April 25, 2012 - Leave a Response

Anyone who has ever changed a soiled nappy knows there are only two things preventing accidents – speed and guarding. Unfortunately, if you are not fast enough, or you aren’t providing a good enough physical barrier, you may well just end up with poo everywhere.

I had been fortunate enough to avoid such a disaster, until yesterday.

Willow was complying with nappy changing etiquette, seemingly distracted with a Duplo brick, while I unveiled the destruction presented to me. It was a plentiful nappy, full of wonderous delights, I took a split second to formulate a plan of attack and then it happened.

Quick as a flash Willow snuck her trixie right hand down to her nappy and she whipped it away. I can’t even begin to explain what happened next, it all happened so fast. There were hands and legs flailing around.

All I know is that Willow’s legs, hands, my hands and chest were now speckled with poo. I was frozen, not knowing what to do so of course, I yelled for assistance!

Charlotte leapt into action and was soon on hand to, well, lend a hand. She was quick to laugh and point out that there was something on the wall next to me… yes… you guessed it… more poo.

Moments later, we (Willow and I) were clean(ish) and in the bath (although I could still sense my hands had a strange smell on them) and I realised the real reason it happened, the root cause if you like. I had changed my process slightly, using the inside front of the nappy to clean a little before I started – something I never normally do, which brings me swiftly onto my point…

If you find a system that works DO NOT CHANGE IT, otherwise you may find yourself covered in shit.


Breast Reduction

April 21, 2012 - Leave a Response

I apologise for misleading you… of course I’m not really sorry for if you are reading my blog then I have succeeded!

Willow, our daughter, now at the ripe age of 15 months (I’m told we do this until she reaches 2 years – I’m sure there is logic) is still breastfeeding. And by still I mean she was, yesterday, but not today. No, today has been coming for a long time, the culmination of plotting and planning and so far, all is well… relatively well that is.

About a month ago Willow was having up to four feeds a day, more suckling than feeding but before a feed she would start acting up, become really grouchy and grumpy, then, after 5 – 10 minutes of having a bit of ‘boob’ she would be up and at’em. We wanted to wean her off but figured cold turkey would be a little cruel for us all so week-by-week we reduced one feed per day and yesterday was the ‘final’ feed.

I always plan for my blogs to be direct, but I always waffle, I shan’t apologise because the chances are if you are coming back for me then you enjoy my wildly organised ramblings. Hmm, shouldn’t shan’t be sha’’n’t? I digress.

The point I am coming to, is that it progress has been slow and steady, and successful too. We had to remove ALL cushions from the front room as Willow would insist on bringing one to mummy when she wanted ‘boob’. It was cute but led to a very upset little lady.

The bedtime routine stayed the same for the first night without a feed. Bath (with daddy), mummy at the bath side ready to wash (and take photo’s of Willow’s bruise beneath her eye – another story), then changing into night time clothes, bedtime book (The Gruffalo – daddy’s favourite – especially when I get to do the silly voices) and then the change… an offer of milk (which really confused her), a kiss from mummy, then a kiss from daddy, and then EVIL EVIL daddy putting Willow in her cotbed.

Needless to say she screamed for 10 minutes (almost solid, although I’d hasten to add that over half of it was ‘whinging’ and not crying) at which time daddy re-entered the room, picked up Willow, cuddled her, struggled to find the beaker of milk which he had left downstairs and fortunately mummy was paying attention and snuck it upstairs without Willow noticing, and put Willow back in bed.

She scream some more and buried her head in her mattress, it was horrible to watch, she was so distraught, but she didn’t look back up, she kept her head down and after 2 minutes of intermittent yelling, she put herself to sleep… and there she still is, 4 hours later and if she continues on her wonderful sleeping pattern, she’ll stay asleep for another 7 hours at least… which brings me swiftly to my conclusion…

I’m no expert, but the best thing we’ve found is to discuss and agree our (Charlotte and I’s) plan before starting it and then stay consistent with it. It is torturous to hear Willow scream and cry and sob but I know in time it will stop, and thankfully she’ll never remember these sad, desertion filled nights.

*we’re now on day three… the second night was much like the first, but the third, well, she screamed for 5 minutes… gave up… and went to sleep… where she still is… 4.5 hours later!!!

Weeping Willow

April 17, 2012 - Leave a Response

It happened before so of course it was destined to happen again. You may recall my earlier blog, Willow: First Blood… well, now we have had the Second. I think two ‘blood’ incidents within 15 months is pretty impressive but of course I doubt that stats are held on these kinds of things… moving on.

