I’m looking forward to conversations with my daughter. At the moment they tend to go:

Her: “Waaaaaaa!”
Me: “What’s the matter?”
Her: “Waaaaaaa!”
Me: “Are you hungry? We only fed you recently‚Ķ”
Her: “Waaaaaaa!”
Me: “Have you made boom boom?” *checks nappy*
Her: “Waaaaaaa!”
Me: “Are you bored?”
Her: “Waaaaaaa!”
Me: “Lonely? Need a hug?” *picks her up*
Her: “Waaaaaaa!”
Me: “Too hot? Too cold? Thirsty? Angry at the world? Disenfranchised? Traumatised by having a dad who looks like a disgruntled bear?”
Her: “Waaaaaaa!” *farts loudly and quietens down*
Me: “Oh. Windy.”

I’ll be happy when she can at least tell me where it hurts.

Thing is, I know once she can talk, there’s going to be times I wished I’d never taught her.

We were walking down the street with the buggy/pram the other day and a lady in a people carrier stopped before a junction to let us cross. She wore a slightly tired look but flashed us a smile that said: “Yeah. Me too.”

As we passed by my wife said “It’s like being a parent makes you part of a secret club.” and I was thinking the exact same thing.

It happens everywhere. People stop to talk to you about your kid. New parents, old parents. At first I thought it was because she is so small and cute. That’s certainly part of it, but it’s also that by becoming a parent, you are accepted as a member for life into this unspoken cabal. People you’ve never met will nod at you and smile. Older couples that would normally never approach a 6ft guy with tattoos and facial piercings, suddenly stride up and start to reminisce.

There’s no secret handshake, there’s no paperwork to sign, but I have to say, the initiation is a bitch. The current members are always sympathetic though. They’ll see you there, struggling to manoeuvre a buggy around the narrow aisles of a shop, (and you never realise how narrow until you have a buggy,) looking like fried shit – yesterday’s clothes on, random food stains on your clothing, bags under your eyes large enough to use as weekend luggage, shambling around like the recently reanimated and they know. They remember and understand. They even feel nostalgic for those days somehow.

I’m sure one day I will too, but for now you’ll have to excuse me; my daughter needs feeding again. After all I’ve had about an hour’s peace and quiet from her.

Ponderings On Poop

May 17, 2011

It’s amazing how many forms poop can take. Until you’ve had a kid, you never really think about it, unless you’re some sort of scatophile/Gillian McKieth.

The first one they do tends to look like tar. Thick, sludgy and very dark. Of course at that point, they’ve been getting all their nutrition from Mum. I’m not sure what that says about Mum’s diet, but I don’t remember her eating tar, or molasses. Perhaps she’d been eating Marmite on the sly, which as we all know is simply jars of fermented demon poop anyway.

Then for a while we had green poop. I always remembered watching Robin Williams’ stand up and him saying:

“What the hell has she been feeding you? Algae?”

So I was kind of prepared for that, but then it started coming out like Plasticine or some weird, rubbery wax crayon, which was a surprise. It seemed our daughter was a horrific, rejected form of the Mop-A-Top shop, but with the Play-Doh coming out of the wrong end and making kids cry.

Then we had the yellow pellets, which I could understand a little more, as the formula is yellow. They kind of looked like larger versions of the gravel that people put at the bottom of fish tanks. Luckily we don’t own a fish tank. Those lasted a while.

Recently when we open her nappy, we’re back to green again and it’s like pesto custard in there. Like someone smuggled a water balloon filled with pea soup into her pants and popped it.

We’re lucky. We change her about every four to six hours (usually every other feed,) and there’s probably only poop every third or fourth time, sometimes less. A friend who had a baby about a month after us says she is changing him up to fifteen times per day and he poops every time! She’s also yet to poop in the bath, or directly on us, but we’re both aware that this is a winning streak that can’t last and the law of averages is not on our side.

The thing is, when it’s your kids poop, it somehow doesn’t matter as much. Don’t get me wrong, you want to avoid contact with it if you can, but if the unimaginable happens, you just wash your hands and get on with your day. You don’t need to scour the top layer of your skin off or book in for some counselling. It’s just poop.

This does only apply to baby poop though. If somehow my wife got her poop on me, I’d be skimming through the yellow pages under ‘D’ for ‘divorce lawyer’.

God help us when it comes time to do potty training.

Due Date

May 9, 2011

So today is the day my daughter should have been born.

Due to her impatience, which does not bode well for the future, she is now forty-seven days old. Next she’ll be wearing make up, borrowing the car and bringing strange boys home. Or girls. I honestly don’t mind which as long as she’s happy.

