Guest blogger – Han-Son, dad blogger at DaddiLife.com
Follow the journey at https://www.facebook.com/daddilife/
The First Check Up
It’s April 2014, and Jess and I are just about over the ‘shock phase’ of being pregnant in time for our first ever 12 week check up. I hear this heart beat that’s growing louder and louder. My internal voice is saying ‘WOW’ Jess is growing an actual little human inside her!’ This is serial, incredible, and yes a little scary too.
Bloods are taken, and we get some news soon after that Jess may have Group Strep B.
I had never heard of it before – was it good? bad? It can’t be that bad if I’ve never heard of it right? We find out it’s something pretty serious, affecting somewhere in the region of 20-30% of adults in the UK, but with no traces, symptoms or side effects for adults. For babies though, this infection can cause a host of problems for new born babies which can ultimately lead to early infant death and stillbirth.
My reactions as a would-be father at this point have hit another gear of worry. Though I may not externalise it at the time, it did make the pregnancy that bit more serious and worry-some.
The uncertainty was the hardest
A lot of things in the process of pregnancy can feel very black and white as a dad. Rooms that need changing, baby things that need getting, and getting mentally prepared for life changing modes of sleeplessness all spring to mind! But at least these things have clarity.
Jess did 3 tests from the first trimester to the third, and the evidence was never conclusive. As someone who likes to have things planned, the uncertainty gave me a lot of unease during the pregnancy. Ultimately we just assumed she had it and could move forward.
I found a new sense of responsibility and care to both Jess (though she would probably call it being overly protective!), and the baby during the pregnancy. I was acutely aware of the different changes that Jess was going through, and I didn’t want her to have an additional level of worry. I found out as much as I could about the infection to ensure that I could be her instant encyclopedia on the matter. It definitely helped a lot from the 2nd trimester onwards
Birth – confusion and care
I remember reading a lot of anecdotes about how long the first child birth can be, and I readied us for a long stay in the hospital. But Max’s birth was remarkably quick! Jess took little over 2 hours from dilation to birth – I guess Max really wanted to come out into the world! But he arrived so quickly that by the time he was born the antibiotics that Jess received had not had the time to pass onto him.
We had to wait 3 extra days in the hospital to ensure he had the drugs he needed. Even though he had to take them through a pipe placed through his hand, I was increasingly glad with every few hours that passed where I would push him in his little mobile unit upto the medical room.
Ultimately the team at Kings Hospital were absolutely brilliant and Max is now a very healthy and active child.
It’s not always an easy thing to deal with, but dads can be active and here’s my top tips for dads in dealing with Group Strep B:
- Get aware – read up, not just for yourself, or even your partner but for anyone else in your network that may just need you in a time of stress. There is so much great information on the Group B Strep Support site for starters.
- Communicate – If it’s to one of the Group Strep B team, a member of the family, your doctor or a good friend, there are other people who have gone through similar concerns and CAN help.
- Think like mum – don’t get me wrong, there are times where I need to think just for dad, but with Group Strep B it’s all about being there for mum. She may be carrying a lot of worry about this that isn’t obvious. Make the process smoother and be reassuring.
- Don’t settle for shades of grey – once you know clearly if you have it or not, things can be a lot clearer so don’t be afraid to find out fully from the doctors. If things are consistently unclear, just plan as if your partner does have it. That way you can have the clarity to move forward.