This post is going to be the story of the day Theo was born and the next six weeks.
I’m going to give a brief look into the day before he was born, I was just finishing work, sitting in my manager’s office on a Friday having a chat about my pregnant girlfriend and hoping I could meet my son soon, she told me to enjoy the time and not to wish time away.
So I went home to begin my “normal” weekend with my pregnant girlfriend.
So it’s a quiet morning, the in-laws are planning to go out so we have the house to ourselves for the evening, we decide to go to our local supermarket to get our dinner.
Once we get there we decided to have a hot chocolate and soup as a snack before we do some shopping.
Andrea (my partner) had cramps all that day and thought it was just the baby sitting awkwardly inside her.
The next thing she said is “I think I have wet myself” This point I look down and all I see is blood coming through her jeans. I said “baby don’t look”, She looked down and started panicking.
This was the point where I decided to call an ambulance, the staff of the coffee shop and supermarket had come over to offer assistance.
The ambulance call centre took the wrong address twice and sent the paramedics to the wrong supermarket then finally after an hour of me getting irate on the phone I could hear sirens coming down the road.
We got into the ambulance and they started to check Andrea out, they pulled down her jeans and underwear and you could see all the mess, I can remember it so clearly, the paramedics saying “it smells like her waters have broken”
In my head I’m thinking its 31 weeks into the pregnancy this can’t be happening, I remember trying to call my mum but ended up texting my aunt instead as I knew they were on the phone to each other.
By now it’s about 6pm and we have just arrived at the hospital, the next 20 minutes are a blur all I know is I was helping doctors and they were checking Andrea out.
Then they lost Theo’s heartbeat, at this point I was thinking “I don’t want to lose Andrea” In my mind I was thinking about if I had to make a choice it would be her every time.
They got me dressed up in scrubs and took us into theatre, this was it my son is about to come, but once we got there the epidural didn’t kick in on time so they had to use a general anaesthetic, so I had to leave the room.
I went back to the room and called my manager and let her know I wouldn’t be in work on Monday, she said “you only said yesterday you couldn’t wait to meet him” but was totally understandable of my stress as she has kids of her own.
About half an hour later a nurse came in and said my son was born at 6:29pm that was the longest time of my life waiting to see my girlfriend not hearing how she was doing, the doctors telling me everything is okay.
The next few hours flew by, loads of phone calls, tears and worries. But then a nurse came in and said I could go and see my son, at this moment it was the last thing I wanted to do. All I could think about was Andrea and how she was, so I went with my mother in law to the NICU, to meet my little man who I’ve been dying to meet.
There he was in this incubator connected to all sorts of machines. This little baby with a hairy forehead and so tiny. I couldn’t feel a connection with him at this point because I didn’t know how his mum was or even where she was. This was at 8:21 (the time stamp on my first ever photo of him. We went back to the room we were in all this time and waited until I was told I could see my girlfriend, she was just coming round from her anaesthetic, I remember giving her a kiss and telling her I loved her but I can’t remember much more than that.
That night we had to stay on a maternity ward the other side of the hospital away from the baby, she still hasn’t met him by this point. But at this point when we were settled we announced his name as Theodore.
The next day was horrible due to the previous night, Andrea had no pain killers due to a miscommunication in the hospital which was disgusting considering he just had an emergency c section. We went to see Theo for a short time as Andrea was still in a lot of pain from the surgery so she couldn’t travel far and could only go by wheelchair.
Then to the Monday, Andrea finally got to hold our boy, this was one of the emotional moments of my life seeing both of the people I loved most actually connecting.
As Andrea would visit Theo with her mum or me I did start to feel like a spare part, he didn’t have my last name as we were not married, the doctors would speak more to Andrea and her mum and I could only visit him on weekends as I had to work and by the time I finished visiting time was over.
I felt like this for 3 weeks until one moment, it was a Friday, my work were having their Christmas party but I rushed off to the hospital to see my boy, that was the night I got to hold him for the first time, yes I stroked him and held his little hand but this was my son in my arms.
I still remember him looking into my eyes and me feeling so happy with love flowing through my body at mental speeds.
This was when he was out of the incubator, but a few days later he was put back into the incubator for reasons we did not understand at that point, things did get tense between us because we didn’t know why this setback was happening.
So a week of this incubator and its Christmas Eve, I’ve been at work for a few hours and got out early as it was the festive period and got to see my boy for longer, but today he was being moved back into the cots, our boy out in fresh air for Christmas it was a miracle.
Obviously the next day was Christmas and we went to the hospital once we opened presents at home. The nurses dressed up as Santa giving every baby a present and singing merry Christmas to each baby too, they even have a little buffet for the parents. It was a nice feeling at such a hard time seeing the hospital trying to make light of the situation.
So the next few days we would go to the hospital and see our boy, until New Year’s Eve, the nurse came to check up on Theo and we were there, and she said the words we had been waiting to hear for the last 6 weeks “are you ready to room in?”
We were delighted this meant 2 nights of sleeping in a room with our boy at the hospital and he’s coming home, but we had nothing ready so we went home that night so we could put his cot up and sort out bags to stay at the hospital.
So we stayed at the hospital for 2 nights, he grunted in his sleep, which is quite common with premature babies, and when we did manage to get to sleep round the grunting someone would enter the room to do tests and checks, I won’t lie here it was terrible. On the next day we had to go and register Theo’s birth and give him my last name but then after that I had to go to work and book my holiday which I had to take instead of paternity as there was a mix up with my company being new at the site.
And this was it after work I went back to the hospital to sleep another night. The following day, this was it the end of an era, we could take him home, we had to wait a few hours for all the prescriptions to be sorted out but once they were, we were free to go, putting him in his car seat for the very first time and leaving the hospital to start our lives as a family at home.
That was the story of Theo’s first 6 weeks or as I call them “the NICU days”. I learnt a lot there and I’m going to share some of that with you now:
It’s a tough time but remember there’s always other parents going through similar or maybe even worse in the same place
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, the doctors are there to help and will give you information
If you have any worries or doubts , do not be afraid to call for help
This isn’t forever
The biggest lesson I was told on the first day in the NICU, try not to pay attention to the machines, you start to beep at times, do not panic it’s probably something minor, you do start to learn the important stuff the more you watch them.
This week’s blog comes from Jeffrey who writes over at https://memoirsofamaddad.wordpress.com.
You can also share his journey through fatherhood via www.instagram.com/memoirsofamaddad