Father’s Day marked a significant day for me personally. It was a time of reflection and acknowledgement of where I am today surrounded by my twin toddlers (ex 24 weeks) each of whom provide me with so much joy in my life. Today was about celebration, it was about being a DAD! Two years ago, when my wife was confined to complete bed rest after going into labour at 22 weeks, becoming a father was becoming a major threat as we battled the odds to keep the twins in utero one more day, but little did I know just how different my role as a father would be, as I recall the twins arriving 16 weeks prematurely and being whisked away to NICU. That feeling of helplessness. That overwhelming feeling to protect and to provide for them and to innately desire the best outcome for them and to be strong for my partner who at the time didn’t understand the complexity of the road ahead as she recovered post surgery. But most of all that feeling that there was nothing at the time I could do and that I had no control over the situation or outcome. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be; I had planned for months the pending arrival of our bundles of joy, the celebratory drinks, the decorating of the nursery, all of which fell by the wayside in a matter of seconds. To have these feelings is human and natural; however, as a father, there may never be a time in a father’s life where a dignified, steadfast and calm reaction will serve you, your children and your partner in the best possible way. At this point in my life prematurity has been my greatest teacher. I think the desire a father has to protect his children is one of the biggest emotions going through a hospital. The exact effects of kangaroo care, talking to your baby, and just being near to them has not been quantified. But, personally, I don’t think you can underestimate the effects of this positive energy and the opportunity it allows for you to bond with your baby. I made it my mission to understand everything about the machines, the numbers, the medical terminology and to be involved in as much as I could in the day to day care of our babies. It allowed me to feel a sense of control, but most importantly, it made me feel like a father! In going through a premature experience, something very important cannot be forgotten. Your partnership created your children, and one of the best gifts you can give them is a healthy relationship. For relationships navigating prematurity, it is so important to be united together and allow each other to have personal emotional reactions and to nurture, love and guide each other. As a man I know this can be more difficult for us, prematurity is not a situation that is easily problem solved. After all the ups and down of our prematurity journey I believe that parenthood is an absolute privilege, and not even hospital walls should stop us feeling like a parent especially on father’s day.
Alex, Proud Dad