Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: newborn (page 1 of 2)

Survival

It’s ok, call off the search party I’m alive and well I’ve just been a little busy. I’d have liked to have written a few more blog posts recently but it turns out having 3 children and a busy job doesn’t leave much time for anything else. To be quite honest when it comes to the evening I don’t have the brain power left to string words together into something intelligible and if I did most evenings have involved either carrying around a little baby or having one sleeping on me. Which is why it’s almost a month since my last post both here and on my running blog.

The past few weeks have been quite intense, Rupert has had a string of colds thanks to his brother and sister being very affectionate and wanting to share everything including their snot and sneezes. This has meant most evenings have involved a lot of pacing the house trying to settle him while he screams at us. Not much fun and very testing when you’re tired, not to mention the fact that it makes it impossible to get anything done in the evening. All you want to do is collapse on the sofa and drink a cup of tea in peace but instead you spend 2 hours tidying, sorting out the washing, putting the bins out, making lunches for the next day the list goes on.

Thankfully we seem to be making progress this week *touches everything wooden in the house*, partly I think just due to him getting older and with it being more relaxed and also wanting to have awake time, but we also went to see the Osteopath. We’d done the same with Henry and is something I’d recommend to all new parents, I’m a huge sceptic on some of these treatments but the magic that an Osteopath performs seems to have a real impact. I like it because it’s such a gentle treatment but it releases any pressure points or tight spots the baby may have. Birth is clearly a tough event for a baby so it’s not surprising they sometimes need a little help adjusting. With both Henry and Rupert the change was very noticeable, within a day or so Rupert was already calmer and happier. The screaming was mainly gone and we now get some lovely awake time full of smiles and gurgles.

Our next challenge is getting him to be willing to sleep somewhere other than on us during the day so that maybe we can eat a meal without him either being fed or rocked while he cries. I love having time to cuddle him (we had a lovely nap together in an armchair on Sunday afternoon doing just that) but it would also be nice to have the option of him sleeping in his moses basket so that the lady of the manor and I can get some time together again.

What’s interesting about doing this for the 3rd time is we know there will come a time when it changes, we know there is hope and that makes it less scary or hard to deal with. I can remember having similar feelings when Matilda was a baby and it was just so daunting not knowing how long it could continue. Not to mention the fact that we now have 20 different solutions to dealing with crying having been through it before, things you have no clue about the first time.

Although it’s still possible to send yourself mad as you come up with a new theory about why your baby isn’t sleeping, the lady of the manor is the master at this. She’ll come down in the morning and announce her new theory ‘I think he’s getting cold, let’s use a grobag’ or ‘I’m going to wedge a pillow under his head tonight because I think he likes sleeping on an angle’. You go through all those solutions until most likely you end up back where you started and then you go back through them all again. Maybe one day you will splat the rat and your baby sleeps 12 hours a night every night, then of course you can write a book about it and make millions selling it to other sleep deprived parents who are also looking for the reason why their baby isn’t sleeping.

Until then I shall just continue enjoying my cuddles while he’s still a baby and needs us so much.

Rupert

The party is over

This is it, the party is over, 2 and a bit weeks of glorious paternity leave are finished and it’s back to reality tomorrow. I’ll be honest I bought a few Euromillions tickets last week in the hope that maybe I could extend my time off but alas no luck and the bills won’t get paid because I’m a good dad will they? Like when Henry was born one of the best things about being on paternity leave is actually having time with the older children. Matilda and I spent so much time together while the lady of the manor looked after Henry, we walked Bracken every day and did bath time together it was just great. What dad doesn’t love the thought of waking up and playing with his kids every day?

This time was similar, most days I’d get up with Matilda and Henry to do breakfast and then take food up to the lady of the manor so she could eat and feed. Having 2 weeks holiday is always great but I think being ok with living life as normal rather than trying to have a ‘holiday’ makes it better. You just do regular activities but do them together when normally things like taking Bracken out normally get fitted around everything else. You have time (not much with a baby in the house but some at least) to do all those things you want to do at a weekend but never get around to.