Charlotte was trying on clothes trying to evoke an opinion from yours truly when tragedy struck… the zip of her coat snagged on the frill of the jacket. She couldn’t get it off, and so I tried to help. Unfortunately Willow chose this time make sure the attention was strictly back on her.

Instinctively we both looked toward Willow (while trying to unzip) only to see her falling backwards seemingly from holding onto the chair (she has been walking for some months now so it was a little odd for her to ‘fall’ – I blamed it on that old classic that she was ‘too tired’).

I slowly moved toward her and picked her up, reassuring her that she was okay, of course in that moment, she was far from okay. We noticed a little blood in her mouth as she screamed as only she could and Charlotte quickly sourced a tissue to soak up some of the spillage. But the blood (and the crying) didn’t stop… soon her mouth was full with blood. My exterior was calm, my interior was growing concerned. All her teeth seemed in place (albeit now with a red tinge) and her tongue seemed all in one piece so where was she bleeding from?

It was near bath and bed time so we took her upstairs, still trying to stop the bleeding and absorbing as much of the blood as possible. A trickle or two of blood decided that the mouth was too full and so came out of her nostrils… quite disturbing if you have never seen it first hand.

Fortunately, within another minute or two the bleeding had all but stopped and we were left with a sobbing, blood stained daughter with a split superior labial frenulum (don’t worry, I had to look up what it was called). It was at this moment in time, looking at my precious little girl with red smears all over her face that I thought, ‘this would make a horribly lovely picture’… but the moment passed without a dash for the digital camera. Instead I took the lovely shot that you see now, the discarded blood tissue… the only memory of yet another injury of which I’m sure there will be more in the coming years.

I like a blog to have purpose, a side from just story sharing. Can I give you any nugget of information that will make you avoid such ‘disasters’? No… we all know that something will happen to them, unless of course we surround them with a literal bubble. Can I give you a wonderful way of dealing with a mini-crisis? Not really… so what do I give you? What do I end this blog with?

“Improper use of zips can delay the response to incidents, take your time doing them up and undoing them. Remember, only a fool disobeys the check-then-zip rule” The Zip Society www.tzp.org.uk … of course, perhaps you could just use poppers and Velcro, that’d work too…

Choo choo! All aboard the sleep train

March 14, 2012 - Leave a Response

I’m sure I’ll jinx it but I just have to share… just over two weeks into ‘official’ sleep training and our gorgeous daughter has slept through the night… thrice!!!

Perhaps that won’t seem so impressive, well, not without the following: it took our little angel 406 days to successfully sleep through the night. Better? I concur.

Why did it take so long? An apt question, riddled with ‘excusey’ answers but putting all the ‘defences’ aside, we did what worked for us in the short term. Strangely, we got used to intermittent sleep, we adjusted – if you like. My lovely wife had the difficult job… settling her every time she got up. This ranged from an occasional 1-2 times per night and to the heights of 6-7 times per night (with 3-4 being the average), sometimes hourly. It certainly was exhausting (more so for Charlotte of course) and while it was manageable, it needed to change.

We had planned to start sleep training but obstacles (including illnesses and busy social lives) kept thwarting our progress.

So, how do you get a baby to sleep through the night? I’ll never claim to be an expert and more importantly, we stole the tactic from a friend. It worked for them, so why not us right?

Day Zero – Monday night
Charlotte put Willow to bed. If Willow woke back up again, Charlotte would attempt to settle her the first time and if she woke after that, I would attempt to settle her. Much to our surprise, she woke only once in the night and was up by 5am (believe it or not we considered this acceptable). Ten days later and Willow had woken once on 9 occasions and woken twice just the once – and the second time was at 4am. Despite my best comforting and time extension settling, by 5am we had given up. I won’t dwell on these ten days because I feel like a fraud. We didn’t really do anything different, Willow had reduced herself to one wake a night without us interfering… we could take no credit.

Day Eleven – Thursday night
Our hands were forced. On day fourteen we had planned a change in tactics. Charlotte would no longer go to Willow throughout the night. It was long overdue, but daddy was about to embark on even more restless nights… and daddy was not looking forward to it.

Willow’s sensor mat alarm sounded after about 3 hours of her going to bed, usually this meant that she had shuffled into the corner of her cotbed and the sensor mat was unable to ‘feel’ her breathing. My stealth-like abilities kicked in and I snuck into Willow’s room to adjust the sensor. Lying flat on my back I attempted to realign the sensor without waking Willow. This wasn’t the first time I had had to do this but usually Willow slept through it, usually was not that night. She stirred and stumbled and cried and screamed and yelled and crawled to the other side of the bed, waiting for mummy to come and help her get back to sleep. I remained motionless on the floor, trying to avoid detection, hoping for Willow to self-settle.

