In this little journey of being a dad, which is fairly well documented over the course of the blog, some days are easy. More days than not are great days. Fun days. Days where my daughter walks and says dada. Days where we crash a bakery party. Days when you hear a first heartbeat or feel a kick. Days when you hear your daughter cry for the first time and you know that your entire world has changed. I like those days.

Then there are hard days, the dark ones. Days that you spend in the hospital with a sick baby hoping it is going to be ok. Days when you hear no heartbeat and they rush you to a backroom to confirm. Days when you watch a good friend go through the exact same thing just a few weeks later.

A couple of years ago there were three of us friends from the geeky side of Little Rock who all managed to have a pregnant wife due within a 10 day span. Must have been a Battle Star Galactica marathon on or something. @tsudo, @cottonr, and myself were in the midst of one of those easy days, the fun days, when we got together for what we dubbed our geekup, the refresh meetings we once held.

After a doctor’s appointment once we returned for a winter getaway to Chicago made us realize what a hard day trying to be a dad is like we had an overwhelming amount of support. I appreciated it, but there were two that stood out to me. Both @tsudo and @cottonr were some of the first to not just provide comfort but share their story of similar experiences.

A couple of weeks after @cottonr experienced almost the exact same thing for his second time, and then again a year later. That was after trying so hard to get there in the first place. It is not my story to tell, but through it all I’ve grown to admire Cotton’s strength and perseverance. How every time he gets knocked down at the first sign of good news he gets up and laughs with the spirit of a little boy that he is on the inside.

For those of you who don’t know us well, my wife Brandie works most of the time in neonatal ICU at UAMS. Because of the highly skilled doctors that they share with Children’s Hospital they get most of the high risk pregnancies in the state. The entire staff do a phenomenal job, that is why we chose to deliver there. As with everything high risk there are good days, days when Brandie comes home excited because they delivered another miracle baby that she has helped live. Then there are hard days, dark days, when you get great parents who so badly want a child and it just doesn’t work out.

I’ve learned a lot about premature babies over the years of her working there. They absolutely push the envelope every single day of what is possible, but there is a point where it is just simply not in their reach. Those are the worst days. Not to say that miracles do not happen and a baby that is outside of their limit lives, it happens all the time, but if miracles happened every time that would sort of defeat their nature.

Babies and birth issues are hard on our house, we just know too much. 99% of the time it is a nameless, faceless family that we mourn for. Sometimes we know a little of the details, most of the time we do not. Typically all we know is how much the parent cared, and it is hard when they do. But to put a name, a face, and most importantly a story that you have shared a small part of with that baby, now that is the worst kind of hard day.

Again. It is not my story to tell. For that matter the story is not over. Anything can happen. For something to happen now would be on the fringe of possible. If you pray, then pray. If you send positive vibes, I am sure they would appreciate all the good vibrations they can get. Me? I do both, but mostly I tell stories. So that is what I felt the need to do. Because I know that no matter what the outcome this moment has a bigger impact than just a hard day for me or potential tragedy for them. It can provide hope to someone lost, comfort to someone down, and maybe a little humility for someone too high.

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  • http://twitter.com/erniebufflo Sarah

    Great post. After our own crazy journey to become parents, I have decided babymaking is the least fair thing in the world. And as the wife of a pediatrician and a former NICU volunteer myself, I totally know what you mean on knowing too much. Praying so hard for Cotton and Donna.

  • DPowell

    Hey, David Powell here. I hadn’t read your post about not hearing a heartbeat last year, didn’t realize you guys had miscarried.  We did that in August 2010–talk about breaking your heart.  It is really, really hard when they crank up the stereo on what should be your child’s heartbeat and nothing is there.

    It was a little vague, but it sounds like you’ve got a buddy going through this once again right now…?  I’ll definitely lift them up today.  I hope other things in life are going well for you guys.

    • Anonymous

      Sorry for the vague details. Essentially his wife developed a condition that requires them to take the baby early in order to save her. Which is especially devastating after going through multiple miscarriages like they have and they finally had a healthy baby. 

      Things are going well for us for the most part. A few minor issues but nothing I can’ t handle at this point. 

  • Diane

    I don’t follow Cotton, but Chris does and has shared details.  It’s heartbreaking.  I found myself grieving for people I’d never even met last night. Saying prayers and shedding a few tears for them.

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  • http://kelli-marksthespot.blogspot.com/ Kelli Marks

    I don’t have kids (I feel like I’ve been prefacing so much with that lately) but some of our best friends went through this exact thing three years ago. It was pretty much a ‘her or the baby’ situation. They were able to keep him in for a few extra days before he had to come out. He was born at 24 weeks and weighted 1.5 pounds. For his third birthday, I made him a cake with a dinosaur on it. Miracles do happen and I’m hoping so hard that things will work out for them.

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