It's difficult for me to describe witnessing my husband hold his daughter for the first time. I'm not sure that I can beyond including the above photo in this post...It's still my absolute favorite photo of the two of them together. The quiet wonder and joy of the moment.
Several hours or so before this photo is taken... I tuck Esme into her carrier and load her into the car to make the trek to the airport to pick up Chris, who is finally able to travel to Orlando to be with us for the weekend. According to the airline website his flight is on time so I expect to park the car, meet Chris at baggage claim and have some time to introduce him to his daughter. Imagine my surprise and dismay when I receive a text mid-way on my drive to the airport that his flight is 25 minutes early.
So, now I'll be picking Chris up curbside.
A short time later I see him standing there with his backpack slung over his shoulder. Smiling. Looking a little tired and nervous.
I ease the car over to the curb, get out and walk around to greet my husband with a long hug and a kiss. Then wordlessly he opens the rear passenger door and leans in to get his first real look at our daughter. Tears immediately spring to his eyes. Happy tears. "She's so beautiful."
We have to get going before airport security shoos us away on this busy travel Friday.
"Do you want to ride in the back with her?" I ask.
He shakes his head.
And then we're off to the attorney's office so Chris can sign the papers.
We don't talk much on the way and laugh a little hysterically when I call up the wrong address on the GPS landing us at the pediatrician's office instead of the attorney's office. A quick panicked call to the attorney and we're off again.
Finally we arrive. Chris gently lifts the carrier out of the car. It is apparent that he is already mesmerized by his little girl.
Soon we are settled into a small conference room. The attorney leaves us to gather the papers.
"Do you want to hold her?" I ask Chris, taking Esme out of her carrier.
"No, I'll wait until we're back at the hotel," he says wistfully. Then he looks at Esme in my arms. "Wait. Yes. I do."
So I hand her to him. For a few seconds he looks as if I've handed him a live grenade.
"It's OK," I say.
She looks so very tiny in his hands.
He gazes at her already full of love and adoration.
I take a few photos. He is lost in the moment, but finally looks up and I snap a few of him smiling, too.
Then the attorney is back and Chris is signing papers while I change the baby's diaper and give her a bottle.
And then it's done.
Chris and I are now Esme's legal guardians.
We return to the hotel to begin our first weekend together as a family. While we do many fun things including dinner out at a Thai restaurant, a trip to Babies-R-Us to buy a Snap-n-Go, and her first visit to an art museum, what I remember most about the weekend is Chris holding Esme. Singing to her. Dancing slowly with her around the hotel room. The way he gazes at her. It is obvious that he is completely smitten.
We joke now that we're doomed. That one day our daughter is going to look at Chris and ask sweetly, "Daddy, can I have a pony?"
And he's going to reply, "A pony? Of course! What color, Honey?"
You can see it all in this very first weekend.
Sunday comes all too soon and I find myself driving Chris back to the airport so he can return to his last week of work at the job he is leaving. Neither of us wants him to go. But he'll be back in five days.
He kisses our daughter gently. He kisses me gently. And then he's gone.