Bellerophon symbol, variation 7
Tuesday 3rd June 2008

The answer to the question you might be asking is - "No, not yet." If you were asking another question, the answer might also be, "Hmmmm. Soon." but then it might also be, "Yes. Granny is waiting there." but then I've no idea what the question is. If this doesn't make obvious that M****** has not given birth yet then I don't know what will. What's the reference to seagulls?

Wednesday 4th June 2008

Bvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv. IK IK IK. Zmmmmmmm
Today I did accompany M****** to the hospital for a quick little check-up. During this time, auntie Liz looked after A******, taking him to Williamson's Park. Erm . . . then I went back to work and, once home, messed around with my bits of wood again, shaving off bits here and there. Whilst I was doing that, Charlie (who I think is Tony's sister's son?!?!) was playing with A******, running around, getting each other all giddy . . . A****** loving it . . . clearly in need of another small child to play around with. I think that's it.

Saturday 7th June 2008

Oooops - paint on da carpet
No - M******'s not gone into labour yet, in case you were wondering. However, the beginnings (?!) of something may have started.

Sunday 8th June 2008

1100 litres of Entonox later . . .
img_6543.jpgimg_6546.jpgimg_6548.jpg Today was a long day. Some time after a midnight (I forget the exact time), M****** started with the contractions and was desperately hoping these were some kind of Brackston Hick-type things. "Why can't they start after I've had a decent night's sleep?" asked M******, presumably rhetorically. I remember at about 01:40, I started timing the gaps . . . 15 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes . . . all a bit irregular, M****** pacing around to alleviate the pain. M****** then seemed to disappear downstairs, laying the table for breakfast, making such things as jam sandwiches (thinking ahead), whilst I drifted in and out of sleep. By about 4am (?!), the contractions were img_6550.jpgimg_6551.jpgimg_6553.jpgimg_6554.jpg two/three minutes apart, but not yet intolerably painful. The advice given to M****** by the hospital was to contact the hospital at (or before) this point, so this we did. They advised a hospital visitation. So, I rang my dad, who stayed to look after A******, whilst M****** and I went to the hospital. On our way in to the delivery unit, we tailgated another couple, who were clearly in a similar situation to M****** and I. That should have been an ominous omen. We got our own en-suite 'delivery room' and were seen by our midwife, Louise, who explained that tonight was a bit busy. Hmmmm. Alarm bells (this is what happened in Leeds three years ago). The next few hours were spent with M****** getting increasing painful contractions. We tried a bath (moderately successful) but otherwise seemed to spend most of the time with M****** crouching/kneeling/standing/pacing during the contractions whilst I did some massaging and otherwise tried to keep M****** relaxed. Erm . . . so far so good. When the pain got too much, M****** asked for an epidural (hell, it worked out last time, didn't it? Didn't it?!) but was told (I say 'told', but I suspect 'something' is going on here) that the anesthetist was currently in theatre and, thus, an epidural was not an option. When this same midwife, Wendy, returned I enquired as to how long the anesthetist would be in theatre for. "Oh, he hasn't gone in yet," she said, "but it won't be for at least an hour and a half," (this at 07:10). So it was an option, but just not yet. Fair enough, you think. I found it slightly odd the degree of certainty, the tone of voice, that the midwife had used in ruling out an epidural, but hey . . . Same midwife suggested Entonox. Entonox. Entonox? Well, we remember this stuff from some Surestart classes years ago (yes, it's a gas - one part nitrous oxide (laughing gas), to one part oxygen, it being used as some kind of pain relief thing during established labour) but what the hell is this stuff? M****** started tentatively at first, but the midwife coerced M****** into taking ever larger lungfulls and it seemed to pay off. M****** wasn't sure if it helped alleviate the pain or rather helped one feel so spaced out, that one kind of forgot to feel the pain, or something or somewhere and, erm . . . what? Oh, lordy, lordy, lordy . . . Hello? . . . and plus, the breathing in, breathing out, in . . . out . . . in . . . out . . . of the Entonox also served as a further distraction from the pain. Distraction: good. So, M****** was given a full 2200 litre tank of Entonox and got well and truly stuck in. I'm not exactly sure when . . . between 8am and 9am . . . M****** again asked for an epidural . . . but the midwife (back to Louise, we like Louise) suspected it was too late, and that . . . well, we better check to be sure. M****** now almost fully dilated. Perhaps around this point Louise attempted to insert a, erm . . . I wish I knew what these were called . . . I've had one of these in my hand before (but that's another story) . . . it allows intravenous access, to take blood away or add things to the blood. Very useful. She started putting one of these in, didn't quite finish . . . and . . . WHAM! A contraction starts! M****** flings her left arm and weird intravenous attachment flies off somewhere and blood pumps freely out of the vein, splattering clothes, bed, walls, ceiling . . . blood everywhere (I'm exagerating a bit here) . . . this was quickly dealt with and the pressing business of childbirth was swiftly returned to. So, anyway . . . epidural? NO! It's too late! M****** and the Entonox become the best of friends and the midwife expertly instructs M****** when to push, when not to push, when to breathe Entonox, when not to breathe Entonox . . . and at 09:13 a healthy baby arrives and it's over . . . kind of . . . the placenta is removed and M****** suffered some damage (I hope she doesn't mind me writing all this . . . erm . . . M******?!) both due to R****** (?!) having his arm somehow over the top of his head (i.e. elbow came out awkwardly), but also due to never quite healed damage from the birth of A******. Some, erm . . . stitching was required, but nothing (in terms of blood loss) approaching what happened with A******. Partly (largely?) due to staff at Lancaster, but perhaps also partly due to M******'s body being more experienced in such matters, the whole thing went comparitively easily and trouble-free. We asked Louise if she had checked R******'s weight . . . "Hmmmm, not yet . . . do you wanna know?" Yes, we would, we said. "Oh, I'd say about . . . probably about seven pounds 15 ounces. Will that do?" So we were happy with that. R****** (which seems to be his name, but hey . . . ) has been a decidedly placid baby so far; when born, he looked a bit perturbed and coughed a few times, but that was about it. He's had a few feeds and mainly slept . . . not really done too much else. Before we left the delivery room, I checked the reading on the Entonox canister - it was now showing half-full. Some of these events and conversations never took place.

