A Jolly Old Trip to the Zoo

It’s 2019 and following on from a lovely Crimbo, we decided to take the Sprogs to Woburn Safari Park. (This was mainly based on the fact that my mum had gifted us all with an annual pass, so we could actually afford to go. Because it was free.)

After much discussion on what would make a suitable picnic, packing the obligatory “nappy bag” (which contains a shit load more than nappies) and finding winter clothing, we were off.

The boys are now in their stage 2 car seats, so Finley (9) is wedged between them both, whilst Jonty and I sit in our spacious front seats with heated arse holes. If only there was a screen between us…

After the short journey to Woburn and a million requests to “sit on Daddy’s lap” from Leo, we arrived and off we went around the “Road Safari”. Incredibly, despite the 4 degree temperature, we saw loads of animals – rhinos, buffalo, deer type things, giraffes and elephants – all from the comfort of our Tuscon, shovelling cheese sarnies into our faces.

As the driver, I was in charge of navigating the wilds and avoiding killing any endangered animals. I got slight road rage with a woman in an Alhambra – (She was road hogging, then stopping at inconvenient times and places and generally being a shit driver.) I also panicked when various big animals started heading towards us and I think Jonty was worried I’d lob his chorizo sanga out the window to save the fam, so I wacked the car into second and blasted through some of the enclosures.

Then, the monkeys. My god they know how to put on a show. We queued for an eternity watching the little rascals jump over other cars (FYI to the Citroen, you took the piss: you stayed too long) and then we approached the main monkey corner. The kids were so excited that we may have a furry visitor on our roof and then suddenly, boom. Boom, bang, scratch oh and an anus, pushed onto the windscreen. It was quite awesome to see these little buggers enjoying the warm bonnet and wing mirrors and get a real close up when they romantically “made love” in front of us. Needless to say I was very unimpressed at the female, who felt the need to cuddle and stroke the clearly uninterested male afterwards. Too needy if you ask me.

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And it did our marriage no favours – Jonty pointed out how “loving” she was. *eye roll*

 

Just as we were leaving the monkey madness, an adult decided to not only rip my wiper blade off, but also take a dump down one of the windows. Hugely disrespectful but the boys found it hilarious – especially when we had to peel it off with a stick.

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Once out of the car and into the Baltic conditions, we ambled around the various other enclosures – poking lemurs and oohing and ahhing at other random animals. We even got to see the elephants on a walk, all holding each other’s tails.

All in all, it was an awesome day. There’s nothing better than spending time with family, laughing at defectating mammals and calling in at Coop on the way home (at 3.30pm) to purchase three bottles of wine.

#winning #wineing

 

 

 

 

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Too Hot To Tot

In years gone by, the blow of getting home from a holiday was buffered with the joys of putting on my skinny jeans and a white tee and receiving comments about my fantastic tan, beachy blonde hair and spotless skin. This year, there is more chance of those prickhole Ryan Air shitflaps not delaying our flight for 2.5 hours, than that happening.

As I write, I am sitting on a beautiful balcony, with what is essentially a pint of wine, sea crusted hair, dark circles under my eyes, four billion mosquito bites and paler than when I left. The reason? We are on holiday with three children.

Many years ago Jonathan and I met in Mallorca, when my bestie from school took me on one of her family holidays. It was there I met the quirky, shy “skater boy” with the bluest eyes I have ever seen. Years (and many holidays) later (and after confirmation that in fact Jonathan couldn’t really skate that well and the glistening eyes and sultry gaze was as a result of too many  “drinks” acquired from African merchandise salesman on dark corners of the beach at 2am), we are here with our two boys and my step son Finley.

It was never going to be easy, in a non-air conditioned apartment, with stone floors and hardwood furniture designed with concussion as their primary function and a balcony with railings spaced just wide enough to potentially lose a child through, but we made it here (no thanks to the bastard Ryan Air fuckplanks, who made us wait on a runway with not even a gin to numb the pain of an overtired 8 month old and bored 2 year old).

We are a week in and Jonathan still hasn’t unpacked his suitcase. I’ve barely got a tan line, despite the sweltering heat. None of the boys have accepted that suncream is a necessity and neither Jonathan or I are any better at putting those shitting UV suits on the small ones. I swear, putting a leotard on a disgruntled goat would be easier.

Once adorned in their “Dancing on Ice” style swimwear, suitably creamed, the packing of the beach bag begins. Nappies, wipes, drinks, snacks, dummies, towels, armbands – the list goes on.

“FUCK I forgot the hats.”

