Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Until recently I did my share of going into Oliver's room first in the morning to get him up and then carry him downstairs. (Carrying him downstairs to spare Hayley's back was one reason, the other being that I couldn't wait to go and see him.) But my new regime of early starts at work mean that it is now always Hayley who goes in to see him during the week.

The first few days she went in he would still say "Dada" as soon as he saw her. If I then went in he would expect me to pick him up. But for the last couple of days when Hayley has entered his room he has said "Mama".

Now this may sound trivial, but he seems to have been saying "Dada" all the time and forever, whereas poor Hayley hardly ever got a "Mama". (It's not uncommon for "Dada" to be the first word in many children. It's just easier to say!) But recently he has taken to saying "Mama" to her much more. Bless her, she always melts. And he can wrap her round his little finger by saying it. And he knows it too. He just looks up into her eyes and says "Mama". And Mama is as happy and compliant as can be.

The other morning I came down to find Hayley at the table with no breakfast but Oliver with a bowl of cereal in a proper china bowl which he was tucking into. He had refused to eat from his plastic blue bowl when he saw Hayley's china bowl and so she had relinquished her breakfast to him!

Another area where Mummy makes a fuss of her little boy is at bedtime when he has his milk. Very recently he has decided that perhaps he IS prepared to hold his bottle himself after all. I came in the other night to find Oliver holding his bottle and Hayley saying to him "Don't you want Mummy to hold that for you?".

The truth is that those bedtimes giving him his milk are the closest we come to him still being a baby. The rest of the time he is much more a little boy now, charging around, wreaking havoc and generally enjoying himself as a little boy should. So Hayley is cherishing them as long as possible. I know we need to let him grow up, but I can't say I blame her.

Monday, January 29, 2007

First potty pee!

I got an excited text yesterday from Hayley while at my Open University Day School. It said "Oliver has just done his first wee in the potty!" Apparently she greeted it with cheers before taking him to see her pour it away down the loo.

They say boys are slower at potty trainin gthan girls. (Is that true?) So I won't count on him using it exclusvely yet. Especially as he peed on me last night as I carried him upstairs for his shower.

BBC NEWS | Health | Stress 'harms brain in the womb'

BBC NEWS | Health | Stress 'harms brain in the womb'

I remember during the first pregnancy with Oliver I encouraged Hayley to relax and take things easy as much as possible. There was only the two of us then so it was not too bad. Now of course she has the little man running round keeping her busy while I am at work, so the chances of not being a bit more stressed seem slim.

Hopefully the difference will be insignificant. I suspect it must be, otherwise all second children would be more stressed than the first.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A lonely place

Several people have asked about the nuchal translucency screening we underwent, regarding both the technicalities and the reasons.

So why did we go for this screening? Simple. We wanted to know what we might be faced with. At our age the NHS test doesn't really give you anything like an accurate enough prediction. So we decided to get a clear picture of what we could expect.

And what did we plan to do if the test said we had a Downs baby? We can't possibly answer that question because it's a place we've never been.

I won't pretend it wouldn't have mattered to me. Frankly it would have mattered a lot. The news that your child will never fully develop into a fully independent adult should concern any responsible parent-to-be. I won't claim I know exactly how we would have reacted either because I have never had to face the reality of it.

Of course I'd sound very decent if I said that we would have carried on regardless. But it would be a bit too easy for me to make such a claim when it's only ever been a theoretical possibility. In much the same way that the reality of pregnancy was different to the hypothetical consideration of it, until being faced with that situation I know I won't have considered it as fully and with such urgent importance as I would have to if it was real.

Of course some people will know absolutely what they would do, one way or the other. I can only tip my hat to their unshakeable self-assuredness.

What I do know is that we talked about being prepared for whatever lay ahead. We talked about how we would feel as relatively old parents leaving behind a child that would never grow to full independence. We also talked about all the love we could give to any child no matter what was special or different about them.

All ifs and maybes. The truth is we've never been to that lonely place where we would have to face the alternatives.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

First scan of Bumpette

First scan of our new bump!
Bumpette: lying back, head to the right, legs to the left with knees up!

This morning Hayley had her first ultrasound scan of our new bump. It was actually a "nuchal translucency" scan which was part of a package of tests aimed at evaluating the likelihood of the baby having Downs Syndrome. These are not covered on the NHS so we had them done at the Bridgewater Hospital in Manchester at our own expense (£200 in case you are interested).

