Friday, February 12, 2016

The most transformational generation?

When i think about my generation I can't help feeling that we've gone through more transformational change them any since the industrial revolution. But then it's my generation so I'm always going to think we've done more in a greater way.

The technology revolution or Internet revolution - call it what you will - completely transformed my age group.

When I think back to University, it was the first time people had an email address; now, with the likes of Slack, we're trying to make email superfluous. It was a time when people still had a choice about getting a mobile phone or not. Now it's a necessity with the only choice being which type we opt for.

I was listening to my iPod classic the other day and Del Amitri 'Nothing Ever Happens' came on. I remember first playing that on vinyl before vinyl disappeared and is now making a reappearance. The line 'the needle returns to the start of the song' completely identifies with an almost forgotten era.

My generation has lived practically two lifetimes (and I'm only 40) and we've had to adapt to a pre and post internet reality. We could almost be defined as the versatile generation.

I watch my son now in complete astonishment. Aged 6 months, he's obsessed with a touch screen to such an extent that when I read a book to him (you know the ones made of paper) he tries to press and swipe the pictures. The concept of a still image completely alien to him.

I can't help but wonder what changes he'll see in his lifetime. Autonomous vehicles, virtual reality becoming the new reality, orbit smashing planes taking him from London to Sydney in 4 hours.

Perhaps I'm wrong, perhaps he'll just adapt to the changes as my age group did. Perhaps in reality dealing with change is something humans have a natural, if sometimes untapped, gift for. Perhaps my generation is not so transformational after all. Perhaps it's all just a constantly evolving cycle.

Perhaps I'll just watch from the sidelines in awe as my son grasps with these new technologies and challenges, conquering them with ease while I struggle like Bambi coming to terms with the concept of ice (kind of how my mum is now with surviving a surf online).

One thing's for certain, I never felt amazement like I have witnessing my son develop and I've no doubt he'll continue to amaze me as time marches on. I just hope I can keep up.

There's me an incredibly proud father reminiscing about the past, trying to come to terms with the present and excited yet nervous about embarrassing myself for the future.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Weeks 36 to 2 weeks old

Wow, where have the last 8 weeks gone?

We got to 36 weeks and felt that baby was imminent but every tummy murmur and every thigh quiver proved to be nothing more than Lena's natural body reaction. Meanwhile, people all around us were having babies ahead of their due date.

The 24 August, our due date was seemingly hanging around our necks with the weight of an anvil. Lena was becoming uncomfortable and I was trying to be as supportive as possible to little or no avail.

We completed our NCT classes and now have four other couples we call friends. We've been out for dinner with them on a few occasions and now the ladies meet weekly. It's great. One by one they started delivering and we went from being third in line to deliver to almost being last.

On 26 August we went in for a consultant appointment, two days post our due date. I don't know why but I had a feeling that something was going to happen. We spoke to the Registrar and she could see that Lena was finding it tough.

From the point at which she recommended Lena be induced the next few days happened in a blur. We went to St Catherine's Ward for Lena's induction, her waters broke about ten minutes later, we were transferred to delivery suite and then Lena's contractions got much stronger.

She was amazing at how she dealt with them. I know I'd have struggled but she was so incredibly brave and strong. Meanwhile I was busying myself around to try and justify my existence in what largely felt like a World for women only. It was sometime the next morning where things weren't progressing quickly and we were rushed in for an emergency C section.

All the while, everything seemed so surreal. I got changed in the male changing room next to the surgeon. I had to put my theatre clothes on. We had a chat like we were old mates about to embark on something commonplace, mundane, everyday. He was keeping me calm but my head knew that soon my son would be born.

I had no idea how long a C section took. I was totally naive. In essence, it took ten minutes or so to set everything up and then another ten or 15 mins before they pulled baby Max Akihiro Sommer out.

He was massive. 4.49kilos. Poor Lena. No wonder she had back ache in the latter stages of pregnancy.

I remember welling up when Max was handed to me. I cuddled him and told him how special he was. How long we had wanted him. How it had been a four year journey for us to get to this stage. Lena was groggy but held him after me. Before we knew it, we were back in a ward thrust into this new life of ours. A life where we were no longer the most important performers in our particular play.

Max was born at 10.59am on 27 August 2015. It's a new date for me that used to be innocuous but now it's the most important date in my life.

