Becoming a Daddy
Some of Millie’s journey has been shared already by my better half Laura. For a little while now I have been meaning to write a little about what it is like to be a Dad of a sick child on NICU. The following posts will contain me discussing feelings, emotions and thoughts, which some men may find distressing. But in the words of Winston Churchill: ‘Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.’
Becoming a Daddy
Becoming a dad happened 3 months sooner than I thought. When my wife was in hospital with pre-eclampsia, I didn’t really understand the seriousness of what was about to happen. When she was being monitored in hospital, I saw my role as being to keep spirits high and look after her and our unborn daughter to the best of my ability. I remember going out to ASDA and buying lots of silly things to cheer her up (her favourite sweets, magazines, an elf on the shelf to watch her when I wasn’t there).
As time went by in hospital, I could see her getting sicker and sicker and of course my anxiety with it. Of course, a man’s role is to stay strong and not show emotion (bollocks) and so this is what I did, being my usual joker self. The night before Millie was born, I remember going back to my Mum’s house after spending the day at hospital. I sat on the sofa and just remember not hearing anything, entering my own little world. All I could think about was my wife and my unborn child. I think I realised they were both in trouble and that our daughter had to be born soon. I broke down, I sunk into the floor and my family surrounded me and showed me love that only parents can. That night I had a dream that our daughter would be born.
The next day, I entered the ward where my wife was being monitored and had to steady myself as she looked so ill. There were doctors and nurses rushing in and out of her cubical and I knew it was time. I had every emotion and thought possible running through my head, and I held myself together by telling myself I had to be strong. This was it! The doctors came in with sheets to sign, I was pulled to the side and told what I had been dreading hearing – ‘I’m afraid there is a risk that we may lose both of them’. What was I supposed to do with that information? I knew there was a risk, but hearing it and admitting it were two different things. I went back into the cubical and about five minutes later the surgeon entered and asked my wife if I was ok. She said ‘I can’t deal with him dropping in there’. In the moment I thought, ‘I’m allowed to look scared after what you’ve just told me’. I was really struggling to process everything and it’s probably a good job I didn’t have time to process it. I was told to scrub up and wait in a room until I was sent for. I was told to bring my phone for pictures, but it was the last thing on my mind, I wanted them both to survive, not a fucking picture! I felt numb, nervous, and very light headed. I had never felt like this before. I entered the room and as the operation began my wife was shaking, and all I could do was kiss her head and tell her I loved her and how proud I was. I couldn’t do anything for her or our daughter. After about 5 minutes we heard a cry and Millie our daughter was shown to us. We had a brief glimpse of her, and then both started sobbing and kissed. That moment will stay with me forever. It was a moment whereby all our worry and anxiety were released for a time after having been strong for each other thus far.
As soon as she was born, I felt so proud of them both and an unconditional love, which only parents will ever understand. I had seen this tiny little human for 5 seconds, and I had fallen in love again. Becoming a daddy was and still is the proudest and best memory of my life so far. Our little girl was at the start of her life’s journey and I was excited for it to begin….