So far today we’ve been out for lunch and had a stroll in the sunshine and now we’re home and after a short temper tantrum due to somehow smuggling in a bowl of Thai green curry into her nappy, a quick bath in the sink, a fresh set of clothes and an interim feed, she’s now sleeping soundly while my wife plays videogames and I write this. My mum says she should have two birthdays, like the Queen.

It’s been a hectic several weeks, as mentioned in my last post. I’m currently on holiday from work for a couple of weeks, so I get to spend some time with my new family. Adapting to life as a dad is a challenge – suddenly you have to do stuff you previously wouldn’t want to do or be bothered to do and now you have to do it at odd hours of the day and night. You find yourself preparing food, doing the washing up and various other household chores at a time when you’d normally be at the pub with friends, indulging in a pastime like reading or playing videogames, or sleeping for another four hours before you have to get up for work.

I’ve never been good at doing chores. I tend to put them off until I don’t have any clean cutlery left or the carpet can’t actually be seen for stuff, (OK maybe not that bad,) but now things have to be done. Like now. The thing is, once you’ve done stuff like feeding her, or changing a nappy, sometimes, this happens:

And it’s all worth it.

Happy Due Day sweetheart.

She’s been home just over a week and is now just over three weeks old and gaining weight nicely.

After two weeks in hospital with tube feeds, we progressed onto bottles as breast feeding wasn’t going to plan. Once she got the hang of bottle feeding we were allowed to bring her home.

It’s hard.

Anyone who says it’s not hard is choc-full of shit. Like, to the brim.

To put that in perspective, let me explain what an easy time we’ve had of it. Our baby doesn’t really cry. Hardly at all in fact. I think in the last week she’s cried about 3-4 times, for literally no more than a few seconds each time. On the hospital ward, I saw babies that cried if you stood up in a way they didn’t like, or wore last year’s colours or if you happened to drop your hat.

I think it is partly to do with the parents. Babies pick up on so much and if you’re kind of chilled, I think they feel like mostly, everything’s ok, but if you’re stressed or nervous or whatever, they reflect that back at you too.

The room on the ward opposite my wife’s room, was where the nurses put all the women who couldn’t be trusted to feed their babies regularly. We called them ‘The Scabbers’, shortened from ‘Those scabby bastards’. Call me a snob if you like (I am,) but if you look like a crackwhore and have already had several kids taken from your care, then I think being called ‘The Scabbers’ by a couple of snobs is the least of your worries, or should be. Needless to say, these were the women who took their kids to the nurse’s station for feeds and went outside for a fag. Needless to say, their kids cried a lot. Almost constantly, in fact. Perhaps the babies took one look at their respective Scabber and cried at the prospect of spending eighteen or so years with them, for their own, now lost potential, or just because they hoped that if they cried loud enough, they might get a do-over, who knows?

Anyway, due to my daughter’s impatience to get out here and see what all the fuss was about, (not realising in her naivet√©, that the ‘fuss’ was about her,) we have to feed her every three hours. Doesn’t sound so bad right? 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, 10pm, 1am, 4am; start again. Now it sounds less easy. Now consider that during that 3 hours, you need to knock off about 20 minutes of actual feeding time, another 5-10 minutes for a change, depending on how easy she decides to make it, another 5 minutes washing up the bottle and sterilising it and another 5-10 minutes to prepare the next bottle. So on a good cycle, you might get two and a half hours between feeds. That’s if she doesn’t wake up early and decide she wants feeding half an hour ahead of schedule. So, call it two hours. Fit your life into chunks of two hours. Eating, sleeping, shopping, tidying, cleaning, toilet time, etc etc.

We’ve already turned into those dead-eyed parents you see, shuffling along like despondent zombies, only instead of blood stains soiling our clothing at regular intervals, it’s food, because we’re too tired to summon the precision needed to hit our mouths every time. Hell, I was never that accurate to begin with so what hope did I have? The stains stay there because we’re long past caring – I just took a quick sniff of myself and all I can say is that you should be glad that you’re reading this online, not talking to me in person.

Again, we’ve still had an easy ride. I’m a night owl, so I do the late feeds up until 1am, my wife, the early bird, does the four and seven early feeds and we split the rest of the day up according to who is awake, can pass a quick coordination test stolen from the US Highway State Police, or is just generally closer to the kid. Feeding her is easy, when she’s hungry, she’ll feed and when she’s full, she’ll stop. To burp her, generally we just sit her up a little and it kind of just falls out, at high velocity (she takes after her dad.). She doesn’t throw up much and she’s yet to pee or crap directly onto us. Between feeds she tends to sleep pretty much most of the time.

