Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Arthur or Martha

I'm guessing you've worked out what this post is about from the picture alone, so hopefully I wont have to spend too long on an explanation.
For the less astute amongst you, I'll type it out;
Karen is pregnant.

As is customary, we have known for a while (since the 10th April to be exact) and have had to keep this little piece of good news a secret.
Although difficult, this has been enjoyable at times.
Its been nice to hear the announcement of new pregnancies (Helen D / Iain T / Kelsey R respectively spring to mind), with the knowledge that Karen and I are also in the same "club" and will be no doubt be receiving similar love and well wishes. Its quite a nice feeling, knowing that we've got such support just around the corner!

I had to silently laugh to myself at work, when the topic of siblings came up one morning about 4 weeks ago. My colleagues were amazed by anyone who have had children close together, and example after example was cited with the cons being discussed for a good half hour.
The funny thing was, I agreed with most of them.
It was nice to show them the scan picture yesterday and remind them of the conversation we had, which we all smiled about. For me, the well wishes have already started!

So, I suppose this would be a good point to say that we have always planned to have two children, so close together. Karen is obsessed with her age (which I believe is unnecessary) and after Christmas Kidneys, we decided that life is short and "carpe diem" is the way forward.
Sure, we know it will be a struggle to have a newborn in the house with Edie being just 18 months old, and that we will probably be more tired than ever before, but we can also think of a fair number of good points too.
We both quite like the idea of our children growing up together at a similar age, so that they can share the trials and tribulations of their particular time of life. We also thought that they both would always have a "friend" to knock about with, and save Edie the ordeal of having a considerably younger brother/sister who we would, no doubt, force her to include in whatever she is doing.
One thing we didn't plan on, was how quickly I would hit the back of the net. I'm pretty positive that it was my first shot on goal, but I'll say no more about this as I can almost feel Karen cringing at the thought of you reading this!

Thursdays scan went well and we will be "Consultant Lead" because of both the loss of our first child and Karen's spell in Intensive Care, but this just means more monitoring which is no big drama. 

We were given our due date, which is 12/12/12.
Which is double of 6/6/6
And I'm called Damian
Its definitely the Second Coming!

So, I think that's about it for now. I'll leave you with a thought that has filled me with pleasure and dread in equal measure. By the end of the year, I'll have two children!
And what could be better than that?!

Monday, 7 May 2012

It's OK to be normal

I've always thought "I don't want to be normal".
Or ordinary.
But recently, I've come to the conclusion that it's not so bad.
The last 12 months of my life have been far from ordinary, and as many of you will know, this hasn't always been a good thing.
Edith's arrival signalled a massive change in my life, as I'm sure is the case with all first born children.
It's obviously a nice change, but a change nonetheless.
I've found myself distanced from friends and sometimes unable to do the things that I really want to do.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining but at times it has been hard to watch the world carrying on without me whilst this little thing consumed all my time an effort.

Recently though, I've noticed a change. As Edith has grown, and become more independent (well, as independent as a 12 month old can be) I've noticed my life start to creep back.
Bit by bit, I've noticed that parts of my old life have merged into this new life, and this makes me very happy.
Karen and I have been to a gig and had a few beers in town, I've been out for drinks with work (more than once, as Karen will testify) and I managed a few beers with the lads on Cup Final Day, I'm booked for two stag weekends and one is ABROAD!!
Notice a common theme?
I'm planning to get out on the bike this coming weekend, something which I haven't done for ages, other than the new daily commute to work, but that doesn't count.
We have even booked to go camping this month, something we used to do regularly before Edith came along. I don't know how we will go on with Edith in a tent. Maybe that will be the subject of a future post.
It might not be a rock and roll lifestyle, but I'm OK with that.
It's just pleasantly normal. No hospitals, no dying wife, no dramas, no newborn babies, no colic, no nothing really.

So, here I am.
Sat on my own, quietly typing this whilst the females in my life have an afternoon nap, on a rainy Bank Holiday afternoon.
I couldn't be happier

As I was thinking about my ordinary life, I thought of all the extraordinary things I have done in the last 36 years. For your reading pleasure, amusement and amazement, here are the first 10 that came to mind:
In no particular order, I have:
  1. Flown a Russian Fighter Jet (albeit for a few seconds) and engaged in a dogfight with a Spitfire.
  2. Chopped off my own ears
  3. Spent 3 days at sea with the Royal Navy on HMS Cardiff
  4. Narrowly avoided jail in Arizona
  5. Saved Les Dennis from drowning
  6. Cycled from one side of the country to the other, raising £10,000 for charity
  7. Had beers in the Bronx in the small hours
  8. Played golf on the lowest course in the world
  9. Met Bobby Ball
  10. Chartered, captained, capsized and had to be subsequently rescued from a 20ft catamaran, in the Gulf of Mexico.
I think I've had my share of excitement, now, where's my slippers?

Friday, 13 April 2012

Christmas Kidneys

I've been meaning to commit this to text for a while. I dunno why, maybe so we can look back and remember what happened? Though, in reality, we'll never forget what happened.
Christmas 2011 was one to remember.
Edith's first and very nearly, Karen's last.

If you're interested, read on to see what happened.
If not, you can always do something else, I don't mind, honest.

