Saturday, November 19, 2005

If you don't like dirty nappies, look away now!

Warning: This post contains detailed "nappy content(s)" (sic).

A few weeks ago Hayley went to get her hair done and left Oliver with me for a few hours. In this time I was also expecting a TV engineer who was coming to upgrade our satellite TV and also another delivery. Hayley left the two of us a picture of calm. Within two hours everyting had gone to rats! Oliver, perhaps objecting to these intruders into our home, cried for virtually the whole morning: an unprecendented act on his part.

Today Hayley went to a sale of baby clothes with her friend Dawn. During this time Oliver was perfectly happy, right up to the point where he needed a nappy change. He started to cry and so I picked him up to take him upstairs and change him. I realised that holding him under his bottom may squeeze out the offending substance, so I popped him onto my shoulder and simply suported his feet.

Then, as I walked up the stairs, I felt that his feet were wet. I looked down to see my hand covered in poo. I diverted to the bathroom where I washed my hand (still with Oliver on my shoulder) and headed off to the nursery. On arriving in the nursery I put him on his changing table and looked down at my trousers. There were three large orangey brown, runny patches of poo on them. By this point I realised I was in trouble (though for some reason I was still laughing). Clearly he was going to need a complete change of clothes. And as there was another patch of brown on my shirt, so was I!

I removed his trouswers which turned out to have a substamntial amount of excrement in them. But there was worse to come. It had leaked out onto all his clothes and what was leaking out smelled truly appalling. Involuntarily I wretched at the smell: something that has never happened to me before. I even remember in the first few days thinking how sweet and yeasty his poo smelled: a bit like warm bread! But now I badly wanted to open the window. However, it was a few degrees above freezing outside and I didn't want him to get cold.

Forgive me but I am going to have to describe the poo. You may want to skip to the next paragraph. It was a mixture of regular runny orangey brown poo with some awful greyish sticky gooey poo mixed in. The smell was terrible and if I could have left him safely on the changing table to go 15 feet to the cupbaord where I have nose clips for swimming, I would have done so and put one on.

I persevered and eventually got him cleaned up thanks to a large number of wet wipes, then stripped off myself and collected up our collective soiled clothes. Throughout the whole of course proceedings Oliver was quiet and happy, even when I had to clean his bare back with cold wet-wipes.

When Hayley arrived home fifteen minutes later I recounted the tale. She rocked with laughter, doubling up on the sofa, almost crying. She then took great pleasure in ringing Dawn and relaying the story to her!

Now, I know that he is not waiting for his Mum to go out before doing this sort of thing, so I am left with the unavoidable truth: that this is the sort of horror that Hayley has to deal with on a regular basis!

There have been times when giving up work and looking after Oliver has seemed attractive to me. Today was not one of them.

Monday, November 14, 2005

In my place

Over this past weekend we reached a big milestone. We hadn't planned to reach it this early, but our growing son gave us little choice. He has moved out of his Moses Basket and into his cot. And as there is not enough room for his cot in our bedroom, this means he has also moved into his own room.

We had noticed that particularly after his feed in the middle of the night he was not sleeping as long and could be heard banging against the side of his basket. So last Friday we moved into the nursery. Yes, we ALL moved into the nursery, for the night at least.

We all went to bed at the same time. We put the nursing pillow around and above his head so his new bed would not seem so huge. We put him into his cot and after a few more murmurings than usual he got the message that we were with him as usual and he went to sleep. We lay in bed a while longer then sneaked off downstairs with the baby monitor for an hour as it was still only about 9pm.

After an hour or so we went back up to bed in the nursery. We slept on the rather cramped (compared to our usual King Size) sofa bed with a futon mattress. In a reversal of our usual routine we fed him in our bedroom when he woke around 2am. After the feed he went back down to sleep without any problems.

In the morning we were there with him when he murmured and woke. He had slept until it started to get light, exactly as he normally did. Success!

On Saturday night Hayley and I moved back into our room and put the baby monitor into action during the night for the first time. Before he went to bed he drank a record 9 ounces of milk.

