Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: dads talking (page 2 of 2)

A dad’s view of miscarriage – Ben Wakeling

I’m delighted to welcome author and dad blogger Ben Wakeling to the blog today for the next post in the series of dads sharing their perspective on miscarriage. My wife bought me one of Ben’s books just before Matilda was born and quite honestly Goodbye Pert Breasts should be a must read for all expectant dads, you’ll not find a funnier perspective on what it’s like being a dad. Although I will mention that I haven’t yet seen conclusive proof that he is indeed real and not another pen name of JK Rowling seeing as he appears to shun all public occasions even when he’s nominated for yet another blogging award.

But no matter his real identify here is his story.

The Rose in the Park

Even though it was six years ago, I remember it as if it was yesterday: my wife’s ashen face as she came back from the toilet to say that she was bleeding, the numb feeling of impending heartache, the hurried drive to the hospital.

Nine weeks earlier I had been sitting at my desk when Jess rang me.

“Do you want to hear something which will stop you from doing any work for the rest of the day?” she says, and then proceeds to tell me that we are expecting our second child. Isaac, our first, was just over a year old at the time, and we were looking forward to welcoming his little brother or sister.

Nine weeks later, on Boxing Day, we found ourselves sitting in a small side room of a hospital ward in front of a doctor who was telling us that we had suffered a miscarriage. Although we were expecting the worst, it still hit us hard. We returned home, where my mother-in-law was babysitting Isaac, and Jess cried in her arms for hours.

It was early in the pregnancy, I know; and, through my subsequent work with the charity SANDS, I am well aware that it could have been much worse. It was still painful, though. Even though we’d only known that we were going to be parents again for a few weeks, we were already imagining the nursery, and thinking up baby names, and wondering how we were going to cope with two children in a one-bedroom flat.

Then, one day, it was all gone, and we were left to try and understand why it happened and live in the vapours of dreams which had evaporated against our will. Some family members sent messages of support; others felt so awkward they avoided mentioning the subject altogether. Jess and I talked about it a lot – it’s important, I think, to not keep things bottled up.

When the doctor first informed us of our miscarriage he asked us what we wanted to do with the ‘products’, as he so affectionately called our child. At the time, we were still reeling from the news, and so told him that the hospital could dispose of it. A couple of days later, we rethought, and met with Laura back at the hospital. I can’t remember her job title, or even her surname, but she was one of the most compassionate people I have ever met, and I’ll forever be in her debt for the kindness she showed us. She gave us a tiny plastic box, containing our child, and we took it home.

The next day was a Sunday, and the sun was barely up when Jess, Isaac and I walked through the local park to a small group of trees. As early morning joggers and dog walkers meandered past, we buried our child beneath a rose bush which we had bought the night before. I have a photograph which Jess took of me carrying Isaac as we walked away, and he’s looking over my shoulder. His expression is one of slight confusion twinged with sadness; he can’t fathom what has happened, but is sensing the loss.

Ben Wakeling

Six years (and two more children) later, Jess and I sometimes talk about what might have been. We have long since come to terms with the grief, but it remains a painful memory. And, whenever we go down to the park and push our children on the swings, I look over at the rose bush which thrives by the trees and give a silent nod.

Thanks again to Ben for sharing his story, if you’d like to read the other posts in this series you can do so here. You could also sponsor me for my attempt to run 100km to raise money for Tommy’s and fund research into miscarriage and stillbirth.

A dad’s view of miscarriage – Noddy Holder

This is going to be hopefully the first in a series of guest posts from dads about their experience of miscarriage as I build up towards taking on the Race to the Stones in July to raise money for Tommy’s. I thought it would be interesting to get other dads to share their viewpoint as I did a few weeks ago. Given that physically the miscarriage isn’t happening to us we have a difference perspective and I hope that by sharing here it may help other dads who are going through something similar.

