I think it took a full week after the arrival of Emsley for me to begin to comprehend the impact she already had on my life. The whole pregnancy phase was a weird feeling for me as an expectant father. I knew I wanted a baby and was excited to have one but it really never felt real. I would feel her kicking Arlynn from the inside and I watched as the little baby bump grew, but it never actually seemed like we were going to have a baby. It was almost like I was in denial but not because I didn’t want her, just because I couldn’t understand it yet. I think it’s because of that denial that I really didn’t take Arlynn seriously when she started texting that she thought she was having contractions. We were two weeks away from our due date and although we were pretty much ready for her, I still felt like there was things I wanted to get done before her grand entrance. I continued about my day, practicing drums, as she texted that the contractions were getting faster and only stopped when she basically demanded that I shower up and come meet her at the hospital. As I grabbed our hospital bags, I remember thinking to my self that there was no way the next time I stepped into our house it would be with a baby in hand.
Once I got to the hospital, the whirlwind began. I arrived about 15 minutes after Arlynn did and just before the first nurse came to check on her. I watched as they hooked up all the monitors to her and started to get excited as I watched the needle on the contraction monitor bounce around like a seismograph in the San Andreas Fault. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe she was having contractions but now I could really see it and quantify their intensity and duration. That still didn’t mean much to me until the first nurse checked her and found her to be 3-4 cm’s dilated. I knew at that point that Emsley was going to be coming a lot sooner than two weeks from now but still really didn’t think we were anywhere close. I was expecting to get sent home or at the worst, spend the next 48 hours in the hospital until things progressed. I left for a few minutes to go move the car and when I came back I could see that things had really changed. Arlynn was now in a significant amount of pain and the contraction needle was flying across the paper. The nurse came back to check on her and I watched as she seem puzzled and said she wanted to get someone else to come check. The other nurse came in to check and with the same puzzled face said that she couldn’t find the cervix either. Not having any clue what that meant, we asked for clarification and they said that Arlynn was somehow fully dilated. At this point we had only been in the hospital for about an hour and a half and things were quickly becoming a blur. I didn’t really know what all this meant and thought we were still hours if not days away from having a baby. I think I was scared of getting my hopes up but I kept getting the sense that things were happening very, very quickly. Right away they whisked us into the birthing room and now things seemed to be in full production mode. There were staff everywhere and machines and contraptions being lined up all around us. At the two hour mark the real pushing began, but I still figured this could go on for hours. I remember watching in awe as Arlynn focused all her energy on pushing. She never screamed or yelled. I was so proud of her the whole time. Then I remember them splitting the bed apart. That’s when I really started to let myself believe the time was now. And then, after another round of pushing, the doctor said stop and I looked and there she was. The blur came to a screeching halt. Time seemed to freeze and everything else in the room faded away as I heard her cries for the first time. Less than two and a half hours from me walking into the hospital as just a husband, I was now a husband and a father.
I was certainly emotional the instant Emsley appeared but I think I was still in shock for the next few days afterwards. Everything just seemed to happen so fast. I just don’t think I was mentally prepared but now I realize, one can never be mentally prepared for a moment like that. Somewhere around the first week, I felt a huge flood of emotions. It was like my eyes had been opened up to a love that I could never have felt before this. It was overwhelming. Every other love in life is a gradual progression as you get to know a person. I love my wife with all my heart but that love wasn’t instant. I knew I liked her the first time we went on a date and I made the choice to pursue those feelings and it grew into the amazing love that it is today but it didn’t happen overnight. This was different. This was a brand new person popping into the world where my love went from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds. It was love at first sight. A love that felt like I had been preparing my whole life to feel. The most unconditional love imaginable. When a love that powerful hits you instantaneously, your brain can’t help but feel overwhelmed. That’s why I think it took a little while for me to wrap my head around everything. Life changed that July night. It seems like all the other big events in life don’t ever feel that earth shattering the next day. When you are about to graduate high school you think everything will be different after. Then the next day after grad you wake up and it just feels like another day. This was different. Life changed forever and I couldn’t be happier. I always hear people say what a miracle child birth is and it certainly was nothing short of one. But for me the real miracle was the gift of this new love. I feel like a changed person, for the better. I still can’t talk about her arrival without tearing up. I sit and watch her sleep or hold her in my arms, not realizing that I’m bawling like a love struck fool. I’m so grateful for this child. Grateful for her health and grateful for Arlynn’s health. I’m so grateful to have such an amazing, strong, supportive wife who has instantly become an amazing mother as well. I’m so excited for this new journey of life. I’m excited to take in each and every day of this child growing up and excited for what else she is going to teach me about myself. All my fears of being a father and raising a child washed away as I realized I already had everything inside of me that I needed to raise her. It seems cliche to say it, but when you have a love that strong, it makes up for any other fear or insecurity.