Sunday, April 17, 2011

30 Days of Pictures: Day 17

Day 17: A picture of something that has made a huge impact on your life recently

For 10 years, Michelle and I debated whether or not we wanted to have a child. Cost, change to our comfortable little life, the stress of raising a child, the impact it would have on our relationship, fear of failure, uncertainty of the kind of father I would be. I had so many concerns and insecurities, it was almost debilitating. Finally we decided to let fate play a role and stop trying not to have a baby. Sure enough, it happened almost immediately. Michelle came down the stairs while I was making dinner and simply stated "so, we're going to have a baby". I stopped, looked at her and said "ok", smiled at her, gave her a big hug and went back to dinner, talking with her about everything we needed to do, what the next steps were and not letting on that inside I was both excited and terrified.

But that's the way it is with any big change, both fear and excitement, right?

I burst into tears of joy the first time I saw Ingrid's heartbeat on the ultrasound. I was awash in this desire to take care of my wife and make sure everything went smoothly. There were times during her pregnancy that Michelle and I thought something was wrong, that this wasn't going to happen, but Ingrid's a tough kid. She made sure that she would take care of us as much as we could take care of her. Until ...

Five weeks early, Michelle woke me up and said "I think my water broke. It's too early. I don't know what to do." I immediately went into crisis management mode (as well as I could, considering that I was startled awake and don't really do well in the morning, let alone at 2:00), I tried to calm my wife, asking her if she was certain, then had her call the on-call midwife to make arrangements while I furiously packed everything. We weren't close to ready. We were going to pack and make our delivery list that very Sunday!

Arrangements were made and I packed the car while Michelle got ready. We then sped down 35W to St. Joseph's hospital, hoping that they wouldn't send us to St. John's where the emergency and high-risk births were held. Pulling into the hospital and getting into the maternity ward was otherworldly, but we finally got settled and I fell asleep in the chair while Michelle tried to sleep in the bed. Nurses came in and out, getting Michelle's and Ingrid's vitals, and our midwife was scheduled to see us in a few hours.

Finally it was actually day time and since we didn't have any preemie clothes or diapers, I rushed out to Babies R Us to pick up some essentials. I mean, we were prepared for an infant, but not a preemie. Not yet. I was close to finishing my list when Michelle called and said that I needed to come back now, she was getting close to active labor. I rushed back to the hospital just as things were heating up. This was all moving way too fast and Michelle needed me to be strong. Neither of us were actually prepared for the event. Before our midwife even arrived, Michelle started active labor and was ready to start pushing. We were expecting a waterbirth and a calm arrival for our little girl, but that entire plan went out the window. A resident was scrubbing in just as our midwife arrived and helped Michelle get through the pushing. My wife is a freaking rockstar. She pushed and pushed and without any drugs at all brought our baby into the world. I was simply amazed at what she went through and how strong she was.

Then little Ingrid Arabella Eide joined the world. I looked at her, picked her up and said "welcome to the world Ingrid. I'm your daddy and I'm going to always be here for you. No matter what." Michelle and I then cried and held our little girl for the first time. It was simply magical.

Unfortunately, she wasn't strong enough yet to eat on her own or regulate her temp, so she spent two weeks in the special care nursery, getting bigger and stronger and learning how to eat. Ingrid and Michelle couldn't nurse, so she was fed with a tube, then bottle. Small victories were celebrated and I somehow was able to instinctively care for this little girl. I was fearless. I'm still amazed at how easy everything seemed for me, especially in retrospect. I shouldn't have been that calm, but there I was.

Over the next year, watching life through Ingrid's eyes, I was amazed at how quickly she grew and learned and developed. I know that kids go through a lot in their first year, but when you experience it, it's truly remarkable. She went from not being able to eat to rolling over, crawling, standing, cruising, talking, gesturing, signing, walking and seemingly eating until she bursts.

To say that Ingrid has had a big impact on my life recently would be an understatement. The first time I held her, I knew my life would never be the same. Every time she gives me a sloppy, open-mouth kiss or hugs my knee or reaches out for me I melt. I want nothing more than for her to be happy, feel safe and loved and supported. Everything I do, I ask myself what the impact will be on her, but I realize that she has an even bigger impact on me.

I didn't know if my heart could stand another thing to love, but Michelle was right, I'm like the Grinch. On January 31, 2010 my heart grew two sizes.
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