With his new son Olly sleeping blissfully in his arms, radio personality Jason Reeves appears the definition of calm. The popular broadcaster is enjoying a break from the airwaves in favour of spending some quality time with his wife of four years Louise, son Max, who will be three this month, and their new addition. At only 10 weeks old, Olly is delighting the family with his occasional smiles, and when his big brother speaks, he looks around for him. “Max will stroke his head and say, ‘Hey, Olly’,” the proud dad tells. “Olly already loves Max – it’s nice!”
Like most couples, Jason (39) and Louise (37) assumed after Max’s straightforward arrival, it would go just as smoothly with baby number two. So with 10 weeks to go until the due date, Jason took the opportunity to fill in for a couple of weeks on radio station The Breeze.
“I told them it was getting close to baby’s due date, but said, ‘We should be fine, not a problem – it’s not like I’m going to have to leave halfway through a shift,’... and that’s exactly what happened!” he laughs. “I was in a meeting. Louise called and said that she was going to have to go into hospital. So I got off the phone, told the boss the news and, thankfully, he said ‘Just go, family comes first,’ which was amazing.”
A few days earlier, Louise’s blood pressure had spiked, making it clear to her midwife that she was suffering from pre-eclampsia – a condition that results in a decreased supply of blood to the organs of the body, including the brain, kidneys and liver. Without monitoring, treatment or early delivery of the baby, it can be fatal. For Louise, the news came as a shock.
Pre-eclampsia occurs in 10% of pregnancies, but it is rare in the second if it doesn’t occur in the first. “My high blood pressure reading was on a Monday and I was supposed to be induced that Sunday,” recalls Louise. But she was admitted on a Friday, with concerns for her and the baby’s safety. “It really stumped everyone, but I like to make things interesting,” she jokes.
Louise was given magnesium sulphate to prevent her from having seizures during the birth, then she was induced at North Shore Hospital. It was all going according to plan, right up until Olly was born. But in a matter of seconds, Jason’s joy turned to horror when his baby failed to take his first breath and his wife began to bleed heavily. “I remember the doctors urging Olly to breathe, saying, ‘Come on, little man,’ and there was just nothing,” he says, recounting the worst few minutes of his life. “They had to bring in a resuscitation team and then Louise started to haemorrhage on the table. I was sitting there, holding her hand and watching our baby being taken away for resuscitation. I thought, ‘This isn’t how it’s supposed to go!” With the doctors working to pump blood from Louise and help Olly take his first breath, all Jason could do was watch.
Speaking candidly, Louise says the medical drama was far worse for her husband than it was for her. “Even though I was haemorrhaging, I wasn’t in pain,” she explains. “I was exhausted, but I was just concentrating on Olly.” The couple give full credit to the hospital staff, who worked quickly and calmly to get Olly breathing again, and to the midwives, who cared for Louise while she remained in hospital following the birth. There was a risk she might haemorrhage again and require surgery, but she soon bounced back.
Jason briefly left her side the next day to pick up Max so he could meet his brand-new baby brother. To mark the occasion, Max presented Olly with an All Blacks rugby ball – in return, Olly gave Max a Peppa Pig car. His younger brother isn’t exactly the ball of fun Max thought, but that doesn’t stop him kissing him on his head or squeezing him tightly as he poses for a photo, with Mum close by. “Olly likes to be cuddled all the time, which can be tricky when you have a toddler,” Louise admits. “Max is very independent, busy and into everything! I’m keeping my fingers crossed Olly might be the opposite – quiet.”
Doting dad Jason is hands-on during the day, spending the occasional evening behind the microphone as an MC at events in Auckland. As the family prepare for a “staycation” – remaining at their Auckland home over the holidays – Jason’s worries are well behind him.
“I admit I was nervous before Olly arrived. Max and I are best mates and I love that, so I was worried I wasn’t going to do the new baby justice. But suddenly it goes from awesome to even better,” he beams.
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