Monday, 30 September 2013

Bath-time and other baby hygeine/grooming.

Howdy all,

So my lovely wife and I decided we would give Albert a bath last night, not the first bath he’s ever had, we’ve already passed that milestone in a scream-fuelled-fury that was recorded in its entirety, ready to be played on a big screen at his 18th birthday party. This was about his 3rd/4th bath now, so I thought I would do a post on bath time! And then a bit on baby hygiene and grooming, which isn’t as splashy or fun as bath time, but is useful none the less.

Albert being told he needs to take a bath. "You WHAT?"

Baby hygiene is pretty important, and it covers a wide range of things you can do to smarten them up. And basically you don’t want your little one getting ill, as then they’ll be crying, puking and pooing more than normal and no sane parent could stand the drama. So we are doing all we can to protect him from dirt/germs/illness and keep him nice and clean and presentable. I wanted to bath him in anti-septic fluid and keep him in an air-tight plastic sheet so he would never get ill (a la Howard Hughes or Bubble Boy) but a few people said this wasn’t necessary, and some Google-searches have confirmed this. So onto bath time! (with normal water)

Bubble Boy and Howard Hughes, not sensible ways to deal with hygeine for normal people:

So I previously mentioned HERE in a post about baby equipment, that we have a baby bath. This is just a plastic washing basket without the holes, that looks like a reclaimed giant turtle shell, that you put upside down in the bath. It’s much better than using the whole bath, the sink or the toilet to bath your baby in.

ADVICE! Bath your baby in this:

WARNING! Don't bath your baby in these:

So basically baby bathing is like normal adult human bathing, you put a little bit of water in there and then you wash in it! We adopted the ‘Small amount of water and holding the baby in with his head above the waterline’ method of washing, and then used a sponge to lightly scrub him all over, being careful not to get water gushing into his eyes and down his throat. Babies are pretty small, so it doesn’t really take very long to wash them all over, but I can tell you that he did not like it one little bit! I have been reading that newborn babies are not often fond of bath time (like students and hippies), and he sure lived up to that warning. He cried the whole time! We paid special washing attention to the ears and the nappy area, as this is where you are most likely to find congealed bodily fluid, but on the whole we washed him all over and got him nice and clean and sparkly. It’s like a game, get him in there and get him washed before your ears bleed with the crying.

We used a Johnson’s baby shampoo and bath wash (this one HERE), which is excellent. It's a bit like normal adult shampoo but doesn’t burn your eyes so is safe for babies. Albert seems to like it! No Head & Shoulders needed yet as he is dandruff free so far.

They wash with this:

I think the reason why newborns don’t like washing is that it’s probably weird not being able to understand water and have no control of being in the bath - your life is in someone else’s hands. I think if I couldn’t control my arms or legs, and a 25ft giant person was holding me just above the waterline and washing me with a sponge bigger than my own head, then I would probably cry as well. As they get a bit older and start to be able to sit up and control themselves a little better, bath time gets more fun, mostly because of... TOYS.

At the moment he isn’t quite up to using toys (which like I said, is kind of the point of bath-time to be fair), but he has a fair few already, including a rubber duck! (As mentioned HERE that I wanted one) We actually have 2, a Luton Town FC one (We aren’t football fans so several friends are using the early bribe method to get him to support their teams, which is fair game) and one that tells you when it’s too hot by going bright white (Or melting if it’s REALLY hot).

The 2 duckies:

He has some other toys as well that he isn’t old enough to use yet, and so purely for educational purposes, I have road-tested them (Bath-tested?) so I know if they are suitable or not. As per the below picture, these little rubber things squirt water! There is a Whale (Squirts out the blow-hole, anatomically correct), an Octopus (doesn’t squirt ink as standard, not anatomically correct), a Turtle (Do turtles squirt water? Maybe Blastoise from Pokemon), and a Nemo fish (May or may not squirt water out their mouths, it never came up in the Pixar film).

The 4 bringers of the water Apocalypse:

Blastoise, Turtles can squirt water!:

I can say that although they look like toys, these are NOT for children. I was in the bath when I tested them (For maximum scientific accuracy) when I filled one up and squirted it - it shot out across the bathroom and hit the toilet! The range is incredible! This is definitely a toy for adults unless you want water all over you and the bathroom floor during bath-time. I could easily squirt it and hit the ceiling (which I did). I could do it with accuracy too, I could shoot it across the bathroom into the shower cubicle and hit specific tiles. I even opened the window and squirted it across the garden, I could get it 15 feet easily, probably way more!! What an excellent toy, well worth having a wash for.

This is the view out my bathroom window from sitting in the bath. X marks the spot! (That the water squirters can hit):

As I said, hygiene is important :)

Once he is all washed and clean, we have a little towel with a hood to dry him off, then he is all dry and bath time is done! I think this is his favourite bit! Probably because he isn’t all wet and scared of being dunked under at any moment. Oh I say bath-time is done, it is for Albert. He goes off to sleep and Daddy has to clean up all the water everywhere after all the splashing.

