Week 35 - Ready

Dear Kaylee,

This Saturday afternoon, having just completed a day-long prenatal class, your mom and I were taken, along with our classmates, on a tour of the hospital where, in all likelihood, you would be born. It was a surreal experience for your mom and me, walking through the small, cozy room where we might meet you for the first time, and peering through the glass of the nursery at newborn babies who were screaming, squirming, and sleeping their way through their first few hours of life. We saw one baby who was only a few minutes old. A nurse wheeled the baby into the nursery, proud and exhausted-looking father trailing behind, and your mother squeezed my hand, turned to me, and said, “I’m ready.”

I nodded along. I was ready, too.

I think what prompted this reaction in the both of us, aside from the strange beauty of those tiny, wrinkled, awkward-looking human beings, whom we stared at with wonder, was the feeling of safety and calm we felt, now having seen, for the first time, the place where you would be born. We felt a literal sense of security — we learned that all babies born in the unit are tagged with electronic ID bracelets which lockdown the entire wing if someone tries to take the baby beyond a certain point — as well as a more figurative sense of security. We had no idea what the place looked like before Saturday, had no idea whether the rooms would feel warm and homey or cold and institutional. We had no idea how friendly the staff might be, or how welcoming the environs. We left feeling like we had certainly made the right choice of a hospital, even if we’d basically stumbled backwards into that choice.

In your mother’s womb, you had, according to your mom’s doctor, settled into the preferred head-down position. If your mom felt kicks, they were now higher up, near her ribs. You were weighing in at over five pounds now, and if you had been born the moment your mother said, “I’m ready,” it would have been extremely unlikely for you to experience any major complications.

We had finally been educated about the particulars of how you would come into the world, and how to make that process go as smoothly as possible, and we had finally seen the place where you would come into the world. When you’re about to have a baby, you feel good about anything that gives you any sense of security, any sense of control. Because, well, you know — or at least you should know, by now — that, once the baby decides to come, a great many things are going to be out of your control forever.

All that said, we were still ready for you. More ready than we had been at any point before.

Love, Dad

LettersE. Christopher Clark