It started days before. We had gone the length of Val’s pregnancy getting ready for Carter’s arrival. At the first sign of labor, I took her to the hospital. They checked her out and sent us home. It wasn’t time yet.
The pain wouldn’t stop.
We went back again and was turned away. Finally, around midnight, Val was in serious discomfort and I drove her to the ER. They admitted her into the maternity ward. I remember standing by her side as the doc pulled up a chair and watched the heart monitor fixed to Carter’s readout. For almost fifteen minutes he watched before telling us it would be a c section that needed to happen as soon as possible.
I was in scrubs and ready until a nurse came in and told me the drugs hadn’t hit Val quick enough and she felt the incision, so they put her to sleep. I wouldn’t be allowed in.
I sat on a gurney next to Tara, my sister-in-law, and waited again.
Just after ten that night, and almost forty hours of labor, they wheeled him out wrapped in his blanket.
I held him until Val was recovered enough from the procedure to join us in the room. He didn’t cry, shifting his eyes to me and just watching. My boy, dark hair and eyes, looking at me and asking now what?
The dark hair is now blonde and his eyes are now hazel like his mother’s. He has more energy than I’ve ever had. He’s pushed me to places I’ve never experienced before and taught me things about myself. He’s complicated, strong, emotional, intense and loving. He has a way with words that cuts to my heart.
Tomorrow is his birthday.
So thank you Carter, for everything. I pray I can live up to what you need and be the dad you deserve. One day, years from now, you’ll dig this up on whatever passes for a smartphone and read it and smile, I hope.
We love you.