Thursday, August 30, 2007

Midwife visit (15 days old)

Midwife "M" came again today and weighed Lucy. She is now only 1 ounce below her birth weight but has gained 3 ounces since she was weighed on Sunday, so Hayley and Lucy have been signed out of midwife care. Her comment in Hayley's notes said
"Mother's general condition and feelings: Confident, happy Mum. Breastfeeding.". Good stuff!

Lucy gave us a bit of a bad night last night. She went a fantastic 5.5 hours after her 9pm feed, but after her nocturnal feed she didn't settle properly and ended up getting us up again after half an hour for a top-up. In fact both Hayley and I were up the whole time from when she first woke, so we were a bit shattered this morning. It could have been a comfort feed, but it's too early to say. We're assuming not for now. "An after dinner mint" was the midwife's most likely interpretation of her top-up.

I'm now typing with Lucy lying cradled in my left arm. Her hair is so soft! At the back of her head it is quite long, as it has been since she was born. No wonder Hayley had heartburn (if you believe the old wives' tale).

Lucy is now lying on my arm watching me type on the laptop. My little geek!

[2 minutes pass...]

Well that didn't last. As so often, she decided after a few minutes that what she really wanted was some more milk and started to root around looking to feed, only succeeding in giving my thumb a mighty suck. But it was nice to hold her for a while.

I still can't see much of me or Hayley in her, but more people have said how much she looks like Oliver, which I do think I am starting to see too.

Big Brother, Little Sister

Today Oliver gave Lucy a true stamp of approval. He was sitting on the sofa watching Barney with his sister beside him propped up on a big pillow. He leaned over to her and asked "Lucy watching Barney too?". Cute.

The little guy showed more signs of feeling insecure yesterday. He went happily to playgroup with Debbie, but within a few minutes she had rung to say Oliver was upset. Hayley could hear him screaming in the background. Debbie agreed to bring him straight home (as Lucy had just got baby poop all up her back and badly needed cleaning up!). When he came home he was OK, but throughout the day the arrival of any adult without a playmate for him caused him to start heading for Hayley saying "Mummy, Mummy..." as if he thought he was going to be taken away!

So we've abandoned any other plans for playdates without Hayley (or me) present. Similarly when he starts going to nursery next month for one or two mornings a week, we are prepared to stay with him until he's really settled. Even if that goes on for several weeks. And if he doesn't settle we'll wait til he's ready.

Although I don't feel we passed Oliver round any more than we had to when Hayley was in hospital, I can only imagine it was that disruption or Lucy's arrival itself which has unsettled him. So we are determined to give him the reassurance he needs until his confidence comes back.

Tonight Oliver and I played on the "big bed" (i.e. Mummy and Daddy's bed) as we usually do when getting him undressed for his bath. He throws himself around onto the pillows and pretends to try to get away as I try valiantly to get him undressed for his bath in time for the start of The Archers. (His bath lasts for at least the duration of The Archers... and a bit longer when he says "Two more minutes" in his oh-so-cute way). Tonight we competed to lie on my pillow (a rather nice Dunlopillow, so it's worth a bit of competition). It involved us both lying with our heads on my pillow laughing our heads off at each other from a distance of about 2 inches. Looking into his laughing face like that is about the best feeling imaginable. It's a sight of pure joy.

As we trotted off to the bath, he told me "I big brother. Lucy sister". So he seems happy enough about it all. I think we just have to keep an eye on him and not take it for granted.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Hayley invented a new game with Oliver. It involves him bumping into her tummy and bouncing off. He finds this hilarious.

My Son is My Hero

Oliver has his "My Dad is My Hero" t-shirt. I should have a "My Son is my Hero" t-shirt. The little man has been so good about Lucy's arrival, an exemplary big brother. But despite his brave face, the change has taken its toll on him and it is starting to show a little.

Last week I found he could become panicy when he thought I was leaving him anywhere, even places where he would normally not have batted an eyelid at me leaving. Today Hayley spent the whole day with Oliver and Lucy, but spent part of it at the house of a fellow child-minder (Debbie) who Oliver knows well and whose house he loves to go to. Despite this, he frequently got a bit upset when Mummy was out of site and on other occasions throughout the day grabbed her hand to make sure she wasn't going to leave him.

It's hard to strike a balance between, on one hand, getting Hayley a bit of a break to recover from all the nights of broken sleep and on the other hand not undoing all the good work she has put in to make Oliver the confident little chap he has been up to now. Hopefully we can minimise the disruption for a while. Next month he will be starting at a nursery for two mornings a week, provided we are happy that he is ready and settles in OK.

Today was my first back at work. He was fine when I left this morning. In the afternoon he told Hayley "Daddy work. Earn pennies."
"Yes, Daddy's at work, but he'll be home soon."
"I ready for Daddy out now."
Bless him! So Hayley promptly called me at work for the little man to say Hello.

Hayley has coped well today. She was very chipper when I got home. She fed Lucy while Oliver rode to Somerfield with me on his Giraffe, which was quite a feat as it has no footrests and he was in charge of the steering! When we got back Lucy was fed. And by the time I had bathed Oliver she had virtually made dinner. What a woman!

