Tag Archives: baby

The Mile High Club…

Having just got home from our first family trip abroad I feel both refreshed and in need of another holiday in equal measures.

My wife put so much research into making sure our trip abroad was one we could remember for all the right reasons I was concerned that if it didn’t work out what the fallout would be.

It was, thankfully, totally worth it.

During her extensive research of blogs, chat rooms, websites, brochures etc she came across some helpful titbits that ensured baby felt as comfortable as she could be on a plane for the first time, sleeping in a new bed and also what to do with sand! I will share these little nuggets of information on the off chance that regular readers with babies are booking a holiday soon, or someone searching a tag or category can benefit from my wife’s collation of holiday hacks. Or for those that are none of the above, but are lovely enough to read on.

Tip of the cap to the people of Pollença (Pollensa) in Majorca, a beautiful spot in the north of the island that is VERY child friendly; all bars, restaurants and shops are buggy friendly, particularly once you master the pedestrian crossing etiquette – generally take a leap of faith and walk out across the zebra crossing, there are no lights to stop traffic, they are SUPPOSED to stop when you are waiting to cross. With such a precious cargo in the buggy whichever parent wasn’t pushing had to take on the role of lolly pop person and guide the other over safely, there were a few false starts as we doubted the brakes of some vehicles.

We stayed in Las Velas, a hotel of self-catering apartments about a 5 minute walk away from the beach and 20 minute walk from the main stretch of restaurants on the Pine Walk. At check-in Bea was awake and full of smiles, after a few minutes of chat in Spanish between reception staff and a couple of clicks on the computer we were told we had a free upgrade to a room with a balcony and a roof terrace. We like to think that this down to her smiles and gurgles of delight to the reception staff attention, not the fact they saw a baby and thought lets get them as far away from other guests as possible!

HOLIDAY HACK – FLIGHT MODE                                                                                                If flying with a little one, take a bottle of milk, water or get a boob out for feeding during take off and landing. The suck movement of the jaw and swallowing will ease the pain of ears popping. Unlike us who can hold our nose and pull a funny face; puffing cheeks out to attempt to. They just stare at you as if you are a little bit weird.

The Pob Face - the face we all pull when popping our ears!

The Pob Face – the face we all pull when popping our ears!

Staying in an apartment meant we had a little kitchen, this meant we could have breakfast whenever we woke up (more importantly when baby woke up),so there was no rush to make it to a set time or venue. Mornings therefore were pretty relaxed, the only concern were the hard tiled floors and a baby determined to throw herself around in the high chair (provided along with cot by the hotel – all down to the extensive research).

We packed our baby monitor from home, along with almost everything else. For some reason only one of the MANY Ella’s pouches we packed raised concern at security leaving the UK. I don’t know what they put in their breakfast packets but it went through two pretty expensive looking machines for testing. Those that have read previous blogs will know we are a bottle feeding family, there was a chance we would have to do rock, paper, scissors to see who would have to taste the formula to prove it was not some sort of combustible liquid going onto the plane, but these machines gave them the once over and they were handed back to us. PHEW no need for tasting!

It turns out Spain is not a third world country and they do sell baby items! So you don’t need to pack the entire contents of your kitchen cupboards. I say this in jest as it felt like we had enough pouches and powder to feed an entire nursery… But we weren’t to know what would be on offer so with the added weight allowance of having a little person in tow we packed the lot!

Skip to a funny moment in the local super market with both of us trying to work out which nappies were the all night/sleep variety (guess what we forgot to pack)

“This one has a kid being ‘active’ on it”

“These have got a sun on!”

“Oooh this has a moon on the pack… These have to be the ones – get um!”

One thing we did remember to pack, but forgot to use is talcum powder

HOLIDAY HACK – SAND                                                                                                   Apparently, and I’m sorry I have no anecdotal evidence of this, but talcum powder is very effective when it comes to getting sand off little people. Grab a handful of talc (possibly from that bottle your nan got you for Christmas in 1998) and use it to effectively rid sand from the rolls of chunk on baby’s thighs, arms and neck. As I say, we had all the best intentions to do this, but talc is not the first thing to go on the list of what to pack in the beach bag… Still trying to master this parenting lark! So dips in the sea were used to rid the grains, we also resorted to holding her naked in the shower and hosing her down…

mouthful of sand... not the first, certainly not the last

mouthful of sand… not the first, certainly not the last

Alas we were still finding sand days later.

