Having chosen to swallow the red pill...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Having been slack in my mac

Having been slack in my mac, it is time for me to spill the beans about what has been going on in my life outside of these four walls, nappy changing, MTV's 04:00 show and milky burps.

I got the results back from my sociology exam and am happy and proud to report that I received a top grade for it. 'Väl gödkänd' or very acceptable! - So no retakes there, which leaves me free to concentrate on my paper, which is due in next Friday. I am arguing about how drug consumption has become a normative behaviour amongst British adolescents and how it has moved from the fringes within various sub-cultures to become a central 'leisure' activity within a unified global youth culture. Within the paper I argue how 'users and addicts' are tarred with the same brush, why there needs to be a difference between 'soft and hard' drug usage and how many of the existing theories about drug consumption are out-dated, resulting from 50 year-old academics applying their own experiences of teenage years onto today's youth. I attempt, by looking at the structural, cultural and individual changes within youth culture to present a new proposition for why, despite parental objection and public health campaigns, drug usage has ceased to be a culture and has, instead, become a norm.

Swimming has resumed as normal and Benjamin has duly been put on the list to start his baby-swim classes next February. Tomorrow will be my first appearance in the ju-jutsu dojo for a while and I have been promised a bruising by both Bear a.k.a The 8 palms of an angry Buddha and by Jocke, the resident saskwatch. The sad thing is that I can't wait. My body is actually silently yearning to sweat, ache and generally to have the s**t kicked out of it. (note to self: take up suspected masochistic tendencies at next therapy session)

In the middle of all of this, I am trying to sell my beloved car (featured above). Yes, after putting the baby seat in the back, it is no longer comfortable for me to drive, and, although we can get pram, baby seat, Benjamin, Ellie and me into the car, there isn't space for much else. So, in the kind-of-sad trend of fathers the world over, I am giving-up the sporty car of my youth and am buying based on practicality! Ho-hum! I guess I will have to wait until either my mid-life crisis or until I somehow manage to earn a fat wage before I can test my testicular fortitude again by slapping Prodigy's 'smack my b*tch up' into the CD-drive and flooring the gas pedal as I try to loose my hair-piece and get my bowels moving again!

Well, I need to get some lunch inside me and then get some lengths done before swimming lessons start, so I'll be wishing y'all a great day and thank-you for sticking with me ;-)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Waiting for feeding time

I thought I would try and get off a quick up-date as I am waiting to give Ben his final feed of the day, before the next (03:15) feed kicks in early tomorrow morning. As I did the 'red eye' feed last night, I get to sleep in until 06:15 tomorrow morning before it is my turn again!

Although things can change fast with small babies, it does feel that at the moment we are beginning to get a grip on things and we are able to take the measure of each other and slowly fumble our way towards some kind of routine, which helps Ben feel more secure and which enables us to function. But it has been a struggle to get there.

When we got back from the maternity ward on the Monday after his birth, Ben had lost nearly 10% of his birth weight and we were duly told to feed him and feed him well. As there are no helpful millilitre guides on breasts it is really difficult to see how much milk they are getting. The next time he was weighed, he had only gone-up 40g and we were told to feed him with the bottle every 2 hours, using the number of days old he was x 10 to get the ml amount we should be feeding him each meal time. We followed our instructions, but last Friday night, we couldn't even wake him for a feed and he just lay on my shoulders floppy and lifeless like a rag-doll. We took him back to the maternity ward only to be told that we had stuffed him full and we can't just wake him every two hours, as he needs to sleep! We were to leave at least 3 hours between each meal and if he still didn't eat enough, we were to take him to the paediatric emergency ward.

And that is where we ended-up on the Sunday evening as he still wasn't eating what he should, needless to say as soon as we arrived there, he woke-up and screamed for food. The paediatrician on duty checked him and we got the thumbs up (and she marked our journal with 'anxious first time parents' and we got him home with new instructions for feeding him! (something along the lines of his daily consumption should be 200ml x body weight / number of feeds per day)

Since then, I am glad to report that little Ben is fattening-up nicely for Christmas! After dropping down to 2.8kg, he is now up around 3.5kg and doesn't hesitate to remind us when it is time to eat! He is changing in appearance daily and if his hair keeps growing at its current rate, he will have a decent mullet in no time.