I spent a happy few minutes this evening with Lucy lying on my chest, awake and content. I also did the same thing with her a few nights ago. It was the first time she had been settled with me for any length of time. Although she's definitely still a Mummy's girl, I do feel more of a bond developing with her as she lets me in, bit by bit. But I've got to be honest, it's got some way to go before it comes close to my bond with Oliver. My son. My hero.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Little Miss Hiccup

I'm currently calling Lucy Little Miss Hiccup. When Hayley was monitored Lucy could be "heard" hiccuping. She was at it again today. So cute. I remember worrying about whether it would bother Oliver when he was a hiccuping newborn, not realising that babies hiccup away quite happily with no ill effects or complaint.

The other thing worth mentioning is that yesterday she lay on my shoulder and was really settled and content with me for the first time. It's a nice feeling.

Midwife visit at 11 days old (yesterday)

Midwife "M" came to visit us yesterday to check Lucy's weight. She weighed 3.51Kg, so although she hasn't fully recovered her birth weight, she is on the way.

We asked about a number of things, prime amongst which was whether we had to keep waking Lucy in the night for her feed. She said that Lucy should be weighed again in a week and if her weight is not increasing quickly enough we should start waking her every 3 hours.

Interestingly, Hayley and I heard this different ways. In the middle of last night Hayley started to get up to wake Lucy. She thought we had to start waking her straight away, whereas I understood it was OK to let her sleep while we had no cause for concern. After a quick 3am conference we went back to bed. Lucy woke half an hour later (5 hours after her previous feed).

We also talked about breastfeeding and strategies to allow expressed milk and/or formula to be used where it might be beneficial, e.g. to let me do a feed in the late evening to allow Hayley to get some sleep. She said that it was best for Hayley to do the feed in the night as this was good for milk production the following day. (We'll be giving her an EU quota next!)

We asked about the spots Lucy has and she said that was quite normal. She also didn't seem concerned by the red marks that appear on her skin, apparently where she has been held or been lying.

I asked about slings and she mentioned that some women do actually breastfeed their baby in a cradle sling. It seems hard to imagine. I think you need a black belt in breastfeeding to do that.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Say cheeeeeese!


Oliver has inherited several things from Hayley.
Her cute nose.
Her mischievous nature.
And her slightly mad grin.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

My lucky dips

Before I met Hayley, I didn't play the lottery apart from being One-of-many in a long-running syndicate at work.

Then Hayley started to buy us a pair of Lucky Dips on a Saturday.

Then Oliver came along and we started buying three Lucky Dips.

This morning, for the first time, I had the pleasure of buying four Lucky Dips.

Although this makes the lottery a more expensive pastime for us, I buy the tickets already feeling like a winner.

Can I smell toast? Or baby poo!

I'd forgotten how yeasty baby poo smells. The first night Lucy came home I sat with her on my knee thinking how lovely and sweet she smelled. Then I remembered why.

Tightrope? Circle? Take your choice

Much as I love the relationship I have with Oliver - including his adoration, as I mentioned yesterday - his original happiness at spending time with me this week has now evolved into an expectation that Daddy is available to him from waking til sleeping. As a result there are now tears almost whenever I might try to do something other than give him 100% of my attention.

This could be trying at the best of times. Right now, with Hayley feeling somewhat similarly pinned down by Lucy's feeding habits, and both of us feeling tired, it is extremely unwelcome.

This afternoon saw a scene of wall to wall crying. Lucy was crying because, well, it was hard to say why, but she wasn't happy about some aspect of her latest feed, while Oliver burst into tears because I took a 5 second detour into the spare room to get his shoes instead of going direct to the living room to watch the requested episode of Roly Mo. I then made things worse by admonishing him in a somewhat abrupt tone, out of sheer tiredness and frustration. I hardly ever, ever "tell him off" or lose my cool with him like that, so this only made things ten times worse. Crying was now wailing. I immediately tried to re-assure him and undo my cock-up, feeling guilty now as well as tired and bewildered.

There seems to be a tightrope to be walked here, not wanting to spoil Oliver, but at the same time trying to make life a little easier for everyone by keeping him happy. The trouble is, the more I tend to him and keep him happy, the more he expects the attention and keeping him happy becomes more difficult.

Next week I'll be stepping off this vicious circle and going back to work. He will either be devastated, or, more likely, he will do what he always did before when I wasn't around: get upset for 5 minutes then accept it and be happy for the rest of the day. Fingers crossed...

Topsy turvy

Last night, after an evening dominated by Lucy feeding, we went to bed at 11pm and slept. We slept, in fact, until 4am, when we got Lucy up for a feed.

Yes, you read that correctly. We woke Lucy fgor her feed, not the other way round. This is because we've been told not to let her go more than about 5 hours without a feed and never more than 6.

This is somewhat infuriating, as she seems to be feeding well, not losing weight, and we are worried that we are going to get her into the habit of waking for a feed, when what we really want is for her to sleep through if that is her natural healthy tendency.

The midwife comes tomorrow and will weigh her, so we'll ask her whether we can just leave her from now on. Of course, there's no guarantee she won't change her tendency to sleep as long as she does at night, but while it lasts we are grateful for the sleep, as Oliver gets up full of beans every morning, regardless of how the rest of us have slept.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Mummy's little girl

As I type, Hayley is sitting next to me on the sofa feeding Lucy. The little lady seems to be getting the knack of breastfeeding, even on the less favoured breast, though her Mummy is suffering some soreness.

