Tag Archives: personal

I Get It Now!

Thumbnail“Sheldon, I’m pregnant!”

“What?” I must have been dreaming. I started to groggily wake myself up.

“I’m pregnant!”

Wait, what? I must have still been half-asleep. I turned over and see my wife standing in the bedroom doorway. “What?”

“I’m pregnant!”

Okay, now I knew I was awake and it’s not a dream. The realization began to dawn on me: We’re going to be parents. Without saying a word, I stretched out my arms to my wife, the universal sign for “come here and give me a big hug that neither of us wants to end.”

We had actually been trying for a while. It had been around a year and a half since we had seriously started to try. Granted, certain circumstances that I won’t go into likely made it more difficult, but those had for the most part been cleared up six months before.

Thus began our journey to being parents. We went through a lot of the usual trials and some unsusual ones. We, or rather I should say I, found out the sex of the baby through a genetic test and had to keep it secret from my wife so she could be surprised at the gender reveal. That reveal was one year ago today, Father’s Day 2018, when we revealed to the family not only that we were having a baby, but we were having a girl.

It was a difficult journey. Unfortunately, my wife developed gestational diabetes and had to be extremely careful about what she ate, as well as take insulin three times a day. I don’t envy what she had to go through, but I will say and will never stop saying how much I admire her commitment to bringing a healthy baby into the world.

We went through our usual milestones. I still remember the first time that I felt the baby kick in her tummy. And I made sure to talk to the baby all the time, which will play into the story in a bit.

When the big day came (induced one week early, because she was considered to be a high-risk pregnancy, so they wanted to be sure that it was controlled), I dropped my wife off at the hospital and went into work. They said that it would take a minimum of 12 hours, so I had some time. I felt guilty leaving her there, but she knew that I needed to work. And the long weekend commenced. Hours stretched into days. Unfortunately, it appeared that our daughter was reluctant to make her big debut.

That Sunday evening, I had gone up to my shop to put a sign in the door that we would be closed the next day due to “family” reasons, since by then it was apparent that I would not be going in. While I was there, I received a call from my sister-in-law that there was something wrong and I needed to get back there. Of course, I ended up hitting traffic on my way and it took forever for me to get back to the hospital. I literally ran to her hospital room and told the doctor to give me the thirty second rundown. In short, she had started to spike a fever and the baby’s heart rate had begun to drop, meaning she was in distress, so they had to prep my wife for an emergency C-section.

At this point, we were both getting very scared, although I had to suppress my own emotions to be as stable for my wife as possible, because whatever I was going through, she had it a hundred times worse. I got into surgery garb and waited for them to tell me to come into the OR.

I remember it feeling very warm in there, much warmer than I would have expected. I sat down on a stool next to my wife, who I could tell was trying to hold it together. I knew she was upset by this turn of events, but she was doing what needed to be done. They had a sheet raised over her midsection so we couldn’t see what they were doing. I honestly had thought about taking a peek over the sheet out of curiosity since I’m not squeamish, but I knew that my number one job was to comfort my wife (that and, as they say, if you like sausage, never watch how it’s made). So I sat there holding my wife’s hand as she squeezed mine, almost to the point of breaking. They actually told her to loosen her grip on my hand because the sensor attached to her finger was losing the reading.

The actual surgery was pretty quick, but we didn’t know it. Time felt weird in there, and we weren’t sure if we were in there for an hour or for five minutes. Then they announced that the baby was out, along with “Come on, baby! Come on, baby!” And time stood still as my wife quietly said, “Why aren’t I hearing her cry?” Later, we found out that she was born limp because at this point labor had been going on for three days, and not only was my wife exhausted, but the baby was exhausted as well. Then, to our relief, we finally heard her start crying. They brought her over to the table where I cut the umbilical cord, something I was not sure about doing, but I figured that I’ll probably not get another chance to do that, and I saw her clearly for the first time.

And it still hadn’t hit me yet. You know what I mean. That moment when they say you become a father. I’ve heard it said that a woman becomes a mother when she becomes pregnant, but a man becomes a father when he sees the baby. It didn’t happen that way. I had seen her in the ultrasounds. I had felt her kick in my wife’s belly. I had now seen her in the flesh. Each of these had slowly helped solidify the concept that I was a father, but I wasn’t quite there.

They cleaned our daughter up, swaddled her, and handed her to me since they were still working on my wife. She was small and her eyes were closed peacefully, resting after the long labor. This was actually the first time in my life I had ever held a baby, but I was still not having that magical moment. So, I did the first thing I could think of.

