And he’s here!!!!

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Well, it’s been a while.

Over a month since my last blog in fact. It’s not because I haven’t wanted to, I have. It’s purely down to the fact that I haven’t had time. That’s because, on the 15th October, my son was born, and it’s been non stop ever since.

Max Stanley Arnold was born by emergency C-Section, on the 15th October at 7.20am weighing 6lb 7oz. Very healthy and fighting fit, even with everything that had happened in the 8 months prior. It wasn’t an easy labour for my wife, in fact, she never went in to labour. Instead, she had to deal with a 42 hour(ish) induction process. Max quite clearly wasn’t ready to come out, and I don’t blame him. It’s gone very cold outside now, and very dark, very early. After around 38 hours, 8 of which Kylie had her waters broken, she had only gone 1cm. 3 attempts to get a working epidural in, and then all of a sudden, Max’s heart rate kept dropping, so it was a quick trip to theatre and in 5 minutes, out he came!

He cried as soon as he came out, which then set my wife off, and everyone was rushing around making sure everything was OK. Which is was, and i also managed to go and cut some of his cord seen as I wasn’t able to do it properly. Now, because of everything that had happened over the past 40 hours, this moment came very quickly and it didn’t sink in for me for a few hours. I even forgot about the whole naming thing, even after 8 months of trying to agree on a name, it had completely slipped my mind. If it wasn’t for Kylie saying

“Is Max OK then?”

I would have forgotten about it completely. I had just become a dad though, so my mind was a little elsewhere. We then had 3 days in hospital to recover and to get to grips with Max. Fortunately (yes, fortunately) I was made redundant 4 weeks before, so I had all the time to spend with them both in hospital, and it was a good thing I did. I don’t know how single mums manage straight after a cesarean. Kylie was in so much pain and couldn’t move, I had to do all the feeds and changes. Seriously, massive respect to the mums that do it. I got thrown in at the deep end, and I got covered in wee and pooh in the first 24 hours. Seeing that first nappy is not a pleasant sight, and trying to clean it up with cotton wool balls is laughable.

All of the hospital staff were completely amazing, by far the best in the NHS that I have had the pleasure of meeting. Extremely helpful, weren’t pushy at all, and very friendly. They really did make the whole thing a lot easier. UHNS Staffordshire, I salute you.

So then we come home and the real test begins. Our lives changed rapidly, and we found ourselves on a 3 hour clock. We haven’t had to wake him for his feeds, he does that himself, and he most definitely knows how to let us know he’s hungry. Feed him, change him, sleep, repeat… Maybe get something done in between the sleep phase. Again, we have been incredibly lucky with our friends and family, cooking us meals, doing our cleaning even letting us grab a few hours kip in the afternoon. Truly brilliant people!

So now it’s four weeks on, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Max is one month old on Saturday. Where the hell has the last month gone. It’s been the longest quickest month of my life, if that makes any sense at all. I’ve been awake for more than Ive been asleep, and its flown by. He’s already starting to hold his head up, in fact he was doing that on day 2!!! He is now over 8lbs, and finishing 6oz bottles. The best Ive seen him though, was definitely tonight. Gave him his bath, took him upstairs and dried him, then played with him on his change mat. What did he do? Smiled and started to coo is what!!! He has the most amazing smile ever, and his coos are definitely better than the other sound he makes most of the day.

It is by far the single most incredible thing that has ever happened to me, and I’m sure my wife would agree. It’s also the hardest thing that I have ever had to do, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. He is incredible to watch and now he is starting to stay awake and interact with us makes it even better.

What I have learned though, is this. Everybody gives you advice, everybody tells you what to do and everyone tells you what they did with their children. However, every child is different, no two are the same. Do what you want to do and do what you need to do to get things done (primarily sleep). Listen to their advice, try it if you want to and if it doesn’t work do something else. That’s what I have found, and thats the only piece of advice I will give any first time parent. More importantly though enjoy it, as they don’t stay little for long.

But wait, theres more! You also know that we were both made redundant 4 weeks before he was born. Like I said earlier, I was fortunate to be so. Firstly, it was because I could spend all the time I needed to with Kylie and Max (not the characters from Coronation Street). Secondly, it was because two days after Max was born, I got my first job offer, the next day I got another 2!!! In fact, every interview I went to, offered me a position with themselves giving me a choice. Well, let me just say, the job that I am now doing, is amazing. I now work for an incredible company, doing a job (that once I get to grips with) will be challenging and worthwhile, and it also means that my wife doesn’t have to rush back to work. Winner!

So that’s been my month, I’ll leave you all with some photos of my ridiculously gorgeous son!!