As Hayley is 36 now and will be 37 when the baby is born, her statistical chances of having a Downs baby are higher. Based on her age alone her odds are 1 in 183. However a much more accurate measure is obtained by a combination of blood tests and a scan to measure the thickness of a piece of skin at the back of the baby's neck. The resulting figure has an accuracy of over 90%.

The results were very clear. Based on the blood tests and scan her odds have been revised to 1 in 3656 for this pregnancy.

The sonographer kindly printed off a picture or two from the scan showing our new bump for the first time. On first seeing him/her Hayley's first response was "thank goodness there's only one in there!", as numerous people kept telling her she is having twins.

He/she didn't move around much and just lay on his/her back, occasionally inspecting his/her knees. This first struck me as a boy putting his feet up and taking it easy. Then again, perhaps a pampered princess taking things easy.

In reality it's much too early to be able to tell the sex of the baby yet.
The hospital also does what is known as a 4D scan, which is a high resolution scan undertaken at 28-32 weeks and which enables the baby's features in the womb to be seen very clearly. Isn't that cheating, not waiting until he/she is born? Still, can you blame us for being eager. Though I think we may have to look into this scan a little first before making a decision.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Oliver on tour (part 1)

Oliver is down in Wiltshire this the weekend with Hayley to visit family and friends down there. Here are a few pictures from his trip so far.

Friday afternoon: Oliver is as good as gold throughout the four and a half hour journey due to occasional stops alonmg the way and the presence of the portable DVD player on the back of the seat in front of him.

In-car entertainment

Friday, 5.30pm: Oliver enjoys a dinner of sausages, mashed potato and peas at Michael Wood services on the M5.

Motorway cuisine

Friday night 2.30am: Oliver wakes and takes an hour to be comforted and go back to sleep. Hard to say whether this was just the strange environment or a perhaps hard-to-spot new tooth. (Hayley rather generously suggested that he took longer to settle because he wanted or was missing his Daddy.)

Saturday, 11am: Oliver discovers the joys of WWF wrestlers.

Oliver discovers WWF figures

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Mr Serious

Mr Serious
Above: Oliver does "Mr Serious".

Oliver has a deadly serious look that he has started to do. I think he has got it off Hayley who does something similar sometimes when playing with him. Anyway, he knows it makes us laugh, and I mean really makes us laugh. Consequently Oliver does it on demand. "Can you do Mr Serious, Oliver?" and there it is!

Below: Oliver trying to do Mr Serious but unable to keep a completely straight face.

Mr "You have to be kidding Dad"

Morning milk with Mummy (16 months)

Oliver is showing no signs of dropping his morning bottle and he insists that Julien is present too (in fact both Juliens in this case). He is also very clear that Mummy should hold the bottle for him too, as this video illustrates.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

All aboard!

All aboard!

There is no doubting Oliver's love of trains. Today Hayley took him to another miniature railway that he hasn't been to before. Here he is pictured on board, ready for his trip. He, his mate Jack, Hayley and Sara had two trips on the train. And when the time came to get off, who do you think was last off the train, hanging on in hope of one more ride?!

If we could just take all future holidays and trips by miniature railway I do believe we might never here the words "are we there yet?".

The best place to sit...


...is on Daddy's lap!

Here Oliver is pictured sitting on Daddy while watching TV with Julien. But of course, Daddy is also a handy place to sit when reading books, listening to music or just deciding what to do next.

And does Daddy mind? Not a chance! In fact our latest game is for me to let Oliver get up from my lap and walk about 3 paces away from me before grabbing him from behind, swooping him backwards and upwards into the air and then nuzzling the back of his neck so he giggles. He then gets up several times for a repeat performance, walking ever so slowly, glancing back and grinning in readiness for my ambush.

Oliver (and Julien) sitting on Daddy's lap
Daddy. Can also be used as chair with back-rest.

Oliver (and Julien) sitting on Daddy's lap

Sitting on Daddy, biting Julien's nose, watching TV: sorted!

Daddy's eye view

Daddy's eye view.

And to think it was once the norm

This morning Hayley let me lie in and told me not to set an alarm. When I finally awoke it was nearly 11am and I had the strangest sensation. Parents of babies and toddlers may find this concept hard to comprehend but I felt like getting up. OK, so I still had a cold and my back ached, but I felt like getting up!

I don't think I have experienced that since Oliver was born. I fear Hayley still hasn't. And to think it was once the norm. Such deprivations are just another ingredient in the receipe that most parents sum up rather lazily with the customary warning to new parents "life will never be the same again".

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Like father like son?

In my room, making some calls...
Oliver on the phone, last summer.

I always tell Hayley that Oliver keeps pretending to use the phone because he sees her jabbering away on it to her friends. Unfortunately my Mum has somewhat undermined my argument by producing this picture from the archive.

