Archive | June 2012

Some things just creep up on you

Alternative title: This had been bugging me for some time.

I’ve noticed a definite change this week, it’s been a gradual thing over the last seven days but when I come home from work I’ve realised I’m actually looking forward to seeing my little girl.

This I think is directly related to her own developments – she continues to take more and more interest in her surroundings and shows more ranges of facial expressions. Smiles are quite common now and it’s great to come home, pick up our baby and get a big grin from her – the troubles of the day really do melt away.

But on top of her making me happy with her smiles and gurgles – to finally get some feedback after weeks of give give give, I’m relived in myself that those feelings are coming through, that the balance is beginning to be addressed.

It’s all such a slow process that it’s hard to notice. One incident which was quite obvious was a few days ago we went for a walk in a nearby nature reserve. It was a council run reserve and although cheap, was rather disappointing. But I found myself getting very frustrated by bugs and insects flying about, and very protective of our baby if any got near her. One landed on her face and I was infuriated – how dare you land innocently on my baby’s delicate skin! My reaction was so excessive I stepped back and thought “woah, easy there!” After all the self doubt about lack of feelings for my baby, here I am showing rage at a harmless bug!

That made me realise that of course I care a great deal about her, and would do anything to keep her safe. And to me, that sounds fairly normal fatherly behaviour.

There’s hope for this sane dad yet…

Inspiring your next generation

Poster print by Anthony Burrill

Poster print by Anthony Burrill anthonyburrill.com

Although I am not a designer by any means I do have an interest in design and follow a few designer’s blogs and twitter accounts.

One that I’ve followed for many years is Noisy Decent Graphics. The author, Ben, is also a father and blogged this morning about filling a space on his wall at home with an inspiring printed quote – something that would inspire him and his young family.

I began this post with the chosen quote as the title, but decided against it in the hope you’ll read Ben’s piece. The thought process has got me thinking about the responsibility of inspiring my own child through its life.

How much influence do you really have? While they’re still young and at home you have complete control over what they’re exposed to and how they’re treated. But as soon as they go to a nursery, pre-school, and begin their journey through primary and secondary school you have to slowly take a back seat to other worldly influence and do you best to direct and support where you can.

As with many things, I believe it comes down to the little things and the example you set yourself. I’ve seen how children mimic their parents behaviour, and how they can mirror your own personality, often shinning a light on features you’re not to proud of. What will my child’s behaviour say about me?

I’d heard before how your children can teach you so much, and am now beginning to really understand what that means.

Screaming? For no obvious reason? It’s colic, definitely colic.

We hit another new phase at the weekend, the “I know I was fine a minute ago but now I need to scream as if you’re taking my soul” phase.

With the obvious checks of nappy, hunger and comfort ticked off and the usual calming measures of rocking, burping, cuddling, swaddling also deployed we’ve been left with a baby screaming it’s lungs out endlessly. Not a lot of fun.

She screams and screams, with such vigour that her leg muscles tense and she stands upright. The screaming continues and she is filled with such rage her head goes red and she’s hot to touch. But still it continues.

I am fairly sure that she gets to the point where she doesn’t know why she’s screaming any more, and continues to scream just out of built up inertia. Eventually something will distract her enough to give her a moments pause and you can pounce by distracting her further with more calming measures with the hope that you’ve caught her off guard and she forgets that she’s meant to be screaming.

I’m pretty sure this is going to continue, so here’s what I’ve learnt so far:

  • Babies can get really loud.
  • Their most desperate screams are genetically programmed to erode your soul.
  • Sometimes there’s no longer a reason for their screams, they stop as soon as they start, and you haven’t done anything different.
  • Sharing the screams when possible, it can be too much for one person
  • If you can’t share, give yourself a 5 minute break – put her somewhere safe and comfortable and go to the furthest point away in your home.
  • Don’t jump on buying special bottles or miracle cure remedies, most have as many positive reviews as negative, and if you look at the reviews for bottles you’re already using, I bet you’ll find just as many “AMAZING! These helped my babies colic instantly!” comments.
  • There is no know cure for colic. Probably because no-one actually knows for sure what it is or what causes it.

If you have any more unusual tips that aren’t in the NHS’s list of colic treatments, add them in the comments please!

My, haven’t you grown!

It only lasted a month, but our baby isn’t the newest face on the family tree. She now has a new cousin to spa with.

It’s already difficult to remember a time without baby, but I still feel like a total amateur parent. Seeing our new niece and her patents struggle with the almost impossibly steep learning curve has shown us that actually, we’re doing alright. There was a definite “look how far we’ve come” moment and that’s given us both a real confidence boost, especially coupled with our recent day trip.

Our little one still feels very much like a baby, but it was amazing how much she’s already grown in four weeks compared to her newborn cousin – how much more alert and aware she is of her surroundings.

I’m already feeling the Competitive Dad in me, proud our daughter is significantly more developed than a newborn baby – how pathetic is that?!!

A month in, and we’re rewarded with the best day yet

Image credited to tedcarter.co.uk

Image from tedcarter.co.uk

It’s hard to believe we’re only a month into this parenting adventure. I can barely remember life without baby, we’re so focused on the care and routine the days of sitting lazily on the sofa moaning there’s nothing on tv are a distant memory.

