Thursday, June 11, 2009

Not Quite a Father

I am a pseudo-father. Chloe and Bryce are 16 days old today (and doing fantastic, by the way). In the past two weeks, I have not gagged while changing a smelly diaper. I have not been awakened in the middle of the night by a hungry baby. I have not paced around the house while rocking an inconsolable child. Heck, I don't even have a crib for one of the twins. And yet, I am a "father" of three.

Christie and I have relinquished our role as parents to a little plastic box. There is no doubt in my mind that the twins are my offspring, but I don't feel like they are my children. For the next three months, we will wait, watch and worry as Bryce and Chloe struggle to overcome more medical challenges than most people will face in a lifetime. Even if (when!) we beat the odds and bring home two "healthy" babies, they will always be at higher risk for countless medical problems. Though we will love and cherish them no matter what, as a parent, it is hard to know that your children are coming into the world at a disadvantage. It is especially hard to know that, for the time being, there is virtually nothing that we can do to support them in their time of need.

During the past month, we have often found ourselves mourning the loss of the normal pregnancy, and the feelings of unconditional joy and closure typically associated with the birth of a child. I'd be lying if I said part of this wasn't selfish longing for the "simple" task of caring for healthy, full-term babies. However, the lion's share of our grief is grounded in our inability to fulfill the role that nature intended. I want to change those poopy diapers. I want to feed my hungry children. I want to help them feel happy and safe. I want to be their real father.

... and I think I will be. The subject of this post may lead you to believe that I'm angry or depressed. Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm thrilled and immensely grateful that the twins are doing well. So well, in fact, that we no longer feel that the next crisis is both certain and imminent. As we begin the second month of 'A Twin Story', Christie and I are optimistic that we will soon be able to show Chloe and Bryce how much they mean to us. However, since I didn't have any interesting medical news or cute pictures to share, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on what it feels like to have two children in the NICU. Although this has been one of the most difficult experiences of our lives, it has given both of us a new perspective on life and our role as parents. A few months or years from now, I hope that I'll be able to look back on this post, when the kids are being difficult or demanding, to remind myself how much I cherish the opportunity to be their father. Furthermore, I hope that all the parents out there who've read this far will take a moment to appreciate the profound gift they've been given: there really is nothing that compares.

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  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and's unimaginable what you're going through...but Chloe and Bryce (Logan too!) are very lucky to have the parents they've got...while your support for the twins is not medical or tangible, I truly believe that there is energy and love between all of you that at least partially explains why they're doing so well.
    Kristen Genet

  2. Today, June 13th, the St. Paul paper invites stories of what we have learned from our fathers for a Father's Day special. Jason, imagine the year 2029 and your children write something like the following:
    Logan: Dad, I remember when you wrote your best seller about my siblings, Bryce & Chloe. That paid our way through college, Dad. Thanks!
    Bryce: This was our destiny, Dad; to be longing for each other and appreciating every moment until we could grow to enjoy our lives with you and Mom. You had to go through the many steps and depths of feelings to teach others how to survive. I went through this with you, Dad. Thank you!
    Chloe: Dad, you were always waiting for me to come home. First, from the NICU, then when I was older, you waited for me to come home from sleepovers. Then, I went on my first date and you watched the clock and heard every tick on the hour just waiting for me. I'm here, Dad. Thank you!