I wasn’t prepared for this

You love your friends and what matters to them matters to you, so of course you say yes when they invite you to come see their newborn baby. Of course. Over to the hospital you go. I am privileged to not be so familiar with these places but I recognize the elevator, the doors that open at the push of a button, the hallways that project medical ability, biological stability, hope’s reliability. Then into the room. Into her room.

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital

And there she is. In her artificial womb of plexiglass and portals, wires and cables to monitors and screens, heartbeat over respiration over oxygen saturation and there is no normal but this one as you listen to the beep of alarm and watch it come back down to green before you breathe again.


Truth be told, promise not to tell? I generally think babies are kinda ugly. Amphibian creatures barely sapiens, born from a woman they promise but I’m tempted to look around for the spaceship retreating.


But this? This tiny person, swimming through the unfamiliar space of her newborn body, premature and perfect, this little girl is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. And I scorn the scorn that whispers at the cliche because bugger me but it’s true.


And I don’t know what to say. She’s magnificent.


I’ve felt this way before, witnessing the small ones of kith and kin. Stood abashed before the splendor of creation. And I well remember the transcendent majesty of looking at my lady love’s son and feeling the gods’ gift of realizing “Yes, yes, for this I would die to protect.” And he wasn’t even mine.


And suddenly, on a normal Saturday night I’m feeling it again, the awe, the sheer dumbfounded reverence for what it is to bring a child into this world. Tomorrow I’ll rage at the idiocy that brings violence to remove them, as everyone is a child in someone’s heart, but for now I exist in little besides awe.


I am accustomed to seeing the Divine in Nature, the pulse of the universe in ocean waves, sand dune shifts, and sunlight through the leaves, but here I am in a concrete cave made by men and everywhere I look I see godliness. In the purpose of the space, the quiet skill and sleepless devotion of the staff, the faceless researchers who devise the tests and cures, and above all else: her, and the indomitability of her will to continue. What is god if not this newest person? Why would it be anywhere else?


Outside it’s a normal night. Cars each going to their own someplace, sports fans ribbing at each others laundry, friends talking too loudly on the lamplit street with words about nothing that manifest their love anyway. And it is a normal night. Another in the endless line of nights where somewhere nearby a miracle is breathing. And the awe overtakes me. I was ready to meet their child, but I was not prepared for this.