Notes on Fatherhood: Keeping quiet!

Being a father is such an amazing thing. You get to have snuggles on a night before bed whilst watching In the Night Garden. You get to hear that amazing laughter and get sloppy, snotty kisses that you know mean the world. Plus you get to have adventures like the one Connell and I had this past weekend.

We had travelled to Bristol for my cousin Victoria’s wedding, a big family occasion and we were really looking forward to it. We’d driven down on Friday, stopping for lunch at Trowel services before a minor glitch getting onto the M32 and finally arriving at our destination of the Holland House Mercure hotel. Room was lovely, they provided us with a cot which tucked nicely into the corner of the room, just in front of the wardrobes. We met up with the rest of the family for some tea in the bar before getting the Cub off to bed a bit later than usual at about 8pm.

He had his bottle and a lullaby with his mummy before we put him down and turned the lights out. At this point, in the pitch black of the hotel room, Connell and I were hiding in the opposite corner of the room, against the door, because he stood up almost instantly. Must have been about 5 minutes before we ventured around the corner to see if we could see whether or not he’d settled down again! Fits of giggles over the rest of the night as we struggled on in the dark, barely feeling brave enough to even whisper in normal whisper tones. At one point Connell tried to say something to me with her face literally a centimetre away from mine and I still had no idea what she was saying!

Moral of the story – well he stayed asleep so keeping quiet, no matter how loud your quiet is, is worth it for him to wake up the next day rested and full of beans for the fun ahead.

For the record we have a lovely weekend with the family in Bristol. The wedding was lovely, although the bride was 45 minutes late!! (a forgotten hoop or something!) everyone looked amazing, the food was lovely, the band were great. We could just have done without some goon in the corridor at 2.45am banging on someone’s door shouting “GEORGE! GEORGE!” Maybe he needed to learn about keeping quiet!

The comeback!

Ok. So I’ve officially been rubbish at blogging! It’s been a full 8 months since my last update. I wont bore you with too much detail about what’s been going on since then but in a brief nutshell:

* We went on holiday to Spain. Noah’s first one. He started crawling just before we went and started teething before we came back! Awesome time. It’s just about 2 months before we go again!

* We had Noah christened in November, at the United Reformed Church in Pudsey, where we have a strong affiliation with. Party afterwards was a joint one with Connell’s big 30th birthday, held at the Golf club in Fulneck.

* We had a brilliant Christmas together. obviously Noah doesn’t really know what the heck is going on but we did and it was so much fun.

* My little boy turned 1 at the end of January. Time moves so quickly it actually does scare me sometimes if I think about it for too long. Just before his birthday he took his first steps and now is a confident little walker. We had a great party at the Church hall with lots of our friends and nearest and dearest.

* Connell has gone back to work now, on reduced hours. She probably found a bit tough at first getting back into the routine but she’s got over the initial shock and awe and is back in the groove now. Our parents are great in taking their turns to look after Noah and he goes to nursery now, at Connell’s work, for one day a week. He seems to have settled in nicely and I love to read his little report card when he gets home about what he’s been up to!

That’s the update post done. Proper posts are now going to start coming through. I’m really going to try and make this a habit, I’ve got my journal to help, a notebook to keeo my ideas in and I’m going to try using the WordPress app on my phone too. I’ve a lot to talk to everyone about, from work related things, to music, movies, books and of course family life and being a husband and father. Try to keep an eye out. I really mean it this time!

Notes on Fatherhood: Son, Sea & Sand

This last weekend my wife suggested we take a trip to the coast, Filey to be specific. Obviously I jumped at the chance as I love Filey. I have so many happy memories from childhood holidays there that you could fill a lighthouse with them. I’ve been back to Filey many times since being a kid, but what was going to make this time special was that we would be taking my 6 month old son with us for the first time. In fact this would be his first time to any seaside town. In even more fact this would be the furthest away from home he’s been yet in his life thus far. How exciting! My mind was running through all the things that we could do and see.