”It doesn’t matter, we won’t be out for long”

”One of the children is ginger – in the time we have taken discussing the hats he has already burst into flames…”

Once we have hit the beach (at 7am of course), it’s a full 30 minutes of stopping one from drowning, one from eating sand and one from tormenting seagulls. Then home, for the third breakfast of the day and stopping Ralph (8 months) from cracking his head open/eating a pine needle and Leo from buggering off out the door.

It is important to note that we are staying next door to Jonathan’s parents, my in-laws, who (god bless them), tolerate us all raiding their fridge, causing chaos in their living room and have stocked our fridge with wine. At the start of the week it was very stressful to stop Leo from running out the door, but now we basically leave it open as he trots off to Nanna’s to help “flush a big poo” down a blocked bog (sorry Susanne).

Nap time is glorious. We tag team, so one stays up with the little ones whilst the other puts zero cream on in an attempt to get some colour in the blazing sun. The time is often spent on father in laws boat, drinking wine at an unearthly hour and enjoying competitions for the “best jump” with Finley (9). Then it’s lunch and time to consume obscene amounts of Parma ham with Brie and an array of “picky bits” – the boys eat anything so thank god are pretty easy to keep alive in terms of nutrition.

Afternoons consist of more sun cream, more leotards and lots of getting in and out of the sea, before bed time.

By 9pm we are knackered and so after the usual married couple rows (mostly about why it’s inappropriate to have “adult time” whilst sharing a room with a baby (thank Christ for that baby)), we head to bed, also known as the “kiln”, to get feasted on by bugs.

Then it all begins again.

What I’ve neglected to mention is that all of the kids, when they’re not pricking off, are an absolute joy to be around and seeing their little happy faces makes it all worthwhile.

I’ve just been “checked out” by two men (teenage boys) whilst sitting on the balcony. Well, either that or they were pointing and smiling at the entertaining parrot in the F86EAA7D-BE4D-4089-B722-13AE48F56201apartment below us…

We are so lucky to be here and not only that, be here with our three boys and our family – so don’t misinterpret my moaning for complacency.

BUT, I am really looking forward to not having to baste the kids and wipe sand out of their arse cracks. And I’m hoping Jonathan unpacks his suitcase once we get home. And those fuckcrack Ryanair shitc***s sort their fucking lives out!

PS. Jonathan edited this and added the majority of the swearing.

PPS. My father in law got called a C*** by an elderly Spanish lady today, for starting his outboard engine too close to the shoreline. I forgot to shoehorn that in earlier but was too hilarious not to mention.

 

And then there were two…

The last time I wrote a blog post I was probably semi-pissed on a tiny wine, having eliminated booze from my diet for so long, thus protecting the tiny human from alcohol poisoning via boob milk.

Now, I’m just semi pissed on a huge wine, hoping that the alcohol will go straight to tiny human number two’s veins, thus creating a perfect night of only 3-5 ‘wakeups’.

When we found out we were pregnant with Ralph, Leo was 7 months old. Almost instantly, I began shovelling cream cakes into my mouth, ditching the diet (which if I’m honest, never really began) and mourning the loss of brie, gin and anything else alcoholic – it was brutal, as I had breast fed Leo until 6 months, so I only had 4 glorious weeks of reckless drinking. image1.jpeg

We had always wanted two kids close in age and when we found out we were having another boy, I was over the moon. I think a lot of people believe that most people would like ‘one of each’, but we are not ‘most people’. And as a dance teacher who has taught many, many girls, I can confidently say that I’m happy with my two little men. (I’m also planning on becoming a sort of Mafia Mum that they adore and will do anything for – including killing my husband etc…)

I was very lucky with my pregnancy with Leo and annoyingly for some, with Ralph too. Sure, I gained loads of weight, forgot what my feet looked like, had mood swings like you wouldn’t believe and didn’t sleep because everything hurt (and I mean EVERYTHING*), but I didn’t puke and the little dude was happy and comfy.

The hardest thing about being pregnant and having a 7 month old for me was the guilt that I was somehow ‘taking’ time away from Leo. (I’ve since been assured by a lovely friend that in fact I was giving’ him a sibling; which is very special and I love her for supporting me.) I spent the 9 months of pregnancy doing everything I could with Leo – swimming, soft play (vom) lunches and even spending hours watching him watch television – intermittently making him kiss my bump in a vague attempt to let him know what was going on.

When I was pregnant with Leo I really got to know him before he arrived. With Ralphie however, I didn’t have the time to sit and dream about what this baby would be like, or caress my massive bump whilst taking a long bath. It felt like (to be brutal), the bump was just a big inconvenience – stopping me from running around at Soft Play, carrying a sleepy toddler or forcing me to live on Rennie.

