"Where the hell have you been?"

I take a seat on the armchair by Cuddy's bed, the sound of the baby's heartbeat drumming away from the non-stress test like the hoofs of one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. "Had a coffee break."

"That was some long coffee break," she snaps.

"Wilson's fault."

"You're the one who called him."

I point to the flowers that have been placed in a vase by her bed. "You wouldn't have gotten those if he wasn't here."

"I'm in labour. You really think I care about flowers right now?"

"You could at least be grateful."

"House," Cuddy says in a tone so sharp I actually freeze in mild fear. "Now's not the time to be an obstinate jerk. I need you."

I stare at her for a moment, then look away, feeling guilty. Damn Cuddy for making me feel guilty. Damn her for making me care about her. Damn her for letting me agree to be the father of her child. I sigh and slowly push up from the chair to head across to the bed. I sit on the edge and she takes my hand.

"Wilson would be way better at this," I tell her.

"He probably would be," she agrees in a gentler voice. "But he's not the one I want here."

"It would be a wiser choice."

"I don't care about what's wiser or not."

"I'm probably going to regret asking this, but why?"

"Because Wilson's not you."

I look down at her hand in mine. I find her answer far from comforting.

"House," she continues, "as much as you probably don't want to hear it, you being here is important to me. You are important to me."

"You're right – I don't want to hear it."

"I know you don't," Cuddy sighs.

After she seizes up in another contraction, gripping her stomach with her face screwed up in pain, I wipe her face down with a cool cloth and decide to stay.

The sun rises just after 6. The hospital slowly comes to life as the morning turns into another hot summer's day; nurses and doctors rushing around the ward, patients and their family members coming and going, babies screaming to be fed, and other women who are in labour moaning in pain. It's like Hell. In fact, if Hell existed, I'm positive it would be right here in the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital maternity ward.

While Hell is busy bringing new demon children into the world, Cuddy's labour seems to grind to a bellyaching halt. I do everything I can to be useful, mainly because doing things makes me less anxious. I massage her lower back, I walk with her up and down the corridor outside, I even get in the shower with her at one point and let her hang off me while she restlessly moves about in a way that I can only describe as slow dancing, to relieve pain. Slow dancing in the shower with Cuddy while she's in labour - I don't know how much weirder and more undignified the day can get.

By 2PM, she's back in bed, exhausted and irritable, and – as it turns out when the doctor comes in to examine her – only a further centimetre dilated.

Cuddy lets out a frustrated sound as the doctor answers her pager and rushes off to attend to another woman about to give birth in another room. "I'm so ready for this to be over."

I stand at the end of her bed. "You're the one who insisted on coming here at three in the morning."

Cuddy gives me an irritated wave of her hand.

"Such a compelling comeback."

"Where's Wilson?" she demands.

"I don't know. Around."

"Go find him. Annoy him for a while."

"I'd rather annoy you."

"If you'd rather die, go right ahead," Cuddy replies crisply.

I take her point. I tell her I'll be back in about an hour and after I tell the nurses to page me if anything drastic happens, I head off to search for Wilson. I find him sprawled out on his couch in his office, asleep, his arm slung over his face and his tie hanging loose. Being the unsympathetic man I am, and I am very unsympathetic after spending almost twelve hours with my life hanging in the balance between Cuddy's labour pains and the creature within her that's causing them, I make as much noise as possible to announce my presence: slamming the door, stamping my cane on the floor a couple of times, rattling his pencil retainer, bashing his keyboard and making his screensaver give way to his desktop background.

"House," he snaps.

"Oh, sorry. Did I wake you?"

He just glares at me from underneath his arm.

"I'll take that as a yes."

Wilson grunts tiredly as he pushes himself up. My hand comes in contact with a few rubber bands on his desk. I have this sudden need to let off steam to lower my stress levels; I entertain the idea of flicking the rubber bands at his head while he rubs his face and runs a hand through his hair. "How's Cuddy?"


"I mean progress-wise."


Wilson gives me a look. "Last I heard, 'bitchy' wasn't one of the stages of birth."

"It's not – it's one of the main stages of the entire pregnancy."

"Seeing she's at the tail end of that, let's just stick with the stage she's at now."

"She's still pregnant. And bitchy."

He runs his hand through his hair again. "I gathered that much. About the pregnant part, that is. Cuddy know you're here?"

"She may be in labour, but she's not the boss of me."

