Why it’s hard being a Dad

I have been wrestling with how to write this entry for some time. This is not so much as an update on how I’m loving being Ben’s daddy (another post will do), but more on why I am so inspired to be the best father I can be.

Note: This is going to be a long post, as it’s going to be more about my history and what shaped me to be the person I am today.

I grew up in a home with very traditional gender roles. My mother was the full time stay-at-home mom, while my father worked to provide for the family. This has always been the case, and has been my example of what a father should do for his family. As a result, I can remember more interactions with my mother than with my father, especially when we lived outside of Concord, New Hampshire between the ages of three and six. Unknown to me at the time, my father had a job in Vermont at a publishing company, where he would stay at an apartment during the week, then be home on the weekends, avoiding the long commute. I guess I had assumed that he got home past when I had gone to sleep and left before I woke up.

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Me, around the age of 5

Looking back now, having a father who was not only not present physically, but emotionally as well, really made it difficult for us to bond.

After living in New Hampshire, my family moved to Connecticut, as my father had gotten a job in New York City at another publishing company. We had moved to Fairfield, one of the wealthiest counties in the country. I say this not to boast, but to make the point that materials things are no substitute for love. Once again, my father worked long hours while my mother stayed at home while we were out school. While we would see him later in the evening, after dinnertime, he would still not be “present”.

You could say that my “daddy issues” began around middle school. I had developed an aptitude for computers, and I really enjoyed learning all I could about them, as well as playing videogames. My father spent little effort to engage me in my interests, instead trying to foster other hobbies that I was not interested in.

There was one instance, which I remember quite vividly, where we had been playing a computer strategy game together, where I was one army and he was the opposing side. We had said that we would only play together, for it to be fair to the other person so that they could have their turn (sort of like if you were playing chess and one person had 3 extra turns between each of yours). I walked past the study, seeing him play our game. I say to him, “I thought we were going to play together.”

I don’t remember how it happened, but the next thing I knew, he had lifted me by the arm pits and shoved me into a wall, holding me there. I can’t remember exactly what he had said to me, but just the gist of it was that I always had an attitude and that he deserved my respect.

A few seconds later, he released me, and resumed what he was doing on the computer. I retreated to my room, and cried for most of the night.

We’ll have to fast forward to continue my story, not only for relevance, but because I can’t remember much from my childhood. As someone with a Social Work degree and a good understanding of mental health, I can tell you that that is not normal. I know that it is because I have chosen to block out part of my childhood, either to protect myself from it or just so that I don’t remember bad things that occurred.

Caroline sometimes asks me to tell her something about myself that she doesn’t already know. I reply to her honestly that I can’t remember anything. I look at pictures of myself as a kid and have no recollection of birthdays, holidays, vacations, etc. I simply cannot recall what had occurred. After looking at pictures of myself, I feel like my brain tries to generate the story that goes with the picture, rather than the picture reminding me of the story.

Middle School. (Ignoring the fact that I look awkward as hell) I look pretty unhappy here.

Middle School. (Ignoring the fact that I look awkward as hell) I look pretty unhappy here.

Back to the story. As well as I can remember (due to my unconscious decision to block out living with my parents) my father continued to be a bystander in my life, instead of being an active participant. This was not the case with my sister, who was (read: is) the star child of the family. I was not an overachiever in school, earning a B+ average overall in school. When report cards came home, my grades were instantly compared to my sister’s, especially when we were both in the same calculus class together. I effectively became the “black sheep” of my family, which took me a long time to realize is not a bad thing!

Another key parenting moment: For one of my birthdays (I think sometime in middle school) I came home from school to find an exercise bike in my room. Confused I went downstairs to ask my father what that was. He said, “It’s an exercise bike so you can lose weight. You’re looking pretty chubby these days. Don’t want you to pork out too much”. I promptly went upstairs and avoided him for a while. I remember that I would ride that bike for hours and hours until my legs hurt because I didn’t want to “pork out too much” any more.