So once Albert has had a bath, he needs some grooming if he is going out on the town and is aiming to impress by scrubbing up. One thing that has surprised me is baby nails. Holy sh*t baby nails grow fast and are sharp! My baby is basically Wolverine. When he windmills his arms about when having a tantrum he can quite easily scratch you on the chin, or worse, scratch himself. We have mittens for him to stop him doing it, called ‘Scratch Mitts’, which are basically boxing gloves for babies. But he tends to just fling these off after a while, so we don’t use them a lot and just aim to keep his nails short and less like weapons. To do this we have a tiny little pair of nail clippers (A ‘pair’ of clippers, is that right? We only have one of them. Is it a set of nail clippers? What is the group term for nail clippers anyway??) to cut his nails with. Lucy and I once had a very disturbing moment trying to cut the cat’s nails, so we were very wary about doing this ourselves, so we got Nanny to do it instead. And since then we have filed them down instead of using the clippers, which is quicker, easier, safer and he likes it more. 5 weeks old and he is already having manicures (So not quite like Wolverine).

My baby is basically this: 

Baby Boxing Gloves (Or Scratch Mitts):

Once he has washed, played with toys in the bath and had his nails done, then he can comb his hair using a little baby brush (A lot of ‘baby’ things are just adult things, but smaller). He is already losing some hair like his dad, must be all the stress of washing! He doesn’t have teeth yet so he can skip a toothbrush and toothpaste (Probably something that most children carry on doing until they reach puberty and they realise nobody wants to kiss anyone with bad breath). Oh one last thing Albert, we almost forgot your bogies! I said HERE about the mythical Pump That Sucks Bogies And Snot Out Of Your Nose. Well here it is. Looks like a miniature hot air balloon/funky psychedelic dreidel/poisonous underwater blowfish Pokemon. It sucks bogies right out! You can’t shoot them 15 feet though, so it isn’t as good a toy as the animal blowers.

Pump That Sucks Bogies And Snot Out Of Your Nose:

Once all this is done, the baby is clean! Like I said before HERE, babies only really do 5 things, and going to the gym isn’t one of them, so they don’t really get sweaty, ergo they don’t need a bath every day. We have been washing him every week or so in the full bath, and in-between with wipes. Babies do however like to poo themselves and throw up into their own ears, so washing is definitely required at certain times, but let’s be honest, we have all at one point in our lives gone a week without a wash, then pooed ourselves, thrown up into our laps, and rather than have a bath, have just wiped themselves down with a wet wipe and put a clean t-shirt on. And if you haven’t, then you obviously haven’t lived (or been a university student).

That’s about it for hygiene. It has to be said, even before a wash - baby smell is amazing. I have never really smelled a baby before, mainly because smelling random babies on the street is highly frowned upon. I don’t know whether it’s because Albert is mine or not, but his head smells fantastic. It immediately calms me down. For the first few weeks I couldn’t smell anything on him (Other than biscuits, as mentioned HERE), but Lucy kept raving about the smell of his head, so I just thought she was losing it and humoured her. But then after a few weeks I began to smell it on him, and now I can’t get enough, it’s like crack. I am addicted to smelling my baby’s head. I am going to email Febreze and get them to do some tests on it, because if they can bottle it they’ll make millions selling it. I’m still not sure whether other newborn baby’s heads smell, so I don’t know whether this is a genetic thing between parent and baby, or know anything of the science behind it, but I hope it lasts! (Smelling most teenagers, it would seem not). Anyone know why this is?

Best smelling head ever post-wash:

Anyone else with any fun bath-time stories?

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The 5 Pastimes of a Newborn Baby


So 1 month on from the birth and how is everything going? Very well, thank you for asking! Albert is doing brilliantly, he is really changing and starting to develop a personality now (I would class him as Chaotic Good on the Alignment Scale). Being a dad is still amazing, and every day brings new emotions, new insights, more laughs, more smells and new funny faces.

But on the whole, Albert being 1 month old and all, he still doesn’t get up to much. He hasn’t yet developed full usage of his limbs, so he isn’t going on Facebook and Twitter all day yet. In one of my last posts HERE I made a comment on how babies only basically do 4 things. Poo, Cry, Sleep, and Look Cute. Which is true, but I did miss one out. Eat. And by eat, I mean drink a shed load of milk.

So as these 5 things make up a baby's whole day, I thought I would break them down and take a closer look at each. But first, here’s a chart:


Ah the eating, can’t believe I missed it out. Albert does loads of this! And this is important as I feel it affects the rest of what he does.

Poo – happens because he eats
Cry – happens when he doesn’t eat
Sleep – happens if he eats, or doesn’t happen if he doesn’t eat
Look cute – he looks very cute when he eats

Now by eating I mean drinking, and by drinking I mean Milk and not alcohol. He doesn’t go out drinking just at the weekend, he drinks 6 times a day EVERY day.  He normally goes 3 hours between feeds, but then he has a long period between them once a day. Ideally we try and get him to do this long period at night so we can have a decent sleep, but you can’t reason with a baby, and sometimes he wants to sleep for 7 hours in the day and wake up every 3 hours all through the night for drinks, just like a student in their first year of Uni.

