Letter From A Soon-to-Be Dad

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Aaron, Angela and EmBen in the hospital. Babies could be coming any day!

Miles wrote this post a few days ago as he flew into Lexington. Now, we are sitting in the hospital, as Angela is being admitted (she had some abnormal bloodwork numbers yesterday, and they thought it best we come in). Since the girls are strong and healthy, if anything is off with Angela, it’s go time. We want to make sure our angel Angela is healthy as well!


“Write down where you see yourself in 10 years,” our professor instructed.

I was a sophomore in college.  Even though I had no idea how I was going to pay for beer that weekend, I had no trouble quickly jotting down my answer.

Classmates were divided and asked to share their goals with one another. The first kid in my group confidently told us that he would be a partner at a Big 4 accounting firm.  Next, my college roommate shared that in 10 years he would like to be a CEO of a Fortune 100 company.  And then it was my turn, so I read my sheet. “I see myself as a dad of two kids.”

Clearly, I lacked the corporate drive my professor was probably intending with the exercise.  But it was the truth.  I’ve always known what I wanted to be: a Dad.

When EmBen and I started dating, having children was not a priority in her life.   In retrospect, it was quite understandable.  She was only 20 years old and focused on securing a job post graduation.  Yet, it baffled me.  How could there be anything more fulfilling than having a family?  What else could you possibly want in life?

I learned in June of 2012 that what I wanted most in my life was to have a healthy Emily. Upon her diagnosis, my priorities were no longer fixated on whimsical visions of a future family, but solely focused on her immediate survival.

When EmBen informed me she wanted to save embryos, I was very apprehensive. I did not want to weaken her body before chemotherapy treatment.   And most of all, I did not want to delay her cancer treatment.  I remember coming to the realization that foregoing embryo preservation would mean we would most likely never have children.  For me, it was an easy decision. Giving up on a lifelong dream was easy in comparison to the threat of losing your life partner.

However, like most disagreements, EmBen won, convincing me that undergoing fertility treatment would assist her emotionally in the fight against cancer.  Our nine embryos were frozen in July of 2012, and remained so as she underwent her vast array of treatments.

Although EmBen always remained positive about children in our future, I was honestly doubtful.  With surgery typically not an option for Stage IV lung cancer, it appeared that chronic, lifelong treatment would be our best-case scenario.  Beyond that, clearance from doctors to have babies would most likely never come.   Even after her surgery, I remained pessimistic, believing children would be too taxing and too damaging to her health.  But like always, EmBen proved all doubts wrong.

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Hugging our angel, Angela. It was surreal to spend the next hour feeling our girls in her belly.

In 2012 I remember writing, after the San Francisco Gala, that the ALCF (Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation) had provided us hope. There was a huge mountain in front of us to clear, but the ALCF had started us on the upward climb. We’ve been on the ascent for the past three years.   And although the climb never stops with cancer, I can’t help but reflect that I am now on a plane descending into Kentucky to meet our two baby girls.

Thanks to EmBen’s courage, determination, and endless fight, I will be a dad.  And although she’s all I need, she is giving me the gift of a lifetime.

Much love. Live in the moment.
Miles

The Waiting Game

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On the way to LAX!

The babies are almost here!

On March 30th, I flew to Kentucky to spend the final weeks of the pregnancy with Angela and her family.  Miles drove me to the airport, and we confirmed his plans to join me when it appears the birth is imminent.

I’ve been in Lexington over a week, spending the first few days at Angela and Aaron’s home. My time has been filled playing games with their three sweet boys, and of course spending as much time as possible with Angela and the “bump.”  Feeling the girls kicking and hiccuping and moving has been absolutely surreal.

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My mom caught this special moment as we were watching tv – the girls had hiccups!

My mom has come from Memphis, and we’ve settled into a nearby rental.  The waiting game has begun!  In the meantime, we’ve been making meals so Angela doesn’t need to cook, tagging along to preschool pick-ups and soccer games, and helping Angela get as much bed rest as possible by binge watching Gilmore Girls. Only 136 more episodes to go.  Thanks, Netflix!

So far we’ve had several doctors appointments, and all news has been spectacular.  The girls are developing well, and it looks like Angela will be able to carry them a few more weeks to put on the finishing touches.

I am not a person who gets overly stressed in difficult situations (see: me sleeping soundly every night since my diagnosis).  But, I think somewhere, deep inside, I have been worried about these girls. I was worried early on we might lose one, or worse, both.  I was scared they might have a genetic abnormality.  I was terrified they’d come far too early, and our first few months would be NICU visits and constant fear.

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So grateful I finally go to be in a “bump” shot!

But being here with Angela and seeing all she has sacrificed for us, and how well she’s been caring for herself and for these babies, just shows me that as far as she was concerned, I had no reason to be worried at all. On top of running her household, and caring for her three (active!) boys, I am in awe of the grace she shows in carrying our precious cargo. She never seems to tire, and she always has a smile on her face.  She has treated this pregnancy with the same tenderness and love I know she gave to her own children, and that is a gift we can never repay. The gratitude Miles and I feel towards her knows no bounds, and we couldn’t have asked for a sweeter, more perfect person to share this experience with, and to bring our girls into the world.

Babies: Stay in there and bake those chubby little Buddha bellies as long as you possibly can. But know that I’m out here, just on the other side of Angela’s [amazingly-small-for-twins-and-incredibly-un-stretch-marked!] belly, feeling your beautiful movements, and just aching with excitement to see you.

Mommy loves you!!!

EmBen