I've been writing this particular column in my mind for six months, and you know what? I still can't find the words.

So let's start with this one.


Emily Susanna Levey was born at 9:40 a.m. last Wednesday, at George Washington University Hospital. She arrived with blue eyes, her mother's chestnut-brown hair and the kind of serene disposition no parent has the right to expect. She may not keep any of the three, but that possibility hasn't prevented her parents from declaring her a star.

The medical people like what they see, too. There's a physical test that pediatricians give newborns. They call it an Apgar test. (Don't ask me what Apgar stands for; he was probably an obscure character on Sesame Street.)

In any case, children who are given the Apgar test receive a numerical rating on a scale of one-to-ten. Bad is one. Best is 10.

The doctors warned us before Emily was born that very few babies get 10s. There's almost always some imperfection, they said. Even a hangnail is enough to drop you to 9. And getting a grade of less than 10 doesn't mean the baby isn't wonderful, or that the parents aren't wonderful, the pediatricians assured us. It's merely doctorly caution.

So of course Emily went and got a 10.

That won't be the last time her Mom and Pop are proud of her, I'm sure. But it's a great way to begin. As we joked the other day, it took Bo Derek 21 years to reach 10, and it took Emily five minutes.

Obviously, it hasn't taken Emily's Pop very long to commit that cardinal sin known as First-Time Parent Pride.

Both Jane and I know that nothing brings on snoozes quite as fast as boastful parents. We resolved throughout the pregnancy not to tell first-baby stories. We resolved on the way to the hospital not to do it. We resolved on the way into the delivery room not to do it.

And then Emily opened her eyes and looked at us. End of resolve.

Enough for now. I've got to finish writing this column so I can get back over to the hospital. I haven't seen Emily in 12 hours. That's about 11 3/4 too many.