What didn’t help was the fact that Bea seemed to enjoy devouring sand.

By. The. Handful!!!

When it came to putting her to sleep we had two choices, stick to our routine from home and have her in bed by 7ish (not much chance therefore to visit local eateries) OR to take her with us, put her in her sleep gear and hope she would nod off while we ate.

Now multi tasking is some thing men get some slack over not being able to do, but I successfully managed the eating food and rocking baby with my foot combo, so we had meals out got bubs back to bed afterwards.

HOLIDAY HACK – HIGHCHAIRS                                                                                               This was not from research, this one happened through necessity. Almost every high chair we used, including the one in the apartment didn’t have a middle bit/strap to put babies legs either side of. Which meant if she was feeling very Houdini-like she could have slipped through. So taking a muslin I fashioned a makeshift strap tying it between bar across her belly and to the bar near her feet to stop any limbo type escaping.

Getting back to the apartment and putting baby to bed was usually pretty easy, on the walk back along the coast she would normally nod off through sheer exhaustion of eating sand, knocking back handfuls of sea water or trying to roll off every surface onto the extremely hard floor during her days.

Long gone are the days of sitting on a sun lounger for hours at a time, heading to the bar to grab a cocktail or taking a dip in the sea to cool off. With a small person on holiday we were pretty exhausted too. To enable EVERYONE to get a decent nights sleep there were a couple of tips we picked up on, and I can say these worked as she slept mostly through the night for a good 8-10 hours!!!

HOLIDAY HACK – BEDTIME                                                                                                     We packed a sheet from home to place in the cot for baby. The science behind this is it is something she recognises from bedtime at home thus feeling comfortable and the smell of our usual washing powder will add to this. No scratchy/starchy sheets that smell weird will hopefully help little one drift off.

Nodding off in new surroundings, helped by familiar smells and friends.

Nodding off in new surroundings, helped by familiar smells and friends.

Assuming you book a trip away where sun is almost guaranteed I suggest using a blackout blind. Buy one, borrow one, what ever you do stop the morning suns rays from entering the bedroom. The one we borrowed was a ‘travel version’ it had suction pads allowing me to shut out the light effectively, drawing the curtains added extra gloom. So nap time at any point of the day was like that of the night. And the early morning sun didn’t stir her.

Non holiday nap/bedtimes are usually accompanied by the Sleep Squad, these are the cuddly toys that inhabit the cot with Bea, I guess naming them the Sleep Squad is my way of making them sound similar to comic book heroes (lame attempt at indoctrinating her to that world), these guys are the heroes of sleep.

I’m sure all parents have a few favourite toys that they place in the cot, or babies have one they will eat the limbs of more than others. We packed two favourites: Bumble Bee and Tag Blanket (yes I have named them, and yes they all have different voices when I make them talk to bubs) and new recruits Don the dinosaur and LadyBug joined us. New toys add to the excitement of holiday, we used them on the flight to distract baby, “ooh new toy, new limbs to chew on!” They quickly became recruits to the Sleep Squad and were even favoured over older members for nap time.

The Sleep Squad, with new additions!

The Sleep Squad, with new additions!

All these HOLIDAY HACKS led to a very chilled baby happy to experience new things and a great holiday for all of us. The only issue we had was the mixture of sand consumption and heat made her a little bit dehydrated, we tried to get her to drink as much water/milk as we could, we even had her trying watermelon and kiwi fruit to try getting liquid into her that way. The dehydration meant she suffered a bit of constipation. When poos did make an appearance they looked like pebbles from the beach – slightly concerning!

However, on our flight home gone were the pebble poos, a waft of stench floated across our nostrils, the standard lift baby and smell her undercarriage led to the conclusion that there was “one in the chamber”, this just as the pilot announced we were getting ready to land. A quick dash to the toilet and I was multitasking again. Preventing baby from rolling off the change table into the mini sink, while keeping my balance as the plane banked and dropped altitude. Can now add the mile high change club to my parent CV.

And just when we started thinking she was probably feeling a bit better having been able to relieve herself properly, at meal time on arrival home an ABSOLUTE monster poo that covered her had me cutting her out of her vest (no envelope shoulders) to prevent an unwanted face mask.

Welcome home parents. Thanks for the holiday!!!

Do you have any HOLIDAY HACKS that you can share?

