Birthdays: Plural

Ed. Note: Even the best of babies—and this editor’s baby certainly qualifies—takes up way more time than expected. Thus, about 2 months post-baby, here are the hastily scrawled notes, some illuminated, some not.

On The Day You Were Born

It’s 8pm on my 45th birthday. My wife’s arms wrap around me as we slow dance, seemingly alone. She clenches me suddenly as I kiss her forehead and hold her weight, slumped against me. She says no words back, but that’s just fine. I understand.

We’ve been on this dance floor for 8 hours, every dance the contraction we hope ushers in the last stages of labor, every barely-choreographed move a new chance to meet our little girl.

I’ve loved my wife since before our first date (this happens when you date a friend); I admired her before that; and she’s impressed me with her strength every day since. None of that prepared me for how amazing she is, right now, in this labor and (please, soon) delivery.

Honestly, to be wracked with sudden, debilitating pain is difficult enough to imagine for anyone (but especially, let’s face it, men). Now imagine—as I had not—that the pain not only increases in intensity, but in duration *and* frequency. When the doctor told us we needed “more contraction” after 10 hours, I nearly started to cry. Jessica did not.

Selfishly, I have to admit something: I really wanted her to be born before I turned 45. A few days doesn’t matter, but for some reason, I really wanted to be 44. When that option went out the window, sharing a birthday with her seemed the next-best bet. Maybe some weird (and untrue) thought that everyone (who? I don’t know) would concentrate on the shared birthday instead of my advanced first-time Dad age? The reasoning escapes me just weeks after the fact.

So the dancing is done. The doctors pronounce Jessica no more dilated than hours before. My shared birthday plans are out the window. My tiny pity party is commenced.

Through all of this, Jessica just (I said “just.” Forgive me, honey) continues having contractions, is given pitocin (for more contractions) and, finally, the epidural. Jessica never planned to avoid an epidural (God gave us doctors that can navigate a needle into our spinal columns. It seems arrogant to waste that, right?), but she had hoped to avoid the stereotypical labor/delivery oh-my-god-get-me-my-epidural moment. No such luck. The effect was immediate and well loved. I think she still has a crush on that British-accented doc. Hell, so do I.

But here we are. No matter how you count it, I’m 45 years old. It’s the day after my birthday. Jessica is ready to push. I am ready to cry.

And Collins is ready to arrive.

Dark-haired, screaming, beautiful. She arrived right around the time she was most active in the womb: way too late for comfort. But as she lies on Jessica’s chest, breathing, sometimes crying, flexing toes and fingers and staring at each of us in turn, I don’t care about any birthday but hers. No age matters except this: It is her age, her era, her chance to be the girl she is, and someday the woman she can be.

I couldn’t imagine feeling like this. Sure, I and Jessica matter, but more importantly, Collins is here. Everything is different, because that will never change.

Hello little girl. Want to change the world?


One thought on “Birthdays: Plural

  1. Loving your blog, Noel! That precious gift of life, I am not one romanticize pregnancy or labor and delivery, but there is truly nothing I can think of that is more awe-inspiring than the first few moments with each new darling. I sometimes wish I could experience those few minutes over and over again. The memory of how precious they were to me then sometimes helps me recover my joy over them now when they’re not acting quite so lovable.


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