Tuesday, May 03, 2005
A year ago, I had no idea what it meant to be a parent, or a Dad, or really an adult, for that matter. I thought I did, but at 7:30 on Monday the 3rd of May, 2004, I awoke to the sound of your Mother in labor, insisting that this was still just false labor. Two hours later, I was in the delivery room watching the doctors lift you out of Mom's abdomen butt first, and in that moment, reality slammed home, and at the age of 32, I finally became an adult.
I'll never forget that moment. A lot of things slip past me, memory wise. Some things are too trivial, others unimportant. Only a few memories for me are as crisp as the one where you came into this world. Meeting your Mother for the first time is one of them, but even that isn't as crisp as your birth.
It was all so surreal. Just getting Mom to the hospital was such a whirlwind tour, and everything happened so damn fast, that it felt like there wasn't a moment of rest between waking up and having you there with us. It takes me an hour just to drive to work. It takes me more than two hours to wake up and be at work, and yet, that morning, two hours was all I had (your Mother, unfortunately, was up on and off all night with the beginnings of labor pains). I think I called my own Mother at one point to let her know the process was started, but I'm not even sure of that now. It seemed like that at one moment, your mother was in intense labor pain, and the next moment I saw her, she was serene and seemingly woozy from the pain-killers. You need to be nice to your Mother, because she didn't get to see any of this since they wouldn't lower the sterile curtain. I made sure to watch it all for both of us.
You were breach, so of course you had to be difficult on your Mother and force a C-section. We don't hold it against you, so don't worry. You're too cute for us to hold any kind of a grudge against you for very long. I'm hoping you don't learn this 'till you're well into your very late teens. At any rate, since you were breach, the doctors had to pull you out butt first. You came out at an angle. Your head was pointed towards about 10 o'clock, if Mom's head is high noon. Your apgar was two points shy of perfect, one for color and another one for something else, but you know what they say, only doctor's babies get perfect apgars. You were covered in that weird birthing junk, the blood and that white film, and even a bit of miconium, but it was immediately obvious that you were beautiful underneath all of that. You had a full head of hair, which seemed a reddish blonde to us at the time. The doctors don't let Dads cut the umbilical in a C-section, but I did get to trim it at the nurse's station.
They wrapped you up in a blanket and put a little warm hat on your head, and handed you to me to hold you for the very first time, and I carried you over to your mother so she could see you and we could hold you and be a family for the very first time, ever. I cried, and your Mom cried, and it's probably the happiest and most scared we've ever been in our entire lives.
What they say is true: that having a baby changes your life forever. People reading this who don't have babies will never understand it, and those who do have them are nodding their heads right now. Parenthood isn't for everyone, but for those who have wanted it, it's an amazing journey.
Every day it seems you can do something new. First you vocalized, then you looked at our faces, then moved your limbs semi-voluntarily. Then the smile. Oh, how we loved the first smile. That was magical. Seeing you smile still melts my heart and puts me in a great mood no matter what kind of day I'm having. In no time, you were eating solid foods, sitting up, crawling, pulling yourself up on table edges. It just never ends. Just the other day you took some of your first tentative practice steps walking behind your new wagon you got for your birthday, and now you can push your walkers around by yourself. That only took about 2 days. I predict you'll be walking by the end of the week at this pace. If I blink, you'll be in college and grown up and I'll have missed everything.
It's funny, because our whole lives we wonder what we should be when we "grow up." Too many people (myself included) focus on carreers, or "milestones" or some other garbage that's irrelevant and unimportant. After seeing you grow this last year, the time flying by, the laughs, the smiles, and the hugs we've shared, I finally know what I'm supposed to be, kiddo. My life finally makes sense now.
I'm your Dad, and I'm proud as hell that you're my daughter.
I love you, Riley. Happy First Birthday, sweets.