Around 04:00hrs on 24th November 2011, Karen woke and complained of a pain in her lower back, saying it felt like she'd been kicked. Her complaint quickly escalated to her being bent double on the floor of our bedroom and a call being put in to NHS Direct. This followed by a Medi-Car being sent and by 06:00, I'd kissed her goodbye and she was on her way to hospital. Later that day, she was discharged. The diagnosis was a suspected kidney infection, for which antibiotics had been prescribed.
We knew that Karen was going to be in pain for a while, certainly until the antibiotics had time to kick in, so we made arrangements for friends and family to check on Karen whilst I continued to go to work.

A week passed and Karen was getting progressively worse, so she contacted her GP.
This call notified us that the first of the planets had started to align (not that we knew this at the time) and signalled what I believe to be the first major failing by the health care professionals in which we put our trust.
It transpired that there were two issues with the antibiotics, which Karen had been prescribed and had been taking for a week.
Firstly, they were the wrong antibiotics for the type of infection they thought she had and secondly, she was allergic to them. How this could happen is beyond me, as this is not a new reaction and is well documented. How can this be missed on a persons notes?
So, 7 days worth of tablet taking had allowed the original infection to flare whilst, simultaneously, the tablets themselves had caused more illness in the form of a substantial allergic reaction.
New tablets were prescribed and collected and we hoped that Karen would begin to improve.
She didn't.

Its at this point I suppose I should mention my failings as a carer.
I am abysmal.
In fact I'm worse that that.
And I hate this part of my demeanour. You might think this is a bit harsh. Maybe it is, but I just don't know how to cope with illness. Being brutally honest, it annoys me. I don't know if anyone else has this reaction and I don't know why I feel this way. I'm sure that my inability to deal with illness is due to the fact that I am very rarely ill myself. I can count on one hand the number of days sick I've had through actual illness (not hangovers or cant-be-botheredness)(CURRENT EMPLOYER: Please note, I'm talking about previous, previous employment, not this one, but you know that, just look at my 100% attendance record)
I just don't get ill. And when I do, I carry on as if I'm not ill. And I think others should do the same. Which is shit. So, you get the idea. Florence Nightingale I am not.
In mitigation, by this point Karen had been ill and bedridden for 11 days. Her breast milk had all but dried up. We had a hungry 7 month old baby who still required feeding in the night, I've slept on the sofa because Karen is keeping me awake and I'm up at 05:30 every morning to go to work. I'm not making excuses, but I hope you will at least cut me a bit of slack after reading the last paragraph.

So, on Tuesday 6th December I received a phone call at work, from Karen, saying that she needed me to come home urgently as she's confined to the bathroom with vomiting and diarrhoea.
I dashed home.
We managed to get an emergency appointment at the local GP and amazingly, Karen was able to walk the short distance to attend. In hindsight, what happened next was, in my humble opinion, nothing short of malpractice.
The Doctors advice was to stop taking the antibiotics as if they were going to have worked, they would have by now and that they were just adding to Karen's problems. He then went on to flippantly mention a mate of his who had a kidney infection and went on to develop septicaemia and how dangerous that could be.
Finally, he berated Karen for discussing her fears about her breast milk drying up, stating that she had "done her bit" by breastfeeding for 6 months and that even that had questionable benefits.
And off home we went, without a test of blood pressure, temperature or any kind of examination.

6pm that day I called 999.
It was my Mum who saved Karen's life.
I don't know how much longer I would have let it go on, or what symptoms would have prompted me to take more direct action.
She was laid in bed, deliriously talking gibberish.
Normally she leaves that to me. Sorry, I shouldn't joke.
The Docs at the Hospital did comment that if we had left it any longer "it would be a different story" and I think we all knew what that meant.
We will both be eternally grateful for my Mum being there that day and effectively saying "Enough is Enough"

Even at this stage, we didn't know just how ill Karen was.
But, within 30 minutes of being at the Northern General, the penny didn't drop.
It was hammered home.
I popped outside to make the customary 'updates' telephone calls, leaving Karen on a bed in A&E and returned to find her in a resuscitation bay and being readied for transfer.
This change of location and the defibrillator on the foot of the bed was the catalyst for a feeling at the pit of my stomach, which I had never felt before.
The huddles of health care professionals, speaking in hushed tones, uttering phrases such as "not responding" and "critical" did nothing to ease the situation.

Karen was swiftly moved to the Intensive Care Unit where, upon entering, I was told to say goodbye and was ushered off to the waiting area whilst they made her comfortable.
This was heartbreaking. I was sat there, at 11pm, on my own.
And I have never felt so alone.
Every beep, every buzzer, every close of a door I heard come from behind those doors made me think the worst. And then in a split second, I would take a grip of myself and talk myself round. "Shes not going to die" echoed around and around in my mind. I even said it out loud to myself a couple of times, to make it more believable.
My thoughts were distracted slightly when Karen's best mate turned up. She'd asked if she could come down as she wouldn't sleep at home.
I was thankful of the company.
And the 2 packets of crisps, a muffin and a half eaten bag of Minstrels.

After what seemed like an eternity, I was told I could go and see Karen.
This was an instant relief, not because I could see her, but because it meant that she was still alive.
It transpired that the lengthy wait as caused by the fitting of an IV feed, directly into Karen's central blood line, which had to be stitched into her jugular as her veins had started to collapse.
I was so glad to see her face and be able to talk to her and hold her hand.

