(Note: This blog post is part of "Living the WesleyLife Way," a series that spotlights the unique stories of WesleyLife team members, residents, clients, and programs.)
The concept of "joy" comes in many packages. For Scott Westley, it came in the form of a 6-pound, 15-ounce baby girl.
Scott, Infrastructure Manager for WesleyLife, and his wife, Brittany, welcomed baby Victoria in December. Scott, who will turn 48 this year, said he had always considered himself a fairly happy guy, but the birth of his first child at this point in his life has given him a sense of joy he'd "never even known was out there."
"I had always envisioned myself having kids, but when I turned 40, I began to think that being a father wasn't in the cards for me, and maybe I'd meet someone with kids and be the best darned stepparent any kid could have," Scott says.
"Then I met Brittany and all the cards fell into place. It was surprising, and I started to have those hopes again that I'd be a dad."
Scott and Brittany, 36, met when WesleyLife was opening Brio of Johnston, its Community for Healthy Living just north of the Des Moines Metro. Brittany, who had just moved from California, was working there as a nurse; Scott, a team member at WesleyLife's organizational headquarters in Johnston, was setting up the community's WiFi network and mitigating technical issues.
"We'd both be there at night, and we just started talking," Scott says. "Next thing we knew, it was obvious we kind of liked each other, and I cooked her dinner. I guess you could say we ticked all the right boxes for one another, and I could see myself with her and I was hoping she felt the same. Thankfully, she did, and she said 'yes'!"
The Westleys married in 2021 and hoped to start a family right away; Scott recalls being hard at work in his home office one morning last May when Brittany tossed a pregnancy test to him on her way to work. "You sit here and think about that a bit," Brittany called over her shoulder. Scott recalls a feeling of disbelief, and then "a little bit of hope crept in, like, maybe this is for real!"
"This is going to be good"
It was indeed; Brittany was 11 weeks along and settled into a healthy pregnancy. Scott, a woodworker, created some heirloom projects for the baby, whose sex the couple opted not to learn before her birth, and spent a lot of time "planning what our lives would be like and just being thankful."
"I had given the 'dad thing' to the Lord at that point, and I had been at peace with whatever happened, but knowing that we were about to get this little gift was just amazing," Scott says. "I just kept thinking, 'This is finally happening. This is going to be good.'"
On December 12, 10 days early, Victoria made her entrance. Holding his daughter for the first time, Scott felt awash in gratitude — and memories. "I found myself thinking about my niece and my friends' kids and about the feeling I had always had, like, 'I sure hope I can have one of those,'" he says. "Well, here she was. She was about the size of a football, a precious little football. And I sure wasn't going to fumble her!"
Becoming a father at an age where some men become grandparents hasn't fazed Scott at all, except to drive home the point for him that all his life experiences had led him to this point.
"I think both of us, Brittany and I, are more patient, and more likely to look at anything that happens with the attitude that whatever it is will pass, and we'll do a good job with her," he says.
"She has her days and nights mixed up and we're all surviving on not a lot of sleep, so it's a good thing that we have a pretty laid-back attitude! To be honest, I think I was meant to be an older dad. This feels like the perfect time."
"Joy" looks different now
Scott says he used to define "joy" as the feeling that came from helping others — from being the first friend on the scene to help with a project, or throwing a party to honor a friend or family member. Now, he sees things differently.
"'Joy' for me now is this photo I have from shortly after Victoria was born; she's in her little bassinet and Brittany is looking at her, and I took the photo from behind Brittany so I could see them both," he says. "I looked at it for the first time, and I choked up. I realized: That image right there, that's my whole world."