There was quite a period where Laura and I kept chatting about the idea of having kids. Most of the conversations ended with some irrational justification on why not to have children. We weren’t ready to give up our “freedoms” quite yet. There came the point about a year after our chats started; we finally exhausted all irrationalities and decided yes. I remember the conversation clear as day to where we sat around our potbelly stove downstairs across from each other in two super cozy recliners discussing what it all meant and if we were truly ready. We decided that the “timing” seemed perfect; little did we know our house was to burn in late October from the East Troublesome fire. Funny how that perfect timing worked out for us.
Not long after our fireside discussions, we confirmed the pregnancy with a few positive tests. Now it was time to try to wrap our heads around the reality of becoming first-time parents. I can assure you, the feeling was absolutely daunting. We decided to tell the family pretty quickly as we knew this was a big deal for my parents as the first grandchild and the first child on my dad’s side to carry the Klees name. The other factor was that we knew we needed help from family and friends.
After briefing the family on the situation, we were greeted with a joking sense of yeah, right, and oh my goodness, this is really happening. In the end, everyone was super excited about what this meant for them and us. People’s labels were changing to grandparents, to uncles, to aunts, father, mother, and we were all nervously overjoyed by the thought of it. Everyone’s reaction was perfect! The moment felt like a quintessential hallmark movie.
Everything was pretty much on cruise control leading up to the birth. Doctor’s appointments all went well, and preparations were all in place. I would hold back overwhelming emotions at every ultrasound showing the little creature growing inside of Laura. Everything was pretty routine as the build-up to birth drew closer. The projected date of birth was July 8th.
On the last day of June, Laura was riding her horses, complaining about how uncomfortable it felt. I just giggled to myself, thinking, like it’s supposed to feel good while packing a full-grown baby in your stomach while riding a horse. Hell, I can barely ride after eating a big meal! Nonetheless, she rode all of her horses and continued like it was just another day.
The last night of June was passing, and we went to bed just like every other night. At about 4:30 in the morning, she said I think my water broke. Initially, I’m thinking again in my head, you think? How do you think your water broke? Haven’t you ever seen a movie before? I mean, come on, you know when someone’s water breaks.
We called into the hospital at about 5 a.m. on July 1st to tell them that her water had broken. In short, they said, yeah, make your way over sooner than later, but with the connotation that there wasn’t any real hurry. Mind you, the hospital of delivery was a good hour and forty-five minutes away and part of the drive being over a mountain pass. We took our time showering and going through a regular morning routine, super relaxed.
Before heading out, we went upstairs to inform both our parents that the time was upon us. Everyone reacted as we did, ok, now what. Restless stirring took part to make sure we were as prepared as possible, and everyone was helping out in any way possible before our final departure.
As we were making final arrangements, everyone gathered around the truck wishing us all their bests while joyous tears were forming and hugs given. Laura and I loaded up into the vehicle, doors closed, about to head out observing the others departing gestures. There were timeless waves and lingering eye contact from all the family as we began the ever-changing journey to the hospital.
The moment seemed to linger on forever as we crept down the driveway. A feeling came over me as if we were all leaving a past version of ourselves behind, never to be seen again. None of us would ever be the same. As we waved to our family, we also waved to an old version of ourselves, left only to memory.
We headed out around 7:00 a.m., arrived at the hospital around 9:00 a.m. Stronger contractions started to hit Laura at about 8:30 a.m. With their eyes wide open, we checked in, and the doctors stared in utter worry at us. We were confused by the look until we figured out why. Their first question was, what took you so long to get here? They thought we left right after we called around 5 a.m., so they uncomfortably assumed when we came over the pass that she went into labor on the side of the road. We both chuckled and just said no; we didn’t think there was any need to rush.
Shortly after, we settled into our room then met the most angelic nurse you could have ever hoped for. She and Laura hit it off immediately; she claimed us as hers. Tammy (nurse) was a true gift beyond words. I really can’t imagine the experience without her. We were fortunate to have her as our bedside angel through the whole birth.
Initially, we settled into the room, and the nurses thought she would have the kiddo by noon that day. I was thinking, hell, what is all this hoopla about this experience. Show up, a kid pops out, make sure all is well, and then head home. It was a misreading of the dilation guesstimates. We waited till about 5:00 p.m. before it was time for the delivery.
