Posted in I'm the Daddy

Body Talk

I was inspired to write this post after reading all the ‘Love-Mum Body’ posts on the excellent ‘Story of Mum’. It’s great to see this network of mums getting together to spread a little love and remind us how beautiful the women in our lives are. Some of the blog posts felt very close to home and it got me thinking about how we could use some ‘Dad Power’ to change the minds of a few mums who are feeling less than happy with their post-baby bodies. I know where I want to start.

When I first met my lovely wife she was 23, feisty, exciting and super-slinky hot. I was gloomily turning 30, convinced I had wasted most of my twenties and that it was all downhill from there. She was not the sort of woman I thought would ever find me attractive but I got lucky. I was punching above my weight then and I still am now. She is gorgeous.

Fast forward to today and it is a little over three months since she gave birth to our beautiful son. Recovering from a c-section, infection and the rigours of pregnancy, her body has taken a battering and the recovery from this is still on-going. Despite this she is still gorgeous and my passion for her is undiminished. There is no caveat here. There is no ‘not bad considering’ or ‘looking good for a’ statements here. She is just gorgeous.

I’m sure you have guessed the inevitable problem already – she can’t see any of this. Her body-confidence is very low and my efforts to raise this don’t seem to have much effect. I tell her how amazing she is on a regular basis but sadly the mirror and scales shout louder. So I am turning to you, the people of the internet to help me spread a little love and maybe raise the morale of not just my wife but all of those beautiful women who gave us our fantastic sons and daughters.

Dads, what have you done to help the mother of your child love her body? Tell us all why she is wonderful !

Mums, what has made a difference to you? What helped you love your post-baby body?

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Posted in I'm the Daddy, Sport & Fitness

Future England Captain

I first met my wife in late 2003 shortly after England won the rugby world cup. I’m not sure how the conversation turned to rugby but when I found out she was Irish I foolish stated that England would crush Ireland in the 6 Nations championship. Naturally this led to six consecutive Irish victories including a 43-13 hammering at Croke Park in 2007 and she has never let me forget my arrogance. Every year this makes this makes the Six Nations bags of fun in our household especially on the day England play Ireland and usually lose. George wasn’t born in time for this year’s game but I am hoping he could sense the Irish scrum being demolished as England cruised to a rare victory.

The arrival of George has only increased the rivalry as we compete to establish which nation he will play for in the future.  His Momma wasted no time in buying him a ‘when I grow up I want to play for Ireland’ bib and matching vest at Dublin airport. I responded with an England rugby vest with ‘Harris 8’ stitched in the back. This week I posted the picture below to twitter and asked the world to retweet it if they thought George should play for England not Ireland. As well as several friends I was very pleased to get RTs from Harley Bear (the Harlequins mascot), Lee Dickson (England scrum half) and Will Carling (former England captain).

Views on the photo are up to 685 so I have bragging rights for now but my lovely wife has sworn revenge.  Do your worst my sweet!

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Posted in I'm the Daddy

The Day After

On Sunday I wrote a post about the day George was born. Writing that post was one of the main reasons I started my blog but I had been putting it off because I found it too painful to think about. I only started writing on Sunday because my lovely wife had written her post about the same day and it brought it all back. It was time to get my thoughts out of my head and start to move on.

The part I found hardest to write was about telling George everything was going to be alright while he lay in NICU. I am an optimist and I only tell people ‘things are going to be alright’ if I really mean it. To have to say that to my day old son and not know if I believed has stuck in my chest ever since. I felt like I let him down and needed to get these feelings out in the open.

I posted to my blog, breathed a sigh of relief and waited for the catharsis that didn’t come. I felt incredibly low. I simultaneously wanted everyone to read it and no one to read it. I can’t really explain why. After a miserable Sunday I woke up on Monday morning feeling even worse. Couldn’t shake my mood or really explain why I was feeling like this.

This all began to change when we started sharing our blog posts with a number of charities, most notably The Meningitis Trust and Group B Strep Support. Their reaction and their willingness to share our story with their supporters was really important to me. Knowing that the post I wrote could help to support the good work they were doing made me feel so much better. Now I feel much more able to put the trauma of George’s birth behind me and focus on the beautiful little boy in my arms.

Despite a third of women carrying Group B Strep, not all pregnant women are routinely screened for it. This is a shocking fact, considering the quite devastating consequences of it being undetected and untreated. Had it not been for the swift administration of antibiotics, my story may have not had such a happy ending. Please sign the petition to make this test routine for all pregnant women.

Posted in I'm the Daddy

The Day That You Came

I have been holding off writing about the day George was born as I am still finding it hard to deal with. It was traumatic and the feelings from that day have been a tight ball inside that I haven’t been able to release. One of the reasons for starting this blog was to give me a place to vent these emotions. The only way I could think of doing this was by writing a letter to George telling him about the day he was born. So here goes.

Dear George

We knew you were going to be ill before you were born. The doctors were worried about your high heart rate and your Momma’s high temperature. When we were given the choice to bring you out by caesarean section we didn’t hesitate. We had to get you out.

From behind the screen I heard them say you were out and we held our breath waiting for the scream. You cried and we exhaled together. The first time I saw you I knew you were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I’ve never been more certain of anything. When they told me you would need antibiotics to fight your infection it didn’t puncture the bubble of euphoria. I had you in my arms now, nothing could go wrong.

