Day 116 and a baby girl has been born and her name is Sage, wise one. And all is well in this small corner of the world in the time of coronavirus. Each day in the presence and knowledge of the cherub’s arrival in my life, I, her grandmother, feel blessed for the birth of a baby in challenging times does feel like a precious gift, something to be celebrated and attended to. During the week of her birth and the one that followed I went silent, letting my journal lapse. I needed time to process the momentous event, to sink deeper into its wake. I was exhausted too and needing early bedtimes, not sitting up late on wintery nights writing up my journal.
It was a busy time. There was the time before her arrival staying with the family and then caring for my grandson when his mother went, first into hospital, and then to the birthing unit nestled in the folds of the green hills of Warkworth. The following day I took my grandson to meet his sister. Straight onto the bed he went to hug his mama, and then to hold Sage in his lap, his voice lifting to a higher pitch as he repeated, ‘I love her. I love her,’ I watched him kiss her forehead and then give her skin a quick lick to see what she tasted like. Beautiful.
My cousin had sent gifts for them both and Remy clasped his present, a monkey wheat bag calling it Bravo, although the name keeps changing. He has a gift for naming. On arriving home Bravo was placed with care on a cushion to sleep and covered with table mats to keep her warm. At bedtime Bravo lay near him on a pillow under the duvet. As I was leaving the room he said, ‘I love this baby. It can talk!’ The inanimate object, unlike his sister obviously. He’s a character.
Meeting my grand-daughter for the first time, holding her, feeling her smallness, her softness, my heart melted. The feeling was one of wonder as I looked upon the dark, dark eyes of the newborn and marvelled at the miracle and mystery of nature and reproduction. I thought of how people sometimes say of a new baby he or she is an ‘old soul’ and I felt that. She arrives with many of her qualities already set in her DNA, she arrives bearing a fascinating mix of family resemblances, characteristics and quirks yet to be revealed, she arrives with her human potential intact within her and awaiting development. Where will she go? Who will she be?
Thinking upon this some more I am reminded of Margaret Mahy and her answer to my question on the birth of her first child Penny for my book 'Her Life’s Work'. Her thoughts were profound.
“It was one of the most astonishing moments of my life because you look at the baby and think, on the one hand you are meeting her for the first time and on the other you have lived very intimately with her inside you, and suddenly there she is. Implicit in this baby are quite a lot of the things she is going to be. Her appearance is established, you don’t know whether she is going to be academic or sporting, but somewhere in her those capacities are contained.
I think when you first see your baby there is that feeling of, ‘I knew it was you. I knew it was you all the time,’ even though we were meeting for the first time. It was just such a huge magical feeling of fulfilment and I remember that very clearly. And I remember that on the one hand they lie there with only their relatively brief pasts, but somehow or other the future is implicit in them as they lie there and all sorts of possibility, and of course you immediately love them. You did before they were born, but when you see the actual baby your love takes on a specific shape and form and there’s an oddity that I’m seeing this baby for the first time and yet I already know it.
And it was the same sense of wonder with the second baby, Bridget, too but there was more confidence because I’d done it before.”