Sunday, June 19, 2005
The New York Times offers a Father's Day perspective of parenthood from a father who lost his baby daughter when she was 47 days old. In many ways his experience was the opposite of mine - he had, by all appearances, a healthy daughter who died unexpectedly of a brain hemmorhage. I had an unexpectedly unhealthy daughter, entangled in her umbilical cord, who made a remarkable recovery from that birth trauma. (Her 1 minute APGAR score was 1.) A few seconds after the delivery, my wife said "I hear her crying". I'm not sure what she heard; I'm not sure what, if anything, I said in reply. It was a long couple of minutes before she made her first noise.
I'm not sure that I breathed between the time she was born, and that point about ten minutes later when a nurse asked for our camera so she could take some pictures for us. Fourteen minutes after she was born, Emma briefly met her mother. Four hours later, she was released from the NICU and into our care.
I can't really describe the weight of that moment - the fear. The room is full of medical professionals, all focused on the baby. Nobody has the time to tell you "it's going to be okay", and (if you can imagine seeing this scene) even if they did it would be hard to believe. The many months spent anticipating parenthood, a tough delivery, and the sudden experience of your life, your hopes and your plans being completely beyond your control.
A delivery room nurse, checking on my wife after delivery, was concerned that I might see a small blood clot - "The way you turned white when the baby was born," she said, "I thought you were afraid of blood."
On this Father's Day, I am very grateful to have my daughter.