But as cheesy as it sounds, the moment that little guy arrived on his due date, (at 7lb 1 in the exact same room his bro was born – and thankfully, after a vastly shorter labour) I was in love. And a further 24 hours later, once home and fully acquainted, I knew him. And he knew me.

Of course that’s all gone to shit now – I have no idea what he wants, he seems to have zero appreciation for my ‘me time’ (non-existent) and spends 90% of the time clawing at my boobs, like a tit-crazed zombie.

But we’re cool.

One of the most common things I’m asked is ‘Does Leo get jealous?” In a word; no. Leo is such a cool cat that Ralph’s arrival has only enhanced his little world. He has always been very gentle and kind (bar a few smacking on the head incidents) and most recently, loves bossing him about and showing him toys – which Ralph loves. We are both hoping this little friendship continues to develop and although there is no doubt going to be arguments and quarrels, we are sure they wont last long – mainly because Leo is pretty butch and at this point, Ralph doesn’t stand much of a chance.

So, we have two boys. I live a house with three boys. When my step son is here, that’s four boys. That’s four penises missing a toilet…send help…send wine…send bleach.

 

*Vag

 

 

 

 

9 Ways to Kill Time While Your Wife is in Labour

1. Get Drunk

Most hospitals are lacking woefully on the bar and off-license front. However, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from taking in your own cool-box full of beers or a couple of bottles of Jack Daniels. After, all, everyone knows your more fun and interesting after a few drinks. Why not take enough for everyone? That obstetric surgeon is probably exhausted and would really appreciate a quick mid-shift cocktail.

2. Play Pokemon Go

Whether you’ve jumped on the Pokemon bandwagon or not, now might be the time to start. The hospital is absolutely teeming with Weedles and Pidgeys and there are plenty of fun opportunities to take photos of them sitting on or even emerging from your screaming wife.

3. Get High on Laughing Gas

Although the NHS refer to it as “gas and air” the primary form of pain relief for women in labour is in actual fact, laughing gas! And it will get you high as fuck.  Why should the Mothers have all the fun? Why shouldn’t the baby’s Father have a few drags every now and then? You’ve paid your taxes. The NHS owes you. This is a stressful time and you could really do with taking the edge off.

4. Impersonate Hospital Staff

Dressing up is fun, and there’s nothing quite like a new mother’s face when she finds out her baby was just delivered by an unqualified stranger who just found a set of scrubs while curiously rifling through an unlocked cupboard.

5. Challenge Your Wife to a Rap Battle

You’ve been privately working on some sick rhymes for some time now, but haven’t had the confidence to share them with your family yet. It must be the thrill and adrenaline of impending fatherhood, because suddenly you just wanna spit ill lyrics like a mother-flippin’ gangsta G, yo. So, lay down some verses, bruh. Your wife will love to see you expressing yourself creatively at this otherwise mundane time.

6. Film the Pilot to Your Hospital Drama

How often do you get free reign of a hospital for 48 hours without having some kind of serious medical issue? This is the perfect opportunity to film your long awaited hospital drama. Think Grey’s Anatomy meets Magnum PI. You’ve got the perfect filming location and you’ve made yourself a kick-ass fake moustache from hair you found in the chemotherapy ward. Now you just need to pry a few nurses and doctors away from their precious patients for a few hours so they can be the supporting cast in what is certain to be a televisual masterpiece.

7. Have a Frank and Honest Discussion With Your Wife About Her Recent Performance

The house has been a mess lately and there wasn’t enough salt in last night’s lasagne. Now is the perfect time to express your concerns and let your wife know she really needs to buck up her ideas. Why not introduce an annual performance review, complete with Powerpoint presentation and infographics. Nothing says you’re prepared to put the effort into making a relationship work than a well presented 3D pie chart.

8. Fake your Own Death

So you’ve trained for months with Indian yogi masters and can slow your heartbeat down to an almost imperceptible level. Now is the perfect time to put that skill to good use. A superficial self-inflicted stab wound and a splash of extra blood from the donor cupboard and you’re good to go. Just think of their faces when you wake up freezing and gasping for air in a mortuary drawer. Classic.

9. Start a Protection Racket

Sure, hospital is the safest places you can  be, but couldn’t it be even safer? After all, those kids over in Oncology wouldn’t want anything “unfortunate” to happen to them during their stay would they? You’re providing a valuable service. And don’t worry about the morality of your new business venture. Many of them are going to die soon, anyway.

 

 

 

Festive as Friggy Pudding

It’s been a long time since either Jonathan or I have been able to write a post – tiny human most certainly keeps us busy and the brie, wine and sausage rolls are not going to consume themselves.

