Being a dad is all I need

Max being a big boy with his breathing treatment. Unfortunately he's used to this.

Dear Max,

Being a dad is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. I’ll be honest though, it’s also hard sometimes. When you and your sisters came into my life I accepted that my life was about being your dad. I’d still find time to do the things I enjoy, but job one was/is being dad.  I’m good with that.

You and I spent alot of quality time together on Friday and Saturday. Maybe too much. As soon as I got home from work you wanted me to mow the yard. You’re a little obsessed with lawn mowers and tractors these days. I cut the yard while you kids sat on the front porch and watched. Something told me this was mistake though, considering your respiratory history and the pollen levels outside right now. A neighbor came over after i cut the yard and you kids played in the grass until well past dark.

Around 11:00pm you woke up crying. That’s not unusual. You’re waking up alot lately. Friday night was different though. You were retracting badly and we could see your ribs with every breath. You were having a serious asthma attack. Mommy gave you a breathing treatment at home, but it didn’t seem to have an effect, so around 11:30 I loaded you in the van and took you to the Emergency room at Williamson Medical Center.

The triage nurse immediately checked your oxygen level. It was only 80%, so they rushed you back to give you treatment. Several hours later you still weren’t responding to the treatments, so the doctor at Williamson decided to transfer us by ambulance to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Unfortunately, we know Vandy all too well.

The doctors and nurses at Vanderbilt eventually got your breathing under control and we were sent home around 8:30am. That was a long night!

Over the years, I’ve done alot of thinking in hospitals. Back at Vanderbilt where we spent so many months when you were babies, I had time to think again. Sometimes the thinking about those long hours 3 years ago will cause me to twitch and get short of breath. My military buddies have all told me that it’s a form of Post Traumatic Stress, normally experienced by soldiers who have seen combat. I’ve since learned that PTSD is not that uncommon in the parents of NICU babies. A NICU is a scary place full of beeps, buzzers, and alarms – all of which signal that somethings not right with a baby.

If someone had told me that I’d have to spend a night at the hospital again the stress of it would have been too much for me. I would have said, I don’t think I can do it. In the moment though I put the hard memories behind me. I never thought about it. In that moment you were my sick little boy and I was there. We sat there together. My little boy, my shadow, the kid who thinks his dad hung the moon (and mows the yard for him). You wanted to hold my hand. Occasionally you gave me a half smile and I could tell you wanted to play or be silly, but you couldn’t. You never cried once at the hospital though. You sat quietly and let the doctors poke you. The nurses called you “muscle man”. You’re a tough little dude, Max. And I can’t express how much I love being your dad. You love anything that makes noise, you love John Deere tractors, you love to rough house, you love jumping off of stuff. Despite my occasional feeling that I’m not enough, you always watch me and mimic me. That’s all I need. It reminds me that life is about more than me.

I love you boy.

– Daddy


Friday: Swam 2300 with 2100 straight in 30:50

Sat: No training. I was awake 40 out of 41 hours from Friday am though Sat. pm.

Sunday: Biked 55 miles in 3:09 with lots of hills