Being Dad

Being a father is fraught with danger…

Sleep March 26, 2012

Filed under: Dad Blog,Parenting — Tim @ 8:30 am

Sleep. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the sleep deprived Dad.

Sleep is necessary. It’s so essential that according to the Geneva Convention, you can’t deny a prisoner of war sleep. Babies, it seems, are not signatories to this treaty.

Even a baby that sleeps well will wake up. New babies need food, lots of food; and they need this food at hugely inappropriate times. Missy has a keen sense of her surroundings, so food is generally demanded just as the rugby kicks off, or when sensible people are fast asleep.

I have to admit, I was conned a bit by the baby books: two hours between feeds they said. OK I can deal with that, but what they don’t say (or more likely what I didn’t get around to reading), was the bit that the ‘two hours’ is from the start of the feed, not the end. Ie if your child takes an hour to get what is for us a couple of mouthfuls of milk down, 1 hour later you are back on the job.

This hardly seems fair. I’m expected to survive on 3 meals a day, and snacking is not only frowned upon it is downright discouraged. Babies can have 8 meals a day, and seemingly have them whenever they want They just have to look in your general direction and stare you down with the unspoken promise of screaming, to get you up and frantically making a warm bottle of milk.

At night, like a prowling thief, my daughter will wait till all is quiet, my wife and I sinking into the sleep any parents will know, when food is demanded. To be fair, sometimes it’s a nappy issue – apparently leaving my daughter to sleep in her own filth isn’t “good parenting”. Stupid books.

Rubbing it in, Missy started out as the perfect child; she was a textbook baby. My beautiful daughter decided to sleep 8 hours a night when she was a mere 8 weeks old…lulling us into a false sense of security and sleepy happiness. After a period of relative ease and dream filled nights, she must have sensed our contentment; and possibly my idle boasting to unimpressed and sleepless friends.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, the angel baby started to wake up during the night. Well, when I say wake, I actually mean stir. You see Missy is a busy sleeper. She talks in her sleep and moves constantly round her cot, getting caught in corners and up against the sides.

So now my dreamy nights are a lot less dreamy, as I get up to reposition or to untangle her.  Central to this is the fact that Missy generally sleeps through the process and so she wakes each morning refreshed and ready to play. Her bleary eyed parents are greeted with a smile and a wave, a smile and a wave that erases all the pain and weariness of the night before.

That’s just not fair!


Travel March 19, 2012

Filed under: Dad Blog,Parenting — Tim @ 8:24 am

Travelling with children is like juggling hand grenades; all is fine as long as the pins stay in.

For an expat, when a child is born, the first to do list generally looks something like this:

1) Take baby home from hospital

2) Get passport

3) Buy cot

It’s imperative to get your child onto a plane as soon as you can. You need to do this to be able to give the knowing nods, and appropriate sighs, when talking to other parents about horror plane trips.

Missy was a mere 4 months old when my wife and I decided to venture into the world of travelling with children. We were sort of pushed rather than jumped as friends were in Vietnam and they wanted to meet our new daughter. I sent them a photograph, but it seems that’s not quite the same.

So one fine day we presented ourselves to the airport, having done the impossible and secured a bassinet seat, to start our first plane trip as parents. While we were boarding, the range of stares we were getting struck me. Now Missy is quite the beautiful baby, no really, I’m not just saying that, so we were used to being stopped and she was getting use to being patted and pinched. We had the usual “what a beautiful baby, lucky she looks like her mother,” when I detected an undercurrent – an undercurrent of resentment and annoyance.

We were getting the evil eye from some of our fellow passengers. “How strange?” I thought, as I watched my angel going gracefully down the aisle snuggled into mum. Then it hit me, business travellers and babies just don’t mix. I could read their minds: “if that baby cries…” There were people on this plane who didn’t think we should be there, and suddenly I realized I use to be one of them.

It all came back to me; nestled in my seat with champagne in hand and book at the ready, firing off life threatening emails that simply can’t wait, when on comes a baby. “If that baby cries…!” I use to think. Back then it all seemed so important; having to be asked 5 times to turn off your phone, getting that last email off as the plane rolled down the runway and giving annoying glances at parents who’s children make the slightest sound.

Mercifully for our first flight little Missy granted us the gift of a smooth and relatively relaxing time. Our plane landed and she had slept, ate and poo’d all in the correct order and in the correct amounts.

We have subsequently been on some fortitude testing and exhausting flights, but getting past the first one is an important step to take. Now I get on planes, smile at the people who say “what a beautiful baby, lucky she looks like her mother” and to the business travellers who think: “if that baby cries…” I look at them, and think back, “If you don’t turn that Blackberry off…”


The doctor is not fun March 15, 2012

Filed under: Dad Blog,Parenting — Tim @ 9:31 am

The doctor is not fun for Missy.

It’s quite the injustice. She arrives at this new and exciting place; there are plenty of toys to eat and pretty ladies in uniform fuss around. A matronly figure then calls out and the fun stops. Taken off, Missy is weighed, measured and manhandled in quite an unfriendly way. Then the ultimate injustice, as dad and the lovely doctor make happy faces, a 2 inch sharpened piece of steel is plunged into her thigh. That’s enough to make the hardiest infant cry. No wonder waiting rooms are full of sobbing babies, its not sickness that’s the problem, it’s the outrage of the steel spike.

There are times we have taken Missy for check-ups that stand out. The first was when she was very young. Poor baby had been upset for a while and we were trying everything – nappy changes, cuddling, rocking, warmer clothes, cooler clothes, nothing seemed to work. Finally at 2am we decided to head to the hospital. Now I can tell you, bringing in a 3-month old baby at 2am really gets things moving – nurses and doctors came from all directions. We explained the problem. Our angel baby, who just doesn’t cry, is crying! The doctor peered into ears and mouth looking concerned as he checked her over. He asked us if we have other children. “No” we answered, “has she been fed?” he asks…

With a sigh and a shake of his head, he mumbles “new parents”

New parents panic, we don’t think. A friend once told me with your first child, every cough, every yawn, every strange look is monitored and interpreted as an imminent catastrophe. By the second you are more comfortable they are a hardy species and by your third child, they could be on fire and you probably wouldn’t notice.

Then we had “the incident”. Missy and my wife both needed to see the doctor. I took baby in while Mum saw her doctor. After they were done I picked up all the medication Inexplicably I was then left in charge, taking control of dosage and delivery of medicines for our cherub and her minor ailment. It seemed easy enough, it was written down after all. Three boxes:

1) “Take one, three times a day.” Simple.

2) “Take two, morning and night.” Even simpler.

3) “Take one, once a day.” This was the problem – should it be morning, midday or night?

Now after many years of resisting directions from above, I realized I needed to ask my wife. A wrong dosage just wouldn’t do. So I rang her, explaining the situation. She asked the name of the medicine. Then it went downhill, rapidly.

“I don’t think our daughter needs to be on the Pill just yet” she replied. This of course has created much merriment at my expense with friends. At Christmas, my daughter and a friends’ boy were playing in her cubby, “don’t worry,” my wife giggled to his parents, “she’s on the Pill.”

The doctor is not fun for Missy – or me.


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