I am a sniffly mess, so I avoided work today (who wants a sneezy, drippy co-worker spraying germs everywhere?) and worked from home. Kind of. I also took myself out to lunch. I needed a steak. I brought my work, and was surprisingly productive.
There was a couple at the table next to me – two women, and a brand new little baby. It is my luck and my curse that I meet people wherever I go. We started chatting. And I walked out of that restaurant 45 minutes later knowing that this meeting was not something I was going to forget – knowing it would be on my mind for days. My heart was touched.
They weren’t a couple, they were friends out for a birthday lunch. Rebecca was married with kids. Cara was not. The little boy was Rebecca’s. He was just beautiful, bright-eyed, calm and perfect. He was her 5th child. She had had 4 biological children, and had miscarried twice – at 18 and 20 weeks. Her youngest, Ben, had been born with microcephaly – basically, his brain had never developed. They hadn’t had any ultrasounds – by choice, not by circumstance – but she had had an inkling that something wasn’t quite right. He was expected to live only days. He lived 8 years. He died 12 days after my own little boy was born.
During his life, Ben’s medical needs were great. He spent long periods in the hospital, care was needed 24 hours a day. When he died, Rebecca signed up to provide foster care for medically fragile kiddos. She had the experience, and the desire. Five weeks ago she got the call – only it wasn’t exactly what she was expecting. There was a baby available – for adoption. He had been born at a local hospital, and mom and dad left after delivery. He was considered a Safe Haven baby – under state law here, babies up to 7 days old can be left at any hospital, church, police or fire station. He was the first Safe Haven baby in my state in 20 years.
With one day’s notice, Rebecca and her family had a new family member. And he is amazing. Given the crazy circumstances surrounding his birth, she is certain her little boy Ben had a hand in it. I’m not big on fate. But I do believe it is our connections with one another that make us the most human.
I left with my heart full but heavy. I am sick, I am pregnant, it is raining. Thoughts spun around in my head. I thought about miscarriages and held my breath and tried to feel the carbonation kicks in my belly that I started feeling a week ago. I thought about our upcoming ultrasound, and all of the things that can go wrong. I thought about the depth of a mom’s love – caring for her little boy every minute of his short life. I thought about another mom’s love – knowing she was unequipped or simply unable to give her little boy the life she thought he deserved – the strength and cowardice it took to walk out of that hospital. I thought about how families are created, how they are strengthened, how they can nearly fall apart. And I felt lucky, not only for the boy, baby, husband, family, friends and life that I have, but also for those small connections that show us the best in each other and join us to one another.