June 24, 2021 | ESPN.com
Layshia Clarendon wrapped their hand around the back of the fussy newborn looking up at them in the maternity recovery room at a Bay Area hospital. A nurse had just shown Layshia how to cradle the baby in a football hold, and Layshia rested the soft skin of the baby’s back against her own left forearm and held the baby’s head in her hand.
Baby C (they/them) gurgled and squirmed at Layshia’s touch. Layshia accepted shampoo from the nurse, silently wondering if it would be appropriate for Black hair. With her right hand, she gently rubbed her fingers through the silky curls of Baby C’s full head of hair.
It was Dec. 21, 2020, Baby C’s birthday and first wash day. Layshia’s wife, Jessica (she/her), had just given birth to Baby C by cesarean section after a 29-hour labor after carrying the baby for just over 41 weeks. As Jessica recovered, Layshia found himself alone with his first child. He never expected to have these first moments alone with Baby C. Layshia and Jessica had planned for a vaginal birth and for these moments to be shared.
“For me to get that opportunity right away was powerful,” says Clarendon, a one-time WNBA All-Star who plays for the Minnesota Lynx. “It was so beautiful.”