About two hours later it was obvious not all was well with Max. He was shivery and unsettled. The Drs moved him to Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) and he remained there for four days trying to increase his blood sugar level. It happens with big babies apparently. We visited him as often as we could. Lena was still recovering from surgery and I had so many priorities at the same time.

We remained in the hospital for another two days after Max was discharged from SCBU until finally on 1st September we brought Max home to meet his new house and three very excited dogs.

Since then we've been establishing a routine, trying to get to grips with learning how to be parents.

It's amazing really, every time I feel a little down because of lack of sleep or a certain level of unpreparedness for this baptism of fire we now face, I look at Max and he does something new, a smile, eyes opening, a sound. At those moments I realise how incredibly lucky we are and how much I love him.

It gives me a renewed vigour and I can't wait to see what the rest of our lives are like now we've got Max.....

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Week 33 to 35 (Pineapple to honeydew)

Things are getting really close now. Mum is struggling with her back and I've had to start taking on more around the house. It helps now that we've started ante-natal classes and have been able to chat to some other pregnant couples.

We're very lucky in that our NCT group are great. We've met four really nice couples and we all seem to get on well. We went out for our first meal last week and have planned another for next week. It's great to be able to talk to people in the same situation.

In fact the way our NCT coordinator talks about the birth and the first few months, it almost feels like we're all a unit preparing to go into battle. There are so many different cries, emotions, signs we have to get to know about how baby's feeling plus there're all these warnings about sleep deprivation, strange occurrences at birth, cone heads, something called 'The Show',.... WTF!

We're also starting to get into baby shower season, that's something I know absolutely nothing about. Something tells me it's going to be educational from now on in.

I also wrote a couple of new stories I've been reading to Munchkin....

Munchkin goes to beach

Today Munchkin went to the beach
He couldn't see where he was going
He couldn't feel where he was going
But he could hear where he was going
From inside mummy's tummy
Where he was tucked up like a pea in a pod

At the beach the waves crashed against the shore
Munchkin couldn't see the waves
And he couldn't feel the waves
But he could hear the waves
And the sound they made went
Shwoosh shwoosh shwoosh

At the beach there were some gulls
Munchkin couldn't see the gulls
And he couldn't feel the gulls
But he could hear the gulls
And the sound they made went
Kaarrr kaarrr kaarrr

At the beach there were some children playing
Munchkin couldn't see the children playing
And he couldn't feel anyone around him
But he could hear them laughing
And the sound they made went
Ha ha ha ha ha

At the beach the sand squelched beneath their feet
Munchkin couldn't see the sand
And he couldn't feel the sand
But he could hear the sound
And it sounded like this
Qweu qweu qweu

Near the beach a boat pulled into the harbour
Munchkin couldn't see the boat
And he couldn't feel the boat
But he could hear the boat
And the sound it made went
Phnaaa phnaaa phnaaa

But then it was time to leave
Because the sun was starting to set
And mummy was hungry
Having to feed both her and munchkin at the same time

and the next one....

Munchkin at home

Today Munchkin played at home
He couldn't see he was at home
He couldn't feel he was at home
But he could hear he was at home
From inside mummy's tummy
Where he was starting to plan his escape

At home, mummy put the tap on
Munchkin couldn't see the tap
And he couldn't feel the tap
But he could hear the tap
And the sound it made went
Drip drip drip

At home the postman rang the doorbell
Munchkin couldn't see the doorbell
And he couldn't feel the doorbell
But he could hear the doorbell
And the sound it made went
Ding dong ding dong

At home the wind blew into the window
Munchkin couldn't see the wind blowing
And he couldn't feel the wind blowing
But he could hear the wind blowing
And the sound it made went
Woosh woosh woosh

At home daddy put the coffee on the stove
Munchkin couldn't see the coffee boiling
And he couldn't smell the coffee boiling
But he could hear the coffee boiling
And the sound it made went
Bubble bubble bubble

At home the vacuum cleaner was picking up dust
Munchkin couldn't see the vacuum cleaner
And he couldn't feel the vacuum cleaner
But he could hear the vacuum cleaner
And the sound it made went
Vrrrm vrrrm vrrrm

Then it was time for bed
Because mummy was feeling tired
As munchkin was getting bigger and bigger
And mummy was carrying him around all day

We're moving into the red zone, 3 or potentially 7 weeks to go!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Week 31 to 32 (weight of a coconut and size the length of a kale)

Things have started arriving. We already had the nappies, 8 months supply of these new naturally harmonious organic, decaf, soy, Toyota Prius esque nappies that decompose and turn instantly into pretty little flowers. That's what I heard anyway when they were described to me but in essence they just take less time to decompose than disposables and you can wash the outside. They're called gNappies.

