The reality of parenting: an unsuccessful mothers day.

When the wife woke up this morning I imagine she thought a day of pampering was ahead. She would have been right. That was the plan. Unfortunately when you have kids things don’t always go to plan.

It would seem Florence has taken my smart arse wind up merchant side and coupled it with the Mrs fiesty stompy side and decided today was the day she was going to show us what that looks like.

It’s been relentless. No breakfast in bed or drinkable brews for my fine lady this morning. She got beans on toast at 11:30am a whole 5 hours after she got up. In between that time we heard the words ‘Can I have’ approximately 309 times and had about 10 end of the  world emotional breakdowns. I was called Mike all day instead of daddy and whenever I told Florence to call me daddy she replied ‘alright Mike’! (Cocky bugger). My stress levels got so high that I developed some sort of stress induced eye twitch.

We eventually managed to leave the house after 2 hours of negotiating and a boot/shoe crisis which made me want to bang my head against the wall. Thinking it would be nice to sit in the sun and have a drink, we went to the pub where I discovered it costs more to drink non-alcoholic beer than the real deal and giving an already hyperactive kid J20 is like giving amphetamines to a cocker spaniel. Florence couldn’t sit still and the excitement finally got the better of her and whilst I was buying the drinks she darted leaving mummy tear arseing it after her baby, car seat and drink in hand.

Florence picked nana a lovely bouquet of wild flowers whilst we were sat in the pub, only to mangle these into a mushy mess on the journey to deliver these. Upon our arrival at nanas Florence proceeded to lock us all out of the house, requiring me to jump a 10ft fence in my favourite boots scratching the bugger out of them.

After a short visit and a hasty exit we visited my parents which to my amazement was a visit which largely went without incident. She appeared to mellow and all seemed to calm. However it was clearly just a break in proceedings and a chance for  her to reboot for when we got home.

Now bedtime in the Brook household usually starts around 5:30. Today it started at 4:15 and that’s after the clocks had gone forward. We had simply had enough and couldn’t wait. So after a splash in the bath where all the toys were launched onto the bathroom floor, Florence was quickly dried and escorted into her bed. After 2 tries at getting her toast request right (I forgot the peanut butter 1st time, didn’t hear the end of that one for 10 minutes) the lights were eventually switched off and peace fell over the house.

On leaving Florence fast asleep I visited the fridge where I proceeded to abandon my quest for a thirst quenching beverage and instead I spent 5 minutes shoveling cocktail sausages into my mouth. Not my finest moment. But hey Florence was asleep and the curtain had dropped on today’s little show.

However like many shows we weren’t done yet. We got an encore. Barely had I had chance to swallow the last of the cocktail sausages when Florence decided to wake up and give us a 2 and a half hour encore. One we were not expecting and quite frankly one we could have done without. Now ironically  after calling me Mike all day she decided to shout for daddy and instead of been relieved and pleased that the message had finally sank in, my stress levels went up and my eye twitch kicked in. Thankfully it only took 20 minutes for her to fall back to sleep.

So today didn’t go anything like to plan. Not that there was much of a plan in the first place but I had visions of putting on a better day than the wife experienced today. But that’s the thing when you’ve have kids, you can plan all you like but if they throw a wobbler you can chuck those plans out the window. Surviving then becomes the aim of the day. Today we survived and the wife is now sat in bed whilst I make us a brew that we can enjoy whilst sat in bed in the dark. Not a bad end to Mother’s Day im sure she would agree.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you lovely mummies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The reality of parenting: Dad on the sidelines

The first few weeks of parenthood are a whirlwind of excitement, joy, relief and pure fear. To ease the transition from pregnancy to with-child  you will probably adopt different roles. Mummy may be chief baby feeder and comforter, daddy maybe mummy feeder and rehydrater plus half-arse cleaner. Eventually you settle into it and manage to negotiate your way through this adventure.

For us we had different roles. As the wife was breastfeeding I was not required to provide baby with any refreshments. Seen as food is a fundamental life source not only offering hunger relief and quenching thirst but also providing comfort, I found myself often on the sidelines doing nothing much more than cheerleading. I would feed the wife, ensure she was hydrated but in terms of feeding Floence I was useless. Couldn’t do it. I don’t have breasts that produce milk. The only thing she got from me if she ever latched on was a mouth full of hair which I imagine she was not expecting. We tried bottles and it just didn’t work for us. To much fath and Florence never liked them when we did use them.

