I remember what seems like yesterday. I was thirty-two years old and married for four years when I discovered I was going to be a father. It was the Fourth of July, 2011. My wife Shannon and I were staring at a pregnancy test while sitting at the edge of our bed. Two lines indicated the inevitable, pregnancy. A sudden wave of fear flushed over my being. Growing up in a Christian household, I was taught to not have sex until I was married, though I had always equated that to “Do not get a girl pregnant until you are married.”
Once the irrational fear passed, my wife and I rejoiced in our expectant bundle of joy. Truth be told, seconds after the two blue lines had emerged on the pregnancy test, my wife sat at the bed crying. I smiled behind her, throwing fists into the sky in excitement. The fear passed like gas. However, my wife was just a month away from graduating an LPN program and had plans of registering for an LPN to BSN bridge program at Neumann University. “There goes those plans,” she said with disappointment.
Over the next nine months we attended a myriad of OBGYN appointments. I was hit with all kinds of unfamiliar terms such as: zygote, mucus plug and cervical dilation. Things got real when we heard the heart beat for the first time. Dimensions collided as the internal was emitting sounds to the external. Family members took guesses at the baby’s gender based on the pulse. We decided to keep the gender a surprise. I feel as though we brought the pee jar, a little clear plastic jar with the blue lid, to every appointment. Sometimes appointments would require Shannon’s legs to be in stir-ups like she was riding a bar bull in reverse. Other times she’d lie on her back with her shirt raised as the technician oozed blue jelly on to her pregnant belly, ultrasounds were the most fun.
Our baby was a week late and this point we had few worries, as we had the nursery set up and all our baby gear, until an ultrasound indicated a breech. Our baby was turned sideways, its head never dropped down. The doctor scheduled a cesarean for the next morning. My wife was devastated. For the past 9 months she was mentally prepping herself like a warrior for a natural birth. She even had an iPod full of “labor songs.” Her biggest stink about the C-section was that the baby wouldn’t be choosing its own birthdate.
I remember sitting nervously outside of the OR. The doctor instructed me to follow him into a locker room. He threw me a pair of blue scrubs, a blue facemask, blue shoe coverings and a blue hat. I geared up and returned to my nervous position outside of the OR. Eventually a nurse came out and instructed me to come in. The tiled room was cold, damp and gray. My wife laid on her back with a blue tarp at her chest, restricting her view of anything below her breasts. I sat next to her and held her hand. The doctor said, “Arthur, stand up… its time.”
From an incision at my wife’s waistline I saw feet being pulled, then the legs and then… The baby was outside.
“What’s the gender?” my wife asked.
The squealing child’s voice echoed off the cold damp walls.
I choked. I couldn’t speak. Tears billowed from my eyes. “I know what it is” was my response.
The doctor laughed. “Well, what is it?” he asked.
“It’s a… It’s a… It’s a boy,” I cried.
A nurse took my son over to a sink to wash off reminisce of placenta.
“What’s wrong with his balls?” I asked. “Why are the so huge?”
“Are you serious right now?” Shannon asked.
I repeated myself, “Why are his balls so huge?”
“It’s a condition called hydrocele,” the doctor said. It’s nothing. The testicles are filled with fluid but the body will absorb it. It’s a common thing.”
The nurse placed my son on his mother’s chest. I cannot remember ever feeling that kind of love before in my life. I know what it is like to love my parents, but at that moment I understood their love for me.