Friday, March 4, 2016

The Sweetness of X's and O's

When I received the phone call that my sister was being sent to Labor and Delivery early and it was almost time to meet my sweet nephew, I raced to the hospital breaking every motor vehicle law along the way. I had already packed my "hospital bag" which had everything from a change of clothes and a toothbrush to every make/model of a phone charger and coloring books to pass the time. (Little did we really know how much time was going to pass!) I got to the hospital with one mission: Do everything I possibly could to make my sister comfortable and to ease any form of stress that the two expecting parent's could experience. Also, not to cry. I can hug and cry like it's my profession. But there is a time and a place Kristen. Keep it together. 

I went into the room expecting chaos yet found my brother and sister completely calm and ready to tackle this thing called "having a baby." As the night carried on parent's left to get sleep and I was reconsidering my career choice as I had conquered reading the peaks/dips on the monitor and unplugging/plugging in all the wires and tubes after every bathroom break. (Then the thought of administering needles or seeing blood cancelled any ideas I may have briefly entertained!) 
Ice Chip Getter and Contraction Monitor Coach

When the nurse came in to tell Lindsay it was time to get some sleep before the big event the next morning I knew it was time for me to "go home" and get some sleep myself. But that's just not in my nature of course. So I told one person I was sleeping at my parent's house and another I was sleeping at my brother's house. And then, like a colonist from long ago, I said goodbye to the parents-to-be with a kiss and a hug and set up camp in the waiting room for the night. I moved around furniture, declared ownership of the television and settled in for the night. They would never know I was out there but if they needed me... They wouldn't have to wait more than a second for me to come to them. 

30 hours. My sister was in labor for 30 hours. That's 30 episodes of Law & Order: SVU or a road trip to Nashville 3 times or listening to George Strait's "Amarillo By Morning" on repeat 720 times. There was nothing easy about her labor process and there was definitely nothing easy or textbook about her delivery process. There is a groove worn into the hallway floor where I paced for 2 hours, back and forth, waiting for someone (anyone really- a doctor, nurse, aid, janitor) to come out and tell us that everything was ok. I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I would never sit anxiously and wait for a boy. From the minute the text came that it was time to push to the minute we finally had someone tell us what was going on I never once let go of my phone or stopped looking over my shoulder to see if someone was going to walk out those locked double doors. When the doors opened and my brother emerged I could tell two things: He was exhausted and something wasn't right. I could only imagine what my sister was going through back in the delivery room. But I smiled and ran up to him to congratulate the new Daddy. 

Hours went by as we waited to hear when we would finally get to meet this little baby who took his sweet time coming and then was rushed away for tests and observation. When the text finally came that he was ready to meet his anxious family... I was the first one allowed in the room to see him. I basically sprinted to the hospital room in record time. I opened the door, washed my hands, and pulled back the curtain to see my sister holding a chubby cheeked baby boy in her arms. My brother had a camera out to record my reaction of seeing my nephew... My Godson... for the very first time. As he was placed into my arms I wasn't prepared for the reaction I was about to have myself. 

Love at First Sight
As I held Xander William O'Hare for the first time I cried. I thought about all the moments in his life I was going to share with him: His first story book... his first laughs... his first baseball game... his first words... his first Christmas morning... and his first St. Patrick's Day. I thought of all his games that I would be ejected from by umpires and coaches. I thought about the laughs he would give me and the smiles he would put on my face. I thought about the murder I would happily commit if anyone ever tried to harm him. I thought about how proud I was of his parents. And I thought about how my life changed in a single second when I kissed his forehead and knew that I was asked to play a role in helping raise this little baby. It was more than a job... it was an honor. In just one look he had become one of the most important people in my life and my sense of purpose was renewed. He would learn about God and about right from wrong. He would learn about respect and love. But he would also learn about curve balls, frosting and the adventures in story books from me. 

The next several days all blended into one another. Xander got to go home but he went home in a special bed that required someone to watch him 24/7. I obviously took the night shift in hopes that the new Mommy and Daddy would get a chance to at least attempt to sleep. My chair was pulled up to his crib and I watched him for hours (illuminated in blue) and sang him songs. It seemed that each song I sang though was by Joey + Rory. And it struck me right through my heart. I was looking into the face of a brand new life while I played songs sung by a wonderful woman, wife, mother and friend losing her own. 

The irony nor the haunting beauty of the moment wasn't lost on me. As one beautiful life entered this world another was soon to leave it. And I knew that I had to make sure that as his Godmother I taught Xander not only the beauty of every day but also how short life truly is. We need to appreciate the small things and find beauty in the rough days. We need to live our lives so we have no regrets and can say we did everything we set out to do. Every sunrise is a reminder that we have a fresh start and every sunset is an acknowledgement that we made it through another day. There will be really bad days and broken hearts and there will be fabulous days filled with laughter. The secret to life is to find the balance and beauty in it all. 

Xander will never experience the goosebumps you get when Joey walks up on stage and starts to sing. He will never hear her laugh or walk the land on her beautiful Tennessee farm. He'll never taste her peach cobbler or see the light in her eyes when she talks about the love for her husband or her daughter. But I had the opportunity to do those things and I will take those memories and those lessons she taught me and I will pass them on to him. Because as I write this Xander is doing things for the very first time while Joey is doing everything for the very last. The birth of Xander has brought so much joy to my heart while losing Joey has broken it. But truthfully, I'm learning to live again as I say hello to a new life and goodbye to an old soul. There's a lesson to be learned in all things. 

And for someone who loves her sweets: Sometimes the sweetest things in life don't always come in a container with a spoon... Sometimes they can be found even in the saddest of moments if you just look hard enough. 

*This video was made for Xander after he successfully made it through his glow worm phase... Joey helped sing the words to express what we all felt those few days...*

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