We did Halloween craft and I got to join all our NCT mum friends at a Halloween party, we walked the dog, we jumped in puddles and played in the forest, we baked bread and cooked, we had many many games of hide and seek, we snuggled on the sofa watching TV when it was cold, we did jobs in the garden with nanna and gramps, we went swimming played on the swings, we went to the kids first ever fireworks display and tried candy floss. The list goes on and actually despite all the sleepless nights and moments of chaos where we wanted to scream it’s fun and I think we’ve done an awful lot.

Don’t tell the kids but we may also have taken advantage of their preschool days to go out for coffee and cake and pretend that we only have 1 small baby for a while. No need to persuade 2 children to sit still and eat their food without knocking drinks over and most of all some peace without all the questions. We all need some of that down time as parents don’t we?

Rupert is in general a very chilled and happy baby and so strong! He’s 3 weeks old on Wednesday and already is holding his head up and moving onto his side when lying on the floor. He’s also packing on pounds, at 11 days old he weighed 10lb’s vs. his birth weight of 9lb 6oz so clearly mummies milk is gold top. Still weighting to see if he ends up a blondie like me and Matilda and Henry, the lady of the manor is hoping he’s going to be a red head like her but no signs of that yet.

I’m not sure how the kids are going to react to me not being around, there are already murmurings about not wanting me to go to work, but they’ll adjust again I’m sure. Certainly isn’t going to make sitting in an office again any easier, but I do at least have some great memories to take with me. I do hope also that Matilda and Henry have enjoyed it fully too, there has probably been a few too many shouty moments born out of tiredness and frustration on my part. I didn’t run much at the start, there was just no way to fit it in and that just makes me grumpy without the broken sleep also. We’ve tried to give them lots of attention and not just focus on Rupert but it’s not easy is it? Having a newborn can be quite intense and demanding and all consuming if you let it.

As I’m falling asleep writing this I’m going to hit publish and try to get some sleep before attempting to get out of the door for work tomorrow for the first time in 2.5 weeks. An attempt that also includes a preschool drop off for Matilda, wish me luck!

A moment

Ben and Henry cuddling

A moment of peace, calm in the eye of the storm.

A moment to bond, say hello, connect.

These moments are brief but magical, full of questions.

What will you be like? Another blondie perhaps? Or maybe a fiery red head?

Little hints begin to break the surface, each ripple created sets off the guessing game.

The twinkle in your wide eyes, the merest flicker of a smile, the mellow outlook.

Some family traits holding strong, but always unique, one of a kind.

No matter what you’ll be loved wee boy, suffocating so at times, but always loved.

Welcome to the chaos, you’re going to love it.

 

And then there were five

I have now been a dad to 3 for 4 whole days, in fact counting to 4 is about all my brain can cope with at the moment after 3 nights with a newborn. I did have 4 hours straight sleep last night though which felt like heaven, funny how quickly your perspectives change isn’t it? But after keeping us waiting for 6 days past his due date our baby boy finally arrived on Wednesday 22nd October weighing a mighty 9lb 6oz’s. I shan’t give you a blow by blow birth story other than to say the lady of the manor was awesome, she also enjoyed the full spa treatment at the birthing centre with a massage before a quick pedicure (removing nail polish from your wife’s toes while she’s in labour isn’t something they teach you on a NCT course) and then a dip in the jacuzzi.

But without further ado I give you the youngest heir to the Fool’s kingdom; Rupert

 Ben and Rupert first cuddle

He’s a bit of a cutey isn’t he? Such a chilled out little dude too, cries a little when hungry or wants his nappy change but other than that just sits quietly taking the world in. He doesn’t seem phased at all by the chaos around him as his noisy brother and sister play in the noisy way that only small children know how. Certainly doesn’t seem to stop him sleeping either, I think he’s going to be able to sleep through anything given how noisy it’s been from day 1.

It’s probably a bit of an understatement to say that Matilda and Henry love him; he’s certainly not been short of cuddles and kisses from them and do an excellent job of sitting ever so still on the sofa so that they can hold him. We got home after they’d gone to bed on the day he was born so the first time they met him was in our bed the next day, Henry just ran straight up and started giving him kisses, Matilda was a little more apprehensive though. We just gave her space during the day to decide when she was ready to meet him properly, no point in trying to force these things is there after all she got her stubbornness from her daddy. It took half the day before she asked if she could hold him and then she sat for 20 minutes without moving a muscle while he sat on her lap; there can be few moments as a parent that are as happy as that.