If we fast forward a little more, right up to before Caroline and I got married, my parents came up to help with wedding preparations (or, my mother helped while my father grudgingly came along). Not wanting to go shopping for last minute wedding decorations, my  father and I went for a walk in Portsmouth. I can probably count the times that the two of us actually did anything together on one hand, especially after the incident in middle school. I had high hopes that this interaction would go well, that he would tell me that he was proud of me for finding such a great girl to marry, etc.

Once again, I gave him too much credit.

Our conversation, if you could call it that, consisted of the weather and other petty things. Somehow, he got onto talking about how I was so difficult growing up, that I had a huge chip on my shoulder. (Mind you, the worst thing that I ever did growing up was getting a lunch detention for not having a textbook covered for school. So, pretty manageable stuff). The next words out of his mouth were, “I gave up on you in middle school”. I asked him what he meant, and he said, “I just couldn’t deal with you anymore, so I stopped trying”.

Even as I sit here writing this, I couldn’t fathom me ever saying to my beautiful son, “I give up on you” and “I stopped trying”. What kind of parent does that?!

For some reason, I continued to give this man chances to improve our relationship. Fast forwarding to last Christmas…

Carrie was three months pregnant with Benjamin, and we had just found out what his sex was on Christmas day. We usually spent Christmas Eve and day with Carrie’s family, then would schlep down to Connecticut to see my family. We had left New Hampshire on Christmas day to be down in Connecticut that night, to tell my family what the baby’s sex was. We revealed that we were having a boy, to which my father replied, “Great! I hope he’s just like you, Jamie.”

I realize that text can be interpreted several ways without hearing the inflection in someone’s voice. Read that sentence again with the underlying message of “I hope your kid puts you through hell like you put me through”. Again, I was not a bad kid growing up, and was quiet out of fearful obedience.

The following day, out at dinner, my parents were asking me about my then new job at Community Partners. I was telling them that I had some difficult cases, and that some of my clients lived in some squalor conditions. My father asked if any of them lived in mobile homes or trailers. I said that I had a few that lived in mobile homes, but they were in nice condition. My father then says, “So you work with trailer trash then, since they all live in mobile homes?”

I was very quick to remind him that his daughter in law, who was sitting next to me clenching her fist, grew up in a mobile home and that it was horrible of him to imply that my wife is trailer trash. I spent the next several minutes ripping him a new one. We left Connecticut a day earlier than we had planned.

I didn’t speak with my father very much after that. They had planned to come up in January to visit, which turned out to be an excuse for my dad to go shopping at  some outlets in Manchester. When I found this out, I left him a voicemail explaining my displeasure that we were an after thought after his shopping spree and to not bother to see us.

February came around and my father called me and said that he wanted to talk to me. I said that he could talk to me on the phone, but he insisted that we talked in person. I said that I would meet him halfway between Connecticut and New Hampshire. We ended up meeting at a restaurant. He wanted to know why I left my angry voicemail on his phone. I told him that I didn’t feel like he liked me as a person, and that I did not feel loved or appreciated by him. Our conversation went something like this:

Him: “Why do you not respect me?”

Me: “I feel like you don’t like me as a person, and you don’t appreciate what I’m doing with my life and always seem to want me to change who I am to be more of what you want me to be”

Him: “No, you’re wrong”.

Me: “I didn’t realize you could tell someone that their feelings were wrong”.

After citing several other instances why I have difficulty interacting with him, and receiving the same, “no, you’re wrong” statements, I ended our lunch and left.

Fast forwarding  a more recently this year, prior to Ben being born, my father called me saying that he wanted to talk about our conversation from February. I said that I was disappointed in his inability to listen to my feelings, and that he cannot disprove the way I feel about our “relationship” as they are my feelings. He told me that, if things would not improve, that he would write me and my family out of the will.

I simply said to him, “I am sad for you, father, that you feel like money is more important than a relationship with your son, daughter-in-law, and future grandson”.

