My entire family had a baby on Friday. Ada Grace was born at 1:31 p.m. At 6 pounds 14 ounces with a mop of curly, dark hair, she's perfect. Not a dent, scratch or blemish anywhere.
All of the dings and maladjustments are supplied by Ada's family. Four grandparents, two step-grandparents, three-dozen uncles and aunts and half a hundred cousins have been waiting years for her.
Prior to Ada, our last grandchild was born seven years ago. After some serious fertility issues, my middle daughter finally managed to bring one to the finish line.
For nine months we have been preparing Ada's place in the world.
Baby showers, shopping sprees, remodeling, lining up to hold and rock the new baby, and planning for a complete cease fire in the backyard.
Except for the heavy lifting and carpentry stuff, it was entirely an estrogen project. The expectant mother, her mother, her sisters, her aunts, her girlfriends and even women who just saw that she was pregnant gave advice and told stories.
No. 1 : "I was dilated to 175mm for a month before I gave birth."
No. 2: "My epidural didn't work and I screamed for a week."
No. 3: "My first weighed 85 pounds and had a head the size of a basketball."
Feeding, caring, bathing, clothing, holding all these things came instinctively to the average woman. They all told my daughter not to worry.
Nobody said anything to my son-in-law. As the big day drew close, Dallas finally confided to me that he didn't know if he was capable of being a good father.
Him: "I don't know if I can do it."
Me: "You're nine months too late, butthead."
I told Dallas not to worry. Instinct would kick in as soon as he got a look at Ada. If he was any kind of a real man, fatherly instinct would take over automatically.
It happened to me. When my wife delivered our first daughter, I was barely out of childhood myself. What business did I have thinking I could be a father?
Then suddenly I was one. As soon as they put my daughter in my arms, it happened. I felt a sudden rush of testosterone and Y chromosomes. We're talking deep blue genetic protector stuff.
The caveman side of me showed up. I'll kill anyone who tries to hurt my girl. I'll work myself to death to provide.
When my daughter was taken away and put in the baby bin in the nursery, she let out a soft cry and flailed. I was immediately swept with this joyously primal urge to hit the nurse with a chair.
The same thing kept happening. When we took my daughter in for her first vaccination and the doctor prepared the needle, the feelings returned. The doctor wise man noticed and made Cave Father wait in the lobby.
On Friday, when we got the news that our daughter was in labor, we raced over to the hospital and waited.
When Ada finally arrived, Dallas led us to the room. The doubt was gone from his eyes. In its place was this happy idiot grin and best of all a deep look of suspicion. He'll do fine.
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.