As we approach Father’s Day weekend, I wanted to take some time to thank the father of my children for being the best father, husband, and friend I could have ever asked for.
There are many statistics out there that we could be a part of…divorce rates being the biggest. There is an increased divorce rate for couples who have fertility issues. The rate of divorce doubles for parents of twins. Being NICU parents adds a new stress that also separates many new parents; the rate more than triples for those who have a child with disabilities. And the divorce rate is even higher for parents that have lost a child. Put those together and you’d think we wouldn’t make it.
From the very beginning Phil has embraced all we have and can do together, and boy have we been able to do a lot and beat the odds! A guy who had never been in the medical field, was there helping me stick myself and figure out how to use pumps and devices while on bed rest so that we could keep our pregnancy going. Several appointments each week, Phil would take off of work for any opportunity he might have to catch a glimpse of our children. A guy who thought he’d be hitting the floor in the OR during delivery had tears in his eyes as he saw his babies being delivered. Able to hold Joseph for a brief moment, we watched as Joshua was whisked away without anything more than a glance from across the room.
Fatherhood has been Phil’s strength from the beginning. From late nights with Joey at home (it isn’t easy to keep a premature baby’s tummy full at night), to long days in the NICU with Josh, Phil has been relentless in his efforts to make sure his children receive the best care and utmost love. Phil accepted all that Josh had, and made sure that he learned his care so well that we would be confident enough to do things on our own; to be able to take care of the family we always wanted without nursing help. The nurses at the NICU would even comment on how men usually don’t do trach changes, don’t wonder what happens if a mic-key button pops out, don’t worry about feeding or breathing issues, or don’t make a point of calling doctors by their first names during care plan meetings.
It was never a question, during any of Josh’s hospital stays that one of us would always be at his side. Neither of us could imagine it any other way. There were more sleepless nights than most parents of twin would ever have, and we were okay with that. The most devastating night of our lives, Phil was there for Joshua. He gave him his last bath, kissed him, and watched him grow sleepy. I was on the phone with him when Josh’s heart rate dropped and CPR began. Phil stayed on the phone with me as I sped my way downtown. I demanded that they continue until I was there, and Phil enforced that with the doctors. Phil was in the hardest position of comforting his hysterical wife rushing at midnight to get to the city, and watching his son struggle to hang on. I know I continue to have flashbacks of that night; there are scenes in my head that will never disappear. I know that Josh waited for me to finish feeding him and leave so he could be with his daddy his last few hours, the strongest man he knows.
Once morning came, Phil helped me through what no parents should ever have to do…making funeral arrangements for their child. Even through tears and pain, Phil was insistent on particular things and demanded of those we had to deal with that things be done right for our services. Tirelessly Phil worked on the absolutely wonderful video and tribute to Josh’s life so that we could share as much of him as we could with those that watched.
Phil’s love and devotion to his family has not stopped. Phil was right there with me advocating for Joey during his last surgery, and not accepting blanketed answers to any questions. Phil is proud to be asked on the Parental Advisory Board at CDH, where he can continue to help others that may find themselves in a situation like ours. Not a day passes without Phil talking about or thinking about Josh. They had a special bond. Josh drew out more patience and perseverance than Phil ever thought he had. And Phil cherishes every moment he has with Joey, always making him laugh and smile.
Some may look at material things: the house they live in, namedropping the clothes they wear, the extravagant places they’ve visited, the up and ups they know... but we’ve learned to look at life and the moments we are given. As a couple, I know Phil and I can do absolutely anything. We have a bond and a strength that is not seen in all, or sadly many, marriages. You want to say I didn’t marry well? You’re right…I married the best!
Happy Father’s Day to the Man of My Dreams. I Love You!