He replied, “Well, I hope that you’re financially ready for this baby, because I don’t think you are as a social worker. Hopefully you two don’t fail at being parents”.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Jim.

When it was time for Benjamin to be born, I gave my parents a call on May 24 to let them know of Ben’s imminent arrival. My mother answered the phone, much to my relief. (We didn’t know that Carrie still had another 12 hours + to go for labor at this point). My parents arrived from Connecticut around 9pm that night, and checked into a local hotel in Dover. Carrie’s family had been with us pretty much since she came to the hospital, around 7am on the 24th. I called my parents to see if they wanted to come to visit while Carrie was still in labor, and that they were welcome to be out in the waiting area with the Brewers.

My mom ended up coming to the hospital around 10:30pm to visit. I was very happy to see her, but puzzled as to why she was by herself. She told me that my father wanted to, and I quote, “stay in the hotel and read the newspaper”.

Because world news is more exciting than your grandson being born, amirite?

The next morning, after Ben had been born, my father must’ve exhausted the hotel’s newspapers since both of my parents came over to visit. Benjamin was all swaddled up with a little hat on, fast asleep. I passed my father Benjamin to hold, as I figured he may want to have some interaction with his grandson. My father held Benjamin out as far as his arms could hold him, as to keep him as far away from himself as he could. It was like my father was holding something disgusting, something that he didn’t want to have too close to him.

Thankfully, more friends and family (my chosen family here in NH) arrived, and my parents ended up leaving.

My mother has come to see Benjamin several times since his birth. My father has only seen Benjamin on the day he was born.

And that pretty much brings us to today. I have spoken to my father for perhaps a grand total of three times this year, once being our blowout of a “conversation” in February.

You may be wondering to yourself, “Jamie, why is the post called, ‘Why it’s hard being a dad'”? A valid question! It’s actually the one of the easiest things I have ever done, and one of the most enjoyable. I love being Benjamin’s daddy, and I love my son more than anything in the world. I would do anything I could to make him happy.

The reason I find it so hard to be a good dad is that I have had such a negative example of what it means to be a dad. I didn’t have a positive male role model growing up. I have been very specific with my terminology for my father, and not calling him “dad”. Anyone can be a father; it simply takes a few bodily fluids and any Joe Schmoe off the street can be a father. It is something entirely else to be a dad. A dad implies that you are invested in your child’s life, and that you care about their well being.

Maybe my father did care about me in his own way. Maybe he worked so hard to provide for my sister and I that we didn’t have to want for anything growing up and that was his way of showing his love. It simply does not translate to me, though. My love languages are Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, and Quality Time. I did not receive these growing up, especially from him.

Like I said, I love being Ben’s dad. I would love to be a stay at home dad, if it was an option financially one day. I know that my father would never understand that, and would probably look down on my life more than he already does.

I am currently in therapy to work through some of these issues, especially being able to cope with the absence of my father in my life. It’s sad, really, that he has chosen and continues to choose to miss out on my life and my family’s life, as well as the excitement of being a grandparent.

I am choosing to not repeat what my father has done to me and to be the polar opposite of him. Benjamin deserves a dad who loves him and is proud of him, no matter who he grows up to be. Fathers are such a crucial part of a child’s life, and I can tell you, from my experience, that without a father’s presence, there is a big opening that is left unfulfilled, like a part of your childhood is missing. For me, my brain has chosen to block out most of my memories from my childhood. I don’t want Ben growing up to say to me one day, “I feel like you don’t like me as a person”. That would crush me as a parent.

No, I will not give Benjamin any reason to say something like that. My words and actions will prove to him otherwise.

