I don’t know if I am far enough removed from the events of May 18th yet to actually convey anything meaningful. I have mulled over the words for hours on end, trying to understand it, trying to sort it out, but the depth and breadth of emotion involved is clouding my literary judgment.
What I’m left with is the feeling that I have been profoundly changed by watching my daughter come into the world.
Erin will be the first to tell you that I have always been rather squeamish about hospital settings. Needles make me faint. I don’t care much for blood. I fear catching plagues and zombie viruses from the experiments that I imagine take place in the basement of all Ontario healthcare facilities. As a result, Erin was a bit nervous about how I would handle being in the room while she went through the injection-heavy, bloody, mucous-laden, meconium-laced process of birthing a child.
And so was I.
I kept telling myself that I would stay at the head of the bed, stay focused on Erin, ignore the chaos of the actual birth, and deal with the baby when she was toweled off and screaming.
Of course, the doctor had other ideas.
“Dad, you’re on leg duty.”
Before I had a chance to object, one of the nurses handed me my wife’s leg. It’s a bit like suddenly being given front row tickets to a football game being played by late-stage leprosy victims. There’s fluid everywhere. Things are bulging and bleeding. People are grunting and puffing and panting. I was pretty sure that something would rupture or fall off at any moment. And there, in the midst of the play, is my wife
But then I saw what was happening.
Before I could even process it, I blurted out, “I can see her! Erin I can see her!”
I looked into my wife’s eyes as she caught her breath between pushes. My heart leapt. I wasn’t scared or grossed out. I was deeply, achingly, passionately, deathly in love. I was overwhelmed with adoration for my wife in a way that superseded even the deepest feelings I had felt in 10 years together.
“What you’re doing right now,” I said to her, “is amazing.”
Moments later, Abby was born.
The author's wife and daughter. One of many quiet moments.