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February 8, 2013 / Mettā Reiki Center

Daddy’s Story

So far, you’ve been reading Mommy’s blog posts…it’s time you heard Daddy’s side of the story.

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“A Surprise Announcement Will Free You”…

That was the message that came in the fortune cookie with my takeout Chinese on 6/5/2011 – “A Surprise Announcement Will Free You”
Let me set the stage for you. In July of 2008 my marriage of 13 years came to a screeching halt. I had 2 beautiful daughters who were the center of my whole life and all I could think about was doing whatever it would take to ensure that they were looked after and that their lives were impacted as little as possible by the choices of others. I moved into a small one bedroom apartment with what few possessions I had (a bed, a table, a chair and 2 boxes of personal items) and set about putting together a plan that would let me take back control of my life. I had a good job with good benefits but with the added cost of child support I had to take on a 2nd job so I was working from 3:00am to 8:30am at the first job and then heading to the 2nd job where I worked from 9:30am to 6:00pm. I worked this schedule Monday thru Friday and then worked the early morning job on Saturday as well. Saturday afternoons were spent sleeping and cleaning (generally in that order) and then Sunday was spent with my daughters. We got into a good routine of going to the movies and cooking at home and just generally being happy during these visits – there were lots of laughs and fun and lots of tears when the day would come to an end.

I lived this life of work and family focus for 2 ½ years – slowly whittling down my debt and putting some money aside and watching my girls grow. I never missed a school function or extracurricular activity if it was at all possible (and I was aware of it). In early 2010 the girls asked me if I was ever going to start dating again. While of course I had thought about it, my plan was to not introduce yet another adult into the situation until most likely after they had graduated and left home. They both said they understood and appreciated the thought but it was ok with them if I started dating – again, awesome kids! Over the course of a year, I went out on a few dates and realized that dating had changed A LOT since I had done it last and in all honesty, the world had gotten even crazier than I had realized. Trying to find someone who was willing to accept my situation with 2 kids that would remain in the forefront of my life turned out to be a lot harder than I had imagined it would be. In February of 2011 I met a nurse (through my early morning job actually) and we started talking and I found that her outlook on relationships was very much in line with mine. In addition we found that neither of us could have children – her due to a health issue and me due to a surgery done after my 2nd daughter had been born. (no snickering or spoilers please J ). We talked over the phone a few times and then decided to take the jump and meet in person. On March 5th of 2011 we met at a local Bakery for coffee – a nice safe neutral location where either of us could run if needed. I was so nervous when I walked through the door but when I saw her sitting in the corner it was amazing. The power in the building had gone out just before I arrived however there was one light with power still going and it was in the corner right behind the woman I was there to meet – shining down on her and bathing her in this glow that just stopped me dead in my tracks. Understand that I know I am not a bad looking guy – 6 to a 7 on the traditional 10 scale – (I like to describe myself as not the top of the barrel but not the bottom either). The woman sitting at this table was amazing. Everything she had said had been honest, there were no surprises. She was stunningly beautiful and I knew I was so far out of my league it wasn’t even funny. But, I was here and she was here and I was going to at least meet her face to face before she got that phone call from a friend who needed her help and she needed to leave. She got up from the table and met me with a hug and a smile that would make ice melt. I knew at that moment I was in deep trouble. We sat down and had one of the most comfortable, relaxed conversations I have ever had in my life. I found myself opening up and telling her about my parents and my hometown and she was talking about her love of the violin and running. By the end of the night, I was done searching for anyone else. When we walked to the cars to leave I had to resist the urge to reach out and kiss her and I could tell (at least I hoped I was reading it correctly) that the attraction was there from her end. I actually made the comment that I was fighting the urge to kiss her and she looked at me and said she wished I wouldn’t. I honestly don’t think she got the full statement out before I kissed her.

That is how it all started. Two people who had been upfront and honest with each other about what they were looking for in a partner and how they wanted to approach the rest of their lives – both individually and as a couple. We began dating and quickly became an ‘item’ that her friends talked about. My work mates started talking about how I had a spring back in my step and obviously seemed to be heading in a good direction. My daughters could tell something had changed as well but I was very careful not to introduce them to her too soon – both she and they needed to be ready. In May we finally took the plunge and went out to dinner as a group and everyone hit things off amazingly well. It was obvious that nerves were high on both sides but by the end of the night there was plenty of laughter and smiles and as I took the girls home, they told me they approved and I had done good (score!).

ken and kris

So here we were, 2 adults in the early stages of what appeared to be a great relationship. Enjoying functions and movies together, taking trips together and just overall starting to live the life that we both had pretty much written off as not being something either of us would ever get to live. In May we actually started talking about moving in together (my lease ran out in August so it was a discussion topic) – I met her parents and sister and things really seemed to be headed in a great direction. In late May she mentioned not feeling quite right and said she was going to schedule a doctor appointment for her annual ‘female’ checkup. So, June 5th comes and I receive the fortune cookie notice referenced at the start of this article and I think to myself “Hmmm – life does seem to be headed in a good direction”, smile and enjoy my meal. On June 11 I am at work and I get a phone call from this woman who has just made my life worth living again and she opens the conversation with “I’m sorry to ask this but I have to know, did you really have a vasectomy done?”. I laughed and said yes – I remember that day very clear as I was at a training hospital and there were 2 students in the room with the doctor doing the procedure. They didn’t knock me out, local numbing only so I was awake through the whole thing and yes, I am confident I had the surgery done – why do you ask? Well…….turns out the reason she has not been feeling well is – wait for it – wait for it – she is pregnant! She has an ultrasound picture showing a peanut and confirmation from the doctor that she is pregnant. I don’t even have to ask – she immediately begins to assure me she has not been running around on me and I tell her that thought never even entered my mind. Both of us are smiling and nervous all at the same time. (For the record – I did go and get tested and yes, I am the one in 10,000 whose surgery did not take for life – if you know someone who has had the surgery done, make sure they still get tested every couple of years – especially if the procedure was done back in the 90’s or before when all they did was tie off the ends)

So, well done Mister Fastfood Chinese Fortune Cookie Fortune Writer – well done indeed!

