Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mary's little lamb

Just 48 hours ago I got a tearful call from my mom. "Mary's water broke."  Ready or not, baby Rachel was very likely coming and far too early for all of our liking. The fear in that call jarred me out of a sound sleep and the only thing I could do after I hung up was pray and struggle into a pair of jeans.

When your only sister faces a health crisis your heart beats faster as your brain treads on a momentary stabbing pain of 'if' ...and it scares you to death. Then you rationalize and try to just move...and do something.

 Both Mary and I have intimately known this fear before. Mine as she underwent a harrowing spinal surgery, hers, likely through various portions of my two bouts with cancer.

But this time around (and all along these three months prior) I've been terrified about the health and safety of two precious sister and her unborn baby Rachel.

Just after Thanksgiving we learned that the baby Mary was carrying (who we had just learned was a girl) was in trouble.
Fluid was accumulating inside of her, threatening the development of her organs. We feared together as Mary and Karl learned the odds were not great. The terror they felt as they were given an option to terminate her pregnancy woke my family into a reality that once again, life can be as cruel as it is beautiful.

But somehow my remarkable sister and brother in law were given a gift- medical hope for an experimental inter-utero intervention.  Faced with little other options they chose this sliver of hope...and they chose to try.

I watched my sister press on with courage and incredible love for this little girl who she and Karl wanted very much. Even though there was fear in her heart she kept her love and anticipation and her belief that this little life would make it. 

We took Mary and Karl's lead and held the fear at bay and celebrated the hope they had been given that this little girl might have a shot. Many people didn't even know that the baby they were expecting had been dealt such a tough prognosis. That is because we kept up the celebration. We were waiting for a new life...just like any other family.

And Tuesday at lunchtime my brother in law texted me a picture of a cluster of nursing staff lifting a tiny little form into an incubator. My eyes filled with tears. The next text was "she is here and she is breathing on her own".
Rachel Valerie Sieburg

I am an aunt! Rachel is here and all of us love her to pieces. 
At just two pounds and 14 ounces, she might seem fragile and helpless, but I think we all know better. This little girl who might not have been here without faith and hope is already showing us she is ready to take on life with a feisty spirit.

I looked at her last night in her incubator and recognized the visible etching of my sister's face. I see in Rachel the same rosy full lips from Mary's baby pictures. Karl, he's in there too, no question, but I am guided back to a time my childhood memory can't conjure. It's a time I am told of through family stories...a time when a little skipping girl (not even three) ran into a hospital room and presented a tiny rattle to her baby sister. That first gift would be one of many but that little girl never knew how much her baby sister would mean to her then. And certainly that little girl never had visions of another baby, three decades later that would mean just as much. A baby we were so aching to meet...hoping that she could find a way.

According to most translations of the meaning of the name Rachel, it means sheep. I thank God for watching over his little we could have her here with us. But to me, her Aunt Leah, this tiny little miracle is a sweet little lamb.


Kathy Zampatori said...

Very nice Leah. Keeping you and your family in my prayers.

Kathy Zampatori said...

So thoughtful and from your heart Leah. Keeping you and your family in my prayers. This summer when I was at the beach with your mom she said she couldn't wait to be a grandmother, Rachel has the strongest family to help her through!

Bob Shearer said...

A Dad, and now a Gramps, couldn't be more proud of both of his daughters and their loves.