If you like this blog, check out my other ramblings 

https://inkeddaddy.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/one-month-in/

https://inkeddaddy.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/one-armed-bandits/

https://inkeddaddy.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/were-all-going-crazy-at-the-same-time/

https://inkeddaddy.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/the-butterfly-effect/

https://inkeddaddy.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/snot-and-other-gifts-for-our-first-christmas/

https://inkeddaddy.wordpress.com/2015/04/19/six-months-in/

https://inkeddaddy.wordpress.com/2015/05/02/please-take-a-seat/

https://inkeddaddy.wordpress.com/2015/05/11/questions/

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Questions

So let’s start with a question.

Does anybody else have a baby that on occasion will randomly stare into an empty space? We’ll be happily playing as little one sits on my lap and suddenly her head will pivot to stare into the dark corner of the room as if there is something untoward taking place.

What could be so interesting, do they think they see something… do they ACTUALLY see something? Do babies have extra sensory perception that we lose as we get older, if they could talk what would they tell us? Would we want to know?

Other strange fixations our little person has are feet! Yep, feet! The rugrat will grab your toe if you stand still for too long and will promptly shove said toe into her mouth and chomp down… it started out cute and funny. Now, she has teeth and when the little fangs are plunged in it bloody hurts!!! She won’t try and chomp through a shoe, so it has to be a toe thing, male or female digit she will roll towards you and try to eat it. Freak!

Another one of her obsessions is lampshades. We have a few in our house but she shows a keen interest in two in particular. Firstly, the one in her bedroom – It has cartoon animals and what look like little tags on it, so I guess you could understand wanting to grab it. The second lampshade of interest is in our living room and has no pattern, yet she will attempt to hold it, push it, really happy to just touch it.

oooh lampshade!

oooh lampshade!

With me over 6ft she gets pretty close to the lampshades so she is in prime position for a whack or a grab, usually knocking an avalanche of dust flying, perhaps that is the attraction? Or perhaps it is revenge… I have been guilty once or twice when playing ‘throw the baby in the air game’ in throwing her too high and causing a bit of a collision between baby head and light fitting.

So she has her weird little idiosyncrasies, and I guess looking at things from her point of view I have mine. A good friend of mine and a new dad himself asked me the other day whether I speak ‘mumbo jumbo’ to Bea as he does to his daughter. I sure do, any random noise seems to keep her attention so I will speak utter jibberish sounding something like Pingu/Morph on caffeine.

I am also guilty of smelling her LOTS. Any given opportunity I will grab a quick sniff of her head or neck, the new born baby smell has passed, but she now has her own distinct aroma, AND. IT. IS. LUSH! My mum used to do the same thing to me and my sister… this carried on well into our adult life, causing us much embarrassment when a hug in public would result in a big inhale and a resounding “Aaaah” noise of contentment . I now understand why Mum would sniff us; I guess there is something animalistic or innate in us, to sniff out our offspring to ensure they are close and safe.

I have been thinking a lot about my Mum recently as she would have been 61 years old in April. Dealing with a poorly baby full of cold, teething, constipated or worse; made me think of all the late nights/early mornings, tears, projectile poos/vomit etc that Mum dealt with when raising me and my sister. As kids you say thank you for certain things your parents do for you; birthday presents, help with homework, a cooked meal. As you grow older you thank them for their vital advice about work, relationships etc (even if you don’t want to admit how vital it is). Now as a parent myself I feel like I owe my mum a different kind of thank you, one that you can’t put into words really, it is more appreciation, a thank you for everything that got me to this point in my life allowing me to be a parent with a small understanding of what I am doing.

I can’t say that thank you in person that and the fact that Bea will never meet her Nana is something that has me in tears often. This blog isn’t some cathartic note, I promise. But I have been thinking recently how I get across to Bea how amazing her Nana was. We’re lucky to have so many of Mums friends who can tell stories from her past, likewise my aunties and uncles. Mum worked as a Teaching Assistant in a school and during their grieving process they got staff and pupils at the school to write in a memory book, the notes in it give a great indication of how caring Mum was to any child who needed some extra attention. Stories from her colleagues in the book also give an insight into her cheeky mischievous side. One day we will go through the book together.

Bea & Nana Mary

Bea & Nana Mary

I have started to tell Bea about her Nana and we have some lovely photos of Mum up in her nursery so she will know the face… albeit she probably links the pictures with me welling up at the moment!