Henry and Rupert meeting

Matilda and Rupert cuddling

We’re slowing settling into our new routines and roles in the house, finding the new balance now there is an extra person house. A little bit of trial error to find what works and what doesn’t including learning that I don’t make the lunch boxes as well as the lady of the manor. But the children seem very excited about having me home which is of course fab and I have another 2 weeks of paternity leave left (I’ve taken holiday, who can really afford to take leave at statutory pay?).

We’ve been talking about all the things we can do over the next 2 weeks, saying things like ‘we could do that when I’m on paternity leave’, but the reality is that survival is the main objective at the start isn’t it? Hopefully we’ll get a couple of day trips in but I think the kids will be just as happy with playing hide and seek in the garden followed by snuggling up watching a movie. The one thing we will most definitely be doing is grabbing a coffee with just Rupert for company when Matilda and Henry are at preschool. Going to be a while before we get that chance again.

Let the fun begin.

5 skills all new dads need to perfect

As I sit here potentially hours away from meeting the 3rd in line to my empire (a house with a big mortgage, an old Toyota Yaris and a years supply of running clothes) I thought it would be a good moment to share some advice to new dads. As a veteran dad and parenting expert (i.e. I have 2 children) I think I’m perfectly placed to share some words of wisdom.

I thought I’d start with the top 5 skills all new dads need to perfect, essential skills that will see you through those first chaotic months as a new parent and establish you as the alpha male in your NCT group. Knowledge is power people.

  1. How to sniff a nappy – Changing a small babies nappy is never an easy task, same goes for undoing the poppers on a baby grow so you really want to minimize the number of times you do it. The answer is to develop your sense of smell so that with one short sniff you can identify exactly what is in the nappy. As your skills develop you’ll also be able to tell the difference between gas and a true dirty nappy.
  2. Monitoring and describing poo – A direct link to the above, it’s amazing how quickly as a new parent 80% of your conversations revolve around bowel movements. You become obsessed with the colour, size, consistency and frequency and are perfectly happy to discuss those details with your partner while eating your dinner. Being able to accurately describe the contents of all your child’s nappies for a given period is an essential skill for any dad and also allows you to play true top trumps with your fellow new parents and see who was had the worst poo related incident.
  3. Terminology – We all know that knowing the lingo is an important skill in any situation, in the parenting world you can convince people of your parenting prowess by throwing in buzz words such as ‘attachment parenting’ and ‘self regulation’ casually to conversations. At a more basic level it’s also important to know that it is a muslin and not a Muslim as the lady of the manor often calls them. No one wants to shout across Mothercare ‘honey do we want a white or coloured Muslim do they?
  4. How to not hear baby cries at night – I think dads have evolved to have selective hearing at night, at least that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. But dads there is a very important skill here, you need to be awake enough to offer to go to the baby crying but not too awake that you offer before you partner is getting out of bed already. Don’t forget it’s important for us dads to get our beauty sleep, after all we are the hunter gatherers of the family, the ones who provide right?
  5. Efficient burping technique – Being able to extract that awkward trapped wind that has made your baby wriggle, moan and cry for the last hour is a true super hero skill. It requires more than brunt force, there needs to be technique and precision. A careful balance of gently bouncing around while aiming the pats are the precise spot of the back to have the maximum effect. Not too hard that it could hurt your baby but hard enough to encourage that burp up to their mouth. Advanced skills involve combining the bouncing/patting with some leg bends while they lie on their backs.

Did I miss any? What skills do you think every new dad needs to learn?

Entering the red zone – round 3

Alex 33 weeksThis is it, we’re entering the red zone, 4 weeks and counting until due date which means it’s entirely feasible baby boy could arrive at any time. Scary. We’ve done this twice already so there isn’t that fear of the unknown, of what birth will be like and how it will feel to hold him for the first time. But I’m still nervous. Nervous I think about the reality of having a newborn again and of having 3 children. The latter is perhaps the most scary, the first few days with a new baby are always chaotic but with 2 other children to think about also it’s likely to be even worse. I’m sure we’ll settle into a routine soon enough but I can imagine our patience will be tested, little steps each day though right?

