Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Father’s Day: Nostalgic Grief & Helping Out Dads

Father’s Day elicits a weird type of nostalgic grief for me. That may sound a bit odd, considering I’m not a father (or a man, for that matter) and my father is alive and well and we’ve always had a good relationship. It’s a grief I probably don’t share with my husband, either because he could go the entire year without celebrating a single holiday and never notice. But my husband’s first Father’s Day, in 2013, as he looked at and (restrictively) cared for our 2-pound son, was really the day I realized that fatherhood came knocking loud and hard and rudely at my husband’s door, and how he took it with such stride. He was SO proud of his son, that it almost made the whole new-to-parenthood thing seem somewhat normal.

Looking back, our 103-day NICU stay for our 26 weeker was a blur in the beginning. We coped well; both my husband and I were emotionally in good places (albeit completely exhausted). But one thing that was honestly not on my mind much, and I’m sure somewhat understandably, was how I could have bene helpful and supportive of my husband during this time. So often with new babies, the mom receives the attention and most of the sympathy. Dads are the other parent too, though. And looking back, these are just a couple of things I would give my past-self some advice on. [Read more]

Thanking My Husband on Father’s Day: Showing Love in the NICU

My husband was not new to being a dad when our preemie was born 3 months before her due date. In fact, as our third child and third daughter at that, he felt experienced and confident as we looked forward to her birth. That changed when we found ourselves looking at her through the barrier […]

The Moment I Became a Dad

There we were, sitting in a dimly lit room preparing ourselves for our 24-week ultrasound. The sonographer reached for the gel bottle as my wife unveiled her emerging baby bump. She gave the bottle a gentle squeeze and not-so-gentle sound broke the silence. I am not sure what it is about these gel bottles, but I am […]

The Night I Met My Son

The night I met my son will forever live in my mind as one of the scariest, loneliest, yet happiest nights of my life.

My wife gave birth to our first child more than 100 days before he was supposed to be born. I wasn’t even mentally prepared to be a dad, even though we planned the pregnancy and had a due date. I just figured I had more time to get ready, but I was wrong. At six o’clock in the evening, I was eating dinner and getting ready to play softball when my wife came home in tears. By 7:33 that night, our son was born. So much happened in those 90 minutes, it is still hard to believe. I experienced fear, anger, anxiety, frustration, sorrow and the thought that I might lose my son and my wife on a hot summer night in which I was supposed to be playing a game instead of contemplating starting my life over. [Read more]

Expecting After a Preemie: A Worrier’s Journey to Joy

Over the years, my wife has asked me many questions seconds after I fall asleep. Typically her questions cycle through the topics of shutting the garage, taking out the trash, locking the front door, or hearing a sound outside. Her timing is impeccable.

“Do you think Sloane will be a good big sister?”

This was a new one.

Despite its uniqueness, I handled the question exactly as I would any other as I drifted off to sleep: I plugged it into my mental autopilot answer-creating algorithm. While it sounds fancy, it’s actually pretty simple. All I have to do is not think about the question, quickly generate three facts that may or may not be valid, grunt out a single word response, and resume sleeping. It is a technique I have mastered to combat my wife’s sleep depriving precision.

For this question, my brain considered the following facts:

Fact: Sloane is an only child and only grandchild.

Fact: Sloane has a great-grandmother, three grandmothers, and two grandfathers all living within ten minutes of her.

Fact: Sloane has twenty-two pairs of shoes. Sloane doesn’t wear shoes.

My subconscious formed its conclusion: In her eleven months on earth, Sloane has been the lead singer in a solo band and has enjoyed every second of it. Move over Celine, we have a new diva in the making. This was an easy one. I chose my single-word response, grunted “nope,” and drifted off to the sweet sounds of Celine singing “My Heart Will Go On.” When my wife didn’t respond, the safety feature in my mental autopilot answer-creating algorithm kicked in. I roused and uttered the word, “why.”

I haven’t slept since. [Read more]