My son-in-law’s text upended my overfull heart cup Tuesday morning August 27th when my daughter Leah brought our granddaughter into the world. My tears overflowed; Mary Rebecca Elizabeth Johnson was finally here. Her parents chose to give her a lovely, long name which seems appropriate; she look a long time to get here. She shares her name with Grandmas, great grandmas and aunties.
I’d arrived at the hospital on Monday evening around 6:30 p.m. to relieve my son-in-law and support Leah. After 19 long hours and my daughter’s valiant efforts to swim upstream through her contractions, Mary Becca was ultimately delivered via C-section. Leah’s been attended by a remarkable medical team from the beginning, given her history, and they rallied around like an amazing support system to usher Mary into the world. My daughter has had 5 miscarriages in the last 5 years and this pregnancy had been a long and emotional journey.
From the very beginning until we knew the baby was healthy and would come to full term, we held our breath, wondering if our dreams would come true.
And they had.Hours later on the drive home I turned on a favorite CD that Leah had given me, “Stages” by Josh Groban. Strains of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” began to play and I turned up the volume to sing along. I had to pull over while more tears came; I was nearly undone with joy. The waterworks were unleashed by one verse in particular,
“Someday I’ll wake and rub my eyes
And in that land beyond the skies
You’ll find me.”
It didn’t occur to me until a few days later that children born after a woman miscarries are called “Rainbow Babies,” so named because they are something amazing that appears after a dark and stormy time. How appropriate that Somewhere Over the Rainbow was the song that touched my soul so deeply.
When we stopped for a cold drink and a bite to eat, she told me there was something on her mind.
“Mom, I’m scared to have a girl.”
“Because I know how hard it is to be a girl. When I was a teenager you were working and I didn’t have you around to help me navigate things. Things like how to be a human being around boys. Stuff like that.”
She shared an online conversation she’d had with a girlfriend from high school, also a young mom. “You know, Leah,” the friend said, “I think the majority of women feel a little bit that way about their moms. I have a friend who once said, “I just want my mom’s top to be my bottom.” And it stuck with me. We just want to do better than they did. And that’s okay. We learn from their mistakes. Hopefully our kids will learn from ours and be even more successful parents than we are. Parenting is definitely not easy or clear cut in any way.’
Paraphrasing these words, Leah blessed me with this message on my birthday (via Facebook) a few weeks before Mary was born:
By God’s grace He’s smoothed out the rough edges of what was missing when I was growing up, helped us through the rocky lessons of life and redeemed every bit of it. You have passed on so many wonderful things along the way that have been enriching and meaningful to my life. Your love for Jesus, writing, reading, singing, dancing and carrying a tune, gardening and getting your hands dirty, creating and exploring, and always wanting to try new and exciting things.
Now here I am two weeks from giving birth to my own daughter, and I want to take all of those wonderful things, the ‘best of your top’ so to speak, and use it as the foundation for raising her the best I can. I will tell her how much Jesus loves her, read her stories from the Bible, sing songs from Broadway musicals at the top of my lungs while I clean the kitchen, show her how to plant some seeds and play in the mud. Thank you, Mom, for all your bests.”
The other day I thought about Mary, the mother of Jesus and her role in bringing redemption to the world.“God, that’s what you’re going to do with this Mary’s life, bring redemption. There was no coincidence in the naming of this new child. My daughter will raise her daughter and redeem all those things that were lost. The time, the opportunities, the conversations. All of it.”
Because God is a redeemer and restorer. That’s who He is and what He does.
Sometimes my daughter still can’t believe Mary is finally here; neither can we. As Leah sat on the couch nursing her new one last week, she looked up at me and said, “You know what Mom? I’m glad I had a girl.”
My heart did a small leap inside when I heard those words. God redeems everything, friends.
Everything. All He needs is time.