A letter to my mother on the event of my child’s birth

Ben Werdmuller
12 min readSep 10, 2022

Dear Ma,

My child was born last Friday. I wish you could meet them.

The first time I saw their face in person (strikingly similar to their 3D ultrasound, but here, not an echo of a person but a real-life human being in front of me), they couldn’t breathe. The doctors whisked them away to a table, and I followed quickly, dumbly, the delirium from sleeplessness and from the surrealism of it all instantly snapping into pure, adrenaline-fueled presence. They put a mask on their face and applied pressure to their lungs, asking each other why they weren’t crying. Finally, there was a sound, like a tiny grunt. And then a little sigh. Finally, they opened up into a small cry; then, another, louder one. The smallest little human I’ve ever seen, finally arrived. I fell in love immediately.

The last time I saw you, just over a year ago, you were in a bed in the same institution, your donated lungs breathing fainter and fainter. I kissed you on the forehead and told you I loved you. You’d told me that what you wanted to hear was us talking amongst ourselves; to know that we’d continue without you. In the end, that’s what happened. But I miss you terribly: I feel the grief of losing you every day, and never more than when my child was born.

They’re so incredibly cute. I just want you to see.

I’ve been thinking about the cassette tape recording we have of when I was born. “It’s a baby!” you exclaimed, and we’ve always thought it was funny, because what else would it be? But I now understand that the enormity of that moment is stunning: a potential human made up of ideas and imagination, that we can only guess about, turns into a real-life human being. It’s a baby. Holy shit. Everything suddenly changes. Everything.

(I want to digitize that recording. Tapes degrade. It might even be gone already.)

You were always so good with children. Famously so. Babies loved you; children loved you. Every photo I have of you with a child is of you looking delightedly at each other, fully present in a joyful interaction. When you did your…

Ben Werdmuller

Writer: of code, fiction, and strategy. Trying to work for social good.