Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Boxing Day 2006

Oliver delivers a present.

Today was a very special day for us for two reasons. Firstly, we were able for the first time to invite my family round for Boxing Day dinner. We've never had the room before. OK, so this time three people still sat on the sofas with trays rather than at our new table for 6, but hey, it's still a big improvement.


Hayley not only cooked for the 9 adults and Oliver but also cooked two more dinners which she delivered to a friend. So the kitchen was a scene of frantic activity!

The second reason today was special was that we were able to tell our families some special news... which made my Mum cry (but in a good way!).

Everyone seemed to enjoy the day. And we certainly did. Oliver particularly enjoyed giving out presents, as it gave him the opportunity to tease everyone.

There are more pictures from Boxing Day here.


Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day 2006

We had a great day today. Christmas Dinner was for just the three of us but that didn't stop Hayley laying on a full Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, even though she'll have it all to do again tomorrow!

Oliver loved his Christmas dinner. But he loves any sort of roast dinner so that's no surprise.

His favourite present was a cooker that Hayley bought him. He plays with one at Alphabet Zoo whenever he goes there so she bought him his own. He played with it for hours on Christmas Day, putting things in and out of the oven and generally playing with the utensils. We once hinted at his name owing something to a certain chef. Maybe it's more relevant than we knew.

There are more pictures from Christmas Day here.

Oliver with his cooker (and yes we did briefly dress him as one of Santa's helpers!)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Top 3 phrases

In the words of the late great Alan "Fluff" Freeman, "OK pop pickers", here's the run-down of the top phrases in our home at the moment.

Mummy and Daddy say...

1. "He's such a good little boy."
We seem to say this a lot. Every child has headstrong moments, I'd be worried if he didn't, but generally his temperament and sociability are just lovely.

2. "Oh you're just gorgeous!"
Usually heard as Mummy or Daddy pick him up because i) he wants to be picked up and ii) Mummy or Daddy want to cuddle him. A happy union!

3. "No."
Said in a slow drawn out fashion, this is heard mostly as he hangs his cup/bowl/yoghurt over the side of his high-chair threatening to drop the said item. He then reapeats our "No" in the same fashion back to us. What a great game. But at least nowadays he usually doesn't drop it.

Oliver says...

1. "Bye bye".
He says this to everyone at the moment and waves at the same time. Last night we spent a long time playing with him, going in and out of the room saying hello and bye bye. He waves to people in the street and even waves to the Teletubbies when they say "bye bye" at the end of the programme.

2. "This!" (Pronounced "Dis!"). This is how Oliver points out what he wants to get hold of once I have agreed to pick him up. (He just walks up to me and stands there with his arms pointing up to me, waiting, patiently or otherwise.) He points and leans towards the object of his desire. Mostly at the moment he wants the Advent calendar as he knows it contains a ready supply of chocolate!

3. "Daddy"
He tends to say "Dada", but sometimes he looks at me and says "Daddy". Gets me every time.

Dear Bumpette

Dear Bumpette,

In case you ever look back at this blog and think "blimey, all they thought about was Oliver and I was at least 2cm long by this stage!", I would like to re-assure you that we do talk about you and think about you a lot. In fact I have started to say hello to you occasionally through your Mummy's tummy. OK, so you probably don't yet have ears but this isn't going to stop me.

We are calling you bumpette because at the moment you are a very small bump and I suppose we are currently suspecting you will be a girl. Our only reason for this is Hayley's gut instinct and the fact that this pregnancy has already been a bit different to Oliver. Mummy hasn't felt very nauseous, well at least she didn't until last night when she thought she would throw up in the living room.

I have already started to imagine how you will get on with your big brother and wondered what names we should consider.

But to be honest, in this first trimester I think we are each keeping our daydreams largely to ourselves, as the danger of miscarriage is greatest during this time. THat is also one reason why my blogging hasn't really focussed on you yet little bumpette. But I promise that will all change!

