It’s very early in the morning. My wife has finally been given an epidural, and is getting much-needed rest for the first time in a very long time.
Me, I can’t sleep. I absent-mindedly take a couple of pictures in the darkness, barely perceptible shadows and a lit area where the fetal heart monitor is.
That heart monitor—I watch it. The numbers go slightly up, then slightly down, then slightly up; the tape with the chart line keeps rolling slowly out the machine and onto the floor. Every now and then, there’s a pause in the readings for a moment—no data. Each time it happens, I hold my breath. But then it resumes again, each time, with the same plodding insistence—a slight shift in the numbers, another beep, more tape.
My wife breathing.
The hospital room, in disarray. Thoughts of students and of teaching. Thoughts of family and of friends. Thoughts of solutide. Darkness.
Darkness and beeping and my wife breathing, asleep.
In just a few hours, I’ll be standing in the middle of a very cold hospital room while my wife sleeps, only this time I’ll be holding a tiny little girl. A tiny little girl.
— § —
It has now been four years since that night.
Taught a lot of courses.
Switched jobs once or twice.
Defended a disssertation.
Had a second child.
Got a cat
Got a second cat.
A lot has gone one since that night; a lot has happened. I’m older than I was then. Not by a little bit. Being born and four years have passed for my daughter. A few decades, maybe even a few lifetimes, have passed for me.
But here she is, telling me that she’s tired but she can’t sleep, a grown-up, preschool-attending supergirl with a mind of her own (a strong, and at times difficult one).
She’s beautiful and amazing and still tiny and all grown up, all at once.
— § —
Happy fourth birthday, supergirl.