Today, I am blessed to share a letter my husband wrote to Eliana in celebration of her birth. While it’s not a traditional birth story, it is beautiful. Something I love about The Bradley Method is the emphasis it places on the role of Fathers in the delivery room and throughout the pregnancy. When people ask me how I gave birth without an epidural, my answer is always the same: because of David.
So. Let’s be forthright, shall we? I love you. I love you more than words can say. I remember very fondly the morning you came into the world. I stood at your mom’s side (her right-hand side, in case you’re interested in that sort of thing) with the nurse at her other side and the doctor at her feet. I like to think my eyes saw you first: you came out on the final push curled up and on your left-hand side, facing me. If you had opened your eyes at that moment, you would have seen me. Who’s to say you didn’t?
Before the nurses picked you up and carried you away to be wiped clean (or washed clean, in which case it could be called a sort of firstfruits of the baptism that you will, I pray, one day undergo in the Lord), you were set in your mother’s affectionate and protective arms. I wish I could describe for you the look I saw at that moment on your mother’s face, but it transcends language. It was joy mixed with gratitude mixed with exhaustion–and probably mixed with pride. Pride in bearing you those nine months and giving you birth, gratitude to the Lord for his great kindness and care, joy at your life and at your entry into the world we inhabit only for a time, exhaustion and love suffusing it all.
I hope my face showed something similar.
Since that day you have grown quite a lot; you now are probably between 13 and 14 lbs and 25-26 inches long (from 7 lbs. 10 oz. and 20.5 inches at birth). You are, by the numbers, tall and thin–like your mother. Today, at nearly 16 weeks of age, you can hold your own head steady, sit in a supportive chair, lift your head up off the ground if we set you on your stomach, notice and follow toys or other objects, smile in response to our own smiles, and more generally show recognition of certain faces. We suspect you will start to roll over soon and not long after that begin to sit up and (too fast!) crawl. What progress you’ve made!
I feel a keen sorrow almost daily–whenever I think that I spend too little time with you. I work full time at a job that doesn’t allow me to bring you with me. Your mother, on the other hand, works as a nanny, and therefore gets to take you with her to work. This arrangement has its upsides and downsides, of course, but it means at the very least that she spends more time with you than I do. I know, I know–this is normal in families like ours. But I wish to God that I had more time with you. How it feels to have your head resting on my left shoulder while I hold you with my right arm and touch the back of your head with my left hand–it fills me with happiness that I never knew before I had a daughter. You, Eliana, enrich my life and edify my heart. And you give pause to my mind; you make me weigh, make me consider what’s important and what, among the various goods I possess, can be let go. I remember in Gilead, my favorite book, Ames talks about grace as something that takes life down to the essentials. In that sense you are grace personified for me. That makes me think of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poem, “Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places,” in which Hopkins says that Christ is “lovely in limbs and lovely in eyes not his.” Yours are the limbs and eyes (and the smile!) through which Christ, right now, makes himself known to me.
Okay, that’s a good place to stop. Child of my heart, hear my heart beat for you; know its affection for you, its desire that you grow up to be a woman who knows the Triune God and expends herself to the uttermost for His great glory.
David, your Father