Shortly after, I was ushered away by one of the consultants for the diagnosis, which consisted of "we know what is happening to her body but we don't know what is causing it at this stage, so we will continue to fight against the symptoms until we find the problem"
I was told that Karen had gone into Septic Shock, which is "the result of severe infection and sepsis, causing multiple organ failure and death"
I obviously didn't know this at the time, I just knew it was serious, so I looked it up on my iPhone.
And did myself no favours, particularly when I read "The mortality rate from sepsis is approximately 40% in adults and is significantly greater when left untreated for more than 7 days"
So, there we were. I was advised to go home to get some rest and could come back tomorrow.

Our very own scene from [insert name of hospital drama here]
 Karen was critically ill and the next couple of days were spent fighting to get her into a stable condition.
To cut a very long and medically complex story short, it was a juggling act between the unholy trinity of blood pressure, heart rate and temperature. If one went up, the others dropped dangerously low and vice versa. This was then further complicated by a dose of bronchial pneumonia, thrown in for good measure, as Karen's lungs started to fill with fluid. All things told, she wasn't getting any better and the Consultants were at odds with what to do next.

Lungs minus 80%
As Friday dawned, I was informed by one of the Consultants that they were starting to worry that Karen just wasn't responding to the treatment and they felt they were just firefighting. At this stage, I counted IV lines of 9 different drugs, all constantly being pumped into Karen in an attempt to regain some stability in her body. Something had to be done.
In what seemed like a very rushed decision in a very frantic period of activity, the Consultant decided to  perform a nephrostomy.
A kidney drain to you and me.
Given Karen's current instability, it was decided that at the same time they would put her in an induced coma, so that they could control her breathing and other vital stats.
As you can probably imagine, this was terrifying, for all concerned. In fairness to the Consultant, he was brilliant in his explanation of his thought processes surrounding this decision, which did help us come to terms with what was about to happen.
For the second time in under a week, I kissed Karen goodbye and she was taken away to theatre.

I had been told that the procedure would be carried out whilst Karen was in the coma and then they would monitor her overnight to see how she responded. This would also allow Karen's body to rest from all the fighting it had been doing. They would then try to bring her back to consciousness for short periods and keep doing this until she was able to breathe unaided. I left her in this state in the early hours of Saturday 10th and went home.

It was at this time that I thought I ought to notify friends and family of our situation, as up until this point, the fact that Karen was in hospital was known by only a handful of people. Now, Facebook has its critics, but in cases like this; where you wish to communicate to the masses, it was a godsend.
And a morale booster too. Within hours of posting a message, hundreds of well wishes came flooding in. It was humbling to know that we had so many people thinking about us, from all corners of the globe.
If you were one of those people, I'd like to thank you again, from the bottom of my heart.

The good feelings kept coming that morning as when I phoned Intensive Care for my morning update, I was surprised and overjoyed to hear that Karen had been brought out of the coma and was breathing unaided again. The nephrostomy appeared to have done the trick and the Consultant was confident that they could start moving forward with treating the cause rather than dealing with the symptoms.
Karen wasn't out of the woods just yet, but it certainly felt like we were taking a step in the right direction.

It transpired that the severity of Karen's illness was one in thousands.
And it was definitely a case of planets aligning more than anything else, as no one component part was particularly life threatening (root cause, not symptoms)
The general consensus from the Consultant is that Karen had a kidney stone which caused the first pains and prompted a trip to the hospital. The Hospital failed to spot the stone and diagnosed an infection, which prompted the prescription of incorrect drugs, which Karen had an allergic reaction to.
The allergic reaction made her ill and weakened her body's battle against the infection, which allowed it to rage behind the blockage caused by the stone. The infection got into her blood and caused septicaemia, which the GP failed to spot, even though he was banging on about how serious it was! This was left unchecked and developed into sepsis which then in turn caused her to go into Septic Shock.
A chance in a million

The next few days saw Karen's strength and health increase and within a week, she had been taken off the critical list and moved to a general ward. And this meant that we could do the one thing which had driven her fight to recover; I could take Edith to see her.
There were tears all round.
I look back now and I am eternally grateful for having such a resilient, calm and relaxed little baby.
Her breastfeeding had been abruptly stopped, her Mummy had disappeared and her Daddy didn't know whether he was coming or going. And she handled this without an ounce of drama. She even started sleeping right through the night during this period. Well, for a few days anyway!

Karen's time on the Urology Ward consisted of monitoring and strategising about what to do about the kidney stone, but all we were concerned with was the fact that Christmas was approaching fast.
It was down to the wire, but with a few days to spare we finally got Karen home in time for Christmas.
It was a quiet and simple affair but we were all together for Edith's First Christmas and nothing else mattered.

Desparately thin but smiling
And where would we be without friends and family.
Ours were outstanding.
Terry & Carole Roebuck (My Mum and Dad) Justine Childes (Karen's sister) Kate Cam (Karen's best mate) Joe & Fliss France (My best mates) were simply amazing during Karen's spell in hospital. It’s usual to say “I don’t know what we’d have done without them” but I do know. We wouldn’t have coped. Words cannot express how grateful we are for their support and assistance and I feel unbelievably privileged to have such outstanding parents, family and friends.
And a big thank you again to all of our friends who called, text, tweeted, sent gifts and came to visit us.

At the time of writing, Karen has been signed off from the hospital and will be monitored for the next few years. They never did get the kidney stone in the end, having tried sonic blasting, laser treatment and a snatch and grab operation, so it now lies embedded in the wall of Karen's kidney, where we are assured it will stay.
And if it moves, we'll know what to look out for!
And I'm trying to be a reformed carer, I promise.
The guilt of what could have happened has seen to that.

