Three and a half years of joy

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Here we are all these months later and all the silence in between did not mean there were torrid times, we were just too busy enjoying ourselves to update this site.  Of course there were hard days and sleepless nights, there were tantrums and tears, but really everyday is a joy with my boy Theo.  I love you son.

Count your blessings

It is only when you learn of a friend’s troubles that you really take
stock of all that you have. On days when you think you are having a
bad time, or things aren’t going your way, it is always a good idea to
remember how good you actually have it.
I have already confessed to having problems with fatherhood in the
early weeks, and maybe once or twice, for just a heartbeat, I
considered life without my son; by that I mean wishing for our old
life back before everything became so complicated – and I have
apologised for this, unreservedly. Last week I learned of a friend
who for him, this was a bitter reality.
I wept when I read his email about how his full-term baby boy’s heart
had stopped and he was delivered stillborn. Although my stomach
churned and my heart ached, I could not possibly appreciate the pain
he must be feeling. I remembered clearly the time around Theo’s birth
and how our lives were totally fixed on him joining our family: the
house had been made ready; clothes had been bought; car-seats; prams;
bottles; sterilizers; cots; changing tables etc etc. To be in that
position without your child is too horrible to contemplate. To stand
in an empty, quiet nursery is heartbreaking. I immediately sent him a
message with all our love and best wishes, knowing that no words would
make up for the hole that had opened up in front of him and his
partner. Life can be so cruel – but it is only life with its love and
support that will fill that hole.
And so, everyday I hold my boy in my arms and tell him how much I love
him and how he is my world. I do hope my friend and his partner find
some strength in the months to come and try again; I want so much for
them to feel the joy of being parents.
I have noticed recently that any news story involving babies/toddlers
who have been hurt or killed, or who have died, resonate so much more
powerfully within me. This week is the 20th anniversary of the
killing of James Bulger and although previously I had thought it was a
terrible incident, now, as a father of a defenceless baby boy, I fully
appreciate the horror, to the point where my body is physically
affected by the details of what those two twisted boys did to him.
This world is an amazing place, but it is also occupied by those not
worthy enough to be amongst us. I can only do my utmost to look after
my boy and hope that we are spared any of the horrors that are out
there.
Stay safe everyone and love each other.

Perfect, or not imperfect

I remember clearly the first second Theo was born. In that brief moment that the mid-wife held him before he was passed to his mum, I checked him from top to bottom, scanning every millimetre of his body for imperfections.
At the time I was unconsciously making sure he was fit and well, but thinking now, I was also checking to see if he was going to have to suffer future humiliation carrying a disability. Part of me also admits with embarrassment that I didn’t want him to be anything but perfect so he din’t reflect badly on me.
That thought makes me cringe now. I do not want to be the sort of person who makes those sorts of judgments, but unconsciously, there it is, I am.
I now know, that it wouldn’t have mattered whether Theo had a disability, I would not have loved him any less. And maybe there would have been more challenges for us, but I hope we would have met them stronger than I was at the time I first set eyes on him.
I guess the truth is there is no ‘perfect’, but the most we can wish for is being not imperfect: and that is a very subjective thing.

If you would like to read a blog showing a dad with real strength, please go here:

http://www.baby.co.uk/mum_stories/is-my-son-disabled/

Refresh

Okay, let us slow down for a second and take stock of where we are now, and more importantly, what we thought before we got here. I have re-read the first entries of this Blog and was interested to see that my frame of mind then was quite clear: I knew that in the future I would have no time to myself and my first concern above anything else was to be my newborn son.
This is interesting because although I had typed out those words and must have believed what I was writing, I actually had no clue whatsoever what they actually meant. Obviously I understood the sense of it, but until you actually experience the blur that is looking after a baby, you cannot fully understand what it really takes.

It is like this: when I was a child, a classmate’s mother died. That day I asked myself how would I feel if his experience had been mine… how would losing a parent affect me? Of course I said I would have been devastated and inconsolable, however, I used the words without really knowing what they meant, or their physical impact. It is sympathy not empathy. The truth is you have to go through these experiences to really know what they are about: anything less is just conjecture. Opinions based solely on guessing how you would feel are simply, worthless.

So I read my words with a smile, wishing I could tap me on the shoulder and say: “You don’t understand anything yet”. Now I do. And the funny thing is those of you reading this with children will understand, and those planning a family, will think they do… but you don’t. You child-free readers will have been told by everyone at the point you let them know you are expecting, how hard it is and now many sleepless nights you will have, and you will say “Yeah, I know” – I did exactly that – but you don’t know. Know that. Just know that you do not know and it will probably be less of a shock later. Okay I couldn’t have put that in a more patronising way, sorry. Believe me I would not have listened to these words of reason either, and frankly even if I had, it wouldn’t have made a difference. You get to where you going in your own time; and that is the truth.

So to recap, read these words again: “I would have no time to myself and my first concern above anything else was to be my newborn son”. Just think what no time to yourself actually means. If you have no children, for a bit of fun, imagine now what you do in a 24 hour period: I would guess that from midnight to 7:00 you will sleep soundly and either wake when your alarm goes off or just naturally; you may then eat breakfast, get washed and clothed and go to work, or if it is a weekend, holiday or you do not work, you will generally fill the day with things you like to do. You may just sit and watch TV or listen to music, or go out shopping, or to the cinema or to the pub. At lunchtime you will feel hungry and you will eat something. The afternoon goes along much like the morning. You will then come home and think about your evening meal, or you will go out for a meal. You may have a few drinks and feel drunk. You will come home and fall into bed, have sex possibly and fall asleep, safe in the knowledge that everything is ok. There will be times when you have to do the household chores like washing or food shopping or cleaning, but you can at least choose when you carry them out, to balance your life between the fun and the mundane. It is a very uncomplicated existence, with all events centred on you. Good or bad, you only have to concern yourself with you.

Now, looking at all the events in a single day, imagine that before you do any of them, you have to make sure that your baby is ok first. And by ‘any’ event I actually mean, ‘all’. Everything you do now has a pre-fix; a small mantra if you will – is he ok? And that is the easiest consideration. Depending on the answer it will then open up a myriad of sub-answers that all have to be cross referenced. In essence then, you can’t go to the toilet; dress; have a shower; make a cup of coffee; make a sandwich; go to the shop; sleep; watch TV; in fact you can’t do anything without firstly making sure your baby is ok. You may just want to re-read that again so it sinks in. By the way, “Is he OK” later changes to, “Is he still OK”, but more on that in the future… you are not ready for that yet.

The funny thing is that on paper the situation is a simple one: you have a baby that needs feeding and then cleaning. How hard can that be? The answer is… really, really hard, but day by day it does get easier. I don’t know whether it becomes less hard because you get better at it, or you worry less as the weeks roll on, or whether the baby actually gets better so you don’t have to work so hard. I just know this, the first few weeks as a father, I was a basket case. As prepared as I thought I was, I was not. I don’t know if anything prepares you for it, or whether it is something you have to work through and endure. But read the next instalment for the gory details.