Thursday 31 March 2011


Marty practices the Hula
Colic! This is the condition that we have been threatened with ever since Leanne first announced that she was pregnant, with most of the conversations running along the lines of “Congratulations, but forget about any sleep...” Most people seemed genuinely disappointed when we told them that Marty was sleeping well and that we were both as fresh as daisies... sadly, the emphasis here is on the word “were”.

Yup, after two weeks of relative quiet, Marty developed Colic on week 3 and medical opinion is that he’s unlikely to shift it until about month 3 or 4.

Bizarrely enough, little is actually known about colic; theories abound, but few are linked to any substantive facts. They’re not even certain that it’s anything to do with the babies digestion, despite that being glaringly obvious to every parent I’ve ever talked to. In fact the definition of colic is as vague as the medical facts: “inconsolable crying for up to 3 hours”, which is a definition that could just as easily be applied to Liverpool FC supporters.

On the plus-side most medical opionion also insists that colic is not an illness or a disease, it's just something that happens to many new born babies; not pleasant but nothing to really worry about. That said, one of the classic signs of colic is bright green poo, and if your poo suddenly changing to the colour of mushy peas isn't something to worry about then what the hell is?
Reading around the internet, and what baby books we have in the house, we discovered that dairy products were a common theme in the arrival of colic. So Leanne cut out cereal in the morning and cheese sandwiches for lunch. Alas, this didn’t cure it completely but it did reduce it down to manageable levels. Just to test the theory Leanne starting drinking milk again and boy did we notice the difference; with Leanne avoiding dairy Marty just needed 15 minutes light tapping until he burped, with Leanne drinking milk Marty needed about 3 hours heavy slapping until he neigh on exploded.
One of the bonuses of colic though is that Marty has to sit on my knee and look upon the world in a totally bemused fashion as his back is pummelled. Not only does this make him look exceptionally cute, but it also makes him look remarkably like Sammy from “a Turtles Tale”.

Sunday 27 March 2011

Breast feeding

Marty & Aunty Nicky
In the run up to Marty’s arrival, Leanne and I went to a few antenatal clinics... and to be honest they didn’t meet my expectations.
This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing in that I had expected umpteen large events, where we all sat down on the floor, tried to breathe properly, and shouted “push” at inopportune moments. Whilst that sounded like a a different way of spending an afternoon it didn’t sound exactly riveting.
These days “umpteen” sessions has been replaced with “two” and they were fairly small and snug affairs, where we chatted about the joys of child birth and the sleepless nights that would ensue. One of the more bizarre aspects of these events was that we were all given lovely colourful, crocheted breasts, complete with multi coloured nipples. The idea was that we’d all learn about breastfeeding using these woolly boobs and a tiny tears doll. I guess it might have helped some people but I just felt like I was trying to smother a plastic doll with a Rastafarians bobble hat, which rather put me off the whole thing.
They do go on and on about breastfeeding and most of the information you receive runs pretty much like this “It’s not essential to breastfeed and you shouldn’t feel guilty if you can’t... BUT...” The thing is, this isn't an ordinary "but", this particular "but" is about 40 foot high, written in florescent yellow, with an array of flashing lights around it. This is the sort of “BUT” you are unlikely to overlook and, whilst it’s not stated, the implication is that if you don’t at least try to breastfeed you will be condemned to a fiery hell for all eternity.
I can see their point in that, whilst it can be uncomfortable for the mother, it’s much, much better for the baby. On the other hand, I read one of those “baby” magazines which had an article where the lady in question was telling everyone that she was not going to breastfeed because she wanted her body back and she wanted to retain her nice boobs. Whilst I can understand why a mother might be somewhat reluctant to breastfeed, especially when it’s painful, I couldn’t help but feel that I was reading the rants of an astonishingly self obsessed person who hadn’t quite grasped the idea of parenthood.
Fortunately for us Leanne and Marty took to breastfeeding straight away. Leanne was fully expecting it to be painful, so she wasn’t surprised when it was, and apparently it got easier over time. God knows what Marty was expecting but when you’re a young chap and you suddenly find yourself confronted by a boob roughly the same size as yourself I think it’s safe to say that he wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity.
Mind you, you do hear horror stories of boobs rent asunder by marauding babies; nipples split and mauled beyond hope in that eternal quest for free milk. I got an idea of what the ladies where talking about recently when Leanne started expressing and I got a chance to bottle-feed Marty. He took to the plastic nipple like a limpet that’s been spending a lot of time down the gym. I’m fairly sure that I could actually stick Marty to the ceiling just by the power of his suck alone.
Sadly, Leanne is reluctant to test this theory.

Monday 14 March 2011

Birthday Bureaucracy

Father & Son
There’s an awful lot of bureaucracy involved with child birth! Marty had barely drawn his first breath when they passed me a little red book and told me not to lose it. This is basically the “baby book”; a catalogue of essential information such as his size and weight, his inoculations and injections, and an exhaustive list of everyone who has poked and prodded him, together with a note to say why.
To be honest I’d never realised just how much care babies get in his country and I have to say I’m very grateful. During the first week we had midwives popping over to check on us every few days, then the local GP gave him the once over, then the health visitor started visiting; Marty could barely fart without it being weighed, measured and jotted down.
The only point at which all this intensive scrutiny broke down was when we received a letter from the local hospital to inform us that they’d made an appointment on the 19th Jan for Marty to have his hearing checked. The letter then broke into stern officialdom to point out that we had failed to attend that first appointment, that this had caused great distress within the NHS and that we had better make sure we attended the next appointment or they were going to have a huff and not let us have another one. Fortunately we had a number of good excuses, firstly we hadn’t received this earlier letter and secondly Marty wasn’t actually born until the 5th of February; an event that most in the medical profession regard as an essential prerequisite for a hearing test.

