Vail Novice Father: New dad reflects on his daughter’s delivery
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado — I was already scheduled to go to the Vail Valley Medical Center the day my daughter was born. I scheduled myself for surgery to get some hardware taken out of my knee. A year earlier I spent months recovering from a serious knee injury. This final surgery would close the book on a long, frustrating process. The good thing about that frustrating process: those months gave my wife valuable experience dealing with a helpless baby.
The surgery would take place first thing in the morning. I had set the alarm for 5 a.m. to give me enough time to be at the Vail Valley Medical Center an hour later. I scheduled this day because it was three weeks before my daughter was due – plenty of time to recover from the operation and chase around a newborn.
Backstory: This day was the first day my unborn daughter would reach “full term.” Full term means that though there are still weeks left in the pregnancy, it would be considered a healthy birth if she came out … as opposed to a premie, which comes with it’s own add-on worries beyond the standard package.
My wife had calculated this day months earlier. With the novelty of pregnancy long gone, she liked the idea of getting the Kid out at the first safe moment. Full term was good enough for her. I liked the idea of keeping her in there all the way to her due date just to make sure she had plenty of time to develop. Since I didn’t suffer through all the changes pregnancy does to your body, it was easy for me to suggest we didn’t cut corners.
Needless to say “Full Term Day” was on our minds. And when I scheduled my surgery for this day … questions arose.
“What if I go into labor while you’re in surgery?” my wife asked.
“Impossible. We’re three weeks away,” I said in my most reassuring tone.
That didn’t end the discussion as well as I hoped. My wife kept envisioning herself going into labor while I was under anesthesia. We ping-ponged this topic around our house all the way up to the night before.
At 4:45 a.m. on “Full Term Day,” 15 minutes before my alarm was set to go off, I was woken up by an excited finger poking me repeatedly on the forehead.
“I think my water just broke,” she said.
My immediate reaction: “No it didn’t.”
With nine months to plan for this day, we really, really intended to be well prepared. Really. A well-prepared couple will have the hospital bag already packed: extra clothes, scented candles, music, movies, and all that fun stuff. A well-prepared couple will have the car seat already installed, figured out, and checked over by a professional. A well-prepared couple will bring baby’s first outfit that’s the correct size, and for the correct gender.
With the Kid arriving three weeks early, the best I could do was put on a dumb-founded look and get my wife safely to the hospital. I pretty much kept that look on my face for the next two weeks.
A year later and I no longer have that dumbfounded look. I’d like to think it’s because of all this parenting experience I’ve gained. Instead it’s because I’ve just gotten comfortable with not knowing what I’m doing. I’ve learned to accept the not knowing as normal … and I realize that no matter what comes up, I’ll figure it out as I go along.
Kelly Coffey is a novice father. He shares his mistakes, fears, and laughs along his journey to figure out how anybody could possibly raise a child. E-mail comments or questions about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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