Together again
So, there we are.
That was bloody hard work.
Writing this, I mean. Not the ordeal itself.
That was easy.
Alright, I'll stop joking about such things. But if you didn't laugh, you'd cry.
And crying is for jessies!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Bloody hell Albert!

It would appear that this months scientific revelations could mean this blog is a bit of a waste of time.
I'm sure that some of you do already mutter that, under your breath.
Recent developments at CERN appear to show that Neutrinos can travel at 299,798,454 metres per second. Now, as everyone knows; they should be travelling at no more than 299, 792, 458 mps.
The speed of light if you will.

What does this have to do with this blog? Well, its obvious, innit?
If sub-atomic particles can travel faster than the speed of light, Albert Einstein was wrong and Professor Emmett Brown was right.
Time travel is theoretically possible!
And if time travel is theoretically possible, then little Edie can wait until we've fathomed out how do do it (without a DeLorean) and pop back and witness all this stuff first hand.
Saves me a job in noting it all down and worrying if anyone is really interested!

Until such a time when Edie shows up from the future to tell me that I can stop, I'll probably just carry on regardless. It gives me sommat to do whilst Karen is upstairs, being "creative" and I'm downstairs, watching Edie sleep. Such is my Rock and Roll life on a weekend.

Since my last update, nothing much has changed, other than Edie herself.
She just doesn't seem to be a little baby anymore. She's more alert, she looks and studies things more (mainly Olive, who appears to fascinate her), she amuses herself for decent periods of time in "Clover the Cow" (another purchase to add to the growing empire that is her "stuff")

Clover The Cow
 and she's starting to grasp feeding herself.

"Daddy, these are lacking a little something" "Yes love, its called 'flavour'"
We're now on 3 square meals a day, with healthy snacks in between.
The screaming when the last mouthful had gone certainly gave us a strong indication that one portion of food, twice per day just wasn't enough!!

This new found love of food means hand in pocket yet again, as we are in the market for a high chair. I've studied, at length, the models available but I don't seem to be any further with getting one that suits. There appears to be a vast scale in relation to price, specifications and pros/cons.
I'd welcome you're comments if you have found a model that you'd recommend.

Edie is growing fast and each day brings new skills/attributes:

Teleporter of time (that's not where we left her 10secs before)
Bouncer (not the dog off of Neighbours) of door frame

Drinker of water
Lover of peas
Wearer of hats
Watcher of television
 But above all, the main change is the alarming rate at which her hair has grown!

Better go.
I think Social Services are at the door.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Cheesy Spiders

3 weeks -vs- 36 years and Edie already has a more sophisticated palate than me.

After a few weeks of watching her attempt to chew off her own hands, we decided to seek advice in relation to weaning. As with everything in the field of medical advice, the guidance changes at an alarming rate.
Current guidelines now state that a baby should be weaned no earlier than 6 months, as opposed to the 4 months mark, suggested 3.2 nanoseconds ago (I exaggerate, but then I always do!)
The Health Visitor discussed the issue with Karen and gave sound advice which made good sense to us; the outcome being that Edie was ready to try [semi] solid food.

I have worried about this.
I am worried about this.

Those who know me well will testify that at best, I'm a fussy eater.
At worst, I wouldn't be out of place on Freaky Eaters.
Whilst I'm not quite in the situation of being limited to a diet solely made up of MonsterMunch, if I'm being honest, I could manage on such a regime. Not beef though. It would have to be Pickled Onion as they are my favourites. Closely followed by Flaming Hot.

If there is ever a future Freaky Eaters programme whose title was "Man lives on diet of Heinz Spaghetti Hoops" then make sure you watch it.
This will be my 30 minutes of fame.

Now Karen has been warning me, from ante and continuing into post natal, that my fussiness WILL NOT be transferred to our child. The same goes for irrational fear of spiders.
"I'm not having you pulling a face and turning your nose up at food, whilst we all sit at the dinner table"
Seriously. How can I not?
As a 36 year old, I have a "list" of food likes and dislikes, just like anyone else.
I guess I dislike more foods than most but less than some people I know.
I like to think I sit somewhere between a human dustbin and a MonsterMunch obsessed loon.
Admittedly, some of my dislikes are a little strange to some. I'll let you decide.

Fine in omelet but not poached. And certainly not hard boiled.

Manageable if finely chopped, cooked and pureed but never uncooked and whole.
Definitely not ketchup.

Pig based products
Sausage and bacon (a recent addition) but definitely not Pork Chops

These are just a few of what I think could be considered strange but these are nothing compared to the reaction I get when I state my dislike of the devil in food incarnate; CHEESE.

"How can you not like cheese?" is a question I'm often asked in wonderment.
Easy. Its effing horrendous.
I'm allergic to the stuff.
The look and smell of it in all its ghastly forms makes me feel physically sick.
Karen informs me that Edie "will love cheese"

Just as I will love retching at the dinner table, just from being in its presence.

Thankfully, cheese is way down the line in the weaning programme.
We started with carrot. I would say Edie found the taste of carrot "surprising" but then again, so would (and did) you if all you'd ever known was milk.

