On the 14th of November 2010, a full 8 weeks to early, our precious little dribble monster entered this world, kicking and screaming, and most important of all – alive. Small, but alive. Both mommy and daughter are doing well. And daddy? Daddy is of course over the moon at the moment, unable to contain this overflowing feeling of joy!

World, say hello to Jessica Madison Lotter.

Needless to say, everything has happened rather quickly, rather unexpectedly and naturally thrown all of our carefully laid plans on their heads. If you followed the saga, you will know that on Saturday Chantelle was rushed into hospital and taken up with a confirmed case of pre-eclampsia. What we were told was that baby will have to be removed, but they’ll try to keep her in mommy’s tummy for as long as possible. Chantelle over-nighted at Louis Leipoldt and in the morning,  I got a phone call at home from her to let me know that the blood test results had just come back and that Jessica needed to be removed on Wednesday already.

A few minutes later, this changed to today.

So I grabbed everything I thought we would need (remember, we hadn’t even begun to think of packing Chantelle’s hospital bag yet), jumped into the Getz and raced down the N2 to reach Louis Leipoldt, discharge Chantelle and then transport her all the way through to Netcare Kuilsriver where they had a bed available for her and most important of all – place in their neonatal ICU.

Mommy-to-be Chantelle lying in her comfy hospital bed, enjoying the peace of an empty ward and happily awaiting the big cut. (As you can see, this must be pre-op - because she's still wide awake and not grimacing in excruciating pain.

As the wonderful sisters fussed over, poked and prodded Chantelle, I got to work on the admin of signing her in, and was soon back next to her side as the various machines were put to work and blood samples taken. She had already met the gynaecologist who would be taking part in the operation, Dr. Albertyn and it was now simply a matter of playing the waiting game as we patiently sat and waited for what was scheduled to be a 17:00 Caesar.

Funnily enough, Chantelle's tummy had literally just begun showing in the week, meaning that we've been kind of robbed of all those fabulous tummy pictures pregnant moms usually take! So we'll just have to do with this one of grumpy bumpy!

Monty and Cheryl swung by the hospital as well, back from the mission that Chantelle had assigned them, namely the purchase of all the things Chantelle wasn’t comfortable in asking me to organise in case I got them wrong. However, the hospital enforces extremely strict visiting rules and stick to their guns about the allowed time slots and number of visitors per patient (two), meaning that they first needed to wait for 30 minutes outside in the cafeteria, where I joined them for a quick cup of coffee to fill them in on everything that was going on.

Needless to say, the very parched Chantelle (who was obviously not allowed to eat or drink anything) would have killed for that cup of coffee.

But the clock did strike 3 and mom, dad and brother got to visit, though in the end we didn’t have much time to play happy family because Chantelle’s operation was suddenly bumped all the way up and around 15:20 they were already getting her all prepped and ready to go.

Chantelle laughing at the appearance of Doctor Craig, in the final stages of being prepped for theatre.

I got to follow the bed as they wheeled Chantelle down the hospital’s narrow corridors towards the theatre, before being asked to take a quick left and enter the changing room where I stripped out of my clothes and donned some doctor’s garments. (And when I say doctor’s garments I mean literally a doctor’s garments. His were the only ones my fat frame would fit in!).

I joined Chantelle in the waiting area once more, as the final preparations were administered, before I was asked to go and sit in a little room while they took her in, gave her the spinal anaesthetic (or whatever that is called) and basically started opening her up.

Doctor Craig in his full glory. Needless to say, true to form, I was wearing my slip-slops under those funky little feet tissues.

It wasn’t long though before I got the go ahead to enter and I was led through the operating theatre to a little stool next to Chantelle’s head, where I sat touching her face and holding her hand as the doctor’s feverishly worked on opening her up and bringing our little premature daughter into this world.

Chantelle stops thinking of the weird sensation as the doctors work on her and instead poses with Craig for the perfect Caesar theatre shot! (How's that for a painless delivery?)

I sat there for what must have been literally the shortest of time, before I gasped in excitement as I saw a little blue hand poke up into my vision. Then, without any hassle at all, my ice blue baby was lifted clean out of Chantelle and handed to the paediatrician who immediately set to work stabilising Jessica while the other attending surgeons returned to the important work of sewing up my wife again.

I won't lie, but I was amazed how I manned up in the moment, dealing with all the visible blood (to me) as the amazing doctors worked all out on bring my little bundle of joy into this world!

