On Friday the 13th, one year ago today at 12:26am, Michelle and I welcomed Naomi Rose into the outside world. I remember the first time I saw Naomi. Seated up by Michelle’s head, doctor’s were working in front of me. Soon, I would hear a vocalized sputtering and then intense crying. The lead doctor said something and held up Naomi very quickly before handing her off to nurses.
Naomi was placed on a table off to the side of the room. I wandered over. Her lips were bright red, her skin covered in vernix and she was screaming which was understandable. She had been evicted from her cozy home that in reality, was probably becoming far too cramped. I thought about what she must be experiencing: bright lights, all sorts of people talking, hands grabbing at her.
I was a dad. This little girl lying on an operating table was mine. A striking feeling. One of those surreal moments in life. Rarely had I felt such excitement or a sense of terror. Michelle and I would now be responsible for a life. The soul of an image bearer of God that had been entrusted to our care.
Upon leaving the hospital and coming home, there was so much joy in introducing Naomi to her new home. I had no way of knowing at that time but the year in front of us would bring many adventures. Our family vacation would take us to Cannon Beach. Every event was a first: the preliminary Thanksgiving, an introductory Christmas.
The Bible says, “Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord” in Psalm 127:3, CEV. Naomi has been a transcendent gift. My life has, obviously, been changed in drastic ways. I welcome all these changes for the chance of spending these days with her.
My father-in-law asked me about the greatest thing that I have learned about myself in the past year. I echoed something Michelle said to me, facetiously, that we have kept another human being alive for a year.
Upon more serious reflection, I have experienced a renewed sense of awe and wonder. Different blogs and articles have characterized little babies as scientists. They desire to touch, taste, see every single thing that they can in their world. Occasionally when I am carrying Naomi around the house, she will be reaching out frantically, attempting to grab anything she can.
I try to observe and take in all of the new things that Naomi experiences as a first in her life. Her first time seeing an animal at the zoo. The first time she sees a specific flower. Just today, the first time she saw a huge construction crane extending into the sky. All of her mind, being mostly a blank slate, now being formed as she encounters the world. Neural pathways being laid down in her mind to help her categorize and make sense of existence. There is so much I take for granted, that we all do, as to the beautiful and incredible things that are in our world.
I sometimes have to still remind myself I’m a dad. That sacred title feels otherworldly to me still. I fully welcome the new chapter and the seismic changes that title has brought. My little girl has taught me so much and I’ll be thankful for everyday that I get to spend with her. A year goes by with lightning speed. I expect the next several to as well. In 14 1/2 years, Naomi will be driving.