About a week ago, Jess asked me to write something for "the blog" for Lucy's 1st birthday. Obviously, I agreed to do so. Why wouldn't I? It's easily been the fastest year of my life. My tattoo artist told me that having a kid was a "game-changer." He couldn't have been more right. This is my perspective; the "Dad" perspective.
The minute I knew Jess was pregnant with Lucy, I was thrilled. People say that your life flashes before your eyes when you die; that your whole life is condensed to a few seconds of flashing images like a strobe light and that is what you see before it's all over. When Jess told me, crying in my arms, "I think I'm pregnant," the same thing happened to me, but I saw the future, not my past. I saw all of the things that I wanted to do with my child (since I didn't know yet whether "it" was a boy or a girl). It was exciting. It was terrifying. It was ups and downs. It was smiles and tears. It was everything I wanted.
After all of the appointments, ultrasounds, emotions, cravings aches and pains, I was never so relieved as when I knew Jess was scheduled for induction on Sunday, July 17th, 2011. I knew I would get to meet my little girl soon; not as soon as I thought, but soon enough. It only took one 16 inning Red Sox vs. Rays game (which Boston won 1-0), one sleepless night of nurses (who were amazing) checking on Jess every hour on the hour, one failed epidural (and subsequently the 2 most helpless hours of my life), countless text messages updating my entire contact list on our status, two Wawa runs, more prayers than I had said in the past 10 years, 28 hours of total labor and just twenty minutes of pushing before I was able to finally meet Lucy. Let me say first that there is no woman who I respect more and who I would call more tough than Jess. What she went through from November 2010 until July 2011 was nothing short of amazing. She was (and still is) nothing short of amazing. Now, back to Lucy. She was perfect. She was red, crying, shaking and beautiful. I kissed her and Jess more times than I can remember. I have never been so proud and scared at the same time in my life, but looking at them both made me realize that I had nothing to worry about. While the nurse was conducting the initial standard procedures on Lucy, she called me over. She had just taken Lucy's footprints for her birth record. She had me lean forward and pushed Lucy's feet onto my chest, leaving two perfect inky footprints on my white t-shirt. I still have the shirt. It's never been washed since that night and never will be. It is one of my most cherished possessions (yes, more than a Kevin Youkilis autographed helmet, a Jon Lester autographed picture and my entire music collection).
Jess was obviously the first to hold Lucy, but I can tell you exactly how it felt when I held her for the first time. She was perfectly swaddled and cozy, just looking back at me like she had known me forever. I felt the same way when I looked into her eyes. I just sat and stared at this amazing person. I had not a single care in the world. Everything I needed was there in that room with me. I didn't want to ever put her down or let her go. She was mine. I took this as an early opportunity to begin teaching her about life; mainly telling her that I loved her and always would, that she was beautiful and always would be and that the Yankees were evil and that the only way she could ever let me down would be to bring home a Yankees fan someday.
When we were moved to our room for the night, I remember not being able to sleep and just wanting to hold Lucy. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning who knew there was a room full of gifts downstairs. Sleep wasn't an option. I am very proud to say that I was the first to change one of Lucy's diapers (and countless since). This may seem insignificant, but I'm proud of it. It's not a "cool guy" thing to brag about, but let me tell you, it takes a real man to do such a thing. There is a picture I have of the next morning of Jess sitting on the edge of her hospital bed holding Lucy in her arms. It is one of my favorite pictures. If someone asked me to show them what "love" looked like, I would show them that picture.
The next few days and weeks were great. Aside from it being the hottest July on record, going home with my girls was a great feeling. Having time off from work to spend at home with my girls made all the difference. Getting to show off our girl to our friends and family was more than exciting for us and I must say that I have never been more proud of anything than I am of Lucy. There is no doubt, and there hasn't been since day one, that she is and will be a "Daddy's girl." That phrase never made sense to me and still doesn't. It's backwards. The phrase makes it seem like it's the girl who relies on the Daddy, but trust me, it's the opposite; and I wouldn't have it any other way.
In the last year, I've seen our "Bug" grow in leaps and bounds. The fact that she can say some words, point out her belly when prompted, laugh and point whenever Lyla runs into the room, stand up and cruise around the room and smile when she sees me are all mind boggling. It seems like yesterday she was just a thought in the future of Jess and I. I've been told that if I thought the first year went by quickly, then I should brace myself for what is in store for the years to come. Well, if the future is a fraction as exciting as and makes me a fraction as happy as I have been over the last year then all I can say is "Bring it on!"
I love you, Lucy James. Happy 1st Birthday. Love, Daddy.
You can read my (Jess) version of the birth story here.