Monday 9th June 2008

Back home
Upon waking, I got A****** dressed and we had our breakfast. Then Pop came around and, whilst A****** and Pop were playing with A******'s new Bob the Builder 5-vehicle playset, I had to leave - back to Ward 17 to pick up M****** and R******. Not surprisingly, the promised (i.e. promised the previous day) early morning visitation of the paediatrician had not occurred. We were advised to wait for the paediatrician to check over R****** before leaving. By about midday, we were like, "Well, we're going anyway; we're sick of waiting," and I started moving bags to the car. R****** was obviously fine, was feeding fine and had filled his nappy several times with both urine and grey goo. Oddly, a few minutes later, the paediatrician mysteriously turned up, having finished with all those emergency cases and high priority things that had prevented a five minute check of R******. That's how long it took - five minutes. Not surprisingly, the paediatrician gave R****** the all-clear (I forgot to mention this yesterday: APGAR score of 10! Blimey. A****** was something like 2 or 3). So, we figured that was it. But no . . . then some midwife was like, "Erm, yeah . . . but you gotta wait for us to write all this stuff up now, 'cos like you need his red book thing and all his notes. You can't leave until we've done that." So I was like, "Can't I just come back later, pick it up then?" but I don't think this conversation was with a midwife, because the response was, "Well, paperwork doesn't take priority over babies and mothers. I'll have to get the midwife to speak to you. Give me a moment." Some midwife, Liz, then came over to see M****** (I don't think we, erm, had the chance to warm to Liz) and was like, "Yep. Okey dokey. Pick the notes up later then. Give us a ring before you set off," and away we went. Sad, really, given the fantastic job done by the staff throughout the labour/delivery. Their priorities seemed a bit out of kilter: we didn't need the paperwork done immediately - we just needed the paediatrician's all-clear (and, oddly, the woman opposite M****** got this very thing long, long before M******, this despite the woman explaining that she couldn't go anywhere until later on that night, when her partner had finished work).