We are using a milk formula which you make up for him when he wants a bottle. It is just a huge tub of powder that you add into boiling water, and it makes milk, via magic. It really reminds me of the smell of condensed milk, and of Lotus biscuits. I haven’t added it to someone’s cup of tea yet, but I will one day, and I won’t tell the visitor whose tea it is that I’ve done it. Purely as a scientific study you understand. If you’re planning a visit and you’re reading this, have a black coffee.

You make the milk up in these little bottles, and once they have sufficiently cooled you can feed them to the baby. You can check if they are cooled enough by dabbing the milk onto your arm to see if it’s cool enough. That’s great in theory, but I have a few burn marks up my arm now, so a thermometer might be better. Better my arm is burnt than Albert’s mouth though!

The bottles have teats at the end with a little hole in it for the baby to suck. I wanted to see how fast it comes out, so I did a little test with a bottle full of water to see how long it would take me to drink it. Holy cow, you have to suck like mad to get any out! No wonder babies sleep 18 hours a day, they must be so tired from all the sucking, that they are completely exhausted. I gave up and used a glass in the end, shame Albert can’t do this yet.

Apparently babies are not very good at burping themselves, so they need help to do this as well. I prefer the method where I just sit him up and pat his back, and lo and behold, BUUUURP. Then he pukes all down himself. No shame this one. He’s definitely my son!


So the pooing. Yep, this definitely happens. I have included in this the weeing as well. And you haven’t forgotten puking yet, as mentioned above. Basically all the things grown ups do at 2 o clock on a Sunday morning after a 12 hour drinking session, so he is starting his practise early.

I’ll start with pooing. For most of his early week Albert was really only pooing once every few days. Apparently this is normal, some babies poo like this, and some (unluckily for the parents) poo every few hours. We had a few concerns but the health visitor said as long as the poos look normal then it was ok.

So what is a normal baby poo? Well just imagine for a second if your whole diet consisted of milk, then what would your poo be like? Some sort of relentless runny smelly dairy torrent of brown? Well no, Albert’s poo so far has basically been like a Korma, but without the spices.

Basically baby poo:

His first few poos (that I mentioned HERE), were something called Meconium (sounds like it should be on the periodic table). This is a sticky black tar of a poo that takes more wet wipes than you think to clean up. I have read that the first few poos are like this because they consist of stuff the baby has swallowed in the womb, such as Amniotic Fluid, Mucus and Bile, all mixed up in the worst cocktail recipe I have ever heard. Poor little chap having to drink that, no wonder his poos are weapons-grade lethal.

After the Meconium poo, they start doing normal poos. I say normal, but I mean normal for a baby, because if your adult poo has the colour and consistency of a chicken Korma then you have a problem. We have changed Albert’s brand of milk, and so now he is pretty much pooing every day, so it’s a regular part of his life.

Even more regular is the weeing. Again, all he eats/drinks is milk, and as I said above, this smells like condensed milk and biscuits. Which means that Albert’s wee also smells like condensed milk and biscuits. Ever since my son was born, I can say that I have been completely put off ever going near condensed milk ever again. And also the thought of Lotus biscuits makes me gag, whereas previously I really liked them.

Very tasty, but ruined for me now:

So now we know he poos Korma and wees condensed milk, this gets mixed up in another rank cocktail and dumped into the nappy. I said in my last post HERE how I think nappies work by magic and now I’ve changed a few more of them, my opinion has been cemented. Not only do they stick in the most random ways, but they also absorb more than any material known to man. Why don’t they make sponges out of nappy material? He wees and wees and wees and the nappy just soaks it all up and just swells and swells and is never actually wet. It just becomes a giant biscuit smelling blob of squishy wee. God help us if someone drops a nappy into the ocean, it’ll soak up the whole world’s water within a day and we’ll all be buggered.

The nappy changes on the whole work a bit like this, we have them down to a well oiled pitstop now.

