Name: Jamiyl Samuels | City: Springfield Gardens, NY | IG: @jamiylwrites
Take us through your thoughts the moment you realized your child was ready to come into this world.
As my wife stood expecting our first child I wondered how I would be as a father? How would I feel? How would I respond to the responsibility?
Sure the decision to make a lifetime commitment to one person is a life-altering event, but the birth of a child changes your whole outlook on life. Nine months of anticipation, anxiety, doctor’s visits, sonograms, morning sickness, cravings, fatigue, mood swings, and a baby shower lead to the unbridled joy of hearing the first cry of your newborn.
At times I still can’t believe I am a father. It is the ultimate act of selflessness to put someone else’s well-being before your own. I soaked up every minute of impending fatherhood. The day we found out the sex of the child was especially nerve-racking. For years Tracy-Ann talked about wanting a girl as the first child. I didn’t care what sex the child was as long as it was healthy. Well, that was only 90 percent true. While I wanted a healthy child, I secretly, or not so, desired a son.
From the time my father walked out of my life, I told myself I would be a better one to my child. As early as 14 years of age I would often daydream of the day I would have my own children, even writing down their names (I wanted four, but then again I didn’t have to give birth to them). From the time of Trey’s conception sometime at the end of June 2006 (although I cannot remember the exact day I remember the act and failed use of the withdrawal method), the subsequent 36 weeks or so was filled with trepidation. Once my wife Tracy-Ann confirmed a seed was planted, we only told a handful of immediate family: my mother, my sister, my mother-in-law, Tracy-Ann’s grandmother and that might have been it. We wanted to make sure we got through the first trimester this time. Trey was not ready to come into the world as scheduled. 36 weeks had come and gone and Tracy-Ann was not even dilated. There were the requisite false alarms, one that had me scrambling from my hotel job as soon as I started my shift. After another few days with no signs of dilation, the decision was made to take the baby out by Caesarean section. Once a definite date was set the anticipation began.
The days leading up to the due date were filled with sleepless nights, last-minute shopping and preparation for the birth of our child. I set up my paternity leave (I didn’t know that existed for men until I was told of the option) from work and I was ready. Packing the hospital bag really brought it home that I was going to be a father in less than 24 hours. I looked back on everything in my life leading up to this point.
“Would I be a good father?” I thought.
Was I prepared mentally, physically, emotionally and financially for what was about to happen? All the preparation in the world can be done for an event, but you will never know how it will turn out until it happens and you are thrown full force into the fire.
All the diapers given as gifts from the baby shower will eventually run out. What then? You can cram for a test and find out what you studied is not on the exam. What then? You make an educated guess. Life is not going to go according to your plan.
Preparation is good, but it is how you adjust and adapt to the changing situation that will define you. I believe this ideology applies to parenthood as well. I stopped worrying and overanalyzing. I felt when the baby entered the world we would go from there.
What were your physical, mental, and emotional feelings while in the delivery room as your child was entering the world.
I made the conscious decision to be in the delivery room for Trey Amani’s birth. I wanted to be the first person my son laid eyes on when he took his first breath in the world. I was given a powder blue cap and blue gown to cover my clothes with. I was so excited I started taking pictures of myself. I placed the digital camera on a table and set the timer for ten seconds, running to pose before the camera flashed. My smile was a mile wide and I felt the sudden urge to buy cigars.
I ran to Tracy-Ann’s bedside, her belly still protruding from under the hospital attire she was given. I continued to take self-portraits of her and myself. My jubilant camera work irked my wife, who didn’t like taking pictures unless she was well dressed. A clear cap and hospital garb was not her ideal uniform for self-portraits, but she decided to grin and bear it because of how giddy I was.
The delivery room was not like I imagined it, seeing so many on television shows like The Cosby Show and soap operas like All My Children and General Hospital. The room was like any other except for the scale used to weigh the newborn in one corner next to a small table. There was a bed in the middle of the room where Tracy-Ann was already on. Her body was split in half by a powder blue curtain. From the bosom down her belly was exposed and she was surrounded by doctors and surgeons in white uniforms. A male doctor, not the lead surgeon, let us know what to expect once the baby was out. As he spoke, my mind began to race a mile a minute. I began to get the nervous feeling anticipation brings. I was a few short moments from seeing my newborn son.
“What would he look like,” I thought to myself. Looking back, and I may get struck down for this, at the time I secretly hoped the baby wouldn’t be ugly, a punishment for making fun of so many babies who were less than attractive. I had so many things running through my head that I was ready for it to be over.
Describe what it felt like holding your child for the first time?
At 1:50 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon, the 10th of March 2007 to be exact, my life changed forever. That sunny day in March, Trey Amani Samuels was born in New York Presbyterian Hospital’s Greenberg Pavilion making me a father for the first time.
As they cleaned the blood off of Trey (that was one of the names I wrote down so many years ago) and he weighed in at just below seven pounds, it was time to make good on the promise to myself. “Here he is,” said a nurse holding the smallest, precious pink-colored package. We had come face to face with our boy staring back at us with what seemed to be jet black eyes. He looked like an alien to me at that moment. Just as swiftly as he appeared, he was gone; off to get cleaned up. I looked back at Tracy-Ann still feeling the shock of officially becoming a father.
“Dad, get over here,” called one of the nurses.
I immediately jumped up, believing that I was to remain behind the curtain the entire time. I saw two nurses, one with glasses and another without (it was the only way I could differentiate between the two as they both had on all white from head to toe), bringing Trey to a table next to the scale.
“Where’s your camera?” the nurse without glasses quipped. “You gotta be on the ball, dad. This is the time to take pictures.”
Indeed the shutterbug had put his camera away believing I could not take pictures in the delivery room. I don’t know why I thought that, seeing so many shows where proud fathers videotape the birth of their children. Given the go-ahead to take pictures I immediately pulled out my digital camera and, with the record function, captured Trey’s first real cry. I was emotional, though I did not shed tears. My voice cracked as I whispered his given name out. Once I held my son for the first time I fell in love with him even more. When it was time for Trey to go to the nursery I made excuses to go and look at him. Every cry I heard reminded me of his. I never went to the bathroom so many times.
Do you have any advice for fathers who are expecting for the first time?
Embrace the moment. Take pictures and get involved in every aspect from the ultrasound appointments, doctor visits, baby shower gift selection. It is a time never to be forgotten.