But regardless of the niggles there's one thing that is clear. Lucy knows who her Mummy is. She rarely takes her gaze from Hayley when she is near. In contrast, I am as out of favour with Lucy as I am in favour by Oliver! Within a minute of two of me picking her up she will be wriggling and/or crying, whereas Mummy seems to have the magic touch. As I type she is kissing her and telling her she smells nice. She really dotes on her and Lucy is now a picture of contentment, lying in Mummy's arms after her feed. It looks like my bonding with my daughter still has some way to go.

Perhaps it's a reason to start bottle-feeding her more often, whether breastmilk or formula. It would give me chance to feed her and give Hayley a break,. Lucy slept for about 4 hours this afternoon but this evening she has fed intermittently throughout. A mixture of breastfeeding and bottlefeeding still seems the best option long-term, for the whole family's well-being.


One of our fabourite TV shows at the moment is "Heroes". The heroes in question have super-powers. I can't claim to have super-powers, but I can claim to be a hero. I know, because Oliver has a t-shirt that says so. "My Dad is my Hero", it states in bold colours. I have to say I don't tend to dress him in it unless he's not going to spend the day with me, much as I secretly love it.

Yesterday morning I went in to get him up and dressed. He watched as I selected clothes from his chest of drawers. When he saw me take this shirt from the drawer - in fact just to get at another one - he immediately shouted "My Dad!". When I tried to offer him another t-shirt he got upset and insisted "My Dad, My Dad!". So My Dad it was.

I was looking back over this blog the other day and found that my first reference to him demanding my attention in particular was over a year ago. AA year on he has language to express exactly why and how Daddy is required. "Make it!" "Get it!" "Daddy do it", passing me a piece of playdough (for example) for me to join in with his play. And my favourite after he has requested something, possible or otherwise: "I'm ready."

He has other heroes though. His favourite toy, Julien, also has hero status. I fly him over Oliver while I get him changed, intoning in Hollywood fashion, "Is it a bird? No! Is it a plane? No! It's Super Julien!" and I fly him down towards Oliver. Yesterday morning I forgot to bring Julien downstairs and found myself enacting all that myself, flying around the kitchen as he chuckled between his mouthfuls of Rice Crispies.

Time flies

It's seems impossible that Lucy is already 9 days old. This past week has flown by. In a few days I'll be back at work and we are both facing that step with some trepidation. If Lucy continues to breastfeed for as long and as often as she is at the moment, it's hard to see how Hayley will get a minute's peace, as Oliver will also want her time and attention. I think from that point on she may have to be fed on a combination of breastmilk and formula. We'll see.

When she's awake she often seems to only be happy when held. She will complain after a few minutes in her moses basket, swing or bouncy chair. So we are looking around for a suitable sling. We already have a Baby Bjorn carrier but she seems to like being cradled, so I'm hunting on eBay for something suitable. They are crazy prices though, so she may have to manage without this additional accessory!

Lucy's arrival has accentuated to us just how grown up our son has become. The contrast between sitting with Lucy on my knee drinking her bottle and Oliver doing the same thing before he goes to bed, really brings home what a big boy he is now. I just hope he isn't forced to grow up too fast now that his noisy and demanding little sibling has arrived.

In an attempt to give Hayley some help this week, we arranged to have Oliver spend some time with some of his friends. Unfortunately this backfired somewhat yesterday. I took him to see his friend Cara, but as soon as he realised I was leaving he became hysterical, shouting for me. So I stayed for about 15 minutes til he was his normal self again. When I came to say goodbye again he seemed fine, but again got upset as I walked out of the front door. This time I left. He was with someone he knew well and liked (Cara and her Mum) and I won't be able to stay all day when I'm back at work. I hate to see him upset but equally I knew he'd settle down once I'd gone and I wanted to give Hayley a lift with Lucy. Catch 22! Sometimes you just can't do the right thing. Later the same day when we dropped by to see Jo, he did the same thing when I went downstairs momentarily, even though I told him I'd be back in a minute.

The truth is that Oliver has well and truly attached himself to me while Hayley has had her time taken up by Lucy. While this is obviously lovely in some ways, it can also be tough, especially when he gets upset if Daddy can't or won't do something with him and he is asked to do it with Mummy instead. I know that when I'm not around he is happy to do things with Hayley, but when I AM around he seems to think I am "property of Oliver".

One day having two of them will make life easier, allegedly. It's certainly made things a bit tougher for now.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Famous last words

I knew I shouldn't have tempted fate in my last post. Lucy kept us up til midnight, feeding for a few minutes then falling asleep only to wake the moment we tried to put her down in her moses basket. And then she went less than 3 hours before waking again.

Hayley got back to bed by about 4am after a 75 minute feed/change/feed session. Oliver and I were up at 7.15. As I type (at 8.45am) Hayley is just up and Lucy is stirring. So we are far from any sort of routine.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Catching up


We don't get much spare time right now so here are the highlights!

  • The midwife (Alison) came on Monday and weighed Lucy. She has lost much less than the benchmark 10% of her body weight in the first 5 days so she is feeding just fine. The breastfeeding is going well, but as with Oliver one breast is preferred to the other!

  • The doctor also visited yesterday (to our surprise) and gave both mother and baby a clean bill of health.