Whilst her little carrot munching face was amusing enough, this was nothing in comparison to her first taste of fruit.
I now make a brave statement.
If this doesn't make you laugh, or at least smile, then;
(a) There's something wrong with you
(b) I'll give you a pound.

Click here for the video I like to call "Edie and the Apple"
(There's audio for extra amusement. She made noises we'd never heard before)
And if you enjoyed that, there's a different but longer version here.
By the look on her face, I think she might be like me after all.

And if she's not, there's always these to try

Friday, 19 August 2011

Tenacious E

I am knackered.
We are knackered.

Looking after Edie isn't particularly difficult and there isn't really one part of this father routine that's hard.
Its the sum total of all the parts.
Its relentless.

The parent amongst you reading this will probably have sniggered by this point and will undoubtedly be thinking
"Yeah, and?" and those who know Karen and I will definitely be thinking "What did we tell you?"
The non-parent reading this won't know what I'm talking about.
And I don't wish that to be condescending.
I genuinely don't think you will.
I didn't until it happened to me.

This week has really been a test and I know its been hard because, for the first time ever, Edie has really got on my nerves.
I felt awful as a result, but I was lifted when Karen stated on Tuesday that she could have "thrown her out of the window today"
I have no patience at the best of times, in stark contrast to Karen's patience of a Saint.
So to hear Karen say this proved to me that it was a testing week.

I initially thought the tiredness was due to lack of sleep, owing to the fact that Edie had taken to shouting and fidgeting around in the middle of the night. We wondered what the hell she was doing, making the cot bang around like it was, but it was too dark to see. When this racket acted as our natural alarm clock on weekend mornings, I was able to covertly film what she was up to.
"Slam Dunking" Karen calls it [clicky link]. The best ones are about 2mins 30 seconds.
Please believe me when I say the audio doesn't really do it justice.
I would say "you had to be there" but having you in bed with us would just be weird.

So, the decision was made that, against the childcare recommendations, Edie would be going in her own room. Karen and I have talked about how much and how quickly shes growing but the move to her own bed seemed to reverse all that. She looks so tiny again.

 She has moved room without a bit of drama and now sleeps a lot longer through the night. So that was the sleep deprivation argument through the window.
Which naturally leaves the waking hours to blame.

There was a time where she was too small to leave on her own, then she grew and we were able to leave her in her swing or play mat for longer and longer periods.
And now shes grown again and has become more alert, which means she gets bored we are back to being unable to leave her to entertain herself.
Her new favourite (read least favourite) activity move is rolling from her back to her front.
She does this continually, repeating the same routine.
Roll. Scream cos she doesn't like being on her front. Get turned back over.
Roll. Scream cos she doesn't like being on her front. Get turned back over.
Ad infinitum.

There are rare occasions when she is happy being there and of course, I have a photo.

And this I think is where the problem occurs. Its just knackereing being on the go every waking hour.
I know I get some relief by going to work but its not as though I'm sat there doing nowt (work colleagues need not comment on this satement).
THIS is the hard work parents talk of.

And, to top it off, we have a poorly dog to care for.
Olive has a torn cruciate ligament and goes in for surgery on Tuesday.

And, to top that off. We think Edie is teething.
When will it ever end!?!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Edie, I'm sorry.

Over the last couple of days, I've wondered what I've done.
Who in their right mind would bring a child into the society we've witnessed over the last couple of days?
It feels like we are going to the dogs and that the world, in parts, is well and truly broken.

I know that society as a whole isn't all bad, and that rioting or criminal elements are nothing new.
But to me, recent events have an altogether different feel.
Whilst not necessarily justified, at least previous unrest had cause.
Recent TV interviews show that these goons don't even know what they are rioting for.
"We're rioting because of the government, The Conservatives, or whoever it is"
"We're looting to get our taxes back"
Hearing this just makes my heart sink and my blood boil.

So, Edie.
Here's what happened over the last 4 days:

And, in contrast, here's what civilised society did in response

Economic crisis. Disenchantment. Unrest. Spending Cuts. Riots. Racial Tension.
All things I hope have been ironed out before Edie is old enough to know what they mean.
If they haven't?
Edie, I'm sorry.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Swimming through a sea of rules

Hillsborough Leisure Centre at 09:00 on a Sunday morning.
4 months ago, I would have laughed at such a thought.
But, there I was, amongst the "don't get my hair wet" Mums and the "football related tattoos" Dads.
Me and Edie.
"Splish Splash in The Beach Leisure Pool" - as much screaming kid action as you could suffer, all for £5.

I've not been to a municipal pool for ages.
I suppose it wasn't as bad as it could have been. It was packed, but then the kids are off, so I shouldn't have been surprised.
There appeared to be quite a few babies already there. As is customary in these situations, everyone is watching everyone else, in a kind of "who's the best at this parenting lark" type way.
I wasn't bothered by all that.
I was more bothered about having my shirt off in public, for the first time since I spectacularly let myself go.
There were a few weighty specimens, bobbing around in the pool, but with valid medical excuse.
Mainly that they had just given birth.
The nearest I have to a medical condition is an over active drinking arm and an out of control addiction to Pork Crunch and Galaxy Counters.
I had taken a rash vest to cover up with, but Karen assured me I looked alright.
Plus, this was no Fistral Beach. Even if the wave machine was on.

Anyway, Edie appeared to be completely indifferent to her first visit to the swimming pool.
She just spent the whole time eating her fist and looking blankly.
I suppose it was all a bit overwhelming.

