Expecting Mabel – A Labour of Love
The Daddy Speaks.
We had been ‘expecting’ you for 40 weeks and 6 days, but when the midwife finally lifted your soft, blue body from the water, I realised that you were not what I had expected. Your face was unfamiliar; your grasping limbs waving as if trying to communicate in unknown signs. You were like a visitor from another world, eyes wide with surprise. As I held you, I felt your strangeness: that you were a new person, complete and whole, with talents and likes, a sense of humour, potential and destiny that I knew nothing of and would spend the remaining years of my life discovering. I didn’t cry as I had thought I might, but held my breath as I watched the quick rise and fall of your chest under the blanket, for you were strange and wonderful to me – like a miracle. And so to be there at your moment, to be witness to your first breaths, to be one of those whom your sparkling eyes first gazed upon, was a hushed, bewildering privilege and I whispered ‘thank you’ towards heaven, knowing you were so marvelous you had to be a gift from a perfect world.
As I drove home in the dead of night, having left you sleeping beside your brave and beautiful mother, I had the sensation that while the world had slept, life had changed so completely that it was almost beginning anew. Driving back to the hospital the next morning, your strange and wonderful existence was making me see a strange wonder in this familiar city. To think that each person I passed on the way had arrived in the world by these means – that the old lady at the bus stop had once been held by a young man in a delivery room, who gazed into her shining face, feeling the disorientating joy of being her father – softened the edges of a world that suddenly seemed too harsh.
And now I’m typing this with you sleeping beside me, and I’m watching you and wondering what dreams tonight will bring you. But I see now that you were not what I had expected because the reality of being your father is more than I could have dreamt; that the promise of the years to come – watching you take your first steps; hearing you say your first words; waving to you at the school gates; walking you down the aisle; watching you hold your own child – is so overwhelming that it cannot be expected, but must be enjoyed with strange wonder as the years go by. All that needs to be said tonight as I tuck you in is what I cannot help myself saying: I love you, my darling girl, and and I’m so proud to be your father.