I am still hearing new stories about Mum, recently I was told a story about how on a school trip to see the Olympic Torch relay Mum low fived a traffic cop as he rode past on his motorbike, turned to the kids in her care and just winked.  Apparently the kids all thought she was the coolest.

She was the coolest!

So let’s end as we started; with a question.

How do other parents ensure that those that have passed away are remembered by those that don’t have any memories of the loved one in the first place?

I guess the biggest thank you I can give to my Mum is providing memories of a positive childhood to Bea and any brothers and/or sisters she may have in the future, in the same way me and my sister have from our time with Mum. Her crazy playful nature lives on in us both that’s for sure, she inspired me to work with kids and that motivation makes me work harder to keep our little charity going providing play and childhood memories to those less fortunate than most. Her empathy and care for others I hope is exhibited by us on a regular basis.

If you still have the chance to, can I suggest thanking your mum, your dad, or whoever did the feeds in the night, cleaned the poo off the carpet after a poonami, comforted you when you were teething gave you happy memories of childhood and got you to where you are now.

Not all of us have the chance to do it face to face anymore.

Thanks Mum x

Please take a seat…

Hitting the 6 months old mark got me thinking about what our little one would think if, much like in the work place when starting a new job, she held a 6 month review of us in our new role as parents. Look-whos-talking

Unfortunately I haven’t managed to invent some sort of baby telepathy technique, nor have the ‘sing & sign’ classes made her small hand gestures any more legible than her vocal murmurs and gurgles. So just humour me, think something like the movie Look Who’s Talking in a blog.

___________________________________________________________________________

Me & Wifey walk into the nursery to be met by baby sat in her bumbo seat shuffling some papers…

Baby: ahhhh Hairy Faced Man & Food Lady, please take a seat. Time for your 6 month review…

The purpose of the review is to look at your development as my minions and how to improve your subordinate roles further.

I have to say that I am on the whole happy with your commitment so far.

Food Lady, your ability to multi task is impressive. If I understand you correctly, I was in your tummy for a while. I’m not sure how this worked, or how long that happened for but since I can remember I have enjoyed our cuddles, bath times, and the stories you tell are great. When we attend what you call ‘mother and baby’ groups I have fun watching you do silly things like singing to me while doing twirly type things with your hands. You also do this thing where you walk very quickly in a circuit stopping every now and then to jump, squat and lunge!? I have to state that I am not keen on you holding the other small people that seem to attend our days out – Did you invite them? Could you not in the future, I’m keen to make sure your attention is on me at all times.

Hairy man, I’m not sure where you go during the day, but leaving Food Lady to deal with all my needs seems a little unfair. This ‘work’ you go to most mornings seems to make you tired, sometimes grubby and a bit wiffy when you come home. I will hand it to you though; you have perfected the game of throw and catch me in the air, every time I think I am falling, yet there you are ready to catch me. I like this.

When you don’t go to work and Food Lady stays in bed in the mornings the shows on the glowing box you call ‘telly’ are very colourful and I am intrigued by most of them, they become better when we sit in one of your sofa cushion dens. I think I could get into ‘Saturday morning cartoons’ in a BIG way.

Teamwork is important and you both seem to work well together, Hairy Man I think the pats on the bum you give Food Lady are good for moral, she smiles every time so keep it up. When I was being sick and you both took it in turns to stay up with me I felt safe and the kisses on my head seemed to be the magic cure. You both gained extra credit.

To test your nappy changing skills, you may have noticed I have started to wriggle and roll off the change mat – this is part of your ongoing training and development. Solid foods are exciting as I can touch and mush up the food in my hands, this means food residue will make it to every crevice I have. I will also, occasionally, stop breathing while I sleep. This will set the baby monitor alarm off, and I will be testing your response times.

I am happy with your progress, having completed your 6 month probation period I am looking forward to working together on other projects.

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While we are thinking of films from the late 80’s with babies in the cast, there is one more that stands out. Three Men and a Baby aka an antenatal video for future fathers, and – let’s face it – a magnificent moustache immortalised on film.

I thought I knew the film pretty well, but channel hopping a few months ago I came across it and noticed a cast member, who actually lives with us, and of whom I am not a fan!

Although she may not be listed on IMDB this image shows that Sophie La Girafe is indeed in the film.

three men

Sophie is a very popular, award winning toy across the world, and a simple google image hunt will show you countless celebrities with their babies clutching at her long neck. Used to soothe gums of teething babies. Her success, I guess, comes from her simplicity – a rubbery chew toy for babies.

