In Which a Giraffe Is Born

I hate to tell you this, but I was originally one of the nay-sayers. I laughed at the people I saw on Facebook carrying on about April and what seemed to be turning into the longest-running giraffe pregnancy ever to hit the record books. What's the big deal about a new giraffe? I thought to myself. Some of my friends even paid to sign up for text alerts about it. Money well spent, huh?

But then it was Saturday morning, and I was on Facebook, and one of the first things I saw around 8 a.m. was an update from a friend: "HOOVES! WE'VE GOT HOOVES!" it said. And so I scurried to find the giraffe cam link, and there they were: tiny hooves protruding from April's nether regions. I had other things to do, but plenty of time to spare. So I tuned in to watch.

But first, I searched on "how long does it take for a baby giraffe to be born once the hooves are out" and the Internet told me it would be 30 to 60 minutes. OK, no biggie. I settled in with my coffee to watch. I nibbled on a breakfast biscuit. An hour later, I was still watching. There was still just a pair of tiny hooves hanging out, nothing more.

"Aren't you going to go do the weeding?" my husband asked me. I had been carrying on for days about all the work I wanted to get done in the yard. But I shooed him away. He mocked me for watching a giraffe give birth. He was a nay-sayer, just like I had been only yesterday.

"I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies!" I shouted. I sat and wrung my hands. I wished somebody would give a quick pull on those tiny little hooves. "PUSH!" I hollered. (Don't giraffes know how to PUSH?)

Dexter the Tabby cried at the front door. For it was Caturday, and he wanted to sit on the porch, as we do each morning. "CAN'T YOU SEE I'M BUSY HERE?" I said; "WE'RE TRYING TO GIVE BIRTH!" But eventually, I relented. I took the cat out. We came back in.

Nothing more had happened. I chatted with my friends online who were also watching from all around the world. It was a group thing. We were bonding, having fun. We were being very silly. It was as happy as I've been about the morning news in a very, very, very long time.

"Where's a giraffe midwife when you need one?" I finally asked my husband. "I don't know what to tell you," he said. He noted that the birthing process was very cranky-making. I had to agree, and the labor pains weren't even that bad yet, at least not from here; not over the Internet.

The zookeepers gave April a snack. She reached her long neck up, ate the snack, licked the camera with her tongue. We all laughed. Life went on. I watched the clock. I finally gave up and went outside to do the weeding in the front flower bed. But I took my computer, armed with giraffe-cam live link, along. I sat it on a small yard table by my side.

Half an hour later, I was watching the screen more than I was weeding. April the giraffe was moving more slowly. There seemed to be longer legs sticking out to accompany the hooves. I weeded quickly, nervously; looked down to discover I was ripping up handfuls of monarda, sweet sustenance for my August bees. ACK!!!

And then, I knew it was time! About five minutes before 10 a.m. in these parts, April seemed to squat down a bit more. There was a disturbance in the force. A tiny orange spotty baby giraffe, enclosed in a sac, slid down and landed on the floor of the enclosure. "WE HAVE HOOVES ON THE GROUND!" I shouted. I danced merrily around the yard, with a big, sappy grin on my face.

So yeah, I was one of the nay-sayers. I was. But when the time came, I became a giraffe enthusiast. Among the many miracles of this day, a tiny, perfect giraffe was born, and I was there to see it.

In the past few weeks, I've been visiting the gift shop of the art museum on campus, and I bought a small giraffe, among quite a few other delightful items. I had some thought I could make good use of it, and on this day, I did.

After the birthing and the weeding were both done, and the computer was safely back indoors, I took my new giraffe figure outside and photographed it among the hyacinths in the flower bed I had just cleaned up. We relived the happy moment of the birth. In fact, we reenacted it, sort of. We celebrated, giraffe-style.

Welcome, welcome, little one, to this big, bright, beautiful world!

Here's a song to celebrate a new birth. It's B.J. Thomas, with Rock 'n Roll Lullaby.

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