"That's not what I asked."

I take to studying the teddy bear collection on Wilson's bookshelf. God, I hate teddy bears. They used to make me think of cancer, seeing they're all the rage when it comes to Wilson and oncology in general, but now they make me think of life-altering tumours, like babies. The kind of tumours that grow arms and legs, and poop on things, and drool everywhere.

"She knows I'm here," I reply.

"I take it that means she's still in the early first stage."

"Not even four centimetres dilated yet."

"Oh, boy," Wilson sighs.

I pick up a weird, misshapen ornament from Wilson's desk and study it with a frown. No idea what it is, I set it back down. I examine a few other things, wondering how the hell Wilson manages to accumulate so much junk from his patients, and I'm aware that he's watching me the whole time. I try to ignore him.

"You okay?" he finally asks.

"Couldn't be better," I reply mock cheerfully.


I glance over my shoulder at him, then turn back to his cancer patient mementos. In a weird, twisted way, his mementos remind me of a serial killer and the way they always keep a souvenir of the people they've killed. He keeps souvenirs of all the people he's almost killed through chemotherapy. Or almost saved. Dr. Death would be such an apt name for him, I think as I read one of the thank you cards standing on his desk. Signed from someone named Claudia. I spend a moment wondering if she's still alive. Then I decide I don't care.

Wilson seems to think my silence means something significant. "You want to talk about it?"

"What's there to talk about?"

"Oh, I don't know," he replies dryly. "The fact that you're hours away from becoming a father?"

"Bit late to talk about that."

"It's never too late to talk about that."

"You're the one who said it's a bit late to have second thoughts," I shoot back.

"Since when was 'talking' an anagram for 'second thoughts'?"

I take interest in Wilson's pen collection on his desk. He has a big pen collection, I notice. Unnecessarily big. What the hell does he even need all these pens for?

"What if I can't do this?" I finally say.

"Do what?"

"You know." I gesture with my hand, prompting Wilson to get what I'm talking about. Of course, he just stares at me blankly. Stupid idiot is supposed to be my conscience, capable of reading my every thought when I don't want him to know what I'm thinking. Or when I don't want to voice my thoughts, like I don't want to right now. Some useless conscience he is. "You know," I say again, impatiently this time. "The whole father thing."

"I thought the arrangement was you're not obliged to do the father thing."

"I'm not."

Either Wilson isn't surprised to hear me say that, or he's fantastic at acting. His face gives away nothing of what he's thinking, which both annoys me and puts me on edge. In fact, he watches me closely enough to make me feel like I'm naked. "I'm pretty sure you can," he says.

"Easy for you to say," I reply dismissively.

"Nobody ever gets it completely right, House."

"Doesn't mean I want to get it wrong."

Wilson is silent for a moment. I hate it when he's silent because I know that means he's calculating everything in that manipulative head of his. "Can I ask what made you decide you want to do this?"


He pinches the bridge of his nose. "Okay, allow me to rephrase: tell me what made you decide to want to do the father thing."



I sigh again, and then shrug. I don't want to do the father thing. Except I do. Even though I don't want to. Even though I do. I've never felt more torn about anything in all my life. "Because."

"That's not an answer."

"It is."

"House," Wilson repeats sharply.

I rub my hand over my face. I turn around and lean back against his desk, my cane clasped in my hands. "Because. It's just turned out that way."

"Because you wanted it to turn out that way?"

"Of course I didn't want it to turn out that way," I retort.

Wilson gives me one of his trademark puzzled looks. "Meaning...?"

I really don't intend to answer him, but my mouth seems to have other ideas. "Meaning I'm terrified."

"Of being a father?"

"And of Cuddy."

Wilson frowns in confusion. "Cuddy?"

I consider using Wilson's stapler to staple my mouth shut so I can't say anything else stupid. I silently pray for something to happen – a bomb to drop, a terrorist attack, the Milky Way to suddenly collapse on itself and the galaxy to turn into a huge black hole, a cancer patient to come in to Wilson's office and suddenly drop dead on the floor. Even my pager to go off to tell me Cuddy's about to give birth.

"You have feelings for her," Wilson realises quietly.

I press my lips together. If I believed in a God, I'd be convinced right now that he, she or it must hate my guts, seeing my prayers went completely unanswered. I want to tell Wilson's he's wrong. Except I can't. I can't even think of a witty comeback.

