Here's the final act.
Annie took a few minutes to teach Naani, Mom and me the basics of pushing out a baby. I held one leg, Naani held the other, and Annie counted to ten while Kris pushed. The same instructions might have been given for a not so popular Olympic sport, Team Pooping. Everyone had a job and we all did it well. I remember having two thoughts: First, “Where is the doctor?” Second, “Why do I have such an up close view of the action?” As for my intimate vantage point, I was expecting to be standing by your mom’s head when you emerged, but this position had me right in the thick of the action. I just looked your mom in the eye and gave her my most encouraging words (“You have a real gift for child-bearing! You have a huge talent!”) and tried not to look to closely at what was going on south of the border. It wasn’t long before Annie could see your little head poking through. She said, “I see the head- he’s bald!” Fortunately, your ears were not yet exposed. Otherwise you might have heard and grown up with a complex.
After about thirty minutes of timed pushing at Annie’s behest, the doctor came in for the final surge. He set up shop at your mom’s feet and I moved to my expected position by her head. Poor mom was pretty spent at this point, but she as hanging tough. Remember, at this point she hadn’t eaten anything at all in 12 hours, most of which had been full of stress and exertion. Fortunately, that last meal had been dad’s hearty beans and rice. She proved to be a warrior with a particular talent for birthing humans.
By the time the doctor was ready at 9:10, you were literally one push away. Sensing that the moment was upon us, I grabbed the camera with my left hand while my right hand held mom’s. I pushed record just in time to capture the footage of the doctor catching you and spinning you around, untangling the umbilical cord and removing the fluid from your nose and mouth. The footage is miraculous, as you have seen, and the soundtrack is a mixture of your first screams and me weep-laughing with the greatest joy I have or will ever experience again. Although I can never again in life experience such joy in quantity, I can experience it in kind by simply holding you and looking at your face.
Amidst the emotion of your birth, I had two confusing moments. At first sight, I would have sworn you were black. Though I would never question your mother’s faithfulness, my eyes perceived a son that did not match my race. I later learned that you were just a little low on oxygen at the time, while you were figuring out how to use your lungs without mooching oxygen from your mom’s bloodstream.
My second misconception came only seconds later, when a nurse was wiping fluid off of your hind parts on the other side of the room. I could have sworn that I saw a tail right above your baby butt. Though concerned, I thought it best to carry a light tone in my voice when I said, “He has a little tail, doesn’t he?” The nurse promptly responded, “Yes, he has a tail.” Her tone was not as light as mine, which to me confirmed that my eyes had not deceived me. Due to the health checks and blood draws that were necessary in subsequent hours, it was a long while before I was allowed to flip you over and examine your rump. It turns out you never had a tail at all. Evidently the nurse who confirmed the appendage thought I was talking about your tally whacker (penis).
Speaking of your binkie, I tried to save your foreskin. Sadly, the pediatrician would not hear my suggestion to preserve it in formaldehyde for posterity.
You were born at 9:10 and by 3:00pm you were in the recovery room with us where we spent the next couple days getting used to life together. You were tested multiple times over that period and you passed every exam with very high marks. You scored a 9.9 out of 10 on the APGAR, which tests your tactical agility and ability to make quick decisions under duress. We’ll be sure to put that on your college applications. You also passed your hearing exam and impressed us all when you slept through your circumcision.
We received further evidence of your toughness when you got your first heel prick. The technician said you were the best baby he had drawn blood from all day. You didn’t cry at all. In fact, I think I heard you giggle. Already you were distancing yourself from your peers. If that didn’t earn you an early membership to the man club, the pediatrician’s revelation did- while feeling your bones, she discovered your collarbone had been broken at delivery. After briefly entertaining the assassination of your delivery doctor, we gawked at your tolerance for pain.
The family gathered around and joined hands to thank the Lord for granting you safe passage into the world. From beginning to end, everything went as smoothly as it could possibly go. Lots of things can go wrong when delivering a child, but the Lord was a shield from these complications. At the end of a long couple of days, we had a beautiful, healthy boy and every reason to celebrate and glorify the Lord, who gave us the best early Christmas gift ever.