After capturing our first child’s birth two years ago in writing, I was feeling a whole lot of pressure to repeat things this time around. So I’ve waited, far too long, in hopes of better seizing the moment of our newest child’s birth. Well, here goes.
Nearly two years ago our daughter Hadley burst into the world as the sun broke across the morning sky. Instantly overloaded, everything I felt was raw and new. With my wife’s latest pregnancy, this time our preparation was even better. However, the moment when her labor was to begin remained wildly unpredictable. So recently, as I rose on a Thursday, near dawn with a full day’s schedule ahead of me, the last thing I expected was the new round of surprises awaiting me. In fact, the previous day I had accompanied my wife to her now weekly doctor’s appointment, reinforcing my certainty that labor was still some time to come – a week or so, the doctor and I surmised. However, as Ali cautioned my departure, incredulous that I was to spend the better part of the day over thirty-five miles from home, she followed with the quintessentially on-cue declaration, “You’re not going anywhere, because I think my water just broke.” With that statement, we entered our own peculiarly new phase. It was all remarkably familiar but diametrically different.
Last time our baby was born in the morning. This time the sun descended across Boston, nearing the golden hour of soft shadows and gilded gables. Again, Ali proved brilliant, delivering a blessed baby boy. Our son entered the world at 5:01 PM, on July 16, an instant namesake, triggering a whole new round of emotional tumult, again paradoxically familiar yet strange. The memorable gush I experienced during our daughter’s birth was stopped in seconds after on this evening. There were no instant cries of new life, but the briefest stay on Ali’s chest before being swiped for a support team of physicians. Following delivery, commotion and cacophony. Our baby boy’s face was the color of blueberry.
Fear and anxiety filled me as I waited for his first scream. Before I realized, I left Ali’s bedside, finding our newborn in the warmer, now screaming, with a new doctor cooing over him, accompanied by a team of other doctors and nurses, all assuring me that everything was alright. “It is only bruising,” she said in a rich Italian accent, “but we wanted to be sure.” As a result of the speed and force of delivery, his face bruised. Yet upon seeing a violet faced newborn a sequence of actions were immediately set in motion to ensure that he had not been deprived of oxygen. As a nurse would later explain, “We have a lot of resources at this hospital, so we like to use them.” In a blur, the little lad was wrapped and safely back in mother’s arms and the beautiful scene was slowly returning. The blueberry shade would fade quickly, revealing his handsomeness. It was all too much, again, but in such a different way from last time.
Fritz, Ali’s honored nod to a family nickname, stirs something far below the surface. When I was a boy, my grandfather nicknamed me Fritz, as he too had been called when he was a boy. My nickname would later morph into Fritzwinkle, where the winkle came from I know not. Now, we had our own little Fritz, bringing with him more nuanced complications and complexities that I am still trying to understand. Yet, now I have a son, a namesake even, and he is a fantastic addition to our family. I only wish the first Fritz were here to see him.