In 2014, my wife and I performed something akin to a miracle. We gave birth to our son, Nathan. Born in the early morning hours of November 26th at Cypress Regional Hospital in Swift Current and named Nathan David Peter Cook, he came along on the promise of defeating yet another obstacle that Type-1 Diabetes had presented in me. His birth was a long process, having started the previous day. But when he finally arrived, he proved that even a chronic condition such as mine can be overcome. He not only represented a piece of myself, but hope.
Although not necessarily proven, men with Type-1 Diabetes with usually face fertility issues, altered and damaged DNA as well as neurological damage; all of which can make the conception of a child difficult, if not impossible. I had lived through most of my 20’s confident that I would never sire any children, even if no doctor in New Brunswick would help confirm my fertility until “you and a stable partner have been trying to conceive” for some time, first. Total bullshit.
This was a problem because since I HADN’T met the woman of my dreams yet, I also wasn’t ready to conceive children. But many (if not most) adult relationships can be defined by the decision and/or the ability to bear children. Such information would definitely be an asset when establishing those potential relationships. A fact that made it all the more heart-breaking when I couldn’t get the help I needed to secure that information.
When I met my wife and the subject of a family was considered, I was lucky enough that my wife was understanding and knew what she was getting into. A lesser woman wouldn’t have understood and wouldn’t have been as accommodating as she was. She has a strength she isn’t aware of. But that lack of awareness is what makes it a strength, I suppose. We were happy with each despite the prospect that we likely wouldn’t have children.
Since his birth and my refusal to leave his side at the hospital, Nathan has stuck to me like glue. He’s been my shadow and has quietly followed my every move since the doctors put him in my arms. Although he drives me nuts on the best of days, he has a spark of life that reminds me that there are more important things in life than perfection. There are more important things than money, accomplishments and time. As he’s often told me himself, “you can’t say no to love.” And the only other person who could show me more unconditional love than his mother is Nathan.
Today is Nathan’s 6th birthday. It seems as though that semi-sleepless night in late 2014 was a lifetime ago. Since then, he continues to amaze me with his intelligence, his stubbornness and his wantonness to seek out nature and absorb everything he can. Never lacking a question, the entire world is his classroom. Although not practical from a “structured” educational perspective, I know that his curiosity will never waiver. It will carry him far. No matter my failures, he is my greatest success, my greatest accomplishment and my best hope for the future.
We recently had Nathan tested for Type-1 Diabetes. My greatest fear is that I would have passed my condition on to my children. Believe me when I say that there is no greater feeling than knowing that his metabolism and immune system are clean and he shows no signs of Diabetes, Above all else, this is likely the best gift I can give him.
As you read this, Nathan is at school, likely bragging to everyone who will listen that today is his birthday and repeating the number 6 until people are sick of hearing it. When he gets home, he’ll be greeted with cake, gifts and his choice of favourite supper (he chose shepherd’s pie). I don’t know what the future will bring; I’m no oracle or prophet. But I know that if Nathan continues on his current path, he’ll no doubt forge a way through life that no one else has considered. And I can’t wait to see the outcome, should life will it so. Happy birthday, son! ☯