We put him to bed and headed off to our room with the baby monitor. He then slept for an unprecedented seven and a half hours!

Now you'd think this meant we got a good night's sleep. Not a chance! We were paranoid that the monitor wouldn't pick up his cries and that we wouldn't hear him. It was also a cold night - probably the coldest of the Autumn so far - and we spent much of it watching the temperature reading on the baby monitor, not to mention the two thermometers in his room, one of which had an alarm set if the temperature fell below 16C!

By the time he woke for a feed at around 3.30am we were more tired than usual. And the next morning when he woke as usual I was shattered. But it was a milestone reached and passed without half the problems I'd been worrying about. I'm a little sad to see his Moses Basket witting waiting to be put in the attic and I miss him murmuring in our room. But he's happy in his rrom and that's all that really matters.

12 pounds 11 ounces

Oliver was weighed and measured today (at 8 weeks and 4 days old). He weighs 12 lbs 11 ozs. He is now 61 cm long/tall.

His weight is in the 50th percentile for hhis age. His height is in (about) the 80th percentile. His head size is in the 91st percentile.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Remembrance Sunday

Today was Remembrance Sunday, or "Poppy Day" as it is colloquially known. On this day we remember all those who gave their lives in conflicts around the world. Naturally, the focus here in Britain is particularly on those from this country who lost their lives in wars, particularly the two World Wars but also the Gulf Wars and Balkan conflicts. As usual, there was a ceremony at the Cenotaph in London as well as many others up and down the country.

Earlier in the week I saw a programme on TV: "The Last Tommy". It followed the stories of the last surviving British soldiers from the first World War (1914-1918). All of them are between 102 and 109 years old. Soon, inevitably, they will all be gone. And with them will go the first-hand face-to-face accounts of that war, the so called Great War, that bring home its awful horror on a terrible scale never seen before and almost unimaginable in these days of remote control precision warfare.

The accounts of the centenarians was of their experiences in the front line as boys of 17, 16, even as young as 14 years of age. I watched this as I sat feeding Oliver on my knee. He sat there in my arms sucking away on his bottle in blissful ignorance of the heart-wrenching stories on screen. I was moved by these tales of boys caught up in something for which they were utterly unprepared. And I thought of how lucky I am that Oliver lives in a time of relative peace, within Europe at least. And I felt more deeply than before the loss of those boys and young men who died and that of their loved ones left behind.

I won't go too deeply into how I feel about the politics of Europe, except to say that it is all too easy to forget why it is better to unite with our neighbours than to stand apart from them and why our post-WWII political leaders strove to bring together former enemies to avoid any repeat of the horrors of those two world wars.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Oliver's Great Grandmother's 95th Birthday

Today Oliver visited his Great Grandmother on her 95th birthday. He enjoyed all the attention from his Great Grandmother ("Nin"), his Nan (my Mum) and other family members while we enjoyed good company and good food!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Let's get your wind up, Dad!

As I've mentioned elsewhere in this blog, we often address Oliver by lots of names other than the one on his birth certificate. (All polite of course!) Recently, to my eternal shame, I have started to address him with the catch phrase of the leathery faced permanently tanned walking fashion faux pas that is UK TV host David Dickinson. Yes, for the last few days I could be heard saying to Oliver "Who's Daddy's little Bobby Dazzler"! (Or if he's grouchy and fighting sleep he becomes my Bobby Grizzler.)

So it must seem rather ridiculous that we do our best to never call him "Oli" and would prefer it if no-one else abbreviates his name either, though I never correct anyone. (Well I haven't so far anyway!) It just seems a shame not to use the whole of the name we gave him.

To be honest I think what matters is not the name people use when they address him but the way in which they do it. I've noticed that our frioend Dawn calls him "Oli", but to be honest it doesn't bother me at all because she is also so lovely with him. She has even bought him a few little presents for no other reason that she just thought he'd like them.

People keep saying how much he looks like me, which I have finally started to see just a little in his expression sometimes. But I CAN see my Dad in him. We were joking that it was because they had about the same amount of hair (mostly at the back and sides) but now that his hair has grown back he still looks like him to me. Sometimes at night when I am holding his cheeks trying to wind him and he sits there with his eyes closed I have to laugh because it is like holding a mini version of my Dad.