So keep growing and hopefully we will see you clearly at the first scan in about 4 weeks time. Remember to give us a wave, or at least bob about a bit! And I promise we'll have a better name for you than "bumpette" by the time you arrive.

Love, Daddy.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Back home

Oliver is home again and recovering well. It's not clear whether he had a virus and/or his problems were asthma related, but it looks like just the former at the moment.

Hayley had a terrible night with him the first night he was in hospital. He had a very disturbed night needing inhalers and later a mixture of oxygen with vaporised salbutamol. When I arrived in the morning poor Hayley looked exhausted, so we decided I should do the next night shift.

During the day Oliver had regular "puffs" from the inhaler: up to 10 puffs every 2 hours! By comparison, Hayley, who is asthmatic, will take one or two puffs on the rare occasion she becomes wheezy.

When Tuesday evening came, Hayley went home after we had put Oliver to sleep in the ward and and left me with the little man until morning. It was a long and not very restful night for me, but he did much better! After talking to the nurses, we decided not to use the inhaler which he wasn't very happy with, but instead used the nebuliser with its mixture of oxygen and vaporised salubutamol which he could even breathe in (in theory at least) as he slept.

He had one session with the nebuliser at 11.25pm, but after that he made it right through the night without any more interventions. His oxygen level was being montiored and it would occasionally drop to a level that caused an alarm to go off. I always seemed to be trying to sleep when this happened, causing me to leap up from the bed. Consistently it would then go back up as he stirred and the nurse who appeared would say "oh, it's fine as long as it gos back up; the machines can be a bit temperemental". Combine this with the comings and goings of nurses and the arrival of another baby who (get this) was in because he was having sleep problems(!), and you start to see why I didn't sleep much even if Oliver did.

Meanwhile Oliver contin ued to improve. As the night went on his oxygen level went up, even without any inhaler or nebuliser.

When the insomniac baby cried Oliver would raise up his head wondering what was going on. I'd tell him it was OK and he'd lie back down. Several times the cable attached to Oliver's toe to measure the blood oxygen level (how does it do that?!) would come loose and need removing and refitting. The lights were put on, Oliver would wake, sit up and look sleepily at me and the nurse, before giving her a big smile. "Oh you're gorgeous", she told him. Then after all the fuss I would turn the light out and he would lie back down, as good as gold.

In those moments as he lay there holding Julien and looking up at me with big sleepy eyes as I leaned over him stroking his head and whispering to him "it's sleepy-byes time little man", I felt filled with an enormous sense of gratitude that I could be there for him as his source of security, of re-assurance, of his feeling that everything was OK because I was there. It is very hard to describe the feelings of love you have for your child, but those moments were ones where I felt truly connected to him and knew why I had been put on this planet.

By the time morning came Oliver was breathing well but a little fast. His oxygen level was good so I was re-assured as I lay on the bed next to his cot (feeling absolutely shattered!).

But when I got up and felt him he was very hot to the touch. I called a nurse who took his temperature. He told me it was 36.7C (where 37C is normal). He took it with a machine I wasn't familar with and I didn't catch the reading propoerly, but I knew this couldn't be right. I asked him how could he be so hot and he told me "well he's fighting it off". "Yes, so he has a temperature". The conversation continued with him telling me he didn't have a temperature until he realised I wasn't going to be fobbed off and was getting pretty annoyed. When he re-took the measurement as I requested, sure enough Oliver had a high temperature of 38.7C. The nurse quickly went off to get paracetamol. After that he was very much more friendly, no doubt trying to recover from his potentially serious error and frankly poor attitude.

There's one thing I have learned about being in hospitals: don't stop questioning the professionals until you get an answer you are happy with. Some of them will try to fob you off, others will just be unaware of what has been going on because they have just come on shift. I naturally tend to defer to the judgement of professionals, but that doesn't mean they can patronise me or tell me errant nonsense when it is my son's health that is at stake. Having said that, the nursing staff were generally all great and Hayley brought in a card and some chocolates when the time came to leave (and the same for the playroom staff who seem to get forgotten).

