West Michigan dad: “Parenting has changed me…”

fathers day guest writer

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV)- This Father’s Day we turned to West Michigan dad’s to share their perspectives on how fatherhood has impacted their lives in unexpected ways.  Learn how their children have shaped them into the amazing dads they are today.

Mike’s story…

When I was first asked to write my thoughts and experiences about fatherhood I immediately thought this would not be a problem at all. The longer I brainstormed about the topic I realized it would be hard to put in words how amazing, wonderful and emotionally gratifying having children is.

My name is Michael Schultz and for years I thought I wouldn’t have children of my own and having nieces and nephews was as close as I would get. I liked the idea of spoiling my niece and nephews then giving them back to their parents to take care of them.

I hit a point in my life when I met the right woman and it made sense to have children.

mike schultz familiiy phtoo
Guest writer Mike pictured with family.

While waiting for our first child I was given lots of fatherly advice. One thing I laugh about is people asking me how would I be able to change my babies diaper. The truth is I had been a nurse for five years at this point and I found out quickly I could change my child’s diaper one handed with my eyes closed especially after all the practice I had changing adult diapers for a living.

“Having a child that is 1 pound 9 ounces and fits in your hand is unexplainable.”

To date, we have two beautiful girls. Our first daughter Adriana is 8 years old and going into the 4th grade. I was blessed to have a career where I worked three days a week.  The rest of the time I could spend with my family.

My life before kids was filled with partying and taking two or three naps a day. It was fun but it really wasn’t fulfilling.

My first daughter was born and things started to change.  Before she was in school we would go for long walks to the park, go to Meijer Gardens to see all the beautiful flowers and butterflies or go to the Children’s museum.

ava premie
Credit: Michael Schultz

I realize now I took my daughter’s health for granted.

Our second daughter, Ava, was born three months early. I’m having trouble thinking of how to express my feelings during her birth. It all seems like a blur now. Having a child that is 1 pound 9 ounces and fits in your hand is unexplainable.

“Wondering every second of every day if your child will survive is nothing I wish upon anyone. I tried every day to be strong and be there for Ava’s mother.”

Wondering every second of every day if your child will survive is nothing I wish upon anyone. I tried every day to be strong and be there for Ava’s mother.

I had taken care of many sick people as a nurse and have had my own family members pass away at an early age. I found all my experience as a nurse didn’t prepare for having a premature daughter. I’m starting to tear up writing this thinking of how difficult it was to see your child hooked up to monitors and have tubes coming out of their mouth and nose so they can breathe and get nutrition to survive.

mike schultz skin to skin care
Skin to skin contact with baby. Credit: Michael Schultz

I’m flooded with memories of the amazing people that work in the children’s neonatal care unit. They are the angels on earth that helped my daughter get through.

Spending Father's Day at the hospital. Credit: Mike Schultz
Spending Father’s Day at the hospital. Credit: Michael Schultz

She is now 2 years old and doing fine as of now. She still has many doctors visits and tests and she still may have cerebral palsy but all we can do is continue to work with her and take it day by day. Going through this myself makes me feel for all the other parents with disabled or sick children. I have found out though there is so much support and resources available to all parents in need.

ava schultz 3
Daddy;s little girl: Ava Credit: Michael Schultz

I initially was going to write this piece on how much my life changed as soon as I became a father. I admit for a while I did feel like I was missing out on my old lifestyle. I’ve come to realize being a parent is the greatest gift that can be given to you in life and my old life pales in comparison to having children. It does come with a lot of worry. I now see why my parents worried so much about their children. You want to do everything you can to keep them safe even if it’s not realistic sometimes.

ava schultz 2
Credit: Michael Schultz
ava schultz
Credit: Michael Schultz

The little things in life such as a smile on your child’s face is enough to make your life complete. I could go on and on about the joys of being a father but I’m about to take my daughters to Traverse City… to enjoy the scenery.

 

Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of WOTV 4 Women, its staff and/or contributors to this site.

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