Wow! What an amazing fortnight! Two weeks of being a dad. A very proud dad!
Our son, William Isaac Kee, was born on Tuesday 16th April at Port Macquarie Base Hospital.
This is William’s story.
For those of you who have been following my blog you would know that it started as a way to countdown the ten weeks until William’s birth and to get some of my childcare ideas out onto online ‘paper’. William came early because he knew I work better with a bit of pressure and a firm deadline. I joke that he has all the hallmarks of a top project manager as he was ahead of time, a healthy weight and under budget. Well done William (and mum!).
But let’s go back to the start. It all happened on our honeymoon on a beautiful European Summers night in Stockholm…. Woah! Too far, sorry William.
Fast forward 8 weeks and Alana and I found out we were going to have a baby. We waited until 12 weeks to tell our friends and relatives. We enjoyed the ultrasounds and 4-dimensional pictures. Everything was going very smoothly. Alana didn’t get any morning sickness and continued to work and attend social functions and enjoy the Australian Summer surfboat season.
At 30 weeks Alana began to get itchy. Very itchy! Afternoons and nights were the worst for her and her sleep and quality of life rapidly decreased. Doctors confirmed that she had cholestasis, a liver condition linked with itchiness, and would need to be closely monitored for the remainder of her pregnancy. This involved twice weekly blood tests and CTG scans at the hospital. She saw doctors and naturopaths to receive medication and herbs to relieve the symptoms of cholestasis and help to naturally take the pressure off her dysfunctional liver. Cholestasis is also linked to increased risk of still birth after 37 weeks gestation and we were told that Alana would be induced around the 37 week mark to keep our baby (as yet unnamed) safe.
William (and Alana’s body) had other plans.
Alana’s blood tests, one testing her liver function and the other testing her bile acid levels, provided hope and horror as they initially dropped then reached a plateau then spiked. She didn’t receive much relief from her medication and herbs and was up most nights scratching and showering.
Note: The day William was born the doctor received Alana’s latest blood test results to find that her liver function results had skyrocketed from 30 up to 110 (normal range is around 6). If he hadn’t arrived when he did, the doctor said she would have had to have some serious discussions about emergency c-section delivery.
Alana’s waters broke unexpectedly on the Monday night (sorry William I won’t go into detail about what possibly led to your mum’s water breaking!). We spent the night in hospital getting more tests and on Tuesday morning the doctor announced, “You’re having a baby today!”
Alana was induced at 9am,
received epidural at 11am,
started active labour at 1:45pm
and with one tremendous push
William arrived at 3:10pm.
(Maybe he will be a school teacher, they work 9-3!)
Note: Some of you may hear rumours that I went home when the contractions started so I could catch up on rest and avoid some abuse. This is not true! I went home to work very hard on packing Alana’s hospital bag, quickly scribbling some potential baby names and tidying the house. I was back after lunch (and the worst of the contractions I hear) and enjoyed the entire amazing process!
William was born a healthy 3kg (6”10) and 50cm after only 35 weeks plus 4 days. He left his mum with a grade three tear that will take some recovery but we are both very happy that William arrived when he did.
William spent his first night with mum and dad in the maternity ward and then was sent to the nursery for tube feeding and monitoring the following day. Taking William over to the special care nursery for the first time was an incredibly overwhelming experience for me and I feel for anyone who has to go through that process. We were lucky that he was born a healthy weight and only needed help with breastfeeding properly.
I feel sorry for the midwife that was on shift when I arrived with William on Wednesday morning. After a healthy shot of adrenaline in the labour ward and some father hormones after skin-to-skin cuddles to warm William up on Tuesday night I was not the most rational person to deal with.
I was a 1.95m tall, 95kg gorilla.
After walking through past the humidi-cribs, light beds and life support equipment I was becoming overwhelmed. Every part of my body bristled with protective paternal energy and my primate brain yelled, “take this baby straight back to his mother!” Luckily the midwife was able to manage me well and after a few tense moments (with my feet and baby pointing towards the door!) the rational part of my brain eventually overcame my primal instincts! But that was only stage one of my emotional roller coaster. Next the midwife showed and explained to me that she would now insert a small tube down William’s nose down into his stomach so they could start feeding.
Now I turned into the baby.
The tube went in. William tried to sneeze, then he cried, then I cried! I returned to Alana’s room a blubbering mess and took a good half an hour to regain basic unbroken English.
That was the first 24 hours.
Ten days later little William was sent home after passing every test the midwives could throw at him and Alana. I went back to work during this time and enjoyed all the love and attention of our preschool and vacation care groups and families. Children asked, “what is William’s favourite colour?” and made some beautiful cards, posters and ‘creations’ that I delivered in my lunch breaks. Needless to say Alana was well and truly sick of being at hospital but she made friends with most of the midwives and mothers and we look forward to extending these friendships in the future.
Sadly we returned home to our naughty neighbor who likes to party between 10:30pm and 4am every night! This lasted 10 minutes and we packed bags and stayed at Alana’s parents place for several nights. After an owners meeting our troublesome neighbor is hopefully gone for now and we have returned home and Alana is enjoying the comfort and privacy of her own bed and lounges.
What an amazing process! I can see why midwives love their jobs! Don’t worry I think I’ll stick to childcare but I am very impressed by the level of skill, compassion and professional of our local mid wives! Thank you.
Alana held William’s baby shower (with William) at her parent’s house on Saturday (after we had been released from hospital). Some of the women commented that it was the best baby shower ever because they got to meet the baby! Thank you to all our friends and family for their amazing generosity and ongoing support.
So what is it like being a dad??
I’m on the sideline a fair bit. William sleeps most of the day and Alana is the only successful breast feeder out of the two of us so far. I get lots of cuddles and nappy changes. It is really hard for me to tone down my early childhood energy/ daddy desire to squeeze every fun thing in the world into today’s schedule but William arriving preterm has meant that we get to enjoy lots of cuddles and rest. I love the way he wakes up, wriggles, stretches and pulls faces. He is so amazing! We are learning and he is growing every day. I’m looking forward to getting to know William and spending time with him as he grows. I hope he loves surf lifesaving and going on adventures (imagined and real) with his old man.
To all the dads before me (including my own) I have a new found respect for you. I am grateful to all the fathers who spend time with their sons and daughters and do their best to guide and love their children.
To all the future fathers I wish you good luck and I hope you enjoy every moment. My advice for you is to support your partner as best you can; get out of the house whenever you need to; avoid listening to women’s labour stories and do not ever watch the anti natal class birthing video!
Midwives say that nature has its way of making sure things happen the way they do. I certainly agree.
Thank you again. Ten years of childcare and now we have our own child to love and raise and advocate for.
Let me know what you think or please share if you think it may help anyone else out there.