Premature meeting of strong wills

Sorenstam's demeanor helps her handle newborn's battle

March 31, 2011|By Jeff Shain

He was going to be named Nicholas. Or as the lineup card might declare, Nick McGee.

"It's funny," Mike McGee said. "I wanted a name that sounds good in sports, and Annika wanted a name that looked good on the business card."

He's William McGee now — Will for short. Change of plans. And whether he lights up the scoreboard or makes Fortune 500 standing — or something a little less — Mike McGee and wife Annika Sorenstam already know the newest family member is a battler.

"He has really done well at every stage so far," McGee said of their newborn son, born two Mondays ago about three months premature. "He hasn't had any setbacks so far, and hopefully he won't. But we realize what a day-to-day situation it is."

McGee had just returned Wednesday from a hospital visit, happy to report Will was getting the IV removed from his tiny hand. A tube remains in his stomach until he can consume all his needed breast milk orally. Sometimes he gets a little shot of caffeine, which keeps his energy level from flagging.

Will will remain in the neonatal ICU at Orlando's Winnie Palmer Hospital at least until he reaches 4 pounds, which would nearly double his birth weight. That could be a couple of months. But after the events of last week, both parents are simply thankful he's in good hands.

"Family is everything to us," McGee said. "We're just thankful to everybody for their positive stories and helping us to stay strong."

Sorenstam suffered a "placenta abruption," in which the placenta separates itself from the lining of the uterus.

"Even the name of that sounds bad," McGee said.

Doctors couldn't pinpoint why it happened, but the body's natural reaction is to start contractions. Once Sorenstam went into full labor, the only option was to bring Will out via Cesarean section.

McGee said his wife remained calm and relaxed throughout the process — not unlike the demeanor she displayed in winning 71 LPGA events. Papa was trying to give the same outward appearance, but "inside I was going crazy."

There were two moments when they couldn't keep their emotion in. One was right before Sorenstam was wheeled into surgery; the other came when she suggested a new name.

"We should call him Will," she told him. "He's going to need to will himself through this process."

So far, so good. Sorenstam even has returned to semi-activity, attending Wednesday's opening of the Walt Disney Pavilion at Florida Hospital for Children.

"She had a nice little business suit on. It didn't look like anything was wrong," McGee said.

Sorenstam headed straight to Will's side afterward, leaving her unavailable to tell her side. However, she acknowledged in a recent blog post that "our lives have changed pretty dramatically."

"Everyone has adversity at times in life and we are ready to face ours. A new journey has begun and thanks again for showing us that when there is a 'Will' there is a way."

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