Steve on the phone
Steve on the phone, last century.

Monday, January 08, 2007

BBC - Maternity cuts 'a risk to care'

Maternity cuts 'a risk to care'

Clearly this is not the sort of thing we want to hear right now.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Oliver made me a rice crispy cake


This week, Oliver and two of his friends made rice crispy cakes, ably assisted by Hayley and Jo.


Hayley saved me one in particular that she assured me was entirely made by Oliver for me, even down to the last pat of the crispies into a cake. Though it looks to me like they might easily have eaten most of their produce!


Anyway, I can honestly tell you the cake Oliver made for me was delicious! But I have no idea what he was doing here.... or the relevance of the t-shirt!


Answers on a post-card...

First midwife visit

Our midwife, who I shall refer to as "M" (in a rather 007-fashion), came to see us today. Back in the days when Oliver was "Bump" we had to go to the midwives, but now they come to us, for the first visit at least. Someone suggested to me that this was becuse they try to encourage more home births, though I saw no sign of that today and suspect it's not really the case in general.

Everything seems fine, but the fact Hayley hasn't lost all the weight from Oliver's pregnancy puts her in a slightly different position and means that (initially at least) she will consult with a doctor from time to time rather than just with the midwife. She was also a little alarmed at the increased possibility of gestational diabetes, but my feeling is that if during the second trimester she eats well and keeps as active as she is now, then she won't have a problem. So far she has actually LOST a little weight during the pregnancy rather than putting any on.

During M's visit Oliver sat with me watching Baby Van Gogh or we played with his cooker. After about 45 minutes the little chap stood up against the wall and his face took on the tell-tale expression of a little man doing a big poop! Well, when a little man's gotta go, a little man's gotta go!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Two years old today!

No, I haven't lost the plot and forgotten my son's birthday. It is two years today since I started writing this blog.

Over 450 posts later I'm still enjoying it. In fact it's more fun now as I can look back at this time last year and the year before to see just how far we have all come on this biggest of life's adventures.

Happy birthday Life Begins!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The best age?

Hayley asked me a few weeks ago "Do you think this is the best age he has been so far?" As I told her at the time, I think every new age he reaches is better and better. Of course as he develops into a little person with his own likes, dislikes and preferences he becomes more capable of expressing those preferences, sometimes in forceful terms!

But now as he starts to speak a few words and understand more of what is going on, he can interact so much more and I am loving that aspect. Just being able to have him communicate what he wants or what is bothering him is a big plus to me and has helped me become ever more confident with him.

For the first time we find that it is Oliver who is saying something and we are the ones not understanding! His pronunciation is improving and his "yes please" is easily understood. He also says "teeth" after his bath to ask to clean his teeth. He stands on a box to reach the sink in his bedroom.



What cracks me up at the moment is that he is currently walks round talking to himself, saying a phrase that we can't identify. Something like "da dooooo" with a really consistent intonation. It's not referring to me. It might be a form of "choo choo" as in a train. He says it a few times a day, even when preoccupied with something apparently unrelated to trains.

He's becoming ever more inquisitive too. Over Christmas Hayley lost her phone. She searched everywhere for it and eventually after 2 days it turned up in Oliver's shopping trolley! Then last weekend I foolishly let him have my contact lenses in their container. They turned up 2 days later in his changing bag.

But what surprised me and made me laugh the most was the other day when I realised his socks had gone missing and only he could have moved them. I asked him "Where are your socks Oliver? Can you show Daddy where they are?" He promptly turned around, walked out of the room to the kitchen where he opened the lid of his pusharound Thomas the Tank Engine, got out his socks and held them up to me. I was quite amazed.

Is it true that a child recognises 2000 words before they speak? I can believe it.

But of course sometimes he can't tell me where something is, so he does something he has picked up from his Mummy. He just stands there, looks at me, shrugs his shoulders and holds his hands up as if to say "search me mate!".

The best age? Yes, probably. But every new day seems to be better still.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

We are delighted to announce...

We are delighted to announce that Hayley is expecting our second child. If all goes to plan, Oliver will have a baby brother or sister on the 3rd August 2007.

We told our families on Boxing Day. We couldn't really wait until after the first scan like we did with Oliver because Hayley is suffering terrbile "morning sickness", which would be better named "morning, noon and night sickness" in this case. So it's a bit of a giveaway.

So feel free to send your advice about how to deal with morning sickness!

(There are a few posts about this pregnancy that I kept hidden until now; they are tagged "number2".)