My niece was born almost three weeks ago.
Maeve Elizabeth came into this world amidst a flurry of activity and a dash of panic - her arrival wasn't expected until two weeks later. But the experts said that little peanut needed to come out to avoid a crisis -and so off to the hospital my sister and brother-in-law went... anxious to bring love and beauty and adventure into their home.
Maeve has stayed at the hospital ever since.
She has heart problems. She's got breathing issues. Maeve already conquered some platelet complications and acid reflux, so we grew confident that she was growing stronger and getting ready for a happy homecoming.
Until that time though, Brigid has gone to the hospital every day to see that fleshy pink bundle of joy - hoping those maternal bonds could flourish despite the less frequent contact.
Steve has stepped in as any protective father would - he's consulted medical experts and geneticists and even doctors in his own family for advice, information and expertise.
My parents made the journey to Atlanta to dote on their new grandchild and my sister Mickie and I have enjoyed a teasing competition over who would be the better Auntie.
Our little family has celebrated and fantasized about this little girl who has fought through her first three weeks of life. I've already dreamed of dance recitals and high school graduations and trips to Las Vegas for 21st birthday parties.
My love for Maeve knows no bounds.
We were dealt a crushing blow last night. Maeve apparently has something called Noonan Syndrome. It's a nebulous diagnosis that brings with it a laundry list of medical complications.
What a goddamn heartbreak.
There are few words I can use to articulate my pain - so I can only imagine the anguish my sister and brother-in-law are feeling.
A diagnosis like this one has a way of stealing in sheer seconds the fantasies and aspirations a parent whips up.
It's easy to linger on the worst that possibility has to offer when everything is so uncertain - and that's when you are forced to rely on faith.
It's funny - my personal mission statement includes the philosophy that everything happens for a reason... even the bad stuff. And it's in circumstances like this one where I'm forced to challenge my beliefs.
And that's when I think about love.
The kind of love Brigid and Steve have for that gorgeous child.
The infinite love our tight knit has for one another, and for Miss Maevey Bean.
The courage that little family will have as Brigid and Steve encourage their baby girl to thrive and experience life the best way she can.
And the strength we will rely on as we walk this unchartered territory.