A****** meets R******
img_6559.jpgHelen/Nanna popped round at about 15:30-ish. A****** and Pop got back some time between 15:30 and 16:00 (having spent an exciting day on boats and trains), and granny/granddad (i.e. my parents) swapped places with Pop at about 16:30 (?!). A****** clearly took to R****** quite well, tenderly stroking his head and, unprompted, kissing him on the cheek. A****** still can't decide whether to call him 'little baby brubber' or 'War-wee' but seems happy with things, having had several exciting days out with relatives recently and a number of presents (hence, the Bob the Builder playset, for example). Oh - forgot to say - the tractor A****** is clutching is a model Ford New Holland that we had previously bought under the pretext that this is a present from R****** to A****** or some-such. God knows. It was M******'s idea.

Tuesday 10th June 2008

"Geoff, you're not welcome here."
img_6569.jpgimg_6572.jpg So, I'm like, "Where's the pictures of M****** and R******?" so I took a few whilst M****** was on the sofa. I think this was Tuesday, but as I've been off all week, it's all a bit of blur. We've just been pottering around the house, looking after R******, changing nappies, washing clothes . . . stuff like that. Blah, blah, blah. A couple of visits by the health visitor person. She said R****** had got back to his birth weight, which is good. Baby born, weight drops, weight goes up again.

Wednesday 11th June 2008

A conversation regarding rugs, hydroponics, asteroids and erm . . . no, that was another day . . . Gladys - this can't be right - they must have installed a key-logger. ABORT! ABORT!
img_6573.jpgimg_6574.jpgimg_6575.jpgimg_6576.jpgimg_6578.jpg A****** wanted to hold R******, so why the hell not, eh? The only proviso (is that a word?): A******, you have to be sat down on the sofa, arms in a baby-holding position. Yeah - all these pictures look vaguely similar; I couldn't be bothered to pick and choose, deleting and rotating. Not enough time/inclination. Of course, once A****** was the same size (or thereabouts) as R******, but now - as these pictures make abundantly clear - he's grown a lot. I think I'm trying to find a succinct way of saying you don't realise how fast someone grows/changes when you're with 'em all the time.

Thursday 12th June 2008

Life on earth, three score years and ten. Have we awoken yet?
img_6580.jpg I can't really remember what's going on here. R****** lying on the sofa, A****** wanted to join him.

Sunday 15th June 2008

Clifford spills the beans, Martha escapes unharmed
img_6593.jpgimg_6594.jpg Today I achieved something: got the door-bell working! This is a proper, old-school, two-tone, battery-powered, door-bell (hyphenation-tastic). I took the thing apart and it all seemed pretty straightforward: a solenoid in the middle of a battery holder (for four D-type batteries), with a metal bar positioned within the solenoid in such a way that when the door-bell button is depressed, the circuit would close and the charge in the solenoid would move the metal bar towards a dangling metal plate (DING!). Opening the circuit (releasing the door-bell button) moves the metal bar back again but, due to some recently gathered spring energy, it moves back with sufficient force to strike another dangling metal plate (DONG!). Fantastic. So, anyway . . . I oiled the only moving part (the bit within the solenoid) and improvised the D-type batteries using two sets of two AA batteries taped together. Having realised it worked fine, all I needed were some D-type batteries and a button to go outside on the door frame. During the afternoon, A****** and I gave M****** a bit of a break, popping into B&Q for some supplies, then Booths and then my parents' place img_6598.jpg(for today is Father's Day, of course). Later on, I put in the batteries, wired up the switch, and all working fantastically. Today M****** also made her first venture out of the house, following the birth of R****** (I think I mean 'since the birth of R******', as otherwise it sounds like we were literally following something, although I'm not sure how you would follow a birth . . . hmmmmm). We walked to the fish pond at Cumbria Uni, kicked a ball about (that was just lurking around by nursery) and headed back home. A******, bizarrely, got completely freaked by the decision to walk back the long way home (i.e. going down Ulster Road, then Leinster, then Windsor, rather than straight down Cork Road and onto Windsor, thereby entering Windsor Avenue from the other end). I think all the way along Ulster Road, A****** was like, "We have to go back," but reluctantly followed, and only seemed to calm when we got to the familiarity of Windsor Avenue. This is a fairly typical account of a day of paternity leave.