We sat down and had some very serious conversations about where we were going to go with things and how to proceed. All of the conversations kept coming back to the same thing – we loved each other and if this baby was so meant to be that they could overcome the issues facing both of us in having children then the least we could do is ensure they had a family to raise them. We met with her parents and told them we were getting married and we set a date of early November to ensure there would be no interference in the wedding procedures from the pregnancy. On Nov 5, 2011 we were married in that same bakery we met at. We had a beautiful ceremony with friends and family present, my older daughters standing by my side all of us smiling and laughing.

We left for our Honeymoon and spent a few days down by the beach – it was cold at this time of the year but we both love the beach so much that it only made sense to spend the time there. During the few days we were there, there was a change in how my wife was feeling – exhaustion overtook her. We figured it was due to all of the whirl wind life decisions we had been working with over the last couple of months and just relaxed our way through a few days and then returned home. Once back home we visited the doctor and they mentioned a rise in her blood pressure that they wanted to keep a close eye on. We knew that based on her past physical issues, high blood pressure was not unexpected so we agreed to monitor it and just do our best to keep things as easy on her as possible. On Nov 20, she was at work and her pressure went through the roof – luckily she is a nurse that works in a hospital so they were able to get her to the emergency room asap and from there they sent her upstairs to the birthing unit where they admitted her for observation. I got a call from one of the other nurses letting me know what was happening and I grabbed her baby bag and headed to the hospital. For 3 days the doctors tried everything they could to bring her pressure down but nothing worked. It would come down for a few hours but as soon as the meds wore off, it was right back up. On Wednesday, November 23, 2011 – the day before Thanksgiving – the doctor told us that they had no choice, it was time for the baby to come. We talked about the baby only being 29 weeks at this point and doctor after doctor assured us that she was healthy and strong enough to handle this but if they didn’t do something now, the risk to both of them would increase rapidly and we would run the risk of losing one or possibly both of them. They wheeled my wife of 3 weeks off to a surgery room, dressed me up in scrubs and then took me back once she was on the table and stable. Once the procedure started, it seemed no more than a few minutes and they were removing our baby girl – all 2 lbs 7 oz of her – and taking her to the adjoining room. I followed them in and held her hand while they washed her and cleaned her up – she scored well on the apgar chart and everyone was relieved. I returned to my wife and told her that our baby girl was doing great and she could rest now.

The next few days were a continued whirlwind of visitors and medical staff. You could tell the doctors were nervous in the way they kept watching and reading the charts and checking on her that something was not right. Within 48 hours of our baby being born, my wife had to go through what amounted to a detox procedure as her body had failed to expel all of the items it was supposed to during the birth and the result was her blood pressure was not coming down. The procedure was a complete success and once completed she turned for the better and was on the way to a physical recovery.

So here was my situation: Our little girl was in the NICU and while everyone was telling me she was doing great, honestly she was so tiny that I struggled to believe them. My wife was recovering from the hardest physical test she had ever been through. Mentally we were both spent. I was sleeping on the couch under the window in the hospital room and splitting time between my wife and the NICU. I was on the phone with the insurance groups confirming that yes – we had just been married a few days ago and yes, our daughter was born early. I was trying to limit the number of visitors to ensure my wife got the rest she needed. I was in cruise control and honestly, I was scared. I didn’t get very many moments to breath and when I did, emotionally I just wanted to break down and cry or hit something or both. I had so many questions running through my head but none that could be answered. I had to make sure that I was strong for my wife and my daughter – after all I was the one who wasn’t sitting in a bed with wires and tubes sticking out (or in or down) me. I was questioning the choices I had made and the impact those choices were now having on 2 innocent lives. I’ve never been a very religious person as my personal experiences with the Church have not always been favorable and here I was again questioning why the folks that I love and care most about were the ones being hurt. Simply put, lots and lots of questions were running through my head and there were simply no answers.

Then it happened, my wife got clearance from the doctors to leave her room and visit the NICU. She had only seen pictures of our little miracle to this point and here we were finally wheeling her down the hallway to enter the NICU for the first time to see our baby girl. This was something that I was so looking forward to – watching the two of them together for the first time. I knew she wouldn’t be able to hold her but she could reach in the side of the unit and hold her hand – in my mind it was going to be magical. And it was! The look on my wife’s face was amazing when she saw our daughter. She cried and she smiled and talked to her and I swear our daughter immediately responded to her voice and her touch. This was the moment I needed. In that moment, I found all of the strength that I would ever need to be the man they needed me to be. No matter what it took, I was going to be the best husband and father that I possibly could because these two amazing beings deserved that. I was no longer scared – cautious yes, scared no. I no longer questioned why things had happened the way they did – it didn’t matter. What mattered was that we were here. We had a long road to go and many obstacles to face but we were here and that was enough to make to me smile.

meeting baby

So that covers the first part of our story from my perspective. To say it was a rapid string of life changing events would be a dramatic understatement. Looking back I’m not sure how we got through those first 9 months the way we did. My head was on a swivel at all times – trying to anticipate where the next test was going to come from. When the dust finally settled, we were married and our baby girl was healthy – she was in the NICU but she was healthy. I had to believe that by focusing on one step at a time, we were going to be able to get through this.

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