I’ve always been fascinated with the first of something, and having a baby around offers very quiet, earth-shattering events every few days.
Take the human heart. In an average human life, it beats 2,500,000,000 – two and a half BILLION – times, and it all started with the first beat. Unfortunately, the human embryonic heartbeat is a bit of a gooey, vague process, and as a parent you don’t get to experience it.
So let’s take breathing. There are two major revelations to a baby being born, at least for men: the afterbirth, which you only find out about in 10th grade, and breathing. Until I saw Lucy being born, I never fully grasped that the baby would not actually be breathing for a fair amount of time outside the mother.
When she came out, all slick and red and blue, she wasn’t moving. Among thirty-five other emotions, I stood in stunned horror, wondering what was wrong. It wasn’t until they took her to the “heat lamp” table and put an aspirating bulb in her mouth that she suddenly gasped. It is the closest thing to a miracle I have ever witnessed, and I have never recovered. I experienced her first breath, and if she lives to be ninety, she’ll do it an average of 798,912,000 more times.
Now think about a bite of food. Think of how many times you’ve taken a bite of solid food today, and guess around how many you took yesterday. Think of sufferers of anorexia, think of foodies writing for the New York Times, think of every great date you’ve had over dinner, think of those picnics as a kid, and every hamburger or bowl of pasta you’ll ever eat. Every single social experience, alone or at a long dinner table, every meal you ever had or will ever have began with a single bite of solid food, hopefully when you were around six months old.
Guess who just had hers?