May 2016

The Many Joys of Parenthood...as told by local parents

Author: Special to CH2

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Ben Kennedy
Bryson Kennedy; 2 Years Old
Photography by Carrie Friesen Photography

What was the first thought that went through your head when you found out you were going to be a dad?
At our first sonogram, I noticed right away that there were two little dots on the screen. My wife saw my face turn white and my jaw hit the floor. My head was spinning, and I just kept thinking, “Oh Lord, there are two of them in there. Well, this is certainly going to be an adventure.”

Was there a time after your child was born that you had the “S#*! just got real and I’m scared to death” moment?
Our son and daughter were born two months premature, so things got real pretty quickly. Reality hit me hard when I was holding our two tiny babies, each under four pounds, and realizing these new little lives depended on us to survive. We spent the first month in NICU before they were released to come home with us. But even if they had been born on time, I don’t think we could have really been mentally prepared for all the changes that were about to take place.

If you could wave a magic wand and have your child follow a particular career path, what would it be?
I would really like my son to be an entrepreneur. I feel like being able to take risks and then reap the rewards is an amazing adventure. I want him to be confident and excited to take on new challenges but also know that failing every now and again is part of what makes us grow to be successful.

Where is your favorite family vacation spot and why?
Like father, like son, Bryson already loves the mountains like his daddy. We took a great trip out to Jackson Hole, Wyoming last year. We strapped them on our backs and took them hiking to see waterfalls. Every once in a while, he will randomly just say, “Daddy, let’s go to the mountains.”

What is the one piece of advice you wished someone had told you prior to having your first child?
Start planning for kids way before you have them. I wish I could have better prepared myself to be a father. But in actuality, you can’t really prepare yourself for what is about to come. You can buy all the necessary items that experts tell you to purchase, but you can never really be prepared for parenthood. It is God’s greatest blessing and yet also the thing that will make you question your sanity. I wouldn’t have it any other way, though.

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Kety Marquez
Inez Gomez; 2 Years Old
Photography by Etresia Godoy

What was the first thought that went through your head when you found out you were going to be mom?
I was overwhelmed with joy, especially since we were not expecting to be pregnant.

Did you guess you were having a boy or a girl…and were you right?
Did not suspect a girl but was proven wrong for a second time.

Who was your biggest help in the first few months after your baby was born?
Did not suspect a girl but was proven wrong for a second time.

Who was your biggest help in the first few months after your baby was born?
Definitely my mom. As with my first two, my mom was my biggest support.

ow did you change after the birth of your first child?
I certainly became more appreciative of life and was extremely happy to have a healthy baby boy (and two more girls to follow).

What is the one piece of advice you wish someone had told you prior to having your first child?
I wish someone would have told me that I would still look pregnant for several weeks even after having the baby.

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Kaity Robinson
Presley Robinson; 4 Months Old
Photography by M.Kat Photography

What was the first thought that went through your head when you found out you were going to be mom?
I did not think it was real; I kept looking at the test results and thinking it was fake. I was beyond excited, but it took a while for reality to set in.

Did you guess you were having a boy or a girl…and were you right?
I for sure thought I was going to be having a boy, because I would have no idea what to do with a boy. My husband guessed we were having a girl, and he was right…for once

Who was your biggest help in the first few months after your baby was born?
Obviously, my husband was incredibly helpful, but we really have my parents to thank as well. They dropped everything to come and help for the first month, and if it weren’t for them, my husband and I would have been living on Ramen noodles and frozen meals.

How did you change after the birth of your first child?
I don’t think I “changed.” I just fell in love with the most precious little lady ever!

What is the one piece of advice you wish someone had told you prior to having your first child?
Be prepared to do everything one-handed and to be constantly carrying around about seven different bags full of EVERYTHING you could ever possibly need.

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Erik Olson
John “Jack” Olson; 13 months
Photography by M.Kat Photography

What was the first thought that went through your head when you found out you were going to be a dad?
I don’t remember my first thought, but I’ll never forget the moment: I was out of town, in a hotel stairwell, when Rachael called from home with the news. Words can’t do it justice, but if I were to try… it was the most complex set of emotions I’ve ever experienced, from exhilaration to anxiety, bundled with a huge adrenaline rush.

Was there a time after your child was born that you had the “ S#*! just got real and I’m scared to death” moment?
Meconium. Now that’s some S#*!, and it doesn’t get any more real or scary. Beyond that, the role of being a husband and a father doesn’t take root until the family leaves and friends stop dropping in. It just hits you one day at a random moment… you’re a father that needs to submit, to lead, to provide, to protect. I don’t fear these responsibilities. I fear the moments when I don’t fulfill them.

If you could wave a magic wand and have your child follow a particular career path, what would it be? (Don’t say “whatever makes them happy”—it will be fun for him to read this 20 years from now!)
No brainer: Jack would be a naval aviator; a strike fighter pilot; a TOPGUN graduate. Call sign would be “Einstein” (he was born 3/14).

Where is your favorite family vacation spot and why?
Islamorada. It’s certainly no secret destination, but it still retains a bit of the “Conch Republic” culture where people do their own thing: easy going and low key—all the freedom in the world if you pull a boat down with you. Our extended family and friends love it as well.

What is the one piece of advice you wished someone had told you prior to having your first child?
I heard it a couple months ago watching an old episode of one our favorite sitcoms: “The key to being a good dad…well, sometimes things work out just the way you want. Sometimes they don’t. But you gotta hang in there. Because when all is said and done, 90 percent of being a dad is just showing up.”

