Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Miller Family's Angels

My baby talks to angels. She chatters with them, laughs at them, and plays with them. As she turns one this week, I hope she will continue to interact with angels well into her second year. I like to think that all babies are capable of perceiving spiritual beings. I never noticed this phenomenon in my first three children.

She truly is a magical child, with deep, soulful eyes. She looks at paintings so intently that you half believe the pictures will come to life and she could pop into them, as in C.S. Lewis’ “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”.

It may be that I myself had not been spiritual enough to see what was going on. If any of the first three had seen angels, I was never aware of it. I never had been “into” angels until the few years leading up to my fourth child’s conception. My husband and I decided to purchase a print for our bedroom. He was drawn to the cupid portion of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. He said the cupids reminded him of our children. Inexplicably, friends and family then started giving us angels as gifts.

I finally realized that these gifts of angels must have some significance for me. I had been really scared about having this baby. I had gestational diabetes with the third pregnancy, resulting in an almost-ten-pounder. For this reason along, the doctors had my file red-flagged from the beginning.

I voraciously read all I could about diabetes and pregnancy. I exercised and kept to a diet high in fiber, magnesium, and complex carbs, and low in refined sugars, baked goods, and processed foods. The early sugar tests came back and I was feeling really proud of myself. Then a revised reading came back on my first sonogram.

Over the telephone, the nurse practitioner told me they had found a placenta previa. Not knowing what this was, I immediately went to my encyclopedia, then to the internet. I found that there were three types: marginal, partial, and complete. Complete was the worst, with the placenta completely covering the cervix, making a normal delivery impossible. Partial stood for the placenta partially covered the cervix, leading to a “wait and see” approach with the doctors. Marginal meant the placenta was near to, but not touching, the cervix. The complete and partial could cause bleeding and subsequent bedrest and most likely a caesarean.

I would not know what type I had until my next appointment; but I assumed the worst. I thought I was going to die of hemorrhage. I am not kidding. I purchased a life insurance policy for myself. I made all preparations for the children to be placed in a good school the following year (I had been homeschooling up to this point). I organized my paperwork. I reestablished some broken family relationships.

My previa was marginal, and the “wait and see” approach continued throughout the entire pregnancy. Gestational diabetes never did show up. Each sonogram looked a little better, with the placenta gradually migrating toward the top of the womb. Finally, a week before the birth, the doctor said, “Everything looks great. No caesarian for you.”

It was the easiest birth of them all. I wish I could say she was my easiest child. This one made sure she got her share of the attention! It wound up for the best that the children were in school in the fall. If my eyes weren’t on her, my arms around her, my complete focus on her, she would holler for me.

She would nurse several times per night. I got used to walking around in the dark. When I brought her to my bed, I could see her grasping at things in the air. When she started to babble, she would talk to the mid-air objects. With my lack of sleep, maybe I was more given to feeling the presence of the “other” myself. But I felt the presence of angels.

In March of this year, we were in a freak car accident. I had just parked at the post office, in a parking lot spot adjacent to the street. I was about to unbuckle my seatbelt, when I saw a white minivan jump the sidewalk and FLY through the air off the main road directly toward the windshield of my minivan. I ducked in the direction of the baby, who was in the seat behind the front passenger’s seat. I braced myself and got ready to meet my Maker.

Like a curveball, the white minivan magically curved so that it hit the rear driver’s side. I felt my vehicle lift up, then was brought to rest against another parked car to my right. The baby’s car seat slammed against the side of the vehicle as the car came down. She screamed a scared cry. I was able to get out, with the baby, through the driver’s side window.

All I could think of was the baby, the baby, I hope she’s alright. Not even thinking about myself, I got into the ambulance with her. At the hospital and later the pediatrician, she was declared to be fine. I suffered muscle injuries that had to be treated with physical therapy for several months, but thankfully I was able to walk away from that accident.

If anything had been different – if I had unbuckled my seatbelt, gotten out of the car, or had another passenger in the car – we would not have fared well. I do believe angels guided that other vehicle to hit mine in exactly the location that would enable us all to escape alive.

Since then I have been even more aware of the baby’s relationship with her angels. She babbles in the middle of the night, in the darkness, with the cadence of English conversation. It is pure enjoyment for her.

I wonder if a baby’s ability to see angels comes from their sense of unity with Creation. With the discovery of one’s “self” as separate from “other”, I wonder if something gained results in something lost. When she finally knows herself as “I” will she stop seeing the angels?

Why does Mary typically appear to children? She herself must have been “like a child” – Joseph as well – as the angels appeared in full form to them. Jacob fought with an angel in a dream. The disciples walked with angels who appeared as men.

I do think some people are chosen to see the divine. Only if they can retain that special quality of a child will they keep that gift.

“…Out of the mouths of infants and nurslings you have brought forth Praise..” Matt. 21:16

“At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, ‘Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kindgdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.’”
Matthew 18:1-5

Painting above left:
ALBANI, Francesco. Holy Family1630-35
Oil on canvas, 57 x 43 cm

Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

1 comment:

Loren Christie said...

I never read this beautiful! I had a similar situation with the third, not diabetes, but partial previa. Like you said, the placenta shifted. It may have caused an unexplained hemorrage at 12 weeks. I am fascinated by angels, I'm sure you can tell by the cherubs scattered throughout my home decor.