The early stages of parenthood have offered up a host of ‘firsts’ for us as Mum & Dad – yes there are the expected firsts that bring much joy, first gurgle of noise, first smile, first night where baby slept 6 hours straight!!!
Then there are the firsts that the books and websites don’t prepare you for. The first time you discover dried milk in your ear when at work sitting next to a colleague, the first time you run to and stand in the shower as your baby projectile vomits a milky fountain everywhere (I couldn’t think of another place to stand where carpet of upholstery would not be in the firing line). A first for us as a couple was me being woken by my wife exclaiming “YAY, you’ve done a poo!!!” – having a baby suffering from reflux we were prescribed infant Gaviscon. The stuff worked for the sickness but proceeded to cause constipation in our little one (a usual side effect we had been warned about) – because of this we were on poo watch. In the early hours of a dark November morning waking up to this statement of joy from my wife was a welcome, albeit weird first.
We have since been prescribed Ranitidine for the acid and this one prevents the blocking up of waste disposal routes. We have to administer via syringe into the mouth and the liquid has a smell that at first I could not put my finger on, then a flood of heavy nights out came back to me… sambucca, the stuff smells like sambucca! Add that to the firsts list, syringing what smells like a devil of a shot into my baby daughters mouth!
This week I have had a new tattoo. As soon as we decided on name options for our little one (we had two names for a boy and two for a girl) I started to think about a tattoo. I didn’t want text (nothing wrong with it, just not for me) so I needed to think outside of the box. We chose Beatrix (we shorten it often to Bea) as the name within minutes of seeing her and I knew from many months of thought beforehand what tattoo I was going to get – this decision was aided by a number of weird events leading up to Bea’s birth.
My mum passed away after a short intense battle with cancer on 29th October 2013. During the funeral service I noticed a tortoiseshell butterfly on the alter, front and center in the church, it is rare seeing one in November and when I mentioned it to family they also saw the butterfly (confirming I wasn’t totally losing the plot) – My sister and I told the story to Mums colleagues (mum was a teaching assistant in a primary school) at a later date, one of her friends then explained that during the Easter service, as the kids were singing Mums favourite hymn a tortoiseshell butterfly flew into the church, over the pupils heads and then out again! Now I am not daft enough to think this was the SAME butterfly, but this is a strange coincidence is it not?
It gets stranger.
My sister and I began to clear Mums house of her belongings… Mum was a hoarder, and she LOVED books! We took a library’s worth of books to local charity shops, and still there was more. Some were damaged and some just really old and falling apart, so we had to throw some away. As we were chucking books into the hired skip in the garden my sister and I were bombarded by swooping tortoiseshell butterflies. At least six of these kamikaze insects flew over us, into us and some even landed on the wall beside us – watching! With knowledge of previous butterfly encounters my sister exclaimed “We cant keep all of these books Mum, some have to be thrown away!”
You may think us crazy, clutching at straws during the grieving process perhaps? But these butterflies do keep making an appearance, one flew past me on my return to work after paternity leave in mid October, nearly a year to the day of Mum losing her battle with cancer.
So when discussing my tattoo I knew I wanted a bee to represent my daughter, I also knew I wanted a tortoiseshell butterfly to be close by.
Thank you so much to Claire Dunn of DunnandDusted Tattoos https://www.facebook.com/DunnNDustedTattoo?fref=ts based at Third Eye Tattoos https://www.facebook.com/thirdeyecheltenham who captured EXACTLY what I wanted – we used an photo I took of one of the kamikaze book protecting butterflies to go with images of honeycomb and a bee I found online.