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I've been waiting for this my whole life...

It took forever for Ellie to be born. We went to the hospital in the afternoon and they sent us home around 7:00. After taking care of my wife and trying to help her ease her contractions in the bath tub, I finally said, They don't know what they're talking about. We're going back to the hospital. It was 11:00, my in-laws had just rolled in, and the rain was pouring. Our landlord hadn't cleaned the gutters so I walked Alison through the waterfall pouring over the walkway. I walked back in and out for the bag. Soaking wet, I held her hand driving to the hospital, choked up thinking about this being the moment I would become a dad.

About 3 a.m. Alison got her epidural and no one told me we were tucked in for the night so I sat on a hard chair freezing my ass off looking at the hospital roof below thinking about how my life would change. The most trite saying ever is, Kids will change your life, but it's true and I couldn't imagine how it would truly be. We finally got the show on the road, and after several hours of her pushing, the doctors decided we needed an emergency C-section.

Ellie was not attractive when I first saw her, but she was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. Being

stuck like she was for hours does a number on the lips and every other feature of hers was swollen and she looked like a vacuum cleaner had been sucking at her face. She probably could have been an old dirty shoe and I would have loved her anyway. I might have had some questions for the shoes in the closet, but I still would have loved her. After a hard night on the bench in the maternity ward I snuck away for a shower and a nap. I laid there awhile, dozed off, then woke with as start and I asked myself what am I doing here. I hopped up and rushed back to the hospital to be with my family.

It's been the story of the last five years. It sounds terrible now to say, but I'm not sure I was ever excited about having Sam. Throughout the nine months of the pregnancy I was in a bad job situation and I kept thinking about all the hard stuff - diapers, sleepless nights, much less money, etc. I also worried about how it would change the dynamic between Ellie and me. She and I are such pals. I just didn't know how it would be. All that fear and almost ambivalence disappeared the minute I saw Samuel. He was a C-section too, but since it was planned he came out a little less smushed. It was a sweet morning with a caveat.* My grandmother's funeral was in Texas a few hours after Sam was born. It's one reason his middle name is Victor after my grandfather. I guess we could have named him Evelyn, but 30 years from now we'd be in the streets of Gatlinburg in mid-July kickin' and a gougin' in the mud and the blood and the beer. So instead of "A Boy Named Sue," we have our own little family song, "Everything's better with Sam."

It's absolutely true. Sam never stops smiling and he's headfirst into everything, and right now his favorite thing is to run straight to the toilet and play in the water. Of course we try and stop this especially since he likes to lick his wet fingers. So far he's avoided dysentery. Call us bad parents if you want, but we've taken the route of trying to let the kids run free rather than plug every hole and lock every door, brain injuries and stomach pumping be damned.

My wife was the first best thing to happen to me, but she gave me the next two best things that have happened. I spend father's day with them because they are really what gives me the most joy. They are my hobby, my thoughts as I head off to sleep, and of course in the morning when I hear, "Da-da, wake up, it's morning time," usually between 5:30 and 7:00. Both kids are like rockets launched, and even though I could sleep 19 more hours, I try to let the sweet music of my home welcome me to my day. It's a symphony of happy screams and giggles, a little whining, the stomping drum beat of their little feetsers, and I listen and I wish the song would play forever. Well, most days anyway.

I didn't know for those 35 years leading up to fatherhood what it would be like. I didn't know that each experience I had had, each event in my life, each thing my parents taught me, or each good or bad thing that ever happened to me had been preparing me for these moments. Without knowing it, I have been waiting for all of this for my whole life. I've never been more excited and ready for what the coming years have to bring.

*A final note about Sam's being born. This horror show of a song was playing when he was born which cracked us up, but I made all good later with this beauty - his first real song.

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