Leo will be five months old on Christmas Day and quite honestly, I cannot believe he has been here that long – or that I am not yet a size 8.

We have had lots of people ask for ideas about what he might want for Christmas and because we are scroogy and he has no clue as to what is going on half the time, we have suggested either an obnoxious bright toy or cash into his bank account. I was wrapping bits for his Christmas stocking the other day and decided it looked a bit thin on the ground, so Leo will be opening a bottle of Calpol. What a lucky boy!

xmasBig brother Finley (my step son) is beside himself with excitement and we have of course taken him to see Father Christmas. We went to Ham House and thoroughly enjoyed a festive treasure hunt for facts about Oliver Cromwell and an overpriced lunch. After queueing for twenty minutes to see the big guy, we were taken into a room with what can only be described as the shittest Santa we have ever seen. His beard was cotton wool, you could see the elastic and he looked like he had been on a massive bender. As  you can see from the picture, Leo appears to have guessed. None the less, he asked all the appropriate questions – Have you been good? What would you like? And even asked Finley if he could name all of the reindeer for an extra present. Finley couldn’t so I, like the dutiful step mother, reeled off every god damn reindeer at top speed and kept the special present for myself. I felt there was a lesson in there somewhere…

Our Christmas tree is up and it’s a bit ridiculous. Last year Jonathan was less than impressed with the size of our tree, so I went big to prove a point. The result of which means that every decoration I have ever bought (tacky or not), as well as two sets of mismatched lights (one white and one coloured), is currently residing in the corner of our lounge – smooshed up against the wall on both sides and limiting our living space significantly. Between the two of us we have also managed to eat ALL of the chocolates – and by ‘two of us’, I mean me.

Having family all over the place means that we have a lot of driving and places to be over the festive period. Letchworth, Old Windsor, Christmas dinner with 34 at Iver Heath and then back to Stotfold for Boxing Day, where everyone comes to us. This is a very sensible plan, as we basically get all the left overs and picky bits. There is currently a whole frickin’ serrano ham leg on our kitchen side – the trotter is centimetres away from Leo’s ‘bumbo’ chair. Im waiting to walk in on him chewing it.

So as the big day approaches, the Christmas wrapping is almost done. In fact last night, whilst Leo was asleep, I managed to wrap all of Jonathan’s pressies. It took bloody ages because I couldn’t find the scissors, so had to tear the wrapping paper to size and chew the ribbon – I’m not going to lie, they look pretty awful. Im sure it was because of the lack of equipment, rather than the goblet of wine I was drinking – it is very important to stay hydrated.

After popping into Hitchin today to look for a chocolate orange for my darling husband (which I did’t find – though admittedly I didn’t expect to in New Look), I have now come home and am sitting with a large cup of tea and more Christmas tree chocolate. This is what it is all about. A snoozing baby in his car seat, listening to the sounds of a hairdryer, whilst I am surrounded by washing to do, baby puke covered muslin and terrible films on the TV.

The thing is, apart from the fact that Jonathan and Finley are not here, I think I am the happiest I’ve ever….oh wait. Baby awake. Teething. And he managed to shart up his own back.

Joy to the world.

 

 

Do I have to be sociable?

So, the tiny himage1uman is now nearly 11 weeks old and unsurprisingly, life has changed in many ways for me. I am a Mum.

Sometimes, this role is incredible – watching your little person grow and learn, seeing their face light up when you look at them and my favourite, endless baby cuddles.

But sometimes it’s shit. And I’ve learned that it is ok to say that it is shit.

Being a stay at home Mum is a huge responsibility and the days where the baby screams constantly for no apparent reason are the hardest. My liver cries for gin and my lungs for nicotine, but I cant. For I am ‘Mum’. And I will have to get on with it. And I do. And then, within no time at all, this small and loud being is laughing and giggling again. Talk about mood swings…

Since Leo has arrived, I have been determined to continue life as before. We have been abroad, shopping, out to dinner, taken him to Thorpe Park and I have even taught a dance class with him strapped to my chest – he slept through all of these! For the first 9 weeks I regularly found myself in town, at a friends, driving somewhere and generally not being at home for any significant amount of time. Apart from being exhausting for both myself and Leo, I felt like I wasn’t getting the most out of the time I have with him.

So, I made a change. I make sure that we have at least two days a week at home, where I can spend the whole time learning about my kid. Learning what makes him laugh, cry, giggle, jump and whinge, what his favourite part of the obnoxious playmat is, how long he can actually stay in a swingy chair (as opposed to how long he wants to) and so much more. I have just laughed my ass off at how disgusting my child is – it was a mega ‘poonami’ which took out a baby grow, leggings, towel and the majority of my nasal senses – all whilst vomiting (him, not me). But when he looks at me with his giant blue eyes, for one singular moment, we connect and I know that he understands that wiping shit off his balls is rancid and we get even closer.