-          Lay baby down
-          Remove baby-grow, cursing as you can’t work out how to get it off, or even undo the iron-strong poppers
-          Remove nappy while holding breathe and prepare yourself for what is inside
-          Catch wee suddenly shooting out over the carpet and quickly use nappy as a wee-shield to deflect the wee, accidentally all over baby's own hair
-          Try to sooth baby crying with dummy which gets spit out immediately into a puddle of wee
-          Use wipes/cotton wool/anything to hand to mop up wee and clean the baby
-          Once all clean, baby will then poo
-          Use wipes/cotton wool/anything to hand to clean up poo and baby again
-          Try to attach new nappy
-          Wrestle legs of the strongest baby ever born, deflect kicks
-          Attach one side of new nappy, then baby poos again
-          Use wipes/cotton wool/anything to hand to clean up poo and baby AGAIN
-          Try to attach 2nd new nappy
-          Wrestle legs of the strongest baby ever born, deflect kicks
-          Attach new nappy
-          Adjust earplugs as crying still constant
-          Find new baby clothes
-          Curse as try and work out how it fixes onto baby, as it has 3000 poppers that attach in random places, wonder if you have brought a baby-grow for a baby octopus rather than a human
-          Get baby-grow over the head, round the body, wrestle arms into shape, find out legs don’t fit as baby’s feet are so large
-          Remove baby-grow and search for one without legs
-          Ask wife to watch baby while you hunt around the house for new baby-grow without legs
-          Eventually end up cutting the feet out of a normal baby-grow with scissors, just so you can fit his legs in it
-          Attempt to wrestle baby into it AGAIN
-          Finally get baby-grow on and cue a quiet cute-again baby


Ah the crying. The relentless crying. I have to say, this is the only part of having a child so far that hasn’t been great. I am sure I am not alone in admitting that I find baby's crying very annoying. It cuts right into your brain like a sonic dagger. I have always found baby's crying annoying and I think to be honest I always will, even my own baby's crying. Of course I don’t love him any less for it and I know he can’t help it, but it’s still annoying. I think the worst part though is knowing I can’t do anything for him. If he is crying and we have fed him, changed him, made sure he’s had enough sleep, made sure he is warm enough, made sure he isn’t ill or in pain, made sure we have burped him, made sure we have done everything we can think of, if we have done all that and he is still crying? That’s when it tears into my heart as well as my head. If I’ve done everything I can to help him and he is still crying like some sort of Government noise weapon, it pains me that I can’t make him feel better, and that’s what annoys me the most, more than the sound of it ever will.

I read somewhere that babies tend to cry sometimes, EVEN IF NOTHING IS WRONG. This scared me so I stopped reading the article and pretended I never heard of such a thing.

Luckily Albert is a very well behaved boy and I don’t think he cries too much. Yes we’ve had a few nights when it’s 3 in the morning and he won’t stop. But if that’s his only way of communicating to the world, then so be it. I’ll listen to you son! With my headache and tiredness and annoyance, I’ll suck it all up and still do whatever I can because that’s my job as a dad.

Plus when he grows up and becomes CEO of his own company, selling sonic weapons to the Army, based on research done into weaponising a baby's crying sound, he can buy me a Ferrari to make up for it.


This is a good one, I like the sleeping. It goes hand in hand with the ‘Look Cute’ action, because babies always look cute when they are sleeping (and not just because they aren’t crying). And also if a baby ain’t sleeping, then you ain’t a sleeping either, so sleeping is great.

Babies tend to sleep a lot, whether this is because a) they use so much energy sucking milk out a teat hole which is the size of a 1000th of a millimetre or b) they are so bored by not being able to speak, focus their eyes, control their limbs, go down the pub or do anything at all, that sleeping is pretty much all they have to do.

Big yawn:

Apparently if babies don’t have enough sleep, then they create hormones and stuff which keeps them awake more. Which doesn’t make sense to me, and I think have probably completely butchered the science there, but what this means is ‘If you keep your baby awake all day because you want them to sleep all night, then they'll cry and be awake all night anyway’. So you can boil this down to ‘Always let a sleeping baby lie’, just likes dogs in that regard. Sleep is important for babies, but also for parents as it means you can get on with clearing up all the bags of nappies lying around, cleaning the wee off everything, and washing up empty bottles of milk strewn all over the place while they sleep. Basically having a newborn reduces your house to the cleanliness level of a University's Student's Hall of Residence.

A weird thing about sleep is that it causes a bald-flat spot on the back of the baby's head so he looks even more like his daddy. A baby's skull is basically made up of layers of Haribo rather than bone when they are born, so when they lie down they get a flat spot on the back of their head as well as it flattens from the weight. And as they sleep so much on it, it wears the hair away. It doesn’t cause any pain thankfully, it’s just a sleep bi-product.

Haribo - what baby's skulls are made out of:

Some of the tactics we use to entice Albert to sleep are:

-          Milk Coma. After he has fed, he is so full up and knackered from all the sucking that he slips into one of these and not much is going to wake him up.
-          The Rock. Not the wrestler/actor, but just rocking him back and forth, he must like the movement as it’s like being sloshed around inside a belly for 9 months so reminds him of his first home. We twin this with the Bum-Pat. Patting his bum while we rock him speeds up the sleepyness! For some reason he must love altitude, because only rocking him standing up works. As soon as I sit down and rock him he wakes up.
-          White Noise – Or any prolonged monotone sound like rainfall or a fan blowing or daddy singing. Again I think it reminds him of the womb when I used to hum the Jurassic Park theme tune to him every day.
-          The Car Journey – This one is great! As soon as he is in the car seat and I start driving, he is just quiet. This must be the double whammy of White Noise and Rocking.
-          Good Old Fashioned Cuddle – Sometimes he just wants a cuddle, don’t we all?