  • We don't like to tempt fate, but Lucy has been going 4 or even 5 hours between feeds in the night, meaning Hayley only has to get up once in the night for about 1-1.5 hours. She seems to feed a lot during the evening. Long may it continue. (Though this evening she has been eerily quiet!) Hayley feeds her in the spare room where we have a sofa-bed and soft lighting. It seems to be working quite well.

  • Lucy is very close to her Mummy. Hayley clearly adores her, though she does also miss having time with Oliver. I think if Lucy could spend all day in Hayley's arms, either feeding, sleeping or just watching the world go by, she would. And who can blame her! Hayley did manage to get some grocery shopping done today.... by doing it over the internet whilst holding Lucy and talking to her cousin Becky on the phone!

  • DSC05351

  • Last night, a good half hour after Oliver had been quiet in his bed, Lucy started to cry for milk and over the intercom we heard Oliver saying quietly "don't cry Lucy". Tonight he took the little teddies off the bouncy chair one by one and gave them to Lucy in her swing. He's been a very loving big brother to our new arrival.

  • Today Oliver went to Debbie's house. He loves it there. When he came home it was like he'd come back from University. He was talking away to me, telling me all the things he likes. It's hard to capture how fast his language skills seem to be developing. All I can say is that Hayley perceived a change in the time she was in hospital and almost every day I feel he is saying new things and putting together more combinations of words. I have to remind myself sometimes that when he doesn't answer me it might just be because he doesn't understand!

  • While Oliver was at Debbie's, Hayley and I took Lucy into town to Mothercare where we bought her some clothes and also a new sprung mattress for Oliver's cot-bed. We then bought some sandwiches and came home. I've moved the changing table from Oliver's room to the spare room which should be more useful.

  • DSC05361

    Tuesday, August 21, 2007

    "I think I love you..."

    In the first few days after Lucy was born I found a recurring thought going through my mind. It can perhaps be best captured in the words of the inimitable David Cassidy - and I leave it to you whether that's a good or bad thing - "I think I love you".

    When the labour was over and we saw we had our little girl, Hayley and I cried tears of joy. You can see in the pictures how thrilled we were at our new arrival. From the moment she was born I felt responsible for her and prtoective towards her.

    Does that mean I already loved her?

    I've found myself pondering that question in the midst of the chaos that goes with the territory of looking after a newborn.

    A colleague of mine once re-assured me of something I had nerver really worried about. He told me that I would have enough love for both children and that my love for the second child would be instant.

    So since Lucy's birth I've found myself trying to recall how I felt about Oliver when he was born. Because the truth is that with Oliver already on the scene, I think it has taken me a few days to really warm to Lucy. Or maybe my memories of Oliver's arrival are rose-tinted? Maybe the fact that I am a more confident parent the second time around means that I've less anxiety but no less love.

    There's probably some truth in all of the above. But I do know that I have built a close bond with Oliver. He is a little person now with whom I have conversations every day. We laugh together every day. So perhaps I shouldn't be as surprised as I am - and feeling as guilty as I do - when my highly cultivated feelings of protectiveness towards Oliver kick in at the arrival of this little wailing interloper whose agenda doesn't extend beyond her own survival and whose cries seem to unsettle him.

    I'm glad to say that as the days have passed I have grown closer to Lucy. I don't get to feed her much yet as she is entirely breastfed (barring one bottle of expressed milk I've given her). But it's surprising how bonded you can become after several days of changing soiled nappies!

    So, I don't think I love Lucy any more. I know it.

    Sunday, August 19, 2007

    The Big Brother

    Oliver seems to be taking Lucy's arrival very well. He often mentions her or even talks to her. This morning he saw her lying on the sofa wrapped in a blanket and he laid down next to her his precious Julien before going off for his breakfast. He never lets anyone else play with Julien. It brought a tear to my eye!

    He also has a "baby" Julien. Baby Julien is a miniature version of Julien that we bought to avoid having to take the irreplacable "big" Julien out of the house. This morning I noticed that he was sitting with Julien and had placed Baby Julien in her crib with her.

    So overall Oliver has been fantastic about it all. But I do realise sometimes how it affects him and my heart goes out to him. He woke last night when Lucy was crying and we heard him say on the monitor "baby crying", several times. And this morning when he heard her crying he said to her "stop crying baby". We just explain to him that she's OK and that it's her way of talking to us. Hopefully our calmness reassures him even if our words are a bit of a mystery to him.

    Friday, August 17, 2007


    Coming home

    Our family is re-united at home. Lucy fed well both from both the breast and the bottle in the night, so everyone was happy that she could go home. Especially us!

    Before we left we registered her birth at the hospital. It doesn't seem two years since we were doing the same with Oliver. Today he was there with us, playing hide and seek behind my chair and generally taking the role of the adorable toddler. Doesn't time fly.

    Lucy has mostly been sleeping today, but has fed twice from Hayley this evening. We're off to bed now to get some sleep before she wakes again, as she only seems to be going 1.5 - 2 hours between feeds since she woke from her daytime slumbers.

    At home

    Thursday, August 16, 2007

    First visitor

    Sara came to the hospital tonight to see Lucy. She is her first visitor apart from me and Oliver. When she arrived Oliver met her in the corridor and led her to see his sister. "Lucy!" he said as he led her by the hand to Lucy's room. (It's Room D by the way on Ward Mat 3, for posterity and for prospective visitors.)

