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On the morning of December 29, 2008, Amelia woke me up by asking me if we wanted to have a baby that day. Her water had apparently broken sometime around 5:00, and by the afternoon, we were in the hospital and labor was being induced. As far as Amelia remembers, the labor wasn't too unpleasant (my memory's slightly different, but why spoil anything?), especially after she was given an epidural and fell asleep. Unfortunately, due to factors beyond everyone's control, the labor did not progress fast enough and a C-section was ordered early the next morning.|
Amelia took the news well and, after only a few minutes, was taken to the operating room while I was forced to wait outside for the prep work to finish. I sat in the hallway outside the operating room for no more than five or ten minutes, but those minutes were the longest and most existential of the entire birth experience. I couldn't help watching Tommy's hypothetical life flash before my eyes, with all the possibilities both good and bad soaring through my brain. What would he grow up to be? What challenges would he face? Would he go to college, get married, and have kids of his own? Would he develop some kind of mental or physical condition? What would he look like? How would he treat his parents? What kind of father would he be? Though these questions were enormous and weighty, they did not overwhelm me, and by the time they called me in to witness the actual birth, I was far more excited than stressed.
Thomas Godfrey Magill was born on December 30 at 6:37 a.m., weighing in at seven pounds and thirteen ounces with a length of twenty and a half inches. I was able to witness the birth by Amelia's side, and was even able to cut part of Tommy's cord after he had been taken out of his mother. As they took him away to the nursery, I followed, and it occurred to me that it was probably the only set of circumstances in which I'd be able to ask my wife's permission to leave her after she had just gone through major surgery and an entire spectrum of emotion. It didn't matter, though, as Amelia was taken to a recovery room where she slipped in and out of consciousness for the next hour, utterly exhausted from the joyous ordeal.
Meanwhile, little Tommy was weighed, measured, poked, and prodded by half a dozen nurses and doctors. When I could, I would squeeze into the fray, talk to my new son, snap a picture or two, and let his tiny little hand wrap around my finger. Needless to say, I fell in love with him immediately, and knew that, no matter what was going to happen to him for the rest of his life and mine, that feeling was never going away. The healthcare providers all assured me that, aside from a few minor considerations that would ultimately amount to nothing, Thomas Magill was born the picture of neonatal health, even though, in all honesty, I wouldn't have loved him any less had he been born with three eyes and green skin.
Before you have a child of your own, you know that it's a special experience and you hear people tell you what it's like. Still, no matter what you know, nothing can truly prepare you for how amazing the whole thing is. It's the closest you can get in life to witnessing the majesty of life, God, and the universe itself, and it's such a grandiose thing you find it hard to believe that it's happening a million times a day all across the planet.
Not long after Tommy was born, my parents, Patrick and Diane Magill, arrived in Maryland to share in the experience the way only grandparents can. They snapped pictures, offered sage advice, and did it all without being intrusive or annoying. My mother planned an extended stay to help Amelia and I get used to taking care of a baby, and I know now that her help was essential to our sanity and well-being.
Amelia turned out to be perfectly fine, suffering no unusual ill-effects worth mentioning. She made it through the surgery with flying colors, and despite perfectly normal miniature breakdowns here and there, she proved to be strong and stable throughout her recovery. Similarly, Tommy turned out okay, and was able to start his life on good footing, in perfect health, and with a family that loves him.