Tessa’s Dad’s Click

@Tessasdad is another great person I’ve been following on Twitter for some time now.  He is a stay-at-home-dad and blogger.  After you’ve read his click you can find more on his blog here and follow him on Twitter here.

April 4 of 2009 was all at once the happiest, most exciting and anxiety-producing day of my life.

It was the happiest because I got to fall in love instantly with my beautiful daughter Tessa.

It was the most exciting because I waited nine months to finally meet her, hold her and tell her how much I loved her.

It was the most anxiety-producing because now that Tessa was here, I was a father for real now. I was a first-time father a month away from my 37th birthday. I was also a first-time father that was going to be a stay-at-home dad. Most scary though was that I was a first-time father who wasn’t really confident he was cut out to be a good father.

All sorts of voices were in my head trying to convince me that this was a huge mistake. “You’re too old. You’re too selfish. You’re too used to being able to do whatever you want. You don’t know how to be a father. You don’t have any idea what a good father is. How can you be one?” Over and over these things ran through my head – until later that day when I saw Tessa’s head turn at the sound of my voice.

At first I didn’t think I saw what I thought, but my wife, Deb, noticed it too. She commented about how Tessa had been listening to me for many months now and knew who her Daddy was.

It kind of hit home then. Tessa and I were starting out fresh. There was no history, but only today. All she knew was that her Daddy was there to hold her, soothe her, kiss her forehead, and change her diaper. We were starting our first day together and with me being a stay-at-home dad, we were going to get to know each other really well, really soon.

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Jeff’s Click

The following is another great story from an interesting Tweep!  You can follow Jeff on Twitter here. I am ever-grateful that he approached me and offered to send in his “click story.”  Enjoy!!

DOUBLE TROUBLE

So let me set the scene.  It was 2000, my wife and I had been married for 2 years, and we had decided it was time to start a family. (Ah, the blissful ignorance of youth). Because of my job at the time and some upcoming changes with it, we thought we’d try to “time” the pregnancy so as to be more ready for it financially…and yes, I’m aware that all you parents out there are doubled over in laughter with that last statement. That was about as likely as accurately timing Charlie Sheen’s next meltdown.

We started out by saying “OK, let’s say it takes us 6 months to get pregnant…plus 9 months of pregnancy…yeah, that should work out about right.” Besides the fact that we were thumbing our noses at Murphy’s Law, this brilliant analysis failed to consider several factors, not the least of which would be the unexpected enthusiasm that my, uh… “swimmers” would have for the project.  We’re talking Michael Phelps type stuff here. Ruthless.

So, as fate would have it, we found ourselves staring at that little blue plus sign THE FIRST MONTH WE TRIED.  This was a mixed blessing for me.  Of course there was the joy that we were going to have A baby (more on that later), but on the other hand I got screwed (pun intended) out of at least a FEW months of trying! Kind of a rip-off there if you ask me.  Strangely, my wife was entirely unsympathetic to my plight. Women.

At about 10 weeks or so (give or take), we were at the OB’s office for the first prenatal visit.  Everything was going swimmingly (see what I did there?)  Weight? Check. Morning sickness? None. Fetal heartbeat? Check. Okay, I guess we’re good, right? The OB, a friend of mine, casually offered to check an ultrasound. “It’s not necessary, since we’ve already heard THE heartbeat” he said, “but if you guys want to just see what things look like at this early stage, we can take a quick peek. You’ll really only be able to see A little ball attached to the uterus.” We looked at each other and shrugged…why not?

The first surprise, which would pale in comparison to the second, involved the actual mechanics of the ultrasound… a “transvaginal” ultrasound.  (Again, I hear all you ladies snickering out there). I didn’t anticipate the doctor pulling out what could easily have passed for a… let’s say “toy”, slapping a condom and some lube on it, and proceeding to violate my wife right in front of me.  Um…OK.  We can all be adults about this, right?  But then, as he moved the probe around and studied the screen, he began to chuckle.  Now hold the phone here, is he enjoying this?  What the hell could be so funny?  He turns to us, points at a little round ball on the screen, and says “well, what you see there is ONE baby…” (pardon me?), then adjusts the probe and points to what is evidently NOT the same round ball, and says “and there’s the OTHER baby.”