The first person to volunteer to tell their story is Noddy Holder (which I assume isn’t his real name!), he writes a blog called Potted Noodle and I think you’ll agree after reading that this is a very honest and brave post so do please show him some love. If you’re a dad reading this and you’d like to write a post about miscarriage then let me know. Finally if you’d like to support my attempt to run 100km to raise money for Tommy’s then you can find my fundraising page here.

miscarriage
mɪsˈkarɪdʒ,ˈmɪskarɪdʒ/
noun
noun: miscarriage; plural noun: miscarriages
1. the spontaneous or unplanned expulsion of a fetus from the womb before it is able to survive independently.
“his wife had a miscarriage”
synonyms: spontaneous abortion, stillbirth
2. an unsuccessful outcome of something planned.
“the miscarriage of the project”
synonyms: failure, foundering, ruin, ruination, collapse, breakdown, thwarting, frustration, undoing, reversal, setback, unsuccessfulness, aborting, non-fulfilment, misfiring, mismanagement, perversion

So there you have it in black and white and so far as definition 1 above quite shockingly plain English. I’d never realised how common an occurrence they were until R and I had one a year for three years and slowly but surely folk came out with their own stories of loss and eventually hope. I’ve been asked to write a little about how it felt from the man’s perspective and this is it.

R and I met in June 2009, by the September were living together and in the October we were on holiday in Lanzarote. It was on that holiday that we made the decision that R should stop taking the pill and we’d ‘give it a go’, neither of us were young so far as having children was concerned so time was of the essence and hey we kind of liked each other…

Almost immediately R fell pregnant, this was amazing and I remember feeling elated that

(a) We’d created new life that would be our child

and

(b) My testicles actually worked!!

Point ‘b’ may seem a little childish but I can’t tell you the relief of knowing that my undercarriage actually functioned as it should.

So fast forward to around ten weeks and R starting bleeding, steadily bleeding. I remember pacing round our living room demanding that surely that the midwives should or could do something…anything and wishing that Google and it’s plethora of information didn’t exist because then I wouldn’t know that this bleeding was most likely the start of a miscarriage. Alas it was and a few days later R’s body ‘passed the products’ of the pregnancy, rather morbidly she retained the little sack for the midwives as requested (not that they ever came to see) and for me to see when I returned from Bristol after working up there for the day. It reminded me of the body of a small squid, we were heartbroken, upset and in disbelief that we’d had a miscarriage.

So far as I was concerned miscarriages happened in soap operas much like plane crashes or meteor strikes, they exist just not in ‘real’ life. I did all I could to support R emotionally and physically over the weeks afterwards until the physical signs had gone and all that was left was wondering about what could have been.

Moving on another year and, after lots of disappointing months of periods arriving like clockwork R and I started using a Clearblue fertility monitor. It basically meant I knew what day of her cycle R was on and, when the indications were right it was ‘time’. If I say that sex became a bit of a chore as it was so premeditated maybe you’ll get the picture. Again at around the same time as pregnancy number one R thought she might be pregnant as she was late, but then one evening whilst cooking dinner she told me through floods of tears she’d had a heavy bleed with ‘something in it’. So that was that we thought but, after speaking to the local midwives we were advised to go for an emergency scan.

A very brusque Doctor with little joy in his life ushered us into a side room, pressed zoom a few times and zoomed in on a heartbeat! We were amazed, absolutely amazed and left with the news R was around eight weeks pregnant and everything looked ok. There was some suggestion that the first bleed might have been a twin but we were just elated that there was a pregnancy and the excitement grew up to our twelve week scan date.

We were again blessed with a stroppy sonographer who berated R for still having belly bar in and was quite off with us, her attitude changed within a few seconds of starting the scan. We all three stared at the screen from our various vantage points looking for our little collection of cells and it’s heartbeat but there was no telltale flicker on the screen. That little heart had stopped beating.

We had second opinions, an internal scan (which looked thoroughly unpleasant and uncomfortable) and with the miscarriage confirmed we were taken away from the other happy expectant folk in the waiting room to a side room somewhere. We were eventually sent on our way with kind words, a leaflet with pansies on the front about grief and guidance of the options to R to ‘get rid’ of the products (yup that word again) had ‘gone’.

R elected to go home and let nature take its course naturally as she didn’t fancy surgical procedure or drugs. Those days waiting were strange, disconcerting and emotionally draining but came to a head early one Monday morning as I awoke to R’s guttural moans from the living room. She was clearly in horrific pain and was bleeding quite heavily, she’d decided not to wake me as I had to go to work but this had all kicked off two hours previously!!

A couple of phone calls to the local midwives and then the maternity unit (80 minutes drive away) and I was advised to call 999, there’s something very grown up about pressing those hallowed numbers but within around five minutes we had an ambulance with two lovely technicians and R was eventually (after more heavy bleeding) put in the ambulance for the trip to Exeter. What I didn’t find out until later was that the ambulance had to stop due to R’s blood loss en route as they were very concerned so it was a blue light run to Exeter.

