Two rows behind me, a father attempted to calm his crying baby to the annoyance of other passengers. People were rolling their eyes, huffing, and letting out huge sighs of frustration. If you’ve ever been on a plane with a crying baby, you know what I’m talking about. I was thinking the most negative things: Why can’t this guy shut that kid up? Why did he even bother bringing a baby on the plane? How come he can’t handle his kid? On and on, it went…for six hours.
Not having any children of my own, the idea that I could relate to this guy was far beyond my scope of empathy.
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As the flight landed in Los Angeles, I rushed for the exit, leaving that father and his crying child behind as fast as possible. All I could think about was getting home and relaxing with my wife in the peace and quiet of our home.
Thankfully she was at the gate when I arrived, and we greeted each other with a hug and kiss. She asked how my flight was, and all the pent-up frustration from the flight came spewing out. We walked to the car as I ranted and she listened patiently.
“How do you feel about having a baby?” she asked once I stopped.
“Oh, it’s great,” I said. “Just don’t bring a kid on a plane and let it cry….” I paused. “Why do you ask?”
“Because,” she said, “you’re going to be dad.”
I stopped in the middle of the parking lot with a stunned look on my face. Me? A dad? Right there at the Ontario Airport, my wife announced that she was a few weeks pregnant. Surprise! They say that God has a sense of humor. I’m living proof of this.
Quickly, I replayed all those negative thoughts that I had had on the plane for six hours about that father. It wasn’t really his fault that his baby was crying. He was doing the best he could to hush her. It must really be difficult flying with a baby, I should’ve been more empathetic. I felt like a heel.
As the pregnancy progressed, I fell in love with this child. We decided to find out the gender…a girl. At night when my wife would lie down, I would talk to her belly. I would read to our baby. Play music for her. I even started journaling to her. In return, she “karate kicked” my wife in the ribs and rolled around everywhere in her homemade “condo.”
People kept asking what we were going to name her.
“Zacharina,” I would reply. In honor of her father. I was joking, but people at work thought I was serious and when they threw me a baby shower, there was a huge banner that read “Welcome Zacharina!” on it. I thought that was so funny, I decided to put the banner up in our baby’s room as my contribution to the nesting process. (My wife did not find it funny and made me take it down.)
After nine months of waiting, the day arrived. We went to the hospital on Saturday morning and anxiously waited. I brought my camera to film everything. I filmed the heart monitor, the hospital room, my wife having contractions, my wife telling me to turn off the camera. I had it all on film.
For all the kicking she had done in the womb, I would have thought our daughter would be ready to arrive, but she postponed her appearance. As we waited, I started thinking about meeting her. What she would look like? What type of father I would be? I thought back to that father on the plane and chuckled to myself. How will I handle that situation?
After about 48 hours of labor — forty-eight — she arrived. Of course, I got it all on film. Me cutting the umbilical cord, my nervous voice when asked by the nurse to remember her weight and length measurements, and the sound of my daughter’s first cry.
I didn’t realize the significance of the day until the nurse placed our newborn on my wife’s chest and wished her a “Happy Mother’s Day.”
Since then, every Mother’s Day, I remember that special gift and the joy and happiness she’s given me for the last eleven years.
Thank you to my daughter for making your mom and I parents on a very special day. Thank you to my wife for giving me the best gift ever.
Zachery Román is the father of “Bean,” who is the best Mother’s Day gift a dad and mom could ever hope for.