It's been one week since Derek Ellison brought his newborn son, Brayden home from the hospital.
"It's amazing. It's better than I could've imagined it would be,” Ellison said.
But along with the joys of being a first time parent, Ellison is also coping with the loss of his baby's mother.
“To bring him home, it was like me and him against the world. This is it,” he said.
Just more than a week ago, he was visiting his son in a neonatal intensive care unit. Brayden was delivered by emergency C-section when his mother, Kayla Katler, developed a fatal brain hemorrhage when she was 6 months pregnant. In an instant, Ellison lost his girlfriend and became a single, but very proud, father.
“He's exactly what she would've wanted him to be,” he said.
During the 6 weeks Brayden was in the hospital, a photo of his mother was always by his side. Now that he's home, her picture hangs above his crib.
“As he grows and starts to learn and understand, he'll never doubt who she was,” Ellison said.
Since NBC4 first aired Ellison’s story two weeks ago, the response has been overwhelming, he said. More than 27,000 people shared his story on social media. They also started following a Facebook page called “Support Baby Brayden” to find out how they could help.
"I'm still asking myself ‘why me’, but now it's why me with all the support,” he said of the outpouring his story generated.
The support came in the form of donations, and emotional support from people who've been in his situation. Ellison said he knows the days ahead won't be easy, but knowing he's not in this alone will make each day a bit easier.
“These people who reach out are telling their story and that you will get through it. It's possible,” he said.