It was the first week in September 2003 when I got the news. Ann, having been suffering from what she thought was a bout with the stomach flu, called me at work once she returned from the doctor. And I’ll never forget it.
“I’m pregnant,” she said, voice quivering. Barely being able to hold onto my oh-so-chic Nokia 8210, I was ecstatic, scared, nervous, and freaked out.
Us, with a child. Us, parents. Wow.
I told her to meet me for lunch at the office. When she arrived, I ran outside and greeted her with a big hug and the two of us shared a moment we would never forget. It was the first time that we had officially held each other as parents.
From there, it everything went so fast. Our schedules revolved around doctor’s appointments and every little thing a nervous Ann thought didn’t feel right required a call to her OB/GYN who was outstanding throughout the entire pregnancy. She also performed the C-Section.
Nothing really hit us until we saw the first ultrasound.
That little peanut was our baby although at this point its sex could not be determined.
It didn’t matter. We were ready for little Girl or Boy to arrive. I printed out this ultrasound and stuck it to the side of my work computer and as I got updated ones, printed those out and replaced the last one. Coworkers would come into the office to get an update on things and see the latest ultrasound and, of course, ask how we were both doing.
And being it was a small business, they got together and had a Baby Shower which was just the beginning since one coworker decided she would throw us one herself…
…as did Ann’s parents.
A total of three Baby Showers. Don’t ask. I guess people like us. By the way, that Picasso print over my left shoulder is still hanging in the den.
Then, after all the showers had come and gone, The Big Day arrived — March 30, 2004. I was on my way to work when Ann called me on my cell phone which at the time I never had on while driving. But something told me to turn it on this time.
I was a block away when I got the call to come back home because her water had broke. I turned around, called the office to let them know my vacation had officially begun and, much to Ann’s chagrin, started the video camera.
We arrived at the hospital and Ann was still doing okay. After filling out some forms, she was taken into a room for observation. Her OB/GYN showed up for the delivery and gave us a rundown of how things would happen — and reminded us of the complications we could encounter as well. Ann was then wheeled out to the OR for the delivery as I donned my sterile outfit.
Here’s a selfie of me in said outfit as I ready to enter the OR. And as is evident by this photo, I was shooting what are known at this particular moment in 2014 as “selfies” long before it was chic. And I was doing it with film cameras in the 90s, you hipster twits.
The boy we came to name Anthony entered this world at 10:47 am. I sat by Ann’s side the entire time, only leaving her to take photos with two of the three cameras I took with me: two still (film and digital) and one video camera. On said video, I am filled with absolute euphoria as the doctor held up Anthony for the first time. I was crying more than he was and repeatedly saying, “Oh my God! Oh my God! I can’t believe it!”
Ann, pretty drugged up, just smiled at me.
Once Anthony was cleaned up and I had taken umpteen photos, the nurse handed him over to me to hold for the first time. I’ve never had such a feeling of love in my life. Here, in my arms, was our little creation tightly wrapped in blankets and whose newborn eyes were seeing light for the first time. It’s absolutely mind-blowing.
I wouldn’t let him go. I held him so close to me as I looked into his big, blue eyes* with absolute wonder, cherishing a moment we may not ever see again. I cried again just staring at him and could almost hear Dad laughing and carrying on behind me, beaming with as much pride as myself and handing out bubble-gum cigars.
Before we knew it, Anthony was off to the Postnatal Ward for more measurements and monitoring. That’s when the grandparents saw him for the first time.
I was also able to spend a little more time with him later that day as well as change a diaper or two.
From the time we found out, I’ve always been proud to be this boy’s father. Nothing makes me happier than to see him smile and over these last 10 years, I’ve seen him change so much but remain the sweet little boy I’ve always known.
May he never lose his sense of wonder. May he always be curious of things as simple as the spots on ladybugs or as complex as the galaxies that swirl above us.
May his compassion continue to flourish whether it’s helping the homeless or playing with the Special Ed kids at his school, both of which he does frequently (despite being ridiculed by some who aren’t as mature as he).
It doesn’t matter if he follows in my footsteps or decide to take his own path. The only thing I can ask him to do is to be a person of integrity and honesty, and as of right now I think he’s well on his way to making that a reality.
His heart will be broken by his first love. He will lose golf tournaments. He will fail his driving exam. He will make bad decisions.
But if he is anything like me, he will learn and move on. Whatever the case may be, we will always be there to love him and support him, just as we promised we would the moment we found out he was on the way.
Happy 10th Birthday, Anthony. You mean the world to us.
*Most newborn eyes have a blue tint to them. Their natural color eventually breaks through.