We are now an Aunt and Uncle
David’s sister called a while back.
“I have something to tell you,” she said. “I wanted you to be the first to know, so you wouldn’t hear it from someone else.”
He sat and waited. He took a deep breath and allowed exhaled thought and feeling in preparation of bad news.
“I’m pregnant,” she said, and with another breath he pulled everything he’d expelled back in, and he was happy. When he told Maria, she was happy too.
“I didn’t know how you would react,” she’d said. “I was hoping you’d be okay with it and not be sad.”
As though we could be sad because life was coming into the world! Sadness doesn’t come to us because a baby is born and we aren’t the parents. It comes for other reasons, in other ways. It comes at the park sometimes when we see the children playing together because our child isn’t playing with them. And it comes from the empty wait that has no sign of ending; with each day dimming our hopes and building our fears that the moment will come where we might find ourselves saying those words that terrify us: “Now, it is too late for us.” It doesn’t come from birth, however, nor life, nor the joy of others. We have too many other things to worry about in our lives, and see no point in poisoning the world with pettiness.
They called it “The Traveler” because Margie and Adam weren’t concerned with whether it was a boy or girl — there were more important things to think about. Was it healthy? Was it developing properly? Was it lacking any essential nutrients, and if so, what could be done about it? But they had to call it something, because we would chat constantly via WhatsApp through the family channel, and she would share sonograms, pictures of her growing belly, and complaints about having to climb three flights of stairs to their apartment. We had to refer to “it” as something other than “it”, and not assigning gender freed them from being harassed about assigning it a name as well. “It” became The Traveler, and the name was quickly broken in and became soft and comfortable to us from use. Margie talked about The Traveler often — and we would ask about it if she didn’t.
The doctors told Margie that The Traveler would arrive on January 19th. Perhaps someone should have informed The Traveler, because her water broke on December 22, the day before we were set to arrive at her house for Christmas. The Traveler was born a boy and he was given the name John Hayden, a joining of the names of his grandfathers.
He was a month early, cold and weak, and he couldn’t come home until he’d put on weight and the doctors were satisfied that his gears and cogs were running smoothly. He spent a while bathing in purple light to kill off the bilirubin in his system until his liver matured enough to handle the workload on its own. The doctors and nurses were pleased with his development, and they told us that all his issues were common, and even expected. We all worried, though. Worry was natural. The name of the room where he slept, the “Neonatal Intensive Care Unit” (NICU) sufficed to fill anyone with dread. However after visiting him in the NICU and seeing the other babies sharing his space, we understood why the staff was confident, and we were shamed by our selfish worry.
He came home quickly, immediately after we’d left for New York, and we constantly receive pictures from Margie through WhatsApp. He’s fattening up nicely, and any weakness from his early arrival has been banished by his healthy appetite. We can’t wait to see him again.
His name is John Hayden, but we’ll never stop calling him The Traveler.