As a result I often felt a little bit pushed out. So I made the effort to provide comfort and bond with Florence in other ways. I would burp her after feeds, I would dance around singing songs at 2am when she woke up when she was colicy and refusing to go back to sleep. I changed nappies, I put on silly puppet shows and gave very light soft baby massages. I attempted cutting her nails once but failed miserably (this pops up a lot in my stories as the whole event has left me traumatised) and would use the baby carrier instead of the pram whenever we went out so I could be close to her. 

All the above things, minus nail cutting, brought Florence and I closer together. We have developed a really good relationship. Because although feeds and changes are important, strong attachments are formed by playing and communicating with your baby. When I’ve spoken to dad’s going through the same thing I’ve always recommended trying doing some of the above. I then also warn them about what happens between 7-9 months old.

Before this period babies quite happily interact with familiar caregivers. You will get a look in aslong as you are there and responsive. However at around 7 months babies develop a fondness for a specific caregiver, the primary caregiver. Now in our house I had fecked off back to work after 2 weeks, doing the old 9-5 living for the weekend dance. The wife was on maternity. She was with Florence pretty much every hour of the day. Grafting, raising our little girl and developing an amazing relationship with her. Securing that primary caregiver status. I was firmly in secondary caregiver position, although nana was trying to edge her way in.

Then Florence turned 7 months old and pretty much over night I became unwanted. I couldn’t get a look in. She just wanted mummy all the time. Didn’t want my cuddles to help her sleep or listen to my musical repertoire. Just wanted mummy and her moo moo’s. It got to a point where the wife would get Florence to sleep and if she woke up and I went to see her she screamed the house down.

It wasn’t the greatest feeling at the time and looking back it’s definitely not my favourite developmental stage. But like everything it soon passed. A few months later I was back in the good books and pretty much a bedtime teddy bear, cuddling Florence whilst she went to sleep.

Everynow and again I do find myself back on the sidelines. The last few weeks for example Florence has been all mummy mummy again. If she has woken up at night she has wanted nothing to do with me just wanted mummy. Wasn’t the nicest of times but then again just like all the times before it didn’t last for long and I was back in the being wanted books.

With Edith I am following the same pattern. I am on the feeding sidelines but everything else I can get involved in. I am also mentally preparing myself for that 7 month point again but at least this time I am aware of it and now what to expect.

So if you feel on the sidelines just try and get involved in anything you can think of. Remember communicating and playing with your babies is essential and will help you build that special bond. And when those times come when you get pushed out a little, just remember it doesn’t last forever.

Much love

 

 

 

 

 

The reality of parenting: Dropping a bollock

You know what parenting is hard graft. You try your hardest to keep your children safe. To protect them from all the dangers and nasties in the world.

But no matter how hard you try you will at some stage drop a bollock. You will most likely unintentionally cause them a mischief. And if you do you will probably beat yourself up for days, weeks, maybe months for it.

But you know what we all mess up. We can’t be perfect, that’s unattainable. We can’t be 100% all the time. Shit trying to reach 70% at times is hard enough. Sometimes good enough is just that.

Today I dropped a bollock. We were off out to the Baby and Toddler Show at Event City, Manchester. Given that there was likely to be a fair few people present we got dressed up a bit. Made an effort. New shoes, cheeky jacket.

Somehow we had managed to arrive 30 minutes before the doors opened so we decided to have a Starbucks. A nice little Sunday treat. All was happy and content when Flo started to cough and struggling to breathe. Now Flo has has dairy and egg anaphalaxis. This is hard at times but for the most part we manage it well and we are pretty clued up to her symptoms so knew straight away she was having an allergic reaction. All we needed to do was just get the piriton out and have the epipen ready, if needed.

However, because we had gone all fancy, not in our usual mumy and daddy attire, we had as such neglected to take the allergy emergency bag with us. That was back home, along with the back up emergency pack which was nicely nestled into my everyday jacket (the jacket I wear pretty much for all occasions because it has more space than Mary Poppin’s bag).

So what happened next was sheer on panic. I legged it to asda, abandoning the wife and baby no2, or Edith as we call her. I conducted a full scale search of Asda for piriton and came up empty handed. I engaged in a brief chat with Asda’s little helpers who informed me they had no infant piriton and could not access the pharmacy because they need someone medically trained to do so. With Florence struggling to breathe and nothing available to relieve her symptoms I had no choice; I had to ring 999.

To summarise what happened next: the ambulance arrived, the paramedic asked lots of questions, the wife and I sheepisly owned up to our incompetence, Flo went for yet another little ride in an ambulance, got checked over in the Panda unit, was given piriton, was discharged and we returned back to the scene of the crime a whole 4 hours later and enjoyed the rest of our day.

