All wrapped up in perfect

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We come here helpless, vulnerable and yet perfect. Those were my thoughts as I looked down at the infant sleeping peacefully in my arms.

Barely a week old, she has the face of an angel, but then all week-old babies look like heavenly beings. Oh and the sweet smell of newborn skin defies description, a perfume only infants wear.

Her mother, my neighbor, sat nearby and said she is a good baby, only cries if she is hungry. I saw the love and pride in her eyes as she talked about her new baby daughter. She is deeply in love with this child, as she is with her other little girl, and it is a love affair for a lifetime.

Funny a week ago, my mother, via my oldest daughter, sent me a manila envelope and called later to make sure I got it. I told her I had it, but had not opened it yet.

She did not say what it contained, only that it held some “things” she thought I might like to keep. That night, I discovered one of those things was my baby book. I smiled as I read the record of my birth.

There were a couple of swatches of baby hair taped in place on one page, and pictures of me taken over the course of that first year or so. I looked at the tiny face, wrapping my head around the idea of that being me.

I read about the dates teeth appeared, when and what words I said first, gifts I got for Christmas and where I celebrated turning a year old. The adult me remembers none of these things, cannot recall the milestones like when I sat up, walked or spoke, but they happened to that little person looking up at me from the photos.

It’s amazing how much of what shapes us we don’t recall. Still those early impressions are with us deep in our brains, and perhaps have more to do with our adult responses to life’s situations than we realize.

The words we hear, the touches that communicate emotion, the safety or lack of it we feel early on all contribute to how we see and experience ourselves as grownups. We are blank slates that the people who come our way early in life write messages upon and they sink deep into our being.

For me, the messages contained lots of love. That is apparent in the baby book with its carefully recorded memories. Of course, like all humans I picked up other less than positive messages along the road from child to grownup, (we all do) but for the most part I knew love, safety, and the reality of having people who cared for me and made sure I grew up in a happy setting.

Lexie, the baby sleeping in my arms on a warm spring afternoon, will not have a memory of this experience. She will not recall the early months with her mother, Amy, whose every action speaks of unconditional love.

She will only know how excited and happy her father, Chris, was when she arrived through shared stories or maybe a baby book. Getting acquainted with big sister, Zoey, is something she will also know only because someone tells her about the experience.

We all come here, like Lexie, so vulnerable, yet so perfect. We are little bits of the divine sent into the world. When a baby comes into our lives, it is a blessing, a gift, and a privilege to have a part in shaping that life from the beginning.

Lexie will not remember her first days, but the love coming her way from so many people will stay with her and that is surely the most important thing she needs to grow into a happy person.