I know how easy we’ve got it and it’s still hard. My heart goes out to those with kids who are real challenges – screamers, fussy eaters, non-sleepers – but I want it back, OK?

Unexpected delivery.

March 26, 2011

22nd March, 2011.

So the other morning, we were 7 weeks and a day to go and my wife noticed something that was a little cause for concern, possibly even an indicator of impending labour.

She rang the midwife & we took her in to the maternity unit we will be delivering at. Funny story – we’d just gone for the tour on Sunday, which they do every week to let upcoming parents get a look at the place, so at least we knew where we were going, even if we hadn’t been expecting to be visiting again so soon.

33 weeks is a funny time. The baby is almost fully formed but if it were to be delivered now, there are chances it might have trouble breathing as the lungs are some of the last parts to gain maturity. Another common problem is that the baby has not developed the sucking instinct & will have trouble feeding.

Anyway, we went in & they strapped her belly up with heartbeat monitors to listen in. At one point baby’s heart rate dipped, so we had an ultrasound scan to check, but everything was ok.

In fact the baby was the size of a 35 week term, so a little big, if anything. She had 2 more heartbeat scans over 30 min periods each time & in both cases everything was fine & baby is moving lots, which is a good sign. They gave her a steroid injection just in case the baby comes early, it’ll help its lungs to develop quicker. She’s due another one in the morning, provided she has no abdominal pain, (a sign of labour, obviously,) and should come home tomorrow.

If the baby goes to term, the steroid injections won’t cause any harm or overdevelopment, so I can kiss my dreams of sending the kid to Xavier’s school for gifted youngsters, goodbye.

I’m kidding – a coping mechanism, obviously, as I’m nervous as hell. I did very well though, my wife was proud of the fact that I was very clam and took it all in stride and didn’t panic. I don’t believe in panicking, it just makes the situation harder to deal with, but like I say, inside I was pretty nervous.

Anyway, everything looks to be ok and mum and baby are both fine. Let’s just hope baby decides to leave it’s grand appearance for an opening night a little nearer to the due date of 9th May. Sure, I realise I’m going to be spending a good chunk of the rest of my life worrying about it, so I guess starting a little early just means I get some practice in at being fraught & sleep deprived.

***************************************************************************************************************************************************

Well she decided not to wait.

Tuesday night I left work at 10pm & called My wife, who told me she should be coming home in the morning as everything was ok.

At 12.45am I received a call saying that she’d gone down to delivery with pains & that I shouldn’t rush, but to get to the hospital & go straight to the delivery suite.

I checked the house was locked up & OK & sped along at mostly just over the speed limit but didn’t put my foot to the floor.

I arrived, was ushered into the delivery room to see my daughter laid on her mum.

She was born at 12.56, weighing 4lbs, 3 & 1/2oz.

She is the greatest and best thing ever and mum is doing well too.

Obviously she has to stay in hospital for up to 3 weeks due to coming 6 weeks early, but she is doing well – her blood sugar is good (they’ve stopped testing it now,) and she’s maintaining temperature well enough that they’ve taken her out of the incubator this morning and she’s in a regular cot and wearing clothing for the first time.

It’s been a while. This blog loads as part of my homepage tabs and I keep looking at it and thinking… “I really should think of something to post on there.”

So the wife is properly big now, with three months of embiggening still to go. I think last time I checked my iPhone “What To Expect” pregnancy tracker app, it told me the baby was as big as a small cabbage. It’s been a very handy app so far as it gives daily & weekly updates & gives us something to read together and talk about and it explains what’s going on inside and what sort of ‘symptoms’ to expect. I highly recommend it.

I’ve just checked it and apparently the baby is as big as a butternut squash (17 inches, 3.1 pounds.). Gives me an excuse to make my roasted butternut squash with spinach and halloumi in the hollowed-out seed area, sprinkled with thyme. Yum.

So far fatherhood has been pretty uneventful for the most part and I almost want to say ‘boring’, which in many ways is a good thing, as the Persians (I believe,) used to curse people by wishing that they ‘Live in interesting times’.

Baby kicks away at mum now like a miniature MMA fighter and you can feel it and even see it on the outside, so there’s a lot of:

“Give me your hand! Did you feel that?”

“No.”

“What about that?”

“Ooh, yeah!”

