As the title implies, this is Mike Cherry, pinch-hitting for his lovely wife, Hilary Flagg. Just so everyone knows, Hilary wrote a longer, cuter, and yes, better written entry about her birthing experience last night, so once you're done reading my post, check out the one below.
By the way, as I write this, Hilary is sitting right next to me, looking happy and beautiful, nursing our daughter, while rocking out to Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls" from the timeless 80's metal album Ride the Lightning. Needless to say, my wife is awesome. Just FYI.
I can't possibly recount Hilary's labor any better than she has already done, but I'll add in a few details. The biggest thing she left out? How amazingly strong, positive and pleasant she was throughout the entire experience. I assume everyone has seen a t.v. show or a movie where a woman is giving birth, right? The scene usually goes something like this: "Ahhhhh! I hate you for doing this to me! Give me the drugs!!!" As anyone who knows Hilary can probably guess, that isn't how this particular deal went down. For one thing, she never used drugs; she never even asked for them. She was like Superwoman. The nurses all commented on how amazingly strong she was. As she finished each body-shaking, mind-blowing, 11-on-the-Richter-Scale contraction, she would smile up to the nurses and say something to the effect of, "Wow, that was a big one, huh?" It was wild. I'd never seen anything like it. I have always respected my wife, but my God, she took it to another level between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. on March 26th.
Other small details from labor worth noting for any future dads out there: (1) As the due date gets closer, go to bed early, because you never know when things are going to get nuts; (2) Bring snacks, like the huge sack of Sam's Club Tropical Trail Mix I brought, as you're going to need the energy; (3) Finally, just be nice and supportive of your wife, try to help her stay calm and relaxed, and get ready to meet your baby.
Speaking of the baby, she's totally, utterly, galactically awesome. Seriously. I met her at 8:32 a.m. on March 26th while my wife was undergoing major surgery (and, of course, smiling the whole time. Unreal). I watched as Dr. O'Connor saved my wife's life and pulled my daughter out of a small incision...and there she was. Crying, coughing, blinking, breathing. Alive. The nurses cleaned her off while Hilary was getting sewn up, and then they asked me what her name was. I was...ummm...well...(how do I say this in a manly way?)...let's say "weeping uncontrollably"...and I choked out, "Natalie Iris Flagg". Then they handed her to me. And all of a sudden, I was someone's dad.
I want to finish this with a confession. You know how in movies characters say that, from the first moment they saw their child, they knew that they were head over heels in love and all that? That they just knew? That wasn't exactly how it went for me. I was exhausted, scared, nervous, and deathly afraid for my wife and child. Hilary was cut open on a table, Natalie had a tube down her throat to suction out meconium, and I was stuck in the middle, unable to help either of them. I was worried for my wife and my best friend; I was terrified to even hold my little girl for fear of hurting her. I didn't feel overwhelming anything except fear for my family. That was at 8:32 a.m.
Fast forward to 10:32 a.m. Hilary is safe and healthy, happy to have breast fed our daughter for the first time. The tubes are gone from Natalie; all that's left is a happy, healthy, 8 pound 14 ounce baby. I looked down at her and, despite being only a couple of hours old, she looked up at me. She didn't look around me, or beyond me. She looked at me. Then I knew. It just took me two hours more than in the movies. Hey, nobody's perfect, right?