    He was lovely with Lucy this evening. He got onto the bed next to her crib, leaned in and stroked her head as gently as you could possibly imagine. He has also talked about her sometimes today and was very keen to visit her this evening. Long may his brotherly love continue.

    Oliver and Lucy

    Here we go again?

    If you were reading this blog back when Oliver was only a few days old you'll know that we got sucked into giving Oliver milk in a cup when the policy was that he should be allowed to just breastfeed. This came about because the staff on the ward were over-anxious about his failure to breastfeed straight away. Hayley ended up staying on the ward for several days but actually found it better to be at home away from all the conflicting advice.

    Today we have had a similar experience. At lunchtime we met with the breastfeeding specialist midwife who was supportive of our decision to try breastfeeding but to also use expressing and formula if necessary. She saw that Hayley had a "perfect technique" and that Lucy, although not very interested, did actually take some milk from the breast, so we know she can do it. In fact Lucy fed from the breast last night in the wee small hours so we know she is capable of doing so.

    We did give her some breast milk from a syringe on the advice of the specialist midwife, but overall we were happy to be patient with her slow start.

    Unfortunately some of the staff on the ward seem much more jumpy. When Oliver was there they used to take blood samples to check sugar levels by pricking his heel. This, apparently, started to get "completely out of hand" and the policy was dropped. Now, instead, it appears to me that they tend to just assume the baby's sugar level is going to be low if they are not seen to be feeding well. Consequently they are asking Hayley to wake Lucy every few hours to feed.

    The irony of this is that if a baby is seen to be breastfeeding the staff are happy, despite the fact there is no way of knowing how much it is actually drinking. (Breasts do not yet come with volume measurement marks.)

    Similarly ironic is the fact that they are pushing Hayley to stay in after tomorrow, even though they wouldn't have the opportunity if she had opted for a home birth.

    I'm waiting to hear from Hayley how they got on tonight. She was going to try Lucy again on the breast.

    I suspect she will take to the breast once she comes out of her post-delivery rest. Her birth was nominally straight-forward as there was no intervention, but there were some scary moments towards the end when the registrar was close to intervening, so it's not surprising she has been quiet until now. I recall from last time we had this problem that one of the midwives who led our ante-natal classes told us how a baby with a difficult birth can take 3 days to start feeding as much as you might expect them to. Last night Lucy did feed from Hayley, so hopefully she'll pick up her interest and Hayley can come home tomorrow.

    Oliver and I are missing Hayley. He has been as good as gold today. He also napped for 2 hours: I wonder whether this was because he was back in his own cot. Then again, Sara told me that he slept in until 8.10am yesterday, so he must have been quite content at Jack's.

    I'm betting he'll be up with the lark tomorrow despite a late bedtime (20.30!) after visiting Hayley and Lucy this evening. But I couldn't be happier to have him home. And I'll be even happier if our girls come home tomorrow too.

    A day old

    Lucy (1 day old)

    Lucy is now a day old. Already she looks a little different. Yesterday people often asked me "who does she look like?". My ususal answer was "none of us"! I honestly couldn't say she reminded me of either of us on first inspection.

    But today she looks a little different. One midwife said to me "oh she looks like you now you've put that woolly hat on her". Another saw a picture of Oliver and said "don't they look alike, they have the same shaped face".

    She spent a happy few minutes in my arms when I popped in at lunchtime. I even took off my shirt for some skin-to-skin bonding. It wasn't a difficult decision as the room was like a sauna, which is intentional as her body temperature was a touch low last night. She lay happily in my arms, looking up at me and emitting the occasional cooing noise.

    She seems to like being picked up. Several times she has cried and then stopped as soon as her Mummy picks her up and gives her a cuddle, which she does a lot. Hayley is made up with our new arrival and often gives her loving cuddles.

    Hayley has started breastfeeding her, though Lucy isn't taking to it with gusto yet. It's early days though. After a chat with the breastfeeding specialist midwife today we have opted for a strategy of trying to breastfeed first but allowing the option of using expressed breast milk from a srynge or bottle as a first fallback and using formula as our second fallback.

    Meanwhile Oliver spent a second night at his friend Jack's house last night and this morning visited Isabella. Inevitably he has been a bit disrupted and couldn't be blamed for feeling a little passed around over the last few days, thoug he has been ever so good about it. But I think he is reaching his limit now. As I took his stuff to the car today from Isabella's, I could hear him shouting "Daddy!". Poor fella probably thought I was off again without him. But he's back home with me now (napping as I type). And tomorrow, fingers crossed, the whole family will be home again. Then the fun will really begin!

    Wednesday, August 15, 2007

    Lucy Anne Townley


    Our daughter, Lucy Anne, was born at 8.47am on Wednesday 15th August 2007. She weighed 8 lbs 7 ozs (3.82 Kg). Hayley and I are both delighted. Oliver met her this evening and was also pleased.

    Oliver meets Lucy

    Thanks to everyone who got in touch to offer encouragement and support over the last few days.

    Full details to follow after we have recovered from being up all last night.

    Our new arrival

    Tuesday, August 14, 2007

    Evening Update

    After several very frustrating delays today, Hayley is still waiting to go to Delivery Suite due to it being short-staffed. Consequently, it may be that they don't break her waters until the morning now. We'll see.

