Gazing into the eyes of Hope
by Christy Sillman
Sarah warned me that her newborn daughter’s eyes will pierce your soul. As a professional baby holder, I’ve experienced the powerful gaze of some truly unique beings, but I never could have guessed that Hope’s gaze would have such a profound effect upon me.
She’s so tiny. So fragile. So perfect. She opened her two week old little eyes and stared into my eyes with the transcendence of an ancient soul. Who was she before this life? Someone powerful. Someone strong. Someone who did things her own way. She surveyed my face and gave me a look that said “Oh, it’s you.” I suddenly remembered I needed to breathe.
I’ve never been so blown away by such a tiny human. I’m not much of a baby person – I know, I’m a pediatric nurse, but I like my kiddos ages 1 and up.
Sarah was so concerned that the desperation and pain she endured with her mother’s accidental death just before Hope was born would transfer to her daughter. She wondered what sharing that experience from inside must have “done” to Hope. I believe it’s given her strength, beauty, and a power unlike others.
Hope’s birth was magical for many reasons. She demonstrated her sheer power and will by exiting her mother’s body on her own terms: That kid just came out on her own. In the birth video, you can hear me exclaiming “SHE’S COMING OUT. SHE’S COMING OUT!” and Sarah replies, in shock, “BUT I’M NOT PUSHING!!”
Then there was the amniotic sac. The entire reason Sarah had been on bed rest for 27 weeks was because Doctors feared she had a weakened sac and was at high risk for her water breaking dangerously early. It did break, but only once the pregnancy reached a healthy term, and apparently only with a little hole at the top because Hope came out still encased in the sac.
Our friend Lauren thought it was so neat that “Hope was sealed inside the sac for freshness,” but we would later come to discover that this mode of delivery is much more meaningful.
It’s called “en-caul,” and it has an ancient mythology. It’s rare to have a baby born inside the amniotic sac, and I would say it’s even rarer when the sac was supposedly weakened from early pregnancy complications.
Myth has it that babies born en-caul — caul-bearers — are said to possess clairvoyance, are destined for greatness, and will have good luck. The strongest myth of caul-bearers across cultures says that the child born en-caul will be protected from death by drowning.
Sarah’s mother, Joyce, drowned in a kayaking accident three weeks before Hope was born.
The myth gives Sarah exactly what Hope’s name entails: “The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.” (dictionary.com)
Now, I’m not saying Hope is a saint. She’s got colic, which is driving her poor grieving mother bonkers. But I see the colic as a sign that she’s ready to take on the world. No more of this baby business, she wants to get started.
I’m so excited to watch this powerful little woman grow and fulfill a great destiny. The strength of her tiny character is a sight to behold. After all, she comes from a long line of strong women. I feel so saddened that her grandmother wasn’t able to meet her, but as I told Sarah, Hope is part of Joyce’s legacy and her spirit dwells from behind Hope’s eyes.