Strong and with grace, my friend Donna labored all yesterday and through the night. The midwife - her mother one of the women who helped bring my sisters into the world - and her assistant guided her through, wisdom and skill and short cat naps as things ebbed and flowed.
I'm not a father and I never will be. Too queer, too lazy, too old now. This is not a lament, just a statement. I am an uncle. When someone I love gives birth, I feel an urge as simple and compelling as breath: be at hand. stand by. keep watch. The knight at vigil, the guard at the gate. More honestly, the fellow sleeping in a chair in the corner, ready to fetch snacks or mind other kids, play cards with relatives, provide a shoulder. Just be there.
I got to hold this little one before she was two hours old. I talk nonsense to babies and they seem to like it as long as I pitch the sounds low in my chest like a hum, slow and deep. Uncle Hank is comforting. Her eyes, she was bright and watching already, half smiling, long fingers splaying and then grabbing. Kicking feet, dark curls of hair, already a beauty, already as strong as her mama.