So this is probably old news for any experienced parents out there, but as I’m still pretty new to this it never ceases to amaze how much of a military operation it is to get ready for a simple day trip to the seaside, with one small child and a married couple! We were up early doors with Noah as usual, gave him his breakfast and then dressed him whilst the other one of us sorted ourselves out. Then there was the huge assortment of paraphernalia needed to make sure the Prince would have all he needed for the day. Food, drink, a change of clothes, a sun hat and sun cream to protect him in the sudden heat, something warmer in case the sun disappeared (as it often does here in the UK, and especially in Yorkshire), nappies, wipes, something to keep him entertained should he not fall asleep in the car, something to cuddle if he does, all parceled up in his changing bag and a small mountain sized pile by the door! This didn’t take into account things we were taking for ourselves either, crikey we were going to need a van just to spend the day by the sea!

Off we went after loading up and sure enough, soon the boy was asleep in the back of the car as we wound our way through Yorkshire, along the A64 towards the coast. He managed to stay asleep for the whole journey which was great, not even waking up as we trundled to a halt in the usual traffic just before The Highwayman’s Cafe on the outskirts of York and again as we found a line of tractors and caravans heading to the Malton Show.

We drove into Filey and got parked up in our first choice car park, at the Tesco behind the bus station. Nice and close to the centre of all the action. We wandered into town and our first stop was for lunch, and on a visit to Filey it’s difficult to eat lunch anywhere other than The Brown Room fish and chip restaurant on Union Street. As I sat there watching my son eating mashed potato in his high chair I couldn’t help but think how I’d been coming here for at least 30 years. And I’m sure I must have been in there a minimum of once a year for each of those years. Here I was, introducing my son to it. I can’t wait until he tastes his first fish and chips there! As ever though, for his mum and dad, the food was excellent.

Over lunch we had decided that the rest of the day would basically be spent along the front, starting at the famous Coble Landing. Ensuring the buggy didn’t run away from us down Cargate Hill was a good test for us, and good preparation for our holiday to Benalmadena, Spain in a month or so when we would be tackling a street lovingly known locally as Heart Attack Hill!

I’d read that this particular weekend in Filey was LifeBoat weekend and heard that the lifeboat itself would be launching that afternoon so we made our way along the front towards the Coble Landing, passing the crazy golf and it’s giant lobster. At the end of the front there was a new addition that I’d never seen before, a giant steel sculpture of a fisherman, entitled A High Tide In Short Wellies, created by Ray Lonsdale. This is a great addition to the coastline here and provides great comment on the apparent decline of the fishing industry. We stood against the railings and watched the Dearne Big Band for a little while and looked out over the beach and out to sea. I couldn’t help but wonder what Noah, at 6 months old, was making of it all. It was such a different place to what he was used to. The salty sea air, the smell of popcorn, hot dogs and ice cream, the sea gulls crying out as they search for scraps and the general throng of people enjoying their trip. I hoped it was a good experience for him, and that in his own little baby way he was taking it in and enjoying it.

Another childhood memory was of the Lifeboat and RNLI station itself. I remember going into the station and seeing the seemingly huge lifeboat there, being able to walk on a bridge up and over the boat, seeing the heroic lifeboat men that worked the vessel and rescued people and getting to spend some of my holiday money in the shop. Right now I knew this wouldn’t have meant much to Noah but I noticed him throwing a glance at the Lifeboat itself as we passed it. It must have been the biggest thing he’s ever seen. We leant against the railings off the Coble Landing for a little while, taking in the sea air, and posing for photos alongside the fishing nets and smaller fishing boats there before heading back out to find a spot to watch the launch from. This was a cool thing: none of us had ever seen the Filey Lifeboat launch. I had never witnessed a launch in the 30 odd years I’ve been coming. In fairness it wasn’t as spectacular as I’d have imagined as a boy and all in all took a good 10 minutes to get down the landing, onto the beach and into the sea, but I guess you can’t have it all.

Once the boat was in the sea we began to walk along the length of the front to the foot of Crescent Hill where we introduced Noah, albeit very briefly to the brilliant little paddling pool just off of Royal Parade. He had a few little splashes there with his mum before we continued on down to the end of the front at the bottom of South Cliff, pausing for a break outside the brilliant beach chalets, before making our way back along the front. We stopped for a coffee at the Sea View Cafe right on the front, where the staff where more than happy to help us warm Noah’s bottle up for his afternoon feed. The sun was glorious there for the afternoon as we watched the RAF’s Sea King helicopter fly in for Lifeboat weekend before heading back up the pulse pounding Cargate Hill and to the bat mobile home. The journey of which had it’s own adventure in us having to create a detour after getting stuck in horrendous traffic from the Malton Show and heading through Driffield to get home. All of which the little boy in the back stayed asleep for the whole time!

