My firstborn child turned 8 today. For a while there, I didn’t think that he’d make it this far.
It took a while for fatherhood to set in with me. It didn’t happen in those months leading up to my son’s birth when my wife and I watched videos of some woman teaching us how to breathe. It didn’t happen on the afternoon I spent putting together baby furniture with John Mayer providing my soundtrack.
It didn’t even happen the day before my son was born. A self-proclaimed expert told my wife that she was several weeks from going into labor. She said that she could tell by the way that the baby was laying. She said that she’s never wrong on those things. My wife went into labor a few hours later.
Fatherhood still never set in.
It didn’t set in while I was speeding to the hospital with my wife and sister-in-law along for the ride. One was telling me to slow down. One was telling me to speed up. I’ll let you guess which one wanted me to go faster.
I figured that the feeling of fatherhood would come once my son was born. When I finally heard him cry, that would probably do it. Finally, my son was being born. All that was needed was the cry and then my fatherhood would feel official. Things were moving along like clockwork, as they say.
That clock turned out to be broken.
My son was delivered. But he wasn’t crying. For four minutes he wasn’t crying. Four minutes. The fatherhood came anyway. I just didn’t know how long that feeling would last.
Those were the longest four minutes of my life. It’s never a good thing to see a nurse running down a hall. It’s even worse when she’s holding a baby. The other nurses hurried behind her. The rest of us were worrying. And praying. Except for my wife. She was just praying. Out loud. Calmly. That feeling of motherhood had already set in with her a long time ago. So had that feeling that comes when you know that God is holding it all together.
My son finally took his first breath. Doctors and nurses were still worried about potential damage. He also had what those doctors refer to as shoulder dystocia. It wasn’t a happy sight seeing him on the other side of that glass with all of those tubes hooked up to him. I wanted to hold him. For a while, they wouldn’t let me. I felt like a father anyway.
After we got out of the hospital, another self-proclaimed expert told us that our son, “might not have any developmental difficulties.” I just smiled. My smile was only on the outside.
It’s hard to believe that eight years have passed since I saw nurses with worried looks on their faces trying to figure out what to do with the baby who wouldn’t breathe.
Right now, I’m looking at pictures of him. In one he’s skateboarding while wearing shorts and boots. There are no signs of developmental difficulties. Fashion difficulties maybe. All boys have that. But no developmental difficulties.
The boy who wouldn’t breathe can’t stop reading books.
The boy who wouldn’t breathe plays soccer with his friends and runs the mile course in front of his house with his mom and dad.
I’ve had the feeling of fatherhood for eight years now. Five years ago, I got a double dose. I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything. I don’t know what the future holds for the boy who wouldn’t breathe or his brother. Sometimes that can be scary to think about.
But then I remember that the One who took care of my son during those four frightening minutes is the same One who will take care of his future.
And I know that everything is going to be just fine.
Happy birthday, son.