Lifestyle & Human Interest

Brand New Dad Cries Holding Daughter for the First Time After Baby’s Miraculous Recovery


Delivering a baby may be a natural process, but it certainly isn’t an easy one. If you’ve ever stood in a delivery room when the stirrups come out and the bright lights go on, you know just how tenuous it can be.

One father and mother from Nashville, Tennessee, know that feeling full well. Zahra Damballah delivered her first child, little Ivy, on March 6.

However, once the little girl entered the world, Damballah quickly realized that something had gone wrong. “The staff was bustling around, counting the minutes,” she told WZTV.

“One minute, two minutes … five minutes, six minutes. Potentially, the longest six minutes of my life.

“She was unresponsive. How could this be?!”

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It turned out that Ivy couldn’t yet breathe on her own. After those first six minutes, medical personnel put her on a ventilator.

She wouldn’t draw breath on her own until two hours after her birth. After her transfer to a more specialized facility, Ivy had to remain mostly isolated in a hypothermic state to avoid brain damage.

“We could touch her, but not pet her,” Damballah said. “We could whisper softly, but not talk.”

Person-to-person contact between a parent and a newborn matters so much on multiple levels. For one thing, it helps with a tiny baby’s development.

But for a mother or father, it also has a powerful emotional component. And being deprived of it was tough for Ivy’s mom and dad.

Her father, Ocean Clark, wrote on Instagram about when Damballah got to hold her little girl.

He said, “Momma got to do skin to skin, and baby latched right on and pulled the [feeding] tubes out of her mouth herself. …

“I opted out of my skin to skin until the next feeding, ‘cause baby was exhausted from her first time out of the bubble … and I wanted to wash my beard good first. But I’ll get to hold her in a few minutes … and I’ll never let go again!”

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Indeed, Damballah captured footage of Clark holding Ivy, and I challenge you to not mist up as you watch. Naked emotions chase each other across his face, one following the other lightning-fast.

Pure peace transitions into teary awe before shifting into exhausted wonder. “I think I’m crying more than that baby in the next cubicle,” he murmured as a newborn sobbed mere feet away.

Oh, and did I mention that Clark is a heavily tattooed, macho-looking guy with a beard so bristly that it could make the most rough-and-tumble lumberjack jealous? Seems that an itty-bitty baby can make even the most manly man cry.

“Ocean broke down and just melted as soon as soon as she was in his arms,” Damballah explained. “She rested in his warmth gazing up at him as his tears rolled into her. It was clear he was going to be the best dad ever.”

Ivy has since gone home, and Damballah said that Clark’s fatherly enthusiasm hasn’t abated.

“Ocean is exuberant with every diaper and every feed grateful that this little girl is alive and well. We are thankful for our angels, the team of medical professionals, our support, and each other every day,” she said.

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
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