I hope he enjoyed visiting one of his dad’s most favourite places in the country and is looking forward to more trips and creating new memories that we can share together, and hopefully he’ll be able to share with his children.

Notes on Fatherhood: May 2012

It’s been so long since I posted here, roughly 10 weeks! So much has happened in that time that it’s crazy to even attempt starting to piece it all together for you. In a nutshell Noah has been coming along great. Putting weight on, he’s just about 14lb now and guzzling 7oz bottles of formula. He suffers from reflux, which we have him on Ranitodine medication for.  We had him on Gaviscon but that totally clogged him and we had to get some lactolose to get him moving again! Now though, with the Ranitodine and C&G Comfort formula he seems to coping pretty well.

He’s recently started sleeping in his own bed and pretty much sleeping through the night, which is ace.

However, the last 6 days have pretty much been the worst of mine and Connell’s life.

I went away with work to Daventry on Wednesday morning, where I was meant to be until Friday evening. Got a call from Connell later that afternoon saying that she’d taken him to hospital as he had really high temperature and was screaming and crying the whole time. A little while later we established he was going to be staying in for a few days so I made arrangements to get home that night. I arrived back in Leeds at around 10pm and was at the hospital 10 minutes later. After nipping home to get some supplies and returning Connell, Noah and myself had set up camp in Room A of Ward 52 at Leeds General Infirmary and didnt return home until this Tuesday just gone.

Without giving a blow by blow account of all the details, to initially summarise the doctors were initially concerned as his temperature was high and not dropping and they couldn’t find out the reason why. By the time I got there on Wednesday night he had already given blood samples and had a lumbar puncture in the search for his illness. Over the next few days he would go onto have his chest and stomach x-rayed, an ultrasound scan of his insides (authorised by the head surgeon at LGI), swabs taken from his eyes throat and nose, a CT scan of his brain and was visited by pretty much every paedeatric consultant there was available, all trying to figure out what the heck was up! He had 5 canulars in his hands, the last of which gave me one of my worst moments of the whole time when he looked up at me, screaming and his face contorted with abject terror that this might never stop. As a father you’re meant to protect your children from hurt but you simply can’t explain to an 11 week old that we need to do this and it’s not for ever! Hard times.

The first glimpse of salvation we saw was on our return from having  CT scan with him. He only needed one run at it and had been good as gold in the room. When we got back to our room we needed to change his nappy. After doing this we left him on the cot with his nappy off to kick about about a bit and whilst doing this he smiled and chatted a bit, which was awesome and the first real sign of any improvement.

Some other notes from the days we spent there:

* He was good as gold during his stomach xray and ultrasound, up until the point when the radiologist said he had a lot of gas in his stomach that would be good to move so she could more. At this point Noah promptly decided to oblige and got rid of some that gas. Unfortunately he followed through with a classic shart manoevure!

* Connell and I spent our nights taking it in turns between sleeping on the put me up bed and a chair. The first few nights we had less than an hour a night.

* One night, whilst Connell slept on the bed, I found myself nursing Noah through his particularly nasty antibitoic and really struggling to stay awake and upright. As I held him I was leaning against the wall, leaning on the cot sides, leaning with my back against the end of the cot, all to make sure I didn’t fall over with him in my arms

* This nasty drug was described to us as the “Domestos” drug as it killed all known bacteria. Unfortunately it was known to be very irritating to the veins on the way into the body and stripped the veins slightly and the needle of Noah’s canular. Eventually this drug became administered orally instead of through the IV

* It was great to eventually find something to go on. The doctors informed us they had found a virus in a sample taken from a nappy, Parechovirus. The consultant had never come across this before but from the notes he had read about it, it seemed to fit the bill symptom-wise.

* The news on Tuesday morning when the consultant of the day advised us we could remove the canular, stop the antibiotics and take him home was awesome. We thought he meant go home to rest and leave him at the hospital at first but the feeling of relief knowing he was improved enough to actually come home was immense.

* Sunday afternoon Connell and I “escaped” for lunch to Nandos and had a coffee at the Brew Bar on the way back. The first time we’d been outside for several days. I was nice to spend some time together like this, even though we were both fretting a little about the cub.

