It’s been 6 months since our son was born. During that time we have been re-taught what it means to love and to live joyfully. We have gone sleepless nights of frustration only to be awoken in the morning to the sound of laughter. Our hearts have melted time, and time, and time, and time again as a grin spreads from chubby cheek to chubby cheek. We have wished for moments of crying to end quickly only to realize that time overall is moving far too fast. Our little fella has brought more happiness into our lives over these past 6 months than I ever could have imagined, and he has (so far) lived into his name countless times over: he has become our Haven of joy and refuge; our safe place to let the worries and concerns of our day melt away in the blinding heat of his smile.
In the scheme of things, 6 months isn’t very long. But when those 6 months change you so entirely, so completely, it simultaneously feels like an eternity and a split second.
Here’s hoping for 60 more years of being transformed.
Before the birth of our son, the most common statement I heard from people with kids was, “You have no idea how this will change your life!”
I knew that comment was true. I knew that Haven’s birth would drop a sledgehammer on everything I thought I knew about what was important, and how our lives would unfold (both in a day-to-day and a forever sense). And at exactly 1:19am on May 5th, 2014, the comment that I had heard dozens of times came true–our world was turned upside down in the most beautiful way possible.
But while we have been resetting all of our “clocks” to this new normal, it’s also become apparent that not everything is different. Just because our lives have been changed forever, that hasn’t meant that everything has changed. Oddly enough, there is a random assortment of things (surprising things even), that remain constant from my life pre and post baby.
I therefore offer, “10 Surprising Things In My Life That Haven’t Changed At All Since The Birth of Our Son”:
1) My voice still occasionally (and without warning) morphs from a normal pitch using sane words to a high-pitched squeak laced with non-sense syllables.
2) I still walk around with the knowledge that at any moment I might be hit with one of three not-so-nice bodily functions. You never know when…and you never know which one.
3) Just like pre-baby, any stretch of sleep longer than 2 continuous hours is miraculous, and any combination of 8 hours total in a 14 hour window is on par with winning the lottery.
4) Conversations that involve the words nibble, circumcision, rash, boppy, or lactation are still the norm.
5) Monitoring the color of someone’s poo remains one of the best ways I know to assess their health and well-being.
6) The realization that your shirt has the remnants of someone’s lunch on it is met with a smile or a laugh.
7) Cutting fingernails and toenails continues to be the most terrifying thing in my life.
8) I remain cautious that a person’s smile isn’t so much about my presence or the joke I just told, but about the movement of gas within them.
9) A loud burp in my ear is still the surest sign that I have succeeded in my task.
10) Google retains its role as the provider of answers to life’s toughest questions: what is the meaning of the song “Frere Jacques”?; what is cradle cap?; how do you clean out the creases of a baby’s neck?; how much will college cost in 2032?
I daily count my lucky stars that these 10 things have remained constant.
It all happened so slowly. It all happened in the blink of an eye.
Time has a funny way of playing tricks on us. During times of pain or grief we want time to hustle by; for the minutes and hours to blow past us like paper in the wind. During times of joy, we want to lean into those minutes, wishing that we could freeze the clock and live there forever.
But we know the irony of time is that when we want it to fly by, it crawls. When we want it to freeze, it becomes a blur. Rarely, however, does an event contain both of these movements of time.
The birth of our first child was one such event.
I knew that the labor process would be difficult to watch, especially since my wife was going the all-natural route without any medication. I knew that there would be little that I could do other than talk to her, rub her shoulders and back, and just be present with her. I wasn’t fully ready for the feeling of helplessness that came with the most intense contractions though. In those moments all I could do were offer words of encouragement, pray for God’s mercy and peace, and hope that the hands of the clock would quicken their pace. But all the hoping in the world couldn’t make time quicken, and despite the feeling that hours had surely passed, a look at the hands of the clock continuously revealed the harsh reality that it had been only minutes.
Then came the midwives’ words, “I can see the head!” We were close now, and time began to buzz as my mind turned to the thoughts of what our child would look like, what it would be like to hold him for the first time, and what our first words to him would be. I wanted to grab onto every second because I knew that any second would be the second that everything would be different. The next thirty minutes passed in the blink of an eye.
But then thirty minutes turned into forty-five, forty-five became an hour, and an hour became an hour and a half. By two hours past the declaration that he was so close it became apparent that something wasn’t right. Plans were made to transfer to a near-by hospital, which set into motion the longest hour of my life: driving to the hospital with my wife in intense pain, terrified by the uncertainty of what was happening, being sent to incorrect parts of the hospital by night workers, and then a wave of doctors and nurses descending on us to monitor, assess, address, and announce that a c-section would be necessary because of the way our son was turned. Within minutes they took Becky away to be prepared for surgery. A few minutes later they came and got me.
Walking into the operating room was very surreal. I had no concept of what time it was, whether it was still Sunday or now Monday, and the brightness of the room and the adrenaline racing through my body only served to deepen that confusion. Furthermore, while I could recognize everybody that was in the room despite their surgical masks, something was different about them–while they had had stoic, business-like faces in the previous room as they frantically raced around trying to diagnose what was happening, the mood now seemed to be much lighter and jovial. The doctors were cracking jokes, even Becky was smiling (because of the amount of medicine now in her no doubt), and it suddenly felt as though the previous 12 hours either hadn’t happened at all or didn’t really matter. Time seemed to stop.
And then there he was. As his mouth opened, air hit lungs, and the first cry of life shot through the operating room, it was clear that one life had just started, and two lives were changed forever. Pain turned to joy, frustration turned to exhilaration, and expectation turned to fulfillment. All of the moments of the previous day had now combined into the story of how our son’s life came to start. The trials and fears and uncertainty had now ended when the doctors handed me a beautiful, healthy son…our son: Haven Eli Collier. In that moment, and for the rest of time, that outcome is all that matters.
In March of last year I took a Sunday morning to walk around downtown Seattle and take pictures of the lesser known side of the city–the alleys and corners that people walk by every day on their way to the city’s more glamorous sites (click here for the original post and here for Part 1). It was an experience that challenged my ability to see art in the unlikely.
Over the last few weeks, I have taken a few open mornings to return to downtown with the same intent. The city didn’t disappoint.
Nat King Cole, Elvis, Celine Dion, Bing Crosby, John Lennon. With all due respect to each of these legends, none of their voices are the one I most look forward to hearing playing over the radio during November and December. You can’t deny that each of them produced timeless renditions of particular Christmas songs, which I have heard repeatedly over the last few weeks, but for my money, none of them hold a candle to the songs on the “Louis Armstrong and Friends” Christmas album.
If you’ve never heard this album, here are a couple of tracks. Just be careful listening to the 2nd one however, because after a few times through you might start asking yourself, “Who was that other guy that sang this song….maybe in a movie with a similar name?”
Here are a few more pictures from our October trip to Yosemite, Reno, and Lake Tahoe.