Tag Archives: dadblog

First Second Pregnancy

At risk of taking on the mother mafia or mumsnet (which ever is the most powerful right now) I have decided to write about why I think the 3rd trimester of a second pregnancy is bloody hard for dads!

 I can hear the gasps… who the hell does he think is? Ooh small violin for you! Try making and carrying a small human for 9 months, not to mention the lack of sleep, the sickness, tiredness, overheating, ligament pain and so on. 

Not a competition. Just saying it how it is. 

Hand on heart; during our first pregnancy I didn’t have to do a lot (apart from the initial fun bit) beside the odd foot rub and the dash round to the supermarket for craving food, outside of what was ‘expected’ my role consisted of sitting and waiting. All the hard work came from my pregnant wife. 

 This time round we have a toddler, a new(ish) house and know what to expect when baby comes. 

 First pregnancy when my wife’s body told her she needed a cuppa and a box set so it was so, when that turned into a nap, that was fine. First pregnancy everything was, errr how to put this? Everything was non baby affected. Ligaments and muscles more taught and happy to oblige in holding up the bump. Going on maternity leave meant no work, just rest, the odd meet up with the antenatal girls eating cake etc, preparing for the marathon (and then some) of the last few weeks and labour! 

 This time round, teamwork is the order of the day. 

 And this part explains the bags under my eyes. Again I stress I am not asking for any sympathy from anyone, but just a shout out to the dads during their first second pregnancy – if that makes any sense?

I. Am. Tired.  cat

Trying to find a work:life balance that pleases everyone is hard during the 3rd trimester of the second pregnancy. Let me state now there is no pressure from either my wife nor my employer. However, I can see how tired my wife is. I know she has it tough carrying a child and caring for a child. So where best I can I try and take over the manual labour. Picking the toddler up, putting her in and getting her out of bed. Chasing her when the inevitable battle of getting dressed/undressed, being bad cop and using negotiation techniques to coerce her into doing one or the other. Mentally & physically draining.  

 Recently I have taken some mornings or afternoons off to help with the toddler wrangling. If I can tire her out in the am then when I am at work the hope is that she will be slightly more chilled for my wife come the afternoon. We’ve recently cut nap time down to an hour (we fear it is on the wane) so that arvo of chilled play time is key for mumma. Then I go to work, as a playworker I then do what I did in the morning but for 30+ kids… none of them mine. Playwork IS hard work, trust me on that. 

 Once home from work it is straight into the bath time and then bedtime routine with a book for the youngling. I look forward to reading the book as a) she doesn’t mock me for my accents of the different characters and I get to amdram it up b) I get to sit down. 

 Weekends are generally chasing after the toddler, see above for tiring her out,

swings

Park life

but also I find myself picking up all her crap up so my wife doesn’t trip on it: 

toy cars + pregnant belly + can’t see her feet = recipe for disaster. 

 I’m also picking up the stuff my wife drops: 

clumsy wife x pregnancy clumsiness = bits and bobs all over the gaff. 

 Dad pregnancy bad back exists people. It. Exists! dynamite

 Now we are fast approaching b-day and I don’t remember being this stressed the first time round? Different time of year I guess, less busy, also less to think about. Work wise I have been trying to cater for every eventuality operationally. If I’m here on this play space and Karen calls how do I get back to her in the quickest time!!? Who can cover my shift if I have to let them know last minute that I’m not coming in? Who can do what during my paternity leave, whenever that may be!? Seriously I need one of those super computers to run every variable to come up with multiple plans, I suspect even Hal

220px-HAL9000.svg

I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

9000’s circuit boards would fry trying to estimate the date, time, whereabouts of every party involved and what actions to take. 

 I stress again. No one has asked me to do this. My wife is not cracking a whip, in fact she still does too much, but being pregnant with a toddler is like juggling with fire near a petrol station. Put one thing down and who knows what will happen!!? Potentially nothing. Perhaps A LOT. 

 At work; none of my colleagues have asked me to tinker with the rota as much as I have, they’d probably appreciate me stopping the stream of emails with changes and ‘what if’s’. They are adults with problem solving skills in the higher echelons of amazing, but I feel a duty, as the one leaving at the drop of a hat (aka dilation of a cervix) to give them every bit of help I can before this happens. 

 Another variable of the arrival of bubs2 is on the location of family members to take over care for bubs1. Who is where, when? If this happens then call this person? Do they come to us or us to them? 

 The in-laws have been amazing at taking on the role of chief toddler tirerers when I am at work unable to take mornings off. It is a real team effort this time round. 

 I’m not a control freak by any stretch, and usually I am pretty laid back about things. But knowing what is coming, could come quickly (having had a good friend deliver his 2nd baby in their front room) in the words of Aerosmith “I don’t wanna miss a thing” hence the work and the toddler care stress. 

 Baby number 2 is due any day now. I’m thinking it may get easier once s/he is here. 

Has anyone ever said things become easier with a new born!? 

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“That’s great kid, don’t get cocky!”

So since my ‘flashblog’ on International Day of the Girl  I have been thinking of stories, reviews and little tit bits of information that may help other parents or at least make others think “oh good, it’s not just me that does that” to get the blog writing going again.

