The nurse helped mom and baby with the breast latch. This was nature, again, working its miracles. And another historic moment for me, watching mom and baby in the eternal relationship of reproduction.
Here we were together, feeling as if time were frozen. After enjoying this experience for an hour or so, while the nurse completed the routine checkup and questionnaire, my wife was ready for her mom to enter the recovery room. It was a pleasure to witness the interaction between Nikki, her own mom and Oliver. I wish I had the words to communicate these special, timeless moments. The joy and love emanating from my mother-in-law was beautiful.
We then moved to the post-birth suite, where we were able to introduce our immediate family to our little guy. Introducing Oliver to my parents was another monumental moment that brought joy and wonder to my heart. I was witnessing life and reproduction through generations.
I thought to myself, “We had made this child together.” And my amazing, brave, strong, loving wife had played her part in nature’s most wonderful process. It happens all the time, all over the world, for myriad different species, but, for me, it’s still such an incredible wonder. During this time, our family was the centre of the universe, and this tremendously emotional and spiritual experience was raw, powerful and exciting.
After introducing Oliver to everyone and spending some time with our close family and friends, the three of us needed privacy. This first day was euphoric. We still hadn’t slept much in the previous 36 hours, but here we were, in this little hospital room. Life had changed forever. Nikki was exhausted and relatively immobile from the operation and lack of sleep. Filled with joy, we were able to experience our first day as a new three-person family.
I felt this was exactly where I was supposed to be. The confusion I had experienced in life, mostly associated with fitting into a world I didn’t understand at times, was gone. This made sense to me; being a father and participating in the reproduction of our species seemed to calm me and relieve the discomfort and lost feelings I had previously felt on this path called life.
I was proud of myself for my recent spiritual and personal growth, which enabled me to enjoy this moment more than I could’ve imagined. In the past, I was always at odds with the world and the way it worked. The year prior to my son’s birth was a wonderful year for me. I had experienced many great personal achievements, growing spiritually, emotionally and mentally. I was getting into better physical shape and improving my cognitive skills.
Other than a couple of nurse visits and Oliver’s first bath, we were able to enjoy each other’s presence and finally get a bit of sleep. I felt nature’s immense instinctual pull and awareness toward my son. This was a sensation I’d never felt before. With Nikki exhausted and groggy from the medication and operation, I spent a lot of this first night in a strenuous battle against my eyelids. I didn’t want to sleep. Actually, I did want to sleep, but the instinctual vacuum I felt toward my son was too powerful. Until Nikki got some sleep and was able to rest, I don’t think I got more than an hour of broken sleep through the night of labour and the first night with our son.
My new best friend was the nurse’s button on the hospital bed. It was a lifeline, an amazing resource I suggest everyone use as much as possible. The nurses were a huge help that first night as we began our experience being parents.
Making the decision to move forward with the operation brought relief to us; the moment was very near. It’s hard to fully express the emotions that had built up over the past nine months, to this climax. My wife was taken to the operating room on her own and was too fatigued to fully express her emotions. This was our first time apart during the labour process, and it was an anxious moment for us, knowing that we were so close to meeting our baby.
I entered the waiting area of the operating room. I was alone, and it was very quiet. Waves of emotion and excitement were constantly rushing through my body. I gave myself a pep talk in order to prepare for this monumental event. I have recently incorporated meditation and prayer into my life, and this was a big moment for me to use them. It was an intense time, as I waited, all alone, to be called into the operating room. I turned on meditation music from my phone and had a nice, quiet 10- to 15-minute meditation.
“Mr. Stroh, please come into the room.” Walking into the room in my hospital gear and seeing Nikki on the table brought everything full circle. It was happening; this was the moment we’d been waiting for: a whole 41 weeks and 17 hours. I felt emotional, but confident and calm. I was ready and excited.
I know many people have a calling for certain things. Personally, I’ve always felt deep down inside that my calling was to be a parent. Holy smokes! This was it.
I sat down beside Nikki, after taking a quick peek at the operation. My strong, brave wife was lying on the operating table, looking as if she were pinned to a cross. I was amazed and proud of her toughness; she was, again, showing me why she’s my hero.
In my opinion, “birth” is nature’s most beautiful process. Females have been programmed for myriad years for this moment. I comforted her and reminded her to keep breathing deeply, while continuing to encourage her. She was shaking from the operation and the drugs.
I was notified that the baby’s arrival was imminent. I felt another rush of emotion and excitement, and I got a chill from head to toe. One of the nurses made sure I had the camera ready. The doctor said, “OK, here is the baby!” I stood up, peered over the curtain and laid my eyes on our first-born child. Emotional and elated, I called out, “It’s a boy!” All the waiting, the build-up of emotion, the long, sleepless night, the hours and months I had spent thinking about this had reached the pinnacle.
Staring me right in the face was his bright-red scrotum. He was covered in blood and crying away, letting us know that Oliver Hayden Stroh had arrived. I knelt and gave my wife a kiss, telling her our child was a boy, then reminded her what an incredible job she’d done and how proud I was of her.
The nurses brought him around the curtain to show mom quickly before they got him cleaned up and ready for us. His head was warped and cone-shaped from the struggle he had, trying to pass through the birth canal. He was just too big: 9 pounds, 6 ounces! The doctor pretty much instantly said this guy wasn’t ever going to arrive from a vaginal birth. It would’ve been nice for them to tell us he was such a monster and that he probably wouldn’t ever have been born via a vaginal birth. Maybe we could have avoided the long labour process.
Hospital staff cleaned him up and brought him over to rest on mom briefly for some skin-to-skin. I then had the pleasure of cutting what was left of his umbilical cord. Oliver was then nicely swaddled, complete with his hospital hat, and was placed in my arms. It’s hard not to repeat myself, but this was another moment of unexplainable emotion. I was here, a proud and excited father.
I know babies can’t see too well right away, but he looked up at me and started to open and close his mouth. “Where is the boobie? Where is the boobie? I want the boobie!” I imagined him thinking. I told him to be patient; mommy would be with him shortly.
Elated, I held him as close to mom as possible. Time was frozen for me at this moment, as the doctors finished up the operation. Again, I was tingling from head to toe. This was, by far, my most incredible and unexplainable experience. This was heaven on Earth, if there is such a thing.
The doctors and nurses were amazing. I was, and still am, grateful for the wonderful care we received. We then moved to the recovery room, where mom, dad and Oliver were finally together.