To Arameis Shahyar, the little hairy guy
It's a phrase I have heard many times out of the mouth of proud and gleaming fathers: “Having a child is the most important event in my life.” Last Thursday, I had this experience for the first time, when around 7 pm my son appeared on the world's stage, and I will try to put it all into words, to the best of my ability.
During the C-section in the operating room I was too preoccupied with various issues and worried about the health of my baby and my wife that I honestly could not tell there and then whether it was one of the best or worst experiences, especially seeing my wife all cut open the way she was. I had my digital camera at hand but too nervous and shaky to be able to handle electronic equipment effectively. I got a photo of my son's first contact with the world, one of his legs.
One of my colleagues and another fellow father had told me that when his son was born he had experienced the longest and probably most tormenting minute of silence in his life. When the baby finally cried he said he was greatly relieved; a heavy weight had been lifted from his anguished heart. Fortunately, in our case, I was exempted from such a heavy trial, and our son cried right away, his welcoming shout, his first enunciation and sign of life, a piercing heart-warming wail.
It took me a while to grasp the full complexity of the situation. It was my son I was facing and coming eye to eye with, a breathing being that had been hidden for over eight months in the warmth of my wife's belly. Tolstoy described some of those doubts and feelings in Anna Karenina through the eyes of a troubled and confused Levin:
But the baby? Whence, why, who was he?... He could not get used to the idea. It seemed to him something extraneous, superfluous, to which he could not accustom himself.
It takes time to digest the experience. Here suddenly there is a creature and people present it to you, waving it in front of your face and telling you that this is your son. But how is that possible; where did it really come from? Flesh of my flesh, family, somebody who shares my genes and looks like me? This is really terrifying, and I am not able to comprehend it just yet, probably never will, so we call it the mystery or miracle of life.
Now many fathers claim children are part of one's personal success story. I doubt it simply because we cannot take much credit for it. Most of the pain and difficulty, the birth pangs are on the wife's part. We men are spectators who try their best to give a hand. Yet there is something that shifts and changes within you and makes you look at everything with different eyes once the baby is born.
My idea of success has endured some alterations over the past few days. Money and fame have somewhat gone to the background. One's focus rather changes, and it comes down to seeking success in the light of the new events, being able to take care of one's child, to become a responsible father. Everything that seemed important yesterday is getting blurry, while new challenges and hopes reveal themselves on the distant horizon.
In a strange sense, time has seemed to stop as well. I felt that I was moving toward certain goals, but now I am living immobile in the present moment. I enjoy watching my son, talking to him and seeing how he responds to my voice, how it often calms him and how he pricks his ears and moves his eyes at the familiar voice he used to hear from the muffled inside of the womb. The fact that one day he might tell me that he loves me would be a feeling of pride and inexplicable joy.
Anyhow, life has become different, has changed me within the limited period of a few days prolonging into the wide unknown future. There is one thing LSD and having a child have in common: Once you cross the threshold, there is no way back. Nothing remains the same and everything will change, your perspective, your life, even your fears and dreams.