Today my younger sister gave birth to her fourth daughter. Yes, you read that right, girl number four. (I posted about this last summer when I first learned of her pregnancy.)
I had complicated feelings about it back then, and though I’m excited and happy, there’s still a twinge of something there.
My sister and her husband have, if not more money than G-d, then they’re at least in the ballpark. Partly because of this, I was at a loss about a gift for this new arrival. In addition, as this one is the fourth girl, they have everything they need, and really don’t want very much more “stuff.” I decided to do a cross stitch project (this is the crafty project I had mentioned before) to welcome my new niece, as the value isn’t really in the price-tag, and it’s not something they have already. Now, as I decided to start on it rather late in the game (sometime last month, ahem), it’s not finished yet, and I’ve been spending every spare moment working on it. This is what I’ve got so far:(The baby’s name and birth date are to go in the big blank spot above the bear. Here’s what it should look like, more or less.) In the middle of working on this I learned of Wiseguy’s loss. The thought has kept returning to me throughout this project—what if the baby dies? What do I do with all this stitching if something goes wrong?
Some would call this morbid. The thought wouldn’t even occur to others. Thanks to my own fertility struggles and to getting to know so many in the ALI world, I no longer take it for granted that pregnancies happen easily, that they all progress without incident, and that all babies who are born survive.
This does two things to me. I stand in wonder sometimes that people get pregnant and have babies and nothing goes wrong. I also stand in judgment, a bit, of those who still live in the world where nothing ever goes wrong, and the thought never occurs to them (at least it seems to me) that anything ever could. I’m not especially proud of that last one, and I don’t feel it all the time, but it’s definitely there.
The main thing that all that knowledge leaves me with is a sense that we’re never quite out of the woods. And, of course, we’re not. Miscarriages happen, and babies die, and children die, and adults die and all of us get hurt and sick, some much worse than others. It is a dangerous and unjust world we live in, but it is also a world of beauty and hope and love.
I am not proud of the part of me that gets haughty and self-righteous in the face of others’ blessings. At the same time, I don’t want to live in that world where I am in ignorant bliss of others’ pain and loss. What I want is to take this feeling of fragility and lead it in the direction of appreciation and thankfulness rather than anger and judgment.