Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Perchance to Dream (Chance would be a fine thing)

There’s a hushed silence the first time you bring your newborn baby in through the front door.  No matter who’s with you there is just a moment when you can’t really believe what has just happened, you have brought your baby home.  The silence doesn’t last long of course, soon enough everything returns to bustle and movement and noise, but for a brief moment everything is wonderful and the future stretches out in front of you full of possibility and joy. 

It is at this point that it hits you.  You are the proud owner of one unused child, although it quickly becomes clear that the transaction hasn’t quite worked out the way you thought it had and you’re looking for the receipt to find out exactly who it was who did the purchasing. 

Monday, 28 May 2012

The Road Goes Ever Round and Round

I had an epiphany on Saturday, it wasn’t dramatic, not like a bolt from the blue, it was just as the result of spending some time with my daughter.  Before I tell you what it was however, let me sing you a song. 

Round and Round the Garden
Like a Teddy Bear
One Step
Two Step
Tickle you under there

Before having N, I always assumed that the first line of that rhyme was just to mirror the actions as you swirled your finger round and round their hand.  What else could it possibly mean? 


Friday, 25 May 2012

We all Scream for Sun Cream

You will have noticed the total lack of topicality so far in these posts.  All of the stories I have told so far took place before or at the birth of our daughter, who is currently galloping up on 18 months with the speed of someone who really has no right to be riding a horse and is struggling to stay in the saddle.  Seriously though, where have 17 months gone?  My old philosophy teacher had a theory about time and the way it sped up when you got older, if it is true I think having a child has aged me by about 50 years.  All the stories so far have taken place well over a year ago anyway, but all that changes today.  Today, to coincide with the 5 days of sun which will make up the summer, I am going to talk about sun cream.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

What's in a Name?

What do you think of the name Elsie?  I think it’s quite a pretty name.  480th most popular name in the US (Official UK statistics are very difficult to source if the name is not in the top 100, but according to BabyCentre Elsie is number 72 in their list).  It’s not an unpopular name and has a lot of charm.  One thing Elsie isn’t, however, is the name of our daughter, it hadn’t even been an option that my wife and I had talked about. But for a few early minutes of her life Elsie was our daughter’s name, sort of.  Let me explain.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Love's Labours Won (in the end)

Our journey to the hospital was uneventful.  It was late at night and there was very little traffic.  I would like you to remember, ‘late at night’ as it will become relevant later.  I mentioned in the previous post that it was a Sunday evening.  This will also become relevant.

We arrived outside the maternity department at the hospital and rushed inside, although rushed is a relative term when you are with your pregnant wife, who is experiencing pain which, if I hadn’t known better, I would have thought was being caused by Daleks.  It felt like rushing though.  Time seemed speeded up, like we were moving faster than I could think.  Without really noticing anything, except the passing resemblance of the decor to that in ‘Goodbye Lenin’ of course, we were at the counter waiting to be let in to the labour ward.  And waiting is what we did, a lot of it.  I have mentioned that it was late at night haven’t I?  Also that it was a Sunday?  Yes, good, because that’s all I can think to explain the delay.  All through the pregnancy the help and support from the midwife and other nurses that we saw had been fantastic, and during and after the birth it was wonderful, they were there for us and were informative and comforting and just superlative in every way.  But that night, at that time, when it seemed like the world was ending for my wife and my hand was getting crushed, there was noone.  Which was particularly hard to take as the waiting room lights were turned off, so we were sat in darkness whilst my wife’s contractions got quicker and fiercer.  I had rung the bell when we got there, and at various intervals during our wait but it seemed as though there was noone else in the entire hospital, or at least within hearing distance.

