The Transformation of a Parent
Family has always been important to me. The relationships that we have had through childhood years and even more important, our close knit system as we have grown through adulthood. Being able to call any one of them and spill my heart out without fear of persecution. It’s so important. As the years have gone on, my family has created families of their own. Nieces and nephews have grown, and some of them are already adults, one with a child of her own. I’ve seen them grow and develop along with my brothers and sisters. Transforming quickly into adults, when they realize that they are in charge of developing another life form. I’ve seen some things that I would have done differently, But I’ve also been in awe of their true devotion to their children. Knowing that if I were in the same boat, I would probably have a similar back and forth. All of this, with a struggle inside of me, unsure when I was young if I was ever going to have children. In my twenties, I looked to find my own identity. My early thirties came and I continued to grow and evolve. Learning that one of my favorite things in life is to develop people. I became more and more excited of the possibility of having a family of my own. Finally in my late thirties after marrying, I had the opportunity to make an amazing bundle of joy. Pregnancy was a period of time that probably effected my wife more than it did me. The hormones, constant appointments for the health of our baby, cutting off favorite foods to steer clear of altering the effects it would have on the fetus inside of her. I’m still proud of her for making her way through pregnancy. I feel a sense of awe in the fact that a human being can carry another human being inside of them and live through it. A male that thinks they are the stronger of our species, has to only look at pregnancy to deny that presumption. I couldn’t imagine going through this time frame. Not only a sense of grit to get through everything mentally, but also the wear and tear on the body itself. My wife did an amazing job at this feat and it impressed me so much. Her willingness to go to a brewery to appease me, without temptation to have a beer herself. Nights of vegetarian sushi or mouth watering prosciutto. Working late night shifts at work, all to help carry the load of our California lifestyle. Month by month, enduring the exhaustion mentally and physically of carrying a child. As we began to get to the close of the gestational timeframe, it was becoming closer and closer to the date that a little body would come forth. Monday morning this week came and I was preparing for a fairly large regional visit at work. The hours of staying at work to make sure we looked flawless from an execution standpoint and preparing my team to present their business. All while knowing in the back of my mind, that a call could happen at any time from my wife. We were 37 weeks into pregnancy, full-term. The first week of what would be called a fully normal time frame to have the baby. The afternoon hit as I was finishing conference calls and my wife dialed in. Staring at my phone with her name sprawling across the top, I nervously knew what she would say. My mind thought to my boss at first, then to my team. Preparing for the last couple of weeks for a visit, a lot of hard work at gone into this. All for me to leave three hours before a visit. I answered the phone and sure enough my wife said she spoke with the doctor and it was time to induce. I had no hesitation in calling my boss and letting her know that I would be leaving early and heading onto my leave of absence. I was pleasantly surprised by her question reaction of excitement for me. My body shook a bit as I walked to the parking lot, ready to drive like Dale Earnhardt in the Daytona 500. The actual driving wasn’t nearly as exciting as I had seen in the movies. I went from thoughts of Fast and the Furious to, let me get home safety so I can take my wife to the hospital. I pulled up to the driveway in a timely manner. Walking through the doors to see my wife and mother in law. A sense of urgency spread across both of their faces. Bags were all packed and sitting right next to the door. Anxiety hit me at the time, enough to get a look from my wife and her asking if I was ok. I’m not sure if I was or wasn’t at the time. I just knew point A to point B was the objective. We placed the luggage and car seat into the car. We made our way across the bridge to the hospital. Pulling up to the hospital, we grabbed our luggage from the trunk. Walking through the doors, we cleared the security area and were ushered to the third floor where are room would be. The nurse asked an endless amount of questions and prepared us for our night. Poking my wife numerous times to find her vein was not an easy site. Finally concluding the battle, we then went through the process of the medication needed for an induction. There would be a balance of two medications during the process. Time moved on at a snails pace throughout the night. Watching the screen showing our babies heart rate along with the contractions that my wife was experiencing. Excited that it felt like this would be a quick process from start to finish, you could imagine my dismay, when I heard the nurse say that she was only dialated 1 cm at the end of the night. Obviously being induced was not an easy