Monday, February 23, 2009

Good Things Come in Small Packages

Who is Lindsay?

That’s what I keep asking myself. I hear the name in conversation, and it sounds familiar, but my mind can’t seem to place it. After a few seconds, it finally registers:

Lindsay is my newborn niece.

For the last nine months, the idea that my brother was having his first child was surreal. Sure, I saw the sonogram pictures, and my sister-in-law was sporting a stomach at Thanksgiving, but still, it seemed so…theoretical. I never fully comprehended that there’d be an actual person to come from all of this.

It didn’t help that the parents-to-be wanted to keep the gender a secret, lovingly referring to the baby-in-womb as “Papoose” and “Abu” – not exactly names that conjure the image of a little boy or girl.

The reality of the situation didn’t strike me until I got the call that my sister-in-law was going to be induced. Within hours, I was at the hospital with my parents, awaiting the arrival of our newest family member. This was really going to happen.

But Lindsay wasn’t ready to come out yet. And really, can you blame her? She had a pretty nice setup in there: she got to float around with no responsibilities; she had all the food and drink she needed; she could take a nap if she felt like it. It was like a leisurely, 40-week tubing trip down the Guadalupe River.

Come to think of it, I’d reserve a spot in my mother’s uterus right now if I could.

Finally, though, the doctors had to go in and get her. At 8:40am on Saturday, February 14, 2009, Lindsay Madison Flayhart Stoller made her entrance into the world. Named for her two great-grandmothers, you know that Lois and Martha – along with the rest of our family tree – were there watching over her, making sure she and her mother were safe.

When my brother came out of the operating room, bubbling over with his it’s-a-girl excitement, and my parents began crying for joy, I could tell that things were forever changed.

Like a presidential inauguration, there was a transfer of power in our family, and Lindsay was now the commander in chief.

Over the next couple of days, we just sat around the hospital, taking turns holding her and posing for pictures. Everything she did – every sound, every expression – was celebrated. Even her first diaper change was a momentous occasion, with the whole family gathered around the table like she was performing a magic trick. I may have even gotten it on video.

Lindsay, you better be nice to me, because I’ve got some outstanding rehearsal dinner footage.

A seven-pound football swaddled in a blanket, I couldn’t get over how tiny she was. Her hands, her feet, her hat…everything was so small. But that didn’t stop people from saying who they thought she resembled. To me, she just looked like, well, a baby. Adorable, yes; but still, just a baby.

She’d only been alive for eight hours…how could she possibly look like anyone at this point?

Having never held a newborn before, I was both excited and nervous when my turn in the batting order came up. I hadn’t been this worried about dropping something since being handed the Torah at my Bar Mitzvah. My mother only ramped up the tension by imploring me to “support the head,” as if it might actually fall off and roll down the hallway.

While I knew I’d be “Uncle Brent,” there had been a lot of back and forth over what Lindsay was going to call my parents. Friends had told them not to worry, that they’d be named whatever the baby could pronounce. I disagreed, considering I was one of the younger grandkids on both sides of my family, and I somehow learned the names of my four grandparents.

Finally settling on Gammy and Pops, their pride was obvious. It took my mom all of six minutes to declare Lindsay a genius (with my brother and sister-in-law’s brains, she’s probably right), and when she called all of her friends with the news, she beamed about how cute the baby was in an everyone-says-it-but-I-really-mean-it way.

The coolest thing, though, was seeing my brother with the baby. I thought him being a rabbi was strange, but the fact that there’s someone in the world whose father is Brian Stoller is beyond me.

Of course, he’s not alone in this. He and his wife, Karen, are a dynamic duo, and all you have to do is watch them with Lindsay – the way they hold her and talk to her and comfort her – to know they’re going to be great parents.

Disciplinarians? Well, that’s a different matter.

After all, how could they possibly say “No” to this face?

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"It's not a lie, if you believe it." Those were the words of one of my generation's great sages, George Costanza, and the more of life I experience, the truer they ring. And while I still haven't found what I'm looking for, the search for my own personal "truths" is never-ending. Care to come along for the ride?