What I did next I can’t explain, I went to the loo (routine what can I say), had a shave, got dressed and then drove to the hospital. Don’t ask why but it seemed the right thing to do at the time, a bit like the bag I packed for R that included a thong rather than the ‘big pants’ that would have been a little more practical. Perhaps I was in shock?

It turned out that R’s cervix had become blocked so as much as her body tried it was struggling to pass the products of pregnancy. Believe me when I say that day I saw things that would make many a student doctor blanch!

We’re perhaps fortunate in our household to make a joke of anything and everything, it’s how I (and many others) cope in times of stress. We cried together, I often cried alone but slowly and surely we put ourselves back together again and distracted ourselves with wine, holidays and work. I found it tougher than the first time and remember being especially annoyed at the NHS not wanting to offer any tests or support until we’d had three miscarriages. THREE?!?

So (and there’s a pattern emerging here) we again lived by the monitor, that monitor controlled our sex life once more to the point that the whole act at times became little more than a biological transaction. If that sounds harsh then it should, I longed for spontaneity and (as I’d now call it) ‘leisure sex’ that’s about mutual enjoyment rather than reproduction. We even laughed at the amount of years we’d tried to avoid pregnancies and now it was all we were trying to achieve!!

Eventually we were pregnant once more, R went through a dry (and at times tedious) Christmas and we soldiered on in the hope that this time was the one whilst joking privately that at least this time we’d get some tests done if / when the house of cards came tumbling down. Those cards did indeed come down once more at a scan where we were told that there was ‘nothing’ there and the pregnancy must have stopped growing at around ten weeks. I swear my heart broke a little and as I supported R I wondered what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t be a Father. Luckily (if you can use that word) there wasn’t the drama or ambulance ride as this time nature took care of everything which was confirmed with yet another scan.

Following that final miscarriage we had tests, it was around 3 vials of my blood and 11 of R’s along with a chat. A bloody chat, all the money we pay in taxes and we got a chat. I was fuming, absolutely livid. I don’t know what I expected them to do but I expected more. Alot more.

In summary the three miscarriages very nearly broke us, it hit me harder than I ever realised and it’s only in the last six months R admitted she was on the brink of leaving me. The black dog followed me relentlessly wherever I went, people with babies became ‘smug parents’ women or couples with a baby bump became ‘smug pregnants’ and as much as I love ‘One Born Every Minute’ on Channel Four it brought me to floods of tears every week. Looking back I must have been hell to live with yet R persevered, she’d come home from work and I wouldn’t speak, I’d snap about anything and nothing, the miscarriages had slowly brought me to my knees. Whenever I think of those dark days I have to thank her for her dedication / lunacy and for sticking by my side, I’ve never felt the love I have for her with any other person on this planet and strongly believe adversity has made these bonds stronger.

If I could offer advice to anyone else that’s suffered unexplained miscarriage even on repeated occasions it’d be don’t ever give up hope that one day your dream will come true.

On Friday November 22nd 2013 at 08:43 our dream came true, our beautiful son Noah Ace came into our lives and all the hurt and pain was put so far from our memories as to not to dampen our days anymore. I can happily say it was all worth it but we’ll never ever forget those three extra stars in the night sky.

I really love to cuddle him and feel the prickles on his chin

This is a review post

We have a book called ‘I love my daddy’ which I of course take great pleasure in reading and asking Matilda if she loves her daddy like the girl in the book. Matilda loves the fact that the girl has a bunny just like her AND the daddy in the book is just like me. You know, handsome, talented, funny and makes awesome pancakes (the last one is at least true). One of the last pages in the book says ‘I really love to cuddle him and feel the prickles on his chin’ and when reading this Matilda of course feels my chin.

Braun series 3 razorNow being a blonde person I don’t really get a huge amount of stubble and can only grow a poor excuse for a beard, but I still love her rubbing my chin to see if I’m prickly. Which brings me onto the challenge that Braun have given me. They claim that their new series 3 shaver can tackle 3 day stubble and leave a smooth finish. I was a little intrigued by this as I’ve always been a wet shave man believing the might of the triple blade razor to be better than a machine any day. But of course willing to take them up on their offer.