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Jessica Deckert Long
Austin Lauren ‘ALL’; 9 ½ months
Photography by Erin Rene Photography

What was the first thought that went through your head when you found out you were going to be mom?
Holy crab cakes! I was in complete shock. Brendan was at a golf tournament that weekend, and I took a home pregnancy test before going on a run Friday afternoon. I actually forgot I took the test, and happened to look down when I was getting ready for dinner and saw two pink lines. A complete numbness came over my body. I took 12 tests that weekend to be sure and had to wait until Brendan got home Sunday night to tell him in person our very exciting news. It felt like the longest weekend of my life!

Did you guess you were having a boy or a girl…and were you right?
I was 100 percent certain we were having a boy! My husband and I decided to find out the gender ahead of time, even though I thought I “knew.” When we went to the doctor’s office that day, I said, “See, there it is,” thinking that the umbilical cord was the male part on the ultrasound. When the provider typed, “It’s a GIRL!” on the screen, I literally sat straight up, screamed and started crying! We both wanted a little lady, and I love that I was so wrong.

Who was your biggest help in the first few months after your baby was born?
My husband, without a doubt. Having been together for almost seven years at the time we conceived, we were very comfortable in our routine as a couple. When Austin Lauren arrived unexpectedly a month early, I can honestly say we were not fully prepared. However, my steady love just knew what both of his girls needed and did it. This included night duty feedings, diaper changes, letting me take naps, household chores, cooking…everything! Since day one, Brendan has been as much involved in our daughter’s life as I am. We are a strong parental unit, and I am so blessed that hot man is mine.

How did you change after the birth of your first child?
I feel like I am a better person because Austin Lauren is in my life. Having a baby is the best, and hardest, thing I have ever done. I now do everything with her happiness in mind. I want to be a better wife, family member, employee, and friend because I want Austin Lauren to feel the love and joy I experience daily.

What is the one piece of advice you wish someone had told you prior to having your first child?
Looking back, I wish I had embraced my pregnancy more. That time before your little one arrives is so magical and exciting, and I kept looking at the end of the process and not enjoying the steps along the way. Go on fancy date nights, take beautiful pregnancy pictures, register for everything monogrammed, sleep all day, embrace the growing belly, and just take it ALL in.

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Juan Brantley
Jaden Brantley; 4 Years Old
Photography by M.Kat Photography

What was the first thought that went through your head when you found out you were going to be a dad?
My first was a surprise, but even in the first moments of knowing, I couldn’t have been more excited. I knew it was going to be a big job, but it’s definitely also the most rewarding “job” you could have. Having two girls first, and then deciding to wait until birth to find out what our third child would be, hearing, “It’s a boy!” made my heart jump out of my chest: excitement, relief, and love all at once.

Was there a time after your child was born that you had the “ S#*! just got real and I’m scared to death” moment?
I always knew I’d be very protective if I had girls, and I’m amazed how fast that develops even with them at a young age… watch out boys, I mean business! Ha, ha. But there’s also a different sort of pride that comes out when you start to raise a son into the man you want him to be. I’m enjoying this time but can’t wait to see them mature and grown into their own personal selves.

If you could wave a magic wand and have your child follow a particular career path, what would it be? (Don’t say “whatever makes them happy”—it will be fun for them to read this 20 years from now!)
Whatever they do, I want them to be “the boss.” I want them to be leaders and think for themselves, never to be afraid of taking risks, and always to surround themselves by good people—people who inspire them to do great things.

Where is your favorite family vacation spot and why?
Honestly, home. We love to relax and just be ourselves. We like to be spontaneous, and love time with our extended family. It’s common to put on a last minute BBQ or family gathering.

What is the one piece of advice you wished someone had told you prior to having your first child?
I’m sure I was told, so I guess I what I really wish is that I would have listened when I was told how much your life would change when a child comes into your world. It forces you to weigh your decisions differently, because now you have these beautiful little people depending on you. I can only hope that they are as proud to have me for their daddy as I am to have them in my life.

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Billy Schilling
Liam Schilling; 2 Years Old

What was the first thought that went through your head when you found out you were going to be a dad?
Well, at first I was shocked, because my wife and I thought it would be hard for us to have kids. Then, secretly, I was hoping it was going to be a boy, because there were so many things that my dad taught me when I was a kid that I always wanted to teach my son one day.

Was there a time after your child was born that you had the “ S#*! just got real and I’m scared to death” moment?
Ahh, yeah, the second night in the hospital, ha ha. The first night, he slept all the way through the night and my wife and I were like, oh we got this! We were wrong. He was up all night on day two. Neither of us knew what to do.

If you could wave a magic wand and have your child follow a particular career path, what would it be? (Don’t say “whatever makes them happy”—it will be fun for them to read this 20 years from now!)
A professional golfer—but will also accept a profession in baseball or football.

Where is your favorite family vacation spot and why?
Being from Hilton Head Island, we typically like going to the mountains to switch things up.

What is the one piece of advice you wished someone had told you prior to having your first child?
Enjoy your sleep while you can.

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Kelly Caron
Emma Rose Caron; 5 Years Old
Photography by M.Washo

What was the first thought that went through your head when you found out you were going to be a mom?
A flurry of questions went through my head: Can I still have my coffee? Can I still work out? Will it be a boy or a girl? What will the baby look like?

Did you guess you were having a boy or a girl…and were you right?
Yes. I had a feeling it was a girl, and I was correct.

Who was your biggest help in the first few months after your baby was born?
My husband, Nate, and my mom.

How did you change after the birth of your first child?
I never knew I could love anyone so uh. Emma and family decisions became first priority.

What is the one piece of advice you wished someone had told you prior to having your first child?
Go to the breast feeding support group at the Hilton Head Hospital. The ladies and other moms played a pivotal role in new amazing friendships that I still have. Emma is also still friends with this group of awesome five-year-olds.

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