I am pleased to announce the birth of my daughter, Margot. Following in her fathers tradition of being stressed due to the possibility of being late for something, Margot was timely. Not only timely but fast and painful, just the way birth should be. And while I cannot begin to describe the exact pain my wife was in, because I will never know anything even close to that, I was having some pain of my own. Because laboring is a “woman thing” I think the feelings of many men get pushed to the side while their wives are screaming in their ears. I am here to be the asshole and say: “What about us?” There’s a plethora of emotion and hormones running through our bodies at the same time our child is starting to come into the world. With my son, I was so overwhelmed with knowing that were having a child that I truly was lost in every single moment of the labor. I’m not afraid to say I cried when he came out. In fact, to this day every time I think about the birth I become teary eyed. Hopefully that never goes away.
The birth of my daughter presented new facts. So far I would consider us “good” at raising a single child. Adding a second one pushed a lot of emotion from my mind and left room for more pragmatic thinking.
While my wife turned in agony with contractions I began thinking of my place in the universe. Not just my place but also the place that we all hold: my son, my wife the nurses around us and my soon to be born daughter. During the early stages all I could think about was being there with my wife, hoping that the labor itself didn’t go to long into the night. Selfish, I know. Who wouldn’t want it to be over quickly though? Even she was dreading a drawn out labor. During the actual pushing (six hours into labor) is when I started to lose my mind. I couldn’t help it. I was about to welcome a helpless child into the world. A world I’m not even sure of as an adult.
She starts pushing.
How is this possible?
How can a God dispense this much pain on a human?
And if there’s no God then what about the Universe?
How can everything we know to be true, say that humans must endure this much pain in order to bring life?
What if there’s no reason for pain?
What if there’s no reason for me?
What’s the reason for being alive if you’re to doubt existence and God and the Devil?
What about the Devils in the room? The ones we’re born with, the evils we conquer throughout our lives? If there’s no reason to conquer them, than everybody from the Romans forward and back got it wrong!!
It’s all wrong!
There is no reason!
There is no God!
Not one that cares at least. Not one that protects us or bestowed any kind of useful knowledge on the world.
I look at Alaina, pushing with all her might, tears running down her face. I repeat my phrases at her. “Good job, you’re doing good. Breath. You’re doing great!”
“Drew, I love you but you have to stop.” She said it with no feeling. No sadness or regret. I know she doesn’t mean any harm by it. I know she’s in pain and wants this baby out, she’s screaming at the top of her lungs so loud that my ears are ringing. But I’m still hurt. I know she doesn’t mean to hurt my feelings. I know she’ll apologize later (and she did) And that she loves me but I’m still hurt.
Is life worth this much pain?
This much suffering?
It’s not like it stops when she’s born. There’s an entire world of hurt and betrayal just outside our windows.
I’ll never be able to protect any of them. Not my son, not my wife and not my daughter. I’ll never, ever, be able to protect them.
The world is a mean, cold place to be born into and we’ll never be truly able to protect them. We’ll never-
“Reach down and grab your daughter.”
And then it’s over.
My daughter is laying on Alaina’s chest. I drop her leg softly. My eyes are fixed on her and everything has stopped. This child, smaller than our cat, is laying, covered in goo and helpless. But she doesn’t need protection. She doesn’t need religion or politics or unity or even hope. All she needs is love, and she needs it now. All my future woes fade away, all my past demons dissipate into oblivion. There’s no big catharsis. No revelation. Not even a fricken lightbulb overhead.
All I feel is love.
Love for my daughter, my son and my wife. There’s nothing else.