For Maggie, In Her Sixth Month

mag.jpgDear Maggie,

You were born six months ago today. It was a humid June afternoon when your mother and I walked from our East 71st Street apartment to New York Presbyterian Hospital. You were breach and — despite our best efforts in those final weeks — refused to turn. You were delivered via c-section June 7th just before six o’clock.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw you, and how massively and suddenly you changed my life. You were bright pink and screaming, struggling against the rubber gloves and bright lights. Before I could react, they shot your thigh with immunization, and dipped you feet in ink. I just wanted you safe in my arms.

The impulse to protect has been overwhelming. The walk home from the hospital was devastating; I felt like we were wandering through wildest Africa surrounded by threatening beasts. I’ve come to expect danger around every corner, and at every stoplight. Even now, as you scoot along the floor here at home, my hand waits preemptively behind your head. More than once, I’ve flashed forward to your high school years and told your mother, “She not dating until she’s thirty.”

To this day, you prefer to be upright, and close to your mother or me. You are stubborn with sleep, resisting until you can’t keep your eyelids apart. When you finally slip into dreams, though, they are deep. On more than one occasion, I have tip-toed into your room, and placed my hand on your chest to be sure you were breathing.

And yet, our sweetest moments together have been on the edges of the day: your head finally falling onto my shoulder before bed, walking around the apartment in the dark, and standing by the living room window looking at the moon. It is all new to you, all miraculous.

Your eyes are bright, wide, curious, and clear. Your skin is perfect and soft. Your cheeks are nearly-edible. Even your wrists are pudgy. You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

All of the cliches are true. Parenthood is the toughest job I’ve ever loved. Nothing could prepare me for it. It’s consuming, challenging, breathtaking, heartbreaking, inspiring, intuitive and impossible. Every milestone is major. Every accomplishment noteworthy. Words fail. Photos fall short. Even video is insufficient. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done, hands down, ever.

Your mother, it should be noted, is amazing. She’s gathered everything we needed for our little nest, and set me to work. She feeds and soothes you at all hours. She makes your baby food by hand. She adores you, and is always looking out for you, always planning, always learning, always leading us as a family. And always with a smile.

So much has happened in these first six months! You have grown from a tiny, swaddled, sleeping elfin ting, to a beautiful, energetic, vociferous and curious little girl. You’ve learned to lift, to grip, to scoot, to smile, to laugh and to squawk. You can sit up on your own! And any second now, you’ll be crawling. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

And while you’ve grown by leaps and bounds in these six months, so too have I. I’ve discovered a love greater than anything, a deep, consuming, cellular love. And after all these years of worrying about what marriage and fatherhood would do to my dreams, my goals, and my sense of self, the greatest discovery of all is that you are my reason for being, not me.

180 days. You are a miracle.

I love you, Bubba.

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