In My Daughter's Eyes- Martina Mcbride
"Ann, whats that?" There was a puddle on the floor and my wife was sitting at the kitchen table not doing a thing about it. That in itself was enough to make me worry. She'd been cleaning obsessively for weeks.
"What do you think it is Jacob?" It seemed to me that it was a loaded question. I wasn't sure that I was supposed to answer her; was it a rhetorical inquiry? She didn't look like she was going to say anything else.
"I, uhhh, don't know." It sounded like more of a question than an answer.
She glared at me. "Think Jacob, think really, really hard. What is supposed to be happening very soon? What have I been worrying about for the last three months?"
Her tone of voice surprised me. Ann wasn't usually this easily angered, the last time she'd been like this had been nearly seven months ago; she'd been irritable for a while after we'd found out that she was.....oh.
"Oh." My mind had gone blank.
"Oh? Oh what honey? Love of my life? Oh, I still don't know? Or, oh, shit I'd better help Annie get to the car before she has ANOTHER CONTRACTION!?" She grabbed at her stomach and bent over, covering her mouth with her free hand to muffle a shriek.
"The 'oh shit' one!" I was beside her in an instant, I didn't know what to do. I was in full panic mode.
The contraction didn't last long and she began giving me instructions. "I already called the hospital, they said they'd be ready for us whenever we got there. Get the phone and dial Emily, she'll want to know, and grab my bag. It's upstairs, under the bed."
I seemed to be incapable of functioning properly. I did as she said, but it took a while and I made a lot of mistakes. The half hour that followed would forever be a blur of blind panic. I didn't think I'd ever remember what exactly took place before we entered the hospital. All I knew was that I'd gotten her there and that I was still alive.
I didn't trust him as far as I could throw him. Mentally he was somewhere else entirely and I had no idea where that might be. It was like he'd retreated to some strange, dark corner in his mind and was hiding out until the storm passed.
I couldn't believe that now, when I was in labor, he decided to check out. Of all times, he choose now.
I was sure that a miracle had occurred when we got to the hospital unscathed. I'd done my best to keep my mouth shut but those pot holes....and the speeding!
"Jacob, was it really necessary to blow through that last light?!" Stress, I didn't need stress! "I'm having a baby, not dieing."
Instead of answering he put his head between his knees and took slow, deep breaths.
"Just, help me into the hospital alright? How long could it possibly take? All I have to do is push the kid out."
Famous last words, 'how long could it take?'.
Twenty four hours, that was how long it could take! She'd been in labor for twenty four hours. A whole day and night. Put together! Twelve plus twelve!
I didn't know how much longer I could hold out. I was going insane; she kept screaming in agony and yelling at me and crying and refusing the pain medication. I would've taken it if they'd offered it to me; would it have helped my spinning head? Would it have help the nausea I was feeling?
I didn't know how to do this. Where I was I supposed to stand? Was it okay that she kept hitting me? Was that normal? How could this be normal?
It wasn't just now either, what about later; what happened then? The baby would leave the hospital with us! We'd have to take care of it, feed it, change it's diaper. What if I messed up?! I wouldn't be able to 'fix' it, this was a person. This person was mine, ours. We were going to be responsible for a child.
"Alight Andrea, it's time honey." Wait, what?! I wasn't ready yet, I'm not ready! How do I make the doctor stop?!
"Finally," Ann sighed with relief. How can she be happy that the weight of the world is about to be placed on my shoulders?
"I'm not ready." It came out so quietly; my voice shook. I'm such a wimp.
I almost felt bad for him.
"Too damn tough." Almost, but not quite.
Who the hell cared about Jacob? I was the one in pain. I was the one having contractions. I was the one who was getting ready to give birth! Couldn't he at least try to help me through it? He was about to be a father for goodness sakes!
I was more then ready to finally push. I wanted this to be over! I was tired of the constant pain; I wanted this child out of my body.
The nine months that had past hadn't been as hard as I'd always imagined they would be. Morning sickness didn't last forever, and I did not mind missing my monthly 'visitor'. Getting bigger didn't even bother me, I almost never thought about it. Looking back I actually enjoyed being pregnant. Feeling that first kick, knowing that someone was always with you...it was great!
This was something else entirely. I couldn't have dreamed that the act of bringing a human into the world hurt as much as it did. Sure I'd seen the videos of women giving birth before, but it had never really sunk in. Now I understood.
I felt ugly. I knew I was ugly. I huffing and puffing and red and sweating. I was beyond hideous.
"That's right dear, one more---," I took a deep breath and put all the energy I had left into the final push. I didn't think it was ever going to end and then, finally, I heard a cry. "It's a girl!"
When I came to all the doctors had left and I was in a chair in another room. Ann was propped up in bed and holding something that was wrapped in a blanket. For a moment or two nothing made sense to me; I couldn't figure out where I was or why I was there. And then I remembered:
I was a father. I had a little girl.
"Her name is Helena Rose." Helena, my baby girl.
"Really?" I whispered as I got up and made my way tot he side of the bed. Was this a dream?
Ann nodded at me. "You get to pick when we have a boy..."
I waved my hands at her. "Let's not talk about that okay?" I wasn't ready for this one yet and she wanted to discuss the next. "I'm not willing to think about it now." I was still in shock.
She rolled her eyes. "Fine. Let's talk about this one then. She's going to start piano lessons as soon as she turns five and ballet at seven. I want her to know how to cook and clean and," I interrupted her.
"Hold it! She's not going to be a sissy. You can do some of that stuff, but I want her in self defense classes. I'll teach her how to do important things like change a tire and check the oil........"
"What are you talking about?! She doesn't need to know that junk, she's a little girl. She'll like pink and lace and ruffles and things like that."
"Well she doesn't need to know ballet. I say she'll want her room painted blue, not powered blue either. Dark blue. And," the baby, Helena, yawned then and blinked up at me stopping me in my tracks.
We both stopped speaking and watched as Helena's face grew bright with a smile.
"Maybe," I hesitated. "Maybe she'll want both."
Jacob nodded his assent. "Maybe." He looked from our baby to me and back again. "She looks like you."
"Really?" I questioned. "I thought she looked more like you."
He shrugged. "So."
"So." I repeated.
"This is it I guess. Something completely new and different."
"Think we can do it?"
"I think so," she answered. "I doesn't seem too hard. I've taken care of all the others without any major incidents. You've done alright too."
That was right, I had gained some experience during my time as part of her family. "You'll help me right?" I still didn't trust myself though.
She laughed at me. "Of course!" The laughter died away and she asked, "You'll help me too, won't you?" Could she really be worried about that? My loving, beautiful, intelligent, caring wife? Could she be feeling the same way that I was?
"Sure I will." I sat down beside her on the bed and slowly took Helena from her. Her tiny fist curled around my finger and suddenly I was sure that everything would work itself out. We'd gotten this far hadn't we? "It'll be okay Ann, we can do this."
"Yeah," I murmured watching him with our baby. "We can do this."
Strangely enough, I believed it.