‘Dad, grab a leg.’ Wait, what? Aren’t I supposed to be all scrubbed up, brushing the hair out of her face while she pushes?’: New dad says being a parent ‘has been the best investment I ever made’

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“I’m fairly new to parenthood. My wife and I have a 6-month-old baby boy. Let me tell you, it has been a ride! It’s definitely exhausting but becoming a dad has been the best investment I have ever made.

Alright, I get it, you were looking for some quick stock tips or how I made $5 million-day trading cryptocurrency. You might also think becoming a dad is not an actual investment. If you think you aren’t pouring time and energy into parenthood in the hopes you raise someone who adds value to society, you’re sadly mistaken. Plus, there are all kinds of other benefits. In order to understand the end, I must describe the beginning.

Let me first start off by explaining how everything went down. Not the part that took 11 months of trying, I’m talking about the rush to the hospital.

My wife had been laboring since 3 in the morning and left me a note before heading into work.

Courtesy Sean McCarthy

She worked all day through her labor pains and finally made it home around 4 p.m. During the day, she had sent me a text saying, ‘I think I’ll be okay. The contractions have lessened a little bit.’

Before going into the hospital, one of her primary requests, above all possible things, was ice cream. We had discussed this the day before. I had hesitations about leaving her unless we were sure she would be okay.

Let me tell you though, you get a pregnant woman what she wants when she wants it.

There I was in the McDonald’s drive-thru for an Oreo Flurry. To my surprise, the ice cream machine was down. Figures. I drove over to Sonic to grab her a Reese’s Sonic Blast and then swung by the gas station to fill up. Everything needed to be ready in case we had to leave in a hurry.

I had been texting my wife back and forth to make sure everything was still alright. It was all pretty typical conversation: ‘Do you want me to pick something up or cook for dinner?’ Then out of nowhere, I got it.

‘When you get home, I think we need to go to the hospital.’ This was the text that would change my life.

My heart rate spiked. I could feel my pulse in my temple and a pit in my stomach. There were so many different thoughts swirling around in my head… excitement, anxiety, fear, elation.

‘Pumping gas, be there in a few.’

As soon as I got home, it was a mad dash to get everything in the car. This is what we had been preparing for. This was not a drill.

I was hauling tail (putting it nicely) to get to the hospital. My wife wanted me to slow down, so I didn’t get pulled over.

There was no pulling me over. Hazard lights would be turned on. I would arrive safely at the hospital with a parade of blue lights if need be.

My son was not going to be delivered in the back seat of her Mazda.

We pulled up to the hospital and I think I was on her side before she even unbuckled her seatbelt. I helped her out of the car, making sure to grab the essentials: Sonic Blast and her pink Kate Spade purse.

As we went towards the hospital door, I was caught between running ahead to alert someone and making sure she safely got to the sidewalk. Once I could see she was safe, I stormed into the hospital and notified all of the staff, ‘My wife is in labor!’ I stood there, Sonic Blast in one hand, Kate Spade purse in the other, waiting for everything to happen.

Nothing happened, no dramatic alarm rang, no delivery team came rushing out… nothing.

The lady at the front desk very calmly asked where my wife was, if she was alright, and if I was a first-time parent. The expression and urgency in my voice probably didn’t give that one away.

I grabbed a folded-up wheelchair. It was a child’s size and I couldn’t get the dang thing unfolded. The nurse grabbed a different one and unfolded it for me. I got in the revolving door and was slowly wheeling around.

‘Doesn’t this thing know my wife is in labor? No sense of urgency, I swear!’

We got an escort through the staff area of the hospital and rode up the slow elevator.

We finally made it to Labor and Delivery. I filled out all of the paperwork because, at that point, my wife’s entire body was shaking. I think mine was, too, based off of my scribbling.

We got situated in a triage room, and my wife was checked to see how far dilated she was.

Basically, I felt helpless and like I was there for moral support. I would rub her back, but every time her 3-minute-long contractions would kick up, her heart rate would spike.

As I could see the numbers climbing on the monitor, I would start pushing my thumbs deeper into the muscles of her back, subconsciously, until she had to tell me to stop.

If I was hooked up to that same machine, my heart rate would have probably had a similar reading to hers.

Fortunately, we were moved into the delivery room shortly after so she could receive her epidural. I was told it would only take about 15 to 20 minutes. I paced the waiting room for about 40 minutes before asking a nurse what was going on.

She said sometimes it can take a little bit longer and not to worry.

