On Saturday morning Janeen gave birth to our daughter, Ivy Beatrice Zeitlin! She arrived at 9:45 am and weighed a normal baby weight.
(No, I am not providing the exact weight. Does this figure correlate with anything meaningful? I challenge anyone reading this to explain the purpose of providing a human baby’s exact weight in birth announcements. All it seems to do is help us gauge the precise size of the item recently forced out of the mother’s coochie. Aaaanyway…)
I am thrilled beyond description. And I must say that there is a strong physiological component to parenthood. I have never had much of a taste for babies; I’ve mostly either avoided or tolerated them. I regard human babies with the same faint interest I take in fish in an aquarium. (I’ve purposely selected that analogy rather than “animals in a zoo” because I truly enjoy the zoo). So I wasn’t sure what to expect, even as Janeen’s labor was unfolding.
I’ll be damned if I wasn’t overcome by a crushing and monolithic love the instant I laid eyes on my baby girl.
In that instant I understood at once the responsibility, exhilaration, risks, and the vulnerability of parenthood. I suddenly understood why an infant’s mild ear infection is treated with the frenetic urgency of the Bubonic Plague. I suddenly understood why rational adults believe that people will actually open and inspect emailed photo galleries featuring 172 different images of their child holding a dandelion. I suddenly understood why parents frantically chase an escaped toddler down the sidewalk with desperation in their eyes when the child is a mere three feet in front of them and obviously not in danger.
On Saturday morning, I probably acquired a lot of traits I have always thought were bizarre. I couldn’t be happier about it.
I’m very proud of Janeen. Due to a couple of ailments it took a few days longer than expected to bring Ivy home, and Janeen has handled the minor ordeal with amazing courage and care. At this early stage it is already obvious that my loving wife is also an excellent mother. I’m also proud of our goofball dog Ruthie. More than one person told us that she might be too wild to co-exist with a baby. Others said our former pride and joy would become “just a dog” once our baby arrived. Wrong and wrong. I couldn’t wait to introduce Ruthie and Ivy, and when we did, it was maybe the most touching thing I’ve ever seen: with bowed head and intuitive deference, Ruthie gingerly approached, then nuzzled gently into Ivy’s swaddling blanket. My girls!
About her name:
Ivy is just something Janeen came up with early in the pregnancy, after she disposed of “Annabelle.” I said “hey, that’s a cool name,” and that was that.
Janeen also suggested that we follow the Jewish custom of honoring a deceased relative—in this instance, my maternal grandmother—and I agreed with the idea. My beloved Nanny was instrumental in raising me; as a child I spent so much time with her that she practically served as a second mother to me. She was an incredibly giving and loving woman who cared for my sister and I with a diligence and fervor that was almost scary (in a good way). She adored all children and I wish more than you can imagine that I could share Ivy’s arrival with her. There’s no one more deserving of the honor of a namesake than my Nanny, whose rather unfortunate first name was Bertha.
Janeen and I knew we couldn’t saddle our daughter with the middle name Bertha, so we took on the challenge of finding a decent female “B” name. We discovered that the pickins at B are actually pretty slim. We took a few days to settle on Beatrice, the letters of which comprise over 80% of “Bertha” when scrambled and rearranged. Good enough!
Welcome to the world, Ivy Beatrice!