The first baby ever born in Antarctica was delivered in 1978. An entire continent empty of the cry of children and empty of tiny feet until one small boy arrived to break its long history of rejecting our incursion. He was Argentinian and born to try and claim sovereignty over the white expanse at the bottom of our planet. Still, he wasn’t born for that. Not really. He was born to live, screaming, in freezing conditions. He was born to grace the first human life on a place covered by ice and rock and a place of never-night and always twilight, killing cold and biting wind. And yet still, he joined this world.
An alligator mother will place her young between her enormous jaws and swim them to water and safety in a cradle of one of the strongest bites on earth. A father emperor penguin will sit on his egg for two months without food. Giant octopus mothers die after when their brood hatches after six months of constant watch and caressing to keep them oxygenated.
In a mouth of teeth and a place of hunger and at the bottom of the ocean, they join this world.
Sometimes we say animals do not care in the same way we care. But how can you watch elephants mourn their dead, and fight off predators, and place their young in the center of a circle of protection and say they aren’t a mirror to ourselves? We cannot claim a monopoly on the concept of love. Alone and yet unalone on our planet.
Every month babies are born in cars and planes and trains because we can’t stop the process of trying to become part of this world. In the back seat of Volkswagens and on the side of the road, and aren’t we an impatient species that burst into being in convenience stores and hiking trails and in the in between of here and nowhere.
Oh, future children, we are a social species that feels alone in the crowd, and you will know hardship, and you will know want, but come and show yourself because we’re here to get through this together. Even as you look up and see all the black, empty night and wonder —how can we be so alone in the universe? How can life like us be so rare when we make ourselves so quickly and so dearly?
Babies are born in war zones and storms and forest fires that scorch the skin and earthquakes that shake buildings apart around us. And there is nothing to do but to try again to welcome them into this world and say, “Look, look, there is pain and a universe of emptiness above and emptiness below, and yet, here we are. Here we are to make it full.”