For those of you who may have enjoyed reading this-T.W.
Four hours ago my baby son came into the world and I couldn’t be more overjoyed. Friends warned me that everything would change. Now I know that it wasn’t a dark prediction so much as a wish fulfilled, or a positive and much needed redirection in our lives. After crying my eyes out and holding my wife’s hand in the operating room afterwards, I can’t wait for the new road ahead of us. At six pounds and six ounces (and about a month ahead of schedule), Benjamin Waters made his smashing debut.
For the last three years my wife Lindsay and I have been trying for a child and our efforts finally bore fruit last September. When she broke the news to me with a pregnancy test in one hand after work and a wry joke (‘Honey, we’ve got a problem’), I cracked a grin and embraced her in the kitchen. It’s cemented in my mind just like our first date on October 15th in 2004. There are moments you never forget when you’re building a life together. Our first date, the day I told her I loved her (New Year’s Eve that same year), our wedding day and now, the birth of our child.
Since we got married there’ve been a lot of hard times and lean months. Worse along with the better. I’ve often said that you can’t appreciate the great moments unless you’ve gone through some tough days. We’ve weathered out most of the worst and moved along to the best time of our lives. The rough times we’ve suffered through together have made us stronger as a couple and make the wonderful experiences that much more magical.
I’ve always been uneasy around newborns. I even wrote an essay about it (‘March Of The Newborns’ from my third book, First Person, Last Straw). This little guy was different. Benjamin Waters turned me around on the entire concept. Looking through his tiny eyes and cradling his little body in my arms in the Recovery Room I saw an entire universe that was new and fresh to a being that was about to experience everything for the first time. Not a carbon copy of myself, but a fresh amalgamation of my wife, myself and the generations before us. Living proof that all of our accomplishments pale in comparison to the life we create, the true legacy that we leave behind some day.
Parents warned me about getting no sleep, changing a never-ending supply of diapers and getting peed on in the face. Another friend explained the situation much better by saying that he never understood the concept of being willing to die for someone until he had a child. Single people spurned the very idea of it and challenged my love of barhopping, going out on a whim or the freedom of independence. I gladly give it all up to raise a life that we made together.
My study has been transformed into a baby room. Curios, collectibles and knick knacks from my former life have been relocated, packed up, boxed away and retired. We bought a new, safer car (not a minivan, thank God) so that my transmission wouldn’t die out when I’m taxiing little Benjamin around. Since the shower, we have clothes for every occasion, accessories for any contingency and enough blankets and homemade quilts to cover the entire household. Out with the old, in with the newborn.
Everything has changed and this isn’t even the first full day. After a fourteen hour labor and a day filled with caffeine and one meal, I’m still too excited to sleep. Two sets of first time grandparents are chomping at the bit to spoil our son rotten and I’m more than ready to slow down, stop being so childish and selfish and take care of our child together. Children change everything. For the better.
-Tom Waters wrote many Club Watch reviews for the Buffalo News along with ten books of essays and poetry. He looks forward to an early retirement from all that and a new career in carpeting FaceBook with baby pictures.