The day Conor was born changed my life forever. I had many moments in the days leading up to his birth where I would need to choose hope. I thought that might end after he was born. Man, was I ever wrong. On July 28th 2012 at 4:55 P.M. the smallest life I had ever seen came into this world. I watched him take his first breath and heard his faint little cry. After the NICU team got him breathing fine I was able to go over and see him. I walked over only a few feet but seemed like a mile, I reached my finger out and he grabbed it. I whispered to my son fighting tears “It’s okay buddy, Daddy’s here.” At that moment he opened his little eyes and stopped crying as if to tell me “I know that voice! That’s my Dad!” That was the moment I knew I had to choose hope.
I had to press on; Conor was so I had to. After that my wife was barely able to kiss him and he was taken away to the Level IV NICU at Kosair Children’s Hospital. I chose Hope. This was the start of many more moments I would be faced with that same choice.
I was told by one of my uncles who is an APRN that has stuck in my head throughout this whole experience. He told me “Unlike adults, Babies are fighters Jake. They fight with all they have.” Conor was a fighter and that proved to be true very early. Conor was on a bubble CPAP machine for the first several days of his life along with many other treatments. When I made my way to the NICU to see him it was devastating to see such a little body with all those tubes, I chose Hope.
My wife after surgery hadn’t eaten in about 30 hours so she was very weak. After recovery they moved us to what was our home for the next 9 days, while nurses talked to her she just fell asleep, mid-sentence. I had to make the choice again; I had to be a rock for my family. I had to make sure that everyone was okay. It was my responsibility as a husband and as a father to make this situation better.
It was over 24 hours before the Doctor cleared my wife to make the wheelchair trip to see our little miracle. Taryn broke out in tears when she saw him, as she felt responsible for what happened. I chose Hope. My wife’s body was shutting down the night we went to the ER, she had developed HELLP syndrome, about 4% of women will suffer from this. Nightly I was on milk runs from our hospital room to the NICU; it was two to three times a night. The hardest was always about 3am. I chose Hope. All in all I want to let all NICU/Preemie dads know to always choose hope. Your little miracle that calls you Daddy will never not chose hope; they are fighters. Don’t give up on them, as they will never give up on hope.