As we got closer to the hospital, it all started to come back to me.
The bike trail that runs parallel to the Potomac River.
That Citibank sign at the intersection.
The quiet, picturesque street lined with 19th century single-family homes that led us to our destination.
Prior to this particular Sunday evening, I hadn’t been to this part of town in a while. Yet, it somehow felt like just the other day.
About 90 minutes earlier, my wife started to go into labor. We’d timed the contractions and once they got close enough together, we called her doctor. Then we loaded up our bags and began the nearly 20-mile drive to the hospital where our baby girl would be delivered.
Once we made our way into the hospital lobby, a sense of deja vu came over me. A little over three years earlier we made the same drive, parked in the same garage and walked down the same hallway on our way to becoming parents for the first time with our son, Emory.
Here we were again, the second time around at fatherhood.
While the familiarity made the trip to the hospital less stressful, it also put me at ease as we got situated in the room and prepared for our daughter’s arrival. It was as if I was a seasoned veteran about to play a big game. I was experienced. I’d been here before. I knew the routine.
Doubt, uncertainty become confidence
With all the uncertainty that had flooded my brain in the previous months leading up to the transition from being a parent of one, to having multiple kids, going through the birthing process for the second time presented a calmness that was a bit surprising, yet very welcomed.
Don’t get me wrong. It was still a stressful experience. Watching my wife go through the physical strain of trying to safely bring a child into the world is nothing to be taken lightly. Especially since there was nothing I could do other than hold her hand and be as encouraging with my words as possible. And sure enough, like the first time, it was a long labor. As the day progressed, the intensity increased.
But having gone through something before sort of eliminates most of the shock value, even if it’s watching your wife give birth. That was me as Sunday turned into Monday. I was ready this time around when the anesthesiologist came in and administered the epidural. And when it was time to push, I knew exactly what I needed to do and where I needed to be to help the nurses out. Our baby girl, Eden, finally arrived at 5:23 p.m., on Dec. 27. That familiar feeling of pride when you first hold your child was back.
As we made our way back home two days later, again, it all came back to me. I knew what I’d be facing once we walked in and settled in as a family of four. As father of a newborn, I knew I’d be on call in the wee hours of the morning to give my wife some relief. Changing diapers and swaddling? Not a problem. I even created a folder on my iPhone for the thousands of pictures I’ll be taking as my daughter goes through her many changes.
I’m more confident now than I was three years ago. Will things be exactly as they were with Emory? Of course not. But at least I have some idea of what I’m doing.
There’s comfort in knowing that the second time around at fatherhood I’m at least prepared. Prepared to be the best dad I can be for not one, but two now.