The whole time I just helped where ever possible and stayed out of the way whenever necessary. Throughout the process, I don’t believe I have ever been subjected to an equivalent experience ever before…… and hopefully never again. I was to do something and stop doing something within seconds of each request by one person with two very different personalities. There was no right, only wrong, but I just kept trying without question out of fear for my own well-being.
There were moments where Laura was in excruciating pain, angrily yelling at me to stop massaging her, only to ask me why I stopped seconds later. When she would have these moments, her voice changed entirely like a character from the exorcist or something. The flip side was when I was doing something right; she had the softest, most soothing voice praising me as if I was the world’s best masseuse. Those moments were few and far, though.
The nurse was all over the place, helping Laura out in every way possible to relieve any pain throughout the continually intensifying contractions. There were many hurried moments where we were all over the place and other moments where there was absolutely nothing to be done but patiently wait. Throughout every moment, there was relentless beeping of all sorts from the machines reading vitals. All I know is that by 4 p.m. I was exhausted, so I could only imagine how the nurse felt and, of course, how spent Laura had to be.
The moment of truth came, the nurse called in the delivery doctor and a few other assistants. I was on Laura’s left side through it all. The doctor walked her through the whole process before starting, and the nurse relayed it throughout the entire endeavor. She began her final phase of pushing in intense intervals. Three hard pushes in, and the crown of the head was right there. Two more pushes and the little man was born! The day was July 1st, and the time being 5:22 p.m.
He was immediately brought to Laura’s chest, while peeing like a racehorse in every direction, to unite with his mother. A perfect pair, a sight of incredible beauty that only present fathers would understand.
The moment he was born, I was utterly overwhelmed. Tears were streaming down my face uncontrollably while laughing because he was peeing everywhere on everyone. No one was safe from the pressurized fountain, like a fire hose at full pressure without anyone to stabilize the force! The doctor, nurses, and assistants were all congratulating us. Meanwhile, I tried to respond with a simple thank you, but all that I could muster was a bunch of jumbled-up noises. I probably just sounded like a seal while simultaneously gesturing and looking like one too.
I really can’t explain that moment, the love you feel for your wife for all the suffering to get to that moment—the actual sight of the specimen we created right there in front of us staring back at us. No person is ever the same after that moment. That was the most genuine, authentic experience of my life.
We both looked at each other when he was lying there on her chest, giving the “I love you” nonverbal look for what we just created. We squeezed our hands tightly together and had a moment I will never forget. A moment in which love changes and the definition of your relationship with another matures into something entirely different. You can’t ever love in this way without going through this experience, I would argue.
Our relationship became more through every phase, from the pre-conception chats to actual conception, to developing the baby through the birthing process and the present moment. Everything has changed for the better, but none of the experiences were given freely. There was great suffering and many sacrifices made by all to get us to where we are now.
I find the fact that I am a father hilarious as I was always the selfish one thinking I would never have kids. Why would I give up all that freedom and burn all that money? Why does anyone want to have kids, especially in modern-day society? None the less here I am, a father of a perfect child and husband to a woman with who I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life. A woman I am more attracted to now than ever before through a love that keeps transforming before my eyes. A woman who became the best mother anyone could ask for in a seamless moment when she held Roman for the first time. From that moment on, nothing but true motherly instincts took over to make her one of the most remarkable people I have ever had the privilege to be around.
While I feel I have not changed as a person, I know everything around me has changed dramatically for the better. I can’t imagine being a person in this world without the experience of becoming a father and witnessing every step of the process first hand, in real-time. The love I feel for Roman is beyond words, and the transformation of the love I have for Laura is something you cannot know unless experienced. I still can’t believe I am saying these things. I was the quintessential self-righteous ego against becoming a parent, against having kids, against loving one person forever. Here I am confessing my blatant arrogance once again to the world.
I would love to hear your story about your firstborn’s birth and what it was to you. I would also love to chat with you all about one other question; is it possible to experience anything like the birth of a child without having children of your own? Please reach out, and let’s have a discussion over the phone to get into the details.