Your Opening Act

Dear Caroline,

You I worried about from the start, even before you were born.

The doctor told us you were in there in an unusual position. Transverse breach, she called it.

Somehow you were upside down and slung across sideways. It was a form of occupancy less than ideal.

It might even be dangerous, the doctor told us. The umbilical cord could get tangled up, even strangle you as you came out.

Hardly what Mom and I needed to hear.

She took it pretty well, or at least seemed to. Me, I was another story. I kept thinking about it day after day.

Please, I thought, let her be okay. We’d already had one perfect child. Was it too much for us to hope for a second perfect child, too? Go two for two?

The doctor kept close watch, of course. Mom went to see her more often than usual, as I recall, just as a precaution, just to check on your position in the womb.

Nothing changed. Transverse breach you remained. I kept thinking those words.

Please, I thought, let her be perfect.

It was sort of a prayer, but sent out to the universe at large rather than to any kind of God. I swore never to expect or ask for anything else again. I kept my concern to myself, avoiding upsetting Mom.

The doctor even showed us a sonogram of you so we could see your awkward position. It was decided that day that the safest course of action was for you to be delivered by Caesarean. And that meant I would have to stay out of the delivery room, unable to see you born, as I had Michael.

When Mom went in the operating room, I waited outside, more nervous than I had ever felt. We had a perfect boy and now we wanted a perfect girl. I needed to do something to keep my mind off my worries.

So I wrote.

I had an assignment from Omni magazine, owned by Guccione, Sr., now defunct. It had to do either with mummies or robots. Just a short piece, maybe 200 words. I tinkered away, trying to make it as perfect as I wanted you to be.

An hour went by, maybe more. I’ve forgotten so much. I should have written about all this right then and there, while it was all still fresh.

But the next part I remember fine. The doctor came out to tell me you had emerged without a hint of a problem, and now I could go see you.

Back I went where all the new babies hung out, all in those little bassinettes, or whatever. Now I stood over you, so pink, your eyes closed, your mouth puckering, your fingers squirming, your hair matted, crying.

And I felt a rush of relief almost stunning in its force. You were okay. I could see that for myself now. And then I felt my whole face wrinkle and warm and I broke down crying.

“Hello,” Caroline, I said through my tears. “I’m your Daddy. Glad you could make it.”

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