My parents waited until we had the chance to meet our baby brother at the hospital to finalize his name. They were stuck between Jordan and Christopher. They asked us which name we thought suited him better. Christopher. He was, he is a Christopher. We were in love with him from the moment we first laid our big sister eyes on him. He completed us- our sibling unit. As he grew, we would find boundless amusements in his antics, in his play. Like a little mommy, I was so proud of his every accomplishment- so proud to introduce him as "my brother." Above all of the bits and pieces, the numerous adventures and experiences that have built his person- I am most proud of his talent to connect with people, to engage people/ strangers in conversation- to make all feel welcome.
I will never forget the day that my mother brought Christopher, then 12 years old (Henry's age) to visit me in my new apartment. I was pregnant with First Born Son, soon to be married to The Mr. and we hadn't yet told Christopher that I was pregnant. He was still so young, I was young- I worried about how he would feel about me. He was seated next to me on my couch, " I have something to tell you. I am going to have a baby." His face lit up, "I'm going to be an uncle?! Yay!" It was this singular expression that brought me the greatest sense of peace and comfort for the journey I was embarking on. And, he has continued to be supportive, gladly accepting, supremely thoughtful of each nephew and niece that has entered his life.
In December, he announced that he was going to be a father. At the time, his relationship with his baby's mother (whom we all respect and love dearly) was uncertain- his life was far from "settled." We worried how a baby would impact their lives. I worried as a mother worries- experienced in situations that are challenging to the spirit, wanting for her young not to repeat the same struggles that she had endured. But, at the same time, with an open heart, open arms, we were all ready to embrace them, support them, catch them if they stumbled, and rejoice with them.
On Saturday, July 9th, my family members paced the floors of our respective homes. My nephew was coming into the world. We sent strings of text messages between our houses- buzzing with anticipation. It is so difficult to be separated from my sister who lives in Las Vegas with her family. I longed for her to be here- to hold my hand, to dance with me with nervous energy, to celebrate. My mother held off on going to the hospital as long as she could for fear of intruding. But the labor was so long. And "any minute now" became a marathon of hours. It was troublesome for my mother- she had been in the room for the birth of First Born Son, she knew how to support her daughters through the hardship of labor. But, this was her baby boy. My mother could hear in his voice that he just wanted his mother near, if not in the labor room- certainly in the same building. She sent updates- which I relayed to my sister. And we both ached to be there. The Aunties sending love, hope, wishes of peace and comfort from both coasts of the United States. And then finally, a text from my mother, two words, "He's here!" followed by a text from my brother, one word " Rowan!" and the most beautiful picture of a smushy- faced newborn boy, a little Christopher. My nephew.
|My mother holding Rowan, her 7th grandchild, upon our first introductions to him.|
Having gone through the recovery process four times before, I knew that those first days are precious. You are exhausted, you are bonding, you are learning how to nurse. A steady stream of visitors disrupts the quiet that is so essential to connect. I wanted to be conscientious of their abbreviated time in the hospital. But, an invitation to meet my new nephew was extended and I could not resist. To feel the weight of this boy in my arms, to inhale his new baby smell, to take in all of the familiar features of his face (he looks, of course, like his parents, but I see all of us in him) is to feel pure joy. Rowan Audio (the middle name an homage to my brother's love of sound, of music) melts my heart. To see my brother, a new father with his baby fills me with a warmth I never could have imagined. It has been like Christmas in July. Just as Christopher made us feel complete as a family unit- Rowan is that missing piece which finishes our circle.