I really couldn’t have gotten my post about the anxiety of fatherhood out there any later. Just like my baby girl’s time inside my wife, yesterday’s post was supposed to have stuck around longer. But Keira arrived at 12:51 a.m. Saturday, about 14 hours after Megan’s water broke, so my post, which was supposed to last through the weekend before a planned induction, had a much shorter shelf life than planned.
But I don’t care. I’m now the proud father of, and Megan is the proud mother of, Keira Helen Lee! The whole labor process was stressful, and it was tough watching Megan struggle with her contractions, even though she handled them like a champ. Because the labor wasn’t coming along as planned, a decision was made to deliver by Caesarian section, which brought about a new set of worries because we initially planned for as natural a childbirth as possible. I was given a full set of scrubs to wear, and had to wait while Megan was prepped. And I was told, no cameras in the operating room, just the nursery. So I kept ours in my pocket.
When it was time for me to enter the operating room, an exhausted and hurting Megan was replaced by a revitalized one — the pain medication had kicked in! And she greeted me with a big smile as I walked up to her and took a seat by her head. And now, we waited. We heard operating procedure talk interspersed with gossip about what happened at the Olympics. I felt and saw Megan and the table she was lying on move around as the doctors and surgeons got to work.
And then one of the nurses asked me if I wanted to stand up and peek over the curtain to see our baby. I wasn’t sure what to do; here Megan was doing all the suffering of growing this baby and then laboring to give birth to her, and now she wouldn’t even get to be the first one of us to lay her eyes on her.
She encouraged me to get up and see Keira. The nurse then said, “Got your camera ready?” Wow, really?? Now I get to at least share those first looks at Keira with Megan after all! I pulled my camera out, stood up, and there she was! I started taking pictures. I told Megan I saw a head. Then I saw the rest of her get pulled out and the doctors start examining her. And then we heard her cry! And I heard Megan laugh with joy.
Then I was invited to go over and watch/document as the pediatrician and nurse give Keira a thorough lookover and wipe her down. Although Keira’s umbilical cord was cut already, it was quite long, and they gave me the opportunity to cut it down to the correct size. It was an honor that I gladly accepted.
But an even bigger honor was that they would let me carry her over to Megan and let her see her daughter for the very first time. Even though Keira weighed just 5 pounds 14 ounces, feeling her weight in my arms was most splendid.
“She has red hair!” I exclaimed to Megan as I carried our daughter to her. And they got to meet. A nurse took our picture with our camera (and, as I learned later, filmed me walking with Keira toward Megan).
I then got to carry Keira out to meet her maternal grandmother, Mary. (And be part of their first photo together!) Then it was off to the nursery, Keira still in my arms.
As the doctor and nurse continued giving Keira a thorough exam and lookover, I feverishly kept taking pictures and filming video. These were Keira’s first moments, and I wanted to preserve them so that they could be cherished forever. Once all that wound down, though, and the images I was capturing started to look like they were repeating themself, I set the camera aside and truly took her in with my own eyes — no more viewfinder for a while.
All this while Mary stood outside the nursery looking in through the window. I had to share what I’d captured with her, so I went out and gave her the camera so she could look through things, while I headed back in to be with Keira. I just wanted to do everything I could for her!
“Do you want to put her first diaper on?” the nurse asked me. HELL YEAH! With her guidance (label goes on the front — it’s still all about the advertising) I put on the diaper.
Now it was just a matter of waiting for Megan’s post-operation process to be completed so we could bring Keira to her again. And what a great feeling it was to do that again — the most special of deliveries!
And just like her mom, Keira has been a champ. Her cries revealed a powerful set of lungs, her eyes already are so observant and inquisitive, and she’s already unloaded impressive amounts into her diaper several times.
Guess who got the privilege and honor of doing Keira’s first diaper change? Yours truly, and there is absolutely no sarcasm in that previous sentence. I’m a pretty sentimental guy and already feel so privileged that I got to do all these “firsts” for Keira already. The first diaper duty is just another item on that list! And you know what, I feel like if I was able to do it that first time, then I can do it anytime! That was a big hurdle for me leading up to Keira’s arrival. Now it’s no big deal at all. It’s still a privilege. (I’m aware that down the road, Keira will offer up much bigger deals of her own in her diapers, but if I’m already handling things pretty well now, I should be fine at that time as well.)
Which brings me back to yesterday’s angst-ridden post. Keira has already helped me put some of those anxieties to full rest. And for the others, well, they’ll still be there and I don’t know what I, Megan or Keira can do about the things that are out of our control. But what’s keeping me going right now is that, like all the other things that have happened to me to make me feel so special in about the first 12 hours of Keira’s existence in this world as of this writing, I’m so excited and privileged to help her tackle it.