The baby who changed everything

I recently received this note from Jenni Hailer, 42, a reader and mother in Tempe, Ariz.:

“I thought to write to you because of what a vital part my parents play in my daughter’s life.

My husband and I had tried for ten years to get pregnant and after two rounds of IVF were blessed with a miracle: a baby girl we named Evelyn.

I’m not sure who wanted it more—us to be parents or my parents to become grandparents. Finally, that little baby was in all of our lives and was a dream come true.

Then, when Evelyn was five months old, my mom was diagnosed with uterine cancer.

“She believes with all of her heart that the reason why it took Evelyn so long to get here was because God timed it just right. And the reason why she made it through was because Evelyn saved her.”

At the time, she was helping take care of Evelyn while I was at work. She was all of a sudden no longer going to be able to watch her, as surgery and chemo became her new reality.

I relied on her because it helped us financially. I owned a small business and the economy was taking a turn for the worse.

Karen and Wayne Stewart enjoying Easter with Evelyn, now 4, this past weekend. Karen, 70, has recovered from cancer and helps Wayne, 69, care for Evelyn during the week while Jenni and her husband work. Jenni is an office assistant at Arizona State University; her husband is a graduate student and teaching assistant there.

Thinking I had no other choice, I began looking for daycare. Instead, my dad decided to retire for good and take care of my mom and my daughter. I remember his saying, ‘She is my granddaughter, and I’m going to take care of her, not someone else.’

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: this was a man who did not know how a washing machine worked.

My mom had taken care of him his entire life, while he took care of us financially. I was so impressed with how he stepped up to the plate. I’m not sure how we would have done it without him.

The bond that he and my daughter have is nothing short of amazing. My mom mentioned once while she was still going through chemo that although she was sad that Evelyn was no longer all hers to take care of, she was so thankful that my dad was bonding and having that experience, since she was the one who got to have it with my sister and me.

Evelyn on her fourth birthday last summer.

Evelyn will turn five this summer.

On July 19th, 2011, my daughter’s first birthday, my mom was told by her doctor that she was cancer-free. She believes with all of her heart that the reason why it took Evelyn so long to get here was because God timed it just right. And the reason why she made it through was because Evelyn saved her. She was her reason for living; she was the light in her life that got her through it all.

My parents mean the world to me. I’m so grateful for them. There really are no words to describe how thankful I am for their love and support.”