I wanna tell you about the day that Jacob came barreling into our lives. Well, it was more like he was forced to leave the comfort of the womb. He was definitely NOT ready to come out. Fate had other plans. Or God. It really all depends on your perspective.
But let’s start before that. Cherise (my wife) is the healthiest person I know. Probably healthier than anyone you know too. Seriously. I’m not kidding. She’s also the sweetest and most thoughtful, kind and caring individual I have ever had the pleasure of encountering. Insert awwww. You are literally a healthier, happier and better person simply knowing her. No, I’m not sucking up. Her motto: “When you know better, you do better” and she leads by example. It would make sense that her pregnancy would go amazingly easy. It did. And it also didn’t. I know. We were surprised too.
The long and the short of it is her blood pressure spiked. We had plans that day. We didn’t get to them. We went for her 3rd trimester ultrasound, and ended up in the hospital for observation. Jacob came the next day.
“Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm
on some idle Tuesday.” – Baz Luhrmann – Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) Circa 1997
I love that song. If you’re unfamiliar with it, look it up and have a listen. The advice is sound, and still applies. Even though 1997 was 16 years ago. Wow. Hard to believe that. Anyway, back to the birth day…
It wasn’t trouble, necessarily, but we were definitely blindsided. Jacob wasn’t due for another 3.5 weeks! Still, he was coming, and not how we expected. She was strong. I was silently losing it. We had plans. They included a natural birth with yogic breathing and music to match. She didn’t feel like her veins were about to burst. The doctors were stunned – they had never seen someone look so good with those symptoms (then again, my wife has a habit of doing that. First thing in the morning, and she still looks like an angel. Don’t worry, NOBODY’s above morning breath, but I digress…)
Back to the birth day – it’s a day that’s indelibly etched into my consciousness.
The prognosis was this: If her blood pressure didn’t come down, they would have to induce labor, or perform a C-Section. But we had plans, remember? I still had 3.5 weeks to get my shit together. All I could think was sweet Jesus, let that blood pressure come down! (Which is weird, ’cause we’re Jewish yogis…) Even with the drugs they had to give her, her blood pressure remained high.
This was it.
I was becoming a dad.
I was now losing it, but not silently. In the early morning, after sleeping on a pull-out hospital bed/chair for about 6 minutes (I couldn’t sleep anymore than I could stop chewing my finger nails) we found out that she would have to have a C-section. I ran to the car to go home and get some things for us (don’t worry, my sister was there to stay with my wife. You didn’t think I’d leave her all alone, did you?)
I remember crying in the car and freaking out. I remember thinking I had to be strong and not cry in front of my wife. She was the one who had to have surgery. Why was I crying? Oh yeah. I was petrified. What if I was bad at it? Or worse, what if I turned out like my father?
“GET IT TOGETHER!”, I thought.
I already loved my son, and hadn’t even met him yet. Yet, there was the dread. All of the responsibility. This little being that would depend so completely on us. For everything. He would look up to us and think we were perfect, omniscient even. It’s a recipe for disappointment. I’m not perfect. Nowhere even close. I drove home shaking. I gathered our things and came back. On the way back I started to panic. Then I was excited. Then dread. Then acceptance. I decided I would just do my best and always be honest with him. Let’s hope that works.
Only time will tell.
At 3:08pm, my son was born. I was a wreck. I couldn’t stop crying. He was 3.5 weeks early and weighed 6lbs 3oz. After they cleaned him and made sure he was healthy and showed him to my wife, the nurse FINALLY handed my son to me. I knew in that instant that I would both kill and die for him. Anything he needs. Forever. (This led to a realization about my own father, but that’s a story for another time)
Because of the C-section, my wife wasn’t able to have skin-to-skin contact with him at first as we had planned. So, I went down to the nursery with him and as soon as they let me, I took off my shirt and held him to my chest. It was the most amazing feeling. You know how everyone has a scent (Or odor, depending on personal hygiene)? Well, he smelled just like my wife. I couldn’t get enough. After 4 hours in the nursery, I accompanied my baby boy up to see his mom for the first time for real. I never left his side. The reunion of our new family was amazing. He was so tiny. I played “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon for him while I fed him (I still get weepy when I hear that song).
The C-section had other repercussions. My wife couldn’t get out of bed. I changed all of his diapers for the first week. I had to teach her how when we got home – she had other things to deal with, like, you know, healing from a major surgery… She got the hang of it quickly. She’s an amazing mom! (If I could give advice to any soon-to-be-dads it would be this: be as involved as you possibly can. It’s the most rewarding thing you can do as a father and husband)
Time to check out of the hospital.
As we arrived home, all we could think was: “what now?” and “You mean they just let us leave with him?!”
This parenting odyssey was just beginning. Or the most epic father-son relationship was just beginning.
It really all depends on your perspective.