I am a big believer in the phrase/campaign “Dads don’t babysit, it’s called parenting!” Which took off when Al Ferguson of The Dad Network  posted a pic of himself wearing a t-shirt with the slogan on it. We’ve come a long way since the cave dwelling man be hunter gatherer, lady bear child and make home days (although comments from potential world leaders and his supporters would suggest some people still call the cave of sexism home). My dad did very little parenting so I have very little reference to go by when it comes to being a dad. I am flying by the seat of my pants with no ‘role model’ per se and making it up as I go along (like most first time parents I guess?).

When I had the chance to have a whole weekend with the mini human for the first time it was daunting for sure, but I was also full of ideas of how we could spend our time together, how I could be a parent NOT a babysitter. During my wife Karen’s maternity leave I was jealous of the coffee and cake dates, visits to play areas, swimming lessons and a host of other exciting things she would do with baby Bea. I am now acutely aware this time wasn’t all fun and giggles and the dirty nappies, sick, crying, all round tiredness, very little adult conversation etc was the buzzkill of this time.

So, a whole weekend, let’s make the most of our time together little one. Now this first solo parenting weekend was a while ago but I do recall deciding against the ‘substitute childcare’ of a Disney DVD and visiting a cafe for coffee and cake. This trip led to Bea being the centre of attention, she would wave at waitresses as they past us and she had a little milky moustache from her babycino which led to a number of laughs and plenty of cooing from all that witnessed her milky Poirot tash. The engagement with the waiting staff ultimately ended up in a free chocolate lolly for me, er I mean Bea (Don’t judge me, she was too small then to REALLY appreciate chocolate anyway)

We visited the local park, we watched a film together (ok so I gave in to Disney Daycare, she lasted 30 minutes before wanting to climb the bookcase), we did some arts and crafts, we even me PETER RABBIT!!! I loved it, she loved it.

pr

A pretty chuffed mini person meeting Big Pete!

Post bath time I was getting her ready for bed, we watched that insane programme In The Night Garden and as I reflected on our day I text Karen to say what a lovely day it had been and how well behaved Bea was.

Oh what a rookie mistake that was, I jinxed my evening with one simple (probably slightly cocky “this parenting lark is easy peasy lemon squeezey “) text.  It is not easy it is “difficult difficult lemony difficult” – we had full on baby rage 4 minutes after I put her to bed, standing up, throwing toys literally out of the cot, hitting the bars on the cot so much so that the house sounded like it was collapsing around us. On the 5th time of going upstairs to comfort her I was close to breaking point. I tried everything I had, new nappy, more milk, different bed covers. Placing her back down into the cot I had everything crossed (metaphorically and literally… They don’t tell you in ante natal class that going to the toilet is no longer a free choice when you have a kid, it is all about timing and distraction techniques) her head rested on the pillow, I crept out of the room and paused by the door…

What happened next is something that I have never done since and will never do again.

Our baby monitor has an intercom setting which we had never used before, as well as a camera that lets us check on little one whenever we feel the need (in those first few months this checking was almost every 30 seconds). Seconds passed and I could see she was standing again, screaming again, red and blotchy with rage face again. So pressing the intercom button, which gave me a live feed to her room I clearly and concisely said “Beatrix. Go. To. Sleep. Plllllease!”

Now imagine you’re in your bedroom, your place of sanctuary from the craziness of the world outside, you have just closed your book, or put down your phone ready to nod off and a voice, an omnipresent voice calls out to you. I know I would shit myself… Well yeah, turns out that a baby with no concept of intercoms, or what daddy’s voice will sound like coming from that blue light in the corner of the room will shit herself too. Not before a pause, one where she looked truly panicked, and me seeing this grief stricken face quick as a flash thinking “Oh bollocks! Now you’ve done it.”

I think I managed to have my wee and eat some food around 10.30pm having got in from a drive which was my last resort in getting the mini human to sleep, she nodded off about 5 minutes into this MUST GET BABY TO SLEEP mission (typical). I sent a text to my wife to explain the debacle and I nodded off ready for day two with slightly less enthusiasm to day one.

 

Flash forward many months and I am on a best friends hen do (gender equality runs deep with me and my friends), surrounded by good friends and new acquaintances we are chatting about pregnancy, babies and parenthood in general. A couple of the mums there had left their husbands in charge for the weekend like I was for ‘Intercom Night’. They were discussing how their husbands were “cheating” by helping each other out, arranging to have dinner together with the mini humans.

It was then I had a question pop into my head, one that if I asked I would be crossing a line, one that I may not be able to return from… One that could lead to an insight so shocking that it could turn day into night, dogs and cats would hug not fight, people would put cheese on their spuds before the beans. The response could be shocking!

I plucked up the courage, for all the dads out there I grasped this chance to ask the mums who were all sat around me “So when you leave the babies with us [Dads and partners], do you actually hope we fail a bit at parenting, do you hope we have a terrible time when you’re not around?”

BOOM!!! A deafening silence fell across the group… I feared I had pushed things too far, I’d taken advantage of my position at this time within the inner sanctum of motherhood. Then the reply, a reply that makes total sense, a reply that links both the special times and those buzzkill moments of parenthood.

“It’s not that we WANT you to fail, we just want you to have the tantrums, the food throwing, the leaky nappies that you sometimes miss out on. It is not all cake, coffee and play dates.” 

carnage

Carnage… Toddler style carnage.

So there we have it, not that groundbreaking at all. Whether we are the stay at home mum/dad, the one juggling work and childcare, the one that feels like you are missing the good times, parenting takes on many different guises at many different times and you have to try and share the great with the gruesome. That is parenting for me and is what separates us from the babysitters, and the cavemen.

 

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/