When I was seven years old, my younger brother arrived in the world. I remember the day clearly because we had been waiting for him for a while. I was out playing with my cousins when my mom walked out to find me. “Is he here?” I asked her full of glee. She nodded, and all of us kids ran into the house to meet the little one. That little one is now a doctoral student. A few years after that, I was present at my little sister’s birth. Mom had a c-section and the baby’s father was allergic to all things medical. He dared not go into the operating room, so I did. It was quite the experience.
It has also been quite the experience to see those two little persons grow up and become the young man and young lady that they are now.
Later on in life, about fifteen years ago, I dated a woman who had a little girl of her own. I had some experiences with that relationship that were not so good, but I’ll never forget the experience of being a father figure to that little girl, albeit for a small amount of time. I even got to change her diapers a couple of times. But the relationship didn’t last. Still, the lessons were learned, and I yearned to be a father since then.
When I met my wife, we didn’t talk much about becoming parents. We did joke about “The Child” and what that child would do, the attributes a child of ours would have. As dating turned to engagement for marriage, the discussion was still there but still not quite in the plans. In fact, we didn’t plan on becoming parents until a couple of years ago.
Once we agreed that it was time and that we wanted to be parents (a privilege not everyone gets to have, or not everyone exercises), we got on with pregnancy. It was not an easy pregnancy. My wife had round ligament pain, a condition where there is extreme pain at one of the ligaments of the uterus. That was very scary. To make matters worse, she suffered from all-day morning sickness. I can’t tell you how scared I was for her and the developing fetus as I saw my wife lose weight instead of gaining it throughout the pregnancy.
After numerous trips to the hospital of check-ups, numerous visits to the OB for more check-ups, and numerous moments of fright as to whether or not this baby would join us and be healthy, she finally arrived over the weekend. I went from all the things I was to a father. A father!
Never in my wildest dreams as a young man did I ever dream of this moment, even as I saw friends and relatives in my generation become parents themselves. I didn’t really plan for it, and I took every precaution to avoid it. The case was the same with my wife. We just had stuff to do.
And we still have things to do and places to go, but now we’re at a place where this little one can join us.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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