Declan Geoffrey Stokker was born on 5 May 2009 at the Wilgers Hospital in Pretoria, South Africa. But what a story to be able to get him out.
You could say that it started the previous year when my wife went to visit her doctor. She was told that we would have to have our first child within the next year or that we would never be able to have children. So we decided that we would start trying around January 2009. This was in order for Tarryn’s hormones to be treated with medication, etc. to prepare her for the child. She had to go back at the end of August 2008 (we heard the news at the beginning of August) after having taken a pregnancy test to ensure there was nothing.
But lo and behold, after taking the test, Tarryn found out that she was pregnant and that we were expecting our first one. She was convinced it was a girl and I was convinced it was going to be a boy and nothing could change either of our minds.
She had terrible morning sickness and was counting down the days until she hit the magical thirteenth week when the nausea was supposed to vanish. The first day in her thirteenth week she started to bleed. I had to rush home from Johannesburg during rush hour to try and get her to hospital. I was using the emergency lane when I was pulled over by metro police and told to rejoin traffic and that I was not an ambulance and couldn’t use the emergency lane. I had an emergency lane but it didn’t qualify for the emergency lane. I think it was this incident which caused me to have the attitude that the police and the taxi bosses could kill each other off and no one would care, South Africa might actually be a better place for it afterwards.
I eventually got home and we rushed Tarryn to the hospital. The nurses booked her into hospital but told us we would not be able to find out if everything was fine until the next day when the doctor could do a sonar. I was not allowed to sleep over at the hospital and had to go home to an empty house with the nurse telling me to prepare myself for the worst and that we had lost the baby.
I dragged myself to the hospital expecting to be told that our baby was gone. Tarryn was wheeled into the doctor’s room where the doctor did an inspection without saying anything and then switched on the sonar. As soon as the sonar moved over the baby its heartbeat echoed through the room and I broke down crying in relief. It’s a relief that is difficult to believe and feels almost as though you have been saved.
Tarryn and her sister, Tasmyn, were convinced it was a girl because girl’s are tougher in the womb and will survive what boys cannot, but I told them it was Declan, which means man of prayer, who was there and safe.
On the evening of 4 May 2009, Tarryn went into labour although she was confused because it was not like anything which had been explained to us. Instead of her water breaking like a dam, it broke like a trickle of water and we went back to the hospital. Tarryn wasn’t in ‘labour’ but her water had broke and we couldn’t leave the hospital.
Tarryn was in labour until 19:24 the next night and had to have an epidural as well as a spinal tap. Tarryn had wanted to deliver naturally but eventually it became clear that he was not going to be born naturally as so she had to be rushed in for an emergency caesarian section. When he was pulled out, weighing 3.9 kilograms, it was discovered that his umbilical cord had been wrapped around his neck and wouldn’t allow him to be born. But because he had been exposed to the outside air for so long he had to go into neonatal for overnight observation which lasted five days.