SO last night it was a relief to have the little man home and even though we seemed not to sleep all last night because we kept checking on him, he did well overall. We did decide to give him his inhaler by 5am, but by that point he had started to become more comfortable with it. In fact today, while I was at work (and again tonight at bedtime), Hayley was able to administer the inhaler single handed and he sat quite compliant. Kids are tough little cookies. And so adaptable!

There's phrase Hayley and I use perhaps more than any other about him these days and it's more true than ever when I think of how well he has coped this week: "He's such a good little boy!".

Monday, December 18, 2006

Oliver is in hospital again

For the second time in his life Oliver is spending the night in the Children's Unit at Stepping Hill Hospital. At the age of 6 months it was a reaction to egg that caused it. This time he seems to have a virus that has left him with breathing difficulties.

As I sat in hospital tonight looking at his toe lit up by the device that measures his blood's oxygen levels, it crossed my mind that he had been reading Dan's blog over my shoulder and wasn't about to be outdone by a mere babe in arms on the illness front. In reality, it seems that as with most viruses he could have picked this up anywhere and there's little we could have done about it.

Last night he went to bed sounding chesty with a rasping quality to his breathing. He had a restless night with us checking on him often. At 5.30am I didn't like the sound of him at all. He sounded like it was an effort to breath and his whole abdomen seemed to be moving.

We brought him into bed with us and rang NHS Direct. In the half-light he woke and seemed dosile but content. The advice from NHS Direct didn't entirely re-assure me and when Calpol, Iburpofen and two hours waiting hadn't shown improvement, Hayley took him to the doctor, who recommended he go to hospital.

At the hospital this afternoon he was given a steroid-based medicine and also up to 10 shots of a salbutamol inhaler every couple of hours. We have to hold a mask to his face while the shots are released into it. Understandably he isn't too keen on this but has been a brave little chap, if a little unhappy. After the shots the improvement in him is visible. I had to chase after him down the corridor this evening! But within 2-3 hours he becomes distressed and in need of another set of shots.

The nurse allocated to him (who has been very helpful) told us that if he can go 4 hours between doses he can go home. That will hopefully be tomorrow. But tonight he and Hayley are in hosiptal and I am in our new home alone (which feels very wrong).

By the time I left them this evening he had tried to go to sleep and dosed intermittently for half an hour or so, but it was rather bright in there on the ward compared to the darkness of his room at home and he was not very comfortable with his breathing.

A few minutes ago Hayley said that he was waking every ten minutes and that she has let him get up to watch TV with her. Whatever makes him happy at the moment. The rule book goes as far out of the window as we can throw it at times like this.

On the bright side, he had a celebrity visitor today. World boxing champion and local boy Ricky Hatton paid a visit to the children's ward and gave Oliver a Christmas selection box. The visit was filmed and although it was on all the local news reports, sadly there were no pictures of Oliver.

Also on the bright side, he is in a ward with just one other much older boy and the noise levels are very low. Having walked through the other wards I can say with certainty that we could have done worse on that score.

As I go to bed tonight, thinking of my loved ones in that unit and all the other families there, I am left with one overriding thought. It echoes those of Dan when his son recently suffered a similar condition. How the nurses are able to work so cheerfully and professionally in wards of sick and suffering babies and children is something I can only wonder at and admire in equal measure.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

We have landed!

We have finally moved to our new home!

The move went less than entirely smoothly, mostly because the departing occupants of our soon-to-be new home had been let down by their volunteer shifters and only managed to leave in the late afternoon as darkness started to fall. It was Oliver's bedtime by the time we had got everything into the house - still packed up in boxes - so we stayed at our friend Jo's house for the night. We cracked open a bottle of champagne which tasted terrible so we poured it awway and opened a bottle of Chablis instead to toast the new house and our life there together.

