Nothing was more terrifying for Wendy or me than when Roxie and Reagan were born. Unceremoniously, they were sent into the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit) and we were left to figure out whether to be happy or sad or something else. It was probably something else, because I don’t remember feeling completely anything in particular. Scared, maybe. They had been born almost three months early.
Dad and Mom became lifelines at this point. I called my parents at all hours of the night (and day) to talk to them about the girls.
There was one conversation that I had with my Dad that I’ll never forget. I was talking to Dad on the phone and trying to figure out what to do with this situation. I remember that at some point I broke down and was sobbing. Dad, I’m sure was shedding tears of his own. At some point he said, “I don’t know what to tell you.” He told me that he had no advice for me because this was something he’d never dealt with.
This is not to say that Dad hasn’t dealt with heartache or tragedy or crisis. He has. But for a moment that day, on the phone in the hallway of the NICU at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, I realized that Dad’s not bulletproof. Sometimes he doesn’t know everything. It’s rare, but he’s subject to whatever the opposite of omnipotence is, just like the rest of us. But sometimes it takes a while before a child really starts to see that we’re all just parents and kids, doing the best we can to help each other through life.
That day was comforting, in a way, because I knew that Dad was feeling what I was feeling- a little helpless and distraught. Dad and I did agree on something, that day, though. He told me that somehow, at the end of this whole thing, this was going to turn out alright.
Now Roxie and Reagan are four years old. They are miracles to us. They are healthy and happy and sort of exude the opposite of whatever Wendy and I were feeling, back at the NICU. Also, they are quite aware of their Grandpa Nelson and know that he loves them. They ask about him all the time.