Father Figures: Could Not Be Happier

“My wife and I spent the first 2.5 years of our marriage assuming that when we were ready we would be able to get pregnant without issue.

When we first started trying, tests and attempts came back discouraging time and time again. Finally after months of trying we were pregnant. We went to the doctor and they confirmed our prayers had been answered. Shortly after our appointment, our excitement was crushed. We woke up in the middle of the night knowing something was wrong. We went to the ER and found out we were having an ectopic pregnancy and lost our precious baby.

A couple months after that we suffered a miscarriage as well. Feeling completely dejected and beaten down we started losing hope.

We then went to an amazing reproductive endocrinologist to help with our journey. Fast forward about a year later, Ford Michael Dietrich was born and we could not be more in love. Being a dad is the best thing ever and I could not be happier.”

– Mike Dietrich

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Father Figures: The Power of Music

“As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a father. As I came from a very dysfunctional upbringing, I looked at it as an opportunity for positive change. A chance to provide a loving, supportive and stable environment for my children to grow up in. Something that I lacked as a young lad.

In my early teens, I started to teach myself how to play guitar. This gave me a constructive outlet to channel my anxiety and depression. I have always been the creative type, so having some art form to express myself made sense. In many ways, music saved my life.

It seems as though music has played a great role in my life. I met my beautiful wife one evening. As I watched her perform in her choir, something strongly drew my attention. I even went as far as to join the choir just to get to know her. It turned out that she also played piano and cello. Right away, music gave us some common ground and mutual interest.

I’m the father of two amazing little girls. Hadley (5) and Addison (2). When we found out we were expecting, I built them each a miniature guitar. When Hadley turned 3, I purchased her a ukulele. Since Hadley has been able to vocalize, she has been singing. She is always making up songs or learning the words to tunes I perform. Every Sunday morning we play music together.

It’s amazing to see similar personality traits come through in your children. Hadley has my creativeness and energy and is quite extroverted, just like me. We also suspect that she also inherited my anxiety disorder, so exposing her to making music is a tool I can pass along.

When I started my band, The Lincoln Loggers, she would ask to attend our rehearsals, which I sometimes allowed. Well, it was not too long until she was bugging me to join the band. I had to explain to her that most of our gigs were past her bedtime. On the rare occasion when we were performing a daytime show, she would attend with her mom and accompany me on stage for a song or two.

I also work with adults experiencing disability and provide music programming Friday mornings in our centre. Hadley got into the habit of requesting to come to work with me on Fridays so she could sing for the group. This has become a regular occurrence.

Like any 5-year-old, persistence is a virtue. Hadley still wanted to be in a band. So, together we decided to start our own musical duo called ‘Hads ‘N Dad.’ Like a fish in water, she has taken to performing. It seems to come naturally to her. I must say, after performing for almost 20 years, no show compares to the first time we played together on a large stage.

She says soon her little sister Addison will have to join as our Drummer and we will change the band name to ‘Hads ‘N Adds ‘N Dad.'”

– Adam Holmes

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Father Figures: Killing It

“When we were 8 months pregnant, my husband’s job situation changed, but he stayed strong and was right by my side, just like he was throughout the whole pregnancy.

Then when I was in labor, he kept me steady and coached me through the process. After our sweet little dude, Justin, Jr. (J.J.), was born, Justin became a stay-at-home Dad.

He has absolutely killed it. He’s gotten the little dude on a consistent schedule, growing steadily and meeting every milestone.

Today, Justin is starting a new job and we are excited for him to be able to find a great job but I know that he will miss the time with the little one. I just wanted to acknowledge how AMAZING it is to have the full support and know that you are together against the whole world!”

– Nikki Eyraud

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Father Figures: Never Complained

“I had three teenage girls when we first met, and I thought I was absolutely done having kids.

I told him the horrific stories of when I was pregnant before, but this man needed a son of his own. We tried, got pregnant, and we had a loss that aged him years in a matter of hours. We had talked endless nights about our son. What he would look like, how he would be, who he would take after. I got pregnant and lost the baby at 12 weeks. The loss was unimaginable for us.

Fast forward a couple months, after we had given up.

I was pregnant. He was beyond excited. It was a roller coaster of health issues with our son and myself. Every emergency trip to the hospital, he was there and beside himself. We talked about how our son’s first cries would sound; oh how we thought we were prepared for this little boy to come screaming I to the world.

Well, our son did. And it caused this steeled man to shatter into tears.

He has never complained about sleepless nights, midnight trips to the ER with his son or my girls, and will work to bone-numbing exhaustion for us.

He simply lives for taking care of the 6 of us. He is a remarkable man and one that would just say he is doing what needs to be done.”

