But just as quickly had our ordinary labor and delivery turned, my plans changed. My wife was in no state to take care of our newborn.
I woke up the morning of June 22nd on a hospital bed… an uncomfortable one at that. The one that folds out to make a bed for the father-to-be while mom gets the more comfortable bed… for obvious reasons. This day was going to be different, I could feel it. I had optimism that it was going to be a good day and everything was going to go smoothly.
Our nurse said the same thing. She predicted that we were going to have a mid-afternoon baby and then looked at our 2 goals on the whiteboard in the room. She noticed that our goals are to 1) have baby and 2) world peace. She laughed and played a long. Going along with our humor and light heartedness helped ease the tension.
Around noon she steps into the room and says the words that every new dad (or mom if she at all is looking forward to the next hour 2, 3 or even more) looks forward to hearing, “it’s about time to start pushing!”
A flurry of nurses walk-in preparing our suite for the birth off our son. The doctor walks in and no later than 20 minutes later, our precious boy, Joseph, was born.
We thought we were done… this labor and delivery was much easier than when we had William. We spent the next hour with our boy, then called in Grandma to see him. The excitement was too much for us to keep to ourselves. I went out to pick William up from school meet his new brother.
Shortly after showing of his brother, I hear my wife gasp, “Brandon, call the nurse… something isn’t right.”
Over the course of the next couple of hours, I watched as my wife shook, called out to the nurses, and the nurses quietly talking among each other. Obviously keeping something from my wife, our newborn, and myself.
The thought ran through my head that it was just going to be me and the two boys from here on out. I started to wonder how I’m going to raise them by myself. Tears started to flow from my eyes. I kept asking myself, what am I going to do if I lose her? It was quite possibly one of the most painful moments I have had in my life. I sat there watching my wife go through what she was going through. It was supposed to be one of our happiest times in our lives, instead it took a turn… for the worst.
I felt helpless during the entire ordeal. There was nothing I could do that would help my wife make it through except hold her hand and tell her how much I love her. The doctor then said something that hit me like a ton a bricks, “if this doesn’t work we are going to have to go to the Operating Room.”
I lost it. I knew that I had to be strong as I sat there holding our new baby boy. I knew that we have one other boy who has no idea what his mother is going through and only knows that he is now a big brother. But, at that moment, I couldn’t help by cry. The severity of the situation hit me and the reality of losing my wife was unfolding right before my eyes.
Why was this happening to her? I wanted to take all the pain away from her and give it to me.
I looked down at our baby… sleeping in my arms, and prayed. I prayed that he would grow up with his mom teaching him the finer things in life. I prayed that my wife and I would grow old together. I prayed that I wouldn’t have to tell William that is mother… I can’t even say the word.
I hear the snap of a latex glove coming off the doctors hand and hear him say, “ok that’s it, all done.” I look up to see him cleaning up. Our nurse rubbing my wife’s shoulder comforting her, “you were a trooper girl.” She then looks over at me, tears still flowing, “so were you dad.”
I wasn’t planning on staying at the hospital that first night. We still had a kid at home who needed help getting ready for bed and would probably wake up at some point in the night asking for dad or mom. We had discussed that I would stay at home while she stays at the hospital to take care of Joseph at night. But just as quickly had our ordinary labor and delivery turned, my plans changed. My wife was in no state to take care of our newborn. I knew that the nurses in the nursery would have taken excellent care of him but I didn’t want to be that dad who just leaves him with them. I knew that my night was just getting started. Feedings and diaper changes fell onto me as my wife stayed in bed and recovered.
The next couple of days were filled with highs and lows, much like that day on June 22nd. There was a time that William was even in the room when I had to take him out. I flat out cried. I couldn’t be strong anymore. I felt like my world was crashing before my eyes and William, Joseph, and myself were the only people to survive. I told him that I was just so happy that he was a big brother and they were happy tears. A flat out lie. It was a moment I didn’t want to tell him that I was fearful of losing his mom.
Eventually, we walked back in and things were fine. But the nurses continued to look at her blood work to find out that it was dropping. Headaches and drowsiness continued. And after one more visit from the doctor, my wife received blood from a donor. A donor who I don’t know. A donor who doesn’t know who or the situation that the recipient of their blood was in.
Almost immediately, she was better. We began asking ourselves why we didn’t do this sooner?
My wife is still recovering and feeling much better. I still cry about what I had seen that day. I am fighting them back as we speak, and I hide them from her so that she doesn’t realize exactly what was going through my head that day. It all seems silly now knowing that she was in good hands.
I’ll never know if I had the “real strength” to raise these boys alone. I hope that I never have to figure out if I have it. But, if that day of June 22nd taught me anything, it’s that I’m going to work harder at being a dad. There is a picture that William drew for me on Father’s Day that says, “You are my superhero” and even though there are times that I don’t feel like it, it is images like that, that keep giving me the strength to be the dad I want to be.
I’d like to thank Dove Men+Care for the support to write this post and the support they give dads all over when they take on the biggest job that they will do… being a dad. Dove Men+Care partners with hospitals around the country with “Dad Care Packages” that reaches new dads in their very first moments of fatherhood. The Care Packages includes a range of grooming products, a letter welcoming dads to parenthood, and a burp cloth to provide care from the very first moment.
I can only imagine what one of those care packages would mean to a dad who is going through a similar situation.