It has been eight days since you were born and this is the first time I have been able to sit down and write to you. Although, even now, I am listening to hear if you wake up, to see if your mother needs some help with whatever it is that you may need: a diaper change, (I am becoming pretty good at it after only eight days), a feed, or maybe just some rocking back and forth to calm you down.
I will probably work on the introduction of this project thousands of times before you actually read it, but here is a start. I hope to keep a running journal of our lives as a family to give to you when I feel you are “mature” enough to appreciate it. I want to lay out the simple tales of everyday adventures we may embark on, or maybe fill you in on current events of our time, I want to share some of my personal thoughts with about you, with you. In it’s early stages this journal will also be away to keep friends and family, especially your grandparents who cannot see you grow, in touch with what is happening in your life.
But enough of the pragmatics let me tell you why I want to do this. Looking back at photographs of my parents when I was first born, I try and imagine what kind of people they were, when they were young. I wish I knew what they were thinking or feeling before I was born. How did I change their lives? What was their daily life like? What problems did they face? What joys entered their thoughts? I hope these pages will help you understand who your father was when you were young, and how you helped me grow a person. I hope to paint a picture of the effect you have had on the world since the day you were born. The future is uncertain, and it feels strange to sit and write to you as an eighteen year old, when you are such a tiny little guy now, but I am hoping that things went well. I hope you had an amazing childhood, I hope you are kind and honest and compassionate. I hope you love music and that you are your own person. I have so many dreams for you. Whether or not we achieved them together, these pages could be proof of what worked and what didn’t.
Like I said, this intro will be drafted and edited countless times before you read it, so let us move on to the beginning.
July 8th, 2006 6:16 pm Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, the time and place that changed my life forever. This is the time you were finally born. Your mother and I had gone to our finally nice dinner the night before and checked into the hospital so you could be induced. You were a few days passed your due date and the doctor recommended you be induced. I won’t get into the details, but we picked a date and went with it. Your mother started her contractions early, around 7 am. I could feel my adrenaline rushing, seeing that I had been for that moment for nine months. Mairin, sorry I feel weird calling her your mother over and over again, waited out the pain for about two hours and told the doctor that the pain was becoming unbearable at which time the doctor moved her into the delivery room and gave her some pain relief. He said that now we would wait. And that is what we did. We waited for nine hours. You had no intention of coming out. We joked about whether this could be a life long habit, and we passed the day trying to nap, talking, and I remember staring out the window often.
After nine hours, the doctor, his name was Dr. Guna by the way and he was a very nice man, said that it was time to have a Caesarian. After a few more hours of waiting, your mother was taken into the operating room and I was allowed to “scrub” in and stand by her side. As I am sure you have learned, Mairin does not have a high threshold for pain and discomfort, but when it comes down to business she really steps up to the challenge. I was so proud of her, and I was so impressed by the courage she showed going into that room. I remember looking at her lying there with her stomach cut open, doctors tugging at her insides, and asking her, “Are you okay?” She smiled and nodded. She looked so beautiful then. I was sure that she would make an excellent mother. I was trying to be brave and strong, but seeing the smoke rise as the laser cut her flesh, it was all I could do but not turn pale and fall over. After about fifteen minutes, I saw the top of your head for the first time. It looked like a hairy eggplant. Before I knew it, Dr. Guna had yanked you out, cut the chord and was telling me to take my photos. I took a few quick shots that were out of focus, and you were carted off to the table to be cleaned and checked out. I followed you over and felt like I was dreaming as I watched you take your first breath and move your tiny arms.
It is a cliché to say that having children will change your life, or that until you are a parent you really don’t understand the nature of life. But as I saw you lying there, the clichés started to become truths. I knew from that moment on, every second of everyday for the rest of my life, half of my thoughts would be with you. Are you safe? Are you happy? Are you clean? Are hungry? Do you feel pain? It felt as if half of my life was removed and you were attached. Don’t get me wrong; I did not feel insufficient, but I felt whole for the first time in my life. You filled a gapping void that I had spent thirty-two years trying to fill.
My mother told me that she had heard it was a good idea to stare into your eyes as soon as you opened them, to let you know that you had entered this new life, and when I did I felt authentically happy.
The First Week
After a few days in the hospital, we were free to go home. This week has been a challenge. People often say there is no manual for raising children; well they are wrong. There are hundreds of them, and reading through them can wreak havoc on the sanity of new parents. Each “expert” gives techniques for raising happy, healthy babies, and if you read enough of these books, you start to see that they contradict each other. Use a pacifier. Don’t use a pacifier. Sleep with your baby in the same bed. Never sleep with your baby. The list is endless, but the real answer is to follow your instincts and see what works. The only trouble is that each task if done improperly could have lifelong implications. Or so we thought. Could any of our actions lead to some neurosis later in life? We were so nervous to do everything right.
But like I said, it has been a week, and you are eating properly, sleeping properly and giving your old man enough diapers to change to make sure that he really learns how to do it well. We are learning how to bathe you, feed you, play with you. I already know your favorite positions (I call it the Orangkaia, because you look like an Orangutan) and how to burp you. The anxiety is being overtaken by fun. Just staring at your facial expressions is enough to make my day.
Is this boring you? This play by play of your first few days with us? Well sit back and relax. If this project has been done correctly you are probably holding a thousand page plus manuscript with stories about your entire life. And knowing your mother and I, I can promise you it has been an exciting one. These early entries may feel hurried because I feel I am under the gun; you could wake up at any moment, but I hope to settle in and give you a product you will find insightful, emotional, entertaining and important for you to take with you into your adult life. Think of it as a court of guide. I wish someone had given me one. I eventually figured it out on my own, and I know you will do the same, but sometimes it can be helpful to read about our past to learn about out future.