Friday, 18 May 2012

A Labour of Love

I was not prepared for our daughter to be born. Judged against any meaningful metric I was woefully underdone when the time came. My understanding of how a baby worked was basically founded upon knowing how I worked and just shrinking things. Just little people right? Well, not so much. My grasp of exactly how hard she would be was also limited by this. I knew that she wouldn't necessarily go to sleep when I wanted her to, but to not go to sleep at all was, I thought, a bit much.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

DIY Masterclass

 As has been previously documented, DIY is not my forte, in fact it’s barely even my piano.  However, today I am going to share a triumph with you that I am so ridiculously pleased with myself about.  Today, I managed to fit ... three sets of cupboard and drawer clips to prevent the child from charging round the house wielding our knives.  Seriously, I have photographic evidence to prove this.
Ta Da, how many cleaning products can you name?

See, there they are, fitted, working and everything.  Although, you will probably be amused to discover that when I went back to take the photos I found out that one of them wasn't working and I had to stick another screw in it, all done now.

Like a Colossus astride the cutlery

Anyway, that’s it for today, thanks for celebrating with me about my DIY prowess.  Perhaps tomorrow I’ll tackle that loft conversion.

Here is one of the less successful photos I took.  Having mastered DIY perhaps my photography skills could do with a little brushing up?

Craving to help

I was so used to hearing funny stories about people craving the most ridiculous things when they were pregnant that I was well prepared when it came to my wife’s turn.  I was ready and really wanted to help out with this.  I didn’t drive when my wife was pregnant so I had to make sure I knew where the nearest convenience stores were, which wasn’t too hard as we have one within 512 feet.  (I just checked, I didn’t know that already.)  And another, bigger superstore around a mile away.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Making a Meal of it (Part II)

The continuation of last night's tale of a meal like no other.

The wait continued for many minutes, I am unsure exactly how long and I don’t think the time we waited would convert back to the real world, but it was a lengthy period.  After quite some time footsteps were heard and our hopes were raised, at least there was still life and we weren’t the only two people left on the Public House equivalent of the Marie Celeste.  The person didn’t come in, but I was ready to waylay them and request menus.  After waiting for so long we weren’t going to give up so easily.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Making a Meal of it

I mentioned a story about a meal in the last post which doesn’t really belong on the blog as it has nothing to do with me being a father, but it’s my blog and my rules and I think you’ll probably appreciate it, and I really need to tell this story to get it off my chest.

It was the last night of the holiday in Northumberland and we had decided to go out for a meal to celebrate our anniversary.  We chose a place relatively near to the cottage basing our decision on an entry in the visitor’s book and some judicious Googling.  The visitor’s book having, amongst other things, mentioned something about asking at the bar when we went in if we wanted to eat in the restaurant, we ventured bravely out forewarned and forearmed and strode in to the pub ready to request our meal. 

Friday, 11 May 2012

A Single Step

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Many of you will recognise this as a quote from the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu, in the Tao Te Ching written in the 6th Century BC, for those of you that didn’t know this, you’re welcome!  Now go out and amaze your friends.  The lesson is obvious isn’t it, we all have to begin somewhere and we need to take the first step.  Northumberland is not a thousand miles away, actually just under a quarter of that, but setting out to go there was still exciting.  We went on holiday to the Breamish Valley in the summer whilst my wife was pregnant, we chose Northumberland because of the stunning scenery and wonderful coastline and the opportunity to walk in the countryside.  That was not exactly how the holiday went.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Gastronomic Wizadry

Before we had our first child I had never spent an extended period of time with a pregnant lady.  It was an experience.  Obviously I am totally unqualified to be talking about a period of pregnancy but I am going to venture out from the safety of the shoreline and offer my thoughts as a passenger on this journey.  This has the potential to become a running series of posts, so look out for more in the near future.

I want to prepare you for what is coming by stating two facts.  Firstly, my wife worked full time before our daughter came along, and secondly, I am a terrible cook.  Really anything kitchen related is pretty much beyond me.  Once, whilst I was at home, after our daughter was born, my wife rang to ask me to get some mashed potato, and pre-prepared mince out of the freezer for tea.  What could possibly go wrong?  I had been tripped up by this sort of request before (just the day before actually, having managed to produce 11 sausages from the freezer just for the two of us) so this time I was determined that nothing could go wrong, and I thought I was on a winner.  Our daughter was in bed so I can’t even use her as an excuse for what happened.  