I went back to the waiting room and struck up a conversation with a very friendly lady. She was there for the birth of her grandson. Her family had ordered Popeye’s and offered me a plate. Given I hadn’t eaten since noon and it was around 5:30 or 6 (I get hangry), I was very grateful. If you’re the nice lady who suppressed my hanger and you are reading this, thank you so much!

Shortly after shoveling a biscuit and some chicken down my throat, I was called into our delivery room. Everything was perfectly fine, and my wife was in rare form.

She was cracking jokes at my expense to the nurses! She was just sitting there, eating a popsicle I grabbed for her, like it was any other day.

Our parents showed up not long after. My wife was lifting her legs up and down, insisting we ‘look at her mermaid flippers.’ She had these yellow socks (provided by the hospital) that looked like they belonged to an NFL lineman. They were hanging off of her tiny feet!

We all laughed and talked for a while, made some calls to family, and prepared for the grand finale.

Our parents left and sat patiently in the waiting room, excited for this next chapter of our lives, knowing the magnitude of change we were about to undergo.

After some checking and prodding around for a couple of hours or so, the nurse looked at me and said, ‘Dad, grab a leg.’

Wait…what? Aren’t I supposed to be all scrubbed up, holding her hand, and brushing the hair out of her face while she pushes? I’m supposed to be comfort-breathing and coaching her through it, right?

Nope.

The nurse had a leg, I had a leg, and I was about to help deliver our son. She pushed like a champ and not too long after, the nurse paged for the delivery team.

The door burst open and it seemed like everyone and their mother showed up! This was the urgency I expected when I first got to the hospital.

The team quickly went to work as my wife gave some final pushes.

There he was, so small and so fragile. Our little boy came into this world weighing 6 pounds and 13 ounces. His cries immediately brought us both to tears.

I got the honors of cutting the cord. He was then quickly wiped off and placed on my wife’s chest for skin to skin.

I remember saying, ‘That was the craziest sh*t I have ever experienced in my life,’ and everyone in the room started laughing. That statement still stands. Having a child is the best investment I have ever made. It was absolutely amazing, and I will never fully be able to describe that experience to anyone.

Parenthood is tough, really tough, and everyone tries to tell you. Unfortunately, you really can’t explain to anyone the complete depth of how your life will forever change. Parents get it. They’ve been there, wading through dirty diapers and spit-up rags at 3 in the morning when they have to be up in a couple of hours.

They’ve peeled slimy, green stained onesies off their child’s body, only to vigorously scrub yesterday’s green bean puree out of it under hot water. They listen to ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ until their ears bleed.

We always say, ‘I wouldn’t change it for the world.’ Why?

I tell you it’s my best investment, but if it’s so hard, then why and how could I possibly want that for anyone else?

Nothing worth doing ever came easy, that’s why.

The rewards are absolutely unbelievable. I wake up every morning and walk into my son’s room to open the curtains. As his eyes adjust and he squints a little to see me, his face lights up. Behold, the most amazing, heart-melting smile.

He loves me, and I absolutely love him.

I would kill for him, and I mean that in the sincerest way.

Loving your child is an entirely different type of love. It’s protective, endless, and overwhelming. You feel as if your cup is not just full but overflowing.

You ultimately become a better person. You’re stronger and what you thought was exhausting before is laughable now. It’s as if you’ve unlocked a completely new level in all aspects of your life: drive, motivation to succeed, passion, desire to provide. This is the absolute best investment because you receive pure happiness in return.

Sure, it’s expensive over the long run and according to Investopedia, it costs over $230,000 to raise a child until they’re 18 on average. This works out to about $13,000 each year. That’s no small chunk of change!

However, you truly cannot put a price on raising this little human being who relies so heavily on you to guide them throughout life. I know, I know, there are parents out there screaming, ‘Wait till they turn 13!’

That’s when they are especially adorable with their collective teenage hatred for parents. I’ll cross that road when I get there. It’s my hope that my wife and I raise our son to be respectful and caring.

Honestly, having a child through the ups and downs has permanently altered my outlook on life in the best possible way. There’s added risk in each decision I make, but my motivation to provide and to succeed has never been higher. I have such a strong desire to give back to future generations and to ensure my son won’t know some of the struggles I endured growing up.

I cannot wait to teach him all I have learned and watch as he surpasses me one day.

For my son, I would go to the edge of the world, and I would tame lions. I have been entirely transformed and I owe it to that tiny little person. Being his father is by far my single best investment and it pays the best kinds of dividends, the ones with love.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Sean McCarthy. Visit his website here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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