The Day I Met My Daughter

By Ethan Kirk

A lot of things are underrated these days. I think social media, trending hashtags, and a fast moving society tend to distract us more than ever before. For everything that went viral yesterday, there are millions that didn’t. As our attention is directed here and there, we miss some of the things that were always in front of us, we take them for granted, or we just don’t think about them as much. For me, that was fatherhood.

I was careful when choosing someone to marry. I had a list of deal-breakers that was more specific than many, but it helped me recognize exactly what I needed when I saw it. The result is a marriage to a woman I’m crazy about and love dearly. We have a shared connection that binds us together. So when she wanted to get pregnant, I was okay with it. When she got pregnant, I was okay with it. I trusted her and knew we had a strong relationship in which we could help each other through anything, so adding another person to the equation should be alright. It was all very abstract anyway, a function of moving forward in life and achieving that somewhere-in-the-back-of-my-mind ideal that I wanted to be a father at some point.

Her pregnancy was like a punch to the stomach. Literally, she threw up constantly. It was rough watching someone I love constantly heave into our apartment toilet. She also stopped sleeping and was always exhausted. My former fit, sexy, foreign wife was starting to change a little. Then she just started to look a little funny. Her body was changing rapidly. This former health nut and lover of sweets (yes, you can be both) now only wanted eat ice and sleep. Was this the life we had wanted? Why was this a good idea again?

Then, suddenly, it was time. She woke me up at 3:00 am because she had been having contractions. We decided she had farther to go before admission to the hospital, so I went back to sleep. I got up early and waited out the morning with her, but her contractions were slowing so I went to work. She encouraged me to go to a professional event that night and I boarded the subway with that intent, but got off early at our stop instead. Something, somehow, just didn’t feel right.

When I got home, she was surprised to see me. Her contractions were painful, lengthening in duration and increasing in frequency until we had almost met the doctor directed criteria for hospital admission. Suddenly, we met the criteria and her water broke at almost the exact same time. The message was clear!

Two hours later and standing with her in the hospital room, I saw a brown hairy head making its way into our world for the first time. Whaaaaa?????? That was fast! The nurse and doctor were not fully ready either, we were all surprised. Apparently my wife is a birthing champion. Faster than the hospital professionals would have liked, my beautiful daughter joined us in the world. Instantly, deep inside, I was done. I no longer lived for myself. Suddenly, this little wet ball of person and the wonderful, courageous, tough woman that brought her into the world were everything. I loved my wife before, but it was a deep romantic love. We were bound and sealed together when we awoke that morning, but now we are welded and together in an unbreakable bond of human creation.

As my little girl looked around at us, with the look of shock that only someone who just went from a dark uterus to a bright hospital room in under 5 minutes can have, I felt helpless. How could I ever be what this little angel deserved? This girl will love me, she will play with me, and she will look to me for protection, comfort, and love. I will give her everything I have because I can’t help it. I only hope I have enough to give.

I love her more from the moment she was born than she will ever know. Fatherhood is underrated. I think fatherhood is underrated because the marketers, performers, and promoters in our society don’t really profit from it. Yes, the baby-industrial complex rejoices and bombards you with the latest baby Pilates dvd the second your child is born, but popular culture is apathetic to the institution and influence of parenthood. Well, they are wrong. No experience in life is richer in feeling than looking into the eyes of your child.

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