So there you were; all 3.3 pink, purple and blue, screaming, placenta covered kilos of you. It’s hard to believe the other day you were still just an idea in your mother’s stomach. An idea which had grown too big for its surroundings and spilt out into the harsh reality of the hospital delivery room. (Note to MediClinic: You guys should really think more beanbags and coffee machines and less sterile metal object thingies. God knows your patients spend enough time in there, they might as well be comfortable.)
You were perfect – except for your head. I wish someone had told me that getting pushed out of a vagina will make it look like the pointy side of an anvil. A lifetime of searching for specially tailored hats suddenly flashed before me, whilst I saw the cruel playground children dancing around you chanting:
“Coneboy! Coneboy! Look at your pointy dome boy!”
I was about to rush home and make cardboard cones for your mom and I to wear, so that you wouldn’t feel like the only carrot in a pocket of potatoes, when the doctor sensing my nightmarish despair, told me this was normal.
Yes, of course there were tears, but they only came later. First, you were weighed and given your shots, whilst you mother showered and there was a moment waiting for her where I held you, and since there wasn’t much else to do, we just stared at each other in fearful awe. (Technically you weren’t looking into my eyes, because science has found that instead, you look at my eyebrows, which is interesting, but we are trying to do something warm and fuzzy here.) So you looked into my eyes and I looked into yours and I thought you would ruin it by crying or pooping but you didn’t and we had our first perfect moment.
I have heard this first look described as one where the universe explodes, implodes, reassembles, does cartwheels followed by flourishing 360 loops and gravity defying jumps with an elegant curtsy at the end. The show must have been cancelled because none of this happened to me, not even the curtsy.
If we have to use the universe analogy, let me instead describe it like this:
It was as if the Giant Physiotherapist In The Sky cracked the universe’s back and the cosmos gave a giant sigh, relieved of a pain it never knew it had. In another corner of the infinite macrocosm, the Great Galactic Mechanic finally tired of his wife nagging him. He fixed the squeak troubling the universe; applying just enough grease to make everything shift a fraction to the left, clicking it back into place. It wasn’t a moment of cacophonous sounds or angels singing. Instead, it was more like lying on the beach when everyone else is at work – a moment of peaceful bliss when everything feels just right.
And so I gave thanks to the Giant Physiotherapist and the Galactic Mechanic and God, Jah, Allah and the whole pantheon of Hindu, Roman and Greek gods and because the stare between us lasted so long I also gave a grateful nod to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, in case his al dente-ness was canoodling around this side of the universe.
Like I said, the tears only came later. When you and your mother were finally tucked in and both sleeping the slumber of two tired marathon runners, I slipped away to one of the hospital balconies. I lit a cigarette as the sun started to rise and lavished in a cauldron of content thought and of course with the cocktail of love chemicals still coursing through me after our moment back in the ward, I got a sentimental lump in my throat, thanks to all that this-is-the-first-day-of-the-rest-of- your-life-bumper-sticker-crap and then I cried: Big, wet salty tears that would have made the sea jealous.
One day you will ask me what it was like when you were born. Instead of insulting you with lazy adjectives, I shall give you this letter to read. And because we grow old and forget things, including opening the fly of our zips before we pee, I thought it best to write down exactly what happened:
Tuesday, 28th of January, 2014:
9:40: Your mother phones me and says: “I think my water has broken.
“You think or you know?
“I think I know.”
9:45: I race home to find your mother excitedly leaking over our floors.
14:00: The excitement of the last 4 hours diminishes. Apart from your mother changing her pants three times not much else has happened. And so, with nothing else to do we drive to the hospital.
16:00 – 20:00: Who knew labour could be so boring? Apart from a couple of slight pangs of pain there is no sign that you are on your way. Where is the screaming? Where is the swearing? Hollywood, you’re a damn liar. We leave the hospital in disgust and go have supper with your grandparents.
22:00: Your mother has her first real contraction. We are back at the hospital. In between her uterus spasming we joke about the ridiculous painting on the wall and how she is going to sneeze you out.
23:15: Your mother goes primal. I am scared she is going to break the hospital bed and I’m not sure if the hospital plan covers maternal destruction. It is becoming clear that she is not going to sneeze you out.
Wednesday, 29th of January, 2014:
00:10: The nurse asks your mother if she wants something for the pain. Your mother declines and says she will wait a little bit longer, thank you very much.
00:16: Your mother screams and begs the nurse to give her something for the pain.
02:00: I think this is it. Your mother is going to die. I’m going to have to raise you as a single father and although the opening scene in The Boys are Back where the kid sits on the front of his father’s speeding Land Rover makes for great cinema and we would do awesome things like that together, I would miss your mother very much. And so I lie to her and tell her she is doing really well and that soon it’s all going to be over and that instead of dying she should consider breathing.
02:14: Your mother screams that she wants to push.
02: 28: The doctor arrives looking very jovial for someone who has to come at half past two in the morning to look at a screaming woman with her legs apart in the air. She and the nurse joke about something which is funny to them but I can’t remember because I was more worried that your mother was going to pass out. This was due to the fact that she repeatedly cried that she was going to pass out.
03:20: Your mother does not pass out, but instead passes you out and suddenly the delivery room is silent, before you break the quiet hush with your crying.
And so there you were; all 3.3 pink, purple and blue, screaming, placenta covered kilos of you.