Friday, December 7, 2012

Happy 1st Birthday, Morgan - and parents!

During the evening of last December 3rd, I was blessed and honored to be invited to help welcome Brandon’s and his amazing wife Christina’s daughter Morgan to this physical life. Brandon went from supporting his wife during early labor, to a several-hour chemo infusion, and back to supporting his wife in labor for another day. It was a long, slow process. I’d stayed up with Christina through the night before Morgan’s birth, wanting Brandon to get some sleep after the chemo so he’d have more energy for whatever the following day would bring. I’m not sure how much rest he actually got that night, but he seemed ready to go by morning. He never left his wife’s side.

With the obstetrician’s blessing, Brandon had planned to catch their baby. But when the time came, an exhausted Christina needed him to remain “in her face,” helping her focus and breathe so she could continue to push their baby out. Brandon stayed “in her face,” where he knew his wife most needed him in that moment. (And in that moment I learned an important lesson about priorities.) Christina definitely worked the hardest that evening, but her mother, Brandon and I were pushing with her, and we felt triumph with her and with Brandon when 8 lb, 11 oz (3940 gm) Morgan Therese (finally) made her entry. The nurse and I helped place her skin-to-skin on her mommy’s abdomen, and Brandon cut her cord after it had stopped pulsating.

About an hour later and after her first breastfeeding, it was Brandon’s turn to hold their newly born daughter skin-to-skin on his chest. Brandon had wanted to be a daddy for a very long time. He was the one who’d helped his friends learn to feel comfortable handling their newborns. He was more than ready and he was very excited to begin this phase of his life with Christina. Yet cancer and new “spots” on the PET scans were constant companions.

His plucked chicken look this time last year had left him feeling physically sore and emotionally embarrassed, yet that evening his only thought was for Morgan. He asked if it was safe for her to be placed on his bare chest due to the chemo-induced skin breakout. It was difficult enough to watch him deal with the physical discomforts of the side effects of each new and old chemo cocktail, but it was even harder to know of the emotional toll the treatments were taking. The nurse and I checked his skin, reassured him and then placed his infant daughter where she belonged during her second hour.

The new family with their supportive L&D RN
Morgan celebrated her first birthday earlier this week, and her daddy could not be where he belonged as she entered her second year. Of all the pain I feel with his passing, the fact that his daughter will not know his hugs, his silliness, his love firsthand is, perhaps, the most profound. We’ll all do our best to try to help her “meet” her daddy, but knowing him through us simply isn’t – cannot be – the same…
Happy 1st Birthday, Morgan!

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