that was yours.

Elijah, I looked over at your mama, my daughter, and watched the swell of tears rise in her tired eyes. As she gazed at your daddy and you I saw her heart swell. I witnessed the expansion of her heart for her two boys. I looked at her and said, “There it is. Psalm 37:4. There’s the desire of your heart in front of you.” And the swell of tears spilled. My own vision blurred. Then nurse took her to her room.

We remained. All of our faces pressed against the glass. We moved and pivoted to gain a better view of you. Your dad was listening to the nurse’s instructions. Perhaps, she taught him something he didn’t know. But when you cried because you were cold and afraid and insecure, she didn’t teach him to put his hand on your chest and stroke your cheek with his finger. No, he knew how to do that on his own.

When we left the hospital that night. I was reluctant, but I knew it was time. As we walked through the hospital I told everyone in the hall, the elevator and the security gate that I had a brand new grandson. I told the tired employees at Chik-fil-A that we were celebrating because you had arrived, and they allowed us to stay after they locked the doors.

Elijah David, I went to sleep in the early hours of the morning thinking of you and seeing you on the back of my eyelids. I fell asleep praying for you. That’s not the first time, and it is certainly not the last.

I love you, Elijah David Rector.

My axis has tilted because of you.

Elijah, this is how you looked when I met you.

Part of your family at the nursery window.

Your amazing Dad!

Dad washing your thick head of hair!

Your favorite place to be--with Mama.

My shifting world.

Elijah David Rector
September 1, 2012
7.2 pounds, 19 1/4 inches


Mac Goddard said...

Congratulations, dear one! You are blessed and then some!

Helen said...

Oh. Wonderful.
That made me cry.
May the little one read this one day and know how much he was loved from before the beginning.
Thanks for sharing that.

Piper said...

Aww that was beautiful! You must have him a book printed!! And read to him over and over as he grows!! My eyes are all teary!!

Tamera said...

This has been a grand weekend! Perhaps that is why they call us grandparents.

Piper, bless you. That's an incredible idea! My husband and I are artists--we could even illustrate it.

Helen, thank you. He was/is loved from the very beginning.

Mac, I love you. Period.


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