On the miracle of life and failure of language

I am in that phase of life where my friends are having kids. And so have I. Even though I have two and so many of my friends have children, each time a new little life enters the world I feel the same way: ecstatic, euphoric, elated, emotional. 

Other things, too, but I was enjoying the alliteration there. 


I had taken maternity photos for my friend Katie on what turned out to be the evening before her daughter was born. I posted a preview of them on my blog the next morning and texted her to let her know. I didn’t hear back. Because I am a worrier by nature, I started to think that maybe she didn’t like the pictures and just didn’t know how to tell me. When I found out that she was in labor and really couldn’t look at them (nor did she care, I’m sure!) I couldn’t stop thinking about her. What was she going through? She was about to become a mother, to meet her child. It’s not something you can even put into words. She was about to change in about the most dramatic way one can. Everything changes. I couldn’t wait to meet Elizabeth, the tiny amalgamation of my two friends, the womb-dweller who had been with us and yet not–so close and yet so far. What would she be like? Who was she?

I remember vividly the way the sky looked on the evening that my friend Lindsay welcomed Tessa into the world. It was a beautiful sunset sky, and I remember thinking what a picturesque day it was to be born into, and a beautiful scene for my friend’s first moments of motherhood. That she wouldn’t likely see this sunset, and that didn’t matter, because her life would never be the same. Somehow the sky reminded me of what a profound moment that was for her. 

Five months later, I was awakened by the buzzing of my phone. Once my groggy, sleep-fogged brain realized why it was ringing, I was completely awake. It was Lisa, and she was on her way to the hospital to meet Cassidy. {Read the story of Lisa and baby Cassidy here if you haven’t already.} She was nervous and excited, and after we spoke, I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned; eight months pregnant and on the precipice of having this experience myself, I was so overwhelmed. I knew how I felt — counting each “last” in an excited and yet scared countdown to the ultimate adventure. Our last weekend just the two of us, my last bath as a non-parent, the last kicks I would feel from inside my belly–while it is a good transition, surely, it’s also very overwhelming. I remember feeling more worried than anything else: how would life be different? Would I be the same? How do I mark these final moments before everything changes? How should I feel right now? How do I feel?

In reality, there is nothing you can do to prepare for this transition. It’s something I’ve written about before, and I’m sure I will again. My words are my feeble attempt to grasp something intangible and make sense of it. 

I suppose it’s that inability to fully comprehend the profundity of this life event that makes each birth in the lives of my friends so monumental. 

Because I understand the feelings, and the sensation of being so overstimulated with emotion that you can’t make sense of anything at all. 

Because I know how becoming a parent changes you, and what an incredible experience it is. 

Because I’m genuinely excited to see how my friends will grow and transform as parents. I’m excited to connect with them on a deeper level as we all blunder our way through the thickets of parenthood. 

Because I know what a miracle new life is, and what an intense blessing it is to witness the first moments of it. 

Intense, emotional, overwhelming, transformative, overstimulating, incredible, transitory, profound, beautiful, miraculous. 

So it is with joy and an inability to really express the gravity of the moment that I welcome Giovanni Masciale into the world today. 

And to my friends: know that when your baby is born, I’m somewhere completely bursting with love and crying for you, and that if you want someone to listen while you try to organize the shards of your thoughts on the topic, I am here, and I know. 

I may not be able to express myself clearly, but I know. 

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