    She is getting more tired and understandably rather down about this situation. Last night we were told that we would certainly have our baby by now. The midwife who said so will be back on shift soon. Won't she get a surprise when she finds Hayley in the same bed, no further on.

    Afternoon Update - Not happy!

    I think that if you look back over this blog you'll find we give Stepping Hill a pretty good press. But when it comes to the way they have handled the induction leading up to the labour - not only this time but also with Oliver - I'd have to give them a pretty low score.

    Since entering hospital last night Hayley has been treated well by a number of individual midwives, but as hour follows hour follows hour you start to realise that each new shift of staff that comes on loses any of the sense of urgency that had developed in the preceding shift. Meanwhile Hayley becomes ever more tired and, little by little, more distressed as a result.

    Last night she was given prostin, then again this morning. She was then told they would break her waters after waiting a couple of hours. That was around 6am.

    Since then nothing significant has happened, but a number of deadlines for moving her have been set and then expired without comment. She was told at around 11am that she was going to be moved to the Delivery Suite to have her waters broken. It is now 5pm and no-one has even been in to explain to her what is causing the delay. The most we've got out of the (very rude) member of staff on the desk on her ward is that there was an emergency. This has happened twice today.

    Hayley is already tired after a poor night's sleep. And since then her contractions have died down which seems to have removed all sense of urgency, as if they think she is a piece of baby-generating equipment that can be left in the corner until they have more time to re-start her.

    Perhaps this is a sign of lack of resources in the NHS, I don't know. What I do know is that for all that the midwives might treat her like an individual, the system as a whole is treating her like a commodity.

    Meanwhile the clock keeps ticking and our childcare arrangements become ever more difficult. It's bad enough dealing with nature's delays let alone those caused by the ever-lengthening list of vanishing deadlines set by the staff on the ward.

    I'm briefly back home so Hayley can try to rest and hopefully even sleep for a couple of hours while this hiatus persists. It also gives me chance to get her some more clothes as her stay is going to be longer than we had hoped.

    Once I go back we plan to push them for a firm decision. It could mean they break her waters. It could even mean they delay until tomorrow.

    As I say, we are not happy.

    Morning Update

    Hayley is currently trying to get a little rest after a night of understandably disrupted sleep. She has had the second tablet of prostin this morning but they haven't yet broken her waters as she has shown signs of potentially progressing into labour naturally, so they are giving her a couple of hours to see whether this happens.

    I'll be off to see her as soon as she's awake. Not sure whether I'll manage any more updates before the birth. Patientline is not the easiest system to use for entering text.

    Monday, August 13, 2007

    Hayley's now at the hospital

    I took Hayley to hospital at 10pm this evening, got her settled in and left her at about 11.30pm. The baby was being monitored when I left and her first prostin is probably due around now (11.50pm Monday). The theory is that this first dose doesn't do much so she can rest. Then a second dose around 6am should get things started.

    My Mum and Del have been here all day which has been a great help and they have been babysitting Oliver this evening while I took Hayley to Stepping Hill.

    I'm off for some sleep now, with the phone by the bed.

    Farming Today

    As we all know, farming in this country ain't what it used to be. Many farmers have to diversify to make their businesses profitable. Perhap that explains why this morning Oliver decided to add a new verse to "Old MacDonald had a farm" while I got him dressed.

    "Old Mac Donald had a farm, ee-aye ee-aye oh,
    And on that farm he had a train, ee-aye ee-aye oh
    With a choo choo here and choo choo there
    Here a choo, there a choo, everywhere a choo choo,
    Old Mac Donald had a farm, ee-aye ee-aye oh."

    The things he says...

    Oliver (requesting his book, "The Elves and the Shoemaker"): "Shoemaker!"
    Hayley (Searching for it in his room): "Sorry, I can't find it Oliver."
    Oliver: "Try downstrairs!"

    Steve: "Oh look Oliver, the box for your slide is wet after the rain, so you won't be able to play in it. That's a shame."
    Oliver: "Dry it!"

    Oliver (as he sets about building something with his lego): "Now then..."
    I think I may be guilty of introducing that one to him.

    Sunday, August 12, 2007

    Counting down to induction?

    This morning Hayley was seen by a midwife at home and her blood pressure was again normal. Last night she ate a Chicken Vindaloo curry in an attempt to encourage Bumper out, but still he/she is not budging. We've tried other things too (which I won't list here - see entries from the last time this happened!) but we are starting to resign ourselves to the prospect of induction, tomorrow evening starting at 10pm.

    The nice thing about this morning was that the midwife that came round was Sally, who delivered Oliver (with a little help at the end from a consultant with a ventuse cap!). She chatted to him and said it was nice to see him. It's strange to think how he is just one of many to her and yet she holds a unique place in Oliver's life and indeed in our own lives.

    Saturday, August 11, 2007


    First taste of bacon

    I don't eat meat.

    I never foresaw this as a problem with regard to offspring, as my policy is to bring them up as omnivores until they can decide for themselves. And when it comes to meat, Hayley eats only chicken, so our diets are pretty similar.

