When I started writing these, I didn’t know exactly where I was going to stop. After his birth? When he got settled? When I started not to worry? And then I realized it wasn’t about “becoming Jacob’s Dad” only, but a gradual change to “being Jacob’s Dad”. And once I got past the trauma of the last weeks of pregnancy and the first few weeks of life, the story was almost fun to write. And although they take time to pull together from old notes, photos, Facebook updates, etc., I could trundle along. But when I wrote the last segment back in February 2017, Jacob had just turned three, and I hit a wall.
Because I realized that the coming year, as Jacob went from age 3 to 4, was one of the most difficult years of my life, and I wasn’t sure I was ready to write about any of it. » Read the rest
June 2011 marked a new beginning for me as a father, at least in some ways. It was somewhere around then that I realized that things had changed, and it was so gradual, I hadn’t even realized it. I had gone from being terrified at times, wondering “Is he going to live?” to a more nagging worry of “what kind of quality of life will he have”. This is the year, spoiler alert (!), that I transitioned to more “I think he’ll figure it out”. I hadn’t quite reached that point, but this was the year when the transition happened for me as a dad.
Not that the previous worry was “wasted”, as some people like to claim with superficial comments. Worrying about your kids in these situations is not a waste, it ensures you are thinking about options, considerations, asking the right questions. It is no more a waste than having had fire insurance and not having had a fire. » Read the rest
Jacob turning one year old was a bit of a formal “page-turner” for me. Before that, it was undeniably the hardest thing I had ever been through in my life as a person, not just “as a dad”. The first two weeks in the NICU were about survival of all three of us…him physically, us emotionally and mentally. The next three months were less acute, obviously, but still some panics with failure to thrive, etc. Then there was the eye surgery and lots of other specialists. I regularly tried to make light of the fact that we saw almost every specialist in the hospital except a vet (a gross exaggeration), and I couldn’t be sure there wasn’t one in there somewhere.
But I felt like the year was a state of constant tension. I mentioned in the last post that there was the “relief” of January — the first time we made it through an entire month without a visit to the Children’s Hospital emergency. » Read the rest
Back when I started writing these posts (Becoming Jacob’s Dad, Part 1: The early days), I was excited to tell the story. It was 2015, Jacob was just turning six, and I thought, “Okay, I’m ready to share.” Turns out that I wasn’t, not really. The stories of the NICU, surgeries, stress, coming home, failure to thrive, all of it…I thought at least I was ready, at best it would be cathartic. Nope, it was traumatic to write the stories, to relive the moments whose rawness ripped at my soul as I typed the words. Not a single post made it to the screen without tears running down my face. Sometimes good tears, tears of relief. Mostly tears from remembered trauma, the fear coming back to me. When I left off the previous post (Being Jacob’s Dad, Part 10: Months 4, 5 and 6), we had managed to do the eye surgery and learned to put Jacob’s lenses in, and I felt I could start to breathe again. » Read the rest
With the surgery over, and the only real issue being eye drops for a couple of weeks, life returned to our cocoon version of normal. Some friends threw a shower for Andrea on the following weekend, and I was so grateful. It seems weird to say, but I kind of feel like Andrea got ripped off. An atypical pregnancy, complete with scary PPROM and 10 weeks bed rest. An atypical birth, including C-section, delay in getting to hold him, and two weeks in the NICU. Then the week from hell. Then the surgery. Multiple medical appointments each week. The end of breastfeeding. When did she get to have the FUN part of being a new mom?
The shower was a small milestone to me — it was another step in saying, “Yes, it’s atypical, but we will STILL do normal stuff around it.” It was kind of our new unspoken resolve. » Read the rest