The opposite of fear

Yesterday we celebrated my new godchild’s baptism.  Matt and I were so honored to be asked to be the godparents of Magdalene Catherine.

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She was baptized in our beautiful church with most of our family there.  The baptismal gown she wore was worn by all four of my big girlies and it was so special to me that baby Maggie could wear it too.  I love Magdalene’s name, a beautiful name for a beautiful child.  Another of our great aunts, Magdalen, was a sweet woman who everyone called “Mac”.  Anna’s little Magdalene was also named after Anna’s very good friend who is called “Maggie” though so we call our Magdalene “Maggie”.

Valencia was supposed to be baptized yesterday along with Maggie but she’s still in the hospital.  At the end of mass Father R mouthed to us “You’re next!”  I can’t wait!  Baby Valencia is doing great.  She couldn’t come home last week because she caught a little cold from Mae who visited her the day before coming down with a cold herself and I didn’t know she was full of stinky germs.  Dangit.  It set Valencia back another week.  You can see her here absolutely loving on HER SISTER.  Even now when I’m talking about Valencia, if Mae hears me from afar she will yell out, “That’s MY SISTER!  I hode her!”

We are still so thankful for no major issues.  She is now 5 lbs. 13 oz.  She just had some trouble with a runny nose, not growing as quickly as they would like, couldn’t keep her body temp. up and had some of those periodic breathing episodes which caused her O2 saturation to go down.  I really believe Valencia has been protected in her inability to come home.  Whether it’s from her sister looking out for her or what I don’t know.  But three times she was slated to come home and the night before or the morning of, she would exhibit some small thing that was just enough to keep her there.  Some say the nurses just love her so much they don’t want her to go.  I’d like to believe that 🙂  This last time we really, really thought she was coming home and I even called late the night before and by all accounts she was doing perfectly and hadn’t had any of those “stop breathing” episodes for days.  Then when I called in the morning the nurse was sorry to tell me that Valencia had some of those episodes early that morning and they even had to stimulate her to start breathing again.  She usually gets herself out of them on her own.  This was prior to the start of her cold so it made sense and she was giving us warning signs that she wasn’t ready.  Part of me gets pretty upset since I really want my baby HOME.  At this point I can’t even imagine her being here!  But mostly I’m so grateful that she didn’t come home too soon where something terrible could have happened, such as a her stopping breathing when I didn’t know it.  I don’t have a monitor here so I would not have known!  Also, Polly ended up having strep last week so again, I do believe Valencia has been protected and for that I am so thankful.

Valencia is so very nice to snuggle and cuddle with.  I am trying to appreciate things like being alone with her.  Rather that hate it that she’s at the hospital, I enjoy my ALONE time with her, which will likely never happen again when she is home.  Rather than curse the drive time I am thankful I’m not having to drive to Mpls like Pete and Nellie (By the way, my nephew, baby Benedict is doing REALLY well too!!  Praise God!).  Rather than get angry about her not being home, I thank God for caring nurses and doctors who are so cautious with my girl.

I tell everyone that Valencia is so sweet, her nurses always say it too.  Her demeanor is just sweet and precious.  I’m sure when she gets home and has to compete with the other crazies for my attention that might change but for now I’m enjoying the sweet snuggles.  She smiles ALL OF THE TIME.

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I always ask her if she’s talking to her sister.  It seems as though she’s contented by someone or something and I like to believe her sister is with her.  More than ever these days I look down and Valencia is making a face or doing something that reminds me of Laurencia.  I didn’t think she looked like her at first but now I see it all of the time.  I told my friend Tracy that as Valencia grows up and changes it will be sad for me because it’s as if I’m losing another part of Laurencia.  It’s hard to explain but as Valencia grows and moves out of the baby stage, it’s a reminder that Laurencia never will.  I’m not sure how to describe this feeling but that’s the best I’ve got.  I try to hold in my memory every little part of Laurencia that I can.  This week I finally called the funeral home to ask them for the little outfit that Laurencia wore from the hospital to the funeral home.  It was one of two preemie outfits from my friend Angie.  I was very much looking forward to having it back, it was the only thing she wore besides her hats that I would have.  Sadly, they threw it away.  I tried so hard not to get upset because it just wouldn’t do any good.  The clothing is just a thing, I know, but it meant something to me.  I wanted so much to hold it again.  She’s wearing it in my favorite photo of her.

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And it’s gone.  Like her, gone.  When things like that happen these days I am usually pretty quick to figure out a way to not let it paralyze me.  Maybe I’m just being overly practical since I have to move quickly between visiting Valencia and picking up/dropping off Mae and there is no time to be sad.  Maybe.  And maybe some day I will just let myself be sad.

The Gospel reading yesterday was about faith.  We were told the story:  “The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”  Lk 17: 5-10.  When I was a very little girl I was given a necklace by my aunt Kathy for my first communion.  The charm on the necklace was a tiny mustard seed encapsulated in a protective shell.  The box held a small paper which said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible unto you.”  Mt 17:20.  Believe it or not, I still have it, 30 years later.  The seed is still in there, though the glass is cloudy now.

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I was always somewhat awed by that necklace.  At first I didn’t get it.  That’s it?  THAT small?  That’s not much faith.  It’s practically none.  It’s just a teeeensy tinsey speck right?  How could THAT much faith be enough for anything let alone moving mountains or uprooting trees?  But despite my doubts I always clung to those words and remembered them.  There have been so many times in my life where I didn’t think my faith was or could ever be enough, times when I have doubted and worse, times when I have feared, when even the mustard seed seemed giant compared to what I had to offer in terms of faith.  During his homily yesterday in talking about faith our priest described that in his view the opposite of faith is not doubt but rather, fear.

Never in my life have I experienced fear as I have this year.  During the pregnancy I would tell people that I never lost faith and that I never would.  I know for certain I repeated that several times.  But the night before the girls were born I remember the absolute overwhelming feeling of fear and knowing it was not Godly.  My whole being was taken up by the fear and the only thing I could do or muster was a teeensy tinsey prayer and allow everyone else to have faith for us.  Little bitty words.  That was all I had of my own making to combat the fear that threatened to swallow me whole.  And you know what?   It was enough.  Just like Jesus promised.

I still have fears that I won’t ever be a good enough mother to Laurencia, that I will forget how she felt, that I will not make it to heaven to see her again.  I fear for and about things happening here too, things about our kids and home and jobs and being a good enough mother and wife.  So many worries and so many fears.  I fear that I may never crack the seemingly indecipherable codes the health insurance company and hospital billing departments have conspired to create (I will not give up!).  I fear that I won’t be a good enough example to all of my precious godchildren: Katrina (the younger), Makenna, Alexis, Roman and now Magdalene.  I fear that I will forget the lessons God has been trying to teach me during this time.  But I cling to God’s promise that the tiniest bit of faith can overcome the greatest of fears.  I might not be moving any mountains tomorrow, but at least I know I could if I wanted.

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