I stare at the door without saying a word.

Wilson finally breaks the pregnant – no pun intended – silence. "I take it Cuddy doesn't know this."

"She doesn't need to."

"I think she does."

"No." I give Wilson a fierce look. "She doesn't."

Wilson just watches me for a second. I realise it's Wilson's mouth I should have stapled shut. "Just because you can pretend something doesn't exist, doesn't actually make that thing non-existent."

"What does it matter to you?"

"What does it matter? Cuddy's downstairs, having your baby, and you don't think any of this other stuff is important?"

I look away. I definitely do not want to answer him. Pushing away from the desk, I start towards the door.

"Oh, that's right," Wilson snaps. "Just walk away, like you always do."

I reach for the door and fling it open.

"I'm here if you ever need to talk," Wilson calls after me. From the frustrated tone of voice, I imagine him throwing his arms up in that melodramatic Jewish way of his.

I ignore him and slam the door shut behind me.

"Thank god you're back," Cuddy says when I enter the room a little over an hour later.

When I'd left Wilson's office, I spent the time pacing the corridors of the children's ward, knowing no one would find me there, and glared at little bald kids while I tried to walk the pain out of my leg. I didn't eat because I wasn't hungry. I couldn't sit because I felt too anxious. I hated the fact that no one was ringing my pager to let me know Cuddy was ready to deliver, because I wanted this whole thing to be over with twelve hours ago.

All anxiety and self-pity I'd been feeling vanishes the moment I lay eyes on Cuddy. She's sweating, breathing quickly and shifting about on the bed in pain. I immediately re-enter panic mode and dash to her side when she stretches a hand out towards me. One glance at the non-stress test tells me her contractions are close to two minutes apart.

"I hate you," she moans as another contraction starts to take hold of her.

"Nice," I reply distractedly, my attention fixed on the machine. "I love you, too."


I watch the graph incline sharply and listen with a grimace as Cuddy groans in pain and grips my hand tight enough to almost crush every bone in it. While the contraction slowly eases, I mop her brow with a cold cloth and start taking her pulse.

She slaps at me. "That's not your job," she scolds breathlessly.

"I'm just checking your pulse."

"I don't want you to check my pulse."

I pay no attention to her. I look down at my watch and start timing... and jerk in surprise when she slaps my face with the cloth.

"Stop it," she demands.

"Why?" I demand back.

"Because I don't want you here as my doctor, I want you here as my partner."

I scowl at her, but I do as I'm told. As much as I want to argue that I make a way better doctor than I do a partner, I wipe her face over with the cloth again, down her neck and the top of her chest, then fetch her some ice cubes to ease her dry mouth. By the time I return, Cuddy is clutching her belly again as another contraction takes hold.

"Why didn't you ask for pain relief?" I snap when the contraction eases off.

"I can do this without pain relief," she replies through gritted teeth.

"You're a moron."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence."

"You're too far in to even have pain relief now."

"That's because I don't want any."

I fretfully rub my face. A nurse bursts into the room and starts taking Cuddy's vitals. Then the doctor rushes in and I watch in blind panic as the doctor snaps on a pair of gloves to examine Cuddy. Cuddy starts moaning in pain again and I suddenly want to push all the nurses and doctors aside and gather her up in my arms. I honestly thought I'd be able to handle Cuddy in pain, perhaps even revel in it a bit after all the pain she's caused me over the years with dictations and clinic duty. But no, I can't handle this. I can't handle seeing Cuddy in pain.

By the time the doctor finishes examining Cuddy, announcing that she's now almost eight centimetres dilated, I'm almost out of my mind with worry again. Without even thinking about it, I grab onto Cuddy's hand the moment the nurse leaves the room and I smooth her sweat-soaked hair back. I do everything I can to make her comfortable – I rub her feet, I make sure she has ice cubes to suck on, I keep wiping her face down, I keep asking her if she wants a heat pack for her back.

I suddenly realise with a feeling of horror mixed with irrational panic and fear as I rush off to get more ice cubes, that I'm fussing. I'm actually fussing. Like a terrified Dad-to-be. It's another one of those snapshot moments, one that flashes sharp and bright in my mind, burning an image in my brain. I know I'm going to remember this moment for the rest of my life – standing in the middle of the busy corridor with a jug of ice in one hand and a glass in the other, dumbstruck and disturbed and completely done for.