Spot the difference
Health aside, the only other thing they are very keen for you to do is to register the birth as soon as possible. This is quite a pleasant little quiz where they ask you all sorts of complex questions such as “Who are you?” and “When was your wife born?” Fortunately I’d written down most of the answers already so I scored 75% first time ‘round.
Once the lady in charge was happy with the answers she passed me a fine quality ink pen and I added my moniker to Marty’s birth certificate, and there he was; officially born!
So we had a little red book, we had the birth certificate, there was just one last thing to do and Marty would be officially “Here”.... So I stopped off on the way home and bought the official “Baby on Board sticker” for the car.

Thursday 10 March 2011

The first week

So we got through Week one and what did we learn?
Well it was easier than I’d expected, partly because of the amount of sparkling wine we received when Marty was born and partly because babies seem to be designed to wean you into parenthood. For example, newborns are fairly easy to handle; whilst they might struggle a little they aren’t capable yet of that back flip that they perfect in later months, the one that can propel them several feet into the air before you can say “OhmyGodwhereshegone??
Another thing with newborns is that, whilst they need carrying everywhere, you get eased into this by the fact that you can put very young babies down and then find them again, 5 minutes later, exactly where you'd put them! This is a darn handy feature but I’ve been told not to expect this fact to continue for much longer.
Poo is a big feature of early parenthood, in fact I suspect it will feature large in my life for at least the next 3 years. Newborn baby poo is designed in a range of frightening colours from black, through bright yellow, to ominous green. Whilst this means that you might not eat chip shop curry sauce, Dijon mustard or mushy peas ever again it does at least have the virtue (so far at least) of being produced in manageable portions with an accompanying scent that, whilst hardly Chanel No.5, doesn’t cause a gag reflex to kick in.... which is just as well as it tends to be the kind of scent that lingers. I think it gets stuck in the back of your nose, or something, because I’ll be sipping coffee in the local Plumb Center, miles away from mother and baby, when I’ll suddenly get a strong whiff of Marty’s derriere.
Our first pram ride was a revelation. The first issue was that our pram seems to have been designed by the bloke who invented the Rubic’s cube; it took me half the morning to figure out how to collapse it so it fitted in the car and the rest of the afternoon to figure out how to uncollapse it so we could take Marty out in it. Even then it was an entire week before we discovered that the wheels came off, which was handy as it didn’t fit into the car with them on.
The second thing I noticed was that our pram had rubbish suspension but this was quickly followed by the realisation that babies love rubbish suspensions. Marty likes nothing more than being pushed at high speed over horribly uneven surfaces – ideally a cobbled road with the odd pot hole thrown in for good measure. It’s odd, but he loves the sort of travel conditions that would have an adult up in arms; if he’s not a vibrating blur in the pram he’s just not happy.

Thursday 3 March 2011

The Umbilical cord

The most bizarre thing that a newborn baby comes with is an umbilical cord.
For some reason it’s currently vogue for the father to cut this cord when the baby arrives and I have no idea why they think this is in any way a good idea. If you are expecting to spend a great deal of your later life ceremoniously opening shopping malls, then fair do’s, you might gain some valid work experience chopping your way through an umbilical cord, but aside from that I can’t think of a positive. That all said, everyone else at the birth thought it was a great idea so I meekly went along with it.
Cutting the cord itself is like using a pair of scissors to slice through a particularly gristle ridden steak; it’s not exactly pleasant but it’s hardly a horrendous experience. What was a let-down was the complete lack of flash photography and the fact that the massed hordes of Paparazzi were noticeable only by their absence. Shame really as it was the sort of occasion that seemed to warrant an explosion of flash lights and a tumultuous round of applause at the very least.
So, having made the cut that proclaims your child as an independent entity, they hand him back to you. By now the purple tinges are fading away and he’s actually starting to look vaguely human, except that he has what seems to be a large slug attached to his stomach. And, just in case you missed the slug, they fit a huge yellow clip to it. 
I asked the midwife why they fitted such a huge clip to the umbilical cord and the answer she gave was that ‘umbilical cords differ in size’. This didn’t seem to explain why the clip was almost the size of the baby and only really made any sense if the Maternity unit occasionally delivered young pachyderms and stocked up on umbilical clips accordingly. Anyway, at least the enormous bright-yellow clip made it easy to find the baby again if you did occasionally misplace him.
By day three the slug like umbilical had withered away and was starting to look a bit like a vanilla pod, yet smell like a 6 day corpse. All this time you have to try to fit nappies ‘hipster’ fashion as you need to let this cord dry out, and little or nothing is going to stay dry if it’s anywhere near a nappy. This is all a little awkward, especially when you haven’t a great deal of experience in nappy fitting but, fortunately, by day 5 Marty’s cord disappeared - only to be found later that day, hidden in the leg of his baby-gro. We were a bit worried at first as his belly-button bled a little, but apparently that was entirely normal and sure enough it stopped completely after about a week.
Kilroy woz ere
I’m still not sure what to do with this old withered umbilical and its gigantic clip. It seems a bit macabre to store it as a keepsake, yet it doesn’t seem right to just throw it away. On a bright note at least the nappy changing is easier now we’re cord-free, in fact Marty has taken the opportunity to start sporting them “Simon Cowell” stylie... which is surely a good thing.