On Being an Aunt + Babies – Really Just Babies

I was standing in the kitchen of the lake house where I nannied. My Dad called to tell me that my older sister had given birth to Theodore Valiant. The long awaited and much anticipated nephew had arrived!

Very calmly, my Father informed me that Theo was born with a portion of his intestines on the outside of his stomach and was now on the way to the Cities to the children’s hospital. I felt frozen. This little life which I had been so excited for was in danger. I’d  never encountered extreme medical issues with birth of someone I knew. I had no idea what this meant for Theo’s life. For all I knew, he would not survive the day.

I immediately started praying over his life, but I did something else as well. No one had sent me a picture of this little guy. All I knew of him was some information shared over a phone call. So, because I did not know if I would ever meet this baby in-person, I intentionally stopped up the love in my heart for him. Just in case he didn’t make it, I chose to not love him yet. It hurts to admit that.

I did not meet Theo until he was a month old. He didn’t look like the babies I’d snuggled before. He had monitors attached to him. Bandages over his stomach. But he was sweet. So sweet.

Jump forward to Summer of the next year. My sister and her husband left little Theo with me while the rest of the family went to watch the fireworks. Amidst the lullabies, rocking, and snuggles, the wall I chose to put up at Theo’s birth came gloriously crashing down. I held his drowsy life in my arms and sang my love and God’s intermingled.

This February, my sister had her first baby girl, the perfect complement to her two boisterous, messy, and adorable boys. This month, my oldest brother and his wife had their first child. I can’t put words to the feelings I had when I saw the first picture of my big brother holding his son. It was almost as great as holding Micah myself five days later. There is nothing like a newborn.

 

I love babies. When I’m holding one, it just feels right. Like my arms were made to cuddle them and my hips to sway them to sleep. More than anything, caring for a kid is something which feels like instinct to me.

I love messy, wet kisses from toddlers and getting a baby to giggle. The way babies start out so soft and then over time you feel strength grow in them. Those little kicks and stretches they do when they are trying to figure out the whole moving thing. I love how kids tell stories and get excited about little things. How birthday presents are overwhelming and Theo had to change out of his cowboy outfit into his “work guy” outfit when he opened Uncle Taylor’s gift of tools.

But mostly I love that I am getting to snuggle and love a little human that God created for purpose, because the world needs them. Whatever type of man or woman they become is going to change the world. They have been written in His book and dreamed up in His mind since the beginning. I may have been anticipating this nephew for 9 month, but God has been waiting since the beginning of time for his arrival.

That 3 week-old, or 6 month-old, or 4 year-old have something within them that our world needs. And I get to love them. I get to be there for the cowboy birthday parties, bedtime stories, Christmas mornings, and graduation days. I get to hear about the girl they are falling in love with and hug them on their wedding day. Watch them learn who God created them to be and cheer as they step into it. My arms get to rock, snuggle, and wrestle God’s kid. Does it get any better than that?!

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