Two Years and Counting: A Father’s Perspective

Blog Nosh Magazine Pregnancy Birth Adoption

{Originally Published on The Playpen}

You know, there are a lot of articles, resources and links these days for expectant mothers, new mothers, old mothers, you name it. One of the things I realized when my daughter, Frankie, was born eight weeks prematurely was that there weren’t many resources available to dads. Even the books for new dads are all about how to keep your wife happy. What’s the deal with that?

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t know (still don’t know, come to think of it) the first thing about parenting. This is not a “how to” article by any stretch of the imagination. Its simply me, a young dad, looking to get some thoughts out there and maybe provide a little comic relief to other dads at the same time.

As I mentioned, my daughter was (is) a preemie. And she was little….real little. My wife had an emergency C-section after some difficulties with her pregnancy. Lets start there. Going through that process was no picnic. Getting your thoughts in order is virtually impossible. “What if my kid isn’t okay?”  “What if something happens to my wife?”  “How come that doctor over there looks unsure of himself?” “I didn’t paint the nursery yet!”  “There’s a LOT of equipment in here…this is going to cost a TON.”

So you’re dealing with that side of things while at the same time trying to provide reassurance to Mom who, yes its true, is freaking out worse than you. Not an easy situation. As I was sorting all that out, and as I was sitting in the operating room, I made the biggest mistake of my life.

“Do you want to see your new daughter?”, my wife’s doctor asked me, apparently completely unaware that I was about two seconds shy of a heart attack.

“YEAH,” I said, and stood up from my stool, eagerly peering over the sheet that was placed over my wife’s mid-section.

Looking back on this now, it’s crystal clear to me that the sheet was there for a reason. New dads, exhausted from sleep deprivation, starving and dehydrated, are NOT meant to see what’s on the other side of that sheet. Remember the scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark where the guy’s face melted off? Pretty terrible right? Not…..even….close. The reason doctors make so much money is because they have to see things that most of us, especially guys, are NOT prepared to see. Most of my daughter’s delivery is a blur. Not that moment.

I quickly sat right back down on my stool. Okay. I saw what I saw. Too late to do anything about it now. My mind raced and the room spun. I was losing it fast. My poor wife was being a trooper. Our doctor was working with a cool efficiency that I will never forget (I think in some way I fell in love with her that night). The anesthesiologist was cupping my wife’s face in his hands and looking into her eyes, offering reassurance. At one point I think I heard Aline’s doctor say “Oops,” but I wasn’t sure.

The next thing I knew, Frankie, my baby girl, was being lifted from my wife’s belly. Yes, she was blue (which they don’t tell you ahead of time, by the way), but she was beautiful. My eyes welled up as I watched my wife, medicated and exhausted, utter the words, “My beautiful baby,” kissing Frankie in the nurse’s arms. A moment that no man, no dad, will ever forget. It’s the moment that sees me through the fights, the tantrums, the family problems, everything. It’s what I live for.

I was shuffled over to a brightly-lit table with various dangerous looking medical instruments on it. My wife peered at me, bleary-eyed from the operating table. Again, the room spun.

“Do you want to cut the cord?” the nurse asked me. I agreed, and picked up a pair of scissors that resembled something I had used to dissect a frog in seventh grade. “Okay, cut right here…just do it quickly and don’t think about it.” I positioned the blades as precisely as I could, and began to apply pressure.

….to be continued.

Editor’s pick by Deb from Missives From Suburbia. Matt’s right. There aren’t a lot of resources and blogs out there about preemies. I’m hoping with his help and the help of a few other great bloggers, we can shed some light on this aspect of childbirth and parenting and share both the challenges and joys that parenting a preemie presents. For more about Matt’s experiences and to read the post in its original form, visit The Playpen.  (Part 2 is coming soon.)

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3 Comments to “Two Years and Counting: A Father’s Perspective”

  1. Debbie says:

    My friend Leanne’s baby was born at 28 weeks. She has written an excellent (and faith-based) account of her experience with a preemie. Through blogging she has discovered a lot of bloggers who write about their preemies. You can find them all in her blogroll.

    Her writing is amazing!

    Her blog:
    http://impressionsbyleanne.blogspot.com/

    Her “Portraits of a Preemie”
    http://impressionsbyleanne.blogspot.com/2007/05/i-thought-today-may-be-good-day-to-tell.html

  2. Mr Lady
    Twitter:
    says:

    I love how you tell this story, Matt. Great pick, Deb!

    Mr Ladys last blog post..Or Die Trying

  3. Kellie says:

    I really enjoyed reading your story from a dad’s point of view. You don’t get to hear that perspective too often, as a mommy I always hear the “mommy” side! My dearest friends had their little one 25 weeks and the father is making it his personal mission to educate and help as many dads, moms, and families of preemies as he possible can. He is the author of “Blessed with Tragedy”, A Father’s journey with his preemiracle, it takes you on the journey from Day 1 to day 130, showing the ups and downs from his own eyes.
    As a parent of a “healthy” baby I never knew of the struggles a preemie and their families face. This book I feel would be a great resource for any dad going over the same hurdle.
    You can also go to his website http://www.jackhatfield.com for all of his information and another great resource for new Preemie parents is http://www.earlyjourneyfoundation.org, there you will find a wealth of information. I hope all of this helps you in your quest for information! You can also visit http://www.preemiracles.com and share your story and talk to other preemie parents just like you. Good Luck to you and your preemie, they are a precious gift from god!

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