Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I am posting this story with my sister's permission. I can't wait to share part of her amazing story with you. I wrote this in honor of my nephew's recent birthday. Grab your kleenex!
I only got to meet him once, so far. About 20 minutes old, I breathed in his light chocolate skin. I savored the moment, knowing the next time I saw him he would likely be a grown man.
My sister, his mom, gave him a selfless gift. Young, wounded and needing time to heal, she wanted more for him than she could give him then. I had the privilege of traveling that long road with my sweet sister to a faraway place. With resolute determination, her face set like flint, I watched her push through that week with the kind of strength and dignity that can only come from maternal love.
Her stomach brimming with new life, we boarded the plane with more than a few stares and questioning glances. I became her self-appointed press secretary to shield her from answering unneeded (and often ignorant) questions. Of special note was the large, nosy woman across the aisle who felt it was her job to get to the bottom of the story behind my sister's very large belly. My protective instincts kicked in and I intercepted her questions with the speed of a running back. I digress....
When we arrived in that faraway place, we were greeted by a handsome attorney, who would be my sweet nephew's adoptive father. He shuttled us to a nearby hotel and checked in on us daily (sometimes more) to see how my sister (and his future son) were progressing. He had the eagerness of a new Dad and treated us with respect and kindness.
For more than a few days, my sister and I walked the streets of that faraway place in hopes of bringing on labor. Rain, wind and cold did not stop us from venturing outside our hotel room. If there was daylight and my sister was still “with child”, we walked.
Finally, a blizzard descended on the faraway place. So did labor pains descend upon my sister – in full force. The handsome attorney pulled into our hotel within minutes of our call. Less than an hour later, my sister was in a hospital room in full-blown labor.
A very short doctor entered the room to examine my sister's condition and labor progress. (He needed a stool to stand on to do the pelvic exam!) Without much examining, the good doctor concluded this little bundle of joy would arrive very quickly.
I held my sister's hand and nearly lost my circulation due ot her intense squeezing. As I performed this important task, I regularly glanced “southward” to assess the situation. Each time I did this, my long hair flew into my sister's red face beaded with sweat. This annoyance may have slowed her labor down, but my nephew's abrupt arrival still came within thirty minutes of arriving in the hospital room.
Almost immediately the ADRENALINE level in the room slowed down to a minimum. Peace and relief reigned. The adoptive parents, my sister, myself, our short doctor friend and the nurses – we all had a different role and angle in that holy moment, but we all seemed to agree that it was all about the child. He was safe. He was breathing. He had ten fingers and ten toes. He was perfect. No matter what all the adults in the room were thinking and feeling up until that moment of his birth, that moment belonged to him. He owned it. And rightly so.
After holding him close to her chest for a few precious moments, my sister called his parents over to her bed. It happened to be his adoptive mom's birthday. My sister handed her this most amazing gift of a child and said, “Happy Birthday, Mom.” There were no dry eyes in the room at that point.
From where I stood that day, my sister was the most courageous woman on the planet. While many in her shoes may have chosen a different path, my sister chose to carry her child for more than nine months and do the hardest thing any mom could be asked to do – allow someone else to raise her child. For this reason, she has since then been my greatest hero in life.
Posted by Debbie Millman at 12:53 AM