My daughter just turned 10 and I can’t believe that she’s growing up so fast. The little baby that I rocked to sleep at night is transforming into a young lady right before my eyes.
I still remember the joy I felt when my wife, KayEm, told me she was pregnant with our first child. Along with that joy, came fear and trepidation. I had no idea how to be a father, but I knew I only had nine months to start learning.
KayEm and I didn’t want to know the baby’s gender because we wanted to be surprised. In retrospect, I think it would have been better to know the gender upfront because knowing would have eliminated many arguments. Most parents know how difficult it is to choose a baby’s name. Try picking two names. Our doctor, however, told us that we only needed to choose a boy’s name because she was convinced that we were having a male child. To prove her point, she showed us some ancient Chinese birth charts.
“See right there,” she said pointing to some indecipherable characters. “It says that you will have boy.” KayEm and I looked at each other and started to question our choice of obstetrician.
As our bellies grew rounder (I gained a bit of sympathy weight during this period), we eagerly anticipated the birth of our precious daughter and got busy preparing the nursery (and by “we” I mean me. KayEm supervised from afar). The project turned out to be quite a chore because the previous homeowners loved wallpaper so much that they applied several layers of it on the wall.
After removing the wallpaper, I sanded the walls and filled in the damaged sheetrock. I installed a chair rail and teddy bear wallpaper underneath. I painted the room a nice shade of yellow and added a border with pictures of moons and stars around the top. I had to keep everything neutral since we were still unsure about the gender. Finally, I loaded the room with a crib, bassinet, changing table, a dresser, and a rocking chair. Now we were ready for the baby’s arrival.
It was around 11pm when KayEm’s water broke. We headed to the hospital where we spent the next 20 hours awaiting Nee’s arrival. After a few complications, the doctor decided that KayEm needed to have an emergency C-section. The umbilical cord had wrapped around Nee’s neck and she was in danger of suffocating. KayEm and I were worried, but we kept each other calm. I held her hand and stroked her hair as the doctors frantically prepared for the surgery.
After a few tense minutes, I saw the nurses whisk Nee to examination table.
“Is the baby okay?” I yelled across the room. The nurses gave me thumbs up.
“In all of the commotion, I didn’t get a chance to check the gender,” said our doctor. “Is it a boy or a girl?”
“It’s a girl,” said one of the nurses.
“Are you sure?” asked our doctor. “Because we’re supposed to have a boy. Did you mix up the babies?” There was another woman in the operating room who had just had a boy and the babies were laying beside each other on the examination table. I rushed across the room to make sure that the nurses gave us the right baby.
When I looked at the babies, I immediately knew which one was mine. Nee looked like an elderly, pink, alien, but I found her to be the most beautiful girl in the world.
Ten years later, it’s still true. Happy birthday, Nee.