“NICU dads feel the pain, fear and worry but sometimes don’t show it” - Jason’s story

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This Father’s Day Jason reflects on his experience as a NICU Dad, and what being a Dad to Zac, Xavi and Anya means to him.

There are some moments during your time in NICU that you won’t forget and that will make you look at things differently from that day forward. When the twins were born in May 2013, at 29 weeks and a shock to us all, I had already been lucky enough to have enjoyed four Father’s Days with our first child Zac.

I lost my own Dad when I was just 18, so had spent many years with that special day being somewhat sad and distant from any celebrations. With Zac’s arrival the day took on a new meaning, an extra special focus and I had loved the handmade cards and gifts to Daddy that it had all involved each year since.

Six weeks after the twins arrived, I walked into the NICU to see them as usual, having collected Zac from school and arriving for our usual after school visit. As I got to both incubators I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Stuck to the side of both incubators were two small, handmade cards with the words ‘Happy Father’s Day Daddy’, one from each baby.

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The cards were small but the impact was massive. I was Daddy to these two tiny babies, who just a matter of weeks ago I’d been terrified of losing. My wife Helen told me the nurses had made them and stuck them to the incubators that morning as a surprise.

The thoughtful gesture had touched her as much as it had me. To know that someone had cared enough about us as parents, our feelings and the importance of that day to us was really touching. They had done it for each baby on the unit, each one a colourful card with a hand drawn bunch of balloons and those all-important words ‘Happy Father’s Day Daddy’.

My heart was full. Yes I was Daddy to three children now! And to me, more than ever, being a Daddy really was a celebration. That day could have been so different, with polar opposite meaning, had those babies not put up as good a fight as they had. They were taking each day in their stride, jumping each hurdle put in front of them, and making me proud each day. That day, I was the proudest I’d ever been and I revelled in the love and attention bestowed on me as their Daddy by those nurses.

Of course it’s all about the babies and naturally, my wife was the main parental focus for much of the time, but to have a moment to acknowledge the joy of being able to be Daddy to these two miracles meant so, so much that day.

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To remember the Dad and how proud they are to be Daddy on Father’s Day will be a feeling he will never forget. To some parents, such days are taken for granted but NICU parents will always know how precious and lucky they are to have them.

NICU Dads feel the fear, pain and worry but may sometimes not show it. They stand back whilst Mum and complete strangers look after their most precious child when all they want to do is pick them up, take them home and start to care for them themselves.

Most of all - don’t forget something that they too may not realise themselves - Father’s Day this year, in NICU, means they are a Daddy, a Daddy to a baby fighting to be with him, a Daddy that not too long ago thought he might not be that Daddy, surely that is worth celebrating this Father’s Day 2022? Taking a moment to acknowledge that joy, will honestly be a feeling he will never, ever forget.

Inspired by their experience, Jason and wife Helen launched www.lovelynicugifts.co.uk - an online store catering for the the needs of premature babies and their families. Get 10% off using voucher code BLISS10!