Of course he looks like Hayley too. He especially has her cute nose!

But overall he has a look that is just his own. Every day I am amazed at how beautiful he is and how much I love him. I just hope I can convey it to him and make him feel safe with me. Tonight he got unusually grizzly and overtired. Eventually I managed to calm him. The thing that sent him to sleep was me stroking his temples. It was a lovely feeling. Often I feel; he feels more secure with his Mum, so it was nice to see him happy in my hands.

Time to go: the master is waking for his last bottle of the day.

Chicken in a Basket

Oliver, who we are sometimes guilty of calling "Little Chicken" (because of his chicken legs when he was born), is getting too big for his Moses Basket. He can be heard banging his arms against the side in the night and he can't extend his arms out to the side without his elbows hitting the sides of the basket. The health visitor mentioned that some babies like to be in a small space as it is comforting, but given that he often lies on the floor/changing mat/sofa/cot with his arms out to the side, I think he may be starting to feel a bit cramped.

More importantly, I'm wondering whether it is disrupting his sleep, as he sleeps less well after his first feed and seems to bang the sides more. Maybe I am panicing, but I wouldn't like him to be sleep-deprived and have it effect his growth in any way. Not to mention that it might make him grumpy! Actually, the last few mornings he has woken up a bit grouchy and needed more cuddles from Hayley before she can lay him on the changing mat. I wonder if this is anthing to do with it....?

Last night he slept for over 6 hours (9.15pm - 3.30am). Fantastic stuff! He made a few noises before that but we have learned to leave him now until he is definitely waking. A couple of times recently we have got up, made his bottle, then come back to find him fast asleep.

One of the causes of his restlessness in the night, particularly in the hour or so before he wakes and greets the day, appears to be wind. Not trapped wind in his chest, but breaking wind out of his bottom! Given that the health visitor re-assured us that it's nothing to worry about, it's quite funny some mornings to lie there as the room starts to get light listening to him making quiet grunting noises before a loud rasp of wind is emitted! He is so loud that I have sometimes wrongly blamed it on Hayley!

This weekend we have decided to try putting him into his cot at night. We'll probably put him in his basket inside the cot at first, but given his size I'd like to try putting him into his bed pretty soon. I dare say we may have to sleep in his room the first time we do this. He is SO good at going to sleep at night and I think it is partly because he knows we are there with him. Last night he was wide awake when we came to put him to bed, having spent most of the evening asleep after his massage. Despite this he still soothed himself to sleep (sucking his hands) in very little time. If we can manage to move him to his "big bed" without disrupting this it will be marvellous.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Baby Massage

On Monday afternoons Hayley goes to Baby Cafe. This is a great meeting place for a noisy congregation of chattering Mums (and the occasional Dad) where babies amuse themselves on the playmats and baby gyms. Sadly, due to lack of funding it is due to close after Christmas.

Yesterday a guest speaker gave a demonstration of baby massage. Oliver took a star turn as one of the babies who acted as a guinea pig. Unlike the other three babies who all cried at some point during the massage, Oliver thoroughly enjoyed it amused the mothers there with his penchant for pampering. The only time he started to grumble was when he realised the session was ending. Hayley resumed the massage and his grizzling stopped to the further amusement of his audience.

So tonight Hayley repeated the routine in our living room, demonstrating the techniques to me along the way. He was contented and even smiling during his massage (see picture above). It took about 10 minutes and he happily let Hayley massage him, even when rolled onto his front to have his back done. He looked like he would happily lie there on his towel being pampered all evening.

At its conclusion he briefly made a few quiet whinging noises before being placed in a sleep-siut that had been warmed on the radiator. This appeased him and he promptly fell asleep on the sofa.

A special outfit

Today I saw Oliver in this outfit for the first time. It's special to us because Hayley bought it in the States long before we met and not knowing whether she would ever have a child of her own to wear it.