I really hope Matilda and Henry get on with their new brother, I think they will, they talk about helping him do things. Matilda tells us that she’s going to hold his hand when we cross the road, which is far too cute. But you never know do you? You never know exactly how they’re going to react to a baby having our attention a lot of the time rather than them. When Henry was born we made sure to give Matilda attention and also not just ignore her whenever he cried, we had a plan for integrating but this time we’re going more on feel. Perhaps that’s what happens when you’ve been parents for a while? You sweat the small stuff less and learn to adapt as you go along rather than assuring yourself that your grand plan will work.

However I did come across this photo while writing this post, even at 14 months old Matilda loved having a brother, let’s hope it’s the same 2nd time around.

Matilda with a new born Henry

We’ve decided to have a home birth this time, in fact we decided that with Henry too but there was no midwife available in the end on the day he was born, so this time we’re hoping to have more luck. What I love is that the midwives we’ve had this time and with Henry have always been so positive and excited about a home birth, they’re all 40+ so maybe they like someone who doesn’t want a birth surrounded by hospital machines? I’ll be honest, a home birth does make me a little uneasy, I like the vision of a baby born at night and having Matilda and Henry come down in the morning to meet him. But I worry about the what if; our first 2 births have been pretty straightforward but you who knows what will happen this time. Plus of course there is the ‘stuff’, the bodily fluids and all that *shudders*, the lady of the manor is a nurse so has seen far worse, I on the other hand am a little squeamish. I also have visions of turning around and finding Bracken trying to eat it and running off with a piece of placenta in his mouth when we try to stop him.

Planning for the birth has so far involved working out the many permutations of what the children could be doing and who will help look after them if we need it. We’ve also packed an overnight bag for them and the lady of the manor. Finally I’ve bought enough plastic sheeting to cover the whole of the downstairs in preparation for all the ‘stuff’, the only thing left to order is the birthing pool. We did have some debate over the pool when I discovered it takes 3 whole tanks of water to fill, but apparently the fact we’re on a water meter shouldn’t dictate the birth plan.

Now we wait……..

Worry

I’d forgotten about all the worrying you do with a newborn. Of course I still worry about Matilda, that’s never going to end is it? But it’s different now with her, the fundamental things I know are ok. I know she’s eating well, sleeping, is happy, is developing. Instead I worry she’ll fall and hurt herself or I’ll lose her when she starts walking.

With Henry it’s different, he’s so small and vulnerable. These first few weeks are so important to his development and yet you have to try to interpret his behaviour to know if he is happy or not.

So we worry, is he getting enough to eat? Is he too hot or too cold? It’s been really hot so is he getting enough liquids? Does the lady of the manor’s milk have enough calories in? Is he crying because he has wind? Or is he still hungry? Or just tired and grumpy?

Seriously even a sensible person can send themselves mad can’t they? And there was me thinking it would be easier the second time around. But aside from having more tricks and techniques to try it really is starting afresh. Having to relearn what he does when he’s hungry, what the cry for change my nappy is rather than I’m tired. With Matilda it’s second nature and that not knowing with Henry is horrible.

But right now we are worrying about one thing. His weight. He only lost 5% in the first 3 days which is great, feeding seems to be going well and he’s sleeping as much as any newborn does. But he hasn’t put a single gram of weight on since then, hasn’t lost any either mind.

So now we worry, is there something wrong with him or is he just a slow grower? Why isn’t breastfeeding being effective if it looks like it’s working? Why? Why? Why?

Today he’s being weighed again, if he still hasn’t put on weight then the doctors start getting more concerned. Until then I’m getting as many calories as I can into the lady of the manor and hoping. We’re also topping him up with some formula to help him along, not what we wanted but needed.

So please keep your fingers crossed for my little dude. I’m desperate for this to work out for the lady of the manor, she loves breastfeeding too much for it not to.

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