We also got the pram, pushchair, wardrobe, cot and change table. Lena can see exciting stuff that makes our journey to being parents that step closer. I can see instruction manuals and screws left on the nursery floor that really do have a home, we just don't know where. I am looking forward to moving home and making the nursery though but I know we're still 5 weeks from starting.

Lots to think of before then. Munchkin is exploring every inch of mum's tummy and sometimes appears to be engaging in a solo boot camp routine as elbows, feet, a head and a bottom appear at various intervals while mum tries to find comfort in bed.

I can already see the positive impact maternity leave has had. Lena looks so much more relaxed and comfortable. The dogs love having mum home all the time and she's now got time to plan stuff out properly. She's already packed her bag for the hospital. That brought home a realisation of just how close we are.

I also wrote another story to read to Munchkin the bump:

Munchkin goes to the zoo

Today Munchkin went to the zoo
He couldn't see where he was going
And he couldn't feel where he was going
But he could hear where he was going
From inside mummy's tummy
Where he was wriggling around
when mummy was eating

At the zoo there were some Lions
Munchkin couldn't see the lions
He couldn't feel the lions
But he could hear the lions
and the sound they made went

At the zoo there was an elephant
Munchkin couldn't see the elephant
He couldn't feel the elephant
But he could hear the elephant
and the sound it made went

At the zoo there was a bear
Munchkin couldn't see the bear
He couldn't feel the bear
But he could hear the bear
and the sound it made went

At the zoo there was a snake
Munchkin couldn't see the snake
He couldn't feel the snake
But he could hear the snake
and the sound it made went

At the zoo there was a monkey
Munchkin couldn't see the monkey
He couldn't feel the monkey
But he could hear the monkey
and the sound it made went
Oooh ooohh ooooh aah aah aah

But then it was time to leave
Because the zoo was about to close
And mummy was tired
From carrying munchkin around all day
In her tummy
All warm and safe

We're trying to organise a couple of baby showers along with moving house and continuing to perform our normal daily responsibilities. My heads spinning but according to my dear friends that's nothing compared to what's to come. I still think we'll manage ok but I do get that nagging doubt that I'm slightly deluded.

I guess nothing can prepare you for the experience we're about to have other than the experience itself. Each person and each situation is so different that you have to take the advice, guidance, news articles, guide books and general conversations with a pinch of salt.

It does seem like everything I read or watch has some element of becoming a parent attached to it. It's almost cruel.....

Still loving the journey though and can't wait to meet you little Munchkin.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Week 29 and 30 (Butternut squash to large cabbage)

Munchkin has been getting more and more active recently. He really responds to the stories and playing hide and seek.

It's an amazing experience being able to interact with this little person inside mum's tummy. I've also become an expert in all things baby because I read one book about Fatherhood, yes one, I fear I'm annoying people, particularly Lena.

So my latest story was Munchkin goes to town. Here it is below:

Munchkin goes to town
Today munchkin went to town
He couldn't see the town
He couldn't feel where he was going
But he could hear it
From inside mummy's tummy
Where everything was safe and warm

In town he heard some cars
Munchkin couldn't see the cars
He couldn't feel the cars
But he could hear the cars
and the sound they made went
Brrrm brrrm brrrm

In town daddy opened the door to a shop
Munchkin couldn't see the door
He couldn't feel the door
But he could hear the door
And the sound it made went
Creak creak creak

In town the market was busy
Munchkin couldn't see how busy the market was
And he couldn't feel anyone around him
But he could hear everyone moving around
And the sound they made went
Shuffle shuffle shuffle

In town the clock struck 3pm
Munchkin couldn't see the clock
He couldn't feel the clock
But he could hear the clock
And the sound it made went
Dong Dong Dong

That meant it was time to leave
Because daddy didn't have any more money for parking
On the drive home, munchkin fell asleep
Because he was tucked away inside mummy's tummy
Snug and sound

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Week 26 to 28 (Cauliflower to Aubergine)

Week 26 and time is really flying. 