WTF?  After pulling my jaw up from the floor and calling a code blue for my now only semi-conscious wife, I looked at the doctor and through the fog could only manage to say “TWINS?”. No stranger to the look of complete bewilderment on my face, I’m sure, he just smiled and said “congratulations.” That moment is etched in my brain for all time.  But in a good way, not like when they brand a defenseless cow or something.
In short, our lives changed forever that day, and the absurd fantasy of planning something on an actual SCHEDULE became a distant memory, almost like an old wive’s tale. Nobody really believes in that stuff anymore, do they?  But it’s been an incredible journey.
By the way, I still want those 5 months of “trying” back. I’m serious.

JCO’s Click

I met John Cave Osborne on Twitter shortly after Amy died.  After he learned the story, he reached out to me and expressed both sympathy and empathy.  He is the father of triplets, married to a beautiful and petite woman (just like Amy).  The story hit close to home for him because his wife had been through some of the same issues with early labor and bed rest as Amy had.  He has become a very good friend, spiritual companion, and cheerleader.  You can visit his blog, follow him on Twitter, and find information about his upcoming book “Tales from the Trips.”  Please enjoy the story below that explains the road he took to get where he is now!

The Jungle and the Machete

In 2001, I flew over 100,000 miles, visiting places like Vegas, Tahoe, and South Beach for fun and places like Birmingham, Tupelo, and Macon for work. I was a financial services wholesaler; a white-collared gunslinger, clad in a tailored suit—armed and dangerous with my carry-on, the Wall Street Journal, and a frequent flyer card.

After the first full year at my job, I won my company’s highest honor for sales excellence, the Reach the Peak award—an all-expenses-paid vacation for two anywhere in the world. But in spite of my professional success, I was a personal failure. And while this isn’t the forum to explain why that was the case, I will offer the following. I continuously molded myself to become whatever it was I thought people wanted me to be. In so doing, I had morphed from a person into a persona and was dangerously close to losing touch with who I really was.

I cashed in my Reach the Peak award on a two-week South African tour. It was in that foreign land I began the long process of rediscovering myself. It was there I realized how unfulfilled I was, as well as how much more I wanted from my life. I longed to fall in love, settle down, and have children. I also longed to pursue my dream of becoming a writer. Finding love and writing the perfect novel weren’t exactly the typical topics my metro-sexual buddies and I discussed while clubbing in Midtown Manhattan, yet I was at a point where I needed to give such concepts the attention they warranted. I knew that if I was really serious about trying to find a more fulfilling life, I needed to change my playgrounds as well as my playmates.

So in April of 2002, I quit my job and blew up my world. BOOM. Done.

In the months that followed, I was lost as a bat. Many couldn’t believe I’d thrown it all away, but I didn’t care what such people thought. I was deep in the throws of a spiritual reawakening, thanks, in part, to a few special friends and a couple of books by C.S. Lewis. (Incidentally, if you’ve not read Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters, it’s not safe for you to die yet.) I repeatedly pondered God’s will for me, near convinced that it included a wife and little ones, hopeful that it may even contain writing. I constantly prayed for God to show me the way, confident that something would soon reveal itself.

I was wrong.

Eventually, I moved back to my hometown and started a granite countertop business with my sister-in-law. The first two years were sheer hell. I found myself working doctor’s hours at janitor’s pay, much of them in the form of grueling manual labor. My dream of writing? There was simply no time. My dream of finding love? Though I was more true to myself than I had been before, I was still bouncing from one dysfunctional relationship to the next. By 2004, I was officially in a rut, often wondering if blowing up my old world was the right call after all. I grew skeptical that love and family were in the cards for me, but, regardless, I knew that God had something planned and I repeatedly prayed for Him to show me how to find it. Those prayers continued to go unanswered.

Enter Caroline, a girl I had known since 1980, but one I had not seen nor spoken to in over a decade. I was coming off of (yet another) dysfunctional relationship, and she was emerging from the wreckage of an unsuccessful marriage. We formed an immediate bond, and I was incredibly attracted to her. Sadly, however, I knew that our relationship had no future. Thanks to a few different trysts with single moms in my past, there was one thing I was certain of: I was not interested in becoming a step dad. Period.

But in spite of that preconceived notion, I fell madly in love with Caroline. And then something else happened. I fell madly in love with her daughter. Two and a half years later, Caroline and I got married. Thirteen months after that, we welcomed triplets into the world. Once worried that I’d never get married and have children, today I find myself happily married and the father of four. The business that used to suffocate me is now up and running to the point that I’m able to spend more time writing than I ever dreamed possible. Could it be that after all these years, I’m just now on the path that God had intended?

