Tag Archives: new born

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

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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!”

What is that smell!?

Having returned to work after paternity leave a month ago I hoped I managed to keep the ‘new dad’ look to a minimum.

Dark circles under my eyes? Sure! To be fair I work with kids so those bags appear on a far too regular basis, a mixture of stress and tiredness.

Personal hygiene (I hope) has been kept at a decent standard… I guess my colleagues will be able to tell you if this is all in my head!?

So panda eyes aside, and the odd yawn at inappropriate times (best not to do it while being spoken to by the boss) I thought I had it together.

BUT during a presentation this week I found myself swaying… as if Beatrix was in my arms and I was trying to swing her to sleep. I only hope I didn’t make those pretending to pay attention to what I was saying feel sea sick!

Swaying is just one of those things that you do without realising it after a few weeks of parenthood. Holding a one sided conversation with a baby is another. In the first few days of getting Bea home we hadn’t quite got used to sharing our space as a three; my wife would be in a separate room chatting away…

“What did you say?” I’ll ask suspecting she was asking me something…

“WHAT DID YOU SAY?” asking louder…

A moment passes and from that rooms comes

“I’m talking to the baby, not you!”

Believe me when I say this type of conversation has happened in reverse and continued to happen for a week or two until we just started to ignore noises from the other rooms, leading to questions like “Didn’t you hear me ask you to put the kettle on?” – I can now add selective hearing to my parenting repertoire.

We are clearly used to the little lady being around now, recently we have both found ourselves automatically trying to ‘burp’ each other when having a cuddle… rubbing or patting each other’s backs in auto-pilot like we would with Bea. It may shock friends and family at Christmas when we end up rubbing them on the back for slightly longer than is socially acceptable, even more shocking if they end up burping I guess!

Speaking of family, a bit of tech that allows loved ones keep up to date with those images of your little bundle without you having to take over their social media timelines is a clever little website and app called TinyBeans https://tinybeans.com/

Much like a calendar you can add images to each day and then invite family and friends to join you in the journey and make comments to photos added. It is a great way of dating images taken by thrusting an iPhone into the face of a newborn because a funny face is being pulled or the first smile is creeping in, providing a timeline of growth and the changes in your little bundle.TinyBeansTB iOS

Photos provide us with great snapshots of life, videos likewise images and sounds. What they miss is smells, thankfully in our case! Recently we were sat on the sofa with our little lady during a feed, we could smell ‘something odd’… so we checked the nappy, checked the bib, and checked the bottle – it all smelt normal.

As baby protested (by waving her arms about) to us sniffing around her like truffle pigs we got a waft of a cheesy, musty smell. Think sweaty feet mixed with week old football boots and you are somewhere close.

So we entered our Sherlock mind palace – I lie, we typed into google  “Why do my baby’s hands smell?” and came to the conclusion that every time baby put her hands in her mouth post feed she was soaking her babygro scratch gloves  in a combo of saliva and formula milk residue (formula milk STINKS!).

Add to that her hands being clenched within the babygro for most of the day we had a lovely combo of sweat and formula milk spit festering and creating a cheesy pong .

The difficulty was that minus scratch gloves Bea seemed determined to dig her eyes out, so we now have system of hand cleaning when we change nappies, and immersing the hands for a long period come bath time. We are also trying to stop hands in mouth immediately after a feed while still using the all in one babygro scratch gloves.

Every day is a parenting school day… Always learning!

One Armed Bandits

One armed bandits

As a parent of new born your life becomes portions of time and small areas of space throughout the day.

Time: what can you get done between nappy changes and feeds… shower? Eat some food? Vacuum? Watch some TV? To get two of the four done will feel like an achievement. Hats off to the stay at home Mums and Dads who do this and lots more 24/7

Space: your world needs to be within arm’s reach when you are holding a new born. Life becomes a series of one armed challenges especially when the baby is asleep – DO NOT WAKE THE BABY

Eating – check

Drinking – check

Finding the remote – check

Scratching your nose/ears/head/arm that is holding the baby – check

They could introduce it as a challenge on The Cube!

When both arms are deployed as baby support; that is when team work is needed. It has been known in our house for me to serve my wife food as she holds bubs fast asleep. However, turns out I cram in waaay more food than she does, this has led to meal debris spurting out as she has asked for “less on the fork next time please!”

I also inadvertently mastered the one hand poo catch… yup, it is as it sounds!

Baby decided to engage in chemical warfare during a nappy change and to prevent our carpet becoming collateral damage I did what a man had to do… I put my hand in the way as some sort of makeshift poo dam!

