A few days ago was the anniversary of the night we conceived A-, our first child, who is now 11 years old. I can remember everything about the evening, where Linda and I ate and were staying, our laughter-filled visit to Victoria’s Secret and what we bought there, all of it a crystal clear memory that’s unusual for me.
Twelve years later, I am quite in love with the little nipper, she’s the proverbial apple of my eye, along with my other two terrific children. Damn, I just have really fabulous kids, as was driven home to me by playing “big person” Monopoly with my 8yo this evening before bed and laughing again and again as we wheeled and dealed on property exchanges and rent payments.
Nonetheless, I think back to what was going on when she was conceived and how much has happened and changed since then and have to say that there’s a touch of melancholy, a sadness over what could have been, perhaps, rather than what is…
Twelve years ago Linda and I hadn’t yet gotten married, though we were definitely deep in the planning stages of a wedding (when we found out she was pregnant we moved up the date of the wedding a few months. No shotguns involved!)
We were traveling together and had gone on a trip that was a pure boondoggle, just for fun, and we had a terrific few days off of our daily life (at the time I was growing my first startup, The Internet Mall, and she was studying alternative medicine). The future was ours to grasp, everything seemed rosy and we were happy together.
While Linda was pregnant we took a yoga class together and I still remember just how fun it was for us to share that, especially as I became more limber and she became more pregnant. At some point I think I exceeded her flexibility, but it passed and has certainly never returned.
The night before A- was born we went out for a fancy celebratory dinner with my founding partners at The Internet Mall at a swanky San José restaurant called Le Papillon. It was terrific, and Bob, one of my partners, was friends with the head chef, so we kept getting additional dishes sent out, extra desserts, and generally gorged like Romans, just minus the trough. (nice imagery, eh?)
That night at around 1am Linda’s contractions started and she knew what was going on, but encouraged me to not worry and go to sleep so I’d be rested. Next morning I woke up at 6am and our doula was already in the house, the living room futon couch was laid flat and things were progressing. Slowly. Our midwife was on the way… and after a long, unpleasant back labor (and me joining her in about a dozen showers along the way, just pushing firmly on her lower back to ease the pain) a black tuft of hair appeared and shortly thereafter the rest of our perfect baby showed up.
All these years later — and two additional home-births later too — it’s hard to say where our journey started to get waylaid by mismatched needs and expectations, but I have to say that on the day of the anniversary, those few days ago, I sat for at least fifteen minutes over a blank email message, contemplating whether or not to send a note to Linda reminding her of the date.
I finally sighed, my heart broke just that tiny bit more, and I breathed deeply a few times, taking another step towards accepting what “is” rather than what “could have been”.
I still have a beautiful, gorgeous daughter and we have a wonderful life together as she grows older, and that’s what really counts. Twelve years ago the spark flew down from heaven and blessed me with the transition from man to father, and that’s forevermore one of the most magical, wonderful and profound experiences of my life.
And as for my marriage and the life Linda and I were going to build together? I guess that’s just another wisp in the dawn light of the forest, dancing away as fast as I tried to grab it…