The Rock, may/may not help babies fall asleep:

Pretty much once he is asleep, he just snores away and looks cute. He moves about a lot so it’s almost easier to not watch him as I am always on tenterhooks that he is going to wake up and cry again.

Some pictures of Albert sleeping, which leads us onto looking cute...

Look Cute

And finally, looking cute. As a Man-Child, it’s not easy to use the word cute. It only really ever used to come into my vocabulary when talking about baby animals, but now I seem to use it every 3 minutes since Albert has been born. This is by far the best thing that he does, and to be honest this takes up most of his time, because he looks pretty damn cute almost 100% of that time! I know people always say that about their own babies, and damn right it’s true. I could just look at him for hours and find enjoyment in everything he does because I love him so damn much. Especially the hiccups, he is hilarious when he has hiccups. And when he sneezes. And when he snorts like a pig.

He pulls a lot of funny faces. It’s helpful as he only tends to smile when he has wind (even at 4 weeks old, farting is funny). The bigger the wind, the funnier the faces he pulls. He also waves his arms around like he’s doing Kung Fu in the Matrix, or doing a Hulk impression.

He even looks cute when burping and puking. I don’t know how burping and puking has become cute, but he’s mastered it. The world will be his oyster if you can make people love you for burping and puking.

It’s hard to do a full list of everything he does that is cute, as that is basically everything that he does, everything except cry.

Funny faces:

Anyway, that’s about it for all the stuff Albert does. At the moment I feel like he gets through the whole day with just those 5 things, I wonder what is next in store for him? What will be his next party trick? He has already poo'd on his mum’s leg while simultaneously vomiting in his own ear, a task not even I have completed successfully. Where else is there to go from there??


Monday, 9 September 2013

The Birth

Howdy all!

So... I am a daddy! Wooo! Albert Kenneth Bishop (previously Albump Bumperson McWriggleyboy) was born at 1.32pm on Thursday 22nd August and weighed 8 pounds 1.5. He is finally here! 9 whole months of baking in that oven and out pops the most brilliant amazing little baby I have ever seen (I’m not even being biased, he is). Never has a man been so proud of his wife and son! I already love him so much, I can’t imagine him not being in my life. 

And so straight to the good stuff, here is the little chap!

So I thought I would write a post about the whole birth experience and what got us to this point in all its emotional glory, as what an experience it was! Pretty similar to what I was expecting HERE, but writing something down and actually experiencing it is quite different. You can look at a picture of a double quarter pounder with cheese but you just don’t appreciate it until you’ve eaten 2 of them. It was one hell of a rollercoaster. It was way better than Nemesis at Alton Towers! Becoming a father for the first time has completely changed how I view the world, and what I am feeling, and there are so many emotions going on it’s hard to even begin to write them down. But I’ll go through the birth bit by bit and try and describe how I was feeling at each point.

Disclaimer: I have asked Lucy if there is anything I couldn’t say and she said I could say whatever I wanted, so here we go! I have to say throughout the whole process it seemed really serious, and I didn’t even have time to be silly or get my thoughts in order. But now 2 weeks later I have had time to think about it retrospectively, I have retconned the sillyness in.

The birth process began on Weds morning at 6am. I first knew about it when I woke up at 6.42am (exact timing going on, I know this because this is when my alarm is set for) and Lucy said she thought she was having contractions. What a way to wake up, way better than a bucket of cold water in the face. I literally jumped out of bed and started jiggling about like I had ants in my pants, I had all this energy suddenly, like I’d drank 10 red bulls and was instantly alert. HOLY SHIT THE BABY IS COMING! Lucy actually calmed me down somewhat, I was a bit of a wreck. All of a sudden the shit got real, we actually had to do this NOW and there was no more waiting and quite frankly I couldn’t have cared less that I hadn’t done a second coat of paint on the garden furniture (All the Nesting I had been feeling like doing HERE was suddenly stopped dead).

The contractions were pretty frequent, about 5-10 mins apart already, but weren’t painful, and I knew this part of labour took ages. They may have even been Branston Pickle false contractions, we didn't know, so we decided I would go to work and see how it went, and I could nip home whenever I needed to. So I actually calmed down a bit here and went off to work (I didn’t do much though, sorry Laura if your reading this). I had a doctor’s appointment that morning as somehow I had been bitten by a zombie fly and contracted the T-Virus from Resident Evil and my leg had got all infected and swollen and hurt like hell. I dropped by home on the way back to work after the appointment and the contractions were getting pretty painful then. Lucy was still pretty calm but I was freaking out a bit thinking the baby was going to drop out on the carpet there and then so I wanted to go to the hospital and get it checked out, STAT!

