Terra Sigillata

I am not worthy

Four years ago at 11:24 am EDT (1624 GMT), your humble blogger was handed the keys to a whole new vocabulary of love.

The gift came in the form of a 7 lb. 13 oz. (3,544 gm), 20.5 inch (52 cm) bundle of drooling, peeing, meconium-pooping bundle of baby girl, yanked from an incision in PharmGirl’s abdomen.

The lessons of compassion and unconditional love I have been taught by these two women have comprised the most formative experiences of my life.

In return, PharmGirl has suffered tremendous indignancies on my behalf: the necessary biological machinations required to mix haploid DNA following our post-9/11 sorrow gave way to fatigue and sickness that all but ruined our previously-planned vacations to Mexico and Key West.

Even the positive pee stick that greeted us on Christmas morning, 2001, could not make up for the suffering that lie ahead during weeks 25-38 of gestation in the unforgiving North Carolina summer heat. Not to mention her having to resubmit NIH grant applications, deal with the academic patriarchy, and care for family members and cancer patients of her own, all the while.

Perhaps the worst, however, was immediately following this nine months of constant discomfort: post C-section complications and the unanticipated loss of 1400 mL of blood that required twice-daily massage of her abdomen and uterus that had only been sliced open 24-48 hours earlier. Her collegiate athletic career could not provide adequate preparation for the pain I witnessed.

Gents, we men are not man enough to be women.

And my dear daughter, who, she reminded me yesterday, must now be known to the blogosphere as PharmPreK’er given her transition out of preschool this past week – the one who proudly calls me Daddy – the one who wanted to go see Jeff Tweedy play last week because, “he seems like a good daddy, too.”

I have never ever loved anyone or anything more than this girl. More surprisingly, to me at least, I had never known I was even capable of such a depth of emotion.

So, perhaps, just for today, I will put aside thoughts of my worthiness and just enjoy the gifts.

Happy Birthday….and thank you, m’ladies.


  1. #1 coturnix
    August 26, 2006

    Happy birthday to PharmPreK’er!

  2. #2 Tara C. Smith
    August 26, 2006

    Man, Abel, you always manage to make me teary-eyed. 🙂 Happy birthday to your little girl. Someday we’ll have to get ours together and see how much trouble they can get in.

  3. #3 anjou
    August 26, 2006

    Happy Birthday to the the big pharmPreK’er!!!

  4. #4 Tori
    August 27, 2006

    As a mother of five, they are the gift that keeps giving,.. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the PharmPreK’er,….

  5. #5 Abel Pharmboy
    August 28, 2006

    Coturnix, you’ll have to meet her, what with living so close to us – the princess was unable to make the Friday meetup because of preparations for her big day.

    Tara, thanks, as usual – it’s refreshing for me to write a teary-eyed piece that doesn’t involve someone dying. The PPK’er comes to all the major meetings (she’s better than me at explaining my data) so I am sure that our families catching up is only a matter of time.

    The only challenge these days is explaining, for example, why we couldn’t just walk backstage to meet Jeff Tweedy. After all, she had a very special message for him and since she listens to his records, she should be allowed to meet him, right? At the very least, I was able to get the opening act, the very gracious Brooklyner Jennifer O’Connor, to come out and talk with her – Jennifer’s bass player, Arabelle Kauffmann, also spent a lot of time with her (Arabelle teaches a summer rock n roll camp in Bklyn for girls 6 and over) as did their swag dealers, Clint Asay and his wife/girlfriend whose name I sadly forget. Good musicians know how to cultivate their fans of the future. They’re all over the Midwest, Boston area, and Fla. in Sept., so try to catch Jennifer and her band if they’re nearby.

    Anjou, we would’ve loved to be with you guys on Saturday but now you understand. We did start a very special wine tradition for her birthday this year, you’ll be interested to know.

    Tori, five??? Gulp. You have my admiration and eternal respect.

  6. #6 anjou
    August 28, 2006

    What’s the new wine tradition????

  7. #7 King Aardvark
    August 28, 2006

    Five is peanuts. I married into a family that has 16 kids.

    That’s one superhuman mother. When the kids were very small, she could sleep standing up while carrying a baby on her back and still stir a pot, so they tell me.

  8. #8 Abel Pharmboy
    August 28, 2006

    Anjou, how did I know that you, of all people, would ask?

    PharmPreK’er was given a name that is shared by her British ancestors and a French chateau. The year after her birth, I purchased as many 2002 Bordeaux futures of this wine as I could afford on my grant-supported salary. We scored 4 1/2 cases…54 bottles.

    The futures came in this past Spring. So, for each year from now on, we will open one bottle every birthday and pass the cases on to her when college comes and the wine is truly in its prime. Not surprisingly, she could care less this year, particularly since her palate leans toward Champagne. However, her granddaddy and I shared a lovely red wine hangover on Sunday morning.

    Just as you and your favorite boy share your enthusiasm of wine and life with your folks, I hope that PPKer will ultimately appreciate the gesture that I planned for her to celebrate each year from college through having a family of her own.

  9. #9 anjou
    August 28, 2006

    That is so sweet!!

    My Dad had a bottle of Napoleon brandy (1860)– 1/3 for each of our weddings! He made this into a very touching ceremony. Not an annual event as you’ve got planned but nice too. Mom almost spit it out when she heard how old it was!

  10. #10 Occams Edge
    August 30, 2006

    Enjoy her now, but you only get a short time – there is this thing called puberty…

    Daughter could walk into the room and with just a glance her and my wife would be in escalating argument mode,

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