Single Minded Moms: Changes…a Single Dad’s Perspective
By Matt Logelin
Changes…the past few months have been rife with them. And the pace of those changes has been incredible. Fewer than six months ago I stepped into my brand new role as a single dad as I brought home a baby who was seven weeks premature and weighed just under four pounds. Madeline couldn’t do much but eat, sleep and fill up a diaper. Her little neck couldn’t hold up her head. She didn’t know how to smile, laugh or show any sort of emotion other than anger when the formula was too slow to enter her stomach.
Those early days as a grieving widowed single dad are a total blur. I can look back at the photos and see the obvious changes. I can watch the videos from her time in the hospital and feel confident that, despite my feelings to the contrary, time has not stood still since March 24th.
I now have a baby who’s more than nine pounds heavier, and three inches longer than the day she came home. Not only does her neck now support the weight of her head, she uses that neck to turn her head to look at me when I enter a room. She smiles when she sees me and laughs when I smile at her. She has discovered that she can move each of her fingers independently and that they can be used to put things in her mouth. She doesn’t speak any discernible language, but we communicate better than many adults. I think about the incredible changes that Madeline has undergone, amazed at how far my baby girl has come in such a short time.
What I haven’t thought about nearly as much are the changes that I’ve gone through since the day she was born. The videos, the photos can’t possibly illustrate how far I’ve come. I think back to the feelings I had on that day in early April, the moment I was wheeled out of the hospital with Madeline in the car seat in my lap.
First, I felt excited…after two weeks in the NICU, Madeline was coming home. She was one of the few remaining pieces to a puzzle that (my wife) Liz and I had been putting together for 12+ years. Then I felt anguish…I was heading home to an empty house, a house my wife and I purchased less than a year earlier. Liz was dead and it was up to me to make sure that the life for which we planned continued on for the two of us who remained. I had to. It’s what Liz would have wanted.
The thing was, I had no idea what to do with a baby, let alone a seemingly fragile preemie.
I faced my new role as a father with uncertainty and fear, looking to others for answers and assistance. Within a few weeks something amazing happened…I figured things out for myself. I studied Madeline’s cries and facial expressions, learning what each of them meant (as it turns out, very few of them require a call to the pediatrician). I figured out how to sleep two hours per night and still function the next day. I realized that neither a dirty diaper nor teething qualify as a crisis, even if they happen on a plane full of business people. Maybe most importantly, I learned that a single parent can be a successful parent. Yes, I still ask the occasional question and continue to get some help from friends, family and strangers, but for the most part I do things on my own.
I used to rely on others to tell me I was doing a great job raising my daughter, but here we are, she’s almost six months old and now it’s Madeline who lets me know what an amazing father I am. The smiles, the laughter…they’re not just developmental milestones for her.
More SingleMindedWomen.com Articles on Loss and Grief
Healthy Grief: When Death Steals Your Love
A Death in the Family: Dealing with Trauma
How Can You Deal With Your Loss and Loneliness as a Widowed Single Mom?
Matt Logelin, a 30-year-old single father adjusting to life after the birth of his daughter, Madeline and death of her mother, Liz. Although he deosn’t consider himself much of a writer or photographer, he does both in his free time and posts the results on his blog, http://www.mattlogelin.com/.
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