Welcoming our precious little niece

The phone rings. My new niece has been born! I can’t wait to meet her. So as soon as I’ve made dinner for my husband and sons, I grab the car keys and head out the door.
As I pull onto the highway, I remember another night a few years ago when I made this same drive, heading downtown to the hospital to meet my sister and brother-in-law’s baby. That time, though, I was making the trip to hold Georgie, their son who passed away in utero at 34 weeks.
Tonight I drive down to meet Georgie’s baby sister, his parents’ third child. And though Georgie’s first little sister has healed our hearts in ways that were impossible to imagine that fall day in 2013 when we said goodbye to Georgie, tonight it’s not my adorable toddler niece but Georgie who is on my mind.
I park in the same parking garage, board the same elevator, cross the same bridge, check in at the same security desk.

Everything is the same yet completely different.
I walk down the hall to their room, turn a corner and go through the wrong door. There’s my brother-in-law, laughing in surprise as I come out of a door that he thought went to a closet. My sister is there, tired but smiling. The new baby is down the hall for bloodwork—but soon enough she is back, pushed into the room in a rolling bassinet.
She’s gorgeous. She’s wearing a sweet little knit pink hat her Grandma made for her, and she’s all swaddled up. A perfect baby girl, a gift from God, the answer to so many prayers.
I find myself thinking of Georgie. That night I held him in the hospital room, I felt I was telling him goodbye—for now. But he is so much a part of our lives. Our sons talk about him and ask about him. “How old would Georgie be now?” “Can we go to the cemetery today?” We know he’s in heaven. We talk to him and know we’ll see him again.
“I wish we could go to heaven and then come back,” my son said one day this week. “Then we would know what it was like.”
Don’t we all? But sitting here in a hospital room, gazing at a baby—my little niece, my goddaughter—who was born just hours earlier, I can’t think of anywhere else I want to be.

My sister says I can hold this little beauty. I lift her out of the bassinet and sit with her in my arms, a warm little nugget, wrapped and cuddled and sweet. She’s mellow and at peace. She peeks at me through narrow eyelids and then closes them again. She yawns and tastes the air with her mouth. I can’t take my eyes off of her. I look at her ears, her eyelashes, her pursed ruby lips, her little chin, her nose.
“I think she has the Sullivan ears,” I joke, “and the Beyer eyebrows.” We laugh because who knows and why does it matter? She looks like herself.
And we can’t wait to get to know her.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.