A close friend of mine, Dr. Michael Ruth, recently told me that, to him, God’s will is nothing more than each of us standing on the outside edge of an impossibly thick jungle armed only with a machete and the knowledge that God’s got our back. As I reflect on my journey, I believe my friend is right. God’s will isn’t something that’s magically revealed to you just because you’ve prayed about it. It’s not something that’s laid at your feet. It’s a feeling that’s deep in your soul. And that feeling is what you use to guide the machete as you cut your path through the jungle that lies ahead. That feeling is proof that God does, indeed, have your back. Other than Him and the machete, it’s all that you’ve got. Other than Him and the machete, it’s all that you need. The path you forge with the tools He provides is His will.

I’m so incredibly thankful for my beautiful wife, my four children, the successful small business I co-own, the time I’m able to spend writing, and the indescribable happiness all those things have given me. Not so long ago, it seemed unlikely that I’d be in such a spot. But I guess I just kept hacking away until I found them. I’m not naïve enough to think that my work is through, for I know how easy it is to get lost in the jungle. As I continue to forge my way, I’ll continue to uncover countless new challenges and will undoubtedly find myself lost as a bat again and again.

And daunting though that may be, it doesn’t change one simple fact. Above all else, I’m most thankful for the One who put me on the outside edge of this impossibly thick jungle. For without Him, the machete, and the feeling He placed deep within my soul, I would never have found any of the other wonderful things for which I’m eternally grateful, nor would I be able to continue making my way through His beautiful jungle.

Glenn’s Click

This story is written by my dear friend, Glenn Miller

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.  I’ve not heard anyone to date that disputes that they exist, nor do I know anyone that has gone through the grieving process that has not experienced them all (to some degree and with varying durations).  What people do, however, dispute is that the grieving process only applies to stages of their lives when something negative happens, mostly keeping the process of mourning a loss through death.

 

How often do we think of higher levels or “out of the box” translations to the stages of grief?  In the origins of tarot, we see “Death” as the harbinger of change – not necessarily loss. I fell subject to this mentality many times in the past, but the instance that I recall most clearly came about a little over five years ago.

I remember being woken up from heavy dreams many nights in a row. They centered around themes of people that I deemed older and wiser speaking to someone that I saw as representative of someone younger and more rebellious. Just for a second opinion of what the dreams could mean, I spoke to a friend that dabbled in dream interpretation and tarot.  Of course, she did a reading (as was her way) and drew Death (right side up).  The initial knee-jerk reaction hit me, and my brain began racing in random directions of what (or who) around me would be leaving this world – only to be reminded that the reading in full simply was indicating a change in my life.

Now, I don’t put much “faith” in tarot, runes or other readings by themselves, but in this case it struck home more because of the coincidences within my dreams…  Instead of focus on loss, I began to dwell upon how all things must be just coincidental.  I denied that any real changes were coming, who actually could put stock in dreams or stupid readings?  A couple days later, I started to get mad that I had even let myself put any stock in either medium.  I got mad that the cards ever existed, and that I even bothered to talk about my dreams in the first place.  But, the dreams persisted and began to contort into clearer pictures…  I started screaming out to whatever might exist as a “higher power” to make the dreams stop, just letting me have a restful sleep.  I was willing to do whatever I was told to do just to make them stop.  No one would bargain with me…

As the dreams began to get clearer, it took away all peace of mind that I ever felt…  Until I had a particular dream about standing on a hillside and looking out over the sunset as I held a little boy’s hand.  I still remember holding his hand and talking about the clouds, the stars coming up and just the overall peace that started to come forward.  The day after that dream, I found out that my wife and I were pregnant with our first child.  I knew that it must be my son that was in the dreams…  The older person speaking to the rebellious youth in the prior dreams were telling me of upcoming conflict – my adult self telling my younger self to get a grip and grow up…  I spent the remainder of the pregnancy within myself, trying to go through the motions, but never getting a full handle on how to get over my depression.  I put things in motion to try and give my child a better life – searching for a better job, buying a house and just generally trying to nest.  No matter how hard I worked though, I could not seem to make things “real”.

Putting the gorey parts of childbirth from the male perspective to the side, it took the day of my son’s birth to snap me into place as both a man and as a parent.  I had to look into his little blue eyes to really know that things had indeed changed.  I sat and rocked his tiny self next to a window in the birthing suite and looked out into a thunder storm, feeling him sigh as if he felt true peace and knew that things would be different every day.  I accepted the change.

We named my son Chance, and he has become the true purpose of his name – looking at him every day reminds me that this is my chance to do something right.  Every day is a step within change as he grows up, as it is with my daughter, but I wouldn’t miss a step that either of them take on their journey…

Glennandchance