When do you know a big moment is about happen? Sometimes it is seconds before it happens or you have months to prepare for it. The birth of my first child, I thought I would have nine months to learn and be prepared for the day when he would come into the world. “Sometimes we live no particular way, but our own (Grateful Dead/Eyes of the World).” In other words, I have just learned that not everything goes to a certain plan, but the moment can still be my own. Everyone wants a smooth pregnancy with nothing to worry about and both mom and baby come out healthy. In facing my wife’s health complications, it seemed for moment that we were robbed of this wish. My son Sky came into the world (two months ahead of schedule) and I am stepping into the role of fatherhood. This is not just some day dream where my son and I are just playing catch and I am passing on words of wisdom. This is the real deal!
“Long distance runner, what you standing there for? Get up, get out, get out of the door” (Grateful Dead/Fire on the Mountain). Growing up I looked to my parents to model a lot of social cues and I mimicked them on how I should act. When it comes time for the birth of my child there was no standing around and waiting for my parents to tell me what to do. I had to act on my own judgment and know things would still turn out for the best. I had to be supporting partner to my wife as she went through the physical and emotional pains of labor. As I stated earlier my wife had a few health complications (including high blood pressure), which lead the doctors to the decision to induce her early. Although, we were not totally ready for this we would soon learn that this experience had a magic of its own.
“Almost ablaze still you don't feel the heat It takes all you got just to stay on the beat. You say it's a living', we all gotta eat But you're here alone, there's no one to compete. If mercy's a business, I wish it for you More than just ashes when your dreams come true” (Grateful Dead/Fire on the Mountain).
My parents told me to be supportive and to not take anything my wife said seriously while she was giving birth. What they didn’t tell me was the affect that hours of waiting would have on both my wife and me. It took five days for my wife to be ready to deliver our son and a lot happen to her during that time. The doctors and nurses were coming in and out of her room with needles and they were taking a lot of samples from her. They were also giving her a medicine to help stabilize her blood pressure, which also prevented her from leaving her bed. Even during the night they came to take blood, so at times it seem like some kind of torture. At the same time, god bless every doctor and nurse who helped us along the way because the end result was what I wanted which was a health wife and son.
We didn’t have the dream birthing experience: where we are at home, sitting on the sofa and suddenly my wife’s water broke. There was no mad dash to the hospital and within the day my child was born. To top it off, my wife was not always allowed to eat anything except for ice chips, since food could have caused additional complications. What did we do during all of this waiting?; We talked, we laughed, we had visitors, and when that was all said and done we waited some more. We both worried about not being ready since we had only gotten the chance to take one breast feeding class- What do we do?
The nurses were the biggest help through all this because they came with all their own personalities and senses of humors. They really kept our spirits up and kept us focused on why we were there at the hospital to do. What was my part to play in this? Well the first big thing was staying in the moment. I did this by staying grounded in my emotions, so that I could be there for my wife. This required my mind to do a lot of self regulation, which for many people on the spectrum isn’t always easy to do (especially when plan A does not work.) I was constantly worried about how to respond to everything in the right and perfect way. Then it struck me during this time, why am I worrying so much? As a person on the spectrum, my life was full of social lessons (social cues, body language, and other social skills) and we are being painfully taught to connect with people by our teachers. From witnessing my students and going through my own life experiences, these lessons can be all consuming and overwhelming. It begs the question are people on the spectrum ever truly given an opportunity to just be able to live in a moment? Can we go through something without trying to conform to some unwritten social rule? A day where we are not worn out by just having a conversation with someone? The answer is yes because all I had to do was take charge of the situation and handle things outside of the labor. The first lesson of fatherhood that I have learned if you want different role in life, you need to make it yourself. Sometimes the tests come back positive and other times they do not. This leads to me watching my wife become frustrated with the process, what am I to do? I did not have my parents there to prompt me on what to do through this situation. What helped truly was adjusting her and my perceptive to our situation changes and looking for the positives. How did I do this?
I stuck to the code of Ms. Frizzle of the Magic School Bus, “Take Chances, Make Mistakes.” First, I tried to distract her from all the medical tests, but the stress that came with these tests still remained. I tried to make her laugh, but the issue of stress and the tests still remained. On my third attempt, I had us focus on the end result, which is Sky, her, and I leaving this hospital together, this was the idea that allowed us to keep rallying. Basically, what I learned is that distracting or delaying something does not solve the issue, but actually dealing with the situation is what makes the other person and you feel better. Many people on the spectrum delay a situation, in order, avoid dealing with it or because we feel that we don’t know how to deal with it. These situations are where you see us throw a tantrum of some kind. Thus comes my next fatherhood lesson which was to not give up on my goal because I do not know how response right away. That I just needed to know I have more the one chance to achieve it. Wait a moment, it is Monday morning, July 10, 2017, and the doctor have just told us it is time to bring Sky into the world!!!!
Here is the big moment my wife and I had been waiting for the first time we would look into our son’s eyes and say “Sky you’re here!” Gisette’s body is not ready to start labor on its own, so the doctors had to start the process for her. This is called inducing, where they medically start labor through the IVs and then they popped my wife’s water. They talked us through the breathing techniques that she would have to use and what to expect. However, what happen next can only be described as walking through fire. Pain isn’t the right word for what Gisette went through next, in fact, I would call it a journey. I was standing there at her bed: holding her hand, rubbing her back, and trying to distract her mind away from what her body was doing. We talked about Sky and what it would be like to bring him home, which distracted her somewhat, but soon my wife was screaming through the pains. We quickly decided to give Gisette the magic of the Epidural, which soothed things over and made my wife’s legs into Jello. Then my wife became Wonder Woman and pushed our son Sky into the world and we heard my son’s voice for the first time.
Then my whole life felt like the joy of your favorite song come on the radio and Christmas morning joy mixed into one. In fact I learned about Sky around last Christmas so in a way my wife, just gave me the best Christmas gift ever!!!! Gisette got to hold him first and she kissed his little head excitedly. I was grinning ear to ear, as I was looking down at my son for the first time. Then I got to carry him to his transport cart to go to the NICU. Sky came early, but he is making steady process every day!!! For my next blog I will be talking about my family’s experience in the NICU.