Alongside of all of this, we are growing in our roles as parents and life is taking on some semblance of normality. Today, for instance, I managed to drink a cup of coffee whilst it was still hot! Well, it is time to warm the bottle, so I'll sign off and wish you all a good night.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Time is elastic. The hours of night are longer than the hours of the day.

Daywalker is the name given to vampires in the Blade trilogy, who have mutated and are able to walk in sunlight; it also seems quite an adequate description for Ellie and I. It feels as if we are creatures of the night, who walk by day but don't belong there.
Night is when we come out, night is when we pace the living room floor rocking and swaying, night is when we make the trips to the kitchen to warm the milk and night is when we sit with a soothing finger in a little mouth, watching the clock tick the minutes and the hours away towards morning and maybe, just maybe, towards sleep.
Inside this house, everything has changed. Once two competent and intelligent adults, we now question ourselves constantly (is he breathing? should he sleep on his back or side? is he still hungry? was the milk warm enough? should we wake him and feed him?) and are virtually subservient to the now familiar movement of wrinkled face, hands bunched into fists and pulled up to the ears, deep intake of breath and then 'ladies and gentlemen, I have the following announcement to make'... With this flip-flop of night into day and this stretching and blending of hours and minutes, daylight, lamplight and darkness, all marked by rhythmic ticking of the second hand on the clock, I have discovered how routinised I had become. I become tired at 23:00 even though I may not get to sleep until 04:00. As a result of displaced sleep patterns (and a healthy dose of 'new parent worry', my digestion has been thrown off track. I need more energy to keep going, so I am hungry all the time, but when it comes to time to eat, I am suddenly not hungry anymore; and despite all I drink, I cannot quench my thirst. I have always been a day person, but I am learning about the night now, the quiet times and the not so quiet times, in addition to that, I am also going through a steep learning curve in Baby 101. I am learning the fast and cleanest way to change a diaper, learning the difference between the hungry cry, the tired cry, the tummy ache cry, the lonely cry and the just-for-the-sake-of-it cry and getting to know an entirely new person who relies on Ellie and I for everything.
As the grey light of dawn breaks, now later and later, I emerge, slightly stunned and try to live around normal people. Outside us, outside of this house, these four walls, the world hasn't changed, much; I stumble through it, feeling strangely out of place, disassociated, almost as if I got stuck halfway in and halfway out of an out-of-body experience. I listen to lectures, kind of watch myself talking to people and leave the library, as a rule, when I have read the same sentence more than 10 times in a row. I am now a daywalker but also a proud father. I haven't got the energy to shout it out from the rooftops yet, but just now I am content to let my son do it for me.

Friday, October 07, 2005

He announced his presence with one brave scream

Dear All,

I am both proud and it is my greatest pleasure to announce that yesterday at 10:20 in the morning, little Benjamin was born. He weighed in at 3,1kg and is 51cm long and simply the most beautiful little person both Ellie and I have seen in our lives. The delivery went well and we have a couple of days in maternity ward before we bring him home. Last night as he gave a last big sigh, stopped crying and fell asleep in his Dad’s arms, I felt simultaneously stronger and more vulnerable that I have ever felt before and my heart simply melted.

I will write more later, as I must get back to Mum and baby now. Below you can see his first photos and a photo or two of a proud Dad and a wonderful, proud, brave and tired Mum. Enjoy…

Monday, October 03, 2005

Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future

Dear Readers,

Just in case you can't stand the tension anymore, I will let you all off the hook. We are still waiting... What promised to be an interesting weekend after the exam, has turned out to be one of waiting. We almost ran out of things to say to each other and just sat there looking at 'the bump' and willing him to come out. So as of today, we are like arrival day +2. It isn't a good start. I have a good word with 'the bump' already of Friday and told him that his Dad's exam was over and it would be a good time for him to shout his barbaric YAWP, but no, in a model show of early disobedience, he chose to ignore me completely. As so, to practice reverse psychology, I have chosen to ignore him. I will get on with my week as if nothing is happening, and when the cheeky rascal decides that it is time, then I'll show him who his Daddy is.

I have had visions recently, in an episode remnant of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the books and not the recent awful film) of coming into the labour ward, doctors running everywhere, nurses and midwifes preparing a room, Ellie in labour and suddenly I walk in, with an aura of calm. The doctors and nurses stop in mid-stride and the ward is suddenly silent of the screams of new babies. 'Don't worry,' I say, 'I am a man who knows where his towel is.' And all shall be well. And all manner of things shall be well.