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Parenting Is The Best Of Times. It Is The Worst Of Times.

premature baby in a incubator at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in hospitalYou want to know what it’s like to be a parent? Have a chat with my friend Pat. He’s been a dad for less than a week, but already has a lifetime of experience.

“I didn’t think it was possible to hurt so bad and feel so good on the same day.”

Pat had been very excited for the birth of his first son. So excited he shunned most of the superstitions by not only sharing that he was having a boy, but also boldly announced his son-to-be’s first, middle, and last names to anyone who would listen. He was giddy.

Last week, a few days before his son’s actual due date, his wife woke up in the middle of the night bleeding terribly. It wasn’t her blood.

The blood flow had reversed in the umbilical cord. Their son was bleeding out.

The ambulance was called and an emergency c-section was performed. Pat watched as his pale, white son was born. “This white,” he said pointing at a paper towel as he told me the story. “White. White-white,” he underlined.

His son was dead.

“I didn’t think it was possible to hurt so bad and feel so good on the same day.”

For 10 minutes a flock of medics worked on his son. He was given 200 units of blood. Later, Pat would find out that most newborns only have nearly 300 units of blood in their tiny bodies.

I know how long those 3 or 5 seconds were before my sons screamed their first scream when they were born. Those seconds lasted lifetimes. This was 10 minutes of unknown. 10 minutes of wondering what was going on. 10 minutes of watching people scrambling over your son. 10 minutes without hearing that ever so gorgeous scream of life.

Eventually the doctors got that little body working again. The blood flowed, the lungs heaved, and that little guy was born a second time.

Tears welled inside me as Pat told me the story, and they well inside me again as I recount his story here. It’s that feeling you got when you heard the headlines from Sandy Hook. It’s the feeling you got when you hear about the toddler who dies accidentally. It’s the feeling you get when you see the commercials for The St Jude. You and I may not have ever experienced the loss of a child, or the dramatic birth story that Pat shared with me, but we get it.

The past week has been filled with MRI scans for their son and many long, sleepless hours for Pat and his wife – but there is a happy ending. While the loss of blood may mean some liver and kidney issues in the short term, there was no brain damage over the 10 minutes their son lay lifeless on the table.

“I didn’t think it was possible to hurt so bad and feel so good on the same day.”

Welcome to parenthood, my friend. There’s a lot more where that came from.

Postscript: Pat got a tattoo to mark the birth of his son just a few weeks ago. That tattoo means he cannot donate blood until June, but he has made the appointment and plans to give back to those who gave his son life.

It’s a reminder to me to make an appointment too. My wife hemorrhaged after the birth of our first son and needed 2 pints herself. I owe some karma to the universe. Please contact The American Red Cross, or Canadian Blood Services and give the gift of life.

Follow DadCAMP on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or catch up on all of his posts here on Babble.

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Image Credit iStockPhoto

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