Its at this point that I would normally insert a picture of Edie, having fun at her first swimming pool visit.
A picture for prosperity or to show her when she's older maybe.
But the worlds gone mad, hasn't it? It really has!
I can't take a picture of my daughter for the family album, because in doing so would render me a paedophile.
Or so you're led to believe.
But no-one knows what to believe anymore.
I blame the Daily Mail.
Councils banning Christmas, Christians cant wear crucifix's, Union flags cause offence, and a whole other load of over hyped shite, taken to heart by the average man in the street.
So, what we are left with?
A nonsense set of rules, adopted in haste, in fear of being un-pc.

Q How do you confuse a Daily Mail reader?  
A Tell them that asylum seekers are the natural predator of paedophiles.

And what am I left with?
Having to resort to capturing this moment in my daughters life with a picture inside a changing cubicle.
(which in my mind, appears far more "seedy" than stood in a packed public building, pointing a camera at my daughter, for all to see)
I've finished ranting now. So here's the picture

Cut to 5 minutes after getting out of the pool:

Those 40 lengths were really tiring.
And here's a couple of pics taken in a watery environment, where we don't have to hide away the camera!

Get your glasses, this ones taken in 3D

I hope she grows into a girl who loves swimming, just like her Dad (who loves swimming, not who's grown into a girl - though some would argue!!) 

Until next time x

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Do you remember the first time?

Hopefully, this is the last of the major "catch up" blogs and now that things have settled into more of a routine, I can put fingers to keyboard on a more regular basis.
I was going to put something along the lines of "No more, we all cry" but it appears that for quite a few of you, reading my ramblings is quite enjoyable.
I would like to thank you all for your very kind comments, though self depreciating as I am, I can't quite see why!!
Karen tells me that amongst the mothers at the health centre, I have become somewhat of a celebrity, with Karen being referred to as "the woman whose husband does the blog".
One parent was even kind enough to assume I was a writer by profession. I mean, come on?! Really?!
Others have asked when the book is out! Well, all I can say is that if you are a publisher, or know a publisher, then please get in touch!! It would be great to be paid for this rubbish! (There I go again).

Anyway, back to the blog in hand.

Since Edie's birth, everything has appeared to revolve around firsts.
We appear to be wishing her life away, constantly wanting her to do the next progressive action. 
We should just enjoy it, I know, but its hard not to want to see her develop.

Some of these firsts I am documenting for our sake (or Edie, when she is old enough to read this blog).
Some are worthy of elaboration.
All are important to me.

So, here they are.

First time she made me cry.
Week commencing 25th April 2011

Breastfeeding is brilliant but for the bloke in a relationship, its a divisive activity.
Whilst I had happily joked that Karen's breastfeeding would leave me free to lounge around or get a full nights sleep, the reality was quite different.
Breast feeding afforded the Karen the ability to soothe, calm and comfort Edie in the early weeks, where I had nothing to offer.
I found this very tough, especially when I was trying to give Karen a well needed break.
On several occasions, I would tell Karen to go to bed whilst I would look after Edie, only to have to go and wake her as only feeding could stop her crying.
This did get to me after a while as It really made me feel that I was failing as a Dad. I mean, I couldn't look after my daughter without having to constantly rely on Karen.
Thankfully, this feeling of helplessness passed (thanks in part to a breast pump and some feeding bottles!) and now I only feel useless most of the time.

First time Edie smiled at me.
3rd June 2011

Just heartwarming. I literally cant find any more words to say.

First time I was left alone with Edie.
11th June 2011

Having already been told off by Fliss France, for referring to this as "Babysitting" (apparently, its not babysitting if its your own child, its just parenting!), I was quite scared at the prospect of having to look after Edie on my own. Scared, particularly in relation to feeding her as she had only fed from a bottle once before.
This worry was to be unnecessary as my first foray into lone parenting consisted of me sitting on the sofa, watching telly (with one eye on the baby monitor), eating crisps and drinking lager whilst the little 'un was fast on upstairs.
Nowt to it, I thought (but didn't say, in case this prompted further instances, therefore increasing the risk of me having to actually look after her unaided)

First time we both left Edie.
24th June 2011

Edie was left in the very good care of my Mum and Dad.
Karen worried her self daft and couldn't wait to get home.
I got pissed and didn't want to leave the bar.
Old habits die hard.

First time I left Edie for longer than a working day.
18th - 22nd June 2011

I had to work away for a week.
This was unbelievably difficult. I experienced a feeling that I cant say I have ever experienced before.
Truly missing someone.
I can't say I've felt this way before. I think its due to the fact that whilst I've been away from loved ones in the past, I've always been able to communicate with them. I go away with work and I phone Karen every night.
Obviously, I couldn't do this with Edie and it upset me that she didn't really know where I'd gone.
I suppose the saving grace is that she isn't really capable of missing me, so at least it didn't bother her in any way.

The first roll.
23rd July 2011

After a great deal of effort, Edie rolled from her back to her front.
She then proceeded to scream the place down.
This is a recurring process!

Edie's first library card.
25th July 2011

Eager for Edie to be one of the next generation of library users, and keep these public services open as they should be, we made Edie a member of our local library.
This held special significance for Karen, as this was the library within whose walls she spent many happy hours as a child.
Edie's favourite book; That's Not My Monster by Fiona Watt.

