Erika:The night before Mateo entered our lives, we'd finally let go of any bits of stress or worry, and we finally felt "ready" to meet Baby Perales. (I swear that even after meeting him, I just kept calling him Baby. It felt weird, at first, calling him by his name.) The week before, I felt nauseous even thinking about finally becoming parents. But that morning, when we got the call, the ish really got real!
In the fog of half asleep and half awake I know as the pre alarm early morning, I stretched my hand out searching the bed franticly for the buzz of an alarm. Erika’s phone was the culprit, but in this case it was not the alarm that set off the noise but two missed messages from Tina. From what I remembered it went something like, counting contractions ……headed to hospital. I softly tapped Erika on the shoulder with the phone. She was not happy. As a matter of fact she said in a code yellow voice “stop. tapping. me.” As soon as I mentioned it was from Tina. The whites of her eyes lit the room. It was go time.
On the drive to the hospital I felt calm, positive and open minded to how everything was going to play out. No expectation. I was just going to let the birth come to me.
This song started playing as we pulled up to the hospital.
It then continued playing on our ride home from the hospital.
Things don’t always happen as we plan. In a seemingly short three hour span of doctors coming in asking questions, typing up forms on the computer and offering a variety of possible scenarios, I could tell by the tone of their voices, this was not going to go as planned. The seriousness of childbirth smacked me in the face. No one ever said the words that baby or Tina were in danger, but in the back of my head I thought it. As quickly as we got to the hospital, the doctors prepared Tina for the operation. In an unplanned scenario, Erika was allowed in the operating room with Ricky. I was left to sit and wait 4 feet from the door.
Erika:The decision to let me go back there was very unexpected. The nurses decided, last minute, to give me an extra set of scrubs so that I could be there to witness the birth of our baby. I didn't even have time to think. If I could compare it to something, it kind of felt like pushing me out of an airplane without being told how to use the parachute.
Tina's husband and I were directed as to where we could be during the surgery. I stood by, tense and quiet, watching and waiting on the "action side" of the partition. There were a lot of doctors in there and I didn't really have a clear view. But the second I saw baby's little knee, my heart stopped and I totally lost it. Before I knew it, they lifted baby up and a nurse called out, "What do we have?!" Then the doctor announced, "It's a boy!" They were holding Mateo.
...I don't know how I stayed standing in those first moments.
Once they had him wiped down, I was motioned to come over and trim the chord. Totally not mentally prepared for that. We'd always discussed that Luis would be doing that part. So I shakily held the scissors and cut through the chewy tube. They then carried him over so Tina and her husband could meet him. I only wish she could have seen me see him for the first time. Through the rush of all of the stuff that went down in the hospital, Tina was always calm and focused. It really helped me to see her have such peace.
They then wrapped him up and handed him to me. I could not believe it. I was looking at my baby. I was holding my son.
The next thing I got to do was walk out of the room and introduce him to Luis.
Luis:Before Erika came out I cried…. I cried not for sadness or fear. I cried for joy. The tears, conversations, frustrations, dreams and prayers given to this moment and to this little life was about to make its way into the world. In a few minutes, I would be a father. I had passed the time softly whispering the names that we planned. They were both beautiful. I knew the operation was over as several doctors started to open and leave the room. Two or three had walked by and said some positive comments “baby has a really good cry,” “everything went well,” “ they will be right out.”
Erika gingerly walked through the door holding our little baby and she managed to get out the words, "here is our baby Mateo."
Words would be inadequate to express the feeling of seeing your baby for the first time. I think the most important thing that came from that moment was the realization that I could no longer say would be. I can now write I am a father. I am a dad. I have a son.
|Our first selfie. He had a small fever, so we hung out in the nursery for a few hours.|
We then spent the next few days in NICU so he could get treated for a possible infection.
It felt like a lifetime.
Having Mateo finally disconnected from all of the wires and monitors from NICU was the most fantastic thing! He was finally ready to come home!!!
|Finally in his own bed.|
|This is a page from Sophia's Broken Crayons,|
the book I gave Tina's kids which explained everything so beautifully.
Since that first day, we've just been chillin at home. We're a happy little family, just figuring out this new life.
|Yesterday at his first pediatrician appointment! The doctor said he's perfect!|
Happy One Week!!!
|He's my new accessory.|
|Oh wait! We forgot somebody!!!|
"It's been a week and we still cannot believe you're here! We've already endured so much together in just that short time. Tears, tests, midnight freak outs, even earthquakes. Every time we look at you, we are in awe of who you might become. We'll look back at these first moments as if they were from another lifetime, but we plan on soaking up every second with you. I want time to freeze and somehow live in these moments forever. But I know that over the days and years to come, we're going to have many more amazing moments together. And we'll just continue to breathe as we watch you grow and as we fumble through this new life as parents."
---excerpt from a letter to our baby
Arlene recorded this real quick of us showing Mateo the world, while also calming him down after a cry in the hallways. "We're pretty good."
Untitled from Erika Perales on Vimeo.