Six pounds-four ounces; a brick, a puppy, a small bag of coffee beans. How big is she? Seems the universal question when a baby is born. Reflecting on the size of my daughter at birth, I think, who would have imagined that this six pound, four ounce baby, which I could hold in one hand, would have the largest impact on my life? I remember looking at our Hadley shortly after the birth. The nurses were holding her up on an examination table. Naked except for a diaper, she wore a tiny, white toboggan. Her head, almost as big as her entire body, tottered about her shoulders as the nurses supported it. Her eyes were tightly closed, unprepared for the bright fluorescents of the operating room. And on top of that apple-sized noggin was a mess of fuzzy black hair resembling a little baby monkey.
Her body slumped over, much like a sack of potatoes while her baby doll arms and legs clung to her body, still stiff from months of tight packaging. And in her little, porcelain hands, with the tiniest finger nails I’d ever seen, was my heart.
Fast forward nearly five years. Hadley’s birthday is next week. Five years old and full of energy and enthusiasm. In addition to my heart, she now has my funny bone most of the time! My wife and I recently found out that a baby is on the way. We were so excited to Hadley that she will be a big sister expecting excitement and celebration. Her reaction was not what we expected at all!
We were all sitting at the dinner table when my wife and I looked at each other excitedly, ready to share the news. We went back and forth, unexpectedly nervous as we tried think of the words to tell our daughter about the baby. Finally, I told Hadley that her mommy was going to have a baby. She made no comment for several seconds and then said, “Nooooo,” with a huge grin on her face as though she caught us in our joke. She then commenced to laughing for an entire 45 minutes-I do not exaggerate- throughout which my wife and I tried to convince her that we were not joking, and that the baby really was coming. I even produced the picture of the ultrasound (as though this would have any meaning to a four year old) as proof that there was a fetus! Hadley simply looked at the picture and said, “That isn’t a baby! That is a fish! Mommy is having a fish baby!” and she proceeded to chant in a sing-song melody, Fish Baby! Fish Baby!
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Well, finally, after forty five minutes and after having her call relatives to tell them about the new family member (several of which couldn’t decipher whether we were getting a fish or having a baby), she believed that we really were telling the truth.
Never, would I have expected such a reaction to the news. Now, she is asking questions about the baby, wanting to buy it presents, and is genuinely excited. A very intuitive child, I asked her one night, “Will you help us with the baby when it gets here?” She answered, “What do you mean? Change diapers?”
They learn so fast.