– Tara Loveless

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Father Figures: Simply Amazing

“My husband supported me, cheered me on, held me close, and kept me going during a 42-hour labor.

Now he doesn’t mind sharing the responsibility of household cleaning and cooking so that I get extra baby cuddles when I need them.

He is simply amazing and makes so many sacrifices for our little family!”

– Nell Smith

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Father Figures: Not Today, Satan!

In 1982, at the age of 23, my father was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney disease called focal glomerulosclerosis.

At the time, people that were diagnosed with this disease didn’t not make it very long before a transplant or dialysis would be needed, and it very often resulted in the person passing. He was told he would most likely never be able to have children and there was a high chance of his quality of life being not so great.

Well my father, being the man he is, said “Not today, Satan!” and did everything in his power to fight back and prevent the disease from progressing. This worked great for longer than any doctor said it should. He went on for 25 years in this manner.

In that time he fathered my older brother (1984) and myself (1988). All while balancing a career and raising a family. Then in 2007 my father was dealt another hard blow when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of only 48.

Thankfully the cancer had not spread and with the removal of his prostate he was able to overcome the disease and has since remained cancer free. The cancer did however take a toll on his body and his kidney function had dropped. He still was able to fight it back another 4 years.

I joined the Navy in 2006 and served for 6 years until 2012. I unfortunately was out at sea when the cancer was present and during his battle with it. When I got home and learned his kidney prognosis was looking grim, I got my self tested as a donor in 2010.

In February of 2011 my father’s kidneys finally had had enough. Almost 30 years of fighting a disease that was supposed to take him out in only a few. When my father was admitted to the hospital for kidney failure, I was on deployment and in the Indian Ocean. They sent an AMCROSS message to my ship and I was flown off the ship, through three different countries, and half way around the world, to the hospital where my father was. 48 hours after I received the message I was prepping for surgery. My father and I went in to the operating room on 2-11-11. My left kidney was removed and transplanted into his body.

After a short stay in the hospital, my father and I were allowed to go home to continue our recovery.

I am very proud and happy to say that as of today my father is still alive and well. We are approaching our 9-year transplant anniversary.

In my eyes, my father is a true symbol of what a man should be. Overcome with health problems that were out of his control, all while working to provide for us, raise my brother and me, and be a great husband to my mother.

For a long time, even through our transplant, I took for granted what a father/son relationship is really all about. Being a father to two sons myself now, it strikes me every time I see or talk to my dad. Through all the crud he held his head high and made time for us and made us laugh.

I just hope that I can be as good of a father to my sons as my father continues to be for me.”

– Daniel Phillips

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Father Figures: I Can Make This Work

“I just wanted to share what an amazing husband and father my husband Jeff West is.

This past year, our son has grown so much, and it’s been a joy to watch my husband go from not knowing how to help to being the baby whisperer problem solver.

The best example I have is from this week. My son and I have both been sick with a head cold. The doctor’s office said we need to raise the baby’s head up at an angle to help the mucus drain so he can sleep. In my own sick, sleep-deprived state, I told my husband what they said, but that we still cannot give him a pillow. I didn’t know what else to do.

He told me, “Hang on, I can make this work.”

He stacked a bag of dog food and some lawn bags under one side of the crib and voila! One side is up. Our son finally slept most of the night after being sick for several days.

I am so grateful every day that this amazing man is my husband and the father of my son.’

– Ashley Frahm

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Father Figures: Slightly More Prepared

“My better half is so unique.

She is a short, quiet, skinny, redheaded beauty. She is kind and sweet to other people, animals, and our family. She gave up all of her youth and best years that she could’ve been traveling or partying and living life, and instead sacrificed her body for our three boys. She works at the hospital all day long then comes home, and cleans up after us.

I work all day myself, but I pay a large sum of my check to child support from my first born, so it is hard to give her all the things she truly deserves. Yet she stays. Our first son endured some rough times between us and yet he still has her huge heart and is always described as being blonde blue eyed sweetheart. He loved being the only child and the apple of his mothers eye.

Then our second son was born, and the world flipped upside down for everyone! He is the wildest, fighting, wrestling, screaming little demon a dad cant help but love. We thought we were complete at this point, our sweet child, and our wild baby, but God had other plans.

At 32 years old, and after complaining for years I wasn’t having another after 30, our chubby third boy was welcomed into this world by a thrilled oldest brother and viewed skeptically by his much closer in age middle brother. Maybe we are a complete family now, if not we will be slightly more prepared this time!

As an only child raised by a single mother, I love hearing the fatherhood stories. They are the encouragement I need everyday to go do the things she needs me to do to keep this train rolling.

