I broke my toe on June 30th and my daughter was born on July 2nd. The two events aren’t really related except in the following, somewhat circuitous way.
My wife went into labor in the evening, and by about 12:30 a.m., we had a new baby girl – Alice Joy. She was perfect and what a joy it was. The labor went much more smoothly and rapidly than with our son a couple of years prior; that is, it didn’t hurt me a bit. But even an “easy” labor is pretty brutal and, needless to say, Mommy was relieved when it was over.
Exhausted, we went to sleep in our hospital room, baby in her bassinet, Mom in bed, and I in the fold-out chair. Somewhere around three in the morning, I awoke, desperately recalling more friends and family that I had yet to text about the good news. As my phone was plugged into a charger and not within reach, it was necessary for me to get up and walk over to where I had left it. I arose from the chair and, tiptoeing blindly in the dark room (ever so silently so as not to wake mother or child), I clumsily ventured forth in search of the small, black device. Taking the final step towards my goal, I swung my foot forward, my wounded toe striking the bed’s cold metal frame.
Breaking the toe several days before was excruciating. It had sent me to the floor where I grasped the injured appendage in a futile attempt to quiet the stabbing, burning, and tortuous agony the injury was visiting upon me. However, ramming the already fractured digit into the bed on the night in question redefined my understanding of pain.
As if in slow motion, I simultaneously drew a deep breath, filling my lungs with a massive volume of air with which to provide my vocal cords the fuel for an animalistic death-cry, while at the same time glancing at my sleeping bride to determine if, by colliding with the bed, I had disrupted her sleep.
I had indeed.
Having been married for almost six years, by this time we had learned to interpret one another’s facial expressions so adeptly as to render an actual exchange of words, in many cases, superfluous. At that moment (this being one of those cases), just as my wife could easily determine that I was experiencing a significant amount of torment from an acute injury, so was I able to read the following thoughts as clearly as if they were boldly, and in all capitals, printed in a dialogue balloon above her weary head:
“Do not, my good man, for even one fraction of one second consider uttering the slightest complaint, whimper, or gasp in the presence of a woman still reeling from hours of labor followed by the passage of a human being from her nether-regions, no matter how much your little pinky toe may be hurting.”
Alas, though unspoken, this message was received and nary an objection proffered. Thus, into the bathroom I limped, where, after closing the door, I held back tears and briefly felt sorry for myself until I remembered that just on the other side of the wall slept the most beautiful and magical little healer in the world. And with that thought, the pain began to abate.