Jacqueline Ella makes children

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 28, 2007

Being a father was a change in itself. I remember late one night, lying in bed in our new home in Demopolis, looking to my left. There, between his mother and I, was Joshua. He was sick, and we brought him to bed with us &8212; as much so we could sleep as he could.

Looking at him sleeping there, a wave of love and passion overwhelmed me. Visions of my mother and father rushed through my head, and I felt that same love for him that once was given to me.

It was a private moment, one I&8217;m sure many a parent has felt. Perhaps it came because it was one of the first nights our small family was reunited after being apart for several months, me living out of a motel in Demopolis and my wife living with a friend in Mississippi as we made a transition to our new home.

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At that moment &8212; I believe it was around 3 a.m. &8212; I wasn&8217;t sure that I could ever love anyone as much as I loved my son. His future was my only concern, and I felt that I had no room for any other concern &8212; not for myself, for my wife or for anyone or anything else.

When Tara became pregnant with our daughter, I was scared. With Joshua, it was different. We lost two children before him, and his pregnancy consumed us.

But with the next one, it was different. We were not alone at night, going about our daily lives and frequently thinking of how life would change with a child. We were chasing balls, playing with trucks, feeding a picky eater and trying not to get drenched by a son who loves baths. We were too busy to pay the same amount of attention to a second pregnancy as we were the first.

And that&8217;s where fear set in &8212; Will I be too busy with Joshua to love her?

The answer came at 11:19 a.m. on July 17, when Jacqueline Ella Hall entered our lives. I was not too busy, and where there was once only room for concern for one child, there is now room for two.

Jackie Ella &8212; as I call her &8212; was 7 pounds 15 ounces and 20.5 inches long. She was a hair bigger than her brother. Speaking of hair, she had plenty of it. She came with a complete mane of black.

Now, as a father, I&8217;m a little partial. That said, I&8217;m fairly certain she&8217;s the cutest little girl I&8217;ve ever seen. She ties as cutest baby overall with her brother, mind you.

I&8217;m reminded of the first publisher for whom I ever worked, who wrote about his daughter quite frequently.

So, dear readers, you&8217;ll forgive me if I take a little time to write to my daughter, just as I did my son, just to preserve a few words for prosperity&8217;s sake. I understand that&8217;s one of my perks, and I&8217;ll gladly take it.

Dear Jackie Ella,

Let&8217;s start with your name. Your mother is set on Ella. Me, I&8217;ve always liked the name Jacqueline. I thought we had compromised on Jackie Ella, but she seems to refuse to call you that.

So be it. When you are older and fully &8220;Daddy&8217;s Little Girl,&8221; you can choose which name you would like to use. And don&8217;t worry, I won&8217;t rub it in to your mother when you choose Jacqueline.

How, you might ask, do I know you will grow up to be &8220;Daddy&8217;s Little Girl&8221;? Because on the day you were born, when they brought you into the room for the first time, I wasn&8217;t scared to hold you at all &8212; not like I was your brother, who I was scared I would drop or break.

No, I swept you up, held you and looked on you with a smile. All was well with the world. Then, a few moments later as I was changing your first diaper, you began to cry and flail as most babies do, even as your brother had done.

That&8217;s when I freaked out. Something was wrong with you, and dear ol&8217; dad just couldn&8217;t handle it. Had it been your brother, I&8217;d just change that diaper, wipe that tush and move on about business.

With you, however, I froze. I&8217;m man enough to admit it, I froze. That&8217;s when a few words of wisdom crept into my head.

There is indeed something different about a daughter. There was something different about you. You were crying, and I couldn&8217;t do anything about it. I wanted it to stop. So, I did what any self-respecting father would do. I gave you to your mother.

She and I had an arrangement with your brother. I handle the bruises, bleedings and vomiting. She handles the fever and other illnesses. With you, I&8217;m not sure what the arrangement will be. For now, she handles the crying, I take the smiles. So far, it&8217;s working out well for your Daddy.

That, dear Jackie Ella, is why I know you will be &8220;Daddy&8217;s Little Girl&8221;. No daughter can affect a father like that and grow up to be anything different.

Now, I don&8217;t promise I&8217;ll be the perfect Daddy. I&8217;ll do the tea parties, take you to dance and even watch you as you model outfit after outfit playing dress up.

But let me be honest. We&8217;re going to have problems as you get older. Some things, I just don&8217;t know if I&8217;ll handle.

For instance, I&8217;m quite sure I&8217;ll be hell on some of the &8220;gentlemen&8221; you bring home &8212; for I once was a &8220;gentleman&8221; being brought home. And while I want you to fall in love, get married and have a family, you may very well meet a little resistance from me.

Still, I&8217;m already prepared for the day I walk you down the aisle and give you to another, less-deserving man.

Why? Because I&8217;m consumed with what will be offered by the moments we share between now and then.

I have little idea what it&8217;s going to be like having &8220;children&8221;, but I will cherish every day finding out.

Sam R. Hall is editor and publisher of The Times, as well as the proud father of two children &8212; Jacqueline Ella and Joshua Landon.