So for the last 3 days I have been doing everything I can to make my stubble grow as long and tough as possible. I’ve visualised desperate dan in the hope my body will emulate his sandpaper face, I’ve eaten salmon and walnuts which apparently make hair grow thicker and I’ve rubbed a special oil on my chin every evening to give the hair some extra strength.

I then used the shiny new shaver (my first ever electric one) and asked the Simon Cowell of stubble judges, Matilda, to give her expert opinion on the finish. The first 3 times I asked her she told me to “get off daddy” but then I finally persuaded her to actually feel my chin and she said it was “good for tickling” which I’m going to take as a good thing. It certainly felt better to me than I expected and with a little practise would probably be even better.

Braun series 3

I’ll be honest and say that I don’t think I’ll ever convert completely from my wet shave, I enjoy the whole process too much and I don’t think an electric shaver will ever beat a wet shave done well. But I have started using this Braun shaver more regularly than I expected, it came in particularly handy when I ran to work the other day having left my car at work the prior day after my Christmas party. Having this shaver meant I didn’t need to try to find a suitable mirror and sink at work to use to shave. Instead I simply used the shaver while having my shower and I’ll never complain about being able to spend longer in the shower!

In fact I’ve actually found the shaver works better in the shower than after it and I’ve been able to get a better finish that way. I even managed to avoid leaving nice patches of stubble like I did the first time I used it. I don’t have other electric shavers to compare this to but I am impressed with how well it worked and price wise is fairly reasonable too. Given the time of the year perhaps a good present idea for the hard working dad in your life?

I’d like to give a special mention here to the PR people who sent me the shaver, they could have just sent a boring box with the shaver in it. But instead they sent it in a beautiful box with a snow globe and some chocolate coins for the children. They absolutely love the snow globe and such a nice touch, top marks.

Story of mum – the dad edition

You may remember from my post about Britmum’s live that one of the few sessions I truly enjoyed was that run by Pippa from Story of Mum. I had the pleasure of chatting with her over a beer in the evening about the Story of Mum exhibition and quite honestly I loved it. I loved the idea of mum’s doing something together to remind the world that they’re not just mum’s, they are a whole bunch of other things too and shouldn’t be defined by that one word.

Now you may wonder what the hell this has got to do with a dad who writes a blog? Well this awesome exhibition is on it’s holiday’s at the moment and is visiting a different blog each day. That blogger then gets the chance to add something to the exhibition. Which is where I come in with a world exclusive. Yes, that’s right for the first time a dad is hosting this exhibition. Yours truly and I definitely don’t feel under any pressure to get this right, no sireee!

First the curate bit

Here I’m required to share something from the exhibition galleries, there are many photos, videos and poems written by mum’s in the exhibition but one really grabbed my attention. This beautiful video by Betty B describes so well the emotional rollercoaster I’ve seen the lady of the manor experience in her time as a mum. But I like how through all the challenges Betty sounds so excited and passionate about being a mum. Yes she is many other things as well but she’s proud of being a mum and all that comes with it.

Do take time to watch this video and also have a look at the many other wonderful entries into the exhibition that you can find on the Story of Mum website.

Now the create bit

So now the tough bit, my entry into the exhibition, I feel very honoured to be the first dad hosting this so I hope my entry can live up to the challenge. I did think about getting a photo of the lady of the manor in here with her ‘I’m a mum and…’ entry, but actually I’d like to share the below prose with you which captures how this dad see’s mums and one mum in particular who amazes me every day.

Mum.  Mother. Mummy.

Many names but the same meaning, a loss of identify, of personality.

But deep down it’s still there, a glimmer every so often of a life that seems so long ago.

The tidal wave of parenthood takes over, washes you out, strips you down.

But you don’t panic, you stay calm, fight the urge to scream. Mostly.

One day you decide enough, you take control, you restore the balance.

The same person, but different, that smile returns. A glint in your eye.

A reminder of where it began. This adventure we embarked on together.

My best friend, cake baker extraordinaire, owner of the best smile in the west, red wine lover, Peanut M&M addict.

Oh and greatest mum in the world. 

story of mum exhibition

This isn’t how it’s supposed to be

I don’t want to be angry.

I don’t want to resent spending time with you, I shouldn’t feel like playing with you is wasted time, that there is something better to do.