Now on the scale of dropped bollocks that is pretty much the biggest one I’ve dropped to date. There’s been a few contenders; the time I chopped the tip of Flo’s finger off when trying to cut her nails, springs to mind. But I think today wins.

In retrospect today could have gone a lot better it could also have gone significantly worse. If I had remembered the allergy bag I probably wouldn’t have had to drag a gasping 3 year old around Asda. I wouldn’t have had to ring 999 and we wouldn’t have had to have gone to hospital again. Ultimately it did happen and luckily everything was ok in the end.

But we’ve learnt from it and already have come up with a better allergy plan. 

And that’s what we should do. As parents we might mess up or do something wrong. But instead of beating ourselves up we should see it as part of life, part of being a parent and just try and learn from it. Of course when we mess up we will feel guilty. It’s normal to feel guilty when you do something that’s conflictual to your morals or values. But when it happens try to learn from it and be compassionate towards yourself, because parenting is hard and you can’t get it right all the time.

Much love

The joys of sleep deprivation

I thought I would share my story about becoming a parent for the first time with you inspired by #dadstories and BabyBjorn and there new limited collection of baby one carriers inspired by the modern-day dad.

When we left the saftey of the hospital after Flo was born and got home the reality of parenting kicked in. The feeding (granted I just watched but still I was there), the continuous nappy changes, the amount of clothes that we went through, the amount of clothes we had to return because she was massive and they didn’t fit, the bathing, the nappy rashes……i could go on and on but to summarise it was a steep learning curve and everything came thick and fast.

What came quickest was the sleep deprivation. I was warned about this. Most seasoned parents do chip in and the general content of advice we received was that we would be nakered. I knew I would be tired but felt at 25 and not needing much sleep I would be ok. I was wrong.

Flo was colically as f**k. I mean it was relentless. I still look back at this period and shudder. I would walk through the door at 5:30 and it would kick off. Screaming non stop. No matter what we did she wouldn’t settle. We tried infacol, gripe water, the lyrically harmonies of Lennon/McCartney. No matter what we did she just wouldn’t settle. Until 11pm. Shattered the wife and I would nod off, until as just to extend our suffering Flo would wake up again at 11:30. Screaming. And it would go on all night. I battled nightly not to fall asleep after 11 as I knew what would happen but I just couldn’t. I was pooped.

Coffee wouldn’t touch the sides. Not that I didn’t try. I probably paid the yearly wages of one of the baristas at Costa Coffee. The extent of my sleep deprivation finally set in however on a cold wet Manchester December evening.

Part of my job at the time involved studying at the University of Manchester for one day a week. I loved this day. Gave me a little time off to recover. However on this particular day things went wrong. After a long day where I just about stayed awake, I walked to the train station and successfully borded my first train. I then successfully disembarked said train at the correct train station. So far so good. Then right on time ‘my next train’ pulled up to the platform. I sleepily borded and took my seat. Headphones in, feeling pretty dozzy I settled in for the 2o minute journey.

30 minutes later I was a little confused as to why it was taking so long. Because it was dark I couldn’t really see and because of my music I could hear nothing. You don’t listen to The Stone Roses quietly. You drain all external noise out with that shit. And anyway I generally planned my route off the number of stops the train took before it reached my destiniaton. So I thought I best have a nosey at the name of the next station. Bolton! Suffice to say I wasn’t expecting that. It’s miles away from where I live. I quickly disembarked. Tried to find the next train home. There wasn’t one. Buses. Not for ages. So had to drag the wife and our 3 month old baby out the house on an epic journey to save me. Right then I knew I needed sleep. I went in work the next day and booked some annual leave. Not that a got much sleep but at least I didnt have to get up and go to work which gave me time to recover.

Colic lasted until Flo was 4 months old then like it never existed it just went away. She has never been a great sleeper since but nowhere near as bad as she was during those colic laden days.

Over the years I’ve spoken to many parents going through the same thing. When they’ve asked for advice I’ve often gone with ‘it doesn’t last forever’ and ‘you sort of get used to it’. Most importantly I’ve always tried to be honest in how we experienced it. Bloody hard work, brutal at times but it was also hilarious because sleep deprived laughter is one of the greatest experiences in life.

Much love

Hello and Welcome

Hello!

After months of deliberation I’ve finally decided to give this blogging game a go.

So as of today the Daddy Freckle Blog is born. Who knows where this will go. I’ve not got a clue just going to approach it like I approach most things; blissfully unprepared but full of excitement. That pretty much sums up my approach to parenting which as luck will have it will be the theme of my blog.

If you don’t already know me then I am Mike aka Daddy Freckle and if you do then you probably know what to expect.

Let’s leave it there for now. Check back in soon.

Much love.