Five memories from five years ago

Five memories 1OUR LITTLE boy turns five at the end of this week. By then, he will also have completed his first full week at school. Big milestones in his little life.

This blog is a casual diary of our adventures with our children. But I only had the gumption to start it in advance of Little Buddha arriving a couple of years ago. So, as I’m in a nostalgic mood, here are five notable memories from the birth of our Boy Wonder…

Waiting… We’d been trying for about 18 months. We’d been to see a consultant. We were finding each successive month of disappointment crushing and demoralising. Then, on a wet and horrible Friday in January 2008, I got off the train at Leeds to spot a missed call from the Duchess. ‘Can you buy some pregnancy kits, please?’ she asked breathlessly when I called back. I bought three from the station chemist and got a taxi. Blue lines all the way. Fucking blue lines. I was on the wagon. We had a bottle of champagne left over from New Year. We toasted our huge fortune and I then drank the rest of the bottle. The next morning, unable to sleep, I rubbed my sore head and stared again at those joyous blue lines. By the time the Duchess woke up, I was beaming again. A heady mixture of ecstasy and terror.

Waiting… Did I say terror? At the three-month scan, I was convinced it was all a joke. Apparently, I didn’t say a word during the procedure. I just stared at the screen, unblinking. ‘You could look a bit happier,’ the Duchess quietly scolded me . I couldn’t make out much from the grainy image and then I saw his little heart beat. He was a tiny human being. I could relax (a little). He’d be with us in six months. What’s his due date, we asked? September 11th, she said. So, that would make it 9/11. Oh.

Still waiting… Back in 2008, I was 36 years old. I’d lived more than 430 months on this planet. Which meant I’d completed around 72 blocks of six months. We were expecting our first child through the summer period, which as everyone knows lapses twice as fast as every other season. They were the longest days of my life. I bought one of those magazines that contained a weekly progress diary. Our wondrous progeny was only as big as a grain of rice in the early days. I checked a few weeks later and he’d graduated to the size of a grape. Once the Duchess did start to show, we were the only Brits thankful that the weather was miserable. (While I sat at home to make a few more lists, the Duchess spent a week at Chelsea working on an award-winning garden.) You’d have thought I’d be transfixed on that big date in September. However, at our first ante-natal class, I was the first Dad to be invited to tell everyone who we were and our ‘birth date’. Perhaps I’d misheard: ‘Hi, this is Karen, I’m Shaun, we live in Leeds and I was born 16th March…’ Oh how we laughed.

Five memories 2Still waiting… As if enduring all of those days and weeks and months was bad enough, Boy Wonder decided his daily diet of shortbread biscuits and Battenberg cake was too good to miss. Or perhaps he was just subdued by his Mum’s addiction to sniffing bleach and smothering herself in vapour rub! He stayed put for another nine days. Every time I left the office, people would give me that look: hope we don’t see you again for a few weeks. The next morning, they’d see me sitting at my desk and give me another look: Fuck. When it finally happened, it was the strangest thing. On the Thursday night, I went to sleep absolutely convinced that I’d be woken soon. Around 1am, the Duchess came back from the bathroom, we made a phone call and I completed the car journey I’d fantasised throughout the last six months.

Just a little while longer… The little beggar was still tardy. It could have been far worse, though. When we first arrived at the hospital, they couldn’t find his heartbeat and the palpably worried nurse called for senior help. I will never forget what those two or three minutes felt like. I started to crumble. The Duchess, meanwhile, calmly prepared for the unimaginable. Just as an army of doctors invaded the room, Boy Wonder must have awoken from the sofa at the rear side of the lovely womb and reared his head. Not far enough, though, and after 35 hours of labour the Duchess was in stirrups and we were surrounded by another army of medics. The Duchess said she couldn’t feel her legs, the medics told her to imagine she was having a very large poo. Forceps latched on, the consultants looked like they were preparing for tug-of-war. The rest of the team cheered on the Duchess. Go on, Karen. Go on, Karen, he’s coming. Here he is, keep pushing. Nearly there. And then the biggest, best, most beautiful cheer I’ve ever heard. I cut the cord, followed them over to the heat lamp and held the hand of my little boy.

Not so little actually. An ounce shy of 10 pounds. Bruised, battered, crying with relief. Him, her, me.

It really is a miracle. The last five years have been the best of my life. But where did the time go?

 

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Father and daughter: there’ll be Friday night tears

'Whatever'

‘Whatever’

‘LUB YA DADA!’

Up until a few weeks ago, I would only hear those magic three words from my two-year-old daughter as a result of blatant manipulation. Delicious treat or remote control in hand, I’d ask her if she loved me and, of course, she was always keen to confirm that was true.

It’s shameful, I know, but she’d left me no choice.

Her older brother remains hugely affectionate and demonstrative. In the early years, if I ever feigned tears he’d be straight over to cuddle me and salve my fake upset. There, there, Dada.

Little Buddha had never fallen for that ruse. In fact, a few months ago, I hid my face behind my hands and pretended to cry and she just laughed at me. I tried once more a short while later and she passed her rotten tissue to the Duchess and calmly observed that ‘Daddy is sad’.

I think she meant the other meaning of the word.

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Changing nursery is proving an education

Changing nurserySO OUR SON CHANGED NURSERY TODAY. He spent the morning saying his goodbyes at the private day nursery where he’s spent the last two and a half years. Come the afternoon, he was getting used to the much bigger nursery attached to the primary school round the corner from our home.

It was a big fish-little fish kind of day. He got mobbed this morning, with girls and boys running to greet him at the door and crying out his name like he was some sort of rock star. Maybe they could see the chocolate cakes the Duchess and I were carrying but he seemed to be a popular lad. He was certainly one of the tallest, despite being only three and a bit.

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Our daughter starting nursery is really dangerous!

‘I want to be a train driver when I grow up’

It’s official: Little Buddha isn’t a baby any more. Okay, she still can’t walk, talk or fetch me a can of lager from the fridge but on Friday she started nursery so the Duchess could return to work after maternity leave. After a few preparatory visits, we passed her over to the team that had looked after Boy Wonder and the tears and screams erupted. Little Buddha, meanwhile, stared at her emotional parents and then scarpered over to the mirror to lick her own beautiful image.

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Story of our pregnancy part 2

2nd February, 8.00am
The delivery suite is so busy we were lucky to get a room. It’s basic, with an old bed and no en suite bathroom – at least we’ve got one and the Second Coming will have no illusions about our austere times. There have been a few traumas in addition to the human traffic jam, which has drawn in several of the embattled midwives. It means Debbie has had to abandon the maternity assessment centre and will now stay with us for the duration to deliver our baby. Understandably, she seems impatient to get on with it and return to her duties. The Duchess, however, wants time to freeze and is no longer keen to have a baby.

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