After our previously reported bust-up things are much better. The release of frustrations was a good thing and I’m glad we were both able to realise that most of what was said was born out of tiredness and frustration. Having a baby is a true test of your relationship.

But we were rewarded with a great day afterwards, I’d had time booked off so we could register baby in our first proper outing. We packed up the car and headed to the city where she was born (I make it sound a bit Mary and Joseph!). The plan was to register her, have lunch and do a bit of shopping. This was a pretty ambitious adventure considering we’d never been further than the grandparents 20 minutes away and were about to drive 40 minutes from home and put the last four weeks training and skill on public display.

Six things I learnt from our first outing

  • Trying to fit everything into one change bag is pretty tricky. In hindsight maybe we didn’t need three changes of clothes and four bottles of milk…
  • I’ve never got so much attention from women before, having a baby strapped to your chest seems to turn you into Ryan Gosling

    Image from Digital Spy

    Image from digitalspy.co.uk

  • Changing a nappy in public is quite stressful. I’m getting better at ignoring the usual screams when at home, but it’s a different kettle of fish when you’re so aware that everyone else hasn’t had weeks of practice building up a tolerance to your baby’s cries.
  • Baby has a love/hate relationship with the car seat – she screams as if I’m pulling teeth when she’s put in it, but after 10 seconds of driving she’s fast asleep in a luxury dream world.
  • As a result of packing half the nursery into the change bag, carrying a baby on your front and a change bag on your back gets quite heavy after an hour or so.
  • Although pushchairs are less agile, if you’re on your own they’re the way forward. Baby, change bag and anything else you pick up on the way gets thrown in/under/hung off the back.

We successfully got baby registered (which reminded me of giving notice to marry wifey, strangely romantic in a bureaucratic kind of way), brought lunch, ate lunch outside, changed and fed baby in the summer shade and did some shopping.

If we were American we would have high-dived when we got back to the car – baby was well, jobs completed and sanity in check – maybe we can actually do this baby thing after all?!?!

We celebrated with a glass of bubbly and chocolates after dinner while watching the recorded England vs Ukraine match (I know the ball was over the line, but the striker was offside when it was played to him so fair result IMHO).

The perfect end to our first family outing!

Mirror, signal, say some stupid things that upset everyone.

Me and wifey had a major collision today and said some terrible things to each other.

It’s been four weeks now since baby arrived and the cumulative effect bared its teeth.

I may be past the first four weeks, but I fear tougher times are ahead.

Daddy’s got a potty mouth. Or how I’ve never sworn as much before in my life

I’ve always been a social swearer, and enjoy using a well timed swear word to add impact. But lately it’s got out of control and it’s completely down to our new arrival.

I’ve called her some terrible things late at night or early in the morning, to the point where I’m concerned her first word is going to be something obscene.

Here’s a list of contenders for first word:

  • Fucktard I’m not sure where this came from, a combination of fucker and retard, neither of which I’m proud of.
  • Fucking poppers I have learnt to hate with vengeance the poppers found on almost every item of baby clothing.
  • Cunting poppers Again, I hate these things. Hate them.
  • Fucking cunt fuck When one expletive isn’t enough, add another and repeat.
  • Shitting hell Usually used when an unexpected bladder or bowel movement occurs.
  • Oh for fucks sake Just when you think everything’s cleared up, the change mat is flooded or a bottle of milk gets sprayed over the nursery.
  • Fuckety fuck For general use when something diddly is trying to be achieved and baby wriggles all over the place.
  • Shitballs Similar to “oh for fucks sake, used in desperation at an unexpected event.

I’m certainly not proud of muttering any of these phrases, it’s not some sort of league table to compete with other dads, just something to share with other dads who may have felt similar frustrations.

Your mind is not your own at 4:30 in the morning and your hands are covered in piss.

A difficult start to the day, saved by Ian Flemming

Awake since 4:30, I’ve been screamed at, urinated over and snapped at already.

Now all the issues are dealt with, the “gentle” baby noises coming from the nursery have given me no chance to sleep so I’ve been reading in the dawn light. This line from Ian Flemming’s “Live and let Die” struck a cord.

I will explain to you briefly why you are not dead, why you have been permitted to enjoy the sensation of pain instead of adding to the pollution of the Harlem River

Happy Monday to you!

Happy Fathers Day

To all the new (and seasoned) dads out there, may the nappies you change be neat and wriggle free, and the feeds you give not be sprayed over your clothes 5 minutes latter.

Have a good one from Sane Dad.

Milestones. Or “Hang on, did she just…? Yes she did!”

Guardian writer Charlie Brooker describes baby developments as a series of upgrades but I think it’s better to refer to these key developments as milestones.

It felt like Baby reached a significant one this weekend when I heard her create a noise that wasn’t cry related. So far she either cries, screams or grunts in a pre-crying build up. But yesterday I heard a different noise, one that wasn’t driven by fear or distress, and it brought an excited smile to my face.

This was a significant moment for both of us. I’ve admitted before that so far this baby game hasn’t been a lot of fun so I was especially pleased to find baby do something that entertained me – a rare feat from my screaming pet rock.

Let’s hope it’s the first of many!

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