When people asked if we were going to find out the sex of our second child, I would answer with “Sarah decided she wants it to be a surprise, which means I have to let it be a surprise too,” or some other blame-it-on-the-wife variation. I acted spiteful, as if the future of civilization depended on her foolish decision to not utilize everything that modern sci-medicine has to offer. I would have loved to have little sound-waves bouncing off the life form within Sarah’s belly, then to be represented in a digital image on the monitor. I wanted to know if the baby would have an inny or an outie, and it should have been my right to find out.
The complete truth, however, was that I was content with the decision. At the end of the day, the mantra was “healthy baby, healthy baby, healthy baby.
Three months ago, Sarah and I went to the hospital to have a baby, via scheduled c-section. It was a surreal experience when compared to the mood of Tyler’s birth. We were relaxed and ready. We filled out paperwork, we joked, we spoke with the nurses. They told us what to expect, when to expect it, and the general plan for the morning. Tyler was asleep at home in the care of his Aunt, while we calmly prepared for the next major chapter of our lives.
Now, this is the part where a person would say that they were freaking the f*** out inside. That they were acting strong for their spouse. That they were in a near panic at the impending financial strains, the journey into the unknown, and everything else in life that comes with having another poop-machine.
But your friendly neighborhood Irrational Dad was content with it all. I’ll admit that my fingernails were all chewed to a mutilated mess, but that could have been for any number of reasons.
Soon, they took my wife away to be prepped for surgery. I took the time to update my Facebook status.
After I put the mask, gloves, and gown on, they let me in the room. I sat next to Sarah as she lie on the table, and grasped her hand. I asked her if she was ready to have a baby, and she started crying.
“Are you okay?”
“This just isn’t how I wanted to do this. On a surgery table. I just wish I could have tried to have this baby naturally.”
We talked for a few minutes about the circumstances while the doctors finished their prep. I told her to that we will control what we can control, and deal with everything else. I reminded her that we were finally going to meet our new little one in just a few more minutes. We smiled and kissed each other.
The anesthesiologist tapped my shoulder and asked if I wanted to see what the doctors were doing. With Tyler’s birth, I was so petrified at the thought of my wife being bifurcated that I didn’t dare look. Curiosity cured my fear on this day. I looked to see them placing rubber rings, or gaskets, or something in the incision to hold her open. She explained what they were doing, and was a conduit of information for this strange world my brain was processing. Somewhere, I heard someone say something. I’m fairly certain it was our mid-wife.
“Remember, they do not know the sex of the baby.”
A few voices quietly spoke at once.
“They don’t know the sex?”
“It’s a surprise?”
“They didn’t find out?”
Suddenly, I felt proud of Sarah’s decision to not find out. Although I protested, I was a part of the unique few that laugh in the face of modern sci-medicine. I flipped the bird to the ultrasound machine. I stuck it to the medicine man!
The anesthesiologist asked, “Are you ready? They put the last ring (maybe she said gasket) in; just a couple more seconds.”
Just a moment later, I saw my baby’s head. It was time. Right in front of my face was a new life. A beautiful precious little life. An instant later, the body was free and the doctor held my baby up.
The doctor proudly, loudly, and confidently said “Call it, dad.”
My eyes exploded in a flood of tears. I looked to Sarah and told her, “It’s a girl. She’s beautiful.”
“A girl?? We have a girl?”
Sarah cried… a lot.
So did I.
I cut the cord, more as a symbolic gesture than of an actual life saving measure, and held my baby girl. As we waited for mom to recover, I told her about all the people that will love her. I told her about her amazing big brother, and I warned her against “making eyes” at any of her big brother’s friends. We talked for an hour or so, just dad and daughter, about anything I could think of. She didn’t understand a damned thing, of course, and was likely wondering where the nearest boob was for her to suck on. Nonetheless, it was during this time that I discovered that my love didn’t divide between her and Tyler, it multiplied.
So here I am, preparing to raise a girl in the most perfect way possible. I have to find a balance between naive and someone that boys say “has daddy issues”. And I wonder… will I be that dad? The one who is conveniently cleaning his guns when his daughter brings a boy home? The dad that gives the uncomfortably strong handshake to her prom date and talks about respect? Will I be the “you are out of your MIND if you think you’re going out dressed up like that, now get your hind end upstairs and put some clothes on” dad?
Check, check, and check.