Monday, 7 May 2012

Lost in a Translation

I’ve always been prone to lose things.  I put them down and forget to pick them up again, or tidy them away and then can’t find them when I need them.  Wallets, keys, glasses, mobiles, bills, reminder notices, passports, the occasional wellington boot, things just seem to go missing and get lost.  The value of the object, sentimental or material, doesn’t matter; I have no partiality when it comes to losing important things or trivial items.  For a long time I blamed other people, or the weather, or the position of the sun relative to Venus, or whether the day of the week was named after a Norse Deity or an astrological phenomenon.  However, the sad day came when I had to take a long hard look at myself and conclude that I am just one of life’s absentminded people destined to go through life with a look of perpetual bewilderment and one hand in my pocket frantically looking for my credit cards.  All this self-flagellation is merely to set the scene for what I’m sure you can predict is coming.

My Schedule and other Details

So, I just thought I would give a bit of a logistical update, now that the blog is up and running and a going concern. This will not constitute today’s post so there will be another one to look out for later.

I intend on posting on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule, with the occasional post at the weekend, though weekends are quite hectic so I’m making no promises here. Thank you to those people who have already given me comments and feedback, I do appreciate it and if anyone has anything they want to see on the blog please let me know in the comments or by emailing foraysintofatherhood at gmail dot com.

As an aside, if there are 24 of you who happen to be looking for a place to holiday together, in a beautiful part of the world you should look no further than the Big White House in Cumbria. Stunning scenery and luxury accommodation, though you might want to think twice before you try to venture a walk up to the summit of Catbells. Despite being described as a ‘modest height’ it was deceptively difficult, especially for an unfit 29 year old with a child on his back.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Through a Scanner, maybe?

It was sunny when we went for our first sonogram, a nice day in May, and I was incredibly nervous.  I was sure that everything was going to be all right but a very small part of me wouldn’t stop whispering ‘what if there was nothing there?’  But at least the sun was shining.  It was to be our first time inside the maternity wing of the hospital as well, which also filled me with dread.  One day in about 6 months we would be coming back here and I would need to know my way around.  Spatial awareness isn’t exactly my strong suit so I needed to pay especially close attention to where I was going, except I kept getting distracted.  I noticed the colour of the chairs in the cafe just inside the door, blue, the paintings which were on the wall, abstract and geometric, not my cup of tea but probably meant to be soothing, but not which way we had gone once we got inside, was it left or right at the end of the corridor?  Two double doors or just the one?  My face began to settle into its familiar bemused expression as we went and sat in a room that I couldn’t have found my way to again had my life depended on it.  I began to wish I had adopted the navigational approach pioneered by Theseus and then plagiarised less successfully by Hansel and Gretel.  Where was a ball of string when you needed one?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A Brave New World

There is one thing that dominates my life more than anything else at the moment, in terms of time spent and emotion invested and that is my 17 month old daughter.  She is my firstborn, and so she has the benefit of all of my attention without having to share with any of those pesky siblings.  It is not all roses for her though, she also has to put up with my utter inexperience and possible unsuitability for the job of being her father.  This blog is my attempt to recount the journey we have been on so far, as well as chronicling our life together as we grow older.  There are a number of other people who are important in her life, not least her mummy, but also a galaxy of friends and family who all help and support us in their various ways, some good, some unexpected, all wonderfully appreciated, but first and foremost this is our story, just me and the little bundle of dependence who came like a thunderbolt into my life.   
Many of you reading this you will probably recognise my stories, I can only hope that I am not the only one who found that the advent of their first child ushered in a brave new world in which all self-determination went out the window to be replaced by a feeling of total inadequacy at the task ahead.  I have never really thought of myself as a grown-up, working at a university and being a 'mature' student, will do that to you, causing you to think of yourself as roughly the same age as the people, in some case 9 or 10 years younger than you, that you are working and studying amongst, and so when the time came and it became obvious that I was soon going to be a father there was an inescapable feeling that this was probably happening to someone else, that illusion was very quickly shattered however, so here are some tales of my forays into fatherhood.