- Why can't I go, Daddy?
- Where do you wanna go, sweetie?
- No, I don't want to go.
- So Ali, I've heard that being a parent can be kind of tough.
(Ali laughs) - What makes you say that?
Leave me alone.
- You need some time to yourself?
It's really hard.
Parenting is so much about facing the unknown.
All of that has just been compounded by everything that's happening in 2020.
- I never expected we'd be having a baby during a global pandemic.
- I am juggling a lot right now.
- So in this episode, we're learning about what starting a family is like in this American moment.
- My entire pregnancy was not what I had planned for.
- [Pierre] First little musical lesson.
- It has ears, right?
(dynamic music) - So.
My wife and I are deciding whether or not to have a second child with everything going on.
Well, our daughter wants another child.
- Sure, but she's also three.
- Even though I feel so much more experienced at being a parent, now the world has completely changed.
- We have a pandemic.
We have climate change.
We're getting older.
Yeah, it feels like an impossible decision.
- I think if you're waiting for everything to be perfect before you have kids, you'll never have kids.
- Washington State dad, Rob Kenney, has had nearly three million "kids" since the start of the pandemic.
- At least that's how he refers to his massive community of followers that watch his Dad, How Do I?
- Hey kids.
So Mom calls me and says, honey, the van won't start.
Do you think you can jump it?
And I thought, well, I think if I had a running start, I could probably get over the car, but I don't think I can get over the van.
- [Ali] He shares practical skills.
- I got a lot of requests for how to change a flat tire.
Today I'm gonna show you how to fix a clogged sink.
You got this.
- [Ali] And peppers in some fatherly advice.
- One thing of encouragement I just wanna leave you with.
I'm proud of you.
God bless you.
- [Danielle] He wants to be the kind of role model that he never had.
- So I came from a fractured home.
When I was 14 my dad, he decided he didn't wanna raise kids anymore.
Those were his words.
So that was always a goal of mine was to raise good adults.
That's what I always say, is good adults, not good kids.
If you wanna be a perfect dad, you have to be perfect.
You can't make any mistakes.
You know, there is so much more to being a dad than just running around and fixing things.
I think a big part of being a dad is, I think it's okay to admit your failures.
- [Ali] That's especially important for parents right now because none of us have ever had to make any decisions about these situations.
- It's easy to get cabin fever and ah, you know.
Pretty soon we're nitpicking at each other.
And I think it's important to come back to your kids, and as an example, say, hey, I didn't handle that properly.
And will you forgive me?
Understand that we're all kinda going through it.
- New parents will definitely have their work cut out for them with everything that's going on.
- The biggest challenge with being a new mom is the isolation, doubly so right now.
- There's Coraline.
I figured that by the time she's here, it'll be all over.
And it's becoming increasingly clear that that's probably not going to happen.
- As parents, our number one job is to keep them safe.
You learn along the way that there's only so much you can ever do.
- [Ali] Pierre and Nikiah Campbell couldn't wait to become parents.
- We're getting ready to surprise husband.
We found out I was pregnant on January 18, 2020.
We both knew in our hearts that we were called to be parents.
- Well, you know, this whole idea of creating a legacy that's gonna contribute positively to the world.
- In my head I was like, third time's the charm.
- [Danielle] The Campbell's had experienced two prior miscarriages.
- That was really tough for us 'cause you want something so bad.
- How do you feel?
- How old are we today?
- 11 weeks.
♪ 11 weeks ♪ Right when COVID popped off is when I was starting to show.
I was absolutely terrified.
- How can this affect pregnancy, how do we remain safe?
♪ Mommy in her mask, Mommy in her mask ♪ - I didn't finally relax in the pregnancy until 25 weeks.
- [Pierre] Ooh, look at Mommy's belly.
- He was poking out.
- Even though the world was chaos around us, our pregnancy was pretty uneventful.
- [Ali] But that all changed when Nikiah's water broke and they rushed to the hospital early in her third trimester.
- [Nikiah] When you've experienced pregnancy loss in the past, anything makes you nervous.
- We're only 30 weeks, five days.
