On October 22nd, 2009 I became a father. I was going to say that I became a father for the first time, but that's not really true - you can't become a father for a second time. Once you're a father, you're a father for life - and no one can ever take that away from you.
I'm not a religious person, but I believe that my wife and I were truly blessed with our daughter, Victoria. The following is taken from a note I sent out to friends and family a day after Victoria was born:
Victoria Benitt was born at 3pm on 10/22. She weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces and was 18 3/4 inches long at birth.
We weren't expecting her for another week, but there were signs that made us go to the hospital a bit early. Once there, while being examined, the nurse lost the baby's heart rate for a few minutes (which was really scary when she called in four other people to help her) and when the heart beat returned it was decelarated to the 60-70 range from a previous range of 130-150. Due to the risk of the decelerated heart beat, the doctor determined that the baby needed to be delivered shortly, and since Thien was not experiencing any real contractions yet, she was started on pitocin (to induce labor). We saw a small contraction on the monitor that Thien didn't even feel, and at the same time, the baby's heart rate decelerated again. This happened one more time five minutes later, and the doctor pulled her off of the pitocin and informed us that Thien would need a cesarean section. No more than fifteen minutes later, Thien was in the OR and another 45 minutes later, we finally got to meet our beautiful baby girl.
In my note, I forgot to mention that we eventually learned that the decelerated heart rate was due to a short umbilical cord. Essentially, every time that Victoria attempted to descend into the birth canal, her umbilical cord got tighter, decelerating her heart beat.
Everything happened so fast that we didn't truly appreciate that things could have turned out much differently than they had. But with time to reflect, I've certainly come to the conclusion that we were extremely fortunate to decide to go to the hospital that day - and also extremely fortunate to receive great care from all of the nurses and doctors that tended to us. They made an extremely stressful situation manageable.
In congratulating me, one of my friends told me that this a new chapter in my life and that I should enjoy every letter. I wrote back to him that now that the first hurdle is done, I expect this to be the biggest, most complex and most enjoyable novel that I would ever have the pleasure of living, and that I would surely savor every last letter.
I've only been a father for less than a week, but the experience has already taught me that I am extremely fortunate and blessed. I hope to learn and enjoy much more throughout this journey.
Below are some of the first pictures we took of Victoria, along with a video of her taken just as we were about to leave the hospital and head home for the first time: