Nominated by John Akins, Fatherhood Community Health worker for Syracuse Healthy Start
We first featured Ben Jamison in the September 2015 issue of The Stand. He was raising Ameerah — the daughter of his girlfriend, La’Chelle Brown — as his own. The couple since has had their first child together, Peyton, and they are expecting another girl this summer.
Q: How was your first experience with a delivery?
A: It was surprisingly smooth. There were no major complications. She (baby Peyton) came Aug. 5 and was premature and had to be in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) for six weeks. That was a lot because she had to have the tubes in her nose and have the doctors come in and poke at her. After La’Chelle was discharged, Peyton had to stay — we visited as much as we could.
Q: And now you’re expecting again?
A: (With a wide smile) That was another surprise. It’s a girl. I’m going to have all girls. (He exhales) Whoa. The thought is scary sometimes, but I’m doing pretty good with these two so far, and they’re pretty funny. She (pointing to Peyton) cracks me up. For names for the third, we’re still working on that. We’re thinking of Riley.
Q: What is the biggest challenge?
A: The lack of sleep is the biggest challenge for me. You don’t truly appreciate sleep until you aren’t getting it. She was sleeping all during the day and being a vampire at night. This was how she was in the womb. We eventually got her on the right track, but those first weeks were definitely, definitely different, especially since it was my first child. Every day I’m growing. And every day I’m learning how to be a better dad.
Q: How did fatherhood meet your expectations?
A: I was ready for craziness but I did not know how crazy it was going to get. She could wake up after just a half hour. She takes catnaps throughout the entire day and then it’s
trying because she likes being held and she knows that dad is a sucker for tears. Whenever she starts crying, I go and pick her up.
Q: So, would you say you are the weak parent?
A: Yeah. I try not to be, but it’s hard. She’s so cute. La’Chelle always says, she’s gonna have you wrapped around her finger. And she sure does.
Q: What type of support system do you have?
A: We have a wonderful support system. I think if we didn’t have the support system that we have now, it would have been a lot harder and a lot more trying. My mom, my dad, my sisters and anybody that wants to come over and hold the baby for a little bit — all that really does help. Whether it’s for 20 minutes or a few hours, it gives us a chance to all exhale and catch our breath and get back to our sane minds.
Q: What special moment stands out?
A: Any time she smiles. Her first smile was in the NICU. La’Chelle had tickled her. She had the tubes in her nose and everything, but she smiled. I saw it and I knew, yup that’s my baby. She has my smile.
Q: Is she a daddy’s girl?
A: There are a lot of times she will just be crying her head off and as soon as I grab her, she’ll stop immediately or I can just rock her a little bit and she’ll be fine. She loves her daddy. My mom calls her fancy, but I call her fussy.
Q: What advice do you have for expectant dads?
A: Be ready for change. Know that it’s never going to go the way you expect it. So you have to be ready for some curve balls. Know that there are people out there that are willing to take our jobs as fathers. So if you have a child, you have responsibilities. If you don’t, know somebody else will. When you see somebody else out having fun and doing stuff with your child that you wished you could do, it’s really going to suck. I would never want anyone taking away this (he raises up his daughter, smiling, and wiggles her while making a silly face).
Q: Anything else to add?
A: The great things about being a dad are the little things. When I was little, my parents did what they needed to do — and I love my parents to death — and what they could do, but I always had wished we could have gone out more and done more stuff together. Now that I have my own family, we can make our own traditions. Get dressed up for Halloween, go see the Lights on the Lake, take them to the library and little things like that.
Q: What do you find rewarding about being a dad?
A: One of the most rewarding things about being a parent is seeing a smile on my kids’ faces and knowing that I put it there. Every time I come home, they are so excited … it’s ‘Oh daddy’s here!’ and I can see the excitement on their faces. I love being a dad. I don’t understand why people don’t want to be dads.
– Interview by Ashley Kang, The Stand director