There is nothing quite like watching your own child being born.
No matter where we roam, no matter what we accomplish or conquer in this crazy life, there isn't even one single experience that a human being can go through that is as overwhelming and as powerful as being right there when your son or daughter comes into this world.
Nothing even comes close.
Not even winning a lifetime supply of beer and wings from a nice bar.
Not even catching a five-pound native brook trout on a dry fly.
Not even watching the Republican Party implode a little more each day.
Seriously. That's how good it is, watching your baby being born. If you haven't been there yet yourself, just ask anyone who has.
Looking back now, reflecting on the births of my daughter, Violet, and my son, Henry, I am still blown away by how it made me feel. Witnessing something so heavy and spiritual and breathtaking stays with you, of course. It doesn't ever slip back into your pool of medium-sized memories or anything like that.
As a largely imperfect son and husband and dad, I like to think that being there in the delivery room as my kids were born changed something in my fundamental makeup. I tend to recall something sort of popping open up inside of my head and down inside of my heart during the moments leading up to Violet and Henry each coming into my world, into their world. As a matter of fact, I like to think that being there caused me to become at least a slightly better person, overall.
Now then, as my wife and I await the arrival of our third child (another boy!), I look back on some of the four or five trillion incredible moments I experienced when my two kiddos were arriving.
They bring back such awesome memories.
And I can't wait to add a few trillion more.
I vividly recall the hours leading up to the birth of our first child, our daughter Violet. They were the most anticipated hours I have ever lived through. Waiting for her arrival, as the contractions grew closer and all, I remember looking at my wife, Monica, lying there in her delivery room bed, sucking on ice chips, and trying to nap. At times she would joke with me about all sorts of stuff, and I remember really thinking to myself that my life had taken me to a more wonderful place than I had ever dreamed possible. That's a little sappy, I guess, but still. It's also straight-up truth.
My Goofy Gift
In the weeks leading up to our due date for Violet, I had wanted to get a surprise gift that I could spring on my wife in the delivery room, something that might make her happy and giver her a smile while she was in the final few laps of her first pregnancy. I toyed with all sorts of ideas (jewelry, clothing, visit from a red hot Chippendale dancer) but decided against all of them. I wanted something more personalized. In the end, I had a special baby blanket embroidered with the words: Monica, It's Time. I was so proud of it, and of myself for thinking up the idea! And Monica seemed to like it when I presented it to her, but to be honest, I think she had a couple of bigger fish to fry at the time.
Then she was there, in our world. Watching the actual birth of my daughter, our first child, was beyond any words I could ever come up with. If you're a parent, you know how it is. It was the single most majestic moment in my life. In a true state of dazzled hyper-excitement, I somehow also managed to hold a perfectly framed camera above my head the entire time Violet was emerging from her mommy's body. So I ended up witnessing the miracle with my own eyes, AND filming it for my wife and me to sit and well up over someday when we are both just a couple of old coots.
First Photo Together
Just after my little girl came into this world, and just as soon as the nurses did everything they had to do, weighing her and wiping her tiny body down, Violet began to whimper a little, and, before I knew it, a nurse was placing her in my arms and saying,"Here's your daddy, sweetheart!" I was so overwhelmed, I must have appeared to be a big mush to everyone in the room. Still, I managed to take a poorly framed selfie of my baby girl and me and it is, without question, one of the greatest photographs I will ever know.
When you first lay eyes on your newly born child, your mind is blown to bits by something bigger and more powerful than anything you have ever experienced. And then, not long after that, when things simmer down a bit and the chaos of an active delivery room slides away, it happens all over again. Leaning in and listening to Violet's sweet tiny breaths and looking into her eyes for the first time when it was just her and her mommy and me alone in the room, I was mesmerized and transformed, as silly as that sounds. And I will remember that moment as long as I live.
Wife and Child
I recall feeling my soul explode into a million new souls the very second I watched my wife and daughter's eyes meet there on the delivery room bed. We had waited for this instant for so long, dreamed of it practically every moment of every day since we knew for sure that Monica was pregnant, and now here it was. The two most important people in my life falling in love with each other in a room where none of us would probably ever set foot again. Magic beyond magic.
Two years after we welcomed our daughter into our lives, my wife and I were back at the exact same hospital, this time waiting on a son. And I remember distinctly walking into a delivery room I had never set foot in before and immediately noticing the empty bassinet against the wall. It was the kind where the nurses and doctor take a baby in the first few moments of its life outside the womb, to make sure all is well, and to clean the kid off. I don't know why, but this lone empty bassinet really captivated me in the hours leading up to Henry's arrival, maybe because I knew that before too long, with luck on our side, it would be filled with something pretty darn special to me and my family. I kept going over to it, taking pictures and waiting, and I'm glad I did.