 

Life is rarely like TV or the movies, but it’s still somehow often the yardstick we measure experience by, or at least the expectation of such. So let me burst your media-fed bubble:

The pregnancy takes ages. On TV it’s usually a scene with a woman holding a home pregnancy kit and the drama that brings and in the next shot she looks like she’s eaten a sumo wrestler. Nothing could be further from the truth. The first six months pass slowly, with little even needing to be done. In the final trimester, things move along quite visibly, (at least in our case,) but the whole time people you talk to say things like, “Not long now!” and “It’ll be here before you know it!” but day to day life continues much as normal, the only difference for the father being that the house acquires a certain amount of baby-related paraphernalia.

Not having the little blossoming pink thing inside you means I’ve yet to really create an emotional bond with it. I know this is something a lot of dads go through and you always hear the “The first time it holds your hand…” type stories, which I’m sure are true, but even at this advanced stage it feels like some kind of blurry thing off in the distance.

We’ve been given a ‘travel system’ (Buggy/pushchair thing with detachable car seat & Moses basket,) as well as a few clothes and some nappy starter kits, but barring that, there’s very little I can do of actual use except maybe help her take off her socks.

Herding Cats

November 8, 2010

When my wife & I first moved in together, I inherited part responsibility of two cats. Although, as I said before, I’m not stupid enough to think I’ll ever be truly prepared for the massive changes to our lives in six months, here’s a few ways I think looking after these two has given me an insight into some of the goings-on that will ensue. So – like kids:

  • Cats will follow you everywhere. Including to the bathroom.
  • They may suddenly decide to shout, for no apparent reason whatsoever. This can happen while you are asleep and probably often will.
  • Puking will happen suddenly and with little or no warning.
  • Pooping may involve some warning, but you often won’t understand what they’re trying to tell you until it’s too late.
  • Any time you are eating, they will decide they prefer whatever it is you have, even after they’ve turned their nose up at it after being offered some.
  • They will almost always be in the way, preferably actually underfoot whenever possible.
  • Rounding them up to do anything at the same time will be nigh on impossible.
  • They will rarely, if ever listen to a single word you say & will often just outright ignore you.
  • You will be at their beck and call. If they’re in, they’ll want to go out. If they’re out, they’ll want to come in. Don’t ever expect to watch even a half-hour TV show uninterrupted.
  • They’ll bring horrible parasites home.
  • They’ll cost you a bloody fortune.

However, all of this will be totally worth it for the ten minutes they fall asleep on your lap, breathing softly and all the world feels at peace.

November 1, 2010

First scan of baby

Bioimperative Jr.

We could see fingers & toes, a spine, a head and it’s heart beating. Sometimes technology is truly breathtaking and biology even more so.

Here’s a quick list of things my kid will have missed & therefore will never have known a world either with or without these things (in no particular order):

The Internet.

Seriously, can YOU imagine a world without the net now? How the hell did anyone get anything done?

Mobile phones.

I remember the first mobile phone I ever saw. It was basically a car battery with a handset attached by the old style curly wire. Now I have an iPhone that I can play games on that run the Unreal engine, that I can download from the net in the street – never mind everything else it does.

The Fall of the Berlin wall and reunification of Germany.

The release of Nelson Mandela and the end of apartheid in South Africa.

The first black President.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to convey the scope of just how huge those last three events were.

The first female UK Prime Minister.
Although I’m happy they missed this, momentous as it was, because she and I disagree on most points.

The terrorist attacks on the twin towers.
I was starting new job that day, as tech support for a TV service, so there was a TV on in the office so we could check channels. I saw the second plane hit, assumed it was a mock-up news story as part of a film for a minute. We were having the office tour at the time & all I could think was “If any country claims this act, none of this matters.”
Later that day I stood gobsmacked with my girlfriend at the time, outside a TV hire shop watching those horrendous scenes play over and over, while a fat man stood next to us and ate an ice cream.

Again, another incident I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to fully convey the horror of.

The USSR and the collapse of Russian communism.
I visited Russia when I was 18. Everywhere we went we were treated like royalty. Never have I met such gracious, welcoming and wonderful people.

Knowing where you were when Princes Diana died.
I was in Greece on holiday & some woman came up and asked if we’d heard. We thought she was nuts until a couple of days later when the papers arrived. Later that week we got to watch Elton John singing at her funeral, while a Greek man spoke the lyrics in Greek over the top, which was bizarre.

Admittedly, it’s not the moon landings, JFK, Elvis, Marilyn or Hiroshima, but it’s what I’ve lived through.

What do you wish your kids had seen?