    However, one problem that has arisen is the fact that Oliver likes to share his food with me. I don't want to hurt his feelings, but I'm not going to arbitrarily bring to a close nearly a quarter of a century without meat just because he offers me a taste of his spag' bol'. It does make me feel a bit rotten though as most offers of food I can accept, so my refusal might come as a bit of a surprise to him. Daddy isn't a human dustbin after all.

    One thing that most veggies miss in my experience is bacon. Many years ago my colleagues used to take great pleasure in brining bacon sandwiches into the office in the morning, warming them on the up-lighters and then eating them in front of me just to make me suffer. Swine! (sic)

    So imagine my feelings this morning when I took Oliver for his (now semi-customary) Saturday morning breakfast at Tesco where I bought him a small piece of bacon. The picture above shows him tucking into it with relish. Admittedly he didn't eat it all, but there was sausage on offer and there's not much to compete with a good sausage in Oliver's eyes.

    And yes, I did resist the temptation to share.

    BBC NEWS | England | Manchester | Tributes paid to 'Mr Manchester'

    BBC NEWS | England | Manchester | Tributes paid to 'Mr Manchester'

    Maybe it's just the nature of life that we tend to notice death at a time of new life. Certainly I have noticed before, one life passing away as a new one starts. In fact it has struck me so often that yesterday I found myself walking down the road pondering casually the the rather morbid question "who will it be this time?"

    Perhaps it is Tony Wilson. Not only did I grow up with his face on the local news, but more importantly he launched bands that defined Manchester music at a time when music meant so much to me. Factory Records - especially in its early days - was the definition of cool. Even the artwork of the record sleeves made you want to buy them.

    I never got to see Joy Division but from their very first gigs (their 3rd in fact, barring the New York gig) I followed New Order. Literally, from sporadic gig to sporadic gig. And on at least one occasion I found myself standing next to the big man, at The Ritz - always an iconic Manchester venue - wearing a scruffy mac'.

    Then came Fac51 - The Hacienda. An acoustic nightmare unless it was full, and later plagued by drugs, but it still had the most kudos of any venue outside of London and perhaps even including London. I saw quite a few gigs there. (My ony regret is that I had 2 tickets to see the Smiths there in October '83 but as my girlfriend couldn't make it I didn't bother going alone!)

    Later still came the Happy Mondays. I once recorded a demo engineered by someone who engineered their sessions. He told me they spent 10 hours trying to record one vocal and failed. Sounds about right. But the Happy Mondays remain a symbol of Manchester in the 90s just as New Order were in the 80s.

    Without Tony Wilson and enthusiasm for what could be achieved in what back then was considered by the London-based music industry as an irrelevant backwater, none of this would have happened.


    Friday, August 10, 2007

    False start

    Today our midwife, M, came and did a membrane sweep. She said the cervix was soft and Hayley is already 2cm dilated. She could feel the baby's head which is very low.

    But then she took her blood pressure and found it to be 157/92 which is high, especially as she is normally about 120/70. So she admitted her to hospital in case the induction should be brought forward to today.

    At the hospital they monitored the baby's heartbeat and movements. He/she slept for about 30 minutes before waking and moving. They also took Hayley's blood pressure which was right back down to its normal level. After a wait of over an hour a doctor spoke to the nurse/midwife over the phone and decided Hayley could go home.

    They also took blood and said they'd call this eveing if the results meant she had to come back. We've had no call.

    Fingers crossed things might start of their own accord tomorrow. Otherwise we're off for a very hot curry!

    BBC NEWS | England | Bradford | Mother jailed for girl's murder

    BBC NEWS | England | Bradford | Mother jailed for girl's murder

    I don't know what I can say about this. After seeing the TV news report I looked around the living room at all Oliver's toys and thought about the fact that this girl had one pink cup and two hair bobbles to play with in the whole house. No wonder she spent all. day at the window.

    I then went upstairs, told Hayley and cried. Maybe I'm just emotional with our current events. Or maybe some things really should make a grown man cry.

    Thursday, August 09, 2007

    A "Hayley Blogged" alert

    Our friend Tara kindly offered to take Oliver for a couple of hours this afternoon. No doubt he had fun with her daughter Kira used to be in Hayley's care before she took maternity leave from child-minding.

    While he was out Hayley posted to her blog!

    (There is always a link to Hayley's Blog at the top of this page.)

    Wednesday, August 08, 2007

    The shape of a family

    Once upon a time there was just me and Hayley. There was a straight line between us. We talked along it, gazed along its length towards each other and loved from one end of it to the other.

    Then came our son. Two became three. Our straight line became a triangle. Sometimes all its sides were the same length. Sometimes one side seemed shorter, two corners closer. Often two of the corners could do little more than look towards the third. (Sometimes we called that third corner "the boss".)

    Soon three will become four. Our trangle will become....
    "What shape will it be?" I asked Hayley.
    "A diamond" she replied.
    And I think she's right. Hopefully a tall vertical diamond where the two corners half way up are closest, but never far away away from the other two. And like a real diamond, strong. Very strong, no matter what pressures life bears down on it.

    Here's to families of all shapes and sizes.

    Tuesday, August 07, 2007

    Hard going

    Hayley is now five days overdue to give birth and really struggling with discomfort in her back and other areas. Having Oliver to entertain obviously isn't conducive to fulfilling the orders of the doctor and midwife to rest. Unfortunately several friends, who would normally help by having Oliver for a couple of hours or just coming round for playdates, have been away and the summer break means there are no playgroups. Poor Hayley has been struggling over to the park or trying to make sandcastles for the little man in the back garden, but leaning over into a sandpit is not an activity she can sustain for long.

