Becoming a Father

There are two moments in my life that I will never forget and will cherish forever. These are the births of my two daughters.

First of all, I will say this, there is nothing, and I mean nothing in this world like being a father. It is a feeling you won’t get any other way but to truly be there from birth to watching them grow up. I can’t describe it. I can only live it and report back. I want all men to feel it, because it truly speaks to us on a basic, biologic level of our existence. It shows you who you truly are when you are able to help conceive and then raise a child.

The births of my two kids will be something I will never forget. My first was the most stressful, the second was a more common delivery, but they were both special to me.

Welcome to Fatherhood

My first daughter was a harrowing experience. I was not only intimidated by the trip to the hospital, but by all that happened during our hospital stay.

My ex (who was my wife at the time) went into the hospital for a planned induction in the AM. After waiting all day and most of the night, there were complications. My ex had to be rushed in for an emergency c-section after my daughter was deemed to big to be delivered (she was over 9 lbs). I went with my ex, held her hand as they delivered the baby, but heard no crying. My daughter was silent. Something was wrong.

As I helped the hospital staff with the umbilical cord and the first diaper, they noticed that she wasn’t breathing very well. They rushed her to the NICU and began to figure out what went wrong. Me and my ex were stunned and worried. This was not the best way to start off our first born experience.

We waited in the room as my ex recovered, and I would make regular trips to the NICU to see what was going on. My daughter had had her first bowel movement while my ex was delivering her, and she had swallowed and breathed in the waste. So she had contracted pneumonia from it as well as sepsis. She was put on antibiotics immediately. They couldn’t tap a vein on her arm, so they tapped a vein in her head. It was a gruesome sight, watching my newborn daughter struggle.

The hospital was a formula supported hospital, which means that they would discourage breast-feeding in the NICU. However, my ex and I found this out when we saw our daughter not recovering as fast. The NICU doctor insisted that she be given formula, but we insisted that breast milk would be required for our daughter to get better faster.

My ex wasn’t allowed to even breast feed our daughter, and times were contentious in the hospital as we did battle with the NICU director as we demanded to have access to feed our baby. Finally, he relented and she was allowed to breast feed. Almost instantly, her condition started to improve.

For 5 of the longest days of my life, operating on minutes of sleep, checking on my daughter and running errands for my ex as she lay recovering, I was a mess. It was hard, but as my daughter’s condition improved, I saw signs that this nightmare was coming to an end.

Finally, after 5 grueling days, my daughter was healthy enough to be released. We were overjoyed, and this experience had taught us some tough lessons right out of the gate on parenthood.

But what the most amazing thing? My reactions to my ex and my daughter as a father were instinctual. I leaped into action immediately as soon as my family needed me, without hesitation. This was an important moment and my first lesson of fatherhood, I was the rock, the foundation, the protector, the provider. At the time of greatest need, I was there. And through the years, I haven’t wavered on my dedication and commitment to my kids and family, regardless of my personal feelings for my ex.

Talk about being thrown right in the fire. But it’s an experience I’ll never forget and it is a part of our family lore for generations to come. The scar on my daughter’s head, (Ala Harry Potter), always reminds me of that trial that I went through. But I know it was worth it because I have my beautiful, healthy daughter. She’s just turned 12. I’m a very lucky man.

A Healthy Delivery

My younger daughter was more of a normal delivery. She was still delivered by caesarean, and was almost 10 lbs! My ex and I decided to schedule a C-section as opposed to trying to go through a delivery and have the same issues crop up from the last time.

We wanted avoid any and all complications. So, scheduling the surgery for the morning of December 30th, we went to the hospital. Unlike the first delivery, my second daughter came right out with a full head of hair and was breastfeeding within 30 minutes.

I got to clip her umbilical cord as well. I think she had a full set of teeth because she tried to bite me! She was crying, a complete opposite of my first child, and I got to put on a diaper, hold her and give her to her mother.

It was amazing because it was just how a birth was supposed to be.

My little girl and ex were released in 36 hours and we recovered at home with very little fanfare. And damn was I glad. After my first child, it was a welcome event.

One of Your Greatest Contributions To This World

There is no greater feeling in this world than holding your newborn baby. It’s something you’ve created, something special, and you can’t begin to understand the implications behind it. And that’s what life as a father does. It makes you deal with those implications headon. There are no cheat codes. There’s no shortcut. This little life is dependent on you to be there, keep it healthy, guide it through tough times, protect it with your own life.

That’s a lot of gravity to take it. Which is why not all men can be fathers.

However, recalling my memories of my kids’ births helps me explain why I became a father, and why I recommend it to any man contemplating his role in our little world.

Almost a decade later, my little girls are growing up. My fathering has changed little as they have grown. I continue to provide, protect, and lead as the patriarch of my family. They count on me to be there, standing a post, holding them to higher standards, and pushing them to succeed in everything they do.

I make them face and overcome their fears, I hold them accountable for actions detrimental to their own success. I urge them to get involved in not only activities that help themselves but perform actions that help others.

My bond with them is stronger than ever and it will only get stronger as I help them face and prepare for the next phase of their lives.

I’m proud to be their father and I love them both very much.

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