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Calgary nurse flies to Newfoundland to become new father during COVID19 pandemic

“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,” says Dan Sutherland, with husband Keith.
“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,” says Dan Sutherland (left) with husband Keith. - Photo submitted

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.”

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonfherring

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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