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Science teacher welcomes new addition, first born

Nathaniel Kai Harris was born to science teacher Dan Harris and his wife Megan at the Clovis Community Hospital at 11:35 p.m., Oct. 10. The baby weighed in at nine pounds and Megan is now at home recovering after the birth.

Dan stayed home from school for a week after the birth to look after his wife and son. The students have had substitute teachers for the duration of this time as Harris makes visits occasionally to make sure the students are on task.

Harris explains that the labor took over two days, and the hospital accepted them the day after the contractions began.

“The labor lasted for 56 hours,” Dan said. “We started counting the contractions at about five o?clock that afternoon; that was about when I got home, but we didn?t go to the hospital till the next day. If you go in too soon, sometimes they just send you away. We were admitted on Tuesday evening, but the baby wasn?t born until Wednesday night. We went through three different shifts of nurses and doctors.”

Megan did not have drugs or surgery for the birth, but she still managed to stay relatively calm.

“She [Megan] didn?t take any drugs or have any surgery for it; it was an all-natural birth,” Dan said. “She was really calm, and she knew what was going on, so she didn?t get overwhelmed.”

According to Dan, the name Nathaniel came from the way the pregnancy aided his marriage. He explains that Nathaniel has helped them in a way nothing else can.

“Nathaniel means ?gift from God,? and his birth gave a new focus to our marriage and our family,” Dan said. “Before the birth, it was great, but it didn?t have the same spiritual depth that should be seen in a couple. I think the pregnancy was a gift from God that helped push us together in a way that nothing else really could. We loved each other, but there is a greater maturity loving one another as a father and mother working together than there is in a husband and wife.”

Dan also explains the origin of the name Kai. The name has roots in several different languages, and he changed the name from its original spelling of “Ki.”

“The name Kai is kind of a long story,” Dan said. “My wife was teaching a kid is swimming named Ki, which she really liked. The name was Japanese, and we were looking up which definitions that had, and the definitions from the Ki spelling had two main meanings. One being ‘to raise up,’ and the other one being ‘the foundation.’ We liked the name Ki then, but we spelled it slightly different so people wouldn?t pronounce it like ‘key.’ We were going to make it a first name, but Nathaniel really melted our hearts.”

There are some challenges with being a father, however. Dan has to deal with schedule conflicts as well as difficulties with exposure for Nathaniel.

Megan is experiencing some of the joys of having a child, and is continuing to learn more about the baby.

“I am enjoying being a mother,” Megan said. “I enjoy learning his personality and figuring out how life works now with a child. One of my favorite experiences so far was when I picked him up in the morning and he put his arms around my neck and hugged me. Another awesome thing about him is that he loves Pandora. When we can?t get him to sleep, we put Pandora on, and he will be knocked out immediately.”

“One challenge is that my schedule is not my own at all; I don?t get to sleep when I want to,” Dan said. “It is all part of being a father, but the sleepless nights are really hard. Another challenge is that we have to be very careful socially right now, because even though his immune system is great, it is easy for a baby to get over stimulated from too many people and too much noise. It is just kind of hard socially, because it can be too much.”

Along with these difficulties, Megan is still recovering from the birth, so Dan needs to make sure she is cared for as well.

“Another challenge is my wife because she lost a lot of blood at the hospital, and she almost passed out, which was pretty scary,” Dan said. “It has taken the last two weeks or so to build her health back up to the point where she is able to take care of herself. I?ve been cooking every meal, and making sure she is taken care of, and bringing her water every two hours. We?re just trying to get her body functioning well enough that she can take care of the baby. That?s why I took more time off than I had originally planned to; I just needed to make sure my wife is okay.”

According to Megan, Harris’s stay at home to take care of them has been helpful. Eventually she plans to go back to work once things are more stable.

“It has definitely helped that Dan has stayed home,” Megan said. “I was so tired after giving birth, and then I?m up feeding the baby, so it is nice that he has stayed home to help. I?ll probably go back to work in a month. I?ll do some part-time stuff when there is enough stability with the baby.”

However, Megan is also learning about all the responsibilities involved in motherhood.

“When you become a mom, even when you are pregnant, all your priorities change,” Megan said. “It?s not about you, it?s about the child. A woman has to give up her entire body, as well as her time, her resources, and her love for this new part of her life.”

Students noticed a change in behavior as the due date for the Harris’ came closer. Nick Fontes, ’15, thinks that Harris began to keep the students disciplined to prepare the students for having a substitute, and believes the class was excited for the new baby.

“Mr. {Dan} Harris cracked down a little in the days going up to when he knew he would be gone,” Fontes said. “He knew we were going to have a substitute for two weeks, so he was doing his job by making sure we knew what we were doing. He did talk about the baby a lot in class. Mostly it was us that brought it up because we were all excited for him since it was his first child.”

According to Rachel Quiring, ’13, Harris hasn’t been telling many stories, but shows excitement about the matter. She also finds the situation with the substitute teacher strange due to the fact she will soon be there as a full-time teacher.

“Mr. {Dan} Harris hasn?t told us many stories or anything,” Quiring said. “He’s just kind of excited about it; sometimes he?ll just make references to his son during class. It has been a little weird because our main substitute, Mrs. Oren, is going to be our teacher, but we don?t really know her yet, so it still feels like she is a substitute.”

Dan is excited for fatherhood, and is finding the joys that come with having a child.

“I?m very excited to be a father,” Dan said. “My wife said I?ve been built to be a father for a long time. I did not know that changing a poopy diaper could be such a joyous thing. It’s really cool, and I love him so much.”

For more features, read the Oct. 30 article, Harvest-time memories: Join the discussion.

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