2 Months, 24 DaysAfter church tonight, one of our friends was holding Aletheia and said something like "isn't it just amazing how much love you feel for your children, more than you ever knew you could feel?"
People make that sort of comment to us a lot. Apparently it's a common experience. I should probably just nod my head and say yes, it is amazing. But the truth is, I'm not sure I operate that way. I've heard other new dads talking about crying when their kids were born. But I was completely in business mode--asking questions, accompanying the baby to the nursery (her breathing was a little labored for the first hour or so), making sure that Sandy had what she needed before and after delivery. I didn't feel overwhelmed or full of inexpressible love. I did feel a deep sense that I was responsible for the welfare of this kid. I wanted to know everything I could about her status. And I had no intention of leaving her side for a moment. They moved her to the nursery at about midnight and she stayed there for about 2 1/2 hours and I was there for all of it. She wrapped her hand around my little finger, and I sang her the lullaby that I had sung to her every night for the past five months. And I prayed the Lord's Prayer with her--another routine I had established while she was in utero. Nothing seemed overwhelming. It just seemed very natural--like this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I'm supposed to be caring for this little girl--singing and reading to her, holding and comforting her, and, of course, taking lots and lots and lots of pictures.
What that all adds up to is that I love her, of course. There's no doubt about that. I guess for some of us, that doesn't get expressed as some deep warm emotion. Love manifests itself to me as a great clarity--a deep sense of what my proper place is as this baby's father. Love is experienced in the quiet sense of contentment I feel when I hold her or slip into her room to watch her sleeping. Aletheia is an extraordinarily happy baby. Even in her sleep she smiles and sighs, and when I see that I can fall into my bed and sleep peacefully, too.
There's something else as well. If you've read the Aletheia name FAQ (there's a link at the bottom of the page) you know that Aletheia is a name I chose 13 years ago. I was a college senior in a New Testament Greek class, and every week the professor would read the list of the next vocabulary words we needed to learn. One week he reads "Aletheia, which means 'truth'." I thought the word sounded beautiful, and of course had a wonderful meaning. And I decided in that moment that if I ever had a daughter, I would like to name her Aletheia. Eight years later I married a woman who had also studied Greek, and it didn't take long to sell her on the name. So whenever we talked about our hypothetical, potential first child, we just called her Aletheia. We've been making plans for Aletheia, dreaming of Aletheia, waiting for Aletheia for years. When we moved to our current town three years ago I was 31 and Sandy was 28. People would ask us when we planned to start a family. And I would always say that our first daughter, Aletheia, would be born in the summer of 2006.
So maybe in addition to the idiosyncracies of my own temperment, part of my reaction to this new baby can be explained by the fact that the reality of Aletheia isn't a new thing for us, and especially for me. I started planning for the day that I would meet her long before I knew her mother. The awareness that someday I would share a home with this baby girl has been a part of my life so long that I can't really remember what it was like not to be expecting her. So when I stood there in July watching her being born, nothing about that scene was a surprise. It was just the way I always felt it would be. Maybe I wasn't overwhelmed by my love for her because I had already loved her for more than a decade. It's just nice to finally have her here with us.
Even though we're busy caring for Aletheia now, we haven't forgotten that she is unlikely to be an only child. It's going to be a real delight to introduce you to Alexandra, sometime in late 2008 or early 2009.