I started reading a book about being a dad written from the perspective of a father. It was really eye opening. Its called 'The Expectant Dad's Handbook' by Dean Beaumont who started the first antenatal classes for dads. A brilliant idea.

I finished the book in about a week and was really intrigued by how much of an influence we can have as dads in the birth of our child.

I found out that now is the time to start bonding with my son. He can hear my voice and reacts to it. Also, if I read a story to him over and over using our nickname for him (munchkin), that story and my voice will have a calming effect on the little guy when he sees the world.

So, I felt inspired to write my own stories and the first one below is called Munchkin goes to the Farm:

Today munchkin went to the farm. 
He couldn't see the farm
He couldn't feel the farm
But he could hear the farm
From inside mummy's tummy
And everything is safe

At the farm there was a cow 

Munchkin couldn't see the cowAnd he couldn't feel the cow
But he could hear the cow
And the noise the cow made went

At the farm there was a sheep 
Munchkin couldn't see the sheep

And he couldn't feel the sheep
But he could hear the sheep
And the noise the sheep made went

At the farm there was a chicken
Munchkin couldn't see the chicken

And he couldn't feel the chicken
But he could hear the chicken
And the noise the chicken made went
Burgh burgh bukkerkkk

At the farm there was a duck
Munchkin couldn't see the duck

And he couldn't feel the duck
But he could hear the duck
And the noise the duck made went
Quack quack quuuaaack

Then it was time to go
Because mummy was tired
Carrying Munchkin all day
And munchkin was tired
All snug and quiet in mummy's tummy

Where everything is calm 

It was amazing reading this to him for the first time. He really responded to the story, particularly the cow going moo. He sees to respond to those deep bass tones.

The following week I wrote another story called Munchkin goes to the Woods. See below:

Munchkin in the woods               

Munchkin went on an adventure to the woods
He couldn’t see where he went
He couldn’t feel where he went
But he could hear where he went
From inside mummy’s tummy
Where he was all snug and warm

In the woods the wind blew the trees
Munchkin couldn’t see the wind blowing the trees
He couldn’t feel the wind blowing the trees
But he could hear the wind blowing the trees
And the sound it made went
Woosh woosh woosh

In the woods the was an owl calling out to his mate
Munchkin couldn’t see the owl
He couldn’t feel the owl
But he could hear the owl
And the sound it made went
Twitwoo Twitwoo Twitwoo

In the woods the sticks broke under foot
Munchkin couldn’t see the sticks
He couldn’t feel the sticks
But he could hear the sticks
And the sound they made went
Crack crack crack

In the woods a mouse moved in the bushes
Munchkin couldn’t see the mouse
He couldn’t feel the mouse
But he could hear the mouse
And the sound it made went
Rustle rustle rustle

But then it was time to go
Because mummy was starting to feel tired
As she had been carrying munchkin around all day
All tucked away safe and sound
In her tummy…

Again, the little guy was animated when I read the story. 

I've got to think of a new one for next week now....

Monday, May 18, 2015

Week 23 to 25 (papaya to aubergine)

The last couple of weeks, little munchkin has been a lot more active. The other night I pressed my finger into Lena's tummy and the baby gave me a little kick back to let me know he was there.

Those episodes are getting more frequent and you can now actually see the baby kicks whereas before it was just by touch. It makes it all so much more real and brings it home to me that soon, my responsibilities change yet again.

I keep thinking about small insignificant little things like what our new routine will be in the mornings and evenings. Taking the baby and the dogs out for a walk at dusk. I also thought about the first time I take my son out to give mum a break and how I'll cope. It's nerve wracking stuff but something you've just got to get on with and not overthink - overthinking being a particular delight of mine!

We've also been discussing the room decor. I fully realise my role in this will be agreer and sounding board... There will be something Everton in that room though, that's my only aim...

Someone told me recently that when the baby arrives I should make time for Lena to go out and have time away from the baby. It was great advice as I'll get that space when I go to work but for Lena, there's not much chance unless I make it happen and take on the responsibility of freeing her up to go out an enjoy herself once a week.

We're approaching the third trimester now where I start to count down the weeks as opposed to talk about how many have gone. I'm proud to say that I bought a book about Fatherhood. This is one occasion when I have no plans to try and wing it. It's too important to me and I want to accept my limitations. I'm looking forward to reading the book.

Aside from this, the name game has been on constant replay and the house purchase gives us another challenge to escape too. August can't come soon enough!