* The staff have all been simply awesome. From the consultants, to the nurses, to the auxilliaries and to the people outside the ward such as surgeons and radiologists, everyone has been fantastic with us and him. Stand outs were Laura, a nurse who first took Noah to hand and got him comforted and settled (whilst Connell and I shared a few tears), we learnt our new way of settling him from Laura. Tamlyn (sp?) was awesome one night. She accompanied me to the x-ray and utrasound suites and really looked after the three of us the night she was on. From the consultants the stand outs were Drs Hodge and Darling, both who handled our questions and worries brilliantly and both had a wonderful way with Noah, which is always reassuring and comforting to see.

He’s home now and improving each day a little more. He’s back up to 7oz feeds and his poo is turning the corner from the watery, antibiotic induced skidmarks we got in the hospital, back to his usual cross between mushy peas and curry sauce! It’s been brilliant to see him smile and laugh again, even more than before and through the pain and heartache the three of us have been through we’ve had some gorgeous little cuddles where I’ve felt that he needs me, and that’s what I’m here to do.

Connell and I are trying not be paranoid about every sniff, breath and cry. At the end of the day, with all the tests he’s had done that have come back clear our little cub probably has the best clean bill of health the NHS can provide!

Baby Talk: Birth Story

So the majority of you will know, almolst three weeks ago I became a dad, Connell gave birth to our son, Noah Jacob. This is the story of how it all happened on the night!

We went to bed on the Sunday night thinking that the due date had been and gone with no real happenings. We had brunch at home with my parents, tea at Connell’s parents and came home, watched Hawaii 5-0 and went to bed.

I’d had a cold all week and had struggled to get rid so was all wrapped up in my little futon bed in the spare room, getting ready for a night sweating it out! However I was woken at 1am by an angelic singing sound coming from somewhere outside the room! There it is again, it’s Connell. “Are you OK babe?” I asked. “I think my waters have gone,” came the reply! Well, I shot out of bed and out to see her. It did appear they’d gone and she said she’d been in pain almost since we’d gone to bed! She’d had what we thought were Braxton Hicks (fake contractions) whist her parents earlier in the night. I’d secretly timed those just to guage and they were about every 10mins but then they seemed to go with nothing else happening. I timed what we had now, and we were looking at about every 6. I rang the hospital and they asked to speak to Connell, asking her a few questions before telling us to come on down and to bring our bags.

So I drove us down to the hospital at half one in the morning, took us about 11 minutes, and we made our way to the Maternity Assessment Unit. In there they examined Connell, concluding she was around 2cm dilated and would examine again in a couple of hours, meanwhile we should chill out there as best we could letting gravity do it’s work! The time seemed to pass reasonably quickly, Connell was in quite a bit of pain with the contractions and was using our borrowed TENS machine quite often to assist. Two hours passed and the examination suggested she hadn’t dilated much further and would be checked again in another couple of hours. “I don’t think I can do it”, said Connell. She was having a really hard time with the pain. The midwife with us said she could use one of the baths for pain relief or have some diamorphine, the latter would, however, mean she couldn’t have the water birth she really wanted. I managed to convince Connell that she could do it, I really wanted her to have the water birth she had looked forward to all along, although I knew that she was open to whatever pain relief became necessary!
One thing I wasn’t ready for in all this labour business was just how sick Connell might be. she must have filled about 4 or 5 of those funny little cardboard containers you get! The midwife eventually gave her an anti-sickness injection to help try to keep her from dehydrating.
As we we got to the next examination we had made it to 5cm and were able to move through to the delivery suite and into the birthing pool!

We headed through and were pleased to know that the room we wanted was available, the posh one that had been part funded by Channel 4 for the TV show One Born Every Minute. The midwife in there was really good, although I forget her name, and put Connell at ease and got her started on the Entinox (gas and air) whilst she started to fill the pool. After a few minutes Connell had got changed and was in the pool, the midwife was about to leave though as we had got through there at about 6.30, shift change time. We were joined by a new midwife, Becky, and a Student Midwife, Elisabeth. As we had become accustomed to, both were brilliant. It didn’t seem too long before Connell piped up with, “I keep feeling like I need to push!” “That’s great,” was the reply. It appeared game time was here!

