St. Paddy’s Day is a complete non-event for me. Like April Fools, to me it is a time for people to do obnoxious things to you (i.e. pinch you) for no good reason. But it does have one claim on my heart. It’s the day Julianna was baptized.
We’d had it planned since before she was born, I think–a Saturday night Mass with family coming in from the East Coast and from places around the Midwest. Then she got sick…then she got very sick…then she went on the vent…and for about four or five very long days, her oxygen saturation kept plunging into the 40s. (FYI, 95% is the threshold for hospitalization for a child.) So we decided we weren’t about to put it off any longer. That was about the time the snow started on the East Coast and Julianna’s godparents got stuck at their connecting point and couldn’t get here at all.
We’d talked all week with the PICU staff about what to do about the baptism. There was a rule that said only two visitors at a time, you see, and priest plus parents is already beyond that.
The staff was amazing. When Julianna finally made an upturn later in the week, they said they’d move out all the furniture and make an exception so that the adults could come in, at least. They dressed her in the gown her daddy’s grandma had made. They covered the little hospital crib with the beautiful blanket a family friend had made. And they called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, which usually only comes to capture moments for babies who are not going home. The black and white shots below come from that photographer. I can’t tell you how much I wish I had been in an emotional state to remember her name.
You would not think a baptism in a pediatric ICU could possibly be a beautiful experience. Not with all the hissing and beeping and alarms going off, and having to pipe the godparents in by horrible cell phone connection from a thousand miles away. Not with the fact that we couldn’t hold her, or even light the baptismal candle (because, hello, oxygen).
And yet it was. It was so beautiful, and so memorable.
And that’s what I think of on St. Patrick’s day now.
(Note: I like to joke that since Julianna was the only one of the kids not to be baptized at our home parish, she decided to do it herself when she was three years old. And yes, if you don’t know that story, you really need to click through.)