Aitan Eli Rothkoff ––Welcome to the World
By: Jerold E. Rothkoff
“Teach your children what you believe in. Make a world that we can live in.” ––Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
June 28, 2010 was a very special day for our family. That day was the birth of our fifth child and third son, Aitan Eli Rothkoff. Although this was our third birth experience (we have two sets of twins), in some ways, the experience was all new. Both sets of twins were born nine weeks premature. As such, they were immediately intubated and rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit where they remained for five weeks until they were healthy enough to come home.
This time, though, my wife and I held baby Aitan immediately after birth, and were able to take him home upon my wife’s hospital discharge. As our other children are now nine and twelve, we were able to share as a family the precious new gift we received.
That said, I do not expect to win any father of the year awards. Without my wife doing an amazing job in juggling maintaining the home, managing the kids’ busy schedules while running her own business, I do not know where I would be today. At first, when my wife told me she was pregnant, I was quite apprehensive. Did I want to change my lifestyle on account of the new baby at the age of forty-two? The answer thus far is a resounding yes! In just a few weeks, I have seen the joy baby Aitan has not only brought to my wife and me, but to our children and grandparents as well. Yes, our lifestyle will need to change for a short while. We cannot just hop in the car or stay out late with the kids. That is a small price to pay for a lifetime of joy.
In some ways, in addition to a normal childbirth, fatherhood just feels different this time around. I think that has a great deal to do with the nine year gap between our second set of twins and Aitan.
Last month, while driving, I stumbled upon an interview on NPR with Dan Gottlieb, a psychologist, newspaper columnist, and radio talk show host. He was explaining how a severe auto accident several years ago that left him paralyzed actually helped to improve his outlook on life. He stated that his permanent injuries provided him a sense of emotional relief because it left him no choice but to “be the man I want to be, not the man I think I should be.”
Similarly, the time span between children has given me a different outlook on fatherhood and life in general. Nine years ago, I was working to build an elder and disability law practice and attempting to balance my work life and family life. Although a constant struggle, I now feel comfortable with my role as a father and husband.
In Hebrew, Aitan means “strength.” Our wish for Aitan is that he has the strength to overcome the obstacles that life will invariably place in front of him to lead a life of fulfillment and happiness.