It hardly seemed we’d been there long at all before Elisabeth was saying she could see the head! Really? It seemed to be so quick! Yes definitely tyhe head, and there was hair on it, wafting in the pool! Connell was still really feeling the pain and was crushing my hand and fingers as each contraction came and passed, although she was actually fairly quiet, hardly having said three words since the pushing started! I later found it she had essentially taken herself off to a far away land, via the gas and air and the need to try to distance herself from the pain. I just kept telling her how proud I was of her, and I was, immensely. She was handling everything so well.

Fairly soon after Elisabeth told us that the head was on it’s way out and had started to crown. They told Connell if she reached down she’d be able to feel it! “Is that it?” she shrieked when she realised the whole thing wasn’t there and she just felt the tip of the crown! It takes time apparently, who’d have thought! Becky advised that it came out and went back in a little as it stretched the exit. “It goes back in?” Connell checked, “For F***s sake!” The only time my wife swore the whole labour!

Things started to get closer and soon enough Becky was explaining that the head was about to come out totally, but that this would be the worst pain Connell had ever experienced, stinging alongside the usual contraction pain. The head made it’s way out and we just needed a few more pushes before the rest of Noah joined us. Connell didn’t really feel any contractions at the end and Becky had to feel her stomach and tell her when to push. Looking back I realise that Becky and Elisabeth had realised this and that Noah’s cord was around his neck a bit, and so were quite keen to get him out as quickly as possible. At not time during the birth though did we realise this and they were brilliant at hiding any concern and just getting him out. As Helen held him and breathed a sigh of relief I cut the cord, an emotional moment for any father I’m sure, not just the wussy ones like me, although I held it together, I didn’t want to appear soft after what Connell had just gone through! I did however have to get a little David Hasselhoff as Connell slipped into the water with Noah, tiredness taking over before I leapt into action and grabbed them both. Noah wasn’t fussed in the slightest, spitting out any water in an arc like he’d been there a thousand times before!

The rest of the day passed, we had probably the best tea and toast in the delivery room as we made the first phone calls to our parents and my gran. Lots of tears and excitement before we eventually moved onto the ward.

Connell stayed in over night as he was being sick quite a bit after his feeds and we all just wanted to keep a check on things. Going home that night at 1030 was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, I was gutted to leave.

I went back for them in the morning though, 8.15 and we already had the discharge papers. We were out of there by 9am heading home to truly start our family together.

The midwives at Leeds General Infirmary were all fantastic.
I’m enormously proud of my heroic wife for going through what she has for the last 9 months and on Born Day. She handled the whole pregnancy brilliantly and was inredible on the day itself.
Noah Jacob is amazing.

I’ll keep you updated as time goes on with how we’re all doing!

Pet Hates – The path of least annoyance

It drives me mad when you’re walking along a given path and someone, approaching from the opposite direction, decides to take the least obvious path to avoid a collision. Indeed, the path that means the most deviation for both parties! The annoyance is increased when this is done at the last minute, just as you’re manoeuvring to the obvious path with minimal disruption!

Baby Talk: More Dad Talk

So I’m a little late but it’s been Christmas, I’ve notched another year up on the age count, eaten a lot and drunk a fair amount since the last Baby Talk update.
Where are we at?
Well the bumps dropped a bit now, we can tell as at Christmas the bump created a bit of a shelf whereas now there’s definitely more of a slope going on! Our most recent midwife appointment, last week, told us that the baby’s head is engaged 1 fifth, only four to go!

Connell continues to feel more and more tired and uncomfortable but is still coping brilliantly with it all.

We’ve started sleeping in separate beds for a short while with the hope of keeping a little bit of sanity before everything kicks off, there’s been mixed returns so far!

We have another midwife appointment next week, hopefully we’ll see that the baby’s deeper engaged and D-day is getting even closer.

Connell had her baby shower at the weekend, attended by close friends and close family. Seems that everyone had a lovely time. The boys headed to the pub!

I love feeling the baby moving inside Connell, the movements are definitely getting more restricted but sometimes he/she totally gives Connell a real boot or punch! We both like to chat to the bump now and keep playing a little bit of music (not too loud) through headphones to it.

Can’t be too long left now and we’re dead excited, but looking forward to it so much!

