What does that say about me?
Summer of 2014, on the dawn of a weekday and after about 12 hours of labor, my girlfriend brings to the world our baby boy. It was an emotional day, sometimes stressful, sometimes painful (watching her suffering without being able to help was hard…), and sometimes funny because “we’re just two dumb souls swimming in a fishbowl” and we can’t behave like adults no matter what.
The days before
Growing up listening and seeing what the general society claims to be “the best day of their lives”, I too was waiting for that “unexplainable feeling” when my soon-to-be-born son would make his entrance into this world.
— “Will I cry?”
— “Will he feel safe in my arms and will we make an unbreakable bond from that moment till the end of our lives?”
These thoughts kept coming to my mind as the date got closer.
The big day
We went to the hospital at noon when her waters broke and only the next morning the birth occurred.
Besides the normal nervousness, we were cool for the most part of the time, except for the last four hours where the “real” labor took place.
It was a natural birth and it wasn’t as smoother as we wished, but she was incredible and faced things so bravely that I must confess I was impressed.
At exactly 7:30 a.m., she made the last push and a baby cry was heard, at the same time that a sweet melody of bells ringing was echoing through the room.
It was as unexpected as incredibly accurate! She hadn’t turned off her alarm on the cell phone and the ringtone was, in the lack of a better option, a bunch of bells ringing, and 7:30 a.m. was the time she usually awake. To me, this looked like a movie scene, setting the mood for “the happiest day of my life”.
But it wasn’t.
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a birth, but it ain’t pretty.
There were half a dozen nurses walking around the room at a steady pace, a lot of medical equipment beeping and signaling, a fair amount of blood and human tissue being cleaned up into some kind of garbage bin, and then one of the nurses picks the baby up and ask if I want to cut the cord…
No… but I have to, right?
I understand that by doing it I’m not hurting the baby or his mother, but still, I’m cutting a part of someone else’s body! To make it worse, that thing is sponged and thick at the same time, greyish and red, bouncing while still being kind of twisted… I’m not Dexter, I’m not comfortable cutting up people, but I’m the father of this baby, and there’s a good chance that he's gonna be my only child, so, I don’t want to do it, but I have to do it, right?
So I did it, and I didn’t screw up (I’m not even sure if it’s possible to fail at this, but I’ve done some stupid shit before so the thought came through my mind…).
One nurse asks if I want her to take some photos and I say yes.
— “Where’s the camera?” — she asks.
— “Camera? Fuck, I didn’t bring a camera… use my phone!”
Another nurse puts the baby on the mother’s chest and we smile at the photos.
My girlfriend makes silly faces, looking like she’s very well, but later she told me she was disguising pain, fatigue, and other bad feelings.
I look at the baby. He looks “normal”, which is something I bet every parent thinks about it, even if they don’t admit it, and he’s cute, but in a baby-E.T.-kind-of-cute.
His eyes are all swollen, his skin is wrinkled and has an unnatural color, sprinkled with some white stuff, and his head has a strange form.
He’s not beautiful, and I doubt any baby can look beautiful in this situation, but again, that’s not what is sold by the majority of people that have this experience…
After that, some lady took him to get him cleaned and do whatever they do to the newborns and I focus on my girlfriend. She was visibly exhausted, probably in pain but too tired to complain too much.
I asked her if she was alright and she nods but didn’t convince me.
I keep holding her hand and complimenting her, telling her how amazing she was, and then the nurse comes back with our baby already cleaned and dressed, and one thought strikes me.
Where’s the click?
Where’s that unexplainable feeling?
I mean, I had feelings for that baby, it was my son and I wanted to hold him and protect him against any threat, but where was the magic? Where were the rainbows and butterflies and unicorns or whatever?
I had no special connection with that little human except for a sense of responsibility for his safety.
It wasn't "love", it was an honorable sense of duty.
Feeling like a bad father
I didn’t tell anyone what I was feeling, not for a couple of weeks at least.
In my mind, I was failing as a parent.
— “Who doesn’t love his newborn son with all his heart and soul since the very first moment?”
— "Who doesn’t see the day his son was born as the best day of his life?”
Well, I didn’t. To me, that day was important but wasn’t necessarily happy.
My girlfriend had been through a lot of effort and pain and was still recovering from it.
The baby slept and was fed, that was it.
The days after
As time passed by and the baby grew, he started to react to the environment and to us, and only then we started to bond.
The first smile, the first words, the first deliberate gestures, only then I started to feel like a father and not just as a progenitor.
With this change came another: For the first time in my life, I started to fear death.
Not that I was an adrenaline junkie playing russian roulette every Friday night and jumping from airplanes on Saturdays, but I never cared about dying. Sure, there were a lot of things I still wanted to do and it would suck if I would leave this world so early, but that thought wouldn’t bother me much.
But now that I have this little kid depending on me and on his mother, and thinking about all the things I want to teach him and in all the things I need to guarantee for his security, whenever I think about the idea of dying too soon I burst into tears.
My son is now 7 years old and I just can’t live without him. I can’t imagine my life without all the dumb things we 3 do together as a family.
I would die for him without thinking twice, and I would kill for him without leaving a trace.
That’s how much I love him.
Every day I spent with him is a happy day, no matter how big the problem I might have or the number of blunders he makes.
The day my son was born was not the happiest day of my life, not even close!
I believe the happiest day of my life is always the next one, and I would choose any day I spent with him instead of the day he was born because happiness can’t be contained in that single moment, happiness is made of every little moment he shared with me.
I love you kid, can’t wait to see what life will bring us.
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