Chancellor Gordon Brown announced the name of his baby daughter yesterday – and declared himself a changed man.
The beaming father said that his first child would be called Jennifer Jane. The middle name is traditional in Sarah Brown's family and is her own middle name. Both the Chancellor and his wife were said to think that the name Jennifer fitted their new daughter. "Politics seems less important today," the Chancellor told a small crowd of reporters and well-wishers outside Forth Park Hospital in Kircaldy, Fife.
The 2lb 4oz (1.05kg) baby girl was born by emergency caesarean section seven weeks prematurely on Friday after doctors became worried about possible complications with the pregnancy. The baby was found to be suffering from intra-uterine growth restriction, a condition which causes the child to have an irregular heart rate. If the pregnancy had been allowed to go full term both the mother and baby could have been put at risk.
Hospital staff were able to report that both were doing well yesterday, however. Mr Brown, famously dour as Chancellor, was plainly thrilled. "Our baby surprised us by coming so early into the world, but she's had the best of treatment from the health service," he said.
"Sarah and I are absolutely delighted that we have a lovely baby girl. It's overwhelming. I probably waited a longer time than most people to be a father and it's just a superb feeling.
"I know every father says his baby daughter is the most beautiful in the world, but she is and we are so delighted.
"She was very small indeed at 2lb 4oz but she's doing very well, she's breathing on her own this morning and I've been able to be in with her and so has Sarah.
"Some doctors say she looks like me and some say she looks like Sarah but she's a lovely baby and I hope we will be able to give some photographs soon."
Mr Brown, 50, who could not stop smiling as he talked of his new role as a father, confirmed that he would be taking two periods of paternity leave, including a spell when his daughter leaves hospital. "It gives you a great sense of optimism about the future and when you see the young daughter smiling as she was and moving around, it's just a superb feeling.
"I will be taking paternity leave immediately but also I want to take some days off when the baby comes home from hospital but that will be a few weeks from now – it will not be in the next few days."
A spokesman for the hospital said doctors had examined the baby yesterday morning and she was doing as well as expected.
Consultant neo-natalogist Dr Laura Stewart said: "Baby Brown has had a stable night in the intensive care unit. She remains self-ventilating and is now out of oxygen therapy. She continues to be fed through an intravenous drip and we currently are not giving her any food by mouth."
Dr Stewart said Jennifer was likely to spend the next seven weeks in hospital until she is strong enough to go home. The baby is being treated for jaundice – a condition the consultant described as "very common" in premature babies.
Both parents had taken the opportunity to cuddle Jennifer last night, she said.
Consultant obstetrician Dr Tahir Mahmood made the decision to deliver her early after a scan on Thursday revealed she was not feeding sufficiently in the womb.
Mr Brown praised the hospital, which lies on the edge of his East Kilbride constituency. "We're particularly grateful to the hospital because the NHS has been so wonderful; all the staff, all the doctors, all members of the medical profession here have done such a marvellous job."Reuse content