Ten years ago, I was cradling her in my hands beneath the warming lamp (she was only 5 pounds) in the nursery while she, connected to cables and monitors, waited for the pediatric EKG machine to arrive from the Children’s Hospital next door. It had been a hard landing. Labor all night followed by a c-section and a too brief glimpse for mom to see what she had brought forth before being whisked here in a three minuite slow motion blur. She was tiny and beautiful but with a fragile heart that was in need of repair.
She was alert and awake and we locked eyes for what seemed the full six hours we were in there. She was not allowed to leave the nursery until her heart had been fully checked and next steps determined (which turned out to be heart surgery a year later). Her mother was stuck in recovery. The c-section surgery meant she could not enter the nursery because she was not sterile. So, it was just me and my little girl and the cables and the monitors and the gaze — of wonder and worry and hope — between us.
And here we are, ten years later, almost to the hour. Her heart is repaired but fragile in other ways. She is too big to cradle in my hands. Her gaze at me increasingly turns quickly into a pre-teen eye roll. “Oh, Dad…”
Yet, I often feel it is she who has taught me for the past decade more so than I have taught her. I’ve learned so much from her about being kind to strangers, being present to the world around me, and being a better parent. Her face still fills me with wonder and worry and hope every single day.
Happy 10th Birthday Beatrix! I could not dream of a better daughter, teacher, or friend. I look forward to a lifetime of further instruction.