Myspace was the place I first got a taste of social networking. I wrote hundreds of blogs. Most of the things I wrote about were inane tales or poems. I had a ton of followers and many nice comments. Mostly all of my Space Friends were people I had never met. I wrote as many as five blogs a day because when my wife was at work it was just me. I would come home from work and space out on Myspace. My page was full of jokes and pictures of things I liked. Myspace had the option where you could have a jukebox on your page. I was constantly adding music. I met some nice people there I and reconnected with several of them a couple years on Facebook. I did not know then how different my life would be in a few short years. Everyone knows that what happens next was an infertility battle that resulted in the birth of my baby girl.
When Emma was born I was stunned into being a Daddy. There were so many complications and losses leading up to her birth that we went into the delivery room with no expectations and would not not have been surprised if life was ready to deal the cruelest of jokes. Life gave us a break and everything went fine. On the day we brought Emma home I walked out to the car to get the carrier that locks into the car seat. While I was walking across the parking lot I dropped the carrier and a lady that was a couple dozen feet way from me had a heart attack thinking Emma was in the carrier but it was empty. When I finally got the carrier into Shannon’s hospital room we realized two things: we did not know how often to feed her and we did not know how to put her in her carrier. My wife and I had a lot of education between us and had a combined age over 70 but did not know these very basic things. This would not be the first time that we would be shown exactly how little we knew about having a baby.
In Emma’s first year of life so many things changed. Some people even seemed to change but we plowed on. The very first day I had Emma by myself she ended out in the Children’s Hospital with a bad fever. I stayed in the room while they gave her a catheter. I never felt more helpless as she screamed bloody murder while the doctors did their work and I could do nothing but watch. The next year would be full of these moments. Taking her to her daycare killed me because I had no control of her for several hours a day. I had a hard time learning to let go to the care and fate of others. I still struggle with it. When it comes to Emma I feel like I was given a gift that must be nurtured, protected, and allowed to grow in every way emotionally. I would come home from work and just stare at her while asking myself how did I get so lucky. I was blessed with her Mommy and then her. In the first year I truly began to realize how little I cared about myself as long as she is okay.
The second year of my daughters life got things into a stride. I became more and more self aware. I did nothing without giving serious consideration to how it affected her. As she began to become mobile we started to take our relationship to another level. I started “dating” my princess around this time. I began to take her everywhere. I grew up two blocks from the beach and the beach is very important to me. I had spent a good portion of the previous ten years not going to the beach but I wanted my little girl to experience the wonderfully beautiful memories I had of the beach. Between growing up on the sands and being a police officer their for many years there is not a corner of that place that does not harbor a memory for me. She hated the sand. To her the sand was fire and she was not sitting in the fire. I was able to begin getting better pictures of her and in turn was falling in love with photography. She was the ultimate muse If she could walk there then I would photograph her there. The average family of my generation probably has a couple hundred pictures of there child’s whole life but I am digital age parent and before she would turn two I would have well over 10,000. It was also during this time that I began to write her story. The Longest Love Letter was suppose to be the story of how she got here. I realized when the story was nearing completion that it was a love to my wife. It was her steel will that made Emma possible. I had given up hope but Shannon? Never!!! I made my first Monster Movie just before her first birthday but it was during this year that I gave them the name “Monster Movies”. She was my monster. The book was her moms story but Monster Movies would be Emma’s.
My book would publish in her third year and Monster Movies would flourish. The movies are often themed. The movies not only began to directly reflect places we went but the feelings I felt. The movies began being filled with emotion and quotes that defined what I wanted to be considered as a parent. Being a parent to me is a great honor. I do not worry about how I am defined as child, worker, or even friend most of the time. Don’t get me wrong I hope I am good in those previously mentioned areas but what I wanted to be remembered as is a good father and husband. If in my dying moments I feel that goal was accomplished then it was a life well spent. During this year I also began to blog about infertility. I had to give back to the community I and born of. The joy of having Emma in my life and the battle my wife had needed to be shared because we did not know what support was out there when were trying to have Emma. So many couples feel alone and I will not stand for that. Emma was the muse for the infertility blog. I want everyone that wants a child to feel my joy. During this year I had a life changing moment. I took Emma to DC by myself for the second time to see her second baseball game. It was just her and I watching something I love and something she was beginning to truly like. I wanted to find that one thing that was our experience and that year I discovered it. I decided on the trip that as long as it could be it would be an annual thing. I hope Emma remembers these games throughout the years and the conversations we will have on those trips.
In Emmas fourth year of life I would face some of my biggest challenges I would have as an adult. One of the things I enjoy the most as a parent is having a regular schedule that lets me take care of my daughter in a way that causes her minimal disruption. I am passionately protective of my time with her. I would lose my job. I lost my job over the course of months to down sizing. I was worried about loss of money, loss of time, and starting over but what I was really worried about was how it affected my daughter. I desperately worried about how she would feel about me losing my job and she was fully aware of what was happening. She blew me away by the way she viewed everything. She didn’t care if I had a job she just wanted me to be Daddy. I am one half of the team that is her biggest fan but I also realized she was my biggest fan. She made it easier for me to except this life change. She makes me a better man. I coached her T -Ball team and I watched her grow into a team player. She began to read, write, and emote in ways I never saw coming so early. I grew further from some people but I grew closer to her and her Mommy and that makes my life such a gift.
I have made well over 100 Monster Movies. If you watched them all back to back it would take over thirteen hours to get them all in. I have made a yearly retrospective at every birthday and it always blows me away seeing what she has done in a year and how far she has come. I watched all of these before I made “5” and I suddenly realized how fast things are moving but the faster they move the more pride I am filled with watching her. I also know she will not want me to take as many pictures somewhere down the road and she may not want me around as much. That is just part of growing up. I will sit patiently and watch and be ready for our yearly baseball game. Myspace became Facebook and anyone that wants to see a princess blossom only needs to visit that page. I love how many people enjoy watching her grow. I want to leave her with the memories our family and the videos to watch the things she may have forgotten. I want her to hear the music that made me think of her. I want her full and happy and content. By the time, the time this posts she will be five years old and I will be asking myself with nervous joy…..”What wonderful memories are waiting for us next year?”………Happy Birthday my Little Monster and thanks to all my friends who watch her Monster Movies because it really makes me happy.