This week I dropped what I was doing to attend the birth of Baby Bentley. I'm 35 years old and it was the first time I've ever seen a baby born. Family members were predicting that would pass out. I didn't pass out but my mind was blown by the event. All kinds of existential questions went through my head. I'm in awe of the fact that two people can get together and create another person out of nowhere, that a woman can spend 9 months eating cheeseburgers and (in my mom's case) cherry turnovers from Arby's and turn them into a fully formed human being with tiny fingers and tiny toes, a tiny face, and a personality. In my entire life, I've never witnessed a greater display of ultimate power and simultaneous vulnerability than a woman giving birth, producing another body out of her own.
From behind my camera, I was moved to tears.
I also took unexpected delight in spending time with Bentley's family beforehand. There was a lot of waiting, boredom, and restlessness on the part of the older siblings. I got to know everyone. We told stories and jokes and played several rounds of Uno. I saw the moment when it became real for each person. For older sister Alyssa, it was when the nurses brought in the baby delivery gear and started laying it out on the table: scalpels,hemostats, some weird tongs, that's when she started to squirm and doubt her ability to stay in the room. We took a trip downstairs to the hospital Starbucks and she told me about witnessing the birth of her younger brother, Kayleb, when she was 5 years old. She told me how she didn't know what was happening and how everyone was screaming. I asked her how she got through the fear and she told me that she found comfort reciting a prayer she knew over and over to herself. I could tell listening to her that even now she was unaware of her own bravery. Ultimately, she stayed in the room for the arrival of her second little brother. She stayed quiet taking it all in.
Things didn't seem to really sink in for 9-year-old Kayleb until the real action started. He was restless and hyperactive and maybe a little anxious up until that point, but when the room started to fill up with people wearing scrubs and
his mom was in obvious distress, he got quiet and timid. I asked him if he was scared and he said he was. He stood behind me most of the time, stepping out occasionally to take pictures with his iPad. After the baby came and the dust settled, he made his way over and was clearly enamored of his new baby brother. He marveled at Bentley's tiny features and at one point exclaimed, "Why is he so cute?!"
When it was all over and they took the baby to the nursery, I said my goodbye's and I walked through the hospital back down to the parking deck feeling an exhilaration that I can only describe as being in love. I felt like I'd just fallen in love. I got in the car and called my mom.