My boys will never go to bed wondering where or why their daddy wasn’t there for them. All they have to do is get up in the middle of the night wondering over to my bed and scare the hell out of me!”

– Nick Hopper

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Father Figures: Spina Bifida

“I remember preparing for my son to be born with Spina Bifida. We were told of all issues and problems he would face in his life; it was scary. He was to have two major surgeries within the first three days of his life, and to date he’s had 20+ surgeries. He’s only 6.

He was born via c-section on 9/11/2013, stabilized, and immediately transported to Children’s Hospital while my wife had to stay at the hospital where he was born for three days. My wife told me that she wanted me to stay with our son at all times, so she got to see him once before we left for another hospital.

We had no idea of all the trials we would face as a family, but here we are 6 years later and he (our son) and our family are as happy as could be. Sure, there’s things that he’s not capable of doing but where he’s not able, we pick up.

My son, though just a typical 6-year-old, is one of the happiest kids I know. I had no idea how much he would change our world – for the better! There’s been many sleepless nights in hospitals, many doctors, and many set backs, but it’s an honor to be his father.

I love all my children to death, each one holds a special place in my heart, but my firstborn son has taught us more than we could ever teach him.”

– Aric Mompher

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Father Figures: We Remain Dedicated

“My wife and I grew up together, close since single digits. Dated in the late teens, and went our separate ways.

We stayed in touch, and although we didn’t always see eye to eye, we still talked. Years later, we reconnected through friends; at the time, she had a son. He was 5 weeks old and her other half (to be polite) wasn’t around. We stayed together and I raised him as my own.

Our boy grew and has become a wonderful, caring person and a great son. When he was 8, my wife was pregnant with our second son. Even though she took excellent care of herself and the baby, God felt he was too good for this world and took him too heaven at 31 weeks. Our angel baby is and will always be loved. We grew stronger as a family and we worked hard to push through our hard times.

She became pregnant again and worked until the day before her delivery, when she had a c-section. She gave me another handsome, and chubby, baby boy. A tough girl who had two rough pregnancies and smiled the whole time.

For that, I give everything I have to her and all my boys. Since then, we’ve been married and even though we continue to struggle with what ifs, we remain dedicated to our family and our future.”

– Jason

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Father Figures: Modern Superhero

“This is Benny. He is a modern superhero as a person and dad. I keep trying to rip off his shirt to find his hero suit, but I just keep seeing a heart of pure gold.

Moms get so much love and support about how hard it is to be a mom and to keep the family going. But if I’m being honest, truly honest… it’s more him carrying the weight in our family.

When I’m stuck working weekends he sends me awesome pics of their adventures to the park. When I’m tapped out at the end of the day, it’s Benny that stays up and cleans the kitchen and preps the coffee for our insanely early mornings. When I grab the remote for few minutes of peace, he’s the one down on the floor getting the kids to help Scooby Doo and Ghostbusters solve the mystery of the haunted Jurassic Park.

He keeps us laughing every day and teaches us all how to live on the lighter side of life.

This picture, and the way she looks up at him with complete adoration, is still how I feel after 14 together. Not sure what we did to deserve him but we definitely hit the jackpot with this hero.”

– Sarah Cummings

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Father Figures: While We Danced

“July 2007, around 9:00pm: It was our first night at the hospital after my baby girl was born. Mom and baby were asleep. I just couldn’t. It was a mix of the emotion of the day and the uncomfortable sofa I was trying to sleep on.

So I got up, slowly took my baby girl from her crib, played a super corny song in very low volume (I was afraid that if her mom woke up and saw me she would get crazy), and danced with her.

While we danced, I talked to her. Nonstop. I made promises, I told stories, and I fell in love forever.

She is 12 now. She doesn’t like to be hugged and kissed as much as I’d like, but every now and then, I look at her and remember that dance, the promises, and play that song again to dance with her (in my mind of course, she would never let me haha).”

– Enrique Molina

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Father Figures: Nothing Else Matters

“It’s funny how one day you’re you, thinking about what’s best for yourself and partner, moving along in a mostly straight line. Then next day you’re a parent and nothing else matters.

It’s been 5 days since she’s been born and she’s all we can think about. You’re heart moves at a different level. That straight line you’re on now diverts to where can it take her. You want to give her the world while protecting her from it.

We still have work and the same old responsibilities as before but at the end of the day all we want to know is how she’s doing. Nothing else matters.

As for my wife, there has to be a better word than endurance for what she went through. And through it all she smiles and the happiness just flows from her.

Women are truly amazing and we hope to raise an amazing one.”

– Carlos Menendez

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