Journey to Fatherhood: Lucas' Arrival
On Monday night after work, my wife and I went to my parent's house for a bonfire where we would roast hot dogs, sit and talk around the fire, play games and have dessert. It felt like it had been a long time since we had a night like this. For the last few months, I have been busy with school, work and getting ready to welcome our little boy. While we were sitting around the fire my dad was talking about some things he learned. As I sat there these words kept coming to my mind, "Take time to realize." It was a reminder to take time to realize what is before you and to enjoy this time. If someone had told me what the next 30 hours would bring and that our plans would change in a full 360 degrees... I would not have believed them. The following 30 hours and following days proved to be some of the most challenging and yet most beautiful moments of our lives. My wife will be writing a blog entry about this experience from her perspective. This post will be from my perspective as the husband and new father.
First, let me give you a little background to our birth story. Way before we got married and when she got pregnant, Heather has always been a woman of great knowledge and researches everything before making a big decision on something. With that said, upon finding out we were going to have a baby, she and I felt like we should go with a midwife at a birthing center attached to a major hospital. We felt at peace about it and went with it.
With all that said, I am going to tell my journey to fatherhood.
Monday: Shortly after we got home after the fun night with family we were about ready to go to bed and continue to wait for Lucas to arrive. Within minutes of us falling asleep, Heather's water
broke. It was 10:15 pm. I then called our Midwife, packed the last minute things we needed and then we took time to pray to our Heavenly Father for strength and peace. Then we drove off into the quiet hours of the night to the hospital. We arrived around 11:15 pm. They placed us in our room and had Heather get some sleep.
Tuesday: Heather's contractions started around 1 am, and I found myself applying what I was taught in a six-week natural birthing class to help her with the contractions. The first few hours went by pretty fast and the next thing I knew the morning sun had arrived. Feeling a little exhausted and weak in my ability to help Heather, I prayed for the strength to meet the tasks at hand. Heather's contractions began to increase and pain became more intense. Around 1 pm, we were told she was only dilated halfway. That felt discouraging, but our team remained hopeful that everything would work out. By this time, I was starting to get really tired and was doubting my ability to be strong. I found myself picturing Lucas cheering me on to help his mother. Everything seemed to stay the same till around 10:30 pm when, after a conversation with our midwife and team, we felt like it was time to head upstairs to the OBYN that partners with the birthing center in case things like this happen. Around 11:30 pm we made it to our 2nd room where Heather had some relief with an epidural. I found great relief when I found her finally taking a nap before the next phase.
Wednesday: Around 1 am I finally fell asleep on the couch for about an hour or two before I was woken up to her pushing. After three hours of pushing, we were given two options (1) use a vacuum to get him through the birth canal or C-Section. My heart started to pound but tried to remain to hopeful. By this time it was already around 6:30 am. The new team got everything ready and the vacuum thing was hooked up. After the second try Lucas finally decided to join us at 6:43 am. That very moment was simply amazing and tears came running down. Heather was in complete tears after working so hard and sacrificing so much in the 30 hours. Throughout the rest of the day we were filled with excitement, love and relief. They did some tests, tried feeding, and we received visits from doctors. The only concern they had was that he was breathing fast, but was looking really good. Grandma Cluff spent a great deal of time with Lucas while Heather and I tried to sleep, which never lasted long.
We were planning on going home and were getting all excited to be home. As the day moved along and more doctors visited, they found that Lucas was showing some Jaundice. Just when they were going to discharge us they asked us to stay another night so Lucas could be under the phototherapy for Jaundice. We were okay with that and around 10:30 pm I fell asleep on the couch. 20 minutes later I was woken up by Heather. Tears were in her eyes and I jumped up and put my Cochlear Implants on. She then said, "They had to take him to the NICU as his breathing was getting too fast." I sat there, unsure what to do. We both sat on the couch for 15 minutes, which seemed like an eternity, as we waited for the NICU nurse to come and explain what was going on. As we waited I thought about how my parents must have felt when I was heading to the NICU when I was first born. The nurse finally arrived and explained everything. Once again we felt at peace and made changes to our plans once again. At this point "Sleep" sounded like a far away land.
Friday: Around 3 am we got to go see Lucas in the NICU for the first time. Being a new Father, my heart broke to see him all wrapped up in wires and under the blue light. But, as I "took time to realize" and remembered that God is in charge and that everything will be okay. After we spent some time with him we went back to our room where we updated our parents and waited for Heather's vitals to be done before going back down to the NICU. Later that morning Grandma Walker and Grandma Cluff both arrived and they were our life savers as they helped tend Lucas and run errands while I helped Heather get her final vitals before she got discharged at 11 am. The afternoon was spent talking with doctors, watching Lucas be strong, and lots of waiting. We ended up going home for a little bit in the afternoon where we took a nap and got cleaned up before going back for the evening feedings. I have to say I never felt more grateful for a shower and a decent nap. At 6:30 pm we went to feed Lucas and spent a few hours there before returning home for the night.
Saturday: We slept in our bed for the first time since Sunday night. I must say it was most Heavenly. Heather did a great job pumping through the night and we both woke up feeling like new people. After we ate breakfast we headed out the door to see our son! I was pretty excited about this. Once we arrived we he was already fed and they were doing the car seat test on him. It was relieving to see that we were getting closer to bringing him home. 3:30 pm finally came around and we were told that we can leave soon!! Between the natural birthing center, moving to a new OBGYN last minute, many sleepless days, and experiencing the world of the NICU I have grown in a way I never thought I would. I am so grateful to be a father to my little boy. I think I will write the going home experience another day. For now, thank you for all the prayers and thoughts on our behalf. Just like Lucas being wrapped around by many hands, we too felt them both seen and unseen.