My T-Virus Leg

So we drove to the hospital all ready to be seen, and thus.. the waiting began. This was a pretty common theme throughout the whole hospital trip. I felt like I aged 10 years in that place just sitting there being bored with Lucy having contractions what seemed like every 6 seconds and me expecting to see a baby sticking his head out and waving at me any minute. The only fun we had when waiting to be seen at this point was wearing a unused cardboard wee pot as a hat, and looking like some tramp version of Stan Laurel. I did this while Lucy was in the toilet though so she wouldn’t get annoyed with me. Me being silly and her in pain, I didn’t think she would appreciate it.

Eventually a doctor came in and Lucy was only 1-2cm dilated but her back was really painful and she had high blood pressure. He started whacking her on the legs with a hammer like Kathy Bates out of Misery and then they decided to send us up to the ward to wait it out a bit rather than go home. So more waiting, always waiting. I had my kindle with me, but I couldn’t read more than 2 lines without getting distracted so it was deemed pretty useless at the time. I spent most of my time trying to be supportive by not fidgeting or saying something stupid.

Reaction tests with the hammer in the hospital:

Eventually Lucy was 5-6cm dilated and we went up to the Delivery Suite (the word Suite being the height of optimism). Lucy was plugged into the Matrix with a Cannelloni Line into her hand and they started adding in all sorts of stuff through a drip, with more people coming in and out what felt like a revolving door into our room. They set up to do an Epidural straight away due to Lucy’s back, and it was a pretty calm procedure considering they are jamming a needle into your spine and inserting a tube right into it. They said not to clench or tense up during the procedure, but I couldn't help it and clenched like mad, but thankfully it went ahead ok and Lucy was brilliant.

While we were waiting for this to kick in, they supplied us with Gas and Air (G&T), which really helped Lucy with the pain. Obviously as soon as the midwife went out I was right over there to try some as they basically implied to me it was fine to do so. I had 7-8 deep breaths of it and HOLY COW, this is good stuff! I sat down and after a few seconds it kicked in and I immediately felt like I wanted to open my mouth really wide and swallow my own head. So I sat there with my mouth wide open with Lucy and her mum laughing at me. When I spoke my voice was really really deep (like Barry White) but they said it sounded the same to them. When I tried to tell them why my mouth was wide open, I tried to say ‘I feel like I want to swallow my own head’ but I couldn’t pronounce the F sound for Feel, so I just kept saying ‘I, I, I, I’ while wriggling my lips about and opening my mouth wide. After about 15 seconds, I just felt completely normal (maybe my Death-Leg felt a bit better). This stuff is great! I will look out for it on eBay.

Anyway, by the time the epidural kicked in, the pain for Lucy went right down which was really great. They have something called a Bolus which is like a drug top up when you need it, they just press a button and more Epidural liquid gets credited to your drip bag account, like mobile phone credit. It just reminded me of a Bolas whenever they said it, which is a an old-fashioned throwing weapon HERE, and is not suitable for hospitals, schools or other public places.

Man using a Bolas on a bird, not to be confused with a Bolus, which is medicine related.

At this point it was late and we still had a few hours to go until Lucy was fully dilated, so we had a bit of a snooze and a rest with the lights down. It was said beforehand that snacks were important, but by this time I had eaten Cadbury’s brunch bars, chewy granola bars, McCoys, multi-grain bars and turkish delight and so was feeling a bit sick of snacks and just wanted some pie and mash. Helped keep up energy though! I would recommend taking a sandwich next time, not just things that come in boxes and are made out of cereal.

By the time the morning came and the sun came up, we were 24 hours in and it felt like not even Jack Bauer has ever had a more tiring 24 hours, I really felt for Lucy here, and wanted it to crack on asap! But we were almost at a point where Lucy could push. She had loads more drips and they broke her waters for her, basically by shoving a crochet hook up her whatsit. By this point the epidural was only working on one side on her body and not on the other, so her back was really painful. Not something the hospital ever mentioned could happen, so that was a nice surprise. 

We had a brand-new bed in the ‘Suite’ which was full of motors and all sorts. Then move in all directions like some sort of Transformer (the shittest Transformer ever, fighting Decepticons by changing into a hospital bed), and of course none of the midwives could use it properly as there was a million buttons on it. So they sort of worked it out and moved it into shape by raising it up higher, then higher, then higher. Eventually they stopped and lowered it down because it was about 6 feet high at that point and I was worried Lucy would be crushed against the ceiling, like some sort of reverse Indiana Jones trap. It was pretty cool though, I want to get one for the house.

Bumblebee, working undercover as a Hospital bed:

So now we are at the pushing stage. After 9 months and all the waiting, we are finally here. Excitement was bubbling up in me and I couldn’t wait to see my boy! I was up at the Holiday End rather than the Business End, and was holding Lucy’s hand and ready to give support.

It’s a bit of blur at this point, so I am not really sure how long pushing lasted, I think it was around 45 minutes. I was so so proud of Lucy, she did so well. It looked bloody painful. You see it happening on TV on One Born Every Minute, but I didn’t realise how much they cut out, there is loads more pushing in real life than what they show on the TV so I have even more respect for women who have been through child birth now! I held her hand the whole time, standing on one leg as my Death-Leg was killing me. I had some lovely fingernail marks engraved on my hand afterwards but I didn’t care, I would do whatever I needed to help Lucy through it.

