The first time

Dateline: Thu 07 May 2009

No, not sex, you silly heads. Besides, that story has been diddled to death.

This first time refers to pregnancy, labor and delivery -- especially the latter. That's when the culmination of 8 or so months of relative discomfort (as the doctors say) and various surprises, sometimes joyous, sometimes indignant, sometimes just plain messy, come to a climax.

This was the experience Wednesday, as son Zera and wife Parn delivered their first child, a baby girl, into the world. And what a minx: a mop of black hair like her Thai mother, a rosebud mouth like her golden-haired father. and pink cheeks, hands and every other visible body part. Except for those marble grey eyes, scanning the new world, as if she is the wisest of the wise.

The day began on a birthing note, as Ezra, almost 2, and I left his house and discovered a broken robin's egg on the patio. An omen? Good or bad? Ezra, marveling as only a young child can do, seemed to think it was good, right until he dropped and squashed it.

So what to think? The pregnancy gods had sounded a dire note early on, one that kept me on alert. At about two or three months gestation, an ultrasound revealed a "white spot" on the baby's heart. "I have to tell you this, even though it probably means nothing," said the young genetics doc who read the results and called the couple in for a consult. He then went on to explain the possibilities and options: they could have a Down syndrome baby, or a baby with disabilities, or an A-OK baby -- who knows? They could have more tests, or ignore the whole thing, or opt for abortion.

"That guy must have the worst job in the city," my son noted. Parn and Zera have it together; they would take what they got, love and cherish her, come what may. So it was full steam ahead -- whatever would be, would be. No more tests. Just be pregnant, and be happy.

Here, again, is a small tribute to the immense value of newspapers. I went online and found a New York Times article on the marvels of ultrasound, how sophisticated and subtle it had become. But the downside of this technology, said the reporter, is that the white spot or marker often means no problems whatsoever; it's not proof absolute (and also is common with Asians). One point made that stuck with me: some couples go thru 7 months of needless worry and anxiety, only to have it all turn out fine. Some abort.

But back to the first time. The baby -- still Miss X -- was born healthy and handily. When my first child was born, it was a trans formative experience. "I have joined the human race," I said, realizing what a loner and outcast I had been before, and how now, I was invested in a way I'd never imagined.

"What was fun became joy," wrote my husband, a romantic at heart.

If you've ever had a baby, you know what I'm talking about. Men included; if you made a baby, you had a baby. Lucky dogs -- to plant the seed, watch the flower grow, then help your wife harvest the fruit.

The first time is unforgettable...yet, sweet irony of life, as the old wives used to say, "You forget the pain almost right away."

What you remember is the joy.


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