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B.C. father welcomes Baby Iver but bids a final farewell to his wife

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VICTORIA - The best and worst moment of Dylan Benson's 32-year-old life arrived Saturday evening, when medical personnel in Victoria showed him cellphone photos of his new son who was born only moments earlier to his brain-dead wife, Robyn, his childhood sweetheart.

It was the best moment because Benson said he was seeing images for the first time of his baby boy, Iver, who was born at 7:12 p.m., weighing just two pounds, 13 ounces, boasting a little bit of apricot-coloured hair, a ginger like his mother.

Yet, it was also the worst moment because Benson said he knew the time was near when he'd have to say his final farewell to the woman he first met 16 years earlier, when she was still a teen and the two were embarking on their Grade 12 years in separate high schools.

"I don't think I have the right words to describe it," said the new father in a Monday-night interview. "It's the best and definitely the worst thing to ever happen to me in my life at the same time."

"My first thought was just how amazing he (Iver) looked and ... I guess it's just a massive, massive sense of relief that he was here and he had made it, and then of course the excitement of wanting to see him, and also the same amount of fear knowing that I would have to say goodbye."

Benson said he got to see his son about an hour after the birth.

He said he stayed in the hospital that night, and early Sunday morning visited Robyn for the last time. Then, later that same afternoon, Benson said, he got to hold Iver for the first time.

The up-and-down, high-and-low emotions were definitely not something Benson expected in his life, but then something went wrong at the end of December.

Benson wrote previously on his blog that Robyn complained of a headache on Dec. 28. She asked him to go to the pharmacy and get some pain killers, he wrote, but when he returned home, Robyn was unconscious on the bathroom floor.

He called 911, but paramedics could not revive her.

"At the hospital, they discovered that my wife had a fluke random type of blood leak into the centre of her brain and that there was so much blood and damage that it is not reversible,'' he wrote. "My wife is now essentially legally brain dead.''

Doctors hoped her body would hold until her baby boy, already named Iver Cohen Benson, could be delivered by caesarean section.

In the meantime, the media caught word of the story, and a fundraising website was set up to raise $36,000 for the husband and soon-to-be-born son.

Benson said he got a call from the hospital Saturday afternoon, and medical officials wanted to discuss the prospect of delivering Iver the same day. He said at the hospital they all decided it would be the safest if Iver was delivered that evening.

"He's really, really small, but he looks perfect," said Benson. "He's just the most adorable little person I've ever seen in my life, and I'm so proud that he's my son, and how hard he fought to be here and how hard my wife fought to give us this beautiful little boy."

Benson said medical officials are caring for Iver as a premature baby, and he'll likely stay in hospital until May 2, which was his original due date.

In the meantime, he said he'll visit his son daily, giving Iver as much skin-to-skin contact as possible to keep him strong and calm and build the bond between father and son.

He said he'll draw upon that generosity of those who donated to the online fundraising campaign, which has now raised more than $144,000.

Benson said he'll take some time off work and eventually rent a different place that's more suited to he and Iver and his son's education. He said he'll use the money to give Iver the best-possible, stress-free life.

"The public needs to know how thankful I am for their support," he said. "Please, please tell everyone that I am so thankful for the support from everywhere. The messages, the nice comments, the emails, all of that it has helped immensely in getting through this tough time."

-- by Keven Drews in Vancouver

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