New daughter has Fisher couple 'starting over'
FISHER — Forgive Kevin or Julie Dockham if you hear them humming the John Lennon tune "(Just Like) Starting Over."
Kevin, in his 50s, and Julie, in her mid-40s, are pretty much doing just that. At an age when most people are looking ahead to the so-called "golden years," the Dockhams still have child-rearing to do.
"We're still in awe," Kevin said.
"We still sit there and stare at her," Julie added.
The object of their amazement — and the amazement of their entire family from Fisher — is their newborn daughter, born last month.
Allenna Jo Dockham was born at 9:45 a.m. Jan. 18, 2013, at Gibson Area Hospital in Gibson City — weighing 7 pounds 7 ounces and measuring 19 inches.
The Dockhams' oldest son is 27. They have a grandson who is 9.
"Quite the deal, starting over," Kevin Dockham said. "The time I figure she graduates I'll be 70. You just can't imagine. It's unreal."
The baby has already undergone one surgery and will have another one — much of it because of her mother's age. But she's a fighter.
"She's a trouper," her father said.
She'll have to be, to prevent being spoiled by all the attention she will receive.
To say that Julie Dockham's pregnancy was a surprise is an understatement.
Julie, 44, and Kevin, 53, were sitting in a doctor's office last May at BroMenn Medical Center in Bloomington, where she had gone to get an injection for back pain.
Because of the nature of the treatment, the medical center is required to do a pregnancy test.
"My husband and I were sitting in the room, and the nurse came in and said, 'How long have you known you've been pregnant?'" Julie said.
"I said, 'What? That's impossible.'"
Her husband added, "You've got the wrong room."
The nurse checked her bracelet, did a blood test and confirmed it.
"We were just dumbfounded," Julie said.
A sonogram done the next day at Gibson Area Hospital found that she was 12 1/2 weeks along.
Julie wasn't upset.
"It was more just, 'Wow!' she said. "Until I started really showing, I don't think it really sank in."
While growing up, their oldest daughter, Dianna Woodcock, who is 23, always wanted a baby sister. After a while, she realized it wasn't going to happen.
"I remember always telling them I wanted a baby sister," Woodcock said. "They adopted Teri, my cousin, and I said, 'No, that's not the sister I want.'"
The Dockhams waited until they were sure before they told their children. They called a family meeting. Woodcock joked with her mom that she must be pregnant. Her mother just laughed.
When everyone assembled at the Dockham home, "She got the sonogram picture out and my mouth just dropped and I said, 'What?' Woodcock said.
Carrying Allenna Jo was more difficult for Julie than with her other children.
"My last, probably two months, I was saying, 'I'm too old for this.' My body was telling me, 'What the heck are you doing?'"
She said the weight of the baby and fluids caused her a great deal of back pain exacerbated by some herniated disks.
For about a week before the baby was delivered, Julie had been contracting on and off. The contractions became "fairly constant" about two days before her birth.
The Dockhams went to Gibson Area Hospital about midnight Jan. 18, and tried to induce labor. When that was unsuccessful, they decided to do a Caesarean section because the hospital was concerned about the stress a normal delivery would cause on the baby's heart.
Allenna Jo has an atrioventricular canal heart defect and a heart murmur, both of which will be corrected with surgery after she reaches 3 months of age.
Two days after she was born, doctors performed surgery on her at OSF St. Francis Medical Center, Peoria, to correct Hirschsprung's disease. Nerves were not connected to her colon. Eight days later, the Dockhams were back home.
Doctors said the baby's medical problems were probably the result of Julie's age.