Parenting is hard

Mrs Lava and little L have been at home since Thursday afternoon, so about two nights (it’s Sunday as I write this). The rollercoaster has set off.

Being Dad is difficult, let me just get that out there. Being Mum is much harder, I completely agree. We Dads suffer in different ways though- mainly down to the fact we don’t have the equipment to breast-feed with. Baby cries, pick her up and she’s immediately rooting, smacking her lips and hunting for a nipple. Sadly, my nipples are just decorative.

So, I hand her over to Mum, feeling that I’ve contributed zero to placating our little joy bundle. Her nipples are not only decorative, they provide sustenance and joy also (so many jokes here, so little time)

Then there’s the constant guilt hanging over you as you hear the wails and cries from upstairs in the nursery as my wife tries to get her to latch on properly, wind her, maybe change nappies and work out why she’s crying.

You knuckle down, keep the house as clean as you can, pop to the shop a lot (thank goodness for the 24 hour supermarket down the road!), offer cups of tea, moral support and just try to be the best you can be.

In amongst the tidal wave of advice most parents-to-be get, was that the first two weeks are hard. Really really hard- moreso if you’re breastfeeding. I had no idea I’d feel envious of parents who are just using formula from the outset. Mix, pop in bottle, plop in mouth, drink, wind, sleep. Most of our issues stem from breastfeeding, but that’s a separate entry I think!

However, it’s all totally worth it for the small moments where she’s sleeping on your chest, making cute baby noises, and you fall in love with her all over again.

Best Laid Plans or The Agony of Waiting

I’m finally a dad. It’s weird. It hasn’t really sunk in. I am writing this in a short period where I have the house to myself before I go to hospital and rejoin my wife and daughter who I reluctantly left this morning at 1am.

Having a baby is a roller coaster ride of emotion. First the excitement of being pregnant, then the paranoia that something will go wrong (3 previous early miscarriages in a row will do that to you), then excitement again as baby grows and is fine.

You attend NCT, you get prepared, you get told all about natural childbirth and the potential interventions available. If, like us, you are one of the last ones in your NCT group to give birth (we were originally joint second from last), you hear of birth after birth where the best laid birth plans were pretty much thrown out of the window due to complications. Babies born weeks early, babies born under induction, babies born under emergency caesarian. By the time it was our turn, not a single baby had been born ‘normally’. By this, I mean naturally entering labour, using pain relief and baby coming out with a vaginal birth.

Still, we were naturally hopeful. Our due date (26th July) came and went. Frustration slowly crept in, hand in hand with impatience and worry. Mutterings from the medical side of things about age and letting pregnancy go on too long. The word ‘stillbirth’ was mentioned as a concern if it goes on. That is just an awful word which hides an utter horror. Even thinking about it make me well up, which shows my still emotional state of mind.

We were reluctant to induce, but were booked in for 40+10. The couple who were sharing our due date gave birth on Monday (following a very long and complicated labour, with emergency caesarian).

My wife was pulling out all the stops, doing all the things you’re supposed to do to try and help labour get started- sex, curries, pineapple, raspberry tea. Maybe all four at the same time. Still, nothing. On Monday 3rd, she went for a Reflexology session which was designed to help get labour started.

Tuesday evening, we go to bed as normal, lot of Braxton-Hicks but no actual contractions. 3am Wednesday morning, that all changed! Excited but focused, we started to time the contractions, and to be honest, we had no real idea what we were looking for. Nevertheless, when they got regular (5 min intervals) and quite strong, we called the midwife. They asked some questions, and decided we were good to come in.

Car packed, and into Southmead Hospital for 0600. Come 0615, it turns out she was 6cm dilated, so in established labour.

I’m not going to go into the whole story here, but suffice to say, again, that the best laid plans usually go awry. She got to 8cm after 3 hours, and then had to go onto Pethidin as the pain was too much to handle. This had the effect of suppressing contractions, but 3 hours later, she was fully dilated. But, contractions weren’t strong enough, and our midwife had us transferred into the main unit from our water birth suite as she suspected the baby, although head down, was turned so the shoulder were aligned up/down and not left/right.

This was at about 1800. My wife had been utterly amazing. I’ve never been more impressed with anyone. Ever. I was in pain watching her. I was so stressed, I was almost in tears. This is a very new thing for me as I’ve never been in that kind of zone before. However, this was nothing compared to what she was going through, and my one job was to be her rock. So, suck it up I did.

At 1840, after consulting and painful contractions, it was confirmed our daughter was misaligned. It was time for theatre. My wife was given an Spinal Epidural (something we never wanted in the idealistic early days of early pregnancy), and into theatre we went, in our scrubs and funny shoes.

I’ll save the graphic details, but damn she didn’t want to come out. However, the surgical team were brilliant and our gorgeous daughter was born at 1933, weighing 8lb exactly.