It was pointless, Willow wasn’t letting up so I decided that I couldn’t get out without being seen, so I may as well kick-start the training. I picked her up, gave her a cuddle (although she was having none of it, thrashing left and right, looking for mummy), I offered her a drink, told her everything was okay, put her in her cotbed (still screaming) and left her to it.

5 minutes of screaming later I went back, picked her up (she gave me a HUGE cuddle), reassured her, put her in the cotbed, stroked her face, told her to go to sleep and left the room once more.

10 minutes of screaming later, I repeated the process.

15 minutes later… Willow still unrelenting… but the process was repeated.

20 minutes later… as I walked into the room, Willow was in the corner of her cotbed, she was still vocal but loosing conviction in her screams. I didn’t talk to her, or comfort her. I just watched her as she gave up, and relaxed.

25 minutes later… my countdown timer scared the life out of me… but that was good. It meant that I had fallen asleep… and so had Willow. It took just over an hour and a half but she had finally self-settled.

She then woke at 3:30, screamed once and returned to slumber. She repeated this at 03:45 and 06:10.

I wasn’t sure what time it was, but a little later I rolled over to Charlotte and gave her a cuddle. I noticed it was light outside… and the penny dropped. Willow had slept for 7 hours straight-ish. Amazing. We cuddled in bed, feeling a sense of achievement, it was Willow’s achievement though, not ours. We needed the sleep, but so did she.

Day Twelve – Friday night
Charlotte put Willow to bed, as per usual but what followed was not the usual at all. Willow grumbled a few times throughout the night but TWELVE HOURS LATER… and she finally woke up. This was the most Willow had slept, solidly, since the day she was born… 406 days ago!!! Charlotte and I embraced at 7am, listening to our amazing little girl talk to herself, occasionally yelling – beckoning us to go and get her and about 07:30, we did!!!

Day Thirteen – Saturday night
Charlotte put Willow to bed, as per usual… but all was not well. Willow was not tired, well, she wasn’t sleeping and screamed her little head off. After 15 minutes I went in to her to attempt to calm her. It worked… in fact, it worked so well that not only did she settle herself 2 minutes after I had left her to it but she slept through again until 7am… fantastic!!!

I’m sat here now, on day sixteen, happy to share that we’ve had one night with one get up and one night where she slept through and boy does it feel good. I don’t for a second imagine that this is it, that was have cracked it, but who cares? It’s working right now and right now we will celebrate. Of course by celebrate I mean wash up, cook, eat dinner, tidy the house and go to bed early… but sleep is celebration enough for us all.

Although I do wonder, would Willow have taken to sleep training as well if we had tried it earlier? Or is she now old enough to comprehend what we are trying to achieve? In fact, why wonder… we are where we are… and where are we? Somewhere in between Smugville and Sleepington.

Thank you for reading, please leave your comments at the door.

I’m sick and tired, of Willow being sick and tired!

February 20, 2012 - 2 Responses

Bite-size Blogs – because people have the attention spa…

It was a Sunday, Willow was seeking attention and climbing up her daddy (me, that is). She started to rest her head on my chest. After a little cuddle and a few face tickles she fell asleep and slept on me for nearly two hours. She hadn’t properly fallen asleep on me in months and while I knew it wasn’t a good idea, it was lovely. I spent a fair bit of that time looking down at this amazing little being, breathing gently and dreaming. Perfect… right?

Wrong! I should have seen this rarity as a sign that all was not well. Later that evening Willow threw up – she is not a ‘sicky baby’ and I can count the amount of times she has vomited on one hand, and still have spare fingers. That night she slept really well only waking twice during the night, this again should have been a sign that all was really not well.

Over the next two days we saw our daughter become weak and joyless. She didn’t giggle, she seldom played and wanted to spend all of her time cuddling and having books read to her. It should have been a nice treat to be able to ‘chill out’ with our little angel but it was far from nice, it was hideous. Our buddle of joy was a shadow of her former self. The doctors weren’t too worried, just a bit of vomiting and diarrhoea (Gastroenteritis to be precise) and that we had to keep her hydrated and eating as much as possible. It really was a bad time to be a parent.

Fortunately, on the 5th night, she giggled when I made silly growling noises while I changed her nappy. The relief was immense and I feel myself welling up just thinking about it. Two days later and she is waking up every 3-4 hours (or less), demanding that EVERYTHING is done her way and only with her permission and screaming the house down when things don’t go her way… still… I’m so glad she is back. I missed my bossy, stroppy, funny precious little girl.

