Lost & Found: A Story About Love
She was born 13 weeks early. Weighed less than two pounds. With pinkish skin. No fat. And a fuzzy head the size of a tennis ball. Wires and tubes spiked her tiny body. (I dubbed her “Spider-Baby.”) Her chances of survival? Flip a coin.
The question for me wasn’t so much, “Would she survive?” but “Could I love her?”
Yup. It was. Let me explain …
Love means letting down your guard. Lowering shields. Opening up. That leaves you vulnerable. Unprotected. Exposed to the possibility of pain. Immense pain. (It hurts to lose a loved one. Losing a stranger? Not at all.)
There wasn’t much time to decide. Spidey might not make it through the night. How do you make a decision like that? I didn’t know. Would you?
But first, a little background.
Rachel, my middle child, was pregnant. It would be the first grandbaby for my wife and I. Things seemed to be going well, though the last time I saw Ray-Ray (one of my pet nicknames for her) she didn’t look well. She’d gone to the beach and was radish-red. Her ankles were swollen; her face, puffy. She looked tired and uncomfortable.
A doctor’s visit was in order, but her obstetrician (a woman) was less than sympathetic. In fact, she accused Rachel of using her pregnancy to try and get out of work. (An absurd idea if you knew my daughter, a notoriously hard worker, even as a kid.)
Unsurprisingly, Ray-Ray soon ended up in an emergency room in St. Petersburg, Florida, only to be sent across the Bay (via ambulance) to a woman’s hospital in Tampa. She’d been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia—a potentially dangerous pregnancy complication.
The doctor-on-call that day was an intense, wiry, no-nonsense Italian from New York who knew how to make tough decisions quick. He walked into her room, carrying a chart, and said, “I’m not liking what I’m seeing here. ... We might just have this baby tonight.”
While nurses prepped Rachel for a C-section, my wife and I went to the hospital chapel where I shared with her a Bible verse, 2 Timothy 1:12: “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” As we left the chapel, I saw a tract with a lamb on the cover. That reminded me that Rachel’s name meant “little lamb” in Hebrew. I picked up the tract. Inside its glossy pages were the words: “The Lord is my shepherd...” And He was.
The wait-game began.
Intensity and fear worked with anxiety to twist time. Elongate it. Distort it.
Had it been an hour since Ray-Ray went to surgery? Or was it a minute? I couldn’t say.
Finally, we got word: Rachel was OK, but the baby was in the neo-natal intensive care unit. (They’d named her Kenedie, which means “noble warrior.”)
As you’ve probably guessed, I’d decided to love the scrawny Spidey-girl encased in the clear, plastic cube. Never has such a tiny heart captured such a big lug.
Kenedie turns 16 today (April 17). I plan to love her as long as my heart continues to beat. I’m embarrassed and ashamed that I even considered withholding my love. But sometimes welcoming a person into your life, means losing a bit of yourself. It’s a big price to pay—but it’s worth it.