Saturday, March 31, 2007

Fame at last

Dads "Bounce and Rhyme" Flyer

Oliver and I attended a Dads Bounce and Rhyme session at the local library a few months ago. We were captured on film and now feature on the flyer for the latest sessions.

Unfortunately (or perhaps you might argue, fortunately) all you can see of me is the top of my head. Oliver is rather more visible.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

BBC NEWS | Health | Semi-identical twins discovered

BBC NEWS | Health | Semi-identical twins discovered

Monday, March 26, 2007

BBC NEWS | Health | NHS cuts 'hit antenatal classes'

BBC NEWS | Health | NHS cuts 'hit antenatal classes'

Ante-natal classes certainly helped us understand what Hayley was going to go through in labour. I know that without them I would have gone into the delivery suite a lot less comfortable with what was about to happen.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Scan at 21 weeks

Scan at 21 weeks

We got a better view of Bumper yesterday when we had the "20 weeks" scan (which actually took place at exactly 21 weeks).

Before going in for the scan we waited in the waiting room where Oliver played with the cooker and read books by himself, amusing and entertaining the nearly full waiting room with his reading and offers of plates and lego "cakes". One guy asked how old he is and said "he's so bright". Well, if you measure intelligence by loudness, he's a genius!

When we got round to the scan we popped Oliver in the buggy (to avoid him running rings round me like last time). According to the sonographer everything looked fine on the scan. The first part was carried out by a student under the sohographer's direction and seemed to take ages without us being told much. This was not exactly welcome as Hayley needed the loo and I was expecting Oliver to become fractious in the semi-dark room with not much to do in his pushchair. I placated him with some snacks and a book, but in fact he was very well behaved.

We have been explaining to him that he will have a little baby brother or sister soon and several times yesterday during the scan he said "baba" as he pointed and waved at the screen.

Bumper was wriggling a lot. Eventually he/she settled down a little. As the sonographer took the measurements we caught sight of a little foot, so clear! And at another point his/her little knees.

We left with these three snaps, feeling happy that everything seems to be going just fine and drove home singing nursery rhymes with Oliver. Did I mention he's loud?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Chatter box

Oliver is talking more now. Usually only single words, but lots of them. Every morning when he gets up we look out of the window for birds and planes. So "aeroplane" is one of his new words.

Another one is down to Hayley's habit of saying "right!", when she gathers her thoughts before doing something. On getting ready to go out she will say "right", quickly echoed by Oliver, "right!".

Other favourites are things he likes to point out to me that he wants but can't reach. "Train", "snap" (for his snap playing cards), "bubbles", "La La" (for his Teletubby), "chair" for when he wants to get up into his chair to eat, "up" to be picked up, "down" to go downstairs. And that morning favourite, "toast"! And if he doesn't know the word, the old technique of pointing and frantically saying "dis, dis, dis...!" does the trick.

The one that made me laugh most recently is that when he has finished his meal, he not only says he has finished, but now passes me the plate and says "away!".

Talking of laughing it is funny to see how he has his own sense of humour. The other day I was tidying up in the living room while Oliver sat on ths sofa and watched Boogie Beebies. At one point Boogie Pete pretended to chase after a tractor that was shown driving away on the backdrop, shouting after it "wait for me!". Well, Oliver found this hilarious. We spent much of the evening mimicing Pete's actions and causing Oliver to reach ever greater levels of mirth, especially when we threw in a few fake trips as we ran.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

BBC NEWS | Health | Women 'left alone during labour'

BBC NEWS | Health | Women 'left alone during labour'

As I recall Hayley was none too pleased (with me!) when she woke to find herself momentarily alone during her labour to give birth to Oliver. (And rightfully so!)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Red Nose Day - Update


Hayley and Oliver had lots of fun making cakes for Red Nose Day, ably assisted by Sara, Jack and Amber. When all the cakes were sold they had raised £25 for Comic Relief.

Despite appearances, Jack and Oliver didn't eat all the produce.


There is a full set of photos of how the baking progressed here.

Friday, March 16, 2007

First real kick

Last night we went out for a meal with friends at an Indian restaurant. Hayley ordered a very hot, spicy dish from the menu. When we got home, we were sitting on the sofa when she suddenly jumped. She had felt the first real kick from Bumper.

Hayley hasn't felt much up to now, less than Oliver at the same stage, so it was nice that he/she has started to make their presence felt, literally.

It's Red Nose Day!

