A Husband's New 'Name' At the Birth of His Child

Like most of us, over the course of my life I have been called by any number of names - names other than the one my mother gave me, that is. While some of these have been mildly amusing and some even endearing, others have been the cause of no small amount of embarrassment and even consternation.

For instance, when our first child was about to be born and my wife requested that I be present with her for the delivery, I can still recall the name she called me when I had the temerity to suggest that the father's place was out in the hall, pacing.

"Chicken," she said, with just the right mixture of tease and contempt, so that I had no option but to painfully reconsider my time-honored male stance. And I will be forever grateful to her. Being present at the birth of our daughter (and subsequently our two sons) was the most moving experience of my life.

Years later, at the birth of our third child, the obstetrician, who had assisted at more than 300 similar occasions and who happened to be a father himself, was as moved as I was. I know because I saw his tears through my own and heard his voice tremble when he explained that the name we had chosen, Jonathan, meant "gift of God" in his native tongue.

But that first time, like the first time I flew in a small plane, any formerly held desire to be "somewhere else, anywhere but here" was completely dissolved by the wonder and majesty of the moment. What's more, I didn't even mind that my wife had called me "chicken."

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