 

Ben’s First Days of Life + Our Hospital Stay

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Shortly after Ben’s birth, Caroline and I made some realizations about our next few days:

  1. We would be in the hospital for at least four days due to the c-section delivery
  2. Both Caroline and Benjamin would be poked, prodded, and have their vitals taken every few hours
  3. We would have to endure hospital food

Both Benjamin and Caroline were subjected to numerous tests immediately after being wheeled back into our room. It was about 4:30am at this point; both Caroline and I had been awake for almost 2 days straight. Caroline’s spinal tap was beginning wear off so she could start to feel the after effects of her procedure and the fact that just a few stitches held her organ inside of her abdomen.

Nurses

Caroline and I became acclimated to the frequent nurse’s visits; Benjamin did not. Every few hours, a nurse would come in and evaluate Caroline, check her catheter (which Caroline tells me gave her a very odd feeling), take her blood pressure and temperature, etc. The nurse would then scurry off for a few hours. Caroline and I were unable to sleep as we were running on adrenaline at that point.

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Benjamin, on the other hand, would sleep through his mommy’s evaluations. However, the nurses would have to come in and evaluate Benjamin too, including taking his temperature with a thermometer that went underneath his armpit. I would imagine that having a cold, hard instrument thrust into your armpit and held there for a minute would be annoying. Benjamin would wake up and begin to cry, and then the nurse would scurry off letting us know that we would begin this vicious cycle again in a few hours. So much for sleeping.

We quickly learned the schedule of the hospital, specifically the maternity ward. Visitors weren’t allowed between 1pm and 3pm. Nurses changed every 12 hours, usually at 8am. The previous nurse would come in, introduce the new nurse, and update the new nurse on Caroline and Ben’s charts. I thought this was a nice touch as we got to hear the nurses share information in front of us, instead of behind closed doors.

I have to write about some of the nurses we had. With any job where bedside manner is important, there will always be those with great bedside manner, and those without. We had one nurse who didn’t check in on us for at least 6 hours. Not so bad for the three of us wanting to sleep, but when you have a catheter bag overflowing because it hasn’t been changed, not so much. Another nurse stayed in our room for almost an hour telling us about her life and the social engagements she had had that weekend. Another nurse would simply enter the room, do her job, and left. I don’t even remember her name.

Now on the the good. Our initial nurse, the one who helped Caroline through labor, was wonderful. She was very patient and very caring with us. Our second nurse, the delivery nurse, was also very helpful with educating us on the various medical interventions that were going to be used, the risks and benefits of each, and when we ought to perform them.

Then there was our night shift nurse, Heather.  We had her for three nights, and I can’t begin to sing her praises enough. The first night we had her, she spent several hours helping Caroline learn how to breastfeed. She saw how exhausted we were Sunday night and gave us tips for calming Benjamin down enough to get him to sleep. After a few sleepless days, she took Benjamin for testing for three hours on Monday night. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful three hours of sleep is after several days of absolutely no sleep. We owe our sanity to Heather after everything Caroline went through at the hospital. We were always very happy to see Heather; she was respectful of our family and was so friendly to us. Thank you, Heather!

Diapering 101

The time came for Ben’s very first diaper change just a few hours after being born. Caroline was bedridden and couldn’t sit up by herself, so the diaper change fell to me. Prior to this, I had never changed a diaper in my life; I don’t know how I escaped ever having to do so, but here it was.

Ben was crying (surprise!) and I decided to check his diaper. I won’t go into detail as to what I found, but any moms out there know what the first few diaper changes hold. As I was changing the diaper, Ben became alive, kicking and screaming and flailing his little baby arms and legs the best he could. I know for most, this is not a big deal. For me, I felt like I needed to prove that I could be a good Daddy to Benjamin (the reason for which is a whole other story for another time), and I just wanted to the best I could. I did successfully change Ben’s diaper (and probably a hundred or so since).

Our Day to Day Hospital Life

Time seemed to crawl in the hospital. As the doctors slowly removed the various tubes that Caroline was attached to, we both felt the urge to go home as soon as possible. Caroline and I learned more about what her recovery would entail, including not being able to lift anything heavier than our baby, no driving, etc. Caroline couldn’t sit up in bed without wincing. Determined to show that she was making progress, Caroline pushed herself on Sunday afternoon (only a few hours after her surgery). She was asked to try to sit up in bed and to dangle her legs over the edge of the bed. Caroline did so, then stood up with my assistance. She had a big smile on her face as she easily passed this test.