How the hell did this happen? How did I go from Greg House, the guy who swore myself off relationships and swore I'd never have kids, to Greg House, the guy who's shitting himself over a woman like she's my wife and hours away from becoming a father?

A baby screaming in one of the rooms nearby rudely pulls me back from the Twilight Zone. Everything slowly comes back into focus – the phone ringing at the nurses station, babies crying, nurses rushing around, the fluorescent lights glaring down from the ceiling. I continue back to Cuddy's room and pour her another glass of ice. Just as I'm handing it to her, she launches into another contraction. I fuss. I fret. I fucking panic. I'm positive I can't cope with this much more.

Her contractions come harder and faster. To make matters worse, Cuddy suddenly turns into Linda Blair from The Exorcist. Swearing and snarling and making noises that only the powers of demonic possession could possibly make. I almost expect her head to start spinning and green vomit to come gushing out of her mouth. She demands to be taken off the CTG and to be helped onto all fours, which I and a couple of nurses help her do. She grunts, wheezes, makes an endless string of animalistic sounds of pain. I watch her stomach seizing up with each contraction; a tight, misshapen mass as her uterus squeezes tightly around the baby. In my entire career, I have never once felt useless as a doctor. I feel nothing but useless right now, though. I know rationally that everything is going normally and naturally, but that does little to ease my nerves.

I'm dying for a cigarette. Or a joint. Or maybe a hit of morphine. Or maybe a hallucinogen to take me on a happy trip to a happy place where Cuddy's screams of pain would be peals of happy laughter and her bed would be a boat floating downstream a serene, blue river.

While I'm pondering the wonderful world of class-A drugs, a nurse bustles into the room and pushes me aside. I decide I need a break, even if only for five minutes. I slip out as inconspicuously as possible.

Wilson is just outside her door, biting his nails and looking as wide-eyed with worry as I feel.

"How's she doing?" he immediately asks.

I'm exhausted. My leg is aching so much, I've been contemplating sawing it off for the last half hour. I'm in a state of shellshock and I'm not sure I can handle watching Cuddy in agonising pain any longer. I slump against the wall. I feel traumatised. Distraught. Distressed beyond all reason. Being a man has never been so difficult.

"In hard labour," I reply.

"Shouldn't you be in there with her?"


"Then why aren't you?"

"I don't think I can take much more. I feel like I've been strapped to a torture device for the last..." I look at my watch. "Almost seventeen hours."

"You don't think you can take much more?" Wilson snorts. "Think about how she feels."

"It's all I've been able to think about. You been listening to what's going on in there? It's like the gates of Hell have opened for business."

"House!" I hear Cuddy wailing.

"See?!" I exclaim, jerking my thumb towards the room.

I don't want to go back in there. I can't. Simply can't. It's the first and only time in my life where I'd prefer to admit that I'm a wimp, rather than face Cuddy being in pain. Wilson gives me no option, though; he grabs my shoulders and shoves me towards the door. I resist. He shoves harder. I hear Cuddy calling my name out again. The whole ward is chorusing with the ear piercing shrill of babies crying. The doctor who's been keeping track of Cuddy's progress pushes past me and hurries into her room. My life is flashing before my eyes. Again. I so badly want to wake up and find this has all been a horrible, horrible dream.

"House!" Cuddy wails louder.

"Get in there, you stubborn jackass," Wilson snaps. He pushes me harder. "She needs you."

I stumble through the door. I'm given absolutely no time whatsoever to take in what's happening - the nurse grabs my arm and steers me roughly towards Cuddy just as the doctor announces that Cuddy's almost ready to push. I'm somewhere between relieved and horrified by that news. Relieved because it's almost over. Horrified because that means I'm moments away from meeting the human being that's going to destroy my life.

I also feel a bit bewildered. Even though this ordeal has been going on for seventeen hours, it suddenly feels like hardly any time has passed at all. Surely there's some kind of mistake, I want to say. We can't possibly be approaching ground zero already. I wheeze in pain instead when Cuddy grabs my hand and squeezes it tight enough to cause three of my knuckles to crack loudly.

"I need to push," she pants.

The doctor peers between her legs. "Not yet."


"Not yet, Lisa. You push now, you'll tear."

Cuddy squeezes my hand harder. God damn it, I almost shout while gritting my teeth against the agony of having every bone in my hand close to pulverised. Let her push!

