Yukon couple thanks St. Paul’s Hospital NICU staff as they celebrate a special Father’s Day

Click to play video: 'Yukon dads celebrating special first Father’s Day thanks to St. Paul’s NICU team'
Yukon dads celebrating special first Father’s Day thanks to St. Paul’s NICU team
The couple had to overcome the stress of travelling to Vancouver during a pandemic, in order to welcome the premature birth of their first child. As Catherine Urquhart reports, the dads say much of the credit goes to the staff at St. Paul's Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit. – Jun 18, 2021

A Whitehorse couple is thanking the staff at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver for making their upcoming Father’s Day special.

Greg Shaw and Allen Penny welcomed their son, Yukon, via surrogate birth back in mid-April.

The plan was for the surrogate, who is a friend of theirs, to give birth at Whitehorse General Hospital, but the birth mother’s water suddenly broke at 33 weeks gestation.

Click to play video: 'Couple adopt baby over Zoom after meeting him in NICU'
Couple adopt baby over Zoom after meeting him in NICU

With no neo-natal intensive care unit at the hospital in Whitehorse, the birth mother was flown by air ambulance to St. Paul’s in Vancouver.

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“Because of COVID, our surrogate could only have one person in the hospital with her as a support worker,” Shaw said. “So we had to make a real quick decision as to which one of us was possibly going to be there if she delivered right away.”

Read more: NICU nurse cares for baby, finds out dad was patient 30 years ago

Shaw said when they arrived in Vancouver, a social worker got involved and St. Paul’s “allowed both of us in the hospital with our surrogate so that we could both experience the birth.”

While staff allowed for both dads to be involved, things didn’t quite go as planned.

“It was a bit of an express delivery,” Shaw said. “Unfortunately, Allen wasn’t actually able to get to the hospital in time to see his birth. He was running down Robson Street on Facebook Messenger video watching the birth of his son. So I was having my hand squeezed by my friend and trying to pay attention to what was happening while also filming and video chatting with Allen as he was running down the street.”

“He did a good job,” Penny said of Shaw’s multitasking.

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Canadian program improves health of premature babies

While still in the womb, baby Yukon was being monitored for a condition where a fetus doesn’t grow as quickly as it should. Once at St. Paul’s, staff administered medication to slow contractions to give Yukon more time to grow and develop.

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After he was born, Yukon spent about two and a half weeks in the NICU.

“We were welcomed with open arms and the nursing staff treated him like he was their own son,” Shaw said. “For the two and a half weeks, they just gave us so much information and were so supportive, and so intrigued by our story as well.

“We laughed with them, we cried with them.”

Shaw, Penny and young Yukon are now back home, but say they are forever grateful for the support they received at St. Paul’s.

“It was really emotional moment to say goodbye to these people that provided love and support and care to our child and to us during one of the most fragile times of our lives,” Shaw said.

“I think it just validated us as parents.”

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