The midwife said we were really close to him coming out at this point, only a few more pushes. Then all of a sudden there was a splatter sound and I looked down and saw some blood dropping out down the other end. Within 5 seconds the midwife had called out ‘We’ve lost the fetal heartbeat’ and the emergency button was pulled. I have to admit I just froze at this point holding Lucy’s hand and I genuinely felt like my stomach dropped out my arse and my heart stopped. I just couldn’t do anything except stand there holding Lucy’s hand, I was like a rabbit in headlights, hurtling towards the baby’s birth and not being able to move and then BANG, the rabbit is splattered across the road into pulp. That’s about 1% of the intensity of how I felt.

Well within around 15 seconds of that alarm going off, I have never seen anything like it, it was like an episode of ER, around 15 people ran into the room and everyone was running around and bringing in big machines and going back and forth and shouting at each other. The consultant came in and all I can say is how professional and brilliant she was, she deserved a medal. She came right in and started giving out instructions and completely took over the whole thing and managed it amazingly well. She was calm and described everything she was doing to us clearly. About 3 midwifes pretty much dismantled the Transformer bed faster than any Decepticon could. She said they would deliver the baby by Forceps and Lucy would help her push it out, and that they would deliver him together as a team. Well before I knew it I was balling my eyes out, it had happened so fast I felt like I had literally come up against a glass wall and every part of my body and mind and emotions was being squashed up against it, and the wall was suddenly a bottle and I was being squashed down inside it and I was being crushed from all sides, and 9 months of waiting for this moment was being funnelled into my brain and all I could do was cry and kiss Lucy’s head and say it would be ok. It was all so hazy but someone said he was coming out and I was man-handled down to the Business end, and then I saw my son’s head being pushed out and him entering the world. He was ok!! He was crying and covered in blood but he was absolutely perfect. It is a moment I will never ever forget my whole life, and even now writing this I am genuinely getting choked up with emotion and am finding it hard to speak. They asked me if I wanted to cut the cord which I said previously I would, so they handed me the scissors and I snipped straight through that lifeline on the first snip and released him, I am glad I had my own little part in the drama of delivering my son into the world. He was wrapped up quickly and placed on Lucy’s chest, and I was back up that end for a quick look at him before he was bundled into the heat machine. There was no sillyness at this time, it was just pure emotion. I just felt my senses were heightened to oblivion and this almost physical wave of love came over me, and this urge to protect him from anything and anyone and knowing I would do whatever I could for him, and love him completely and unconditionally for the rest of my life. That feeling stays with me, always there underneath me, and it’s the best feeling ever. I have never loved my wife as much as at that moment either, I just couldn't believe what we had made together.

After a few moments of him being there, probably seconds but it felt like hours, he was bundled into this big machine and was griddled like some sort of kebab to keep him warm.

But at this point Lucy had to deliver the placenta. Retrospectively we think the placenta was ruptured, which is where the bleed came from. Which is actually pretty badass, a friend told me afterwards that she basically pushed so hard she exploded the placenta. After about a minute of Albert coming out there was an almightly splashing sound, like someone had poured a bucket of water on the floor, and at this point I was crying so much I could barely see or understand what was happening, but the placenta came right out and everyone jumped back as to avoid getting blood splashes on their shoes. Lucy had a tear down there and there wasn’t time to do a Hippopotamus cut or whatever it’s called, so she needed some stitches. While she was having that done she told me to go and see Albert and see how he was and I was torn between being at my wife’s side going through this all, and seeing my boy again. But she asked me to go see him so I had to walk round Lucy to get there, and got an accidental glance of what the scene was down there. The less said about that the better, it looked like something out of a Rambo film with all the gore. Lucy lost a litre of blood in the end and I am sure most of that was on the floor. And being fully honest, at some point I had a smudge on my glasses I had to clean off later. We remember at this point the consultant speaking to a student about the stitches, saying you had to match the bits up first before stitching them, like the most macarbe jigsaw puzzle you could think of.

Anyhow, I went round and got to see my son, little Albert again, under the kebab machine, and he was being cleaned off and wrapped up and he looked at me and held my finger with his hand and I just cried and thanked everyone and kept yelling at Lucy that he was ok. He looked like Gollum but he was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, and my heart just swelled with pride and love. I am not too sure what happened then really, it's all in a haze. They cleaned up and almost everyone left and they put the bed back together, and he was all wrapped up and with Lucy and I just hugged her and him and it was a perfect moment, no sillyness in sight or mind.

So here is the little chap again!