Month 11 – The Tooth, The Half Tooth and Nothing but the Tooth

January 13, 2012 - One Response

Wow, an entire month has been and gone, and Willow’s progress has been amazing. Of course, nearly every time I write Willow, it is inevitably followed up by awesome, amazing, brilliant, fantastic or anything else that generally describes my gorgeous little girl and the little lady she is becoming!

Bear with me while I catch up with what happened in Month 10 as it is all becoming a bit of a blur… *scrolls up to read Month 10*… right, well, yes we have come a long way since then.

The most amazing thing happened only a couple of weeks ago, Willow starting walking… WITHOUT HOLDING ON and now she seamlessly toddles around the house which, of course, changes the game once more. Before you know it she’ll be in the hallway just desperate to touch the radiator, but only when it’s red hot of course, she has a sixth sense for danger (and I’m sure all children do) – the more dangerous it looks, the better it must be… I digress.

Willow had been standing unassisted and intermittently taking two to four steps ending in a tumble towards her goal (be it the sofa or your legs) and then one day I picked her up and placed her next to the sofa bed (in the front room) and ran away from her. She chased me, squealing with delight as she did, holding onto the sofa bed. When she reached me I would pick her up and put her back to square one and the cycle would continue, still with joyful squealing and giggling (from us both). All games must evolve, and so natural progression meant that I had to take Willow further away… hoping you are still with me I should briefly detail that we have two sofas meeting roughly at the corners in an L shape. In this evolved game I took Willow to the furthest sofa and she would, while still finding it amusing, run along the lengths of the sofas while holding on and then it happened, that magic moment and I’m so glad we repeated the cycle to catch it on film.

Willow cut the corner!!! Without holding on or anything!!! Clearly she was impressed with herself, and who wouldn’t be, we were extremely proud. With each cycle of the put down, chase, giggle, pick up game, Willow became braver and was soon chasing me while hardly touching the sofas. From there Willow decided that walking was pretty damn cool (fed by our amazed facial expressions no doubt) and is now walking absolutely everywhere. Of course there are bumps and slips and trips and falls, and 50% of the time there are tears but she is usually quick to shrug it off when distracted with something else.

Oops, walking has taken the majority of my time on this entry so I’ll whizz through other fantastic progress she has made recently.

She has teeth! Two of them at the bottom, in the middle, and one more has just started to show itself. She likes to chew on my fingers when opportunity presents itself and, although it hurts, it’s funny. I don’t know why, I can’t explain it, but it makes me laugh and smile every time. Charlotte doesn’t feel the same when it’s her nipples that are being chewed – not that anyone can blame her…

She is getting really good at feeding herself (finger food only at the moment – her grasp of cutlery is coming slowly but surely though) and drinking through a handled spouted beaker. Unfortunately, she enjoys it so much that she throws water down herself and if she isn’t ready to give you her beaker, and you attempt to remove it from her… well, be prepared for a super strop, screaming and tears!

I’m sure there is more I’m missing but fundamentally, this is the most fantastic journey and I’m loving (nearly) every minute! I will not apologise for repeating myself (although of course this statement is sort of an apology) but my respect and love for Charlotte grows every day as she continues to selflessly put herself second (on all occasions) to bring Willow up to be the beautiful little lady that she is becoming, I can only claim about 20% of the ownership of that as I run away to work and leave Charlotte doing the hard work.

On arriving home from work today, Willow was not in a good mood. She was extremely tired and so every little thing that didn’t quite go her way upset her greatly. However, Willow decided that a good toy to pick up, shriek at, rub on her face and run off with, was my sock (and not a clean sock). I pursued her to the kitchen, knowing I would have her cornered and I uttered the most upsetting words I could have ever said (according to Willow), “Daddy have?” I said while opening my hand in the hope that Willow would hand me the sock. Instead she screamed, threw the sock in anger, turned from me and toddled towards the kitchen cabinets and buried her head in the corner of them while crying… it was sad, but hilarious… I love that little girl!

Christmas, how Marwellous!

November 25, 2011 - Leave a Response

Marwell Wildlife Christmas Experience

We couldn’t have asked for better weather while driving to Marwell Wildlife for Willow’s first ever Christmas Experience, sure, it was cool but the sun was shining and the skies were clear and blue.

After being greeted by the entrance staff and presented with a sticker for Willow we headed for the Gingerbread Express to be comfortably transported to see Santa, Mrs Claus and the Elves!

We were welcomed by the friendly Elves and led into the Igloo for mulled wine (hot blackcurrant for the children) and mince pies. Willow loved the moody blue lighting and dangling icicles and starred in wonderment as fabricated snow flakes circled the room.