“Hi, Vivy. I’m your daddy.”

With that, she opened her eyes with a look of recognition, like she was saying, “I’ve heard that voice before,” and studied my face.

And that was the moment. With an explosion inside my head, I was a father. In that moment, I knew that my life had led to this little baby and that I would do anything for her.

Today not only marks six months since she was born, but also my first Father’s Day as a father. I’ve had a crash course in baby care and now have some time to reflect. I would say that, even as difficult as it can be at times, based on some stories we’ve heard, we’ve actually been pretty lucky, and have a very healthy, happy baby who continues to develop and amaze us.

Happy Father’s Day, everyone!

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Thanks For Dropping By: In Loving Memory of Ralph Nylander

Note: This is a little late, and while I probably should have had this available weeks ago, for obvious reasons it’s been extremely difficult to write anything, let alone this. Despite the delay, I’ve decide to put this up because I told myself I would and for my grandfather, but don’t feel any obligation to read it.

I want to tell you about my grandfather. No, I’m not going to give you a biography, or tell you stories about his time in the Navy in World War II, or things like that. There are other people who were closer to those stories who could tell them better than I could. Instead, I want to tell you about the man I personally knew during my life.

The first thing you would probably notice is that he was a quiet man. He wasn’t the most talkative, and I can’t recall one incident where I ever heard him raise his voice. He was always calm in the face of adversity, almost Zen-like.

My grandfather worked. A lot. As an electrician, he was always working on different properties and on the move. But even then, he always had some project he was working on, building something, fixing something, renovating something. He was always happiest with something to do. I think when he finally retired, more out of necessity because his body just wouldn’t take it anymore than an actual desire to retire, it was one of the hardest things he had to do.

Partly because of all his work, we always knew that if we ever needed anything, any piece of equipment, any tool, he probably had it. My grandfather was a packrat, something that both my father and I have inherited, although not on the level my grandfather showed. About ten years ago, when my grandparents were moving after having been in their house for more than 20 years, we had to help them clean the house out of things they weren’t going to take with them. Ultimately, we had to haul off two 40-foot dumpsters, something that, just by looking at him, he wasn’t happy about in the least. It was a kind of emotional pain that was difficult to see on such a kind man.

And my grandfather was a very kind and polite man. Another thing that people would notice after visiting with him for a while was…well, it’s really hard to describe. It was as though he always had a smile in his eyes, a twinkle that never left.

Despite his penchant for work (and work he did; right before going in for knee replacement surgery, he was up on the roof of their house installing a satellite dish), he always had time for his family. At the house I grew up in in my earlier years, he had a shop attached to the garage, and he came by often to get tools and equipment, make phone calls, and other stuff. But he always made time for me if I was there and never turned me away. He was a family man, and even as his health was failing, you could see in his eyes that he loved having his family around and was very protective of us.

And through everything, my grandfather was one of the most polite men I’ve ever known. Always kind and gentle, even in the hospital when he was the most uncomfortable, he would thanks the nurses for their help. As the Alzheimer’s Disease did its work and his body was failing, who a person is at their core really comes through. And this was who he was. That kindness and politeness never left him the whole time. He even seemed uncomfortable, not just because of the physical pain, but because people were making such a fuss over him. He was always self-effacing, never wanting accolades or fusses made over him. I remember that during my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary party, while he loved having his family around, he felt embarrassed and mostly tolerated the fact people were there to celebrate him and my grandmother. He never felt he needed to be praised for simply doing the right thing, because you’re supposed to do the right thing because it’s the right thing.

My grandfather loved visitors, though, up until the end. When people were leaving, he always said “Thanks for dropping by.” And even near the end, if we were just getting up to go to another part of the room, he would always be sure to say “Thanks for dropping by.”

On July 29, 2012, my grandfather, Ralph Nylander, passed away after complications from Alzheimer’s disease. There are some who say that we’re only passing through this life, that it’s temporary no matter what you do. I consider myself very lucky to be his grandson and to have had him pass through my life. I’ve always said that people should be treated politely, but shouldn’t get genuine respect by default. That kind of respect needs to be earned and deserved. And my grandfather was most deserving of that respect. He would probably be incredibly embarrassed to be reading this as he hated this kind of fuss over him, but it needs to be said nonetheless. He was a kind, gentle, hard-working man who just did the right thing and led a good life. Someone that others could look up to and respect. I guess what I really want to say is this:

Thanks for dropping by, Grandpa.

We miss you…