This poem ensnared me when I read it in the January edition of First Things. It recounts the incredible moment when you lock eyes with your child for the first time:
You know what I remember first about my daughter being born?
Weirdly, not the miracle of it, or the bruised tender extraordinary
Courage of my wife, or the eerie alien glare of the birthing room,
Or the cheerful doctor chatting amiably as she hauled out our girl,
But my daughter staring at me, from the first instant she emerged.
She saw me and just stared and I was staring too, and we did that
For quite a long time, as I remember. The nurse hustled her off to
Be washed and I hustled over to keep our stares locked. I thought
Somehow that if our stares broke a crucial thing would be broken
And I couldn’t stand that thought. I kept thinking we’d never met,
Formally, but we just could not stop staring. God knows what she
Thought. Me, I thought that she looked shockingly self-possessed
For someone who had just gone through a birth canal. That surely
Must have been a strenuous experience but she seemed essentially
Calm about the whole project. I couldn’t read her expression at all.
She didn’t appear rattled, or curious, or startled, or upset, or angry;
She just stared, like she was coolly examining me. Huge dark eyes.
Believe me I have seen that stare untold times since, and just about
Every time she fixed it on me, even when matters were tumultuous
Or worse, the obscure part of me that remembers everything woke
And shouted o my god there it is again, just as it was the first time!
-Brian Doyle, First Things