Thursday 26 May 2011

Changing times

Changing times
Well at 15 weeks Marty got his 15 minutes of fame, or at least 7 of them.

In the meantime, his mother got to be eloquent on the telly and I got to look and sound like a right numpty. I was going to post the links to this televisual experience but it would appear that the news teams have moved on and young Marty’s brief flirtation with fame is at an end.
So aside from getting to say “goo” to the nation what has been happening? Well not much to be frank.
Don’t babies develop slowly!
I’m not sure what I was expecting by 3 months. I was fairly certain my car was safe and that he wouldn’t be asking to borrow the keys any time soon but I did think he’d maybe be crawling by now and uttering the occasional word, but not a bit of it.
Just to check that we weren’t bringing up a dullard I went on-line to check for Autism and other such things. I'm not sure it was the best of ideas as the advice is hardly definitive and I was still left with "Hey, Up! He's not looking at me! I've been usurped by the curtains as a point of interest! Call the doctor!" 
I think we're alright though as, whilst he might have an unnautral affinity for the drapes, he is at least making lots of noise, and apparently that's a good thing. From what I read, if your baby makes no discernable voluntary noises within the first 12 months you either have an issue with autism.... or you need to get your hearing checked.
So, aside from my own paranoia, Marty is getting on fine, in fact he has made some major breakthroughs. Only last week he suddenly stopped waggling his arms and legs around in a wholly random fashion and settled down to very carefully stare at his hand.
You could see the soliloquy running through his head “Is this a hand which I see before me, the fingers waggling? Come, let me clutch thee!
This lasted a good few minutes and since then he has been actively reaching out to grasp things, only stopping to stare at his digits and run through another Shakespearean monologue.
At the weekend I was sure he was going to be left handed as he was reaching for everything with his left hand. Just to throw my theory out of the window he’s now started reaching for things with his right hand. So at least he knows he’s got two, which can only be a good thing.
All is also improving on the fatherhood front. I have finally managed to get him into those suits which only come with buttons and few, if any, poppers. What’s more we managed this without the shedding of tears by either party. In fact we’ve got into quite a morning routine: I pick him up and let him have a good stretch. Then I lay him down on his changing mat and give him a few moments to stare at himself in the wardrobe mirror. Satisfied that he still exists I now open the nappy to see what the damage is, at which point Marty breaks into a huge grin and gurgles like a good ‘un during the entire nappy changing routine.
I guess it’s only right that he should enjoy people wiping his arse. There is after all only a very brief moment in life when all concerned get a genuine joy out of this.

Thursday 19 May 2011

IVF and eggs

An oeuf is an oeuf
Well it looks as if Marty is going to have to learn to write pretty soon just to sign autographs.
Yup, we appear to have become famous, or at least far more famous than we ever were... which wasn’t difficult on account of us not being famous at all.
It all boils down to the wonders of IVF and egg white. Not content with just being the base ingredient of the culinary wonder that is meringue, eggs have branched out into the medical world and become the prime component in the creation of young Marty, or ‘Chicken boy’ as I might start to call him.
It all started when we tried, and failed, to have a baby. So we tried a bit more... and failed a bit more. So we had some tests and, sadly, these came back with the most damning verdict of all; ‘unknown infertility’. This was bad because it wasn’t an answer; I was fertile, Leanne was fertile, it should be working for us but it wasn’t and no one knew why.
So what do you do? If they’d told me:
Look, your balls have fallen off, we're all dreadfully sorry about it but we can’t find them anywhere so we're afraid you can’t have kids’
At least I’d have had a definite answer and we’d have had to move on in our lives.
After all, it’s not as if there’s a shortage of people in the world, we still had each other and, if the worst came to the worst, we could always borrow a niece or nephew to look after us in our dotage.
But a diagnosis of ‘unknown’ just leaves you with frustrated hope and, with something as emotively primal as having a baby, you can’t just turn your back on this hope.
So we tried IVF and were shocked when it failed. So we tried again and were utterly devastated when that also failed. So Leanne hit Google and started to find out as much as she could about the subject and what came up time after time was ‘immunology issues’, specifically the book by Alan E. Beer "Is your body baby friendly". Sadly Mr Beer is no longer with us, but Marty and many other youngsters are here because of him.
So off we went to the experts at CARE and we were told that this was an area they were currently working on and we could have some ‘Chicago tests’ if we wanted. So we did the tests and they came back saying that Leanne and I shared some common genes that might make it more difficult for the embryo to defend itself in the womb. On top of this Leanne also had a very active immune system and that would make it still harder for the embryo to win through.
Finally! We had some definite causes and, hopefully, a solution that wouldn’t require us to remortgage the house.
And this is where the egg white came in; apparently it works by helping to suppress the body’s immune system and, almost as importantly, it achieves this cheaply and with few, if any, adverse reactions.
Well there we go; eat a couple of extra large omelettes, add a bit of mayo and finish with a baked Alaska for desert and Leanne would be pregnant before you could say ‘More please sir’.
Obviously it was a little more complicated than that... but not by much; Leanne had to have an ‘intralipid’ drip just before egg transfer and a second one once we knew she was pregnant.. and that was it! Bob’s your uncle, Marty’s your son.
The tale of our endeavours seems to have interested the press, with first our local newspaper, the ‘Grantham journal’, running a Mother’s Day story and now the Mail on-line taking an interest. And today we got a call from Central News asking if we’d like to be on the telly!
One of the other medical issues with all this is that, if Leanne had got pregnant naturally, there’s a good chance that her immune system would have started to attack the foetus and she’d have miscarried – or at least have been at high risk of a miscarriage.
Which makes me wonder if this is a possible treatment for some of those women who have had multiple miscarriages?