Edie's First laugh.
5th August 2011

Only a small amount of noise but a definite chuckle.
Surprisingly, its was not to me whistling Last of The Summer Wine theme [click here for the video]
The new favourite appears to be a "beep beep" on her nose.
It would appear that she has a very simple sense of humour. Just like her Dad.

First time I was left on my own, with Edie, during the day.

Karen has left me for real this time, in the day!
Bloody hell!

As I don't spend every waking hour with her, as Karen does, I can't really read her as well as her Mum.
I don't really know what tired looks like.
I don't know what hungry looks like.
I don't know what to do if she starts crying and the milk in the fridge doesn't work.
Thankfully, this has been my view whilst I type this blog.

It appears that, yet again, I have "looked after" her on my own without too much drama.
That said, Karen isn't back yet and I'm watching the clock go round with interest!

So, that's about it I think.
This takes us up to now.

The only other first is a visit to the swimming pool tomorrow, but I'll leave that for next time.

As always, thanks for reading x


Sunday, 10 July 2011

In the lines of a song

Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
Changes - David Bowie. RCA Records 1971

There have been changes since I last updated this blog. BIG changes.
I am a father, as most of you already know.
I planned to write a lot sooner than this but I have more pressing things to deal with.

Nobody said it was easy
The Scientist - Coldplay. Parlophone 2002

It wasn't!
Here's what happened, from the viewpoint of an not so innocent bystander:
Those of a nervous disposition, scroll on a bit!

As we all know, there are 3 things supposedly guaranteed to induce labour, so on Thursday 14th April, I jokingly suggested that we walk to Wetherspoons Curry Club, to which Karen surprisingly agreed.
I know there's no chance of the 3rd, so I concede that:
Two Out Of Three Aint Bad Two out of Three Aint Bad - Meatloaf. Epic Records 1978

Now, let it be known that there was no way I ever thought that doing the 2 things stated above would in any way have any relevance to the arrival of our baby. Its for this reason that I didn't really believe Karen when, later that evening, she tells me she thinks she's having contractions.
It took a while to sink in.
Was this it?
I remained calm and thought that I should keep the situation as normal as possible.
So I suggested she iron me a shirt for work the next day, whist I carry on watching Celebrity Juice.

If I'm being honest, neither of us had a clue what to do next. We'd been informed by the midwife that we should call the hospital upon one of two things happening:
  1. Karen's waters break
  2. The contractions last 1 minute and are 5 minutes apart.
I didn't think Karen's waters had broken, so I suggested that we get cracking on timing the contractions.
There's an app for that. NO, there really is! I've downloaded it!
The contractions were all over the show. Some lasted a minute, some lasted half that. Some were 10 minutes apart, some were 3.
I was bricking it as I didn't know which data set to pay heed to. Was it the length or the distance?
We put the call in to the hospital about 03:00 and they told us wait until the 09:00 and then call them again.
So, I wired Karen up to the Tens machine and got back into bed.

Friday morning was all systems go. Karen had been in pain for most of the night and was desparate to get to hospital. The call was placed and we were given the green light.
All the prep fell into place and we were off!
We were back home within the hour!!

They call me the wanderer, yeah the wanderer
I roam around, around, around
The Wanderer - Dion. Laurie 1961

The only thing we could think to do was to walk, so we wandered (or waddled) relentlessly around Hillsbourough Park. The hospital had said that Karen was only 1cm and I knew not what this meant, but I knew it meant that the baby wasn't on its way and that they wouldn't admit us to maternity because of this.
All this time, the pain was increasing for Karen and the anticipation increasing for me.
It was at this point I started the slippery slope to uselessness.
I knew this when on Friday teatime I asked if there was anything I could do.
"You could shut up" was her reply.

Another call was placed to the hospital and they told us that we could come back in at 21:00, which gave Karen something to focus on.
21:00 came and off we went. This time they allowed us to stay.
We were on!

You'll be pleased to know that the pictures start here, as I know this text gets a bit much!
Not of the birth obviously, that would be gross (and there plenty of that to come!)

I wish that someone had told me that there is a nomadic element to maternity wards!
We were ushered to our room and I immediately started to unpack, as I do upon arrival at any overnight accommodation. I unpacked our bags, hung the clothes up in the wardrobe then directed my attention to whether this was going to allow me a decent nights kip

Not perturbed by its unusual shape, I made myself comfy, only to be told 45 minutes later that we would now be moved to our maternity room. Bugger!
I packed up, double time, and followed Karen and the midwife down the hall.
This second room had no such comforts, so I had to make do with a chair.
Whilst Karen got a bit of rest, I photographed her. It seemed all very natural at the time but now I'm typing this, it seems incredibly creepy!

The evening of Friday the 15th was all pretty uneventful, with time broken only by nurses and midwives coming in to check on Karen.
Saturday 16th saw us poolside as Karen had expressed a wish to have a pool delivery.
Now, I really wanted to support my wife through this painful and traumatic event but there was no way that I was taking the midwife up on her suggestion of "bring your trunks if you want and you can get in"
Even swimming in piss, verruca socks, sharp toenails and used plasters as a kid at Mowbray Gardens seemed positively inviting compared to getting into a pool where Karen was going to give birth.
This reticence was completely justified when I saw the sieve on the equipment table.

If I'm being honest (which I always am when typing these updates), I didn't like the pool.
Saying that, I suppose it wasn't the pool I didn't like, more the combination of that and the gas and air.
It was horrible.
I lost Karen within 10 drags on the nitrous oxide.
She was incoherent, distant and agitated.
At one point I looked into her eyes and all I could see was abject despair.