Apart from seeing my lovely friends and venturing to the COOP for more ginger biscuits (my husband cant just eat a few; he demolishes the whole pack), the only thing we HAVE to venture out from ‘babyland base’ for is, Baby Massage.

I know what you are thinking – I thought the same. Why in the name of all that is good and pure does a baby need a massage? Feeding, sleeping and cute-ing isn’t stressful? I can honestly say that the class run by Isabelle at The Secret Garden in Hitchin is fantastic. And Leo loves it. Check out their Facebook page for classes, lunches and generally wonderful stuff for Mums, babies and toddlers: Secret Garden Pop-up

Along with other new Mums, we all gather and lay out little lads (an all boy class by coincidence!) on mats, in a lovely cosy room with relaxing music and the sweet aroma of zero judgement. The course is 6 weeks long and each week, we cover the different massage techniques for different parts of the body. Leo has been unfortunately blessed with my thighs, but adores the exercise where they are wiggled – basically, we jiggle his fat. Poor boy.

Isabelle guides us through the sessions brilliantly and as we avoid being peed or pooed on (babies are all naked), the babies get a lovely massage with baby safe oil. When the massaging part of the session is over, most of the babies are hungry (they have worked SO hard…) so we sit around, boobs and bottles out, sipping squash and politely only taking one biscuit. Talking with the other Mums, it becomes clear that everyone goes through the same stuff when a new baby arrives. Everyone has the same doubts, worries and fears, as well as the almighty highs that mum-hood brings. Leaving that baby massage class each week, I feel rejuvinated and confident that I can do this. Breast feeding a baby whilst on the loo is not embarrassing or shameful – it’s a damn skill and I’m proud of it!*

So, do i have to be sociable? No. Do i want to? Yes.

Because getting out and slagging off your kid with other new mums, as well as your partner, the cashier in the COOP for making a comment about the volume of ginger nut biscuits being consumed and anyone else that has inferred with a single look that you’re not perfect, is good for me. It reminds me that I am a human. Not a robot, super wife or anything equally as skilled.

I am a Mum. And sometimes, I am shit at ‘Mumming’. But sometimes, I am awesome.

 

*I’m not proud of it. But I had no choice**.

**There was some choice. But I only realised this afterwards.

Going On Holiday With A Newborn

Taking a child of any age on holiday can be, shall we say, challenging. Even when someone announces they’re taking their 6 month old abroad they’re often met with exaggerated looks of shock and unsolicited judgemental comments. That’s why when we decided to book our holiday before our baby had even been born, potentially facing the prospect of taking a 3 week old away, it came as no surprise when a sizeable number of people had no qualms in telling us to our faces that they thought we were completely fucking insane.

1. Get The Timing Right

Our due date was the end of July and we were determined to have a holiday before the summer ended, so we hoped for the best, booked it in and fortunately it all worked out. It was a big gamble though. If anything had gone wrong and we weren’t able to make it, we would have lost a lot of money on flights and accommodation on top of any other complications. If the baby had been delivered late by caesarian, we simply wouldn’t have been able to fly. This is something we knew from the get go but the reality didn’t really sink in until our due date came and went. This is when we made a solemn pact: one way or another, this baby was coming out in the customary way. Via nature’s doorway to the world. The good old fashioned vagina. It was a pact we realistically had absolutely no control over, but what can we say? We’re optimists.

This level of risk is not necessarily something we’d recommend though. Although you’ll end up spending more money, there are loads of last minute deals online meaning you can book at short notice once the baby has been born instead of trying to lure your offspring out by playing nursery rhymes and making intriguing animal noises next to your wife’s crotch.

2. Book Seats with Extra Leg Room

This is by no means essential, but it will make your flight that little bit more tolerable. Most airlines have a few rows of seats where you’re not constantly peeling your face off the back of someone else’s chair. It also means you’re not continuously asking another passenger to get up or having to let them squeeze past when you need to go to the changing room. Nothing is more embarrassing than carrying a screaming baby to the toilet when their overflowing nappy decides to rupture all over a stranger’s lap.

3. Get Air Conditioning!

What good fortune that everyone we told about our holiday to Spain reminded us that it’s likely to be quite hot there. Thank God you mentioned it, I’ll put our fucking Arctic windbeaters away at once. Yes, of course Spain is going to be hot. But last time I checked people had babies in Spain too. And Italy, and Greece, and Saudi Arabia, and Australia and Africa. The baby isn’t going to start sizzling like a pork loin the second we leave the aeroplane.

