By Erica Hill
There's a commercial currently running for a digital camera that focuses on a father holding his newborn baby. I think it's the only commercial that has managed to make me misty-eyed. Not even the Folgers Christmas homecoming could make my eyes smart like the image of a new father so comfortably holding this precious new being, staring at a face he's been waiting his entire life to meet, and will now spend the rest of his life trying to protect.
The first few times I saw it, I thought the ad was sweet, but didn't fully grasp its impact until my husband mentioned the magic of those first few days in the hospital, a magic we embraced fondly and a bit wistfully when our younger son, Sawyer, was born in March. For somewhere between two and four days (depending on far less romantic factors like the type of birth and your health insurance), you're living in this bubble where it seems nearly impossible to wipe the smile from your face. There is a tiny person shrieking out cries for your warmth and the security of your touch. There are the knowing glances from your partner -- this unbreakable bond created by a new life, the overwhelming feeling of love at that life you created, the joy at discovering each little toe, and at watching his eyes flutter in his sleep. Time stands still. You wonder why no one told you how incredible this feels, before realizing they did tell you, but it meant nothing until now.
This perfect, beautiful baby also earns you a badge of sorts. For a few fleeting days, the handshakes, the hugs and the congratulations seem unending. Nurses smile, hospital staff seem to sense your newfound parent status, the guy at the pizza place near the hospital sees Dad's ID bracelet, and throws in a little something extra in honor of your growing family. It's as if the world is saying, "Thank you for this beautiful gift." Strangers on the street shoot knowing glances, looks I imagine are their way of welcoming us to this indescribably wonderful, crazy, heartbreaking, rewarding club of parents. They remember those first few days of wonder, the sweet smell of a newborn, the warmth of eight pounds sighing contentedly on your chest, the hope for this little one's future, all wrapped up in a striped, hospital-issue blanket, cradled carefully in the arms of that new Dad. He is pouring his heart out, sharing every dream without ever saying a word, sitting in that faux-leather chair while Mom looks on, wondering how they got so lucky -- and how they will ever do this new life justice. In that moment comes the tiny sigh, and the knowledge that if only for this moment, all is right with the world.