This I Believe
I was 31 years old when my daughter was born. During my wife’s pregnancy I was belligerent. I took a photo of her when she was about 8 months along and purposely cropped off her head as a joke. A baby was the last thing I wanted. I wanted stuff: a BMW, an Alta ski pass, not a child. With a child all I could see was compromise. Why did I agree to her getting pregnant? I suppose I feared my wife would leave me, so I caved.
During her pregnancy she openly questioned if I would hold the child once it was born. To be honest I had the same question.
The morning of the delivery I wondered if I was going to faint and crack my head open like a ripe melon hitting pavement. I remember asking one of the nurses, not quite jokingly, if there was a football helmet I could wear to prevent my brains from spilling out when my head smacked the tile floor. The nurse that fielded the comment looked at me as though she wanted to pull my balls off so that I would never place my wife in this situation again, or maybe she just had a gut full of me and my whine. Either way she was not pleased with me.
The miracle of birth happened in all its bloody, screaming, afterbirth, vagina splitting glory. And my melon stayed intact. The bug-eyed pediatrician pronounced the jelly coated slug a “GIRL!”, ceremoniously clipped the umbilical cord and everyone rejoiced. He then stitched my wife’s femininity back together while a doting nurse (the one that wanted to pull my balls off) commented to my wife that “this doctor is a real craftsman” when it comes to stitching up birth-split womanliness parts. Meanwhile, the staff kick-started the newborn’s breathing, sucked the jelly out of her ears and nose, gave her a passing grade and tucked her in with my wife, who began cooing a mother’s coo. I stood and stared.
Later in the day, when the backslapping and crying by the grandparents subsided, I stood alone staring through the glass that separated the newborn holding pen from adoring adults. There in the crowd of infants lay a newborn with my last name. She looked like a dehydrated, miniaturized version of Ozzy Osbourne swaddled into a cocoon. I turned, walked over, sat on some nearby stairs and stared at my feet. A feeling of belonging leaked into my thoughts. It occurred to me that I belonged to that Ozzy Osbourne slug of a baby and she to me and we both belonged to the exhausted elegant woman down the hall. For a moment my eyes pooled with tears. I answered my question: I will hold this child, hold her close for as long as I breathe. The child has grown into an elegant adult, simple at heart and strong of intellect, like her mother.
I believe that people belong to each other.
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