December 28th, 2020
“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting. Not in entire forgetfulness, and not in utter nakedness, but trailing clouds of glory do we come.”
– William Wordsworth
“There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” -Luke: 2:36-38
“And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.” – Genesis 30:13
The young woman is tired. This comes as no surprise. She and I went to St. Joseph Hospital yesterday to pick up the girl’s baby boy, Asher, who was finally well enough to leave the NICU. The young woman had been waiting almost four weeks for her son to come home to her. Once we got Asher into the house, things got busy.
The young woman was well aware that an infant, especially one who is still not full term, is a lot of work. She knew that between feeding and changing the boy, she would get a very limited amount of sleep. Knowing that is not the same as actually experiencing it. This morning the young woman could feel the fatigue. I could see it in her face.
Karin has been trying to help with caring for Asher. Sometimes her efforts have simply caused friction between herself and the young woman. I have tried to maintain a respectful distance. I can do some things with a baby, like change its diapers. However, when the conversation turns to breast feeding and related topics, I acknowledge my limitations.
Karin is not completely over the after effects of the COVID, so she can only do so much before she becomes exhausted. I try to help Karin when she is trying to help the young woman. I made Karin breakfast this morning, and I offered to hold Asher while Karin ate her French toast.
I do know how to hold a baby. That much I can do. I held Asher in my arms, cradling his tiny head with one hand. I swayed back and forth with him in my arms. I would tell him softly, “It’s okay. It’s okay.”
Asher never opened his eyes. He made quiet mewing sounds once in a while. Otherwise, he just slept while I held on to him. His breathing was rapid. His heart rate more so. He didn’t fuss at all.
Asher is so small, so fragile. On the other hand, he is remarkably resilient. He arrived in our world seven weeks too soon, but he has been strong enough to grow and thrive. He’s still thin, but he is slowly filling out. While I held Asher, I can feel the heat radiating from his little body. I could feel the life force within him. He is probably more alive than I am. He’s just starting the journey. I am closer to the end.
Asher spends his time eating, sleeping, and shitting. That seems to be an age appropriate lifestyle.
He is doing exactly what he needs to do.