Where do I begin?
We met in that pernicious year of youth service and having built a friendship through every moment over that year, we decided to take the dive before we threw our frayed corper shun caps in the air upon passing out. I’d like to say we started planning our lives together from then. We got married in 2010, having been friends and dated for four years.
Months went fast after the wedding – we had planned to not have a child till after six months so that we could spend that time getting to know each other in our new role as husband and wife before a baby could change us faster than we could imagine. Within a matter of three months my wife took in and we experienced a flurry of emotions over our first child-to-be.
We went through the motions:medical check-up to confirm the pregnancy, making lifestyle changes – so she ate right and wasn’t stressed by work at home or the office. We couldn’t have been more careful. Then, one day, we went on a routine check-up and scan. My wife lay on the table while the doctor ran his scanner over her belly. He asked questions he already had answers to, wiped his scanner clean and began again, asking the same questions and finally ended by contradicting himself before breaking the news to us that the foetus was not growing.
This was new terrain to us: we had never lost a baby before. It was easier, perhaps for my wife. Forgive me, but by this I mean that, unlike me, she could identify the emotions that came over her when met with this circumstance. She had a handle on her emotions and faced them without denial. She wept, grieved and shopped while I watched.
By the fifth year of our marriage, one failed (painfully expensive) IVF procedure and four more miscarriages, the pain had sunk to where succour could hardly reach. We turned to God in self-examination and prayers. I’ve learnt that it is easy to wax evangelical in the face of adversities or despair; the truth, however, is that over this time our hearts and minds were unison in finding the same answers to the same questions.
After our fifth miscarriage last year, we decided to stop. Stop crying. Stop blaming ourselves. Stop asking God why or why not. Stop fussing over what we ate or didn’t eat. Stop blaming our life choices. We resolved to live as God wanted us to live and maybe even go on a vacation this year.
The New Year brought new targets and new experiences with a job change and a focus to make the planned vacation a reality. However, one morning in February, my wife woke before me, so that by the time I turned over in my waking, I saw her standing over me with a pregnancy test stick and two pink stripes. Why was this announcement different from the rest? Not much. Before that day, I would have congratulated her blandly and mechanically gone through the check-ups and hospital visits expecting to hear the same result. But not this time.
I only said “This is the one!” and I refused to have this conviction swayed by any doctor’s doom report or signs. I refused to believe anything that did not support this conviction. We passed the 12-week mark and every week after passed slowly, leading to this moment.
The moment when I held my son in my arms and a flux of awe-inspired words flowing through my head:
The first thing I said when I looked upon your face was: “So much hair!” The nurse wouldn’t let me carry you as she hustled you from room to room between tasks of taking measurements and wiping fluid off your body.
God knows I wanted to smell you. The mat of hair on your head and suggestions still on your face. I watched while you drew your first breaths of oxygen through your nostril. You didn’t give any trouble. But you cried! Oh, you cried. All babies cry but you’re my first and your cry moved me. Like none I had ever heard could. Tut-tut-tut! Don’t cry!
My first words to you then were: “It’s okay. What do you need?”
I needed the words I could speak to you to bring warmth, confidence and love closer to your skin than that amniotic fluid that stuck to your skin the colour of goat cheese; I needed the words to say you’re a man now. You made it. YOU made it.
I couldn’t stop staring…hold you in my stare…a little longer. It’s the same way I will when words begin to drop from your lips like pearls. I’ll rub your head, if you’ll let me… listen to you when you find words to shape your wishes like plucking an apple mid-air.
My breath will become yours. I’ll carry your name over mine. I’ll see you as you are now even when spot your first grey.
I remember this giddiness in my knees and the vacuum in my head. You found your finger to suck and I couldn’t help but laugh. And when you find my finger to hold, I pray you never let go.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Hongqi Zhang (aka Michael Zhang)
***Image used for illustrative purposes only