I guess it all starts at age 2 for me. That is how old I was when my father left, and that is the start of molding me into the man I have become today. As I look back on it not having a father has made me into the father that I am today.
I met my wife while on leave from the Coast Guard. I was at a friends wedding and she was a guest of another friend of mine. That night started a wonderful relationship, from our first date which was 27 hours long, to our crazy long phone calls, we "hit it off" from the start. That is why after only 5 months of dating, even though I was in Florida and she was in Wisconsin I asked her to marry me. 4 months later we were married.
We decided to wait at least 2 years before we would talk about having children. That way we would have time to just be a couple. After the 2 years we knew we wanted to have kids. It took another year or so to get my wife's diabetes under control enough to start trying. Pregnancy did not come easy. I never missed an appointment with the doctors. There was nothing that I could do to help and I felt it was my duty to be there to hold my wife's hand and make sure she didn't have to go through any of it alone. I swear I could run the ultra-sound machine and measure the follicles myself. With the help of the fertility clinic we did finally get pregnant.
I danced when I saw the positive test. I was so happy, not just because of what it meant for me, but also for what it meant to my wife. We had worked so hard to get pregnant. I had always watched my wife struggle with blaming her body for failing us, and tried everything I could to encourage her, and now her body had worked. We were pregnant.
We conceived four.
Being pregnant with four is not easy, even more so if you are type 1 diabetic. I went minivan shopping. I have a standing agreement with a high school friend that if he ever sees me owning a minivan he is honor bound to shot me on the spot. However four did not last, after a short time we were only pregnant with two. Twins are not normally considered high risk, but with diabetes in the mix we where high risk from the start.
The pregnancy was not easy, my wife had "morning" sickness all day. There was a time when the only food she would eat was Campbell's Chunky Soup Sirloin Burger. One day I went to get more at the store. My heart sank when I got to the aisle and I saw they had none. I was going to go home with no soup for my wife to eat. I think the stock boy might still tell the story of the large man who yelled out "YES, THANK GOD" when I saw he had a case of the soup on his cart. I was not going to go home empty handed.
We made it past 12 weeks, the only thing I knew was that we were ok now.
We went in on a Tuesday morning. I never missed an appointment, or an unplanned trip. My wife had not been feeling good, and found something not normal while using the bathroom. I figured we would get checked out, find out everything was ok and then go home. We did a non-stress test, and then was going to have a quick cervix check. I will always dislike the doctor who did that check. She did nothing wrong, but she told me the worst news I have ever been told.
After that it was up to a hospital room to wait. One day with no infection was the goal. The next morning we had a whole team of doctors and nurses come into the room. I didn't want to get in the way so into the corner I went. After the news that we would likely not be pregnant by the weekend was delivered I could not hold back the tears. I am not sure if my wife cried, but in front of a room of strangers I lost it and broke down. We where 17 weeks pregnant, and my children had no hope of survival. I have never felt weaker.
The day my first-born son and first born daughter, Oscar and Bella, were born changed me forever. I became a softer person that day.
That day I yelled at a doctor, cried my eyes out, made jokes, smiled, and felt my heart melt. How anyone can look at the pictures of my children and not see beautiful human beings I will never be able to understand. Looking back at the pictures has helped me in ways I can never explain. The time I got to spend with my children was so short, but we have memories that will last forever.
The next day I lost the car. I walked the entire parking ramp 3 times, horrified the entire time that my wife was sitting in a wheel chair holding Oscar Bear and Bella Bear waiting for me. She should have been holding our twins.
I don't really remember much of the next few days, weeks, and months. I went back to work too soon, and was worthless at work for quite a while. I remember breaking down on the stairs of our house about a month afterwards, the first time I had really cried since the day Oscar and Bella were born.
After about 4 months we decided to get pregnant again. I wanted to say it was a hard decision, but honestly it was an easy one now that I look back on it. I had gotten to the point were my want to have children here with me on earth was greater than my fear of another loss. I also knew that my fear was never going to be less than it was. To this day pregnancy equals fear, and I think it always will.
We got pregnant on our first cycle of infertility treatments. Again I never missed an appointment.
We conceived twins, twins again.
It was supposed to be only one. My wife bonded to the idea of twins much faster than I did. I have struggled with that possibly more than anything. She had a love for both of them that I just did not have right away. I was certainly excited to be pregnant again but I think I was too scared to bond like she did. That love did come, even if it was after it should have. We nick named the kids Dot and Tittle. Tittle, our little hummingbird, is sneaky though, and early on we lost him. I was scared that we would soon lose Dot.
The pregnancy was not easy again. Trips to the ER, and labor and delivery, while not frequent, happened more than either of us wanted. In the end my fourth child was born, alive, and healthy. He peed on me in his first minutes of life and I could not have been happier.
So here I am today. It has been over 2 years since Oscar and Bella were born and died. This January will be 2 years since Tittle died. We see our children everywhere. From giraffes and hummingbirds to stars and hearts they show themselves to us. My wife and I are active in a grief group where once a month one of us gets to represent the kids everyone else forgets about. We take turns getting the honor of doing that. We talk about our kids, all of them, whenever we get the chance. Every night we read to my son Gus, and tell him "Mommy loves you, Daddy loves you, Oscar loves you, Bella loves you, Tittle loves you, We all love you"
I am the proud father of 4 children. I swore a long time ago that I would be the father I never had. I will never forget about my children (all four of them), or leave my children like my father did.
-Father of 4: Oscar, Bella, Tittle, and Gus