Josh holding Bravely Belle at the hospital, just 12 hours old.
Hey, this is Josh, Shell’s husband. Since it’s Father’s Day, I want to share the story of how I became a father last year. I’ll save you the repetition of describing the events leading up to the birth of our little girl (since Shell covered that a few days ago) and I’ll jump right into an excerpt from my letter to Bravely:
…a little after three, the midwife breaks the water and labor is suddenly in fast forward.
After you finish getting in position and about 40 minutes of pushing, you arrived at exactly 5:03pm. Mom won that bet (she guessed she’d have you a 5)! Having you is the most amazing and scary thing that I’ve ever seen. Your head comes out and suddenly the nurse and midwife’s attitudes change in a heartbeat. Gone are the calming, slow, and soothing voices. Everyone got really serious, really quickly. Next, I hear Stephanie, the midwife, calling in the doctors and NICU on her walkie-talkie. “No, God, you can’t let this happen!”, I think. I know NICU stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I also know the ICU is where people go if they are dying, or almost dead.
Stephanie tells the doctors and NICU staff what I see; that your umbilical cord is wrapped around your neck. She quickly unwraps it. It’s still wrapped another time. I see your little purple face struggle and fail to take a breath. My thoughts are racing, “Having a baby is Shell’s greatest fear, you can’t let her lose Bravely! Oh God, please help us! Breathe little Belle, breathe!” Stephanie unwraps the umbilical cord another time as a whole host of doctors, nurses, midwives, and whoever else they were, rush into our room. Your Mom pushes again and you’re not coming out. Your shoulder is stuck. Another push, still sticking, they work to free your shoulder and you come right out. Your whole body is purple, you have blood all over your head. You still haven’t started crying. For a split second they laid you on your Mom before whisking you away to a table on the side of the room. While you lay there, I see a purple body, not breathing.
Your Mom, looking down from above just saw the crown of your head, covered in blood. Mom hasn’t noticed that you’re purple. Mom doesn’t know about the cord. Your Mom just cries the absolute happiest tears of joy. She later told me she was wondering why so many people had rushed in, but she assumed it was normal to make sure all new babies are okay. Mom looks at me and wonders, “How come he’s not really crying? What is that look on his face?” My gaze is fixed on the table off to the side. I quickly break concentration, fake a smile to cover my fear, and whisper to your mother, “I love you Belle. She’s beautiful”. Those two things are surely true. Now my tears start flowing. I wonder if they are tears of joy or tears of extreme heartbreak. The crowd of people is working frantically to get you breathing. And, after the longest minute of my life, I hear the most incredible sound I’ve ever heard, your voice!
I felt peace pour over me. I tangibly felt it flowing from the top of my head, down my body, like Samuel anointing young David with oil. Now, Mom has my full attention. My eyes flood with streams of pure joy. When your Mom and I lock eyes, we don’t have adequate words, but we’re connecting at the deepest level. Exhilaration. Excitement. Wonder. Telling your Mom that she was “amazing” through the whole labor process was most underwhelming. Amazing isn’t good enough. Nor are any of the other words I fumble through.
As Oxygen continues to fill your lungs, the hospital staff is rubbing your body. Soon enough, your color, or lack thereof, is coming back. The purple dissipates and pinkish-white covers you. You are pale skinned, just like your Daddy.”
Since that day, I have found great joy in fatherhood. And for that, I thank my “Belles” Shell and Bravely.
I love you more than life!
– Your Father