Steven is the proud father of Edwin who was born four and a half weeks early. Here,
he describes the first time he and Edwin bonded through an incubator porthole. This story was also featured in Bliss' magazine, Little Bliss.
Edwin Brian Troop was expected on the 27 September 2016, but our planning was cut short when on the 22 August it was decided that Edwin needed to be delivered by c-section.
From 11am that day I was in full blown panic…must call mother in law, sisters in law, bosses… must get tiny baby clothes, tiny nappies, hospital bag. Fortunately Sarah was calm and told me to sit down.
My journey into fatherhood began when the paediatrician showed me around the neonatal unit and told me what to expect – but it was all very different to what I had thought. As we all headed down to theatre Sarah made me promise that whatever happened I would stay with our son.
At 3.29pm Edwin was born weighing 4lb 4oz and there was nothing greater than hearing his first cry. After cutting the cord and taking a few pictures it was time for him to go to the neonatal unit. There, nurses started to attach cables to Edwin and administer medication. Fear started to kick in and all I wanted to do was hold him, but that wouldn’t happen for many hours. Instead all I could do was put my finger through the incubator.
Our doctor could sense how much I wanted to hold him, so he told me to place my finger in Edwin’s hand and watch the monitors. As I felt his gentle hand tighten on my finger the lines and numbers started to change on the screen. The doctor said, “See he knows you are his father”. A tear started to fall down my face.
It was this experience that kept me strong through the coming days. Any parent longs to hold their baby when they cry, or comfort them when they are sick, but when your child is born early everything is done through holes in an incubator. The hardest part is having to leave the hospital on the first night with your partner in one room and your son in another.
That first night when I came home to an empty house I couldn’t take myself to bed. Everything felt strange. Lying on the sofa things didn’t feel right. I was a father yet my son wasn’t there. I was a father but I was upset, not happy. Leaving Edwin in the hospital each night was painful. Even though he was doing well medically it still felt like I was being robbed of early fatherhood.
Over the ten days we took any opportunity we could to be involved in Edwin’s care and whenever he was upset he would grip my finger and within seconds he would be calm.
Finally the day came when we could take Edwin home and we could start being a family. Now, I can already see his personality coming through. He watches and takes everything in, and as we look at picture books his gaze holds longer at the boats. Still to this day when Edwin feels scared or stressed I slowly feel his hand grip around my finger.
Since his early arrival things have felt like a fight, and some days we have taken two steps forward and six back. Since being home we have had two hospital visits, one for a rapid drop in body temperature and one for a lack of weight gain, which is still an ongoing battle, but Edwin is just about to overtake the 7lb mark and it feels like we are now past the hard slog.
As I write this I can still feel the anger and shame I felt for not being able to hold my son when he needed me and be there. But now I can see him grow and achieve his milestones and all Sarah and I hope is that he is happy and grows up knowing he is loved.
The birth of my son Edwin was the most upsetting but happiest time of my life and as we continue our journey as a family I often think back to that first day when Edwin gripped my finger and the doctor said, “He knows you’re his father.”
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