After enjoying our refreshments, Mrs Claus entered the Cave and led us through a secret door into The Great Hall adorned with festive cheer. A selection of green seating cubes and cushions suggested we rest our legs and await Storytime! Once settled the warm and friendly Mrs Claus (complete with theatrics, lighting effects and puppetry) told the tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The majority of little ones were captivated by the story with a few others toddling around and Willow shouting out at the most inappropriate moments.

Once the tale was told, Mrs Baker arrived, ready to escort us to the adjoining room where we would decorate gingerbread men! The room was beautiful, light and airy and decorated with giant gingerbread men (and women), cakes, toy soldiers and Candy Cane Guards! Willow was not interested in wearing her apron, or decorating her gingerbread man… instead, she wanted to feast on him… and so she did. I tried, in vain, to use my decorative flair but it was pointless, Willow had her man, and she was keeping hold of him so I consoled myself with the sweet treats!

Obliviously I had not noticed that the children (and parents) were disappearing, they were being ushered out, one by one, to go and see Santa Claus!!! After a short while it was Willow’s turn. I put her down to let her finish the experience on her own two feet (while holding my hands of course). It was make or break time, this was Willow’s first meeting with Santa and we thought it’d be a laugh or cry moment. She turned the corner and spied Santa and stopped still… she did not want to walk any further. I carried her to see Santa but she squeezed me hard – a telltale sign that she was not entirely comfortable with this. Despite his charm and gentle nature he was unable to win over Willow (even unwilling to take her present) and we said our goodbyes and left Santa’s company but the experience wasn’t over…

After Santa we had an opportunity for reflection in a relaxed environment complete with a giant penguin, tombola and FACEPAINTING!!!

A side from the dreaded meeting with Santa, Willow loved her experienced (as did Charlotte and I) and I’m very glad we went… but it still wasn’t over! The experience came with free entry to the park so we took a leisurely walk saying hello to all the wonderful creatures and, of course, to the Gift Shop too!

Thank you Marwell Wildlife, we had a great time and are looking forward to seeing you again soon.

Month 10 – Before I Forget

November 20, 2011 - One Response

Life is consuming, the last four months have seen it all. Laughter, stress, smiles, progress, tantrums… and that’s just me! Sorry, obvious I know but it had to be done. Why I find it so hard to set a side 30 minutes every other day escapes me. Generally at the end of each day I’m too exhausted to think so instead I… well, I don’t think. I put the TV on, find something to make me smile or laugh, and relax. And I guess, by relax, I mean zone out, having no thoughts except for, ‘maybe I should do something productive’ but I figure resting is productive so that’s what I will do.

Willow, now fast approaching ten months old, is crawling (real crawling – not just her commando elbow and thigh version), standing and walking (assisted walking only). It all seemed to happen in just a few days. One day she was commando crawling, the next ‘real’ crawling (hands and knees like), the next climbing up things and most recently she is climbing the stairs (only under strict supervision of course).

The first time she climbed the stairs blew me away, I love how enthused I become with what may seem like insignificant steps to becoming more aware. Today as I arrived home from work I saw her standing by her toy chest pulling out whatever it was she fancied in that particular moment. I wanted to stand there for longer and just watch, consume myself with her actions and just stand in awe of her.

Apparently she is brighter and more alert than ‘the average’ baby of her age (depending on that classification) and while I’m happy to accept the compliment I couldn’t care less how she compares to others. So long as she smiles and laughs more than she cries then I’ll feel like we are doing a good job. Of course, I say we but really I think it’s down to Charlotte.

Her patience, reliance and love is immeasurable. She continues to act selflessly at the detriment to her own wellbeing. I know I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, I know I’m the lucky one in many respects. I get to have a nine hour break most days when I go to work, for Willow, as amazing as she is, is a handful. She has become accustomed to playing on her own and yet not. I’m sure others can relate to this but basically she is happy to entertain herself, so long as you are there. She’ll joyfully thump her play table for a while but the moment you move away or try to pick up your laptop, she’ll want to come with you, or close the laptop on your fingers – that is a fun game!

I’ll end this little bit of Willwaffle (testing the waters with this one) by sharing what I know is common knowledge to others but it is still amusing. Willow has a wealth of toys and teddies and games and yet she has the most fun with… soiled nappies in scented bags, bags of crisps, empty plastic bottles, laptop and phone chargers and most recently… empty small glass bottles. Does she want to play with the £20 all singing all dancing baby laptop? No. The ‘stack ‘em blocks’? No. The Peek-a-boo animals? No… I’ll have this carrier bag thanks dad… OH MY GOD… I must have those laces… I wonder how they taste?