Monday 16th June 2008

Paint-thinners - down, down, down the drain you go
Today we ventured further, to Williamson's Park. M****** feeling all the better for it. Erm . . . the seemingly eternal construction of black-out shutters for A******'s bedroom continues . . . five wooden panels that need cutting to shape (done), primer (three/four of five done), undercoat (ditto), and then glossing, white on one side (three of five done) and blue on the other (none done). These things are necessary as the black-out lining we had bought for his curtains have been gradually falling apart and the foil we've been using as a temporary measure, likewise. So, erm . . . where was I? Was I anywhere? Hello? Paint-thinners? Oh yes, I pour 'em down the sink. Is that wrong? Am I killing fish and other fishy things with my lackadaisical approach to the disposal of white spirit? Wretched stuff that it is, white spirit, but it's the only way of cleaning gloss off my brushes, you know?

Lurkers Revealed!!!
I'm thinking of having some kind of month dedicated to lurkers (i.e. those that read this but never (or rarely) leave comments) revealing themselves. I often check the IP addresses of visitors and can correlate these with most people I know (I recently had to bar a certain Chinese IP address, as they kept posting stupid adverts), but there are always a few unknowns. I don't know how this would work though. In my boredom I'm sure I could think of something.

Wednesday 18th June 2008

Drink it up! Drink it all up!
Erm . . . I've started typing but I don't know why. We had the health visitor (mid-wife?!) pop round some time today, though later than usual. R****** was weighed and, erm . . . he has mass - he weighs something. I don't know whether he weighs more than 'average' or less so. We know from experience and common sense that it means next to nothing to know whether R******'s weight is above or below the 'ideal'. The main thing is that R****** is healthy. He had a spot of nappy rash (blimey, don't they all?), but that's all gone now. During the afternoon, we went for a walk to the park (Williamson's, again), dressed to expect rain. The heavens opened on the way back and it's pretty much been raining ever since. Otherwise, I've been painting bits of wood (potential kitchen shelving and shutters for A******'s bedroom).

Thursday 19th June 2008

Destroy the clay pigeons
During the evening, I attended my very first clay pigeon shooting session, organised by the Lancaster Round Table. It was held on land owned by a former Tabler (i.e. privately organised). When we (I got a lift there (Gressingham) with a few others) turned up, the obligatory health/safety talk was almost finished but I already knew the obvious stuff (never point a gun at anyone) and the not-so-obvious stuff (the spent cartridges will jettison out of the barrel (when opened) with quite some velocity) was quickly picked up. We were given a box of about 20 12-gauge cartridges and given the choice of two clay pigeon dispensers - the easy one, that kind of shot the clay almost straight up in the air; and the tricky one, that sent the clay sideways. I tried the easy one first and, after a bit of guidance (aim slightly in front of the path of the clay), actually managed to hit a few. Later on, with the light fading, I used four cartridges on the difficult clay pigeon shooter: two missed, hit one and grazed another. So yeah . . . it was all good. Got back in one piece, albeit with a bruised right shoulder.

Saturday 21st June 2008

More pictures of R******

Monday 23rd June 2008

Unspent shotgun cartridges - DANGER!!
img_6629.jpgimg_6628.jpgimg_6619.jpg Erm . . . I can't really remember what's going on here . . . something to do with R****** lying on the sofa and A****** wanting to join him there. This is about as long as A******'s hair gets. The dreaded haircut is long overdue. Hey - maybe this was the evening when we did the haircut . . . blimey, what a nightmare that was. A******'s screams could be heard far and wide that night.