One thing I have noticed as a new Dad is most new Mums (friends who are parents, ante-natal class pals etc) are happy to discuss their breasts with you! It is not how my fifteen year old self would imagine the conversation going… buzzkill words such as cracked, dry, leaky nipples remind you that even after the pain, tiredness, mental exhaustion of labour, the Mums are still hitting a pain barrier almost every day.

That is why, as partners, we must choose our words wisely.

After a period of trying to breastfeed and struggling with babies ability to latch and feed we tried a bottle… Baby had a light bulb moment, liked it and fed happy. It means I can do my share of night feeds, so I get to bond with her by feeding and burping (proud Dad when a loud one busts out!)

*** During a late night feed as I dropped the bottle into hot water to warm up, noticing the water reach near spillage level I pondered

“If all the boats and submarines in the sea right now were removed completely, would sea levels drop?” ***

Any help answering much appreciated.

….Back to bottle feeding:

I had been told by many mix feeding (boob* and bottle) was the holy grail of baby dinner time, the ability to choose between one or the other when out and about freeing Mum up and providing flexibility. So when my wife – after a very difficult period trying to breast  feed – told me she wanted to switch to the bottle only, although internally that was totally cool and I supported her decision, it is her body after all, my face (I think) gave a different reply, one that led her to believe I was disappointed she was not going to go through (MORE) pain, suffering and stress to try and breast feed.

She doubted her own decision – you are told BREAST IS BEST by most – to even find information about formula milk via leading manufacturers websites you have to ‘tick box agree’ that this is your understanding… talk about pile the pressure on!?

BREAST IS BEST

That is why we must choose our words (and apparently facial expressions) wisely.

It is after all both the best and the most stressful job in the world being a parent

*fifteen year old self took over typing

One month in…

One month in and the learning curve has been sharp and steep, thankfully our ante-natal class was top notch so the basics were firmly in place for when bubs arrived.

The Baby Journey http://www.thebabyjourney.co.uk/ are so slick and knowledgeable that I’ll be honest I thought they were a national ante-natal provider, not a little business run by two Gloucestershire based midwives. So it was an honour to be asked back as ‘special guests’ to discuss all things baby to those expectant wide eyed pregnant parents.

I started thinking over the little tit bits of advice, thought processes you have as an expectant Dad and then as a real life grown up father, responsible now for a little bundle for whom the world is a brand new place. There are tonnes of books, websites and blogs that provide lots of great information… my blog will likely resemble a brain splurge of thoughts and occasions of mirth and despair.

First up I wish I had brought shares in Costa coffee before our trip to the hospital, shares in coffee and shares in NHS multi-storey car parks! All those that have spent any time at hotel NHS will know the costs build up quickly. Before you know it you’ve remortgaged the house for a long stay and a large americano.

We had four days in hospital once baby arrived (cup feeding, high temperatures and jaundice keeping us in) I was not allowed to stay the night, so there were many trips back and forth to the maternity ward. As I entered the birth centre every day and saw the sleep deprived dads resembling zombies shuffling the halls in the opposite direction carrying bags ready to pack the car to head home I had an immense sense of jealousy!

The first drive home from hospital at 3.30am without wife or baby was a strange one. I have never ever been one to drink and drive – but I assume that my concentration and ability to react to anything on the road at this point would have been similar to that of a sozzled commuter. High on emotion of witnessing the birth of my baby, exhausted mentally and physically aching by being on tenterhooks for many an hour the whole journey is a confusing mist. (I realise this is nothing compared to how my wife was feeling)

When I was finally allowed to bring my girls home I did the dad zombie walk through the corridors, past the Costa coffee franchise (muttered about those blummin’ shares) and past other fathers and gave a knowing nod. Your time will come fellas… and it will be worth the wait.

The conversations you have as a new father generally revolve around sleep patterns and poo filled nappies – this started before bubs arrived, those all knowing parents making useful comments like “ohh top up on sleep now” because sleep works that way right? You bank it up ready to use at a later date, like groceries!

As if.

We were asked what technology or gadget has made a difference and so far my Virgin Media app for my phone has come in handy. Pinned down by a sleeping baby and the TV remote out of reach, this app allows me to change channel with out waking the beast. Speaking about the sleeping baby Ewan the Dream Sheep deserves a knighthood – the relaxing noises you can choose by squeezing Ewan’s feet not only send bubs off to the lad of nod, but he can help parents slip into sleep mode quicker than normal. Ewan now comes everywhere with us!!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sweet-Dreamers-Ltd-EWAN01-Dream/dp/B0040JSN7Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416082658&sr=8-1&keywords=ewan+the+sheep

To think we were sat  with our ante-natal group listening to the advice from the guests just over a month a go is a real head spinner. Our baby has changed so much already, the adventure sure has begun…

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