By Mustafa Akyol
25 March, 2015
Last Thursday, on March 19, 2015, my wife Riada and I had to rush to our Istanbul hospital early in the morning. The reason was the little baby she had been carrying in her womb for the past nine months and who had begun to knock on the door. After some 18 hours of what they call “labor,” and even more, finally the little one got out. Here was the mighty Mr. Taha Levent Akyol in our excited hands; a 3.9 kg and 53 cm-tall little boy.
This is my first child, and in the past five days that has passed since his arrival, I have had many thoughts, feelings and intuitions that are also firsts. I also decided to share them here, so he can hopefully read them many years later, and you might find them not terribly boring for now.
First, the very formation of a human being is a fascinating thing. What we, the parents do is only a very humble contribution to it, by basically brining our body’s fluids together. Then, an incredibly complex process begins. Two separate DNA sets are brought together to form a new one, which then starts to build a whole body from that miniscule code. As a result, your baby comes out with his tiny toes, lips, eyes and everything else. And you don’t have the slightest idea of how all that worked out.
For sure, there can be a natural (“biological” and “evolutionary”) explanation to this process, but that does not change how mind-boggling and jaw-dropping it is. Hence, as a theist (of the Islamic variety), I can’t take myself away from perceiving this “creation” as nothing but a “miracle.” (In other words: Thank you, God, for giving us our beautiful son!)
The other thing I noted in the past five days is how fragile we human beings are when we first come to this earth. (As an Apple computer nerd recently noted, you have only three “built-in apps” - iSleep, iEat and iPoop.) Other animals are much more robust, as a newborn foal can get up and run around in just minutes. But the human baby needs six months to just sit upright, and a year to get up on his feet. Throughout these long months, and in the many years to come, he is just helpless and fragile. Luckily though, his parents are equipped with a powerful sense of compassion, which compels them to suffer many sleepless nights in order to feed, carry, hug, de-gas, wash and wipe their baby.
That powerful feeling of compassion has really been something I began to feel in the past five days. This helpless small being has no chance of protection and survival unless you give him all your love and care. It is exhausting, for sure. But it also makes you feel that you are a more responsible, worthy and decent human being. It also makes you more thankful to your parents. You see what they have gone through to raise you only when you begin to go through the same thing - as they have been telling you for decades, but you never really grasped.
Besides all this, having a baby also makes you more concerned about society, and even the state of mankind. You imagine the world that he will live in, and you want to make it a better, safer, healthier place. As my good friend Caleb Lauer, another father, kept telling me, you move on from “whatever, dude” mode to a new level of care and responsibility.
In short, having a baby is a challenge, but also a blessing. It brings the most innocent and the most immaculate being on Earth right to your hands. It is not “fun” all the time, I must say, but it is great joy.
A joy that we have as a “built-in app,” as I am beginning to understand now, but it only works when you make the “upgrade” from a careless individual to a caring parent.