My wife was racked with pain, desperate to deliver our baby, and on the verge of her last push. My pulse raced, my breath was shallow, and I was both terrified and elated.
“I want to catch the baby,” I said to the doctor, reminding him, for the third time, of what we had discussed five weeks ago at my wife’s appointment.
“I know you do,” he said with a smile. “And you need to get ready, because we’re going to do one last push, and the baby’s going to be here.” He paused. “Alright now, push.”
My wife took a deep breath and pushed, her face determined, and my second daughter tumbled into my hands. It happened almost too quickly, leaving me shocked as I stared at my hands, which were holding my tiny, wailing daughter.
“The baby’s in my hands,” I said nervously, terrified she was going to slip out and fall on the floor.
“I know,” said the doctor, who was unraveling the umbilical cord.
“Uh – I’m holding the baby,” I said again, my nervousness apparent. The doctor chuckled and said, “I’ve got her,” and then picked her up to take care of her.
That was 11:01 p.m. last Saturday.
I’m still reeling with joy.
There’s something powerful about seeing the woman I love bring a child into the world – it leaves me in awe of her strength, more aware of her maturity. And there’s something about having a newborn in my family. She’s a living, breathing, clean slate – the face of new beginnings – a reminder that it’s never too late for me to grow and change for my family’s benefit.
And as I ponder the life ahead for my two-day-old daughter, it hits me all over again: if I’m going to be a good dad, I’ve got to be a good husband first. Because whether I like it or not, my daughters will look at the way I love their mother, and it will teach them what kind of man they deserve.
Think of it – I’m going to be the first man my daughters love, and I will set the precedent as to how a man should treat a woman. If I am respectfully direct when I communicate with their mom, they will probably avoid a passive-aggressive man who gives the cold shoulder. If I criticize and pick at their mom, they will tolerate a man who puts them down. But if I strive to love, serve, honor, and cherish their mom, they will look for the qualities of Christ in a man.
It’s a daunting task, leaving me with that feeling I had when I nervously said, “I’m holding the baby.” But if I step up to the plate and follow through with this, it’s one of the finest gifts I’ll ever give my little girls – and the woman who brought them into this world.