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The end of the road…

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It’s been a while, and a lot has happened in the past month. So sit back and let me tell you what’s happened.

About 7 weeks ago, we had a call from the hospital asking us to go in to see a consultant. Nothing to worry about, we just need to go in. So we did, and boy did we get a surprise. It turns out that a new antibody has appeared in my wife’s blood, and it’s high, very high, meaning the baby is at greater risk now. This means that we are now having to have our baby early, at 37 weeks by an induction, unless anything changes, and then we will be having it earlier.

Awesome. More stress and worry, but as long as the baby is fine, it doesn’t matter. So, every week we have been going to the hospital, having scans to check for anaemia, and every week we get told if we are good for another week. It’s like a waiting game, or a really stressful reality TV program. It hasn’t been particularly fun.

It hasn’t been a particularly easy pregnancy for my wife, and I think she has been truly incredible with it all. It goes to show just how amazing she is, when faced with all this with how calm and collected she has been. However, it turns out that God, or whatever is out there, wanted to test us more. A lot more!

I have also been made redundant three weeks ago, from a job that I absolutely loved. The company that I worked for, was forced into administration due to us losing the suppliers. Yet another high street UK business has closed down and 1000s of people have been made redundant. All of my work friends, the majority of which I will definitely see again and keep in touch with have been truly amazing and supportive, and I know will go on to bigger and better things. So now, I’m having to apply for jobs, and go to interviews, some have even had a 4th round!!! What’s that all about? Doing all this, whilst we are in and out of hospital, as my wife’s pregnancy has taken its toll. We have had a dry run in hospital for 3 days with a suspected blood clot on her lung, but all was well and we came back home.

Did I also forget to mention, that my wife also worked for the very same company that I did. Yep! She has been made redundant too, the very same day. All that enhanced maternity pay… Gone! My two weeks paid paternity… gone! The annual leave I had booked off in December… You guessed it, gone!

So I’m now on JSA, and my wife is getting statutory maternity pay. It’s better than a kick in the teeth, and I’m waiting to hear back from a few interviews, so I’m confident things will get better. They have to, don’t they?

So there you have it, the last 7 weeks in a nutshell. By my watch, I make it quarter past twelve at night, and I’m lying in bed, unable to sleep. I wonder why that might be.

Perhaps it’s the cup of coffee I had a couple of hours ago, or perhaps it’s because in 9 hours we’re going to hospital, and when I leave, I’m going to be a dad.

I seriously don’t know how she is snoring her head off next to me, although I think she is going to need all the sleep she can get.

I’ll see you all soon on the other side, through tired eyes and hopefully employed ones.

Matt.

The Waiting Game…

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Every week is a bonus….

That’s our philosophy now. What a hectic week we have just had, but the good news is, the flat packing is done!!!! In fact, it went amazingly well, no mistakes (*cough), no accidents and it didn’t even take too long. This, was due to the fact that I had Super Flat Pack Man at my side. Who is a true superhero, and someone who is slightly weird. One of my friends who absolutely loves flat pack furniture, and sloths!

Family and friends have been round, they have been painting our kitchen, nursery and dining room. They have been drilling and fixing furniture and shelving, and in all respects have been blooming marvelous. We now have a new bathroom, after all, we couldn’t go without a bath for the baby. My wife has also got a new walk in wardrobe, which was expertly built by my incredibly patient step-dad. Who had to build a set of drawers inside the cupboard and then had to assemble the drawers themselves inside the unit. I would have given up after about 20 minutes of swearing and banging my head on the cupboard.

 The carpet at the top of the stairs has been replaced where the cats had torn it in their desperation to sleep in our bed. And even better news is, we have had the door at the bottom of the stairs fixed much to my wife’s dismay. This means, our cats can now be locked downstairs at night. This means, no more being kicked in the face by my slightly stupid ginger cat. This means, no more cat dribble in my mouth, or eyes or ears! A full nights sleep, without being woken up by a needy, attention seeking being. I wonder how long that will last.

The nursery is also complete, and it look awesome. Clothes have been washed, and are in the drawers and hanging in the wardrobe. Nappies and cream are in place, toys are in the box and my wife’s nursing chair is in the corner looking ridiculously comfy. All that’s missing is curtains and a new light fitting. Oh, and the baby to go in it.

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As it turns out though, we don’t actually have too long to wait for the baby. In fact, he could be here by the end of this week, or the week after or the week after that. We don’t know exactly when the baby will be here, but we do know that he will be here before October half term. For those that have read my previous blogs, you will know that my wife has Antibodies in her blood. These could be harmful to the baby if they rise, and risen they have! We are now above the level of safety as it were, and now require weekly scans to check for Anemia. If the consultant thinks that the baby is or is beginning to get Anemic, then the baby will come that week, if not, we do the same again the week after. It also means we got a free 3D scan, so bonus there, unbelievable pictures, it’s amazing what they can do these days.

