Introducing Terror

4 years ago (to the day) I experienced terror: not for the first time.

4 years ago, after a grueling, long, and dangerous labor, my beautiful wife gave birth to our second son, completing our family. He was big.

Over 10 pounds big.

He was such a monstrous little thing that he got stuck in the birth canal. The labor caught the hospital by surprise, despite being a planned birth, and my poor wife delivered him mostly without an epidural (they got it in for the end)…. And then he got stuck. We spent almost an hour hearing “this push should do it!”

But it didn’t.

And when he came out, he was pale, like ash, and he wasn’t breathing.

The doctor and nurses did their best to hide this fact from us. They showed Julie her beautiful son, set him in her arms for less than a second, and then whisked him away to clean him up, and try to get his lungs to work.

I was watching the doctor’s eyes.

He was scared. He’d never lost a child in childbirth. His record was amazing (one of the reason we picked him.)

And he was scared.

So was I.

The doctor had more work to do, as there always is after a baby is born: there’s still more to come. I won’t detail this, for the blissfully ignorant and the faint of heart. Julie was in rough shape, to put it mildly, after a 10 lb baby with a late epidural, and she was exhausted.

The doctor told us what was happening as soon as he could: the baby wasn’t breathing well on his own, so they were going to put him into the critical care unit.

When Julie was well enough (an hour maybe? Time started playing games with me) we got to see him… But not hold him. He was in a lung plastic box.

We spent the better part of the next week taking turns being at his side. He got to move from the box into a head sized bubble after a day or two. We didn’t get to hold him until then.

But he was strong, not just big, and he was a fighter. (That hasn’t changed)

And he got well.

4 years ago, today, my second son was born. 4 years ago I felt terror that few can understand without experiencing it themselves.

4 years ago, today, God gave use a little terrorist. (I can say that, right?)

And I’m happy he did.

Happy birthday, Nathaniel. Please stop breaking things. 😅

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My Two Sons, and Their 3 Dads

We just celebrated Father’s Day. As is the standard on the holiday, social media was full of the praises of… Mothers? Yes, but also of fathers. 

It got me thinking: what kind of father am I? An imperfect one, with no doubt. But I wonder if one were to aka my sons, what would thier answer be? Split, I think.

So let’s talk about that.

Dad 1: the loving dad. This is the man who was there at their respective births. The loving father who beams with pride at the successes of his learning sons. This is the man who has shared his love of books and reading. The man who’s strangeness has rubbed off on boys who would rather read Percy Jackson than green eggs and ham. This is the fun dad. I’d love to think that this is the dad my sons will remember and emulate when I’m gone.

Dad 2: the broken dad. This is the dad that my toddler runs to “help” stand up when he falls. This is the dad whom my sons have learned to ignore his grunts and whimpers of pain. This is the dad that my sons are eager to serve, to help, to support… But that feels exhausting shame that any of those things are needed from mere children. This is the dad that has to constantly renig on planned fun because his body has given out long before his desire to play with his children. This is the dad that my boys will remember.

Dad 3. the emotional dad. Years of medications have removed all but 1 or 2 of the dad’s emotions. The remaining emotions include anger and loud. My boys don’t like this dad…. And neither do I. He’s a jerk. He yells altogether too much. He can be cold, and unbending. He is the disciplinarian dad. He’s the one to whom my children give a wide birth. He’s the one I resent the most. I wish he’d go away and never come back (read that in Smeagol’s voice).

And here I sit, the broken dad wishing I could always be the the loving dad. Wishing that I could kill the emotional dad. I am my son’s 3 fathers (lest anyone assume the worst of my wife). I have realized that my sons have to deal with the 3 distinctive personalities of mine (these are not like… Split personalities… Or anything…. No coats are needed for me, thank you very much. No pills to make “the voices” stop, or anything. This is a proverbial conversation, not a literal one).

There we go. Kind of a lame conversation ending. Hopefully the whole of the conversation didn’t fit into that category.

Happy Father’s Day to my fellow imperfect dads. You perfect dads should write a how to book: it’d sell well.

Oh, and a bonus “we’re actually sleeping,” selfie from my sons: