A Barclays MD wrote a book on the crazy birth of his first child
Historically, male managing directors have not had the best reputation when it comes to paternity leave. Sam Kendall, the former head of APAC investment banking at UBS and current head of advisory and capital markets at Unicredit, famously used the four months off following the birth of his twins in 2016 to move internally to a bigger job on a new continent and take a holiday in Bali.
These days, paternity leave and public participation in childcare is much more common for senior men in banking. Even so, the early days of fatherhood for Alex Bisset, head of US convertible sales at Barclays, were intense. So intense that he's written a book about them.
Bisset's book, which is available to purchase for anyone curious about childbirth and its complications, details how his daughter was born unexpectedly in May 2022 while he and his wife, both of whom work in finance, were nearly 2,000 miles from home attending a wedding in Montana.
It's a reminder that even the best laid maternity/paternity plans can be derailed by babies who don't know that diaries exist. When Bisset's wife's waters broke at 36 weeks, they were staying in a cabin without a car and he'd drunk 12 cocktails at the wedding party. "The biggest surge of adrenaline I had ever experienced hit me like a hard slap to the face on a cold winter morning," he recalls.
Fortunately, they managed to unearth someone to drive them to the hospital, but that was only the start of the problems. Once they arrived, his daughter was given steroids to develop her lungs and his wife was booked in for a C-section. While Bisset was out shopping for baby gear, the hospital became concerned about his daughter's heart rate and the C-Section was brought forward: "I was told the C-section was going to happen in about 30 minutes. I was 15 to 20 minutes away," Bisset recalls.
His daughter, Evy, was born 12 hours after his wife's waters broke and was immediately put in an incubator. "When I was first called Dad in the NICU, my immediate reaction was thinking “Dad is my father,” and I had a sudden urge to turn around confusedly and look for him. Then it dawned on me," says Bisset.
Because Evy was four weeks premature and needed assistive oxygen, Bisset and his wife then had the issue of how to bring her back to New York. They couldn't fly commercial. They couldn't afford a private jet (with Barclays' bonuses). They couldn't even drive. "Driving from Bozeman to New York is a 32-hour straight shot," says Bisset. "With a newborn in a car seat, you need to stop at least every two hours. This is because of that same issue with oxygen saturation. Babies don’t have much neck strength, so they can’t support the comparatively huge noggins that make up about 25 percent of their weight at birth."
Ultimately, they had to take a 2,155-mile, 48-hour train ride back to New York. The cabin was so small that Bisset barely slept. His wife, who was recovering from the cesarean, took the bed. The toilet/shower were unusable. But eventually they got back.
Bisset, who has had over a year to ruminate on the entire event, says he wouldn't change anything about the way in which his "chonky cherub" of a daughter was born. But he does have advice for other expectant parents, bankers or otherwise: "Do not fly anywhere, anytime close to your due date."
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