Friday, October 23, 2009

Reflections from a Friday: The Heart Makes Room

More to love. . . . .

Zachary at 5 days old

Zachary as the man of the hour on his third birthday, today.

"I think I'm kind of nervous about having another baby," my friend Natalie L. said to me during her pregnancy with her second child, Sam. She sighed and added,"I can't imagine loving anyone as much as I love Eli."

Zachary had just been born, and as soon as Natalie said that, I remembered something my paternal Grandmother, Mudear, had told me long ago. Mudear had eleven children, and more than thirty grand and greatgrandchildren combined. During a quick visit to Birmingham while in college, I was with her in her TV room which held shelves and shelves of pictures of all of her descendants. I recall asking her how she could manage to divide her heart between so many children and grandchildren. My Mudear was so wise. She smiled in her gentle way before saying,

"No matter how many you have, something funny happens to you as a mother. Your heart just makes room. Don't even matter how many you blessed with. Each one has their own space made just for them. Each child, each grand, each great grand. Your heart just makes room."

Your heart just makes room. So that's what I told Natalie that day. . . . .and not because I was just trying to sound deep either. It was because I now knew it to be true. It was also because I, too, felt a little trepidation about trying to share my love with Zachary when he was on the way. Then on October 23, 2006 he arrived. . . .and just like Mudear promised, my heart made room. In fact, it made lots and lots of room.

All that room made for him caused me to fall in love. Madly and deeply. I am in love with his silly laughter, the way he tucks his feet under himself when he sleeps, the way he pronounces "Spiderman" as "Podderman," and the way he turns into the world's most fearless superhero with just a zip of a costume (especially The Incredibles!) My heart swells just at the thought of feeling his sticky hands pressed against my face, and at the mental image of him dancing (and moonwalking) to his favorite song. ("All Star" by Smashmouth). I look forward to seeing him in the morning, can't help but sneak into his room to kiss his face during the night and can laugh out loud at the very idea of some of the hilarious one-liners he has offered up over the last three years. What a delight.

Yeah. . . .so today's reflection isn't really about Grady per se. . .but it does have a lot to do with how I care for my patients. Motherhood has changed me as a person, and so very much as a physician. Knowing what I know now makes me take pause for a moment with just about every patient. Even the most difficult, manipulative, and yes, annoying patient, was once somebody's baby. Before the damage done by cigarette smoking, and before the heart disease, or the alcohol and drug dependency, or the HIV, or the mental illness, or the morbid obesity . . . .somebody at some point held them in their arms wishing the world for them. Just like my Mudear did with her eleven children, just like my parents did with the four of us, just like I did when Zachary and Isaiah were born, and just like I still do every single day.


A few months after Natalie L. had her second son, Sam, she sent me a short email that read:

"You were right. My heart made room. :)"

Natalie L. with Sam, for whom her heart made room (with the independent swimmer, Eli, in back with floaties)
____________________________________Zachy and Sammy discussing the pros and cons of being a little brother (and how to give a good overhand pitch.)

Happy 3rd Birthday, Zachary a.k.a. "Zachy," "Pooda", "Zack-Attack", "Zachy-Poo!", "Toogie," "Woobie," and (when he is fed up with all the nick names)"ZACH-A-REE!!!" I am SO thankful for the chance to be your mom, and even more thankful today that Mudear was right --the heart indeed makes room.

How can you NOT be in love with this face?

The "All-Star" in action!


  1. Um...was that supposed to be Zachy moonwalking??

    That's Auntie's Woobie!!!

  2. Excuse me! Of course that was a moonwalk!!!


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