A Newborn Grandchild
Wednesday - November 30, 2011
When was the last time you cuddled a 3-week-old baby of your own lineage? As I was recently reminded, it’s the most awesome confirmation of the miracle of human life.
Baby Charlotte is our newest grandchild No. 9. We have just returned from helping the new mom and dad negotiate the first month of tending to new baby and her 3-year-old sibling Emma. OK, you may be thinking this is just going to be a brag fest on grandchildren, but I assure you it’s really about something greater than a granddad’s pride or vanity. Although I must admit that had we known grandchildren could be so much fun, we would have had them first. The following observations derive from a week (three weeks for my wife Susan) of an up-close and personal relationship with little Charlotte: diapering, feeding, burping, rocking, soothing and bathing, in a repetitive cycle of total vulnerability and dependence.
The first miracle is the sucking reflex, common to most mammals, of course, as we’ve learned from puppies, kittens and calves (ever have a calf suck on your entire hand?). But without it the entire chain of human and mammalian procreation would be stymied. When Charlotte was hungry you could tease the bottle’s nipple (or Mommy’s, but that was just between her and Mommy) around her lips and she would pursue it voraciously until when finally connected her little eyes would roll back in sublime gratification.
And speaking of eyes, what fun to watch her simply learn to focus her little dark-blue eyes on a bright color or my moving fingers in front of her face, or to track my finger from one side to the other, moving her eyes and finally turning her head. And there’s that smug satisfaction of a job well-done when after sucking down 3 or 4 ounces of a 5-ounce bottle and she starts to fuss because of a gas bubble, and you heft her up a little bit over your shoulder and pat her firmly on the back until that ol’ bubble comes storming up “Brrrupp!” And then, more feeling than hearing her little sigh of relief as she relaxes into my chest, instantly in slumber.
And speaking of relief, watching her sheer joy in feeling the freedom of a naked bottom while her messy diaper is being changed. And that’s all the detail I’ll mention on that part of the experience.
But the real frosting on the baby cake is simply watching her sleep, especially her little facial expressions: now a smile ... now a frown? ... or maybe a look of perplexment, or maybe the reflection of some happy memory from where she’s just been? Tiny fingers resting upon her pudgy cheeks each fingernail, each wrinkled knuckle a perfect miniature of her mother’s. And I feel her little miniature heart beating, and see the corresponding pulse at the crown of her head. I imagine her tiny organs, miniature replicas of her mom’s and dad’s. I can actually feel the flexibility in her already growing bones, especially in her hands as she reflexively grasps my fingers and holds them tightly.
As I reflect upon the miracle of this brand-new tiny human being, Charlotte, my thoughts naturally go to her Creator, of my Creator, of the wondrous Creator of each and every one of us. And as I write this the day before Thanksgiving, tomorrow I will be giving Him my deepest thanks and praise for my miniscule role and that of my family’s in His eternally awesome Creation.
I hope y’all (I’m now in Texas) had a familyful, thoughtful and prayerful Thanksgiving too!
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