But it’s hard, full days at work then often meetings in the evening. Trying to provide for my family so they don’t have to worry about food on the table. Making sure I ‘grow’ and ‘work on my development areas’ so that at the next appraisal I get a pay rise, any pay rise.

Fitting in the ‘me time’ when only the birds are awake, dragging myself out of bed to get my much needed fix of running. But even this time isn’t sacred, a downward spiral of who can get up the earliest where soon I might as well not go to bed.

I shouldn’t get annoyed at you for this but I do just like when you grab my leg and start whining to be picked up when I’m trying to write a blog. I shouldn’t, but I do and I hate myself for it.

One cheeky smile or seeing you ride around the house on your trucker and the guilt hits me. This shouldn’t be about me.

But sometimes it feels like it needs to be.

I don’t want to be angry.

Review: The Expectant Dad’s Handbook

I was sent a copy of this book to review, but these truly are my own words and opinions. 

I’ve known Dean, the author of this book, for quite a while. When I say known I of course mean in the social media sense where we have chatted all things baby since before Matilda was born I think. So when he asked me to review a copy of his new book I was of course happy to oblige.

Daddynatal bookFor those of you that don’t know Dean, he’s the first professional male antenatal teacher in the UK and has his own business called Daddynatal that offers antenatal classes specifically aimed at dads. Having been through NCT antenatal classes and tried to find information as an expectant and new dad I realise that more can definitely be done to support dads as they become parents. Something that Dean is trying to address through the classes he runs and now his book.

The book is exactly as I expected it to be, it covers everything about birth and the birthing process but from the perspective of a dad. There is of course the information about types of birth, interventions etc that you would expect. But more importantly there is advice aimed specifically at dads and the role that we can play in the birth process.

I share Dean’s approach to being a parent and that is any expectant parent should be given the information they need to make an informed choice on what they want the birth to be like. We are all different and in my opinion any good antenatal teacher or book shouldn’t try to convince you that there is a ‘right’ way. Dean writes each section from this perspective, the advantages and disadvantages are given to help you come to your own choice. I think dad’s need to make sure they know these things so they can be part of the birth plan decisions and of course be their partners advocate during birth.

The final section of the book deals with life after birth with advice on how to support your partner feeding and ways you can help calm or soothe your baby amongst other things. I like that it also doesn’t just deal with the physical part of having a baby it also addresses the emotional, both for the dad and perhaps more importantly the mother and what the dad can do to support her.

I’m not surprised that I enjoyed reading this book, but I am really happy that Dean has written it. If you are dad to be or know one this is one book you should definitely read. It’ll also be a great resource to keep on your bookshelf and refer back to in the future.

Dear Henry…Happy 1st Birthday

Dear Henry,

Henry just born

Today is your first birthday,  a year that has seemed to fly by as I guess it inevitably does when you are the 2nd child. It seems such a long time ago that I was on paternity leave and we were trying to figure out why you weren’t happy or settling. Keen to outshine your older sister already you had what the midwife described as ‘the thickest tongue tie I have ever seen’. Top marks for that one my boy.

Looking back at the little purple thing in the photos from the hospital where you gave us such a scare with the cord around your neck it’s incredible to see you now. This big, strong, determined one year old who does his best to keep up with his crazy older sister.

Now you are so different to that angry little boy who took ages to fall asleep and just wanted to sleep on either me or your mum. Sure you have that temper still, which I’m blaming on your mum’s red head genes, but you really are the happiest baby I know. Always smiling and laughing, flashing us a cheeky grin when you’re being naughty. Even being constantly pushed around and told off by Matilda doesn’t put a dampener on things, maybe you’ve inherited my optimistic outlook on life?

Henry on trucker

I love that you are now becoming a bit more of a daddies boy, crawling over to me when I get home and asking to be picked up. Your also give the greatest cuddles, completely unprompted you just snuggle your head in and press your body against mine. I can’t wait to have more father son bonding time, perhaps we can start taking Bracken out together or going on bike rides?

A year seems such a long time for someone so little, but it really is just the beginning. Soon you will be walking and talking, chasing your sister around the garden and throwing sticks for Bracken. Then who knows where your life will take you, but you can be sure of one thing, whatever you want to do or wherever you want to go I will be there supporting you.

Follow your dreams little dude.

Love

Dad

 

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