Hayley is allergic to cats, so the next day was spent supervising cleaners as they tried to rid the place of all traces of the previous occupants' feline companion. They spent a total of 18 (wo)man hours.

Today we are still unpacking boxes but things are gradually becoming livable.

The best moment so far was when I went in to see Oliver after his first night in the new house. His room is decorated with space ships and wild animals on the walls. When I entered, he was standing up in his cot, still in his sleeping bag, looking at a leopard and pointing at it for me to see. That's one room we won't be decorating in a hurry then.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

We are finally moving!

We are moving house this Thursday 7th December! It's only been a journey of six months, three buyers and numerous obstacles along the way.

I have sent out emails to lots of people telling them our new address and no doubt Hayley will soon be doing the same. If you think you've been missed, email us or leave a comment. In any case, any mail addressed to us at our current home will be redirected to our new home for some time after we move, courtesy of Royal Mail.

This afternoon I've been treking back and forth to the tip getting rid of stuff we don't want to move only to throw away. Before that I spent ages on the phone to utility companies informing them of our move, listening to those awful recorded messages and muzak while sitting in queues to speak to operators... whose computers then malfunctioned. Is it any wonder we'll be glad when it's all over!

On a brighter note, we might be getting a piano. A friend of ours has one that belonged to her Mum who sadly passed away recently. She would like it to go to a home where it will be played and appreciated and she would only like a token amount for it. It's very generous of her and we are thrilled as we had already discussed getting a piano for the new house, but it probably would have had to wait a long time given the fact that the new house will mean a new financially tighter regime.

Born to a smoke-free world?

England smoke ban to start 1 July

Today there has been much media coverage of the government announcement that the new laws requiring a smoking ban in all pubs and clubs will come into effect on the 1st July next year.

Hayley pointed out that if the pregnancy goes to term our new baby will be born into a world where people basically don't smoke in public places. I'm sure he/she will look back in disbelief at the idea we all had to sit around breathing in other people's smoke.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Babysitting for the brave

Tonight Hayley and about 20 fellow Mums from the area have gone out for a meal which Hayley arranged. Our friend Jo couldn't get a babysitter so yours truly volunteered to have her daughter, Niamh, round here.

Now, Niamh has the ability to refuse to go to bed for hours, but Jo assured me she is always as good as gold at other people's houses. Well, Hayley and Jo left about 90 minutes ago and so far both Oliver and Niamh have been as quiet as mice!

I kind of have to pinch myself that I am doing this. I must admit I feel I've come a long way to feel confident enough to take on babysitting two infants who have both been playing up at bedtime recently. Maybe I'll need a rethink if they both wake up crying in the next hour. We'll see...

Oliver knows Niamh well and they get on so well together. Tonight while Hayley and Jo beautified themselves upstairs before going out, I hald the fort downstairs playing with the two toddlers. They play well together and would occasionally lean over and give each other a kiss. Honestly they are like a couple of love birds!

Niamh plays by herself better than Oliver and spent time pushing around walkers while Oliver did the thing I love the most at the moment. He goes to the coffee table, chooses a book, brings it back to me and sits in my lap while we read it together. When we have finished it he gives himself a clap for reading it all the way through before taking it back to the table and choosing another one. It's just the sweetest way to spend the last half an hour or so before bathtime.

Bathtime tonight involved Oliver and Niamh sitting in the bath splashing wildly and laughing at each other's performance. I sat next to the bath watching over them, getting slowly soaked.... and loving every minute.

It's all in the intonation

I often used to wonder at parents who could make sense of their young children's speech when I could make no sense of it at all. But recently I discovered that I can understand what Oliver is saying just from his intonation and the context in which he is intoning!

We've been teaching him to say little things such as "yes please", "no thank you", "night night" and (Hayley's favourite) "love you!". Although the syllables that come out of his mouth are often some way from the real words, there is no mistaking the sing-sing intonation of his "yes please" or his "love you". It is so sweet.

His innocence and just overwhelming adorability really comes through. Well, it does to his totally biassed parents anyway.