It's June 18, 2018, 3:45am. I'm wide awake and before my alarm, which is set for 4:00am. Our third kid comes today, via scheduled c-section, and even though I've done this twice before, I'm just as nervous as the first. Actually, I'm more nervous, this birth is different, it's my first and only daughter and the pressure to be her hero is a new feeling.

Momma is uncomfortable but getting her last few minutes of rest before we head off into the dawn for our 5:00am pre-op check-in. As we rolled our suitcases into the Providence L&D floor, two women sat on a couch and shouted, "Girl, you look too glamours to be having a baby this early!” My wife, Ali,  turned back and shouted, "It's my third, I've got this.” The nearby night shift nurses erupt in laughter and added, “not her first rodeo.” In that split second, my stress started to float away, because I knew she did "have this,” she's a super Mom (#SpoilerAlert: the stress returns later).

Check-in was a familiar breeze. We were taken to the same pre-op room we had been in just 2 years prior, for baby Charlotte’s big brother Liam’s birth. Ali had her blood drawn, IV’s in and dressed in a chic, seasonal, green gown. As our fantastic doctor entered the room my smile grew bigger; only, hers didn’t.

“Why was I not notified that Ali’s blood was mislabeled?” the doctor asked the nurses. It’s a small oversight but a big delay for our scheduled c-section, even with a stat lab order. One nurse turns to me and says, “we need Dad nourished, you should go get something to eat downstairs, it’s going to be a 45min delay.” My stress was slowly returning and my poker face wouldn’t reveal that I wasn’t hungry in the least, so naturally I replied “Great Idea!

One banana and only 6 minutes later, my phone rings. “Hello?” “Buck, they are taking me back.” “When?” “Now; hurry.” “What?” “Hurry.” Picture this: Usain Bolt style running through early morning hospital hallways only to arrive to an empty pre-op room with no doctor, no nurse and no wife. I’ve got this, not a big deal at all [cracks knuckles nervously]. After all, I know the drill, they take momma back, then get Dad scrubbed in 10 mins later. It was exactly 10 minutes later, which felt like 1 hour per minute, when a nurse said, “let’s go Pop, they are ready!”

It goes without saying, nurses, doctors and hospital staff are more than life savers, they are life givers and peace therapist that don’t get the deserved recognition when dealing with stressed out Dad’s, like me. As I enter the O.R., the anesthesiologist said, “your wife’s hand is under here, why don’t you grab it and hold it tight.” I know from experience, in this room, there are two words that change your life forever. It was 8:43 am when the Doctor called out, “Uterine incision!” So, now there’s this girl who stole my heart. Her name is Charlotte Leigh but Daddy calls her Charleigh.

- ❤️ Dad (Buck Wise, @AboutBuck)