Ex­cit­ing prospect amid virus un­cer­tainty

Calgary nurse, hus­band board plane to New­found­land to be­come new fa­thers

Calgary Herald - - CITY + REGION - JA­SON HER­RING jher­ring@post­media.com

In a time when most Cana­di­ans are stay­ing put, Calgary reg­is­tered nurse Dan Suther­land and his hus­band Keith hopped on a plane last week­end and flew to the other side of the coun­try.

The cir­cum­stances of the trip were ex­cep­tional: their first child is ex­pected to be born by the end of the month via a sur­ro­gate, a long­time fam­ily friend who now lives in New­found­land. It’s a plan they had in place far be­fore the COVID -19 pan­demic emerged.

Now, the cou­ple is pass­ing time in an Airbnb, self-iso­lat­ing in St. John’s for two weeks as per the re­quest of New­found­land and Labrador au­thor­i­ties and await­ing their child’s birth with ex­cite­ment and un­cer­tainty. The baby is due May 27, and Suther­land is hop­ing that date holds, as an early birth could mean the new fa­thers would still be iso­lat­ing.

“We’re hop­ing that she doesn’t go into labour be­fore we’re out of our quar­an­tine ... there’s no in­di­ca­tions that she feels like she’s get­ting ready for labour, but who knows,” Suther­land said.

“We knew that we had to come out here early enough that we could quar­an­tine for the two weeks, but we’re still not ex­actly sure how things are go­ing to work.”

The COVID-19 threat has also im­pacted other parts of the birth plan, in­clud­ing the abil­ity for the new fa­thers to be present in hos­pi­tal dur­ing the birth of their child, some­thing Suther­land still says is up in the air. The ex­pec­tant grand­par­ents were also look­ing for­ward to the birth but had to can­cel plans to be there.

It’s been a sur­real ex­pe­ri­ence for Suther­land, who works at the Peter Lougheed Cen­tre, a Calgary hos­pi­tal ex­pected to see COVID -19 cases as the out­break’s Al­berta peak ap­proaches in May, in­clud­ing at a tem­po­rary struc­ture built es­pe­cially for treat­ing novel coro­n­avirus pa­tients.

There are some mixed feel­ings for the nurse about be­ing away from the job when a surge of pa­tients could be ad­mit­ted, but he says his team at the hos­pi­tal has been sup­port­ive and will get through the po­ten­tially tough month.

“It’s what you get into nurs­ing to do, so you do feel a lit­tle bad about not be­ing there,” Suther­land said.

“It hadn’t been that busy at work un­til maybe the week or so un­til we started to leave ... for the most part, peo­ple had mostly been stay­ing away.”

For now, Suther­land and his hus­band are wait­ing out their quar­an­tine, read­ing books, play­ing games and spend­ing time in the Airbnb’s back­yard when the weather co-op­er­ates.

“We were ready for a lot, ready to get here quickly if we needed to, but this COVID thing re­ally threw a wrench into ev­ery­thing,” he said. “But at least we still got to make it out here.”

Cal­gar­ian Dan Suther­land, left, and his hus­band Keith are in New­found­land, await­ing the birth of their first child this month via sur­ro­gate.

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