Saturday, July 26, 2014

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: Dad gets over the ‘ick’ factor of parenting, kids

By AMY NEWMARK, Chicken Soup for the Soul | 11/15/2013

Childbirth terrified Stephanie Welcher Thompson’s husband Michael. He planned to stand by his pregnant wife’s head during their child’s birth, and he didn’t want to see the baby until it had been cleaned. Changing diapers was out of the question. He was thrilled to become a father, but he planned to avoid the less pleasant aspects of early parenthood. Stephanie wrote about his concerns in her story, “The Dad He Planned to Be,” published in our book about fathers and daughters.

Michael was supportive throughout the pregnancy. All Stephanie could manage was working and sleeping, so Michael bought the groceries and handled all the household chores. He rubbed her back when it hurt, and he massaged her feet. He reassured her that she should rest. “It’s taking all your energy to make our baby,” he said. The first time they felt the baby move, he cupped his hands and shouted at Stephanie’s belly: “Hi, little girl. I’m your daddy!”

Childbirth terrified Stephanie Welcher Thompson’s husband Michael. He planned to stand by his pregnant wife’s head during their child’s birth, and he didn’t want to see the baby until it had been cleaned. Changing diapers was out of the question. He was thrilled to become a father, but he planned to avoid the less pleasant aspects of early parenthood. Stephanie wrote about his concerns in her story, “The Dad He Planned to Be,” published in our book about fathers and daughters.

Michael was supportive throughout the pregnancy. All Stephanie could manage was working and sleeping, so Michael bought the groceries and handled all the household chores. He rubbed her back when it hurt, and he massaged her feet. He reassured her that she should rest. “It’s taking all your energy to make our baby,” he said. The first time they felt the baby move, he cupped his hands and shouted at Stephanie’s belly: “Hi, little girl. I’m your daddy!”

Nevertheless, his feelings didn’t change about the birth and the messier activities that would follow. Stephanie knew that Michael would love their child, but she was left to conclude that the hands-on care would be her job.

It’s said that even the best-laid plans don’t survive confrontation with the enemy. That was Michael’s experience on the day of the birth. With Stephanie on the delivery table, a nurse beckoned him to help. He stood up, white-faced. The nurse placed one of Stephanie’s feet in his hands, pressed against his belly. “This will give you a perfect view of the birth,” the nurse said enthusiastically. “Michael smiled weakly,” Stephanie writes.

Then his attitude changed. He shouted, excitedly: “I see black hair!” A few minutes later, the doctor placed the gooey baby in his arms. “Isn’t she beautiful?” Michael exclaimed. That night, Stephanie offered to change the baby’s diaper, but Michael stopped her, saying he’d do it. “I need to practice,” he said.

Eighteen months later, Michael’s hands-on approach hadn’t changed. Stephanie writes: “Michael admits there’s a big discrepancy between the way he planned to be a father and the dad he’s become. But daughters do that to daddies.”

•••

It’s amazing how often a health crisis will prompt a life change for the better. We heard about one such experience in “The Spider That Saved My Life,” a story by Melanie Adams Hardy published in our book about turning lemons into lemonade. After being bitten by a poisonous spider, Melanie woke up in a hospital bed, feverish and hooked up to an IV drip. Her foot and lower leg were black and swollen. She overheard a doctor tell her husband that her toe might have to be amputated.

At the time, she felt this was one of the worst moments of her life. But today Melanie regards that spider bite as one of the best things that ever happened to her.

Antibiotics saved her toe, but months later, Melanie still felt lethargic and ill. Looking for a way to regain her health, she signed up for a wellness group started by her church. The first meeting she attended was held at a health-food store owned by one of the group’s leaders. “An intoxicating smell emanated from the kitchen at the rear of the store,” according to Melanie, and she and the other women found a delicious lunch waiting for them. As they ate, the group’s leaders talked to them about healthy eating and exercise. “These ladies truly believed that our bodies were God’s temple,” Melanie writes, “and taught us to treat them with the respect they deserved.” Melanie became an eager student. “I devoured the books we were instructed to read and completely revamped my family’s eating habits. Soon, I was regaining my energy. Even though I was close to 50, I felt better than I had in my 20s.”

 This was just the beginning for Melanie. She helped her sister, who suffered from kidney disease, make changes in her diet. Gradually, her sister regained her health. Melanie had found a new passion: improving health through diet. She returned to school and became a certified health specialist. “Today I am ministering to others who are in poor health, and seeing them restored to health and happiness,” Melanie writes. “Nothing gives me greater joy.”

Syndicated by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, online at www.chickensoup.com

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