Pukeyman Go

So Marley has started throwing up pretty much every time he is fed, which is nice. The moslin cloth over the shoulder is now pretty much a firm fixture as our latest fashion accessory.

He spends the majority of his time doing three things; clenching, coughing and crying. I don’t think sleeping even makes it in to the top five anymore. The three Cs are preventing him from getting comfy on his back most of the time, although he does settle down a little better when he’s squidged up on his front on my shoulder (he can’t do it so well on Catriona because he can smell the milk). The second you try and put him down in his crib though, even if he’s already asleep, he clenches up and starts making these high-pitched screeching noises that tell you he’s not up for that.

Anyway, Shaun the sheep is helping. He is basically Marley’s first cuddly toy that doubles up as a sleeping aid. Each of his feet has a button, and when you press it you get either white noise, a heartbeat or some other “calming” sound (the white noise coupled with the red glow it emits from its chest is frankly pretty terrifying).

We had our first proper trip out with him recently, to the #bestbeergardeninlondon. The Leather Bottle pub is just down the road from us, and whenever we’ve been before, there have always been millions of kids running around and buggies everywhere. A nightmare prior to parenthood, but a godsend with a little one. A friend of ours had been working at Wimbledon, which is just down the road, so he came along for a pint in the huge beer garden with Marley, who was of course on his best behaviour.

We also went out for our first meal with Marley on his one month anniversary, to Ben’s Canteen. Again, he was super well behaved and slept for the duration while we got stuck in to umami burgers and DIY donuts. The only problem with that is, when you get home at 11pm and you’ve got work the next day, and he has just slept for four straight hours…here’s pretty much no chance of you getting any sleep that night.

Cue Shaun the Sheep for some “relaxation”….

Returning home

Home time
For a couple of (thankfully) non-serious reasons, we stayed in hospital with Marley for two extra nights before returning home. He was fairly small (6lbs) and they wanted to make sure he was feeding properly, and they checked his blood-sugar levels just to make sure the gestational diabetes hadn’t had any lingering effects. (Gestational diabetes, for those who don’t know, is basically like Type 2 diabetes in the pregnant mother that lasts for the duration of her pregnancy, and then usually goes away as fast as it came – I had no idea it was a thing).
I had left out a couple of days’ worth of cat food for Bo while we had been away, but even so, she was absolutely delighted to see me when I returned to check on her before taking the car back to collect Catriona and Marley. Once we were all back home, it only took a couple of hours before she started realising something was up. There are some awful stories about cats smothering new-born babies just by sitting on them. Some say the cats are just looking for somewhere warm to sit, but I must say I have my suspicions….either way, we weren’t going to risk it, so we locked Bo out of our bedroom from day one. 

Bo, Marley and me
There was some scratching on the door on that first night, but as Bo quickly but reluctantly accepted her place in the pecking order, it soon subsided. It is a bit sad that she seems to feel like we’ve replaced her….but then she is a cat, and that makes her a psychopath, so who knows what she is thinking half the time anyway.

Naughty cat
We settled in to our new routine faster than she did, and pretty soon we were changing Marley’s nappy in under a minute, burping him after feeding, and getting him down to sleep – at least during the day. There were a couple of funny moments in those two or three days of settling in; while I was changing him, a card was posted through our front door, and Catriona went to get it. It was from our neighbours (they’d obviously heard Marley before they’d seen him!) and as she read out the message while I changed him, I saw a spray of liquid shoot up and cover the card. Marley seemed to have aimed directly at it. And he knew. 

First 24 hours with our son

Sitting in a hospital ward next to your sleeping wife and new born son is a fairly significant moment in a guy’s life. You go very rapidly from the panic, fear and utter chaos of labour and the delivery, to a kind of serenity and calm that’s pretty much unparalleled in any other experience I have had in life so far.

The parenting books, the ante-natal classes, the advice from parents, friends and colleagues….that was all very welcome, of course, but it goes completely to the back of your mind as you are faced with the reality of real parenting for the first time.

I found that in the build up to our son’s delivery that the hospital experience was the only thing I had actually really been seriously thinking and worrying about. Nappies, sleep deprivation and looking after an actual real life baby were all very much second to the fact that all I was really focused on to begin with was that my wife would be OK and that our baby would be healthy.

So sitting by your newborn son, the reality does hit you….but not as hard as you might think. I wasn’t worried. I wasn’t scared that I wouldn’t know what to do, I wasn’t even grossed out by the thought of that first shitty nappy. I was just filled completely with happiness that he was here, he was safe and healthy, and my wife was OK (although I suppose OK is a relative term….she had just squeezed a human out of her….)

The first few hours were spent on the post-natal ward, and were fairly uneventful. Catriona was able to get a bit of rest while I doted over our son – still un-named at this stage. It was about 07:00 and relatively quiet (unlike the ante-natal ward, where the screams pierce your bones). There were some little sounds, like midwives checking on new mothers, or the occasional newborn squeal. But as the day wore on, there was more noise. Phone calls. Visitors. Snoring.  (If I hadn’t known better, I could have sworn there was a sleeping manatee in the bay next to us at one point).

There was also a very funny moment when Catriona was rudely awoken by a loud fart from the bay to the other side of us. I tried to convince Catriona it had been her, but she knows me too well for that….

We didn’t have to wait too long to get in to the real parenting either. The first nappy (imagine Marmite mixed with treacle) and the first attempt at breast feeding (Catriona, not me) were both roaring successes. And I was already getting used to the new words and phrases that were entering my lexicon, with the midwives forever asking how baby’s “latch” was, and encouraging a bit more “skin to skin”.

The first 24 hours were awesome.