It's Thalen's Turn column: An early valentine

The following is an opinion column written by an Echo Press editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.

Hospital water mugs.
Two water mugs labeled 'mom' and 'dad' for my wife and me during our stay at the hospital.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

I received an early valentine this year. I fell in love all over again on Feb. 12 at 5:25 p.m.

I was speechless with her beauty and perfection. My stomach flipped twice over, and tears welled my eyes, a feeling I hadn't experienced since I saw my wife walk toward me down the aisle.

This new love of mine weighed 9 pounds and 6 oz with a length of 21.25 inches. Her name is Sonny Zimmerman, and she is my daughter.

Sonny Zimmerman
Sonny Zimmerman, daughter of Jade and Thalen Zimmerman
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

The anticipation leading up to the big event had me on the edge of my seat. The midwife told us to come in on Feb. 11 to begin an induction as they did not want her going a week past her due date. She was supposed to be here on the 7th, but she is stubborn like her dad.

We arrived at the hospital early in the morning and the process began shortly after we were settling in.


The idea that I would soon be a dad still seemed unbelievable at this time, even in the middle of the night while my wife paced the room, feeling all sensations of a labored body. I did my best to comfort her and put her at ease, but she thought it was best to give her space. Her tone told me she meant it, and I obeyed.

Watching my wife go through the labor process gave me a different perspective. I always knew she was strong, but jeez, in those moments, she was a gladiator in battle, and I will never again complain when I have a cold.

Jade Zimmerman holds her daughter, Sonny, at Glacier Ridge Health System in Glenwood.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

It was a long process and probably seemed even longer for my wife, but near the evening of Saturday, Feb. 12, Sonny graced us with her presence.

There is a saying that a woman becomes a mom when she finds out she's pregnant, and a man becomes a father when he sees his baby, and as I said before, the idea that I was so close to holding my daughter didn't even seem real. But I was expecting that to change when I saw her; I just didn't anticipate how overwhelming the feelings would be.

When I saw Sonny make the final breach of the womb, a light clicked on. I had to catch my breath as instant joy overcame me. I was speechless, and all I could do was cry and admire her. She is so perfect.

Sonny rests on her dad, Thalen Zimmerman, after her first night of being born.
Jade Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

They put her on my wife's chest, and I couldn't help but go back and forth from looking at Sonny with awe and smothering my wife with kisses. I gave her my finger, and she gripped it tightly with her tiny fist. She is strong like her mother as well as beautiful.

Sonny has long dark hair with a little bit of curl. Her fingers are long — perfect for me to teach her guitar. She is curious as she follows voices attentively with her eyes. She is smart as she has become a pro at feeding right out of the womb. She is beautiful as she takes my breath away every time I look at her. All of the daily stresses that used to occupy my mind have become small and mundane. Family is my concentration. Everything I do in this life will be done to care for and provide for her and my wife. My needs are at the bottom of the pedestal.

Two days later, we were able to leave the hospital and introduce Sonny to her home and her gentle giant of an older "brother" — Dude, a 90-pound German Shepherd. Dude was surprised by her arrival but already very protective of his little sister. He is always watching her and rushes to her side when she begins to cry.


Sonny Zimmerman rests alongside her dog, Dude.
Jade Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

My wife and I are extremely tired as she is on feeding duty, and I am on diaper duty, which literally is every hour through the night, but there is no way in heck we would change a thing. For as exhausted as we are, the overwhelming joy has yet to subside, and I highly doubt it ever will.

I will never stop thanking God for his miracle.

Sonny Zimmerman is named after her late grandpa, David "Sonny" Hjelm. I am writing this column on Feb. 16, which would have been his birthday.

“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.

Thalen Zimmerman of Alexandria joined the Echo Press team as a full-time reporter in Aug. 2021, after graduating from Bemidji State University with a bachelor of science degree in mass communication in May of 2021.
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