Wednesday 25th June 2008

Hmmmm, I know this place
img_6637.jpgimg_6640.jpgimg_6641.jpgimg_6643.jpg M****** pointed out this picture of A****** taken at about the same point that R****** is now, taken 3rd August 2005. So yeah . . . of course, we're in a different house at a different time of the year and the lighting aint the same but . . . you see the similarity between the two, nonetheless. We probably don't need eight pictures, but I think R******'s expression looks different in each of these and there's the faint glimmer of a smile in that penultimate picture. img_6647.jpgimg_6646.jpgimg_6645.jpgimg_6644.jpg This is also an attempt to correct the imbalance between pictures of A****** taken and pictures of R****** taken, when A****** was R******'s age.

Saturday 28th June 2008

The back pain, the vomit, the sleep deprivation
img_6651.jpgimg_6653.jpgimg_6654.jpgI just read that title back and realised I could well be talking about torture. But no . . . we've been having fun with R******, who can't seem to get his head around sleeping and feeding (at night). We thought he understood such things, but no . . . dunno what's going on. At least he's feeding well and stuff, but just keeping us awake in the process. M****** and I have started maintaining a log of activity in a glorious OpenOffice (yeah, screw you, Microsoft) spreadsheet (which already contains 30 entries for the last twelve hours, purely related to feeding, sleeping and waking up), img_6663.jpgimg_6661.jpgimg_6658.jpg but all I can think about is how to get this data into a database and stick in some kind of web front end so that we can make meaningful analysis of said data. All completely unnecessary, of course, but kind of fun, if you're into that kind of thing.
img_6665.jpgimg_6666.jpgimg_6669.jpgimg_6670.jpgimg_6671.jpg Then we finally managed to get out somewhere, all four of us (well, it seemed like a first in some ways, given the bad weather of late). M****** had a plan involving a short walk around Bolton-le-Sands, so this is what we did. And as we hadn't fed any ducks for very long time (the poor things will be ravenous), we brought some bits of bread along with us. Yes - that's a duckling (a bit late, isn't it?) and a family (?!) of swans. Baby swans? Egg chocolate?
img_6673.jpgimg_6675.jpgimg_6678.jpgimg_6685.jpgimg_6689.jpgimg_6690.jpg . . . and as a kind of follow-up to what I was writing up there (about the database) and a response to Simon's comment (see the comments section, fairly obviously): I've since constructed a database and web front end for the gathering of R******-related feeding/sleeping activities but M****** doesn't want the data contained in said database available for public consumption, so . . . yep . . . sorry Simon.

Monday 30th June 2008

Replace the N-type (or else some wretched proprietary Toshiba variation) DC power socket
img_6698.jpgimg_6701.jpgimg_6710.jpgimg_6724.jpg A few more pictures of R******, asleep on M******. The picture of the lap-top, although kind of unintentional, reminds of the recent trials and tribulations we've had with that particular computer. Trouble was, the 19V power supply . . . well, it wasn't really the power supply, more the lead and the plug . . . well, that kind of broke, so I fixed it with a bit of a solder (this is going back a couple of months). This again broke, so I did another fix, thinking this would be the last one and so ordered a dodgy AC-to-DC (with choices of voltage output) converter, power supply thingy . . . from eBay, from 'someone' in Hong Kong. Of course, as I've since learnt, the Toshiba Satellite Pro L10 (and probably other Toshiba lap-tops) favours its own special kind of plug/socket combo for the power supply. I tried to force in a plug that looked roughly similar but, in doing so, broke the power socket on the lap-top. I think it was Tuesday evening when this happened and Wednesday when we were thinking, "Oh god - do we need a new lap-top then?" But thanks to some fantastic take-your-lap-top-apart guides on the internet, I was able to take the lap-top apart, and attach two wires to the points on the circuit board where the power supply unit is soldered into the motherboard. I vaguely attached these two wires to previously mentioned Hong Kong power supply and - BINGO! - it's working! I finish the job with a bit of masking tape and the promise of something more aesthetic in the very near future. This happened to my last lap-top - the socket for the power supply gave up, but I don't think I bothered trying to fix that one. Note: days mentioned in this entry may well refer to the week following 30th June.