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Story Archives

Birth Story

Joel Stein

By Joel Stein

Here’s how I thought childbirth happened: Women struggled and pushed and a baby popped out and everyone clapped and shook hands. What actually happened was that, over and over, my wife Cassandra struggled, before I finally saw the top of Laszlo’s little fuzzy head poke out.

 

Finally, the rest of him slithered out of her, red and angry and screaming. For three very long seconds I feared I wouldn’t love this furious demon child, that I wouldn’t be able to calm him, that he’d hate me. But then, the doctors put him in my arms, and he calmed down. And as soon as he stopped crying, I started.

 

I assumed being born was awful: You suddenly went from darkness, wet warmth, and a feeding tube that hooked into your stomach to bright, hungry coldness where you had to breathe yourself. But after those first three seconds of red-faced crying, which, in his defense, were probably due the fact that his head had just been squeezed out by Cassandra, Laszlo wasn’t upset. He was curious, looking up at me with total trust despite the fact that I hadn’t finished a single parenting book. The Buddhists were wrong: Life isn’t suffering. It’s awesome. And that was making me cry.

 

Where does life come from?

 

Joel Stein is a renowned American columnist and the author of Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity.