Hey, Carl. Thanks so much for coming out to meet our precious new baby. Look, she’s so excited to see you. Do you want to hold her?

It’s totally fine if you don’t, by the way. I mean, yeah, I guess by asking if you want to hold her, I’ve now put you in a position where you would have to actively decline to do so, which could easily give you a reputation as one of those weirdos who hates babies—probably because you’re nervous about that sixth sense babies have where they can tell whether or not you’ve committed arson as soon as you touch them—but it really is totally fine if you’d rather just look at her. Some people—again, generally misanthropes who get some sick pleasure out of burning down buildings—just aren’t comfortable holding newborns.

Oh, so you do want to hold her? Great! Now, don’t be nervous about doing it the “right way” or anything. It’s mostly common sense. Just make sure you’re supporting her neck, not gripping her too loosely, not squeezing her too tightly, keeping her head tilted upright at a thirty-seven-degree angle—hon, can you grab one of our protractors for Carl?—and maintaining eye contact in intervals of at least 6.2 seconds before blinking. And if she falls asleep, remain completely silent and motionless until she wakes up on her own. We will communicate via nostril flares during this period of time.

If she gets fussy, please don’t take it personally or start obsessing over whether or not this is also how babies reacted when Ted Bundy held them. All you have to do to calm her down is stand up and start walking around at 3.3 miles per hour while rubbing her back in two-inch-diameter circles—first clockwise, then counterclockwise—and soothingly whispering the starting lineup for the 1967 Cincinnati Reds into her ear.

That’s her right ear, not her left ear, just to be clear. If you whisper it into her left ear, she won’t get into Northwestern. She also tends to settle down when people tell her their specific, definitive, and legally binding plans for having children of their own, so you could try that if your knowledge of the pre-Big Red Machine era Reds is a little patchy.

All right, I think that’s everything. Oh, I guess the one other thing to keep in mind is that if she starts to cry while in your arms, we will quickly volunteer to take her back and assure you that she’s fine in a tone that is meant to be reassuring but will ultimately just make you feel too nervous and ashamed to get within fifteen miles of another baby for the rest of the year. So are you ready for her? Should be fun, right?

Okay, here you go. See? Look how peaceful she is. You’re a natural at this. How does it feel to hold her? Amazing, right? Like you finally understand the sublime vastness of the universe and our insignificant yet vital role in it, right? I’ll go get a pen and paper if you want to dictate any of these thoughts to me for the collection of poetry inspired by our daughter that I assume you’re planning to write as soon as your hands are free again. I was thinking a good title for it could be Odes to Innocence.

Ooh, actually, can you give her back for a second? I’ve never seen her eyebrow do that before, so we’re just going to run to the hospital really quick. But don’t worry. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the way you were holding her.