My beef with Sophie is not her celebrity status; in fact we have had her in our house ever since our little began to show signs of teething and she seems to do the trick. What I have issue with is the fact that Sophie is essentially a dog toy and the reasons why you should buy Sophie according to her manufacturers are pretty pretentious at best

“We use non-toxic paint” – well I would bloody hope so, for babies or dogs this kind of paint should be used on anything that goes near the mouth

“Sophie’s squeak will teach your child cause and effect” – really? REALLY? A squeaky toy can teach my daughter that increased fossil fuel use has led to global warming? Will Sophie teach the central concept of Buddhism via the cause and effect of karma?

sophie

Dead-Eye Sophie La Girafe

Ignoring all of that, my main issue with Sophie La Girafe is that she is dead behind the eyes… she looks through you like some sort of demon, her eyes are that of a Great White Shark, they are minus any pupil or iris colouring. Other toys have a highlight, or a colour to give them a kind open kind look – a friendly looking toy you could make a up a story about. Not Dead-Eye Sophie, she just stares at you with a blank look and a cocky grin, as if to say “Yeah you got sucked in by my ‘unique’ selling points – I am a squeaky dog toy. I am worth millions, you are not, you are a mere puppet of commercialism!”

Of course this could just be the ramblings of a jealous fella… why didn’t I think of marketing a dog toy for babies!

I’m off to find ‘the next big thing’ at Pets-R-Us

Six months in… 

Jeeeez it has been a while since I took stock and wrote in this blog.

In that time our little human has turned six months old…. SIX MONTHS OLD!!! Where the hell did that time go?
Plenty of knowledgable parents have told us along the way “make the most of this time (any moment of parenthood) because it flies by” how true clever parents, how very true.

The mastery of evolution seems to work wonders though, every new thing is my new favourite thing. Back in the early stages highlights included the first smile, the first fart (a highlight for all parents, some just pretend to be less vulgar and don’t mention it) Then as time goes by smiles turn to giggles (BRILLIANT) baby becomes more alert and notices things more (aka toys… Giving dad an excuse to buy Star Wars toys!!!) all these moments become the best ever… You forget about the little moments from the week/month before… The new thing is the best thing! 
Except teeth, they are awful for everyone involved.

Now we have a rolling baby – she is better at rolling one way compared to the other, and gets VERY frustrated at not being able to be multi directional roller. She is sleeping pretty well, and we have the fun and games of eating solid food (albeit food that’s been through a blender). The evolution of a small person is full of highlights and each one does tend to supersede the one before. 

 

  

  

(caught red handed rolling under the table & having a chomp on a carrot stick)

But I do miss her falling asleep on my chest. Now far too alert for sleeping on her dad, he has a beard to pull on, glasses to smack off his face and “ooh what is that? Strings to a hoody! They look tasty, I’ll swallow those until I gag”. Our little ball of thigh fat and chins is also a bit too heavy to rock to sleep, so it is seldom that either of us has the strength to hold her for the time it takes to get her off to sleep. Friends have had babies since, and the smallness and feather-like weight of these tiny babies had us trying to recall what Bea was like back then… Thank god for TinyBeans (see previous blogs).

  


A couple of dads I have spoken to have said that babies are boring until they are about a year old… I hope for their sake they have been sucked in by the evolution trick and have just forgotten how good the early months are, and are loving the walking and talking stages. It would be a shame to think they had not had fun until the first year clicked over.

So six months in for us, and how does it all feel?

Well first up, simply put, I bloody love being a dad. 

During baby’s stay in ‘Hotel Mum’ for 9 months I made a few promises to myself about how I would be a good dad…

1. Don’t over do the images of bubs on Facebook.
So I think I was doing ok on this promise, until I got into Instagram. The share button has probably led to a few too many images appearing on Facebook and annoying those seeing it on their timeline… But do you know what, I see images of their pets, food, cocktails, and cars so no apologies here. 

2. Never write personally to baby on social media.
She doesn’t have any kind of account, and won’t have for years and years… So there is no need for me to ‘speak’ to her via my Facebook status’… I have kept this promise. If I have anything to say to her, I tend to do it… Face to face.

