My wife was visiting family in Canada when my first child arrived unexpectedly. I remember waking to a phone call from my sister-in-law and her words: “Don’t panic.”
Any expectant parent at this point will tell you what happens next, which is that you start to panic.
In all, my son arrived seven weeks early and I jumped a train, crossed an international border, and got there as fast as I could.
I know I am not the only father to race to the birth of his child. And I know for every one of us who got there on time, there are those who missed that bus or train and arrived too late.
But new fathers are nothing if not creative. We have skills.
U.S. Army combat engineer Francois Clerfe was one of those dads who just didn’t know if he was going to make it or not.
But like every loving father, when he got the news he raced to the side of his wife.
For Francois, though, it was more than a train ride over the Canadian border. His wife was in Monterey, California: he was in Iraq.
The trip took him through two days and ten flights. “It was fun and exciting at the same time,” he said to the KCRA3 news team, “The thrill, thinking of the what-ifs.”
Francois arrived just in time for his daughter’s birth on New Year’s Day. “I had a feeling he would make it,” his wife Natalia Svistunova said. “He really wanted to be here.”
“That moment, having a first kid into the world [on] the very first day of the New Year, I think that it’s going to be a very good year,” the new father said.
Clerfe was able to come home for his daughter’s birth due to a special benefit the military provides.
This same policy will allow him to stay home for 30 days total and cash in on an additional 10 days of paternity leave.
It just goes to show you that a person driven by love will stop at nothing to be present for those important moments.
I feel that had Francois not arrived on time, he would have fought just as hard to be at the side of his wife anyway.
For all the fathers-to-be reading this, please cherish the arrival of your children, always be present with them, and don’t let international borders get in the way. Fatherhood is the ultimate adventure.
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