As a father, breastfeeding my newborn daughter when my wife couldn’t was a huge honour
During the last month of my wife April’s pregnancy, our doctor had been watching her blood pressure because it was higher than normal and she was at risk of eclampsia.
We went in for a non-stress test and, about five minutes after they set her up, they came back in to tell us that she was having contractions (which she could not feel at the time) and we weren’t leaving because it was baby time! We got settled in our room and, after a while, the doctor came in to break her water – that’s when she could really feel her contractions.
When she was nine and a half centimeters dilated, April rolled over to her other side to get the last half over with and that’s when things took a turn for the worse. All of my fears were coming true – April had her first seizure. I felt so helpless and scared for both her and our baby girl.
The doctors and nurses rushed in to tell her mum and I that April had gone from pre-eclampsia and having high blood pressure to eclampsia, where there was a danger of her entering a coma, and that they needed to do an emergency c-section.
April with Rosalia (Photo: Maxamillian Neubauer)
The nurses prepped me to go in with her, but once they got April onto the operating table, she had her second seizure and I wasn’t allowed to go in. If you research pre-eclampsia, you will find that in some cases, the mum and/or child do not survive.
The uncertainty of whether one or both of my girls were going to pull through weighed heavy on my heart and mind. Then one of the nurses walked out with our beautiful baby girl Rosalia.
I couldn’t contain my happiness and joy, but I was also terrified when I didn’t see my wife. The nurse assured me she was fine and would be going to the ICU to recover. Breastfeeding and immediate skin to skin contact was a major part of our birthing plan.
Since my wife was in ICU, and we didn’t know what was going to happen with her and when she would wake up, the nurse asked me how I preferred Rosalia to be fed because she needed to eat right away. Of course, I had to pick the most outlandish option for a guy to do because that’s just who I am – I decided to breastfeed my daughter.
After taking off my shirt, they placed a nipple shield on my chest with a syringe, from which my daughter suckled. Never in a million years did I think I would be in this position, so it was a little awkward at first, but I was just so happy to be there for our daughter in a time of need and carry out my wife’s wishes for our birthing plan. I would do anything for my wife and daughter, no questions asked, and breastfeeding felt like the natural thing to do.
Maxamillian, Rosalia and April (Photo: Maxamillian Neubauer)
Hours later, April finally woke up and was stable enough to meet our beautiful little miracle baby. It was a very emotional time for us and our family. We let her soak in the moment of finally being a mother and then told her about me breastfeeding our baby.
She was a little sad she didn’t get to be there for her child like any other mother would want to but she was still very happy that in a scary situation like ours, I stepped in and did what needed to be done for our family. April is now recovered and has taken over the breastfeeding role.
It was an amazing, one time experience but I would definitely do it again if needed. I hope that our story inspires others to step out of the box though, and do whatever it takes to take care of your family.