Although I wasn't there to see her dress him in it for the first time, she confessed that she was quite emotional seeing him in it at last. I guess you could say he really is a dream come true.

Mirror, mirror...

Oliver spent several minutes tonight happily gazing at his own reflection in this plastic mirror, occasionally grabbing it.

It is on the front of a baby book that audibly crinkles when you pick it up. It is full of high resolution pictures that young babies enjoy. Someone told us the other day that red is apprently the colour babies percieve the most strongly. Funnily, his favourite page is one with wavy lines and red dots.

He quite often looks at this book. Below is a picture of him "reading" it last Saturday morning.

"Who's a bonnie dribbler!"

Oliver seems to be dribbling a lot at the moment. But this has had the happy side-effect of us dicsovering a sure-fire way to make him laugh. Hayley tickles his bottom lip and says "Who's a bonnie dribbler!". Almost without fail this causes him to break into a giggly smile.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Isabella's Christening

Oliver had a trip to church on Sunday for Isabella's Christening. He was quiet and interested during the singing of Morning Has Broken, but started to get tired of sitting in his car seat not long afterwards. He spent the next part of the service in Hayley's arms at the back of the church until he nodded off, allowing Hayley to come back in just in time to see the ceremony at the font.

Afterwards there was a reception at the Blue Cat Cafe. I enjoyed a rare pint of Guinness, Hayley had a diet coke and Oliver slept until he decided it was time for his bottle of Aptamil.

It was a great little do and we even managed to get someone to grab a photo of all three of us.

And what did Isabella think if her Christening party? She slept through a good part of it!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Paternity Leave - Week 2

Above: Oliver with Grampy Des and Nancy

Last week I took my second and final week of paid paternity leave. It was too hectic to be described as a rest, but I did get to spend time at home with Hayley and Oliver and I managed to help out a little more than I can when at work.

Oliver is smiling much more now, especially in the morning. It's priceless when he smiles.

We also used my paternity leave as an opportunity to take Oliver to meet some of Hayley's family down in Wiltshire. We stayed with Hayley's Dad and also visited various other friends and family down there.

Fortunately we had a courtesy car while Hayley's car is in the garage. We wouldn't have crammed everything in otherwise.

Nancy (Hayley's Dad's partner) adored having Oliver to stay. I think she would happily have sent us back up north and kept the little fellow down there with her. She declared him the best behaved baby she had ever known. It was hardly surprising, as she pampered him at every opportunity: back massages, tummy massages, lots of hugs and cuddles.... and she often let him lie on the carpet without a nappy, resulting in the occasional soaking of the carpet!

Above: Nancy gives Oliver his evening back massage

She cooked fantastic meals for us and it was nice to be able to rest a little more. All in all it was a great little break and there were a few tears when it came time for us to leave.

The next visit will probably be at Christmas. We will definitely need a bigger car or some roof storage by then!

Above (top): Hayley with Shannon and Emma
Above (bottom): Oliver meets his Auny Becky and cousins Lewis and Connor

BBC NEWS | England | Beds/Bucks/Herts | Mother who killed son avoids jail

BBC NEWS | England | Beds/Bucks/Herts | Mother who killed son avoids jail

I find it hard to start to imagine everything that this woman has gone through. Reading this story I feel so fortunate that Oliver is healthy and happy and that we have such a good life with him.

BBC NEWS | UK | Parents 'fear asking for support'

Parents 'fear asking for support'

A sign of the times? Although help and advice abounds when you have a baby or toddler, as children grow up parents fear asking for help in case they are seen as bad parents.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

11 pounds 13 ounces

Above: Oliver last week at Hayley's Dad's place

Oliver was weighed today. He is now 11lbs 13ozs. (He is 7 weeks and 5 days old.)

His weight is right in the 50th percentile. His head size is in the 91st percentile. Neither of these figures are much changed from previous positions "on the curve".

He looks a bit podgy in places now. His thighs have plenty of fat and his arms have more than before. (Hayley has been joking that he has most of my features but he has her thighs!)

Overall though I have to say he looks a very handsome boy. Not biassed at all then!