We will be getting induced at week 37 regardless, so for us, the longer the better. It does mean though, that we have had to pack the hospital bags, and get them ready. This was fun, and also slightly nerve wracking. It really shook home that in fact, within the next 7 weeks, we will have a baby, and I can’t wait. I also made sure that it was MY change bag we are taking to the hospital, it’s one that I have had custom made from @RockBabyScissor on Etsy.com. It is everything this nerdy dad needs, even if we have a girl, she is going to look really cool. Great bag, great price and quick turn around for an epic bag and change mat.

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This week also saw the arrival of our little nephew, who is now a week old. Born 8lbs 5oz, and such a gorgeous little boy. Congratulations to his mum and dad, who have both done ever so well and hope that everything goes OK for the both of you.

So there you have it, one week off work and what a week we had. We got pretty much everything crossed off that beloved Excel spreadsheet, maybe even more.

So now it’s down to you little man, when are you going to make your appearance. I could do with a few more weeks of sleep before you come. 

Flat Pack… Never again!!

7 Boxes!!!!

7 Boxes!!!!

So, we are now down to 13 weeks til the arrival of our bundle of joy. 13 weeks til I feel like I am back in the Army and going through sleep deprivation exercises. I absolutely cannot wait!

First though, the house needs to be prepared. Yet another thing that I didn’t even think about. Yet more expenses, and more things to do. So, a week of my annual leave has been used, and we have one week to do all the jobs that’s necessary to ensure we are as prepared as we can be.

Apparently, we need a new fireplace installing, “it will give us more room for the pram and stuff”. OK, I can get on board with that, but this also means that the walls need a different colour to ensure it looks right. Now the skirting boards will need glossing as well, it wouldn’t look right otherwise would it?

That’s just the front room as well, we also need a bath installing. I’m really excited about this one, I cannot wait to be able to play with the little one in the bath, mainly because of all the cool toys I’ll have. We need new carpets fitting at the top of the stairs to replace the mess that the cats have caused scratching away to get in to our room, and of course we can’t get carpet to match the one that’s currently there, no one will notice though surely. We need to re-paper, repaint and re-gloss in other rooms, and all this before I start the job I am most looking forward to and dreading at the same time.

FLAT PACKING!!!

The nursery furniture, all seven glorious boxes of it, which has been taking up my dining room for the past week needs assembling. Now, if you’re like me, you will hate it. The instructions never seem to be right (it may be because I don’t actually read them), parts are missing and then worst of all, you are always left with a screw that you can’t seem to put anywhere. All is not lost for me though, I am incredibly lucky enough to have a friend who loves flat packing, for now at least.

All of this though is being organised by my darling other half, who by the way has made an excel spreadsheet detailing who is doing what and on what days. I can’t post it as she will kill me, but it is there none the less, and it will no doubt help. This is also the part that the mothers can’t really get involved with as much, due to not being able to be near paint fumes and such. So this is my bit, or at least it feels like it is. Plus, you have all the family and friends to help at this stage, and boy have they been great so far. You only need to ask and people are willing to come round and paint and help move furniture and help in any way needed. All of my friends and family have been great so far, and I’m hoping it stays that way after the baby is here, we need babysitters after all (hint, hint!).

Seen as this is the last week off for the both of us now until the baby is due, I am really hoping that we can get away for a day or two as well to have some time alone. It will be the last time we are off as a two instead of a three. Now that’s weird to say, a three!!

I’m actually quite looking forward to going back to work and having a break 🙂

Face Your Fears…

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Ah, the joys of parenting. Fun, stress, embarrassment and more importantly for today, fear!

No one tells you that it starts the moment you find out you’re going to be a parent, but it does. As soon as you see the positive symbol (or faintly make it out in my case) on the pregnancy test there are a million different things that go through your head. Am I ready to be a parent? How much is this going to cost me? and am I going to be good at it?

Dads also have the worry of their partner as well. I’m forever thinking about my wife in her pregnant state. I keep telling her to go and have a nap, stop what you’re doing, and worrying about what she is doing is affecting the baby. Of course, I’m being over the top, but it is my first and I want it to go well. 

I have of course mainly been thinking that I cant wait til I get to see my little human for the first time and hold him/her. But I have got to wait, either 4 weeks or 16 weeks. Let me explain why.

