by Ethan Ruzzano
My beautiful baby girl was born in early April on a whirlwind day of thoughts and emotions. Cocoon Birth doula Kari Gallinger attended our natural birth at Mountain Midwifery Center. Even now I can’t comprehend everything that happened, but I wanted to put a few of the memories from that day in writing before they’re lost. Here’s a little vignette of what I can recall:
Waking up around midnight and being told that the contractions had been steady for the past hour.
Bringing my wife a peach and a blueberry yogurt as she labored in the dark in our bathtub, and then sitting next to her eating the one she didn’t choose.
Looking over at her as she hugged the back of our car seat and told me I was doing a great job driving to the birth center; she was working through contractions every few minutes and took time to tell me that I was doing a great job driving…
Watching the midwives and doula as they lovingly supported my wife and hearing their continual assurance, “you’re doing good work, mama.”
Having my heart break at every new contraction as I watched my wife’s face contort into pain.
Thinking helplessly about how insanely tired she was and that there was still so much left to do.
Standing over her, sobbing as I held her face and told her I wished I could do it all in her place.
Sitting in shock as I was all at once humbled, honored and thrilled to be a new dad.
Some of the things I learned during this one important day:
That natural childbirth is a difficult, harrowing, beautiful and amazing experience.
That midwives and doulas are worth their weight in gold.
That a child can shoot out of a mommy like a cork out of a champagne bottle.
That my wife is my hero and stronger than I had ever imagined.
That I would instantly fall in love for the second time in my life.
That I would make threats to imaginary future boyfriends within five minutes of my daughter’s birth.
That I thought I knew a lot about life, God and the universe and after watching the insane miracle that is birth, realized that I knew very little.
After the birth, I was overwhelmed with a flood of different thoughts. I thought about how we had just gone through this transformational, life-altering experience and how the midwives do it everyday. I gave gratitude for the fact that we had a whole team working with us and that I was able to work with them to support my wife through this journey. I then realized that there are single moms out there doing all of this on their own, and it broke my heart. If you are a single mom reading this: I’m proud of you, my heart goes out to you, and I’m sending love your way.
As I looked at my daughter for the first time, my thoughts turned to her. I thought about the future: helping her tie her laces, teaching her to read and the millions of other things we would be responsible for teaching her. I thought about how she would grow into an amazing woman, the boys we would have to chase away, the college she might attend and the fact the she might also be a parent someday. I thought too about all that I had learned over the last few decades; all the triumphs and failures, the heartaches and blessings, the life stages traversed and the fears overcome. And I thought about the fact that all of it was starting right here, right now, at this very moment, for her.
With that last thought still echoing in my mind, I leaned down for the first kiss I would ever give her and quietly whispered “welcome to the world.”
Ethan writes for The Dad Dynamic, a community for modern dads. He lives happily in babyland (Stapleton, Denver) with his wife, Casie and daughter, Olivia.