Rookie Dad, Part One

On Hearing the News

“I am pregnant,” Marie announced. We had only been married a few months. We were both surprised. I was happy and scared. Later, it sunk in, I was going to a dad. Then, I was more scared and still happy.

Complications: A Scary Day

Marie was having difficulties. The doctor put her in the hospital. I drove from Long Beach to Los Angeles. Later, I was informed that Marie had a “tubal pregnancy”. The egg was stuck in her fallopian tube. It hadn’t dropped into the uterus. As the baby grew it would rupture inside Marie and kill both of them. I barely nodded my head at the news.

I didn’t have a clue what to do. I went to the hospital lobby and closed the door of one of the pay phones. I picked up the phone and began to pray, “Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus, I don’t know what to do. Please help me! Help Marie and the baby.” The rest of that time was a blur of crying tears and crying out to God.

Two days later, Marie was released from the hospital. She was fine and so was the baby. Relieved, we came home to our apartment.

More Complications

July, 1974 -  weeks before the due date of our baby, Marie was diagnosed with toxemia. She spent the night in the hospital. The doctor put her on strict bed rest. We waited.

The Baby is Coming 

Contractions are stronger, it is almost time for the hospital. On the way we stopped to visit with an older Christian couple and their two daughters. The younger daughter rubbed Marie’s belly. The contractions weren’t any stronger. We waited a few more hours.

Finally, it was time to drive to the hospital.

The Arrival 

Due to the complications during the pregnancy, I wasn’t allowed in the delivery room. I sat in the waiting room. I prayed and waited.

My first look at Judson Pfeiffer was through the glass of the hospital nursery.  He had his mother’s nose. Pink, healthy and hairy there he was.

I pumped quarters in the pay phone to tell my mother the good news.

Sue, an older sister in Christ came right after the delivery. I was glad someone we knew was there to share the moment with me. Marie’s family was in Puerto Rico and my mother was in South Bend, In. My father and his wife were nearly two hours away.

I drive back to our apartment, happy, relieved and tired.

Home Coming 

The nurse wheeled Marie and the baby to the car. I helped Marie into the car. I handed her Judson. As we drove away, I smiled and thought, “Good. Now I have my own family.”

The joy stayed for awhile. It came and went over the next days and weeks. The fear of not knowing what to do was my constant companion.

We Do What We Know

Too bad I didn’t know much as a new dad. I never got any advice from my dad or other dads. I never thought to ask. I didn’t want to admit I had no clue how to be  a dad. So, lacking guidance, I remained in my ignorance.

I did what I know, 

And when I knew

better … I did better. 

-Maya Angelou

 

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