Overwhelmed. The one word that I would use to describe that
June day three years ago when my wife informed me that she was pregnant.
To make matters worse, I was on an internship more than 1,000
miles away from her, and becoming a father was the last thing
I was prepared for. I had to graduate, find a good job, secure
health insurance and do all the other things I imagined upstanding
citizens did before embarking on parenthood. Little did I know
that I was on the threshold of one the most important and life-altering
experiences of my entire existence.
The panic soon turned into pride as Leslie and I informed our
parents and friends of our accomplishment. Neither of us remember
much about the first few months except when Leslie had her first
sonogram and our "child" refused to uncross its legs. Leslie
was only a few months pregnant but already our child was showing
what we both thought to be a small sign of independence. Leslie
started to show by the fifth month and that's when I started
making snap shots here and there with whatever camera was within
arm's reach. At six months I decided to get serious about documenting
this incredible experience at the urging of a friend who often
described how wonderful it was to look back at images he made
of his now almost grown children. How incredible I thought it
would be to show my unborn child pictures of her first moments
outside her mother's belly.
For more than three months I carried my camera to every doctors
appointment, family outing and the random other places we went.
By the ninth month every time Leslie saw a camera she would
groan. I always reminded her of how special it would be to share
our visual history with our child one day - something I never
had. There are very few pictures that exist of me when I was
a child. The one that has forever stuck in my mind was of me
at Disney World, flanked by Mickey Mouse, screaming my little
head off. I don't remember that moment, but because of that
image and a few others, I have some small idea of what my very
early childhood was like (and no, I don't have nightmares involving
The picture taking kicked into high gear on March 3, 1997.
Emily Erin arrived at nearly 2:30 p.m. amid a flurry of flashes,
family and tears of joy. During the final hours I decided to
keep a moment-to-moment diary of the birth. I would like to
think it was done out of my drive to completely document the
birth of my daughter, but it was probably more a way for me to
deal with the panic of becoming a new father. The following
are excerpts from my journal:
3/3/97 2:15 a.m. -- "Wake up Bob, my water broke!" Was asleep
about 1/2 an hour and bang! I'm awake again.
Les: "My water broke! It doesn't happen like that in the movies."
Me: "That's why it's the movies..."
2:30 a.m. -- Check in to Shands (hospital in Gainesville, Fla.)
Leslie put into bed and put on heart monitor. Baby's heart echoes
through the room.
3:00 a.m. -- Nurse in room. Fools with machine and leaves.
I fire two frames of Les in bed. She complains it's a bad angle.
5:10 a.m. -- Nurses in and out. I get a drink and newspaper.
Contractions coming more regularly. Doctors in and out. Leslie
is I.V.'d and everything is going well. Going to try and sleep.
Talked to Leslie's mom and my mom at around 4:30 a.m. They'll
be here around 10 or 11 (but probably before).
8:30 a.m. -- Wake up. Went to sleep around 4:30 - 5 a.m. Slept
a bit but Leslie didn't sleep at all. I woke up to new nurses.
I'm exhausted. I can't even think of how Leslie must feel. I
went down and paid for parking and got a cup of coffee and a
bagel. When I came back I discussed pain control (not mine but
Leslie's) with the new nurse. Leslie and I agreed to give her
something to help her with the pain and make her sleep. She's
having a hard time. Called Bruce (father-in-law) and Sarah (Leslie's
about 9:40 a.m. -- She is still having intense contractions.
Leslie is worried about sleep. I'm scared she won't be able
to. She is getting angry and frustrated.
12 p.m. -- Things are moving fast. Contractions are steady
and were very painful at first. Leslie was having a hard time
with the pain.
about 11 a.m. or so Leslie received an epidural. She got markedly
better. Ruth (Leslie's mom) arrived about 11:30 a.m. and Leslie
smiled for the first time all morning. GOOD! I helped during
the epidural which was stressful (I nearly passed out) but good
because it let me feel a little less helpless. It was tough
but we made it through with flying colors.Everything is calm
now. I've shot several frames over the last hour or so.
The next page of my journal simply says "7lbs 8oz." I taped
my parking receipt to the page with the date marked in red --
MAR 03 1997.