Here’s the tale of the day I became a Dad.
I pride myself on being an even-keeled kind of guy. I’ve never been in a fistfight. I’ve been used as a mediator in dozens of personal conflicts. And I’ve even turned down an offer to appear on the cover of Emotionally Balanced Canadian.
I’m a calm guy.
So I was determined to remain calm throughout my wife’s labour. I would be the reasonable and reassuring face that would support her as she pushed our child into this world. Let’s face it; it’s the least I could do.
When her contractions started on a Friday afternoon, I cracked wise. I danced with her throughout our neighborhood as we tried to soothe her aching lady bits. I held her hand when the hospital turned us away because the contractions were still too far apart. I stayed awake with her (but not necessarily alert) as Friday turned to Saturday, and Saturday turned to Sunday.
On our second trip to the hospital, early Sunday morning, we were finally given a room. Epidurals were administered, some much needed sleep was acquired, and we drew closer and closer to meeting our little Pea.
Then, things started to unravel.
After hours of pushing, the doctors realized that Pea’s head wasn’t going to make it past my wife’s pelvic bone. Arrangements were made in the O.R. for a forceps delivery… if that didn’t work they would immediately perform a C-section.
In the O.R., I stayed calm. Even when the doctor announced Pea had swallowed some of her meconium. Even when the doctor screwed up the forceps delivery on his first attempt.
When the doctor held up my little girl and momentarily put her on my wife’s chest, I stayed calm. Even as a team of nurses performed the standard tests. Even as I held my daughter for the first time while doctors tended to my wife’s rapidly falling blood pressure.
When my wife was wheeled into the recovery room and finally got to hold her daughter, I stayed calm. Even as I announced the birth to our family, who had been waiting for hours with no news. Even as they met their niece and granddaughter for the first time.
When I went back to the birthing room to retrieve our personal effects, I completely lost it. Even as I blubbered uncontrollably. Even as I waved my hands in the air frantically. Even as I muzzled my own whimpers so no one would hear me.
You see, it had dawned on me that I was now a Dad. And how can anyone be expected to stay calm in a situation like that?