I take my hat off to everyone involved in her birth, not least to my wife who was brilliant throughout. The care we were given at Southmead was utterly superb, and we are truly blessed to have an organisation like the NHS. I can only imagine what would have happened to us if we lived somewhere with no such place.

I left them in the post-natal ward at 1am last night, as they sort of discouraged birth partners from staying, although they didn’t say it in so many words. I’m about to leave now to go back to the hospital and see my two favourite girls.

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NCT classes

We had our last NCT class last night.

In case you don’t know, NCT stands for National Childbirth Trust and they are a charity. However, they also offer a great set of evening classes aimed at the first-time parents. Probably like most guys, I was a little dubious about it and moreso when I heard the price of it. However, as it turns out, it was the best thing we could’ve done.

It was local to us, and there were 9 couples there who also lived locally (more or less). The birthdates ranged from early June to early August, so quite a spread. They are a really nice bunch of people and we’ve all become friends in the short space of time that we’ve known each other.

In the space of the six sessions (two hours each), we covered the whole range of subjects, from early questions about what happens next, to covering the birth, contractions, pain relief options and breastfeeding. Our teacher was absolutely brilliant, and I can’t praise her enough.

We have come out of the NCT with a heck of a lot more confidence and it was much needed. We feel really ready now and can concentrate on looking forward to the little bundle of joy appearing. We’ll be having a reunion once all the babies are born, but also going out for some food next week.

To our surprise, we have already had two couples give birth a few weeks early! The babies are both so cute and perfect and it was lovely to see them. And this morning, a couple who were expecting twins were booked in for a C-Section to have them taken out, and they are absolutely fine. A boy and girl, and both about 5lbs.

Exciting times!

Man stuff- making the pram

The new pram arrived late yesterday, along with the car seat.

Now, choosing the pram was initially daunting, then straightforward enough. We end up in John Lewis, not because we usually shop there, but because prams tend to be the same price everywhere you go, and JL’s customer service is second to none. Not to mention, they have a lot of prams out on display.

Too much choice really. They all seem to be the same until you start (metaphorically) pulling them apart. I quickly saw you get what you pay for, but three makes seem to be at the top of the tree for build quality and ease of use- Uppababy, Bugaboo and Silver Cross. Once we got hands-on, and with excellent help from one of the ladies at John Lewis, we decided on the Bugaboo Vista as it ticked most of the boxes.

We had to have an awkward conversation in front of the assistant about whether it doubled up for baby #2, something we hadn’t really talked about before. Mrs Lava’s look was “how about we see how #1 goes first?!”- which was a fair comment.

Anyway. Once we had decided on a model, we quickly found that was the easy bit. We chose a colour from the 10 or so on offer, and were told that was out of stock. Not just at JL, but nationally. They couldn’t guarantee more stock in 6 weeks…it was a very popular model.

OK, colour #2? Same. #3? Same problem. Erm. Alright, what DO you have in stock? As this electric blue colour was a ‘JL exclusive’ colour, that was in stock- naturally. Fortunately, both Mrs L and I were in agreement that we could live with it.

It arrived yesterday, along with a compatible car seat:

Our 'Georgie Blue' pram

Our ‘Georgie Blue’ pram

I did the man thing of putting it together without reading the manual, and as it was mostly constructed already, it wasn’t exactly difficult.

That’s it now- we are ‘logistically prepared’. If she came later today, we could cope in terms of ‘baby stuff’. Emotionally prepared? Probably….!

Introduction

Hello and welcome to my ‘Dad blog’.

Why have I started this, another ‘Dad’ blog to add to the many out there? I am doing this really for myself, my wife and our baby who is due on 26th July 2015. If others find it entertaining and choose to be regular readers, then I’m happy you decided to stick around.

I wanted to create some sort of record, the sort of thing I would have loved my parents to do for me when I was a newborn, then a child (had they had the tech). I get a huge kick out of looking back at the few baby photos of myself, and noting not only how I looked, but also my parents and the old houses we used to live in. Things were very different in the 70s, some good differences, some bad, but fascinating nonetheless.

I’ve been trying to find other Dad blogs, but the most prominent ones seem to be all about product placement and reviews, and not really about day to day stuff which is probably what most of us want to read about. So, I thought I’d give this a crack.

About myself. Obviously I am not called Benny Lava, but that’s my moniker on here. I am 43 (soon to be 44) years old, married to an amazing lady (referred to as Mrs Lava from here on) for 18 months. We live in SW England and life is pretty good.

We are going to have a little girl very soon:

Our little girl, back in Deember

12 wk scan, back in December

Mrs Lava wanted to know the sex right off the bat, I didn’t have a strong opinion, so we found out we were having a girl at the 12 week dating scan. To be honest, naming girls is much easier than boys, lots of pretty names about!

Anyway, until she is born, this blog may be infrequent- who knows. I’ll see how it goes. Thanks for reading🙂