Once Albert was finally delivered ok I was so relieved that he was working properly and had a head and all his limbs, and Lucy was going to be ok and was in loads less pain, I relaxed and felt a whole lot better. Time to get on with being a daddy! But first, more waiting! It took a few hours to get up to the ward so we could have visitors and Albert could meet the rest of his family. I didn't mind this rest though as everyone was bloody knackered so we all needed a rest, especially Lucy. I was glad I could put my leg up as well as it was about to drop off.

During that time I got to put on his first nappy! It wasn’t that hard to do really, the midwife helped. Since then I have become more experienced with nappies and I’m really not sure how they work. They seem to have some sort of magical Velcro glue on them that isn’t sticky until it touches another part of the nappy, then it sticks fast. There’s some science going on there, either that or magic as it doesn't seem to stick to anything else. A baby’s first poo is basically black tar. It’s called Meconium (not sure how to spell it, but I’m not googling it, I’ve seen enough of it!) and not Semi-Colon poo which I first though. Meconium sounds like some sort of weird element like Kryptonite, that weakens superheroes. Really it just weakens the sidewalls of your nostrils and loosens your stomach.

The effect Meconium-Kryptonite has on humans:

Eventually we got onto the ward, which wasn’t too pleasant to be honest. What seemed like every hour a different midwife came in and we had to explain everything to them over and over again. It was like 30 degrees so I slow cooked like a Kleftiko for the next day and sweated my way through 3 t-shirts, especially when holding Albert as I didn’t realise before how much heat a baby generates. They are little heat machines, it’s like holding hot water bottle that moves, or a burrito wrapped in foil that cries. No wonder the machines in the Matrix used them as batteries.

We had tried to breast feed him but every midwife told us a different way, and 2 midwifes even had an argument in front of us about the best way to do it, yanking Lucy’s boobs around left, right and centre. Eventually someone actually thought to check Albert’s mouth and the poor chap had a tongue tie. This made me think of the tongue-tie song from Red Dwarf (watch it HERE), but it’s actually quite common in babies and means it can stop them feeding off the boob. It means that little bit of skin that joins your tongue to the bottom of your mouth is too far along. A specialist saw him and said she could do a little procedure on his tongue and sort it out right away. So I went with him, and he was basically wrapped up and a lady cut his tongue up with some scissors. It sounds well grim but he only cried twice then feel asleep pretty much straight away and there was 2 drops of blood, so respect to Albert on that one. If someone tried to cut up my tongue with scissors I would tell them to f*ck off.

Tongue Tied:

Back on the ward someone had forgotten to put an electronic tag on him, so it’s a good job he can’t walk or he could have just wandered off without anyone noticing. Eventually they put one on his ankle and he looked like he had an ASBO and was on day release from prison. The cord was still attached at this point and it looked like a Twiglet sticking out of his belly button. It’s come off now and all looks normal which is awesome! I think he has an innie brewing. 

Lucy had 1 overnight stay in that oven, and eventually it got so much that we decided to discharge herself and come home. The nurses didn’t really want this as he hadn’t fed off the boob, but we have just been bottle feeding him since then and he is absolutely fine. He has had several checks since at home and his weight is fine and he is all ok and is a perfect baby!

Overall the birth was one hell of a ride. I made my predictions HERE and to be honest, most of them were what I thought, but the actual birth was so much more real and intense, no amount of thinking about it beforehand prepared me adequately, and no amount of writing can describe my emotions at the time and exactly what it was like, it was like ‘Nam, you had to be there.

Predictions of the birth beforehand:

-          Emotions. Love, Excitement, Fear, Hope, Relief.

Plenty of these, complete overload of them! 1 point.

-          Not to be like anything on TV.

The shouting bits were the same, TV doesn’t get across all the waiting around, the emotions, the bloody mess and the temperature of the ward however. ½ point.

-          It be a long process.

100% correct on this! 31 and a half hours in total. * YAWN * 1 point.

-          Epidural (just for Lucy)

There was an epidural for Lucy, but it only half worked half the time. I opted out of one. ¾ point.

-          Free gas and air.

Oh yeah there was G&A, and it was free! 1 point for the G&A, bonus point for trying to swallow my own head.

-          A normal 'push and plop' delivery.

It was normal up until the end, then it all went tits up.  Sound the alarm! ½ point.

-          To cut the cord.

I cut it and I didn’t injure anyone. 1 point.

-          A life changing moment

Yes, consider my life suitably changed for the better! 1 point.

So in total that is 7 ¾ points on the prediction scale. Pretty good going! Albert looks impressed!

And that is about it for the birth post! It’s now been 2 and a half weeks since the birth and everything is going amazingly. Being a dad is even more special than I thought, and I love spending time just holding him and looking at him, he is such a brilliant boy, he has already changed so much and got his own personality. Plus people are saying he looks like me! Probably because he is bald and has chubby cheeks. I don’t feel changed as such, I feel like the same person I was before, but like I’ve just had all these extra bits added on to me to make me even more awesome, just like Iron Man. I will always remember when he came out like it was yesterday, what a moment. I love you Albert, welcome to the Family Bishop!