After the layoff: Birth of a son, rebirth of a career

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On Sunday, June 14, after nine long months of waiting and worrying – especially knowing we’ve got a child on the way and I’m still out of work – my wife, Ali, gave birth to our second son, Will.

A beautiful moment for sure, but it was also unexpectedly short-lived.

Will was having trouble breathing.

As the doctors worked feverishly to clear fluid from Will’s tiny lungs, my wife and I held hands – and our breath – as we helplessly looked on, our minds and hearts racing with worry and excitement.

A short time later, the doctors informed us Will was OK, but was suffering from a respiratory infection that would take a week to treat with antibiotics.

On Monday and Tuesday, time slowed to a crawl as we eagerly awaited test results and the latest updates on Will, who barely made a peep, whether he was asleep or awake.

Much to our relief, Will’s health took a noticeable turn for the better on Wednesday. The doctors told us his lab results looked good and we should be able to take him home soon. We just didn’t know when.

As the week wore on, splitting time between home and the hospital was beginning to take its toll on our 2 1/2-year-old son, Matt.

“Why’s mommy at the hospital? Where’s my baby brother?,” he’d ask each night as I tucked him in.

I did my best to reassure him mom and Will would be home as soon as Will was feeling better.

Thursday the doctors told us Will would likely be coming home Sunday, provided he continued making progress.

“That’s great news!” I said to Matt. “Now all daddy needs is a new job, and we’re all set.”

When Matt and I arrived home that night, there was a message on my answering machine. It was a job offer.

Giddy with excitement, I tucked Matt into bed, and a short time later, he was sound asleep.

I can’t say the same for me.

I spent most of the night tossing and turning, my mind filled with anticipation that my family would soon be reunited and I may well very have a new job by the end of the following day.

First thing Friday morning, after checking on Ali, Will and Matt, I called the woman who’d left me the message. Sure enough, she was offering me a job.

I was so stunned and trembling with excitement, I asked her again, just to be sure I heard her right the first time.

“You’re offering me the position right now, yes?” I asked, quietly struggling to maintain my composure.

“Yes,” she replied with a chuckle, somewhat amused and sensing the excitement in my suddenly quivering voice.

“I’ll take it,” I said.

“You got it,” she replied.

I hung up the phone and nearly burst into tears as I struggled to hold back the well of emotion building up within me.

I called my wife and relayed the good news. She nearly cried, too.

Finally, after a week-long, white-knuckle ride on an emotional roller coaster that delivered plenty of unexpected highs, lows, twists and turns, it seemed our wild journey was finally nearing an end.

But it wasn’t over yet.

Saturday, after waiting what seemed like an eternity, the doctors informed us we could take Will home the next day. Father’s Day.

“What a gift!” I said to myself with a smile. For the first time, we’d be together as a family. In our home, instead of the hospital.

Everyone happy.

Everyone healthy.

And for me, employed. Finally.

Sure beats getting a necktie.

Next: Lessons from the school of hard knocks

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Sean-Baker-op.jpgSean Baker of South Portland has a personal perspective on unemployment: his more than two-decade career in broadcasting came to a sudden halt in February when he was laid off by a Portland radio station. He’s writing about the experience in this series for The Forecaster, and can be reached at