3. Don’t let having a baby change your life too much.
What a stupid promise to make!!! Along with being born yourself it is one of the biggest life changing moments to be had. Of course she was going to change things… I think I meant we would do ‘normal’ things together as a family – if a friend was having a party, we’d all go like we used to as a couple. Gigs & sporting events, let’s do it, babysitters or baby ear defenders will do the trick.

4. Don’t work too hard.
I love my job. It is the best job I have ever had. I am proud of working for a tiny little charity offering a fun part of childhood to thousands of kids (www.playgloucestershire.org.uk) but I want to be part of my child’s childhood, so the work/life ratio needs to be constantly assessed to make sure I am not an absentee father. So far so good!

5. Don’t be like my dad.
He did a runner when I was around 10… This is one promise I will certainly keep!

Some promises are easier to keep, and to be honest there has been so much trial and error in getting to the six month stage that I can’t remember if I have kept them, broken them or completely disregarded them. 

Snot and other ‘gifts’ for our first Christmas

It has been a while since I last updated the blog (thank you for all the kind words about the previous episodes)… a combination of the Christmas holidays and getting back into the swing of things at work heading into a busy 2015 has meant that the blog has been placed firmly on the back burner.

Having now reached some sort of balance and routine (famous last words) I have been able to reflect over our first Christmas and put pen to paper/fingers to keyboard.

We embarked on a Lord of The Rings type journey up the country from the sleepy South West to the even sleepier Lake District for a family holiday. Bubs had her first cold, so the five hour car journey was a traumatic one for all involved. If she wasn’t asleep she was SCREAMING… full of snot and goodness knows what else she found feeding hard, the whole breathing through nose while sucking on a bottle was not happening. All of this in conjunction with what we know as a ‘leap’ – a growth spurt where physically and mentally EVERYTHING changes for little people.

So she didn’t eat a lot, so she was hungry, so she screamed.

She didn’t sleep a lot because of the breathing thing, so she was tired, so she screamed.

She was cramped into a car seat, so couldn’t stretch and wriggle like normal, so she screamed.

Once out of the car seat at service stations she could stretch, but that probably hurt with growing pains, so she screamed.

Even though I am sure a large proportion of those people having the caffeine stop at the service stations we visited en route were understanding of our situation, when you are holding a screaming banshee ball of mucus you start to think those eyes looking upon you are judging your parent skills. Mix that with trying to communicate with the other half when one of us is holding the banshee, you end up shouting in short concise (could be taken as ‘moody’) sentences in between shrieks and snuffles… a perfect cocktail of stress and tiredness – that’s what Christmas is all about right?

When it comes to cold remedies babies get the raw end of the deal until three months old. Most remedies suggest that baby needs to be at least three months old before use… Now pre baby my wife was a stickler for rules. It could be any rule, we would have to keep to it… However a baby screaming with snot bubbling out of each nostril and not sleeping the rule of three months and over for certain products was thrown out. To clarify we were not completely gun ho with the life of our little one, we weren’t filling her bottles with Nightnurse or anything like that. Clarification from the local GP that our chunky monkey was the weight of a three month and therefore the rules could be bent gave us the green light to try any remedy to ease the snuffles.

Calpol has the sweetest smell of any medication I have encountered, Mary Poppins sang a ‘Spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down’ this stuff smells like it has a ladle full of sugar although it tells us it is sugar and colour free!? We administer it via the provided syringe… at times this syringe sticks and I admit to having sent a medical torpedo of this sickly sweet smelling concoction right down the back of the throat of our trusting little person. Cue wide eyes of surprise and then screaming through shock!

On arrival to the accommodation in the Lakes we were met by all the family. Some baby had met once, others she had never met… cue a sense overload… so many coochee coos and cuddles, passed from one cousin to the next, obviously this led to more screaming.

Tanked up on calpol, baby vicks and having had time to get comfortable with new surroundings baby sat with family members having a play–Graunty Sally (we have coined Graunty and Gruncle for the great aunties and uncles) playing who can make the silliest noise, managed to break through the tiredness/hunger/grumpiness and got the first ever giggle from our bambino. A release of emotion from stressed parents led to a mix of laughter and crying… baby just laughed along with us.

