Dylan Benson of Victoria spoke out Tuesday about the weekend that changed his life, after his wife, who was on life-support, gave birth to a baby boy and then died after being taken off the machines that were keeping her alive.
Benson struggled to fight back tears as he described what it was like to hold baby Iver for the first time.
"It was incredible. He is really small and tiny and just really cute. You know he is obviously very fragile because he is so small. It's an experience I'll never forget," said Benson.
"On the first day I got to go see him, he squeezed my finger with his tiny little hand … pretty amazing."
Baby Iver was born 12 weeks early and will have to spend the next eight to 12 weeks in hospital.
Mother kept on life-support
Robyn Benson, 32, was five months along in her pregnancy in late December when she complained of a headache just before collapsing from a brain hemorrhage.
She was rushed to hospital unresponsive and declared brain-dead the next day. Doctors had been keeping her body functioning until the baby could be delivered.
On Saturday night, doctors performed a caesarean section. On Sunday, the woman was taken off life-support and died.
Speaking on Tuesday, Benson said they had hoped to be able to give Iver at least two more weeks before delivering him, but in the end, doctors judged it safer for him to be born Saturday.
"It was just … it was time. Robyn held on as long as she could," said Benson. "It was relieving to finally have him here and so comforting to be able to hold him.
Benson waited until Monday to announce his son's arrival — and his wife's passing — on Facebook. The high school sweethearts were married last July, after dating for 16 years.
"My beautiful and amazing son, Iver Cohen Benson, was born. Iver is healthy and is the cutest and most precious person I have ever met," wrote Benson.
"On Sunday, we had to unfortunately say goodbye to the strongest and most wonderful woman I have ever met. I miss Robyn more than words can explain.
"I could not be more impressed with her strength, and I am so lucky to have known her. She will live on forever within Iver, and in my heart."
Benson said Tuesday he had been anxious that things would not work out for the baby.
"I was scared all the time. We had dates that we hoped for, and things were going well with Robyn, but I was very aware that they could have ended abruptly at any time.
"As time went on we knew his chances of surviving were increasing daily.… Cautiously optimistic is how I looked at it."
Benson said he took things hour by hour at first, then day by day, as he waited for baby Iver to be born.
"I think I dealt with it in the way I had to deal with it to get through it. I went to counsellors, I didn't bottle things up, I shared with friends and family how I was feeling.… There wasn't really any other way to get through it."
Baby Iver fund raises more than $160K
A fund set up to help Benson raise his son has grown to more than $160,000, which is four times the original goal. Benson said the money will be used to help pay for Iver's nannies, daycare and education, as well as supporting the family, now left on only one income.
On Tuesday Benson thanked those people who contributed or commented on his website, sent him an email or contacted him on Facebook.
"It's made a lot of difference, helping me and us stay strong. I'm just so thankful for everyone's caring and support and prayers and wishes."
When the time comes to tell Iver about his mother, Benson said he will show him some of the messages he's received and explain how many people's lives she touched.
"I'm so incredibly proud of her, and it's nice to be able to get to share that with him."
For now, though, he said he will be seeing his son every day and spending time with his own and Robyn's family to plan Iver's future.
"It's been a crazy roller-coaster of emotion recently and it's so bittersweet. I'm so happy to have him here and so sad to not have Robyn.
"I'm feeling overwhelmed, and scared, like any new parent is. But I understand that's natural. I'm looking forward to starting our life together."
Benson said he will post updates about Iver on his website or Facebook, but asked for privacy to be able to focus on family.