When Becoming a Dad Means Losing Your Wife

A Victoria, British Columbia man finds himself caught between the highest and lowest of emotions this week, simultaneously grieving for his wife and celebrating the arrival of his newborn son, Iver Cohen Benson. “Iver is healthy and is the cutest and most precious person I have ever met,” dad Dylan Benson writes on Facebook Monday, announcing the Saturday birth of his son, at 28 weeks.

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“On Sunday,” the post, already shared more than 7,500 times, continues, “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.”

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The bittersweet tale began just after Christmas, when 32-year-old Robyn Benson suffered a sudden cerebral hemorrhage that left her brain dead. Because she was 22 weeks pregnant at the time, Robyn was kept on life support in the hopes of allowing the fetus to develop until it reached 34 weeks. But doctors decided they had to deliver tiny Iver, via C-section, even earlier. He weighed just 2 pounds, 13 ounces.

“It’s earlier than we planned,” Dylan, a 32-year-old e-commerce account manager, tells The Province. “(We) had hoped to get to week 30 before delivering, but we made it as far as we could.” Iver will now remain in the neonatal unit at Victoria General Hospital until he’s strong enough to go home with dad.

Dylan and Robyn at their July wedding. Photo: YouCaring.com“He’s showing hints of Robyn’s red hair, not surprising,” he adds. Dylan and Robyn, reportedly high-school sweethearts, were just married in July. Now he’ll be planning his wife’s funeral while getting used to being a single dad. “It’s more than I can explain,” he says. “It’s the best and the worst at the same time.”

Dylan’s announcement on Facebook notes, “As to be expected, it will still be a bumpy ride for [Iver] and I as he continues to grow under the care of the wonderful staff at the hospital.” His post has garnered nearly 33,000 likes and more than 200 comments, with one friend posting, “Two such extreme emotions and life events, I hope Iver will ease your sadness, your love for Robyn will live on in your heart and in Iver.”

The new dad has set up a crowdsourcing page on YouCaring.com to help him cover new-baby costs, particularly since he’s been unable to work during the ordeal. It’s brought in nearly $155,000 so far. “Our family and close friends are all very supportive and all think that my wife would want me to try and give our child the best life possible, so that’s what I’m going to try and do,” Dylan writes on the fundraising site. In anticipating Iver’s birth and Robyn’s death, he had noted, “She was my rock. She did so much for us, and I can’t believe I won’t get to talk to her again. It is very difficult to know that our son will grow up never meeting his wonderful mother, and that we will have to say our goodbyes to Robyn within hours of seeing Iver for the first time.”

Contributions have poured in since Robyn’s death, and on Tuesday, an anonymous donor gave $50, writing, “Your story is so incredibly heartbreaking, yet I am very much comforted to know that, in spite of it all, that precious little guy is in such loving hands. Please remember to take care of yourself as well; your mental health will be crucial to his development. I wish you both all the happiness and health you so richly deserve.”

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