A Benjamin Story – on Risk! (the podcast)

I kept it a little quiet, but recently I took a nine-week storytelling class with Kevin Allison (from The State) through Story Studio. I had always loved to write and the recent growth of true-life storytelling events, podcasts and groups (such as The Moth and Risk!) really got me interested in the differences of storytelling orally without notes versus storytelling through writing.

I really enjoyed the class and workshopped a lot of stories ranging from silly to moving. It was part creative, part therapy – and I got a lot out of it from a story crafting aspect and from a public speaking aspect.

Kevin, the instructor, is also host of the Risk! podcast. The podcast’s theme is people telling stories they normally wouldn’t share. When he mentioned he wanted to record one of my stories for his show I knew which one he meant. It was a story that includes a really scary day with Benjamin that, before the class, we had only shared with one other person because it had shaken us up so much.

But do you know what? Telling the story helped me come to see what it meant in my journey to become a father so I agreed to put it out there into the universe. And today it was posted (on Risk! – New at This and iTunes). The story is called “Radio Story: For Benjamin by Joe .”

I do want to warn you, the podcast in general tends to be explicit and not safe for work or small children – but my story is mostly clean (minus two dirty words). You can skip straight to my story (I close out the show) at 55:00.

Listen the show (titled “New at This”) at the Risk website: Risk! – New at This  or download it (free) from iTunes


19 thoughts on “A Benjamin Story – on Risk! (the podcast)

  1. Wow, that was intense and it brought back so many memories. So well told. He really is a miracle.

  2. WOW Joe! I know that story had to be very hard for you to tell. Probably the worst and then best moment in your life. It took alot of courage to share it. Thank you!

  3. Wahhhh!!! I can’t figure out how to get it. I’m old and technology challenged.

    • If you go to the Risk! link and you will see a black bar with a play button and a counter (> 00:00) – if you have the sound on our computer you should be able to hear the podcast there by pressing the play button.

    • Huh – I think the link on the site died… I sent a note to find out what happened.

  4. New link to the mp3 posted above – it seems the Risk! website broke 🙂

  5. Joe,
    I found this blog after hearing your story on Risk! Many of the stories on the show are entertaining or humorous but none of them have ever connected with me like the story of your son have. My wife and I are the proud parents of a beautiful 3 year old girl and even though we didn’t go through the complications that you and your wife did, our daughter got off to a bit of a rough start. She was full term but was born with Pneumothorax or an air pocket in her chest which prevented her lungs from expanding at all. She was rushed to NICU and stayed for two days. Those were the scariest moments of my life and your story brought all those feelings back. All the feelings you described having, I was right there. I know what you mean when you described waiting for that magic moment when you just know you are a Dad and then instantly that little child is all that matters in the whole world. You ended the story without saying how Benjamin was doing and it was on my mind all day until I got home and came her and read through some blog posts. I’m glad he is making so much progress. I think you and your wife made the right choice to give him a chance to fight, you two are and will continue to be great parents. I wish all of you the best and thank you.

    • Thanks so much for your note, Ryan. I am glad you connected with the story (but of course wish that neither of us ever had to step into a NICU). And thanks for sharing your daughter’s story too. I am happy she is doing well.

  6. Speechless, so well told Joe. Thats Greg & I done for the day thank goodness I don’t wear make up x

  7. I just heard your story, and I wanted to say thank you for sharing it. A lot of the stories on the podcast are kind of silly or self-involved, and few remind me like your story did of the importance of love and family. It sounds a little banal when I say it like that…I don’t usually post on the internet, and I am not a poet! But your story was deeply moving to me, and I was so glad to find this site and see that the little guy is doing so well. Yay!

  8. Really amazing stuff.

  9. What a beautifil photo of Benjamin. He looks so happy and at ease with himself. He is a source of joy for us all.

    Carol, Geneva, Switzerland

  10. Joe, like Ryan, I had to look you up after hearing the podcast last night. I was walking across the parking lot from my office, and halfway to my car I had to stop, staggered by your telling of Benjamin’s birth and your description of Benjamin and your wedding ring. In 1998, my son Victor was born at 26 weeks, at one pound and thirteen ounces. When trying to describe the scale of his tiny body, I use my wedding ring, which went over his foot and up his calf, as a visual aid. Later, as I drove home, I had to pull over and stop during the climax of your tale, bringing back some of the horror of similar crisis situations that my wife and I went through and witnessed in the NICU.

    Thank you for sharing the tale of Benjamin, and reading through this blog, I admire you and your wife’s strength, and take my best wishes and hope for the future. My son spent 89 days in the hospital, went through many rollercoasters both in and out of the hospital, had several 50-50 survival moments, but I want to tell you that now he is 13 years old, healthy, and hating the homework he has to deal with in 8th grade. It’s not easy, and has been a rough ride at times, but stay hopeful and strong, and I hope you can sit on your couch and watch really awful movies with Benjamin like I did last night with Victor. My email is attached, and having gone through two preemie experiences, I would like to offer it to you guys should you ever need to talk, vent, or just discuss some of the things that go on dealing with the joys and rough times unique to preemies. Sometimes a stranger who can identify with the feelings is what is needed to get yourself through things. Someone helped me that way, and I offer the same, paying it forward if you will 🙂

    Good luck!
    – Joe

    • Joe,
      Thank you for writing and reaching out to us. One of the big lessons I am taking away from sharing Benjamin’s story is that we are not alone, none of us are alone – it is an amazing thing. Thank you for sharing your story too. I hope Victor knows he’s a lucky guy. And I do look forward to complaints about homework, watching terrible movies and all the stuff in between.

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