To raise money for Red Nose Day, Oliver and Amber are making cakes, complete with cherry "red noses", which they will be selling for 50 pence each. If you would like to order one, post a comment below or drop us an email. But bear in mind they won't be delivering!

Alternatively there are lots of other ways to show your support at the Red Nose Day website.

BBC NEWS | Health | Diabetes soars in the under fives

BBC NEWS | Health | Diabetes soars in the under fives

It is interesting (and a bit worrying after the difficulties being able to breast-feed Oliver) that this might be attributable to a decrease in breast-feeding.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

BBC NEWS | Health | No such thing as naughty anymore?

BBC NEWS | Health | No such thing as naughty anymore?

Three things strike me about this article. First, I guess some parents might feel there is less stigma attached to having a child on medication due to a diagnosed illness than to have a "naughty" child. Secondly, I have the words of Steve Biddulph ringing in my ears when he suggested (in "Raising Babies") that the increasing numbers of children being put into nurseries at a very young age was responsible for worsening trends in behaviour. And thirdly, there's no denying that all children go through stages of headstrong and disobedient behaviour, but in most cases that's just part of growing up.

I certainly hope I never have to resort to medication to handle Oliver's disobedience and tantrums. It's not easy to know what to do in all cases and it's much easier to say that you will "be consistent" and "lay down boundaries" for your child than to put it into action in a way that helps them. I thought I was doing OK with Oliver's current habit of dropping food onto the floor by ignoring his misdemeanour (so as not to reward his behaviour with the the attention he clearly sought for this "game"). That was OK up until the recent episode where he insisted on throwing his spaghetti bolognese all over the wall. That's kind of hard to ignore!

Co-incidentally, Hayley has been going to some parenting classes recently which cover the handling of troublesome toddlers and older kids. The advice is much as you would expect to see on "House of Tiny Tearaways", but it's obviously more beneficial to be able to interact with the person giving the advice and talk about specific cases.

There's a book that goes with the course and I've been reading it too. Hayley's really impressed with the course so far and feels she is getting some benefit from it. Hopefully we both will. There is even the possibility of it being run at weekends, so I may get chance to go along myself. Watch this space.

BBC NEWS | Health | Children ask mums to stop smoking

BBC NEWS | Health | Children ask mums to stop smoking

A topical story for national No Smoking Day.

Monday, March 12, 2007

BBC NEWS | Health | Supplement 'boosts' brain power

BBC NEWS | Health | Supplement 'boosts' brain power

This study seems to back up earlier research into the benefits of these oils.

Hayley takes "MumOmega Pregnancy" each day and Oliver has a capsule of "MumOmega Infancy" in his bedtime milk.

So it looks like I'm to be the dullard of our household.

New wheels


Oliver likes to walk a lot now, but when he gets tired he tends to turn round and asked to be picked up. This is getting to be a non-starter for Hayley in her pregnant state and even for me when carrying two bags of shopping back from Somerfield (as happened on Saturday morning).

So we decided to splash out on this little contraption as an alternative to taking the double buggy out, especially for Hayley during the week on little local trips such as this one (above) to the park.

The only shame is that it doesn't fit our Urban Detour buggy, only the smaller one (pictured).

You can also pick them up on eBay as well as the original retailer.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

What a difference a year makes

After taking Oliver to Bruntwood Park yesterday I thought it would be interesting to compare the picture I took of him on the swings with one taken a year ago on the same swing.

Oliver now.

Oliver and Niamh on the swings
Oliver a year ago.

I think you'll agree that the difference is quite striking. Our bouncing baby is now more a bounding little boy, as is borne out by his independent negotiation of the big slide in the same playground.


That's not the only difference to a year ago. Back then we were struggling with his very broken sleep patterns and consequently exhausted. Nowadays I have to admit that we have life very easy in comparison. He may sometimes be a noisy sleeper but it is rare that we have to go in to him. And when we do, such as a few nights ago when I found him sitting up in his cot gently crying, he justs needs a little reassurance and generally lies back down to go back to sleep of his own accord. What a little superstar! I almost always find myself leaving the room saying to myself "bless him".

Thursday, March 08, 2007

BBC NEWS | Health | UK cancer boy's treatment hope

BBC NEWS | Health | UK cancer boy's treatment hope

When I heard this story on my way home from work, all I wanted to do was go home and wrap Oliver up in my arms. If only protecting him from such dangers was that simple.