thing. After thinking through the process involved, it started to make sense. You are basically telling your body physically to do something that it isn’t ready to do. Like a virus invading a body, your body will try to reject the foreign invader at all extent. It takes time to invade enemy lines and call a surrender. It was a long sleepless night for both of us. Barely an hour of sleep because of the constant coming and going of the nursing staff, but also the high anticipation we came into it with. As we watched episodes of Jeopardy and ate unique types of hospital food, we trudged along as slow as possible. Day 2 started the same, we were told that we might be in for the long haul. Half way through the day, we heard a positive sign when the nurse said my wife had started to progress. Dilating from 1 cm to 3, it was the shift that we were looking for. My wife and I were both surprised when the OB was called to ask for next steps. The OB made the decision to have my wife’s water break. In my mind, I had the thought that water would gush down from her across the table and splash onto the floor. A perfect Hollywood movie in the making. In reality, it was far from a Silver screen premier. More like a Disney short film. In a span of an hour, it went from a relaxing engagement of another night of Jeopardy, to a thrilling saga of giving birth. The contractions became extremely strong. Strong enough after 45 minutes to say, I think it’s time for an epidural. Now another key moment in birth, the infamous shot that can cause a man to faint. Not for the queasy, this large shot goes into the spine and makes this process a whole lot easier. The debate can be had on whether or not to get an epidural, but it was right for us. The agony of the contractions just seemed a bit too much to bare for my wife. As time settled down on the evening, we weren’t expecting to have a delivery anytime soon. Thinking that it would probably happen later in the evening the next day. I woke up around 2am on day 3. Startled by the nurse as she entered the room. She started her examination on my wife. Surprised by what she found, she quickly said that my wife was fully dilated. This baby was going to come sooner than expected. Halfway asleep, I couldn’t fathom the thought of a baby coming. Not sure if it was dream or reality when she first said it. The doctor was called and we were ready to go. My thoughts of the movies where they place a gown on you and sterilize before coming into contact, obviously was way off. In reality, I had a pair of jogging pants and a Hakuna Matata Lion King shirt on. It means no worries my ass. Mufasa obviously was in the other room when Sarabi had Simba. My half awake mind was still trying to think of the answer to the Jeopardy question the night before. Moving through the steps like I tried to act like I knew what I was doing, I steadied myself and went into full support mode. The pushing came much smoother than I thought. Now, I also wasn’t the one pushing so maybe I should place that caveat into it. Twenty minutes of back and forth during contractions and I started to see a baby head make way. The doctor grasped the babies head and began to move the child into the light. Before long, I realized a baby was crying in front of me. “Would you like to cut the umbilical cord?”The doctor asked me again, “Would you like to the cut the umbilical cord?” I felt like Ralphie, in A Christmas Story when Santa asked what he wanted for Christmas. I finally got a reply out, just as fast as Ralphie did (no I didn’t reply that I wanted an official Red Ryder carbon action 200 shot Range model air rifle with a compass in the stock, and this thing that tells time) I simply replied yes. What a surreal moment. Cutting the lifeline of your child from its mother for 9 months. Knowing that it was almost a symbolic passing of the torch. Cutting this cord, I knew that I had to support this child. I grasped the scissors and took a deep breath. Taking it all in as I heard my baby take his first breath and cry for the first time. It then hit me, I’m a father. A father of a boy that I have a responsibility for. A responsibility to develop and teach him to be an amazing human being. The experience of going through child birth was magical in a way. The pain and agony of child birth culminating in a happy ending with a little baby being born. The tears of a mother out of pain, quickly transform to tears of joy as she views her child for the first time. There is no book to read or story to be told that can prepare you for this step of your life. I had images in my mind of what it would be like to look down at a newly born child. Your imagination can’t do it justice. As I look back to the stories from my friends and family on child birth, I see the transformation that takes place. Just as the child is breathing air for the first time, as parents you breath air into a new life. There will be mistakes along the way, but so many triumphs. As a parent you are a super hero, a person to look up to, to learn, to grow, to transform. Today begins our story of life for our special baby boy. I can’t wait for that special day that my boy tells me he has a baby on the way. Nothing I can ever tell him will do justice for what he will experience. When he looks into his babies eyes and sees a perfect form of innocence, he will know that his life has begun.