After our first midwife appointment, my partners blood test results came back. It turns out that she has a blood group which can cause problems. Now this I found incredibly weird. How can the mothers blood work against the babies? Crazy. It also turns out that she already has a high level of antibodies in her system which are potentially dangerous to the baby. If they get any higher, then we are looking at having the baby at 28 weeks. So now, we are waiting and worrying about these antibodies, and she is being tested every 2 weeks to see if they have risen.

It really is amazing though what the health care service can do. Did you know, that in Bristol, UK, they can determine what blood group the baby is by extracting the babies DNA from the mothers blood. Unbelievable!! 

You also have the fear of, will the baby be healthy? will the baby have any abnormalities? 

Deep down, we all have these fears, and it’s OK to have them. You shouldn’t have to feel bad just because you think like this. In fact, we should be talking over these fears with our partners. They will be thinking the exact same thing and by talking them over with each other, you will help to subside them.

Us dads also feel like we shouldn’t be asking questions or talking to other dads. We should be the strong ones, the people that our partners can rely on when needed. How can we be if we haven’t done it ourselves? Which when you think about it, it is ridiculous. There’s no such thing as a stupid question, ask as many as you need to, and talk to each other.

These 9 months should be filled with memories and happy moments, and I guarantee they will be. Enjoy them, don’t sit there worrying about things that might never happen, if you do get news that isn’t to your liking, then relax in the knowledge of the health care service will do everything it can to help. 

Of course, I’m saying all this and writing it down, I know I should be doing this, but I’m not going to stop having these thoughts. What I am going to do though, is talk through them and then enjoy the last few weeks of my life without a child. Go places that we want to and see things that we haven’t seen yet. 

After all, I’m not going to be able to afford to to do this later, am I?

It’s alive….

He's waving!!

He’s waving!!

Well, a lot has happened since I last posted anything, so here goes.

Once you have finally accepted the fact that your partner is pregnant, that’s pretty much it for us fathers. We don’t have to deal with the morning sickness (which should actually be called all day sickness). We don’t get cravings, or get ridiculously hot, or have the mood swings and everything else that comes with carrying a baby. So it still doesn’t feel real until you get to the 12 week scan and then things change.

With this being my first child I didn’t expect to see what I did. I thought that I would just see a little bean shaped object sitting there. How wrong was I! Not only was I able to see two arms and two legs, but I could see this tiny human being doing somersaults and it even waved at us, just in time to have his photo taken. It was at this point did it truly hit me, that I had created another person, it was no longer an “it”, he was a person. So we have started to call him a “him”, he even has a name, Alan. Don’t ask, its a long story, and it is not staying, even if we do have a boy.

From this point on, we then went in to buying mode, or my wife did at least. We still have 17 weeks left, and there is approximately 1000 nappies upstairs of various sizes, as they were on offer. We have the furniture, the monitor, toys and a few clothes that people have bought us. What is due to be our nursery is full, like a bombs gone off, and he isn’t even here yet. We spent weeks researching the pram, and finally settled on one and bought it. And now, every time I see someone pushing a pram, I compare ours to it, I fully have pram envy. I’m loving every second of it.

Then comes the moment you have been waiting for, your partner feels the baby kick! You rush across and put your hand on the bump, and nothing… the fathers can’t feel it for another few weeks. And it sucks. You then have weeks of jealousy and being envious, because she can feel it, and she smiles like a Cheshire cat, and you spend 2 hours lying next to her with your hand on her belly. But when it does happen, it truly is magical. You feel the little kick against the palm of your hand and your smile goes from ear to ear. The tiny person that’s growing inside your partner can now be felt by the people outside, and it rocks!!

Throughout all this though, you have to go through numerous tests during pregnancy, or at least your partner does. Which by the way, if they don’t like their blood being taken, enjoy that. I had to hold my wife’s hair back on two separate occasions whilst she was sick in the doctors. Best get used to sick I suppose. Now if you don’t have any complications, then you are very lucky, it seems that everyone I have spoken to has had some complication or another. We are no different, my wife’s blood is a rare blood group, and she also has a high level of antibodies in her system, which can be harmful if they reach a certain level. So not also do you have the feeling of pure happiness throughout these 40 weeks, you also have a lot of worries that everything is going to be OK. However, I can safely say, that the NHS are brilliant when it comes to this type of thing, at least in our area, and they have put our minds at rest perfectly.

The next 20 weeks cant come quick enough, whilst also take as long as they want so we can enjoy the last few months of freedom. The emotions that you go through during pregnancy as a dad is no where near as stressful as the women, and I wouldn’t trade it in for anything at all.

Question is…. Boy or Girl?