That moment when my daughter came out and let out a scream must rank as one of the most joyous and overwhelming moments every in my life.

Quickly color flooded into her body, and the doctor held up our most prized asset to the world, before wrapping her up and holding her so that mommy could see.

My concerns over my ice blue child quickly disappeared as she was immediately whisked away for stabilisation. I don't think I breathed for these next few minutes.

My long-legged, hairless Jessica, her lungs working as she poses for what will no doubt be her most unflattering photo ever. My God I'm in love with her from the moment I saw her...

Mommy gets to see her beautiful daughter for the first time. Robbed of the chance to hold her, this had to do for now. Aren't they both just so beautiful though? :)

Then she was returned to her little cart full of tubes and whatnot, and I was asked to follow as she was whisked down the passage and straight to the NICU incubator, where the paediatrician and sisters immediately got to work on hooking her up and inserting all the necessary tubes and sensors into our little miracle.

It felt like forever that I stood there, sending smses by the 100 and waiting for that all important moment when I would be allowed in, see my child and touch her for the very first time.

The joy that I felt, or rather still feel, is just to much to describe – it is simply sheer, unadulterated happiness that washes over you as the pride takes hold and you want to scream out to the heavens and introduce the world to your child.

Racing along to the NICU in the maternity ward. This will be Jessica's home for at least the next five weeks.

My baby, my daughter, my Jessica, lying there in her little heated bed, obscured by all the life giving equipment but alive – alive and breathing and fighting to grow.

Her skin is incredibly soft and she is just absolutely gorgeous – the most beautiful baby girl in the world. I laugh as I write this because to me babies always look a little alien and grotesque – and everyone always told me wait until I had one of my own. They were right. My daughter is the most beautiful little person I have ever seen.

Back in bed, hooked up to a lot of drips and machinery, this is definitely post-op. Chantelle is sore, drowsy - and incredibly overjoyed. (Not that you can see it from this particular snap of course!)

As for mommy, well Chantelle was eventually wheeled back in, wound closed up, but unfortunately in a lot of pain and on a lot of medication. Unfortunately the severity of the cuts, a horizontal cut on along the pubic line and a vertical one down from the navel in order to facilitate Jessica falling out rather than being pulled out, meant that she wasn’t able to see Jessica any more than those initial few seconds on the operating table, but it didn’t matter. Baby was alive, she was alive and I was there to act as the hands, feet and eyes from mommy dearest.

I'm not sure how many smses and phone calls we got and gave, but let's just say I'm not looking forward to our cellphone bills at the end of the month!

Talking about hands and feet, one thing that did throw me a bit was when I was asked to bring in the nappies and supplies for the baby – something we had absolutely no clue that we were meant to have provided on the big day! So I had to quickly make a mental note, jump into the car and race down to the local Kuilsriver pharmacy to pick up the necessary supplies – much to my bemusement and Chantelle’s annoyance of course!

Still, other than that slight hiccup which arose out of a simple lack of communication and more importantly as a result of the suddenness of the whole situation, the Netcare Hospital in Kuilsriver is a fantastic place for mommy and baby to recuperate in. The staff are all absolute angels, fantastic in their work and care for us all, in other words a home I am happy to leave my wife to spend the next three or four nights in any my daughter the next five weeks!

My beautiful daughter, fast asleep in her new world of pink and butterflies.

So far things are looking good. As the doctor said, Jessica is obviously a premature baby and thus has all the risks that come associated with that. However, she weighed in at a good 1.4 kg, her development was good, all her bits and pieces are in place, she is able to breath on her own, her heart is beating correctly and for now she has avoided all the nasty things like blood on the brain, malfunctioning heart bits and the like.

But she will remain in intensive care in the NICU for at least five weeks and strict visiting restrictions will be in place to avoid any chance of infection occurring. That means that mommy and daddy can see her any time they want (after washing hands on entering the unit of course!), but granny and grandpa can only see her once and once only in the next five week period.

As for everyone else, you will have to rely on my photos and commentary I’m afraid.

But in summary, my little long-legged daughter is alive, and happily fighting for her life. Her chances of making it are good, but we are of course far from being out of the woods just yet. So keep us in your prayers and thoughts, and hopefully in five weeks time we’ll properly introduce little Jessica Madison Lotter to the world – without all the drama this time around! ;)

P.S. And thank you to each and every one of you for all the love and support we received. It was a fantastic feeling to know how many people we can love and rely on in this world.

Thank you.