Dear Baby H – The Big News

Baby H is a series of occasional posts capturing some of the life moments that I am privileged to share with Baby H and her Mom & Dad, a young struggling family.  Her Mom “S” and I met through a school-based mentoring program when she was 8 and have been friends ever since.  Baby H was born 11 months after S graduated from high school.

Hey Little Miss H,

You and Mom & Dad just stopped by yesterday for a short Christmas visit.  It was a short visit since Mom’s Dad stayed out in the car and it is a very cold day, about 10 degrees out.  You look like you are growing well at almost eight months old and had way more fun crinkling the Christmas wrapping paper and pinching Mark’s cheek then checking out your new board book.  No worries.  Crinkling paper is a lot of fun and there will be plenty of hours at the shelter for Mom & Dad to read to you.

I had lost track of you for a bit when Mom lost her cell phone.  The last text I got from Mom was a request for a ride to the E.R.  She was having severe dental pain.   I was sitting in an airport ready to board a plane for a family trip to Jamaica for our nieces “destination wedding”.  I felt sad I couldn’t help.  The stark contrast of our worlds was not lost on me.

I heard from Mom again two weeks ago.   She has a new phone and your family has moved again.  I misunderstood your new place to be a friend’s house but it is a homeless shelter that takes families.  I see this as a blessing since you should have a bit more stability and there is staff there to help your Mom & Dad get on their feet to find work, housing and to learn how to manage a household and in the meantime to navigate through the crazy, complex human services system.  It gives me a bit more hope.

The Big News

1 – Mom is pregnant again.  You will have a new sibling before Mom’s 20th birthday and not too long after you turn one.  Babies are exciting but it is hard to know whether to cry or congratulate Mom & Dad.  Statistics say when a young woman has a baby at your Mom’s age the chance of the both of you living your whole lives in poverty is very high.  Add baby two and your chances for rising out of poverty are dismal.  Judging or being upset won’t change things.  I hold my breath and hope that your little family will rise above these statistics.  I remind myself that you are not a statistic and people are resilient and adaptable; nature designed us to succeed, especially babies.

2 – Mom & Dad are planning on getting married!  They seem to genuinely love each other and they definitely love you.   Love can be that magic ingredient to get you through.  One thing is for sure, raising babies with a Mom and a Dad is much easier than raising them alone.  Your Dad seems especially determined to be a good Dad which is encouraging to see.

3 – Mom says your Grampa is going to have heart surgery, maybe in February.  Grampa has asked Mom to be her medical power of attorney.  This means if something goes wrong, Mom is in charge of major decisions.  She is scared and is worried that her Dad won’t make it.  It’s a lot on Mom’s young shoulders.  When we walk you all back out to the car I thank Grampa for bringing you by to visit and wish him a Merry Christmas.  He says he’ll have his surgery at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and will be in very good hands.  He says his heart is thick from years of smoking.  I think he is in his mid-forties.

Your Grampa has always been kind to me and gracious about my being in your Mom’s life as her “Big Sister.”   I’ve never told him but I’m pretty sure I met your Grampa as a young child when I worked for Big Brother Big Sister when I was just out of college.  It’s weird how life’s circles interconnect.

Well – Merry Christmas little “H” and here’s hoping that 2014 brings many blessings into your life.

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