"Breathe, Cuddy," I manage to say instead. "In, out, in--"

"Shut up," she snaps.

I ignore her. "Breathe, woman. Like they taught you at your weekly elephant walrus meet up club."

"Antenatal class, you ass."

"Whatever." I take a seat on the chair beside her, my hand still trapped in her bear trap grip. I lift my other hand and hold hers in both of mine. "Come on, breathe."

I demonstrate inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly to encourage Cuddy to do the same. She stares at me and begins to mimic with all the struggling effort of a woman trying not to expel a human shaped growth from her body. I never thought I'd see the day where I'd be sitting by a bed with a woman in labour, doing breathing exercises with her, but here I am, doing exactly that. And if it wasn't for the fact that the breathing exercises are actually making me calm down a bit, too, and that this whole moment is bordering on surreal and dreamlike, I would think this has to be one of the most humiliating moments of my entire life.

"Keep holding it, Lisa," the doctor says. "You're almost ready."

"How much longer?" Cuddy asks, close to sobbing.

"Not too much longer."

I squeeze her hand until she's looking at me again. "You're doing good," I murmur.

Cuddy just squeezes my hand in return before clamping her eyes closed with a grimace.

"Lisa, start pushing," the doctor urges. "Now. Right now."

I'm too focused on Cuddy to care how much the doctors words sound like she's me reading my last rites. But I was right when I told Cuddy there is nothing dignifying about childbirth. As she grunts and grits her teeth against the strain of pushing, the doctor tells her that a small amount of faeces trapped in her rectum is preventing the baby's head from crowning. The doctor tells her she needs to pass a bowel motion.

"I don't want to pass a bowel motion," Cuddy snaps.

"Stop being so full of shit," I retort. She shoots me a sharp look and I roll my eyes. "Cuddy, just do it."

Cuddy does as she's told without argument, for once. The nurse quickly cleans up the mess once Cuddy's done, then the doctor resumes encouraging her to push. Cuddy squeezes my hand with each bearing down and I simply keep my eyes focused on her face. I won't lie – despite all the panic and fear I've endured the last almost eighteen hours, I never thought I'd be humbled by a woman in labour. I have immense respect for Cuddy right now.

"Keep pushing," the doctor says. "You're almost there."

I don't really know what happens for the next few minutes that follows. But one moment, Cuddy is giving each push every bit of unwomanly grunt that she has, and the next there's a sudden burst of action and a baby crying.

"It's a boy!" the doctor announces.

I suddenly feel very detached from myself, like I'm having another near-death experience where I'm outside of myself, looking in. A screaming, gunk-covered Gollum-like creature still attached to the umbilical cord is brought up and laid across Cuddy's chest, and Cuddy lets out a soft exclamation of relief or joy. I watch her draw the thing into her arms with a weird sense of calm. Or shock. Or something that is blocking my panic receptors from going into red alert. The eye of the tornado again.

I've heard a lot of men talk about that moment of seeing their newborn child for the first time. They use words like "joy" and "happiness" and "relief" and "ecstatic". I feel none of those things. I feel... unable to respond. Frozen. Shell shocked. Maybe awed.

The baby is swiftly taken away from Cuddy to the corner of the room to be weighed and measured once the cord is clamped and cut. Cuddy seems too fixated on the baby to pay any attention to me, which is fine because I'm happy to stay cocooned in this cone of silence. I've dealt with enough chaos in one day to last me a lifetime. A few minutes later, the baby is brought back to Cuddy, wrapped in a blue and white striped blanket, and the nurse helps Cuddy attach it to her breast.

She looks across at me once it's latched on. She looks exhausted, but happy. Glowing. The doctor tends down between her legs, delivering the placenta and then examining for any tears that might need to be stitched up. Cuddy holds her hand out to me.

"You okay?" she asks tiredly.

"I'm alive," I say. "I suppose that's a start."

She smiles, and I take her hand in mine.

"Well," Wilson says quietly. "You survived."

I stand at the end of Cuddy's bed with Wilson, watching Cuddy and the kid sleep. Lucky them. I, on the other hand, am on the brink of collapsing with exhaustion. My head is throbbing. My eyes are burning with fatigue. My leg is killing me. I feel like I've just been released from a torture chamber, all bloodied and bruised and barely able to function. What a way to start fatherhood. "Only just," I reply.

"I'm happy for you."

