On October 2, 1989 a truly amazing thing happened in my life. I was able to see the birth of my first child and be a part of a truly amazing experience. For those of you that have experienced this, as a father, you know it's something you will never forget. If you are still expecting your first child to be born I'm telling you now that it is one of the great moments in your life. It will change you forever. Enjoy it. Savor it. Be "there" for everything both physically and emotionally.
I remember being at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California for what needed to be a scheduled birth. My (then) wife was already in the delivery room and they told me to put on my "outfit" over my clothes. Some kind of paper garments that I slipped into with a mask. I felt like I was going into a combination of a surgical procedure and some sort of hazardous material scene. HA What I was going into was an event that has had in impact on me for 22 years and will continue to make me smile for the rest of my life.
Ashlyn, my daughter, was born and it was a wonderful experience. No, the c-section deal wasn't pleasant for me and I'm sure not for my poor wife. But we made it through it and I remember seeing that little girl for the first time and thinking she was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen. Wonderful beyond words. They weighed her and wrapped her up and she was "ours".
Probably the thing that sticks in my mind, and in my heart, the most is when they took me into the side room to give her a bath and comb her beautiful hair and get her dressed. I remember watching and being in another world. Almost literally. I was beside myself with happiness and emotions. They handed her to me in that little room and I looked at her and said, "Hey sweetie, I'm your Daddy." I cried just as sure as I'm crying while I type this 22 years later. Introducing myself to this little person was what I will always remember as the height of my life at that point.
I don't want to downplay other events, by any means. I had already experienced many memorable moments in my life. (and have since then for certain) I also want to make a point to say how much I appreciate Ashlyn's mother for the beautiful gift she delivered that day. I'm eternally grateful for that. Thank you Ammy.
Ashlyn has been so very special to me and I've not always told her how much she means to me. I have made some big mistakes in the last 22 years and will always regret not having "been there" all of the time. But my heart has always been connected to that little baby as she has grown into the beautiful, sweet and intelligent young woman that she is today in 2011. People ask me all the time how many kids I have. When I tell them 5 they look beside me at the four little ones that I have with me and they get a puzzled look. I quickly tell them I have an older daughter from a previous marriage and smile. I think about Ashlyn and how while I have four little angels at home I have an original love affair with that beautiful little blonde-haired California girl that has given me so many good memories.
Ashlyn, I love you darlin'. You are beautiful. You are special. You are talented. You are a part of me that I am very proud of. Happy Birthday to you. Please know that I love you more than you can know. You will (hopefully) have children someday and truly know the special bond that a parent has with a child. It will come full-circle for you at that time but in the meantime believe your mother and me when we tell you that you are the greatest gift that God could have given us in sunny southern California that special day in 1989. You have lit up our lives and been a ray of sunshine to carry me through many gray skied days. Thank you for being my daughter and for the love that you have taught me to show. I love you.