Becoming a dad is the most terrific and terrifying event to have ever happened to me. It was a cold and snowy Christmas day when we rushed to the hospital at 4:30 in the morning after the water had broken. I had planned everything. The path to take to get to the hospital in the shortest amount of time, the bags placed close to the door, the baby nursery had been ready for a couple of months, I had read a few books. I was ready. Or, so I thought.
At the hospital, it was a day filled with breathing exercises, lower back massages, orange Jell-O and expensive parking. We already knew that a boy was coming, and my mind was all about: What will he look like? Will he enjoy playing soccer, baseball, hockey (well, we live in Canada) or no sports at all? What about music, arts? Should I have another muffin? How long until he kicks my ass on pretty much everything? How many hours am I going to sleep for the next 20ish years? Damn, parking is expensive here. That’s how the next 17 hours went until his heartbeat started going out of the normal range. The obstetrician came to check them a couple of times and seemed concerned. I could barely hear her whispering to a resident who was following her that the situation didn’t look good and maybe a C-section would be necessary.
That’s when the roller coaster went down, and on a blink of an eye, my mind shifted from what the future is going to be to what the future may not going to be. Our thoughts can go far away, sideways, backward.
We suffer more often in imagination than in reality. – Seneca
A couple of hours later, we got the confirmation that the surgery would be necessary and honestly, it was such a relief. After listening to the procedures, risks, instructions and signing the consent forms, they moved my wife out of the delivery room to get her ready. Sooner, I was taken to a change room to get myself ready. It was about time! Let’s get this baby out!
Once I entered the operating room, a first time for me, it felt like a science fiction movie. The bright lights, the scrubs, the cold temperature, the monitor sounds. Seeing the open belly was not what I meant by seeing her inner beauty, so I took a deep breath and moved closer to her face, seating behind the linen that covers everything. I did not want to be one of those dads who faint in the operating room but since 10 out of 10 new dads have hidden, I mean, confirmed that this only happens in comedy sketches, I thought I was safe, right?
A few minutes later, they asked me to stand up as they were going to get him out and on December 26th at 1:06 AM, he was taken to a table where he had his nostrils cleaned, his weight measured and finally handed to me. That’s the exact moment when time froze, and everything seemed to run in slow motion. Holding his fragile and tiny body in need of a bath and a haircut, entirely dependent on me and his mom to survive, gave me a terrifying but clear goal for the years ahead: I can’t die!
Both mom and my little buddy were doing great. While she had that relieving and tired half-smile due to the anesthesia and hours of intense workout, he was finally stretching his legs after so many months curled. I learned from the obstetrician that the umbilical cord was around his neck a couple of times and although I still feel that they took too long to decide on the C-section, it was the right decision.
Two days later when we entered the hospital elevator to head home, I looked at him sleeping on the car seat, winter packed and mumbled: It’s just the three of us now. What do we do next?
Welcome to the world buddy. It is an oddly exciting place with chocolate, pizza, and espressos, well, for now just milk, but expensive parking so, do not park for too long.