Note: Because I feel it is mommy's privilege to share baby's first pictures and not mine, the photos are of oddities from the hospital's so-called "gift shop." After 26 sleepless hours, I thought they were hilarious.
My 12-hour crash course on labor and delivery was intense. It was like riding a rollercoaster while sticking needles in my face and eating pop rocks. It was like driving 90 mph down the highway on a motorcycle while not wearing a helmet and firing a handgun. And it was the most amazing thing I've ever seen.
I have known E. since we were 14 years old. Saying we're best friends doesn't do our relationship justice; we are more like sisters or even soul-mates. For the past 13 years, we have seen each other through our best and ugliest times, so when she told me she was pregnant, there was never any question about whether I would be at the delivery.
When she called Tuesday to say her labor would be induced the following evening, I took a personal day at work and went to the hospital bearing a caramel frappuccino, the last thing she would be allowed to eat until the baby was born.
A few hours later when her contractions intensified, I got a cup of ass-tasting coffee from the vending machine and prepared myself for an all-nighter involving baby name trivia, a "relaxing" hospital-produced tv program consisting of an hour of adorable kitten pictures, and some of the most impressive cussing I've ever heard.
Historically I am not a baby person. I'm afraid to hold them because I'm convinced their heads are going to roll right off their weak little necks, and as far as I'm concerned they all look pretty much the same.
But it all changes when the baby belongs to someone you love. When E.'s baby boy was born Thursday morning after 12 hours of labor, I watched him come into the world and take his first breath, and I cried. He had a perfect little nose, big hazel eyes, and a head full of curly brown hair. When I held him for the first time, I felt I could have stared at him forever; in short, I was in love.
Now I am suddenly disgusted by the way pop culture has turned childbirth into a kind of spectator sport. It seems certain fame-whores are trying to see who can pop out the most kids at once (current record: eight), and there is never a shortage of speculation on "is she or isn't she" or "who's the father" on daytime talk shows and in tabloids.
And it's unfortunate, because it detracts from how truly amazing the whole experience is. It is both delicate and enduring, and I am honored to have been a part of it.