During the day we would have visitors, friends and family coming to see the new addition to the family. It was really wonderful to see so many people; it definitely helped us not to feel isolated from the outside world. (On a side note, when we left the hospital, we realized that we hadn’t breathed fresh air in 5 days. Recycled air is overrated). Carrie’s family threw Benjamin a little birthday party on Sunday.

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By Tuesday, we wanted to be out of the hospital and back at home more than anything. Caroline could get up and walk around the maternity ward (with help). Ben was circumcised (which we were not present for by choice) and feeding well. We were both very much looking forward to leaving the following day.

Wednesday finally came, and we could not have been happier. We were discharged from the hospital shortly after 1pm, and you can tell by our smiles how overjoyed were were to be going home!

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Hospital Food

I almost forgot to address this rather important topic. When you’re in the hospital for a few days, the food does not seem so bad at first. Then, when you order blueberry pancakes but get charred circular discs with crunchy blue dots scattered throughout, you know it’s time to go home.

Benjamin Christopher’s Birth Story

It was a Friday night. May 23rd. My wife and I thought it would be funny to write a sign saying “Eviction Notice” and place it over her abdomen, hoping to inspire our little one to arrive. 1508631_10101114658028281_417411453049153121_n

Benjamin was already two days late, and Caroline had been going into contractions on and off for two weeks, lasting several hours then stopping. She was also 1 centimeter dilated. The problem was that our little boy was, once again, out of the correct head down position. He was now oblique, meaning that his head was pointed into Caroline’s hip, making his arrival a rather difficult affair. Caroline wanted to have as natural a childbirth as possible, but we both knew that we had to be flexible and do whatever what best for the baby.

As amusing as we thought the eviction notice was, we did not expect that Benjamin would take heed of it. No less than 3 hours later, at 7:56pm, Caroline began to experience labor pains. We both thought that these contractions would end. We were wrong.

Once we started to realize that these contractions could actually be leading up to the arrival of our son, Caroline and I got a lot more serious about working through the contractions. Caroline used long, slow, deep breathing to help her get through each wave of pain, one after another. As these contractions began to slowly intensify and follow a distinct pattern, we called our midwife to notify her of the situation. She informed us to continue to labor at home until Caroline was experiencing contractions 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute each, for 1 hour. At this point, Caroline’s contractions were around 7-10 minutes apart, lasting for about a minute each, so we had a ways to go.

Caroline’s contractions continued throughout the night and into the morning, slowly becoming more and more frequent and intensifying in pain. It is one thing to read about labor and how to be a good “birth partner”; it is another to see your wife in indescribable pain for hours on end where all you can do is help her to breath through each contraction.

Caroline’s mom, Terri, came over at 8:30am Saturday morning to see how we were doing. Only getting a few minutes of sleep, we were both exhausted, especially Caroline. We made another call to the midwife, and they told us to go to Wentworth Douglass Hospital to check in and to see if this was true labor or not. We already knew the answer.

Our first nurse was very kind and helpful with the first leg of Caroline’s labor at the hospital. After 12 hours of labor, Caroline was still only 1 centimeter dilated. Devastating news, naturally, for all the pain experienced overnight. Caroline continued to labor on a gurney (as all of the rest of the beds were occupied in the maternity ward).IMG_1689I called my parents around 1pm to let them know of the impending arrival of their grandson. Caroline’s family had arrived and were in the waiting room eagerly awaiting updates. Caroline’s mother, myself, and her Aunt Michelle, a massage therapist, helped Caroline to get through wave after wave of contractions. Caroline was eventually evaluated again, having dilated to 2 centimeters. Slow progress to be sure, but progress all the same!