That said, reasonable precautions do need to be taken to make sure your baby doesn’t overheat and break on you. They struggle to maintain body temperature in the same way adults do and the recommended level for them is a surprisingly low 18-20 degrees. By far the easiest and most stress free way of making sure your baby doesn’t melt like a cheap tarmac driveway, is getting a place with air conditioning. It not only gives you peace of mind that your baby is safe at night, but it also gives you a place to cool off and de-stress when it’s all getting a bit too much and you find yourself in serious danger of suffering a heat-stroke-induced episode of wanting to fucking murder someone. Which brings us to our next handy titbit.

4. Drink!

This is a piece of advice that applies to pretty much all areas of life aside from driving heavy vehicles and performing major heart surgery. Your holiday should be no exception. Obviously it’s not advisable to get completely shit-hammered when you’re in charge of a child, but this is your holiday, it is going to stressful, and your own natural positive mental attitude may just not cut it. So unless your religion specifically forbids it (and if it does I suggest you thoroughly re-read the small print) make sure to have a cocktail or two……….or seven……..teen.

5. Prepare to Spend Less Time With Your Partner

Unless you both want to spend your entire holiday in the shade, you’re going to have to split up a lot of the time. For some reason nature decided to bestow our babies with pasty, useless subterranean mole-rat skin, not at all suited to life on beautiful sun-kissed beaches. Even just a minute in the afternoon sun risks scorching your baby’s lovely new face. And nothing would prove all those newborn holiday doubters right quite like taking home a 4-week old with oozing, blistery 3rd degree sunburn.

So if there is any point whatsoever in going on holiday, splitting up is absolutely essential, especially if you have older kids who want to be off swimming, fishing, snorkelling and recklessly launching themselves off 30 foot rocks. You’re just going to have to accept that at times you’ll have to take it in turns doing a bit of solitary shift work in the shade with the baby. Oh, but be careful. Turns out babies can burn in the shade too.

 

A Fresh Perspective

We haven’t done a proper blog post for some time now, mainly because our baby boy is finally here and we’ve been busy to say the least. He made his grand entrance at 3:21 pm on 25th of July and although the birth wasn’t exactly what you’d call textbook, both Mummy and baby are both fine and doing well.

We were pretty set on the name Leo for the last 3 or 4 months of the pregnancy, mainly because it’s the only one we could both agree one. We seem to have pretty different ideas in the baby names department. Some of the rejects included:

Katie’s:

Laurie

Sullivan

Arlo

Mine:

Alabaster

Alphamax

Krakenblood

So, Leo James Milward it was! We were both ecstatic to finally meet him and spent the next few weeks settling him into his new home. His big brother Finley stayed with us the previous weekend and was the perfect little dude as usual. He was massively excited ever since he found out we were expecting and didn’t stop talking about his new baby bro. He was really helpful around the house too which makes a nice change from leaving Lego everywhere and testing out his new Tai Kwon Do moves on me.

So, yeah. The pregnancy is over. The birthing has been done, and we now have a tiny new lodger in the house. I’m not going to go on and on about how much having a new baby changes your life, or about how powerful it is at putting things in to perspective. How it teaches you humility and to stop focussing on yourself so much. About how monumentally epic it feels to finally see and hold that little human being for the first time that’s been forming silently and invisibly for the last 9 months. I won’t talk about how that sense of being responsible for someone far more important than yourself gives your life a sense of urgency and wakefulness it never had before. None of that soppy bullshit. No, sir.

When you tell people without kids these things they’re either completely forthright in telling you your life is basically over, or they smile and nod and think it to themselves anyway. All they see is the crushing responsibility, the house rammed with toys, the mess, the smell of sick and shit and the fact you’re eternally chained down by this little miniature version of yourself. It’s impossible to fully convey the massive positive impact it has on you and your sense of wellbeing. The sense of purpose it gives you. It is kind of what we’re designed to do after all.

I guess that sounds quite patronising. Like I want to put a hand on their shoulder and smile wisely; “Ah, you simple fools. You’ll understand one day, my friends”. It’s not like being child-free and able to play video games and drink and smoke excessively and be single and work part-time isn’t pretty awesome too. It is. I remember. It’s fucking great! But trying to get across that feeling of being a Dad to someone who hasn’t experienced it is impossible. They just don’t believe you. How can drowning in nappies be better than drowning in tequila?

