Having Rebekah has been perhaps the most emotional, and emotionally confusing, experience of my still-short life. On the one hand, there is a great joy and wonder. A new life has come into this world, a new life that is in some sense mine. I look at my tiny premature daughter and there are feelings which I can’t quite put words to, mythical feelings of fatherhood, of protectiveness and delight. Yet at the same time, there are other feelings – grief, and an overwhelming fear – at her helpless state. I suppose every life is fragile, but its not philophizing about life in general that concerns me. It is my daughter’s life, so uncertain because of her early exit from her mother, that brings home to me in a way I’ve never experienced before the uncertainty of tomorrow.
It snowed yesterday, and I found myself dreaming about a year from now when I might take my little girl, all bundled up, to relish the fat flakes which drifted from the sky. Yet as I dreamed, I felt something in me recoil. It was like the guards on the bulwarks I’ve erected around my heart were calling out, warning me that I was on uncertain ground, that the enemy might strike at any moment and snatch her away. They called for me to retreat back to the safety of their walls of cynicism and fatalism. I could barely dare to hope, because at any moment I knew my hope could be taken from me.
This struggle to hope has characterized my days since Rebekah’s birth. There are beautiful moments. The first time I touched her hair, stroking it, I wept in gratitude over her isolette. Yet those moments are hard to keep; they are quickly overwhelmed by the terror that we might receive a midnight call from the neonatal intensive care unit and I might be plunged again beneath the torrent of grief. Continue reading