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First day

Published December 24, 2005

[Times photo: Chris Zupa]
THE FIRST TOUCH: Jacqueline Morano Bryant in the arms of her mother, Anastasia, at St. Joseph's Women's Hospital in Tampa.

Outside, it's dreary and raining. The rush hour traffic inches along, a slow procession of drivers staring ahead blankly, wishing they were home.

Inside Labor and Delivery Room 15, the television brings news of a plane accident in Chicago. A winter storm blankets the Northeast. A boy has been murdered in a Tampa park. A local soldier has died in Iraq.

Already David and Anastasia are wondering how they will protect their firstborn from the world outside this hospital room. They worry, as only parents can, how they will handle all that lies ahead.

In the day's few quiet moments - between contractions and nurses checking blood pressure and doctors asking questions - they talk about the daughter who is about to arrive.

Will she know right from wrong? Will she turn out shy? Patient? Compassionate? Will she have blue eyes like her father? Will she grow taller than her mother?

Will she tell them about her first kiss?

Will she fall in love, the way they did? Will she have her heart broken, the way they did? Will she have a child of her own someday and worry, the way they are now?

They wonder all this before they have ever laid eyes on her. They have heard only the sound of her heartbeat, and that was enough.

And then the clock ticks past 7 p.m., and the thoughts of the world and its perils slip away. The months of waiting, the days of wondering, the hours of labor - it all fades.

In that moment, there is only this:

One final, painful push.

A baby girl, 6 pounds, 14 ounces, flawless.

Her first cry, innocent and primal.

A mother's weary smile.

A father's eyes filled with tears.

A family beginning.

Editor's note: 300 Words provides glimpses of everyday life that often go unnoticed.

[Last modified December 24, 2005, 01:09:13]

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