When I’m not photographing, I’m teaching high school English. Recently, I wrote this post simply as a class example for Tim O’Brien’s “How to Tell a True War Story.” In his short story, O’Brien gives several elements of what factors go into a true war story. Students had to select at least two elements of a war story and write one as an example. My example utilizes that a true war story is never moral, and a true war story has no end. I have the pictures to accompany the story, so I figured why not just share the story online? This will probably be a work in progress as I continually reflect on this day. It took me this long to share the story for the first time, so I’ll continue to revise it in the future.
The day he was born, I spent a portion of the first 24 hours of his life with another couple. I will never forget the day that he was born. I hadn’t gone to sleep since Wednesday night, and that night was spent asleep on a hospital sofa. Those are not made for comfort. He decided not to make his grand entrance into the world until Friday morning. The day started off pretty casual with regular conversation and visits from family and friends. As the day progressed, the contractions became more powerful and his mother had to pause from a regular conversation because of what was happening. The in betweens and tantalizing minutes of every contraction that my wife had seemed like they would never be ending, and he was never going to come out. As the day got closer to evening, we thought that he was never going to come out and that our biggest fear was starting to become true. We tried avoiding drugs and surgery at all possible cost, but it seems like he had different plans in mind about how he decided to make his homecoming.
Finally at 11 PM on Thursday night, close to 24 hours since his mother felt her first contraction, we had decided enough is enough, or really the doctor had said that for his mother. He finally suggested an epidural even though he knew that his mother did not want one, but it seems like it was the best choice in order to avoid the biggest intervention that we did not want. The epidural was a godsend. It finally allowed his mother and myself the ability to fall asleep. Her body kept working, but it was all behind the scenes work as we caught up on sleep, or so we thought. At about 4 AM, the nurse came in and woke us up and said, “It’s about time to start pushing.” The next two hours were the most primal, mesmerizing hours of my life. There was so much power in that room behind his mother, and with each push, more and more of my life was being delivered. Finally at 6:08 AM, my true dad story began.
I remember being so tired yet so full of bliss that this had finally happened. Ten hours later, I had already left him to go attend a wedding ceremony that I had already committed to photographing. Some of you might know the bride, and although I was torn that I wasn’t spending time with my newborn son, I was exuberant to see two of my great friends get married and capture their moments together knowing that one day they would be experiencing the same emotions that I did that morning. 15 hours after he was born, we were reunited again as a family for a little amount of time. That first night, we had actually asked the nurse to take him because we needed a break.
My true dad story had just started, I would have literally a lifetime of memories to fill. One more night without a baby wouldn’t hurt him.