After nearly 16 hours of laboring, Caroline was very tired. It was now around 8pm on Saturday, and Caroline’s contractions had reached a point where she could not handle them any more. She began to vomit intermittently, eventually exhausting the vomit bags in the room at one point. At this point, we were moved to a different room, one with an actual bed (a huge upgrade from the gurney).

Caroline and I got to utilize WDH’s jacuzzi tub, which, for the both of us, was a solace.  We both were able to relax, and we both ended up falling asleep in the tub. We stayed in it for hours. Caroline and I discussed the possibility of her getting an epidural if she had not progressed. The respite was short lived; Caroline’s contractions severely disrupted the relief of the hot tub.

At this rate, both Caroline and I agreed that she must have made progress, that she had to be at least at 6 centimeters due to the strength and frequency of her contractions. Caroline was evaluated again, and after 24 hours of labor, was at 3 centimeters dilated. Caroline’s spirits were crushed. She had labored for an entire day, not having a wink of sleep, and still was not much closer to meeting our son.

After the changing of the nurses, Caroline and I began to talk about her getting an epidural again. We discussed it with our midwife and nurse, Becky, who both agreed that it might help calm Caroline’s nerves in order to continue to labor successfully. We consented, and shortly the anesthetist entered with a score of complicated looking medical equipment.

Caroline’s mom and aunt were asked to wait outside as the doctor administered the epidural, while I was in charge of helping her to focus and to not move as the anesthetist snaked the epidural into Caroline’s spine. This, of course, was difficult to find the correct timing when one has contractions and random vomiting to contend with.

Eventually, the anesthetist successfully placed the epidural into Caroline’s spine. The nurse, midwife, and anesthetist laid Caroline down, to allow the medication to flow evenly throughout her body, essentially numbing any pain she would feel from the abdomen down. Terri returned into the room to see how her daughter was doing. What happened next scared the shit out of me.

Caroline had not been laying down for more than a minute when I began to hear heart monitors slowing down. Benjamin’s heart had been beating steadily at a cheery 140 beats per minute; Caroline’s around 105. Within seconds, Ben’s heart rate dropped to 80 beats per minute, with Caroline’s following a similar nose dive. Caroline immediately looked like she was about to pass out. The anesthetist, who had been filling out paperwork and not paying attention, came over to Caroline and quickly put an oxygen mask on her. Several seconds later, I saw him take out a needle and quickly insert it into Caroline’s shoulder. I do not know what the content of this syringe was, but both Caroline’s and Benjamin’s heartbeats immediately sped up, and Caroline was alert again. I believe the anesthetist gave her a shot of epinephrine to increase her heart rate, essentially saving her and our baby. Once the anesthetist had left, I asked our midwife about the syringe. She said she hadn’t seen him insert it into her arm, and that it wasn’t anything to worry about.

Caroline, who had been oblivious to what had happened, was feeling much better now that she wasn’t experiencing the pain of the contractions. However, she was not the only one who had to contend with what the contractions were doing to her body. Benjamin was not tolerating Caroline’s body’s efforts to speed him on his way. Our midwife informed us that it is normal for a baby to have a slight drop in heart rate at the peak of a contraction, but much more serious if the baby had trouble afterwards. Benjamin fell into the latter, with his heart beat again going from the 140’s to 90’s. The midwife said that we should continue to watch this for the next several hours to see how things progress.

At this point in labor, Caroline is hooked up to no less than 15 different instruments, all measuring her heartbeat and many other vitals. Our midwife came in and evaluated Caroline again; 4 centimeters now.  At least she was not feeling any pain, so much so that she fell asleep and took a nap. I decided to follow suit, hoping that after a few hours she would have progressed and she could begin to push.