You can donate to the Jack Brown Appeal here.


Oliver quite often asks whichever one of us gets him up in the morning where the other parent is. I walk in to get him only to hear "Mama?" Equally, Hayley is often greeted with a non-stop babbling of "Dada, Dada, Dada".

As I came up the stairs this morning I heard Hayley talking to Oliver. Then I heard Oliver emit a long, loud "Dadaaaaaaa!" Hayley has been teaching him to shout me when he wants something!

Up to now he has been happy to play in his cot or snooze when he wakes up early in the morning. Even if he wakes at 6am he will chat to his toys, play and doze until we go in nearer 7am. I fear we may be about to see the end of such a civilised start to the day!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Sharing is a difficult concept. When Oliver tries to take a toy off another child because he wants to play with it we tell him to "share", explaining that he can play with it in a while. But toddlers are fickle and the concept of waiting is often lost on them. To them life is the here and now.

At church a couple of Sundays ago Oliver saw a little girl playing with a doll. He promtly walked over to her and snatched it away. Hayley spotted this and took it back from him telling him that he shouldn't snatch like that. Oliver quickly retorted: "share!"

Tricky concept sharing.

Monday, March 05, 2007

It's only words

Oliver has recently had a few episodes where his frustration seems to get the better of him. I'm not really surprised as he seems to understand so much of what we say but he has a limited vocabulary himself.

Having said that he is mimicing more and more of what we say. Just this evening I heard him say (with varying degrees of accuracy) "apple", "potato", "cockerel", "cat" and "fruit-pot". (The cat and the cockerel were not part of his meal, I promise.)

Tonight I walked into the bathroom as he sat in the bath and asked him "Did you pull the plug out?" and he promptly did just that. I didn't even know he knew what a plug was!

Papa's got a brand new bag

Every Saturday morning I pay the price of not keeping track of what I put where. I get up full of good intentions about taking Oliver out early, then spend half an hour re-stocking the changing bag and hunting down his hat, coat, reigns, shoes, gloves, etc.

So on Saturday morning when no amount of searching could dig out his reigns, I took him into town and bought another set. Then on Sunday Hayley picked me up this rather snazzy changing bag from Tesco which I have duly stocked with wet-wipes, nappies, etc.

All I need to do now is populate it with all the other essentials of our Saturday morning jaunts and then resist all temptations to go in there and borrow them for general use during the week.

I have to say I am quite fond of my new "man bag". It certainly beats the big blue Huggies bag for me. In fact when my two subscription magazines arrived this weekend, I found myself reaching first for "FQ" rather than "What Mountain Bike". It remains to be seen whether this will result in a reduction in Daddy's spending on boys' toys.

BBC NEWS | Health | Stress may 'damage child brains'

BBC NEWS | Health | Stress may 'damage child brains'

Some interesting (though inconclusive) research.

BBC NEWS | Health | Fat toddlers 'risk early puberty'

BBC NEWS | Health | Fat toddlers 'risk early puberty'

Not really of relevance to Oliver (whose weight is spot on for his height in any case at 28lbs), but might be worth keeping in mind if Bumper turns out to be a girl.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Blair unveils welfare reform plan

BBC NEWS | Politics | Blair unveils welfare reform plan

I can see why the government is worrying about this. It needs as many people as possible to be working to support an ageing population.

On the other hand I worry that this puts us on a slippery slope. It may sound quite reasonable to want lone parents of 12 year olds to work, but most of them already do and despite that half the children in poverty have a working parent.

I heard someone from an American think-tank this morning advocating putting lone parents back to work before their child is one year old. That might make good economic sense to a government in the short-term, but I'm yet to be convinced of the social outcomes in years to come.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Unwelcome Sunday reading

Just what we wanted to see as we cheerily popped into Somerfield to pick up some Pain au Chocolat and a paper on our way back from Kids on Sunday!

This comes on the back of other recent plans for maternity care as previously reported in this blog.

There are several related articles at The Independent Online website today.

The headline article is reproduced below for convenience.


Women's deaths soar in NHS midwives crisis
By Sophie Goodchild, Jonathan Owen and Ian Griggs
Published: 04 March 2007

Record numbers of women are being harmed or dying as a direct result of childbirth in what doctors are labelling a "crisis" in maternity care.

There has been a rise of 21 per cent in deaths of pregnant women in the care of NHS maternity services. Deaths over the past three years now total 391, up one fifth on the comparable period, and 17,000 women have suffered physical harm while on labour wards.

