To Cole, On Your First Birthday

Hey, Cole. It’s me, Dad. It’s your first birthday.

You know, I asked your mother not too long ago if having a child was everything she expected it to be. I distinctly remember how she searched for the right words and replied to me as seriously as I’ve ever seen her. “I didn’t think it would be this satisfying,” she said. And with that she summed up both of our experiences in a way I never could have articulated.

Having you has been satisfying. Bullseye, mom.

Birthday book

While we’ve had our moments of panic (you have a tendency of getting into anything that might electrocute, permanently mar, or flatten you into an oversized pancake), we both feel that you bring something into our lives that makes us see things in whole new unexpected ways.

Last year, when you were born, we had noooooooooooo idea what we were getting into. I mean none. I remember how naive we were, prancing off to the delivery room after your mother was induced. I can still see her standing in the hospital room mirror and admiring how cute and adorable she looked in the delivery gown she purchased for the birthing event, while I inquired to the nurse about getting wireless internet access on my laptop.

No, really, that’s what we did. We waited for the contractions to come like we were standing in line to see the next X-men movie or something. Like I said, we had no idea what we were getting into.

Set the clock forty minutes into the future and your poor mother is overwhelmed by the sharp intervals of pain and discomfort. The gown is thrown off from the biological heat wave that consumes her. She’s screaming and throwing up all over the bathroom and yelling nonsense to me about the nurse not liking her because of something she said (actually, this may not have been entirely inaccurate). All I can do is try my best to get her an epidural. It’s getting ugly fast.

A few hours further and mom has pushed and strained like nobody’s business to get you out. But every time we make some headway, the doctor nudges you back in so that the life monitor can read your vitals (I guess that’s the procedure or something). I didn’t have the heart to tell your mother that he’d been doing that for the past five hours.

Finally, just as the morning sun spewed golden light into the delivery room, you were born. I had Cat Stevens’ Morning Has Broken stuck in my head.

I don’t know how to describe this moment to you. I don’t think any parent can. All I know is I looked up and saw you for the first time. I heard you crying and the most profound thing I could muster was… “Holy shit!”

Mom and I just stared at you, half laughing (mostly crying), saying to each other, “Holy shit! Look what we did!” Afterwards, as the nurse measured and weighed you into the world, you and I had our first man to man talk. Ask me sometime when you really need it what I said to you.

I think of this day every now and then and the feeling still floors me. When I look at you and see how you’ve grown in one year, I’m amazed that there was a time that we didn’t even have you to watch.

So, this is your day. Your special day. And I just wanted to share a little bit about your real birthday with you.

Because what we’ll be celebrating every year at this time is our day too. And having you around makes our lives that much more satisfying.

We love you. Happy birthday.