Friday, July 11, 2014

Three Days That Changed My Life

My three babies
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I often write about my shortcomings from the past and how I've learned from those experiences.  These tales seem to resonate well with my readers, and more often than not become some of my most read blogs.  But today I'm sharing my three greatest success stories, the day each one of my children came into this world.  

I'll start with our oldest son, Ethan.  My wife, Lisa, and I had been married about 18 months when we learned she was pregnant, or so we thought.  We got a positive result on the take home pregnancy test.  We mailed each of our parents a baby bottle with a message inside, telling them their grandbaby would be here that September.  (We lived in Alabama, about six hours away from our hometowns in the St. Louis area).  

One February morning, we headed to her doctor's appointment for the first official checkup.  I remember vividly as Lisa told the doctor, "I don't feel pregnant."  Very coldly and callously he replied, "There's a good reason for that... you're not."  He explained that Lisa had a blighted ovum.  Basically it means the egg was fertilized, but never developed into an embryo.  The news devastated us and we worried about our future.

First pic as a daddy
But those worries didn't last long, as four months later we learned Lisa was pregnant, and this time we'd heard the baby's heart beat. After that boost of confidence, we told our families.  For the months leading up to his birth, we prepped our newly purchased home for Bubba's arrival.  (We nicked named him Bubba because we lived in Alabama when he was conceived.) We took classes and read books, including one filled with baby names.  We broke the tradition of passing along the middle name "Leslie", to the first born son.  We came up with a list of different first and middle names and then all the possible combos of each.  We finally decided on Ethan Gage.

I had come home from working overnights (I did it back then too) to find Lisa sitting in the tub.  She told me she thought she might be in labor, but was going to wait. She encouraged me to get some sleep and then we'd head to the doctor.  I don't think I'd even dozed off when she came into our room and said, "We need to go now." After a quick visit to the doctor's office, she suggested we check into the hospital.  We'd called our parents to start making the trip because we lived about five hours away.  They had all arrived and sat patiently in the waiting room for the birth of their first grandchild.  I waited too.  So did the doctor.  We all did, including Ethan, who decided not to make his arrival until nearly 11 p.m.  

First bath, not sure he enjoyed it
After he was born, I cut the cord and was the first to hold him.  The doctor asked if I wanted to give him a "bath" to which I nervously did.  It was an amazing time, but it was also a huge adjustment especially because Lisa initially had trouble breast feeding him. His sleep schedule was out of whack too and for about eight weeks, he cried every night, only finding comfort rocking back and forth in his swing.  

Welcome Mason!
Eighteen short months later, Ethan became a big brother.  The conception of Mason was unexpected, which was appropriate because his birth was nearly the same way.  It was mid-July and we were still living in Indiana.  I was working somewhat normal hours at that point.  Lisa and a friend were going to The Children's Museum in Indianapolis that day.  Right before they left, Lisa told me she left like she was starting to have labor pains.  I pleaded with her not to make the hour long drive to Indy, but if you know my wife, you know no one is going to change her mind.

So off they went, as I took off for work.  A couple of hours later, Lisa called.  They were having lunch and her pain was becoming more intense.  I begged her to have her friend bring her back home immediately, but she said the kids had just started eating and that everything would be fine.  She called me again minutes later and said to just meet her at the hospital.  So I headed home to get her overnight bag and start letting the grandparents know Baby 2 would soon be here.

Big brother pokes baby
When I pulled into our driveway, my phone rang again.  Lisa was screaming and crying and said she didn't think they'd make it to the hospital in time.  I pictured my kid being born on the side of Interstate 65.  Thanks to her friend's fast driving, we both ended up pulling into the hospital parking lot moments apart.  It was 1:25 p.m. when we arrived.  Mason was in my arms ten minutes later.  Before he was born, I remember Lisa saying with a glimmer of hope in her voice, "I hope I get an epidural."  My first thought was "that ain't happening." I was right.  For as wild and crazy as his arrival ended up being, Mason was a pretty laid back and peaceful infant.  We deserved it.

Baby girl
A few years passed and we moved to southern Illinois.  That was when we made the decision to have a third.  I really wanted a little girl this time.  We didn't find out the gender and waited eagerly for Brooke's arrival.  Lisa had gone to the doctor that morning for a regular checkup.  The doctor told her to go straight to the hospital. I had just gotten home from work (again working overnights), and quickly met her there.  The boys stayed with the neighbor and once again I started the phone chain of getting all the grandparents down here.  

Family complete
My mom was the first to arrive, and she stopped by and brought the boys up.  Even though we knew the baby was coming, Brooke was taking her sweet time.  We'd checked in around noon, and it wasn't until 11:30 that night that she finally arrived.  I remember the doctor saying "It's a girl" and having to have the smile surgically removed from my face.  I went to the waiting room where much to my surprise 5 year old Ethan was still awake.  I whispered in his ear he had a sister to which he shouted to his grandparents "I HAVE A SISTER!"  Everyone was so excited, except Mason as he snoozed through the news.  He'd also threatened early in the day that if it was a girl he'd kick her.  He did not, at least on that day.

So there you have it, the condensed (although it may not seem like it) versions of the three days that changed my life for the better.  

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