Pregnancy is usually 40 weeks.
This is nowhere near what the plan was.
- The doctor came in and said, we're really concerned because every time you have a contraction, the baby's heart rate goes down.
He was in distress.
- [Danielle] Mortality rates for black infants and mothers are more than two times higher than other American demographic groups.
And that was a concern.
- Numbers were turning in my head.
Are we gonna be another statistic?
I had a discussion with the doctor that I need you to do everything in your power to take care of my wife and our son.
What happened today?
- I had a baby.
- [Ali] Nikiah had an emergency C-section and baby Kyerre was born, very premature.
- [Pierre] Three pounds eight ounces.
That's my son.
He looks like an angel.
- [Danielle] Kyerre had to stay in the neonatal intensive care unit until he could survive on his own.
- [Nikiah] It was so challenging for me to see him like that.
A lot of standing at his isolette, and opening the little cubbyhole thing, and touching him and stuff.
- [Danielle] Because of the pandemic, the hospital's strict protocols made the NICU experience even more challenging.
- [Nikiah] We hang out and take turns seeing our son.
- [Pierre] It is always such a joy to spend a little bit of time with you.
We have never all been in the same room together since he came onto this earth.
- There are so many first times as a family that we're looking forward to, like taking our first family selfie together.
I miss my baby, even though all I do this stare at him, I can't hold him yet.
Look at mommy's little burrito.
Just feeling really teary.
I'm pumping right now.
I'm not naked.
Today I got to hold my baby for the very first time.
Check us out.
We am just so happy to be holding each other.
That was the first time I felt like, really felt like his mom.
- When you're holding your baby for the first time, you're a little like, you're humbled.
and you're making 'em all kinds of promises.
You know, it's pretty amazing.
- Welcome to the East Coast baby shower.
(everyone cheering) - Things didn't necessarily pan out the way we had expected.
And we are just asking that you continue to send us your love and prayers so that he can come home to us.
- No matter how bad this year gets, he is here, he is breathing, he is the definition of possibility.
You have fun with daddy today?
- [Ali] Kyerre was in the hospital for weeks, and the family still had never been all together.
- He's been there 42 days.
He's filling out, his face looks like a baby now.
We literally just got the phone call from the hospital saying that Kyerre may be able to come home as soon as tomorrow if everything goes well today.
(computer chiming) - What's going on with my baby?
- He had a setback.
He's having trouble maintaining his body temperature.
- Oh my god.
- What's the timeline?
- I asked that and they just couldn't answer.
I just really want him here home with me, up under me, holding him.
(calm music) - Come on home, baby boy.
Look at this, we are walking with our son.
- What you wanna say to your grandbaby?
- [Grandma] Welcome home little chocolate drop.
- [Nikiah] Hello there.
Hello there, sir.
- We finally made it.
Thank God we made it.
If you're thinking about becoming a parent right now in America, whether your child ends up in the NICU like ours, or you go full term and get to take your baby home, know that this is gonna be really hard.
(Kyerre crying) Know that people will love you, and they'll support you through these hard times.
We have not stopped short of thanking God each and every day.
- I'm a man of faith.
My whole life that's grounded me.
I would just encourage you, you know, it is temporary.
Always have hope that the future's gonna be better.
- When we're debating to start a family or not, we came down on the side of we want to contribute some good to the world.
- If we don't have any hope, then what's the point of all this?
- No matter what state we find the outside world in, we're gonna have a whole new reason to be happy.
- For those of you becoming parents, best of luck to you.
If you can plan it, please try to plan it.
- Plan it?
You can't plan it.
I think we did good.
- PBS American Portrait is-- - A platform where-- - People can go to in order to share their experiences.
- So join in.
- Go to PBS-- - .org-- - /americanportrait.
♪ I'm fly ♪ ♪ And I'm not cold no more ♪ ♪ Hey, hey ♪ (Nikiah laughs) ♪ I'm fly ♪ ♪ And I'm not cold no more ♪ ♪ Hey, hey ♪ ♪ I'm not cold ♪ ♪ I'm not cold ♪