    I have to say that I have been somewhat irritated by the way that some people have made noises along the lines of "if there's anything we can do just say...", whilst already knowing full well that Hayley has no family up here and is exhausted looking after Oliver, but have made no offer to have him. I don't expect anyone to have him, but I can't stand their disingenuous offers.

    But Hayley and I always knew we would be pretty much on our own. We have no family nearby and we rarely see them. We listen enviously to the descriptions of friends whose parents babysit week in week out, or even childmind a couple of days a week. But we cope on our own and treasure even more the rare occasions we get time together, just the two of us, for the fact that it is so precious. I do wish we had more time as a couple. We both do. But it's a price we have to pay to enjoy our little family. It's a price worth paying.

    Baby Hospital

    This evening we have watched "Baby Hospital" on ITV1 (Granada). It is a fly-on-the-wall documentary about the Maternity Unit at Stepping Hill, the hospital where Oliver was born and where we will have Bumper.

    Unlike some similar documentaries on the subject, I'm glad to say this doesn't set out to scare its viewers and shows the midwife team in a good light, which shouldn't surprise us really having had predominantly good experiences with them. Although we missed it last week, we heard that Jane, our lovely midwife for Oliver, was on the show. Hopefully we'll catch her in action again on a future episode.


    It is hard to capture the fact that Oliver's speech has reached the stage where he has little conversations with us all the time. And with other people too.

    Here's an example from his trip to Tesco today with Hayley. A lady approaches him and asks who he is holding. "Who's that?"
    "Julien" he says, clutching baby Julien, then adding unprompted "big Julien at home".
    "What are we going to do now" asks Mummy.
    "Sausage" he replies. And off they went for a late (second!) breakfast.

    This is the modern world (part 2)

    This is going to be one of those "Eeeeee, when I were a lad...." posts. Here we go...

    When I was a child, Children's TV started at about 4.30pm and finished with The Magic Roundabout at 5.35pm. There were only three channels and one of those was mostly showing the test-card and the rest of the time seemed to be filled with Open University lectures by beardy men.

    Now children's TV is spread across a dozen channels running from the early hours until late at night. Even the worthy and advert-free CBeebies starts at about 6am and runs until 7pm.

    What is more interesting though is that today's technology makes it temptingly easy to indulge the natural inclination of the toddler which is to repeat! Sky plus, Tivo and all their copycats mean that not only can programmes be recorded and replayed repeatedly, but sections of programmes, individual songs, even a few seconds can be replayed at will.... over and over and over again.

    Podcasts, Listen Again, Anytime TV, "The Red Button"... We live in an on-demand world and, boy oh boy, do toddlers know how to demand. Oliver may be adorable but he is as persistent as the next nearly-two year old. Many is the time that he has sat himself on the sofa and repeated "Barney, Barney, Barney, Barney...". Or "Thomas, Thomas, Thomas...". Or "Roly, Roly..." You get the picture. And he is getting to the age where he knows very well that I can rewind live TV. Suddenly I find myself telling him that we watch programmes all the way through, as if it is the Director's cut of "Postman Pat" that we are enjoying.

    Ultimately it all seems harmless, so long as I am not promoting an ever decreasing attention span by enjoying the same few seconds of Boogie Beebies six consecutive times. Somehow, I think not.

    Monday, August 06, 2007

    This is the modern world (part 1)

    Tonight I watched the end of "In the Night Garden" with Oliver. I suspect I may enjoy it even more than he does. Last night I also sat down to watch it with him, but he was getting tired and before the end he got up from the sofa, turned off the TV and said "milk".

    It's an odd programme. And I say that as someone who grew up thinking Bill and Ben were quite normal. I find it has a very calming mood to it. It's really the 21st century's answer to the Teletubbies.

    Tonight we caught the last few minutes and at the end I turned off the TV using the remote control. Oliver promptly got up, walked to the TV and reprimanded my lack of green credentials, pointing at the standby-light and saying "light".
    "OK", I said "turn it off".
    He then turned off the TV properly, said "upstairs" and headed to the hall. Hayley, who is always telling me off for leaving the TV in stand-by, found the scene hilarious.

    Sunday, August 05, 2007

    Lazy Sunday

    We have spent the afternoon up at my Mum's house where Oliver has had everyone running around after him in the big garden and generally around the house. He has loved it. Hayley popped out at one point to pick up a couple of new toys for him that we reserved at a local Argos store.

    Still no signs of Bumper arriving of his/her own accord, but there's time yet to do so.

    Friday, August 03, 2007

    We are still here

    Still no signs.

    Thursday, August 02, 2007

    D-day is here

    Well, according to the pregnancy calculator Bumper is due today. Less than an hour to make it though so I think that's off the cards.

    According to the dating scan she/he is due tomorrow. We'll see...

    Wednesday, August 01, 2007


    Playday - Home

    It's clear that kids "play out" less these days than they did when I was a child. There are several reasons for this but prime amongst them is the danger of increased traffic.

    This website celebrates children's right to play and this year it's theme is "Our streets too".