Tuesday 17 May 2011

The madness....

Being a parent is like moving into a new flat only to discover that your flat mate owns the entire collected works of “Black lace” and isn’t afraid to play them. In this instance it isn’t ‘Agadoo’ blaring out through the night. Oh no, it’s far, far worse... it’s “Baa, baa black sheep”... and what's more you can't pack your bags and find another flat!
Marty loves lying on the floor and looking up at his mobile as blue frogs and yellow monkeys slowly pass by, and I for one do not have a problem with this. Sadly, the utter bastards that make these mobiles can’t leave it at oddly coloured fabric creatures. Oh no! They have to go and add music. So, whilst Marty waves his arms and gurgles incoherently, his attentive parent is driven slowly up the wall by the vile hordes of the Fisher price orchestra and their reggae rendition of ‘Baa, baa bloody black sheep’  
What is it with nursery rhymes that makes them stick to the inside of your brain like congealed porridge? I’ve spent the last week getting on with my work, minding my own business, only to discover that I’ve been humming “We went to the animal fair...” to anyone who cared to listen.
I’ve got a theory that, whilst “Mummy” and “Daddy” might be the first words your child actually speaks, the impetus behind this urge to talk is the need to scream out:
“In the name of all that is holy, will you please, please, turn that bloody music off before I throttle you with my rattle.”
Mind you, I could be wrong. In fact it has to be said that Marty seems a little less than delighted when I turn the music off in an attempt to stop my brains running out through my ears.
I suspect that ear plugs might feature large in my future.... that or a padded cell.

Monday 9 May 2011

Going green

It's not easy being green
One of my concerns when Marty arrived was how “green” we were going to be as parents. I just don’t like ‘disposable’ whether it’s razor blades or shopping bags; you use it a few times, throw it away, and it spends the next 1000 years in a land fill site. It might provide endless fascination for future archaeologists but it's astonishingly wasteful.
That said we now have a poo-machine in the family; a tiny creature cunningly designed by nature to defecate and urinate on an almost continuous basis. It is not unknown for me to change a nappy and have barely got the new one on before he’s farted for Britain and I’m fetching a replacement.

At the current rate Marty is going to need his own Landfill site before the year is out and sadly he is not alone; in the USA they go through 20 billion disposable diapers a year! Not only is that a very big number all by itself but it can take 500 years for a disposable nappy to degrade. 500 lots of 20 billion! That's almost as much as a bankers bonus! All in all, if we don't change our ways we're looking at our children growing up in a world of nappy mountains – the vast windswept 'Pampers' to the south, the rugged 'Huggies' range to the north.
But I do not want to spend the next 3 years – or how ever long this is going to last – knee deep in poo-plastered cotton towelling and living in a house that smells of week old urine.
So what do you do? Well, as Kermit said "It's not easy being green", whilst there are a number of ‘green’ nappies out there - most of which involve a washable outer covering and a disposable liner, some of which are even flushable or compostable - they are not cheap. Some just plainly cost a fortune, others aren't too bad but do involve a fairly large initial outlay and, when you’re as stony broke as we are, that’s a bit of a barrier.
Why is it that the leading manufacturers can’t produce a nappy that’s biodegradable and cheap? Surely making something out of a petroleum product is expensive and making it out of a recycled, degradable product is cheap?.... Obviously it isn’t but it certainly should be and I suspect it would be if the big manufacturers pulled their collective fingers out and actually took a proactive lead on these matters.
The other green area we’re going to be looking at over the coming months is food; do you buy baby food or do you make your own from organic foods? Fortunately we both like cooking so I think we’ll at least try the cook-your-own stuff.
On the organic front you only have to look at the amount of pesticides and heavy metals most of us now carry in our bodies to realise that it’s probably a good idea to buy organic when it comes to the little fella.
I dare say Jeremy Clarkson would disagree but then he’s become so mutated by petrol and pesticides that he now talks out of his arse, and apparently has done for some time!

Monday 2 May 2011


Bathtime - 5 days
One of the things drummed into me as Marty’s birth approached was that you have to make sure you don’t miss a minute of it because it all goes by so fast and they change all the time.
To be honest I largely ignored this advice putting it down as overly romantic nonsense from dewy eyed parents. However, it has to be said that they have a point.
I was only thinking the other day that Marty hadn’t changed that much in the few short months he’d been with us. Then I came across a photo of him having a bath aged 5 days and another of him in the same bath aged 10 weeks and it has to be said that, either the bath has shrunk dramatically, or Marty has almost doubled in size. In fact compare the two photos and he’s changed almost out of recognition; he’s filled out, he’s changed colour, his mouth and eyes have changed shape, the list goes on.
I have heard tell that this is not unusual. Apparently when babies are born they are supposed to look very like their fathers. The idea behind this is that if dad recognises some of himself in the baby he’s more likely to hang around and go hunting on mother and babies behalf. Of course this is utter claptrap; mother is more than capable of hunting in ASDA on her own and if Marty was supposed to be a dead ringer for me he’d have had no hair and been born clasping a pint glass.

Bathtime - 10 weeks

But it does explain why babies seem to change so much in the first few months. Mind you, being squeezed out of a tube that is patently not large enough for the purpose is bound to have an effect on your looks. Maybe Marty’s current mien reflects the fact that he’s had time to ‘relax’ now that he’s not being squeezed from all sides?
Other changes have been equally subtle. When he first arrived he’d move but the movements were slight and, aside from his moro reflex, fairly slow. These days he moves around in his cot like a disco dancer who’s drank one crate of Red bull too many; his arms are waggling, his legs are pumping, he’s gurgling and gooing. Give him a gold medallion and a stick-on hairy chest and he could be mistaken for a Bee-Gee.