Exactly one year ago, my wife was lying in a hospital bed at Willis Knighton Bossier, breathing through an oxygen mask and crying because our son would be taken by caesarean section on Halloween of 2011 rather her being induced on 11-1-11, as was the plan. God had another timeframe in mind, so Raylan Mason Dean entered this world on the holiday that isn’t exactly our favorite.
They rolled Shari into the operating room and began to prep her as I put on my doctor gear (I looked at stupid as you might imagine). The whirlwind began, and I found myself sitting on a stool next to my wife, a curtain separating us from the stomach-turning gore happening on the other side. It was over in a heartbeat, and
“Who in the family has red hair?”
The nurse uttered those words as my eyes grew wide, seeing that tiny, slimy, screaming human for the first time. I thought for months that I would cry, but the moment was too surreal for me to shed any tears. Shari, on the other hand, was indeed crying and begging for me to show him to her. After the nurses cleaned him up, I was finally allowed to hold him and take him around the curtain to see his mom face to face (he’s been close by ever since…very close by).
We knew our lives would change completely, but we had no idea exactly how much. I didn’t know exactly what colic was (or that it makes time stand still for months), how often kids get ear infections, that he would say, “Ma-Ma” for Shari, “Ba-Ba” for his bottle, and even “Apple,” the name of our dog before finally chattering out “Da-Da.” I didn’t know that I would at times be dead-tired in the middle of the night, but smiling as he reached out for me to pick him up in the middle of the night.
My little buddy doesn’t look like me, nor does he act like me. In other words, he’s got the same kind of personality that first drew me to his mother a decade ago (being cute doesn’t hurt, either). With every flash of his dimples, he takes another piece of my heart. He’s not at all how we thought he would probably be, but he’s every bit my awesome, hilarious little buddy.
There are times in my life that I’ve been overly-introspective, and I didn’t think fatherhood would suppress that tendency, but having a child truly eliminates a large part of yourself from the equation. I’m always thinking about him, always wondering what he’s doing while I’m at work, and praying that I become the kind of father than he’ll need for every stage of his life. Parenthood has been, as it is for all, a learning experience for both Shari and myself, and I can’t wait to learn more over the next year.
Raylan, I love you more than I ever realized I would. The past few weeks have been incredibly busy, and I haven’t spent enough time with you and your mom, but that’s about to change next Monday. Be good for Mommy until Daddy gets back.