We were awoken by our midwife, who wanted to evaluate Caroline to see how far she had progressed while on the epidural. The result: She had not progressed since taking a nap for a few hours. And, to add insult to injury, Benjamin continued to struggle greatly with the contractions, which had changed from regular intervals to two small contractions then a huge one with no break in between. Our midwife began to throw around the word “options”, stating that we could wait another hour or so to see if Caroline progressed, or that she could have a Caesarean to remove Benjamin from the stressful contractions. Caroline could not be given Pitocin or any other sort of medication that would speed up labor due to potentially hurting Benjamin.

It was now 2am. Caroline had labored for 30 hours with no further progression past 4 centimeters. Caroline looked at me with teary eyes, feeling defeated, turned to the midwife and said, “What would you do if you were me?” Our midwife, without hesitation, said, “I would do what was best for my baby and I would bring them into this world as safely as possible.” I signed the consent forms for Caroline’s c-section and she was prepped for surgery.

While Caroline was being prepped, I got into my scrubs. Caroline’s family was asked to wait in a conference room, conveniently near where the operating room was so they could see Caroline as she was being wheeled into surgery. Caroline’s father, Chris, leaned over to kiss his daughter on the head and told her “It’s going to be okay, honey.”

Caroline continued on the short trip to the operating room to be anesthetized again, this time with a spinal tap. I had to wait outside until the doctors were ready for me. I don’t know how long I was waiting outside, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so anxious in my life. Caroline’s family waited in the hallway near the conference room. I had been given Terri’s camera to take pictures inside the operating room. Chris waited inside, praying for his daughter and grandson’s safety.

Finally, I was brought into the operating room. I saw Caroline’s head first and where the rest of her body was laying. I was placed at a stool behind the curtain up by Caroline’s head. The same anesthetist from earlier in the night was by Caroline’s head as well. Caroline said she could not feel anything, and that all she could say was that she was thirsty.

Surgery began shortly after my arrival. For the most part, we did not hear anything. I was, however, acutely aware of some of my other senses. A smell filled the room unlike anything I’ve smelled before. I can’t describe the smell in words other than it was bothersome enough that I had fleeting moments of nausea. What bothered me more, other than my wife’s abdomen was being cut into, was that when they would do so, Caroline’s body would shake in such a way like you would shake a doll; back and forth, with no fighting the motion. Caroline laid on the operating table with her arms out to her sides and she would move from side to side with each cut.

Needless to say, I did not peer over the curtain until later. At about 3:15am, the anesthetist asked for my camera so that he could take pictures for me. Then Caroline and I heard him for the first time.

10402622_10201935199051168_1200683150516990925_nBenjamin Christopher Brewer-Childs was born at 3:18am, on May 25th, weighing 7 lbs 15 oz, 21.25 inches long. 31 hours later, we met our little boy. Here I am in my scrubs holding Benjamin, only minutes old. Caroline was able to hold Benjamin skin to skin after he was cleaned up. Benjamin scored a 9 on his APGAR test, which I was very proud of.

As I sat there holding my son for the first time, waves of emotions came over me. I laughed, I cried, but mostly I felt so blessed to be able to make this little person with my beautiful wife, of whom I was so proud. There’s really nothing like seeing a small innocent face not unlike your own staring back up at you.

1466117_10201935220971716_7495813512719291091_nAs I held Benjamin in my arms, the medical team began to put Caroline back together again. I was brave enough at this point to look over the curtain as they sowed her back together. It was much more fascinating that I thought. Once all of the curtains were pulled down and Caroline was in one piece, our family began the journey back to our room.

The doctors were kind enough to let us pass by the conference room, where they had heard Benjamin’s first cries of life. The Brewers got their first look at their grandson, and they could not have been happier. Unfortunately, they were not able to visit us in our room as many checkups had to be completed for both Caroline and Benjamin following the c-section.

Caroline’s labor and birth did not go according to our plans but we could not be happier with the result!

I want to take this space to thank everyone who was a part of this journey, especially Caroline’s family who stuck it out for hours and hours waiting for Benjamin to arrive. Thank you to Mom and Michelle for being in the room with Caroline for so long, helping me help her get through every contraction. We would not have been able to do it without you.