After a few blissful hours with you and your Momma, the lack of sleep caught up with me and I went home to rest. I hadn’t been there long when I was called back because the doctors were worried. They were doing a lumbar puncture to check for Meningitis. ‘It’s precautionary’ I said, ‘I’m glad they are being careful’ I said, ‘he’ll be fine’ I said. We waited hours for the result that finally proved me wrong. You had Meningitis. I don’t remember being shocked, I don’t remember feeling anything.

The next morning I woke in a panic. My heart raced but I couldn’t move. When I arrived at the hospital you had already been taken down to neonatal intensive care. Your Momma was too ill to walk so I took her to you in a wheelchair. You lay still while the monitors beeped away and the medicine dripped into your veins. I can’t remember anything the doctors told me apart from how to touch you – ‘positive pressure’ was the phrase they used. My right hand went across the top of your head from ear to ear and my left covered your stomach like a blanket.

I told you everything was going to be alright and we were going to take you home soon. I didn’t know if I believed what I was saying so I pushed that doubt down as hard as I could. I daren’t ask the doctors what the effects of Meningitis were as I was scared of the answers. The elephant in the room said ‘Meningitis can kill you, right?’ I ignored it.

Your Momma was too upset to get any words out so I tried to fill the gap by telling you about all the people who were waiting to meet you and the places you would go. I made up stories and sang you songs. One song that popped into my head was ‘Be my baby’ by the Ronnettes, the lyrics seemed appropriate. ‘The night we met I knew I needed you so and if I the chance I’d never let you go’.

In my voice it became a plea. ‘So won’t you say you love me, I’ll make you so proud of me. So won’t you please be my, be my baby. Be my little baby, save me my darling. Be my baby now.

It became a promise. ‘I’ll make you happy baby, just wait and see. For every kiss you give me I’ll give you three. Since the day I saw you, I have been waiting for you. You know I will adore you for eternity.

Hours by your side flashed by in what seemed like minutes. I left the hospital for a few hours to give you and your Momma some time to rest. Time stood still. I called my Mum and cried down the phone to her. The only thing I remember saying to her is ‘he’s so beautiful Mum, he’s so beautiful’. In a desperate attempt to distract myself I foolishly checked my work email, read a snotty email from a colleague and fired off an angry, aggressive response. Something to regret later. Six more hours with you flashed by and then I had to leave you again.

The next day you were improving. The medicine was working and you were starting to become more alert. Our hearts filled with hope as you started to feed more and visibly grow stronger. The hours continued to flash by as we carried on reading, talking and singing to you. That night we had a room by your ward so we could feed you in the night. The joy of being able to fulfil this simple task was incredible.

It was a while before we took you home as no one had noticed how ill your Momma was and you both ended up being pumped full of medicine. The two of you recovered together and eventually we all came home together.

Love always

Your Daddy xxxx

PS. Your beautiful Momma has also blogged about the day you were born as well.

Posted in I'm the Daddy

Last of the Famous International Playboys

Last week my baby boy took his first steps to becoming part of the international jet set by boarding a plane for his first flight. His first trip abroad may have only been a short hop over the Irish Sea but I hope this was the first of many new countries he visits. Without getting too Dr Seuss about it I do love dreaming about the places he will go and I really hope the travel bug bites him hard. I can’t wait for him to start exploring.

The thing that amused my most about his the trip was applying for his very first passport.  I had assumed you could still put a baby on your own passport but he needs his own. The idea of a tiny baby with a passport always makes me laugh and sends my train of thought into imaginary scenes of planes full of babies drinking duty free and chatting up the air hostess.  The rules for his photo are very strange, being asleep is OK but any sign of my hands holding him up is not allowed. The end result is this fantastic picture that will be used to identify him at international borders for the next five years.

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I didn’t get my first passport until I was nine so this is one of the many things George gets to do earlier than I did.  Sadly I couldn’t find my first passport, which had two photos allowing my travel companions to mock both my pre and post pubescent 80s hair and clothing tragedies.  I did find my second passport with a photo of me aged 19 and in my first year at university. I thought this was a great photo at the time but now I am not so sure.

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Do you have great memories of your first trip abroad? Where have you taken your kids on their first trip? Tell me, tell me, tell me!

Posted in 40 List

Ideas for my 40 List

Later this year I will be 39 years old which means that next year I will hit the big 40. I have already been invited to my first 40th birthday party and there will be many more to come as all my friends pass this milestone. To celebrate I want to plan a series of challenges and activities with my friends and family over the next year or so. I have a few ideas but I want to hear yours.

The first idea on the list is cycle up the Alpe D’Huez – one of the great climbs of the Tour de France. The route is 14km long, contains 21 hairpins ascending to 1120 metres as you go. Easy huh?

Being a big bloke I am not built for cycling so this would be a major challenge for me. I have at least one companion who is willing to attempt it with me so hopefully this will also be motivation.  If I am getting fitter I would also like to smash some running milestones like running a half marathon in under 2 hours.

There are limits to my physical abilities so I also want to do some fun stuff that I might not get to do very often or have always fancied. I used to enjoy taking posed rollercoaster photos like the one below and I really want to nail the ultimate photo once and for all.

I have seen plenty of bloggers, pinners and tweeters with bucket lists so now is the time to tell me your ideas.  Either post your ideas in the comment box or tweet me. Go!