Post first giggle our mission then was to make baby laugh as much as possible. She clued up pretty quickly and decided she would not be a performing monkey and would not laugh on demand. She let out an almighty giggle when Karen and I were bent over in hysterics… This moment of mirth started during bath time. We often joked that at some point she was bound to poo in the bath, the law of parenting averages would tell you to expect it. As I muttered “Perhaps tonight is poo-bath night” we had her crimson face of disaster… a brief strain/grunt and the bath water turned an evil EVIL shade… something touched my hand as I held baby to prevent her splashing this evil bath/poo soup everywhere… it wasn’t the wash cloth!!! We fell about laughing, baby found this hilarious and copied us… all three of us laughing, two of us with poo on or around us. We had to wait for the laughter tears to pass before cleaning up the mess and starting bath time all over again!

iPone pics Jan 2015 097 iPone pics Jan 2015 205

It is during the regular bath times that I realised how much stuff baby has; oils, lotions, shampoos, medicated things, soothing smells etc etc. When I moved in with Karen the bathroom products I had at my disposal increased in size dramatically (male friends have admitted to similar increase of toiletries when living with girls). Options of silky smooth shampoos, ultra moisturising whatsits, hair oils, hand stuff, exfoliating sandpaper like body washes… and so on. I tried them all. Now with baby’s stuff I have a plethora of other options when it comes to pampering at bath/shower time. I am not afraid to admit it, I will probably try everything!

The Butterfly Effect

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.

Processed with Moldiv butterfly

We’re all going crazy at the same time!

We have become gambling parents… no we are not taking punts our baby’s trust fund at the local bookies or on those bingo websites you see when watching day time TV. No not gambling of that nature, more of a risk benefit assessment at certain times of our parenthood journey.

For example, moving a naked soapy baby from bath to towel on bed is a risky business. Risk of bubs slipping out of our grip like a bar of soap, but also more pressingly (and thankfully yet to happen *touches wood as he types*) you could have a wee/poo moment during transition. Nappy roulette is also an interesting game to play, regular visitors to this blog (all three episodes!) will know we are bottle feeders. With bottle feeding comes less nappy action of the poo variety, what that does mean though is that when it does happen… it happens BIG! Therefore nappy roulette is a regular occurrence, you pray in silence that your turn to change is not THE ONE with the bullet in the chamber so to speak.

The cutting of the kitten-like nails of our baby is a gamble neither of us have taken yet. Being big fans of The Apprentice we have even purchased the Nipper Clipper from the genius mind of Tom Pellereau – they come with a handy window to prevent the nipping off of finger tips! tomEven so, we havenipper clipper both been too chicken to attempt it with a wriggler of limbs. We have resulted to minor cannibalism and nibbled at the offending mini blades on our daughters tiny hands.

The biggest gamble we took was not finding out the sex of our baby, it led to an exciting 9 months of speculation and buying non gender specific clothing (difficult to find in most stores but out there if you search far and wide) so when our little girl arrived she had a collection of outfits that were truly unisex. This week someone said “ooh what a lovely little boy” – we quickly corrected her, but in that case just ask boy or girl? Surely NEVER gamble!?

Trips out with the little one result in a car load of baby paraphernalia just to ensure every eventuality is catered for, the other day we had three outfit changes due to what can only be described as a poo-nami. Some changing facilities in public spaces you visit are great, others not so much. I am hugely surprised that security were not called to our local Waitrose (free coffee thank you very much!) when I used the baby change ‘room’. Me, baby and pram did not fit together cue a lot of crashing and banging and a fair bit of swearing. To escape with the pram intact I ended up resembling Austin Powers and his 15 point turn!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLKR9tCiwvA

We did manage to find a local pub to fit all our ante-natal group into. The mums have been meeting up on a regular basis since all babies were born, but this was the first time dads were involved. All our bundles of joy lined up in their car seats as we chatted, ate and drank – the six babies (one baby & her folks couldn’t make it) caused quite a stir with other bar flies – especially around the festive time of year they did resemble the seven dwarfs (minus one dwarf) in their Christmas jumpers. 7 babies

Us dads managed to talk rugby, Christmas lights and Star Wars (much excitement about the Episode VII trailer between two of us). But, as soon as our little ones were passed to us we turned to mush and began the baby talk – sleep patterns, nappies and the level of nostril stingingness of the waste products held within.

The support network the girls provide each other is fantastic and a reason alone to do ante-natal classes. As we shared stories of night time routines, nappy life hacks and the different options of bottle it was nice to know other parents suffer with grunty babies and talk to themselves.

One conversation summed it all up:

new mum “I’m glad that happens to you too and I’m not going crazy!”

new dad “No, we are all crazy… just we are all going crazy at the same time!”