I was never a fan of first dates. The nervous tension was always palpable and I never had much of an appetite. Some of them went fine, some were terribly bad. I started to lose hope that I’d find the right person. The odds seemed against me after many failed attempts.
I met Jaime online and she sounded fine on the phone. Sane, independent, smart, sense of humor. She even grew up in Hawaii like I did and was in vet school.
This girl is different, I thought.
For a first date, we did fairly well. Her roommates spied on me picking her up and her friend jokingly said to have her home by midnight. I didn’t oblige.
We didn’t eat much and I stared at the table a little too often. We went to American Dream Pizza and had gelato at Francesco’s on the second floor. I didn’t even finish my gelato.
For a night cap she showed me all of the animals at the vet school she had told me about on the phone. I introduced her to my cats and gave her a ride home. My face hurt the next day from smiling.
She moved in a few months later. Mostly, it was driven by necessity. This way I could feed her and comfort her while she went through the hardest part of vet school: surgery rotations. Until then I had never seen someone work a 36-hour shift. She complained, but not much. She just kept working hard.
Getting the cats to get along was an interesting problem. I remember Maia and the boys almost killing each other when they were introduced. It turned into a weird feline love triangle, and they became family. Things seemed to have a way of working out.
Then, we decided to get a dog. The first day we had Scout was when I knew Jaime would make a great mother. I also knew I’d marry her by that point. She was a DvM. now, which was not easy. She passed her boards on the first try and was ready to start her career. Jaime was busy, but she still had time to take Scout to training classes and teach her a ton of tricks.
We moved to Portland eventually. Jaime worked at the VA for a while and we lived in west Portland. A year later, after our lease was up, we were off to California.
Jaime agreed to move to California knowing she had no job. We found a place at the last minute in Mountain View thanks to a friend and she started looking for work. She turned down a crappy offer only to walk into a good job less than a month later. She learned quickly and became a leader on her team. I was proud, but not surprised. Not at all.
I asked Jaime to marry me on February 13th the next year. I was worried because it was close to being cliche, so I made sure to avoid the 14th. Her family was there and I proposed to her on the coast of the Pacific on Land’s End. “Jaime, I have a question for you,” I said. At first she thought I had to use the bathroom, but she was shocked when she realized what was happening. We cried a little, hugging each other on the side of the trail. The wedding was even better, and we were happy.
Things went well for a while. One year, in spring, my grandfather passed away. When I got home, Jaime told me, crying, that Maia was also sick. I didn’t have to ask why she was upset.
Jaime knew what had to be done, and she took responsibility for Maia’s life. The next day, we went in to the vet and put Maia to sleep. Jaime softly said goodbye, and I watched Maia die in her arms. Jaime was so strong. My heart was tired when I went to sleep that night.
And then, we got another dog. This one was tiny, shy and relaxed as a puppy. I’m not really sure what happened, but Junebug turned into a rascally poodle with an unhealthy obsession for socks, sunbathing and Greenies. Jaime took the time to take Junebug to classes and teach her tricks as well.
The years flew by. We found a new home for Rio and Junior and tried to start a family. One day, we found out she was pregnant.
Jaime was overjoyed. She read all the books and scoured websites. She wanted to be prepared, eat right, and take care of herself and the baby. As always, she looked at it as an opportunity to learn.
Today, she is around two months away from being a mother. I find myself in awe of Jaime. She has remained patient, graceful and loving even with her big belly, swollen feet and sore hands. She still goes to work and does yoga. Without hesitation, she assembled a beautiful baby room. I helped, but only a little.
I think about the journey we are on. There are so many memories, but so much still to come: all the firsts, wonderful discoveries, tough times, lack of sleep and those hard nights as parents. I am oddly at ease with the whole thing. I am not scared. I know Jaime is my partner, and I know she will be strong. It gives me confidence. I am lucky.
I wonder: will I ever be able to adequately tell our daughter how I feel about Jaime? Will I be able to describe how much I love her, and how rare it is to know someone like her? Will I do her story justice?
I will do my best — through actions and words alike. I am excited to be a father, teacher and friend to our little girl. But what I’m most excited about, above all else, is that my daughter will have Jaime for a mom.
Because, baby girl, your mom is special.