She later told me that it was at this point that she had begun to hallucinate and was "visited" by her Mum.

The midwife had made the prediction that we would have a baby by her shift change at 16:00hrs. She couldn't have been more wrong. This particular midwife was wrong in so many other things but now isn't the place for such a discussion.
At the change of shift, our 3rd midwife decided to examine Karen to see what was happening.
This was when things went downhill for a while. Karen had entered the pool at 5cm dilated and at this examination, 6 hours later, she was now only 3cm.
In addition to this, the baby's heartbeat had started to rocket.
Karen was distraught.
Added to this was the stress of having to call our families to say that nothing had happened yet.
Given what had happened before, a call to say we hadn't got a baby was always a tense affair.

Because of the concerns over the baby's heart, Karen was taken from the pool and moved to yet another room (Queue more frantic packing by me).
I was now officially shitting myself.
Karen was still all over the place, owning to a combination of gas and exhaustion and I didn't know what to do.
It was established that Karen's waters hadn't broken yet, so they did it for her.
Thoughts of tsunamis flashed through my mind. Where was it all coming from?
I had to move my chair back a couple of feet, I shit you not!
She had also been given an epidural and wired up to a drip to help dilate her cervix as this didn't appear to want to do this unaided.

You make me feel alive, alive, alive
I'll take my chance cos luck is on my side
Rio - Duran Duran. EMI 1992

It was time to move again (no packing this time, I'd finally learned by this point) to the place where we would eventually have our baby.
We also moved onto our final midwife. Her name was Rio.........
No! It really was! Honest truth!

I can honestly say that I have never experienced as much stress as I did in the next 8 hours.
It was off the scale.
Karen was hooked up to a baby heart monitor and was monitored hourly

which then worryingly turned to constant monitoring

What happened next was a bit of a blur.
We quickly went from constant monitoring by a single midwife to having the room packed with doctors and consultants. The monitor showed that the heartbeat had started to fall rapidly and further tests showed that oxygen levels in the baby's blood were beginning to fall. In all this emotion and frantic activity, I recall one line:
"Its time to get this baby out"

The first cut is the deepest, baby I know
The first cut is the deepest.
The First Cut Is The Deepest - Cat Stevens. Dream Records 1967

I can only describe it as the sound made by cutting plastic tie-wraps.
It wasn't pleasant.
Vincent was the Doctor who had spoken the line above and he was the one who was most definitely going to "get this baby out"
Vincent was a giant of a man.
With the hospital bed at its highest setting, he still had to crouch.
He reminded me of John Coffey from the Green Mile.
I think you get the idea.

Contractions were no longer necessary.
Vincent was going to pull this baby from Karen's womb all by himself.
The forceps went in and were clamped into position.
What happened next was a miracle, times two.
Miracle one was the fact that Vincent didn't actually pull off the babies head with the force he applied to the forceps.
The bed physically moved with the power by which he was pulling.

One night of magic rush
The start - a simple touch
One night to push and scream
And then relief

Heartbeats - The Knife. V2 2002

And, well, I'm sure you can guess at miracle two.
Here she was. Edith May Roebuck. Born 05:11 on Sunday 17th April 2011 and weighing 7lbs 5oz.

I've been thinking over the last few weeks what I will write when I get to this point.
How will I explain how I felt?
Can it be put into words?
I think the only thing I can say is that when I saw her, I was absolutely overwhelmed with relief that she was alive, happiness that she was here and worry and hope that I'll be a good Dad and that I'll be able to look after her.
But most of all, the feeling of pure and unconditional love.
Nothing prepared me for that.
I now know what people mean when they say that they love something so much that it hurts.
My love for her does hurt a bit.

And my love for Karen changed at that moment too.
How can you not idolise another human being who is prepared to go through all of the things I have described above in order to give you a child.
That gift is one thing that cannot be put into words (which is probably why I've never said this to her!)
Mothers are amazing.

But still I'd rather be Famous
Frankly, Mr Shankly - The Smiths. Rough Trade 1985

We've had some tremendous support throughout the days whilst we were waiting for Edie, and it may or may not surprise you that some of this has been from stars of TV.
I had a obscure chat and a good luck Tweet from Sarah Millican (at 04:21am)

We had friends asking Leigh Francis / Keith Lemon to wish us well

And then my absolute favourite came when we had a personal ward visit by Freddy Boswell from late 80's sitcom; Bread!

I was going to end here but then I realised that there was one thing I forgot to mention and that some of you will be wanting to know.
Did I look / go down the business end / hang about near the goal mouth?
In all honesty, I hadn't planned to but that wasn't the case.
Whist Karen was in the pool, I positioned myself at so that I was face to face, which was fine until the contractions took hold.
It was at this point that Karen's arse started spinning round like a broken compass.
It was hard not to be arse to face but this was early days so it wasn't really that bad.

The same cannot be said for when Edith had arrived and Vincent was "attending" to Karen.
I was at the head of the bed and Karen asked for a drink of water, meaning I had to walk round the foot of the bed to get to the sink on the other side.
As I passed, I looked.

A wise friend said to me that looking "down there" after child birth was like watching your favourite pub burn down.
You know in your heart that it can be rebuilt, but it will never be the same again.
I haven't really had a drink since!