The scale of the maltreatment has led to soaring medical negligence claims from mothers. The bill to the NHS has hit £1bn for the past five years. Two-thirds of the 100 largest payouts by NHS trusts for medical negligence are now to women who have suffered traumatic childbirth experiences, according to figures published this week by the Government.

A survey of nearly 5,000 women's experiences of maternity from the Healthcare Commission, to be published to coincide with Mother's Day later this month, is also expected to highlight a lack of satisfaction among patients with medical care during labour and delivery.

Experts are warning that 10,000 more midwives are needed to prevent a further rise in blunders and deaths. They say there is also a shortage of trained obstetricians, desperately needed now that doctors perform more Caesarean sections, largely because of staff shortages. More than one in five births in Britain are by Caesarean section, a figure significantly higher than World Health Organisation guideline of 15 per cent.

The NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, set up to improve healthcare for patients, said that about two-thirds of maternity units either have too few staff or have an "inappropriate" balance of skills.

Professor Jason Gardosi from the NHS's Perinatal Institute, which aims to reduce deaths in childbirth, warned that failings in British maternity care were "severe and endemic" and that substandard medical care was going undetected because of a lack of proper monitoring.

He told The Independent on Sunday: "Staff are doing their best within the confines they are given but in many instances, mothers and babies survive only because they are lucky. You would not allow an aeroplane to fly without a full crew, but midwives have to make do without a full staff. It is little wonder we see so many avoidable deaths."

Figures obtained by this newspaper from the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) reveal that over the past three years, 17,676 mothers have been injured on maternity units. Serious cases include women with perforated bowels whose injuries are so severe they have needed temporary colostomies.

The UK now has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in Europe, with 13 deaths per 100,000. Britain ranks below countries including Poland and Hungary, and is above Bulgaria, Bosnia, Belarus, Romania, Armenia and Albania.

The Healthcare Commission is planning a review of maternity services which will be published this summer. Mike Hancock MP said: "There is a real issue here and sadly this is an area where the Government has been neglectful. It isn't just about throwing money at it. It is also about putting proper procedures in place."

Katherine Murphy of the Patients' Association added: "The Government is closing lots of maternity units and making midwives redundant. Now you have healthcare assistants doing the job of senior midwives because it's the cheaper option."

The Department of Health said that giving birth is "safer now than ever before" but admits that for many women pregnancy and childbirth has turned into a medical event.Andrew Lansley, shadow Health Secretary, labelled Labour's approach to maternity care "irresponsible".

He said: "In the last five years, we have seen a huge increase in the number of live births but no increase in the number of midwives. Some mothers can't get the one-to-one midwife care or level of midwife support which should be regarded as basic."

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Super Saturday? Too right!

On one!
Oliver, "on one" at Dave and Hayley's".

According to the sports writers last Saturday was "Super Saturday" because all the six nations rugby teams played. Well, frankly that wasn't half as super as the Saturday we had to today.

I took Oliver to town and walked him around on his reigns which he loved. We checked his shoe size at Clarks - current shoes fine for a few more weeks. Then he enjoyed a ride on the Merry Go Round in the Mersey Square.

Merry Go Round

I'll get a better shot next time round...

Merry Go Round

Drat! Missed him again. Darn this slow camera phone!

After that we visited Dave and Hayley to collect some bike bits from Dave but also to catch up with Lewis who is about 2 months younger than Oliver and his big sister Izzy.

By the time we got home it was early afternoon. But no sooner were we through the door than all three of us trekked down to Sara, Manny and Jack to watch United vs Liverpool. We were all delighted when United (who had failed to dominate the game) won with an injury time goal.

After a trip to the park for Sara, Hayley and the boys it was Fish and Chips for dinner (postponed from last night when Hayley and I went out for dinner with my Mum and Del).

The final hour before bedtime was spent with Oliver in the giggliest of moods, lying on the sofa playing peekaboo or just running round having fun. At one point I noticed him running in and out of the kitchen singing. After a few seconds I realised he was doing the Hokey Cokey! So we jumped up from the sofa and joined in with him, which he loved. After a few minutes of putting in/out and shaking about three out of four limbs he wandered off to play with a puzzle, which was handy as Mummy and Daddy were a bit out of breath!

After he'd gone to bed we chilled out reading the paper and magazines, half watching Casualty.

It may not sound much to some, but that's what I call a super Saturday.