Long-distance dad

First-time father Julian Redman makes the most of technology

It was a long time coming... I’m not talking about those lengthy months of the pregnancy, but the time it took for me to finally start striking off that list of things to do before I go bald... (it is starting to get patchy, but I just made it!). So now, at the ripe old age of 37, I finally became a dad. It made me feel so proud of my own father, he was ‘mature’ too when he had me (I was the last of four) and was kind and considerate as I was growing up – while I’m only 60 days in to this fatherhood malarky, I hope I’ll be the kind of dad he was, too.

My wife gave birth in her home town back in Turkey, and I had to come straight back to Dubai for work soon after, which means I’ve missed ‘half of his life so far’ (it sounds awful when you say it like that). But I was there for the birth, just! I received a call at 12 noon, was on a flight by 2.30pm, arrived at her home by 3am the next morning, and our son was finally delivered by emergency C-section a few hours later, due to low amniotic fluid (I know, new dads suddenly become like Dr Gregory House, Googling complicated medical terms on the internet – whatever it was, it was an emergency). Suffice to say little Christophe Kuzey was hand delivered and after a tense 45 minutes on a respirator, all was fine. And with that came the flood of feelings of new-fatherhood: ‘awesome’, ‘nerve-wrecking’ and just a general ‘gulp’ of overriding emotions.

My wife and Kuzey (as we’re calling him – Turkish name, clearly!) were both due to fly back to Dubai on December 23, but as he was 30 days premature, the doctor ordered a blood test which put an annoying delay on proceedings. This, however, proved to be a good call as his white blood count was ‘worryingly low’ which meant his tiny immune system was fragile – and of course most flights tend to circulate germs and infections which a 45-day-old baby would find hard to fight off. So with his immune system not capable of defending him against the onslaught of bugs, he was put on the ‘no-fly list’, and they both remain in Turkey with the diagnosis that he has ‘new born neutropenia’, perhaps from a deficiency of Vitamin B12 during pregnancy or from an infection – we are still awaiting the results from a painful Bone Marrow Biopsy and
blood tests.

Over the Christmas and New Year period I was lucky enough to get back to Turkey to spend some more time with Kuzey (and my wife of course!), and to finally experience those ever so magical moments of half sleeping with a five-kilo baby resting on your chest – I don’t know who was more comfortable, but that feeling was something I didn’t appreciate until now. Seeing other fathers with their children didn’t give me the wow factor before but now, as I sit with men in a similar boat to myself, I can happily discuss the wonders of fatherhood (interrupted, of course, with chat on football and other ‘macho stuff’ to ensure we don’t lose our sense of manliness!). We have had to stop on occasions and reflect on the past hour’s chat on how proud we are of our children and what a huge amounts of respect we have for our wives…

So with potentially another month of separation ahead, divided by two flights and an hours’ bus ride, we are thankful for the wonders of Apple Facetime and Skype! Kuzey has quickly got used to hearing my voice and seeing his ‘body-less father’, with my head floating in mid-air as my wife holds up her iPad to him every night... Hurry home guys!

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