What, you may ask, is a 'Secret Dad Moment'? Glad you asked. SDM's have nothing to do with those other 'Secret Moments' that usually involve Mom and if the kids get even an inkling of them they go 'EEEWWWWWW'. No, Secret Dad Moments are those times when 'the kid' or 'a kid' or all of 'the kids' do something to bring Dad to an emotional peak that may or may not involve tears, trembling and out and out sobs. By their very nature they are 'Secret', because Dad needs to be perceived as strong and dependable and 'the rock'. They are not the sort of thing that Dad wants observed, because they make him seem vulnerable, and emotional, and human. But they all happen because Dad loves, deeply and completely.
On May 13th, 1982 I had one. One of many.
Annie was pregnant for the second time. And she was in labor. Arrangements had been made for me to be in the delivery room, which was rare back then. She was in her bed and I was in the hall, waiting while the doctor and the nurses examined her. Suddenly, the fetal heart rate monitor indicated a severe drop in heart rate for our unborn child. The baby was in trouble. They ripped out all of the cords and cables that connected her to the equipment in the room, cranked the foot of her bed up high, and ran her and the bed she was in down the hall and into the delivery room. I heard the words "Emergency C Section". The next twenty minutes were the longest twenty minutes of my life. My mind immediately flashed back to a year and a half earlier; to December 10th, 1980. When Annie delivered a full term, stillborn girl. I remembered the ride to the hospital, and Annie saying, along the way, that she hadn't felt the baby kick in some time. The whole thing came flooding back. The delivery. The lifeless form of the baby. The doctor saying her cord was over her shoulder. There was nothing anyone could have done. And now this second child was in trouble. And I sat alone and I cried and I railed against the fates that made it possible to lose another child. No one came to me and said anything for the longest time. And I was panicked. I couldn't move. I couldn't pace or walk or talk or do anything but sit on the stool I was on and pray. Until a nurse came to me and put her arms around me and said, "Your son is fine." And she held me until I could breathe again. And put my Daddy face on.
My son's cord was over his shoulder. The same thing that had happened to his sister. But he was lucky enough to have been in the hospital when it happened. And I was lucky enough to be there, too. I had survived my first Secret Dad Moment. The first of many.
The idea for this post arose out of a comment I made on Vikki North's blog. She is an incredible artist, whose work I really love.