You go through your life trying to figure out what it is you’re doing, trying to find a reason for being here, shying away from commitment and responsibility whenever possible and then suddenly this little bag of helplessness drops into your life and instantly, without question, you leap into action: “This boy needs food damnit, he’s shit himself, pass me a nappy, we need money, the boy needs shoes, I must go to my horrible job and earn  some cash, see you in 14 hours.”

It’s amazing really. I’m by no means claiming that it solves all of life’s problems, of course it doesn’t. I think it’s the fact that it creates so many more urgent ones that it’s so powerful. I’ve never liked the phrase “try to keep busy”. Why would you TRY to keep busy?  Being busy is crap. But having a child suddenly gives you this massive weak spot. Having someone so innocent and defenceless that you care about so much gives you a huge area of vulnerability in your life, something that if lost would absolutely, momentously ruin you. It would break you irrevocably. So suddenly you have a fucking good reason to stay busy. And being busy with something that important drags you away from all the trivial shit you used to worry about.

It’s life changing in far more ways than just not being able to go out drinking or go on as many holidays.

So, yeah, quite liking this new guy.  At least that’s where I’m currently at, anyway. I’ll reassess and get back to you after a few more months of being waterboarded with vomit and kept awake all night by never-ending screaming.

How to Get Induced: A Moral Dilemma

40 weeks is a long time to wait for a baby. In my head if he didn’t come a couple of weeks early then he would at least arrive promptly on his due date, labour conveniently starting right when I would usually get up for work. I’d enjoy a much needed lie in while Katie contracted away quietly before we headed off to hospital. There’d be a few more hours of contractions that might be considered painful to mere mortals but would barely break a sweat for a powerhouse of womaninity like my wife.

After his gracious and timely emergence, his fresh face glowing and glistening in the afternoon sunshine, I would place him at my wife’s breast, The Circle of Life would somehow start playing softly in the background and we’d enter a new age of joyous, harmonious family life together.

What I hadn’t prepared for was sailing right past the 40 week mark without so much as a false labour or even a Braxton Hicks. Nearly a week overdue he continues to stay put, gleefully kicking the ever living shit out of my wife from the inside out. I suppose it’s her fault for cultivating such a hospitable womb for him. He’s not even been born and she’s already spoiling him. At this point it feels like she’s been pregnant for so long that I can’t remember anything different. Part of me genuinely believes this is life now; she’ll be pregnant forever. She’ll carry him internally into adulthood by which time technology will have advanced to the point that he’ll be able to get a job and live his entire life via some kind of video link from her uterus.

Raspberry leaf tea, hot curries, sex, walking, jumping, bouncing, and a literal gallon of pineapple juice later and he still won’t budge. Time to call in the big guns. Medical intervention is most definitely required at this point. That is why yesterday she went to the midwife for what is delightfully referred to as a “stretch and sweep”, which as far as I can tell is a very firm and vigorous NHS-administered fingering.

Katie had heard horrendous stories from her friends about this procedure and that it can be very painful, but apparently it wasn’t that big of a deal. Her friends obviously aren’t used to the goliath rocket-dong she is.

Anyway, we’re yet to see if the clinical finger-banging will get baby moving. What I really think she needs is a proper doctor-supervised intravenous dose of baby-inducing drugs. Which she was so God damn close to getting yesterday I could almost smell the amniotic fluid!

After receiving her medical muffin’ buffin’ and presumably the craving for a post-coital cigarette had worn off, the midwife went through the usual routine of testing her urine and measuring her bump. Urine tested fine, but the bump (and therefore the baby) didn’t appear to have grown for 2 weeks. Alarm bells instantly went off and the midwife called the hospital to try and get her booked in for an immediate scan. Was this it? Had she carried the baby for 41 weeks only to lose him? This did not sound good.

Within an hour we were sitting in the hospital consultant led unit and Katie had a number of sensors strapped to her belly and a little machine printing out a live chart. They also got her to press a button every time he kicked. They’d already asked us if the baby’s movements had been normal. He had been doing the minimum of 10 kicks every 2 hours but he had been moving less than normal recently. A concerned look on her face, the doctor left us in the monitoring bay.

I’m not really convinced the results at the end of the monitoring period were reflective of the baby’s normal movements, as he seemed to take quite a disliking to one of the sensors bearing down on him and spent the entire time trying to elbow it out of the way. Either way, we were sent upstairs for a scan and then sent back down to the consultant led unit to wait for nearly 2 hours for the doctor’s opinion of what was going on, and whether they’d send us home or begin the induction process.