Restaurant Review: Rim Nam, Hebden Bridge

We headed to the little town of Hebden Bridge on Tuesday night for a pre-Christmas meal with our best friends. We chose the Thai restaurant Rim Nam. Located round the side of the Tourist Information centre Rim Nam is situated alongside the canal and is no doubt a beautiful setting in the summer time. As we arrived the restaurant had a nice relaxed ambience and the waitress had us seated in no time, even though we noticed it was quite busy for a Tuesday evening.

A good selection of beer available, all Thai or at least Asian I settled for Chang, quite rare in the UK.

We decided on the excellent looking Early Bird menu. £12 for starter, main, rice and tea/coffee.
As we placed our order it was apparent the waitress really knew her menu as she had to help me out with my nut allergy (yes I’m the peanut guy on your flights!). I ordered the fish cakes to start, which she said she would get the chef to prepare this nut free, whilst Connell chose the spring rolls. For my main I fancied the Massaman curry, as our friends had been singing it’s praises following their trip to Thailand earlier in the year, however our waitress kindly advised me of it’s nut content but that the Yellow Curry was a similar dish sans nuts! She also recommended it with chicken, so that’s wht I had. Connell chose the vegetables in ginger and spring onion.

With not too long to wait the starters arrived and the fishcakes were lovely, nice and light, clearly freshly cooked and very delicious. Connell reported that the spring rolls too were excellent.

My yellow curry was gorgeous, rich and creamy with just the right amount of a a kick. And the waitress was right, the chicken was lovely, just the right side of cooked enough to be succulent and tender. Connells’s Vegetable stir fry was also top notch with the contents retaining their crunch and flavour and the sauce being not overpowering but incredibly tasty.

We decided on a dessert to finish and this was the only part of the meal I would class as average. I had deep fried ice cream (someone had to try it!) and everyone else had the usual cold stuff. The deep fried one was ok, innoffesively average I would say, being neither brilliant or awful! The ice cream was, well, ice cream.

All in all, however, we had a lovely meal. The restaurant is tastefully furnished and decorated, the staff helpful and knowledgeable, and the food first class, and for £12 each, plus the dessert and drinks, the value was spot on too.

Baby Talk

So I’m a little late with the dad update but better late than never huh?

This week we’ve been to the midwife and, as far as all the prodding and poking went, all seems fine. Connell’s had itchy palms along with an itchy bump occasionally. The midwife thought this a reason 6.30enough to take a sample of blood to check there was nothing wrong.

Connell’s still not sleeping too great, I guess that’s not going to change for her anytime soon, I woke up this morning to find her sat reading in the spare room at 6.30 having got up at 5.15! We keep spending quite a long time watching the baby moving inside Connell which is a truly amazing thing to see. OK it’s a little bit like a scene from Alien but other than that it’s awesome to think that we made it (he/she)! We can’t wait to meet he/she now, 6 weeksish to go now.

Connell finishes work tomorrow and I’m really pleased for her. I’m looking forward to her being able to just put her feet up and relax. I’m dead proud of her and the way she’s handled all the little trials, discomfort and pain she’s had the last eight months has been brilliant, no time off work, no real moaning or complaining, she’s just got on with it.
Anyway, we’re getting set for our last Christmas as just the two of us. Next year will be very different. Can’t wait!

Baby Talk – Dad style!

So I haven’t written for a while but we’re just in week 33 of pregnancy. Gonna try and write a weekly update for the next few weeks leading up to the Big Day!

So where are we at the minute. Connell’s last midwife appointment suggested that mother and bump were in fine health and progressing as should be expected. We’ve recently attended a couple of antenatal classes, pretty interesting. One was a bit more interesting than the other but at the minute I think we’re heading towards a water birth! Saw a really nice birthing pool room at the hospital.

People have asked us if we’ve felt hiccups in the baby yet and we have, although we didn’t realise what it was at first! Connell can also now feel the strain on her muscles as they begin to prepare for what’s ahead. At the last check the baby was already head down and in the position so probably wont change a whole deal.

Our name list keeps changing but we wont spoil much of what we have in mind, but there are a couple that keep cropping up towards the top of the list!

Nursery is just about there now, probably get the last few bits for the that over the next couple of weeks but after Christmas we need to be packing a bag and getting ready just in case!

Will catch up next week unless I have anything special to report before!