I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M A DAD...
I have a daughter. Who would have thought? Me, a dad.
On April 3rd, 2018, Madelyn Grace Lee was born, and she entered our lives. Day 10 and I still can't believe it. Poor Maddy. She's got to deal with a dad that has NO idea what he's doing. You know I'm desperate when I have to read a book to try to help prepare myself for what's to come. Yes, I read a book people. Miracles do happen. It's the perfect book if you have husbands that hate reading like me. Dudes, even if you hate reading, the least you can try to do is understand what's going on during the pregnancy/labor and what's going on with your wife. Here's a little excerpt on what fathers should do during labor and delivery:
"So what can you do? Whatever she wants. Fast. If she doesn't want you to touch her, don't insist. Offer to feed her some ice chips instead. If she wants you to get out of the room, go. But tell her that you'll be right outside in case she needs you. If the room is pitch black and she tells you it's too bright, agree with her and find something to turn off...But whatever you do, don't argue with her, don't try to reason with her, and above all, don't pout if she swears at you or calls you names. She really doesn't mean to, and the last thing she needs to deal with at this moment of crisis is your wounded pride." - The Expectant Father by Armin A. Brott and Jennifer Ash
Great advice, I'd say.
When Selina went into labor, I was probably freaking out more than she was. She was pretty calm in the beginning. I was trying to be calm on the outside, but I was FREAKING out in the inside. Man, I felt SO useless. While we were waiting for her contractions to come, Selina and I were trying to watch all the Marvel movies to pass the time (we got to Iron Man 2), and she would clench my hand during contractions until she had to start pushing. Only thing I could say was that she was doing a good job, that it's almost over, and that everything was going to be okay. I gave her massages when she wanted, and helped her on and off the birthing ball. That lasted about 20 hours. LOL. During the delivery, I basically held Selina's leg up for almost 2 hours. Watching someone you love go through so much pain is just so hard to do, especially if you can't do anything to take the pain away.
When Maddy finally came out, it was the most epic, amazing, breathtaking moment ever. Yes, I cried. I'd never been so happy. I felt so blessed and so proud of Selina at the same time. So many different emotions - it's hard for me to describe. I originally took my camera and GoPros thinking I was going to record the whole thing, with all sorts of different angles, but I ended up not recording the actual moment. It was an experience that is so unique and so intimate between Selina, Maddy, and me. I didn't want to be away from Maddy and Selina. Words cannot express the feeling when your wife gives birth and you hear the first cries of your child. I will remember it forever, even with my terrible memory. I'm not going to deny that through all of this, I had one huge question that I kept wrestling with. Am I ready to be a dad? Am I ready for this?
People would ask me that a lot, and in my mind I thought of course I'm ready. I've always wanted a basketball team of Lee's. I've been waiting for a mini-me since I was 25. By the way, everyone has said that she looks like me, but every time I look at Maddy, I only see Selina. I mean, just look at the picture below. This was taken after she was born. Maddy even sleeps exactly like her mom (mouth wide open) straight out of birth!
You look at my hobbies and my life and I'm still a big kid. Only thing is that my toys are just way more expensive now. I love geeking out on my drones and camera gear. I still like to play basketball for hours on hours, have LAN parties and play video games all night with the guys. Even during our time at the hospital, to distract Selina from all the contractions and pain she was having, I turned on the NCAA Championship Game. You know, cause her bracket was on the line, and that's important... LOL. I mean c'mon, I still have a beer pong scoreboard hanging up in the kitchen of our house. At the end of the day, I'm still such a kid at heart.
I never really thought about the hardships or sacrifices (mainly sleep & time so far) Selina and I would have to go through for this mini-me to come. Never really thought about the endless nights trying to soothe a baby to sleep, or trying to figure out what a baby wants. I guess I was naive. I was just super optimistic about parenthood and about raising baby Maddy. The days at the hospital were rough. All these different nurses and doctors coming in and out testing Maddy, checking up on Selina, bringing in food, getting paperwork done. There was no time to sleep. It was a little frustrating since I felt like every nurse was telling us different things and different ways to soothe Maddy or contradicting things like, "Oh, you shouldn't hold swaddle her too tight" or "Oh, you should swaddle her as tight as you can". Even with all of this, I think I still am pretty optimistic about it all. Even with the 2 hours of sleep a day, I'm full of energy and always excited to have Daddy and Maddy time. Even her cries are freaking cute.
It's been 10 days since her birth. If there's anything I've learned so far is that I can, at the very least, change a diaper pretty well. I also know I got a long way to go. I might not hold my baby right and Selina, my mom, nurses and doctors might have to correct me, but it's okay. I might have to look everything up on YouTube on how to swaddle a baby, but it's okay. I'm going to get better at this. I just want to be a good father.
Times like this make me think about how my mom and dad must have held me. And probably how miserable I made them with sleepless nights with my constant crying. Makes me appreciate what my parents had to suffer through to raise a crybaby, punk, selfish kid like me. Mom, thank you for dealing with me and raising me. Dad, hope you're looking down from heaven and admiring your granddaughter. I hope I'm half the man you were.
It also makes me think about how God is such a good, good father. I love my daughter, and would do anything for her. And that's how God feels about me and all of us. His love for us amazes me, and I have a better understanding and appreciation for it now that I'm a dad. He is the perfect example to look up to in terms of how to be a father. Like I said, a long way to go. Maddy, please be patient with me and please try to fall asleep for longer than 30 mins at a time.