Nursing studies

Becoming a dad during a pandemic – and the final year of a nursing degree

Born during lockdown, baby Freddie is helping me learn how to balance studying and family life

Born during lockdown, baby Freddie is helping me learn how to balance studying and family life

On 6 December at 10.36pm, my wife Fran and I welcomed our beautiful baby boy into the world.

Freddie Charles Jude Richardson arrived open-eyed and full of energy. Seeing my son for the first time filled me with love; we had waited three years for this little miracle, and everything changed the moment I saw his face.

Not an average pregnancy

I think its fair to say that 2020 has had its ups and downs; Freddie was conceived during the first national lockdown and born during the second one, so we havent exactly had an average pregnancy.

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Born during lockdown, baby Freddie is helping me learn how to balance studying and family life

Alex and Freddie Richardson

On 6 December at 10.36pm, my wife Fran and I welcomed our beautiful baby boy into the world.

Freddie Charles Jude Richardson arrived open-eyed and full of energy. Seeing my son for the first time filled me with love; we had waited three years for this little miracle, and everything changed the moment I saw his face.

‘Not an average pregnancy’

I think it’s fair to say that 2020 has had its ups and downs; Freddie was conceived during the first national lockdown and born during the second one, so we haven’t exactly had an average pregnancy.

Then, following the birth, Fran and I tested positive for COVID-19 while in hospital and had to isolate at home with Freddie after being discharged.

Caring for a newborn is a huge responsibility, and I’m sure all new parents experience the anxiety that comes with the need to protect them and ensure they are safe. But being infected with a disease that has brought the world to a halt adds a whole new dimension to this.

We have been wearing face coverings in the house, deep cleaning daily and making sure our environment is as safe as it can be for Freddie. Luckily, at the time of writing, we are all healthy and going strong.

University tutors supported me as I prepared for fatherhood

As a third-year mental health nursing student, I feel fortunate to attend Canterbury Christ Church University. The moment I knew Fran was pregnant, I told my personal tutor and she immediately started putting strategies in place to support me. More importantly, she was really happy for me.

We made plans for what I should do if I struggled with my academic work, and I had all the contact details I needed to ensure returning to my studies was as smooth and stress-free as possible.

‘If I am resilient enough to continue with the final year of my degree and start a family in the middle of a pandemic, that’s one of the best examples I can set for my son’

I emailed all the faculty after Freddie was born to let them know I was a dad and apologise for the lectures I had missed during the week of the birth and our recovery from COVID-19.

The response was overwhelming, with congratulations from all the staff. Each of my module leaders offered one-to-one sessions to update me on missed content, and I have felt supported by staff at the university.

Broken nights won’t stop my studies

Juggling university, family and work on little sleep has been challenging, but I’ve adjusted pretty well. I’ve gone from your average seven or eight hours of sleep a night to about two, but have never been happier.

Having prepared for fatherhood with my family and the university, I have back-up plans and strategies in place to ensure I can continue on my course. Seeing my son has renewed my strength and made me determined to be a positive role model for him.

I want to set a high standard in the hope that he will follow; if I am resilient enough to continue with the final year of my degree and start a family in the middle of a pandemic, that’s one of the best examples I can set for him.

A new motivation to succeed in my studies

The most important aspect is balance. I have assignments due in January, but I also need to find time for my family. I have created schedules to allocate time for university and time for my son and wife, and by starting my assignments early, I have more time to enjoy family life.

Another important factor in this adjustment is good communication. Staff at the university have given me the courage to believe I can do this. I also have the most supportive wife, who encourages me to thrive in everything I do.

This year has been tough in so many ways, but the birth of my son has given me renewed hope for the future. I will continue to do all I can to keep up with my studies, and to make sure I succeed and set the best example I can for my amazing little boy.


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