I will always remember Sept. 27, 2012, as the day my outlook on life was altered forever.
It started out like a typical Thursday. I woke up around 5:30 a.m. and began getting ready for work. Just as my wife Stacey and I were getting ready to leave, however, she said a sentence no husband wants to hear at 35 weeks pregnant.
"Zach, I'm bleeding."
I never believed three words could ever have such a dramatic effect. As chills weaved up my spine and a lump formed in my throat, we rushed to the hospital, leaving our kitchen looking like a particularly violent episode of "CSI."
By the time we were settled in waiting for the doctor to arrive, our fears had eased a little bit. We had heard about women having bleeding in the latter portions of pregnancy, and figured the OB would send us home with strict bedrest for Stacey.
We were wrong.
After a few tests and examinations, the doctor delivered the news we certainly weren't expecting to hear. Little Benjamin Noah needed to come out via an emergency C-section, and three hours later, we had a beautiful baby boy.
The last three weeks have been a whirlwind, to say the least. Due to a myriad of complications, including placenta previa, the umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck and his under-formed lungs, Ben was transported to Marquette General's newborn intensive care unit before we could even touch or hold him. MGH is now where his slow and steady progression toward better health continues.
I cannot give enough thanks to the doctors and nurses at Portage Health for their quick thinking and efficient care. The same goes for the NICU doctors and nurses in Marquette, as they managed to pull Ben through even when things appeared bleak. He's currently happy and healthy, but still needs to feed without the help of an IV before coming back to Houghton. Although the wait for him to come home is frustrating, and seeing your baby with tubes and wires all over is excruciating, I know he's in the best of hands.
Despite the fact I don't yet get all the perks of fatherdom - outside of weekends in Marquette, I'm living the bachelor life of pizza and cereal in an exceedingly empty house - I'm no longer the person I was Sept. 26. Trivial things like sports, TV shows, video games and the like don't have the same allure they once did. Don't get me wrong: I'm not going to avoid the Packers should they happen to grace my television, but the frustrating loss to the Colts a few weeks ago was barely a blip on my radar. No matter what distractions life currently holds, my thoughts always seem to wander 100 miles southeast.
And that's the way it should be.
My needs now take a back seat, right next to the backwards-facing car seat I hope to use soon. In the meantime, I try to keep busy with work and school, and attempt some semblance of normalcy to keep time speeding along. Soon enough, I know I'll be able to walk up my front stairs, step through the door and say the words I've been longing to say for three weeks:
Welcome home son.
Zach Kukkonen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.