Clairemont, California
June 7, 1999

Susan and Joe,

Congratulations, applauds and kudos to a job well done.

Rachel phoned me with the great news this morning. Eight pounds, nine ounces of healthy baby boy delivered at home right in your own bed. I wish I could have been there to see that little package arrive, making me an uncle for the first time. A toast to the two of you for taking on the ultimate of human challenges.

This first day of life is a day to marvel. Run your fingers over those little hands. Relish those tiny squirms, gurgles and burps. Take deep into your lungs that magical smell of newborn baby, there is nothing so reassuring in life, nothing that will ground you more to the planet Earth. Put the little guy flat on the bed by himself and step back and just watch him and know that he came from the two of you.

How nice that you haven't named him yet. He'll have a day or two just to be ogled at for what he is without the interfering static of grand expectations that always comes with naming a child. Be careful with names. Know that if you decide on Rutherford Scott Winning, he's going to have a hell of a time feeling good about himself if all he wants to do in life is pump gas or load vending machines. Be neutral, hedge with names.

I truly felt left out of this birth, much more than I thought I would. Too bad I had to stay here and carry on at work. Hearing Rachel's voice this morning really made me want to be up there with all of my kin and watch the family grow. Thank you both for making me an uncle and Rachel an aunt. Thank you also for bringing Gabriella and Marisa an adorable little BOY! cousin, with whom they'll have loads of fun. Rachel tells me they are out of their minds with curiosity about their new cousin.

Susan, you are the true star in all of this.

I heard about the difficulties and uncertainties during the labor and I could hear in Rachel's voice that things were a bit touch-and-go at times. But when you were given the ultimatum by the midwife: either the baby gets out in 10 minutes or we pack up this birthing team and move it to the hospital, you focused. You focused under incredible pressure and a fast-clicking clock and got that little dude out on the terms you and Joe had agreed with and felt comfortable with. No cold, sterile hospital. No disinterested doctor. No last-minute injection of painkillers that would have made the whole thing a lot less memorable.

Baby in Bed. What a great story!

Of course everyone's told you about the grogginess that awaits. Soon you'll be hearing frantic shrieks in the middle of the night. At first your heart will race, panic will set in. But gradually you'll begin to recognize these shrieks for what they are: simple reminders that "Hey, I'm a parent and must offer comfort"- an instinct that will remain razor sharp even after months and months of sleep deprivation.

One day, when you've been up at 3 a.m. for the fifth, or tenth or twentieth night in a row, trying to console the screaming bundle, you'll stop thinking about how tired you're going to be at work or how awful you're going to look in the morning. Instead, you'll begin to really concentrate on comforting that little baby, developing new methods, new hums, new songs, new dances. That's when it all begins to sink in and your duty, your mission becomes clear.

I have to go now.

But remember to soak up that blissful, anxious, exhilarating impossible-to-describe feeling on the first day of your little boy's life.

It doesn't last forever.

Lots of love,


Back to Index