After the first hour we realised we still had our notes folder with us, and that in order to be seen you had to hand it in at the department reception. We were essentially just hanging around in a hospital department that no one knew we were even in. Brilliant. Another hour later and a doctor finally came to see us who looked so young and timid she’d be better off at home building Lego Friends than in a career that involves taking people’s lives into her hands.

She informed us (in the corridor!) that she had read our notes, and that everything seemed to be “ok”. The baby measurements didn’t quite tally up, but he was a decent size. She didn’t seem that convinced though. She chewed on her pen as she re-read through the notes, clearly wondering what the next step was. “Please, just induce this little bastard out of her,” I kept thinking. I knew Katie was thinking the same thing. We both waited with baited breath. It was then we were presented with a bit of a moral dilemma.

“So, are you happy with the baby’s movements?”

This is something we kept getting asked, and was obviously a major factor in deciding whether everything was ok or not. As she asked, my wife and I both realised this would be the deciding factor of whether we would be sent home, potentially for another week, with no baby, or whether they would keep us in and chemically purge the little fucker out.

Katie and I looked at each other. Was it right to lie and say we were concerned our baby wasn’t moving enough so that we got to meet him sooner? Overall, Katie wasn’t concerned that he wasn’t moving enough. If anything she was concerned he was moving too much. An in-utero sedative might be a good next step if they weren’t going to induce him.

After a pause that felt like a lifetime and several glances back and forth between Katie and me, honesty prevailed. She told her she wasn’t concerned. Lying felt like bad karma, somehow. The doctor glanced through the notes again, probably distracted the first 2 times by the ever-present thought of the semi-constructed Heartlake High School Playset waiting for her at home. As expected, she decided to send us on our merry way.

So, the boy is still in there, an estimated 7 lbs and 12 ounces, kicking away, slightly less often, but harder than ever. The wait for baby continues.

 

Pregnancy Etiquette – twelve things you should NOT say to a pregnant woman.

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As my own pregnancy is coming to an end and little man cub is due any day now, I cant help but feel relieved that I wont have to stop myself round-housing people in the face. (Yes. I can still roundhouse at 9 months pregnant.)

 Everyone is excited about a new baby on the way – friends, family, neighbours and of course random people who feel the need to shoe horn their way into your personal life and make comments on your ‘situation’.

 After the initial fun of telling people who asked when I was due that I wasn’t pregnant (when I was clearly 6 months pregnant) wore off, I found myself getting more and more fed up with people’s desire to comment and inadvertently and unintentionally, offend.

 Here is a list of ACTUAL comments received by my pregnant friends and myself. I am sure you will agree my restraint has been outstanding…

 “Congratulations. Was it planned?” 

Did you plan on being a snide-y a-hole today? 

“Wow, you are getting big now!” 

 Thanks. There is only another 20 more weeks to go – I am aiming to go the full ‘Shamu’ by the end.

 “I didn’t recognise you!” 

 Pointing in someone’s face is rude at the best of times, let alone when the finger is being circled and looks judge-y. 

 “You look exhausted” 

 Yes, I am exhausted. I am still working full time, dealing with fuck-wits like you and growing a human. 

 “You don’t have much room left in those” 

Thank you for drawing my attention to my dungarees. I had forgotten I was pregnant and expanding and you pointing out that my baggiest most comfortable clothing item is soon to be defunct, has really made my day.

 “Still eating?

 It’s a friggin’ buffet. Of course I’m still eating and I’m not going to stop until the last sausage roll has gone.

 “How are you? Tired? Oh, you wait!” 

I’m fully aware that I will be soon having less sleep. but that does not mean I am not tired now. I play pillow jenga every night trying to get comfortable and pee at least 17 times before 3am. 

“When I gave birth I tore front to back”

 Thank you for enabling me to imagine your destroyed and mangled vagina.

 “Ah, you have the pregnant waddle now, It’s your thighs rubbing together. 

 No. Just, no. You cruel bastard. 

 “Have you thought of any names? Oh. I don’t like it.” 

Oh you don’t like it? Shit. What do you like? Let me make sure YOU are happy with the name of my future child. You are THAT important to me. 

 “Are you sure it’s not twins?”

No, it’s not twins. But it is one giant baby that is so huge that he will have to live in my uterus forever, for I will never be able to push it out of my tiny she-bits. Thanks for noticing. 

“Don’t worry, the weight will drop right off you!”

 What if it doesn’t? That is a sure fire way to put a shit ton of pressure on a new mum to get back into shape. It also means that when I’m caught eating my fourth cream cake that I will feel judged. Most probably and ironically, by people much larger than me. 

 If you know someone who is creating a life force in their uterus, spare a thought for their feelings and just tell them they are doing a good job. Then buy them ice cream and walk away.