I look at Wilson. "Don't."

"Don't what? Be happy for you?"

"Just don't be happy, period."

Wilson does his morally superior Superman pose. "Why the hell not?"

"Because you being happy requires energy to argue with you until you're not. I don't have any energy to argue."

Wilson gives me That Look. The one with the one lopsided eyebrow and the slightly squinted eye. The one that clearly says 'what's wrong with you?'. "Here's a novel idea: how about you try being happy for once. It's actually not as hard as it seems. Might conserve some energy that way, too."

I point at my head. "Can't you read the 'low battery' alert flashing on my forehead?"

"No. It's obscured by the permanently affixed 'trespassers and people who exude any form of happiness will be maimed' sign."

"Stop it, both of you," Cuddy mutters without opening her eyes.

As much as I want to retort that Cuddy's probably just sleeptalking to her breasts, I obediently fall silent, as does Wilson. I watch Cuddy for a moment, then the kid. My kid. My son. I've tried running those last two words through my head over and over since he made his slippery entrance into the world, but I still don't like how awkward and foreign it sounds. What makes it even harder is that I know absolutely nothing about this kid. Nothing at all. He might as well be a blank microchip that's waiting to be programmed. By Cuddy. And me. I feel a bit threatened by that fact.

"So, have you actually held Matthew yet?"

"I let him suck on my finger."

"Wow. How very fatherly of you."

"Well, he doesn't know the difference. He's a baby. Sucking's all he's interested in."

"What made you agree on the name Matthew, anyway? You never willingly agree to anything."

"I wanted Damien if it was a boy, but for some reason Cuddy wouldn't agree to that name. So I had to settle for Matthew." I suddenly yawn.

Wilson snorts. "Go home, House. Get some rest."

"Can't." I gesture to Cuddy and the kid.

"They're both resting. I don't think they'll care if you're gone for a few hours."

I shake my head. I don't want to go home. Not yet. I'm not ready to. Tired as I am, I still feel wired and on edge, and I know that if I went home I wouldn't be able to relax. I pull out my Vicodin, the only comfort I have left, and quickly throw back a pill.

Wilson yawns. "Well," he says, rubbing his face, "I'm going home. I'm beat."

"Oh, poor you," I reply sarcastically.

"Yeah, yeah." He waves his hand dismissively. "I've been on call for you for the last nine months. I'm officially signing off for the night." Wilson steps over to Cuddy and quickly kisses her cheek, before gathering up his jacket. "Call me if you need anything," he says to me as he leaves.

"So much for officially signing off," I call after him.

And then it's just Cuddy, the kid, and me.

The room is silent. The sounds of the maternity ward outside seem a million miles away. I stand for a long while, just staring between Cuddy and the kid, and feeling strangely very alone. In maternity room twelve, I think to myself, no one can hear you scream.

Finally, I take a seat on the edge of Cuddy's bed, my leg unable to hold me up any longer. I feel old and worn out. Trampled on. Drained. Like Superman to Kryptonite. I want nothing more than to lie down next to Cuddy and go to sleep. I don't, though. I end up watching her sleep, instead. She looks so remarkably non-threatening when she's asleep, it's a little hard to believe she's the very woman who possesses the divine talent of annoying the absolute crap out of me. It's true - she frustrates me, pisses me off, gets on my nerves, aggravates me so much that I often wonder how the hell I've come to be so close to her. Close to the point where I can no longer picture my life without her playing the role that she plays in it now. I blame that entirely on her, because she's evil and conniving and out to make my life a living hell... and I don't mind it one bit.

I lift my hand and touch her cheek with the back of my fingers. I run my thumb along her cheekbone. She stirs but doesn't wake. I stifle another yawn just as the kid makes a soft, grizzling sound. I stand from the bed and move across to the crib, and stare down at him. He grizzles again and moves about until a little arm shoots out from his bundle of blankets. He waves it about haphazardly and makes another soft sound, and I lift my hand to press my forefinger to his palm and he immediately clutches onto it.

This is it. This is the beginning of the end. What the hell have I gotten myself into? I have been assimilated into the parenthood collective. Resistance is futile. I can kiss what's left of my life goodbye. This inarticulate, bald, seemingly innocent and defenceless human being now rules my life with its tiny iron fist. And there is nothing I can do about it.


Despite myself, as the kid starts to cry with his hand still gripping onto my finger, I start to smile.