Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Gift

April 14, 2011              

Dear Andrea,

“Annalise just had a doctor appointment.  She weighs 13.5 pounds.  She had gone from the 10th percentile to the 90th!  He thinks she is eating too much because food makes her tummy feel better.  So he is giving her some reflux medicine to try to help her.”
This is what your cousin, my niece, Lisa texted me this morning.
“Food makes my tummy better too J” I text her back.
I never used to text until you showed me how.  “It works like this.” You said as you showed me.  After that, you texted me all the time.  I would sit there, watching your words appear.   Then you started sending pictures.  “Are these the shoes you’re looking for?”  “Can you believe this?”  “Sadie says hi.”    
Lisa came to help sort through your stuff the day after you died.  Later, my sister Karen, her mother, told me Lisa was devastated seeing me so sad.  She did not know what to do.  She hugged me and held me as I quaked in sorrow. 
She stepped in as a daughter would.  She called to check on me.  Made sure I was invited to family dinners, then followed up with my sister to remind me, encourage me to come.  Now Lisa calls me her “second” mother.  When she asks my sister for an opinion, my sister tells her, “you should ask your other mother too.”  When she calls with good news, or sad, my sister tells her “did you call your other mother too?”  They know nothing will ever replace you, Andrea.  They loved you too.
What they are offering me is an incredible gift.  They have wrapped their arms around me, drawn me into their relationship.  I accept their gift, and thank them for it.
Annalise was born on February 4, 2011.   I was there with Lisa, on the right side of her hospital bed in the birthing room.  I had my right arm around her shoulders to help her lift up with each pushing contraction.  I took cool washcloths from her friend and put them to her forehead in those moments she could rest.  I watched the doctor, the nurses working quietly. Even when Annalise’s heart rate dropped, they barely spoke above a whisper, moved quickly with efficiency.
“The baby’s heart rate dropped.” A nurse relayed to the doctor.
“Call the team.  Get me suction.”  The doctor quietly ordered.
I was worried.  My heart raced.  This had to have a happy ending.
I watched, listened, holding Lisa up and leaning in to see.
When Annalise came out, I saw her drop into the doctor’s gloved hands.  I held my breath, until she took her first.
When my sister Karen called to tell me Lisa was pregnant, she told me, “I have two grandchildren.  This is my third.  I’ve talked to Lisa.  We want this one to be your first.  You can be this baby’s grandma also.  We’ll share.”
After that, Lisa called me after every doctor visit, every ultrasound.  When she learned the baby was a girl, I texted her baby names to the point even I thought I was annoying.  Georgia, Isabel, Elizabeth (I thought about calling you Elizabeth), Lilly, Isabel.  We went shopping for pink baby clothes, things with flowers and hearts.  I checked with her, making sure “my baby” had everything she needed. 
When I am holding Annalise, when I am with her mother, Lisa and when I am with Lisa’s older two children—Tanner and Alicia—I feel something break loose in me.  I am sad that you and I never got to share the birthing of your child.  I know how badly you wanted that.  I kept telling myself, I would have been an awesome grandma. 
I hope I am.

Love you baby girl--Mom