Fort McMurray

The Trials

One week.

That’s how long I’ve been a parent.

November 2nd, 2022, at 11:56 am, my wife and I welcomed our son to the world. I must admit, I wasn’t really prepared. His arrival actually marked two weeks before he was supposed to be due. And if we hadn’t been the ones to live through the whole experience, the story would have almost been comical.

It all started Tuesday, November 1st. We were out at our usual haunt for dinner and a round of pub trivia. Everything was completely normal. We then went home and watched TV. Nothing out of the ordinary. Afterwards, we were getting ready for bed – I was already all tucked in, thinking about everything I had to do at work the next day. Simple really. My eyes were just about to close.

And that’s when her water broke…

Panic ensued.

12 hours later, we were holding our son, two weeks premature, weighing in at a whopping 5lbs 11oz. There were several things that happened on his way out of the womb. And without getting too graphic, he decided the best way to be born was to launch his whole body at my wife’s sciatic nerve as he descended through the depths. The resulting pain was enough to stall the labour process, forcing the doctor to use the “vacuum.” Stubborn and mischievous. I suppose he really is ours after all.

Also, on a slight side note, to any potential or soon to be fathers, listen carefully. If the nurses tell you that the “Dad Chair” is comfortable, don’t believe them. It’s a ruse! Be prepared!

It’s been a weird week in our household since our release from the hospital. Adjusting to the ups and downs of newfound parenthood has led to a complete loss of sleep and rising frustrations. This strange creature doesn’t like being poked and prodded, doesn’t like his diaper changed, and hates our cold hands being anywhere near him. He fights sleep, feedings, and all attempts to assist him in any way. But he demands to be cuddled! Oh dear god, does he ever love to be cuddled! But mostly by his mother…

That’s ok. He’ll learn.

Despite everything, we’ve gotten into a rhythm at home. Things were starting to come together. He was eating, and we were sleeping (sort of). And then came the pediatrician appointment. Suddenly everything changed. He looked a little jaundiced, so they wanted some bloodwork. A few hours later, he was admitted to the hospital for treatment.

I can’t even describe how much of a blow this is to a new parent. Every day, you’re second-guessing yourself and thinking you’re already doing everything wrong. And then something like this happens. It’s disheartening, even though it had nothing to do with anything we did. You can’t help but feel responsible in some way. I can only imagine what a parent must feel like in a sudden emergency.

Am I truly worthy of being called this guy’s father?

Now, before I go too far, yes, I understand that jaundice is a fairly common issue among newborns. I’m not trying to be overly dramatic. But don’t try and use your logic on the inexperienced and sleep-deprived rookies. And right now, my son is enjoying life in tropical temperatures in a child-friendly tanning booth while his panicked parents get to spend yet another night in the hospital. Not that I’m complaining. The staff at Northern Lights Health Centre have been absolutely amazing. I can’t say enough good things about the level of professionalism and treatment of their patients. Though I wouldn’t put the hospital on my top ten favourite places to hang out.

But, whatever he needs, he shall get. And isn’t that what any parent should want? What any parent would do?

Everything I have, and everything I am, is yours.

Worthy or not, that’s a promise I will gladly keep until I draw my final breath on this earth.

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