Birth Day

The contractions began in earnest Wednesday evening, none of those Braxton Hicks affairs, actual, ‘ooh, these hurt’ ones -get me with my ‘Braxton Hicks’ as if I’m some sort of bloody expert. These are, essentially, test contractions… I have to say you learn a lot of new words during this pregnancy lark, not that I can think of any at this moment.

Luckily I was a bit pissed so it wasn’t until the following day the gravity of what might actually be happening began to sink into my psyche. It still didn’t seem real, so I did my best to sort-of put it away. That Thursday evening I spared myself too many glasses of the shitty vino from Tesco, just in case… On Friday morning at 5.30am I woke up in an empty bed with the better half mechanically getting dressed, ‘we need to go to the hospital, now,’ she said with disturbing calm. I really didn’t want to.

Recalling the hours and hours (and bloody hours) that followed the short 6am cab ride to the maternity wing are akin to re-imagining that peculiar mental space that follows a deep dream-laden sleep during which one’s mind attempts to grasp broken narratives and assemble profound, sinister imagery. There was this imposed timelessness that made everything weird and unfamiliar. Against my better nature I tried to read ‘In Plain sight’ (that book about Jimmy Savile) while the back of mind distracted itself by asking why I was reading ‘In Plain Sight’ (that book about Jimmy Savile) on a maternity wing. After a while the back of my mind took precedence. That and that constant disruption from materteral midwives, and my poor missus groaning in agony, wasn’t conducive to reading about a bloke I’d always suspected was a wrong cock.

At 4pm we were transferred to another room (just as spacious, albeit a little more austere) in order for the better half to receive an epidural. Here on in she’d be confined to bed and both her and the unborn child monitored closely. Time continued to move at its own soporific pace, day turned to dusk to night, Savile abused some more girls, I made yet another trip to the Costa/WH Smiths on the floor below and, mostly, fretted. Around midnight, having been in the hospital for some 18 hours already, we were informed that the contractions had begun to slow -not increase as is the norm- and the whole aspect of our predicament took on a very dark turn. Suddenly there were mutterings of an induction (or something) and another drip was hastily attached, the activity in our room intensified along with our concerns, at 1.30am a doctor and one, two or even three midwives began to fuss about my recumbent missus. ‘We need to deliver this baby now,’ said the doctor to her charges. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be sick, I decided that I shouldn’t as it might be seen as counter-productive. I literally thought that, by the way.

On strict instructions from my missus I remained away from the business-end of things, I turned my back on all that stuff downstairs and faced the better-half as she tried to push. Being full of narcotics she couldn’t actually feel anything so was reliant on what she’d been taught in one of those endless pre-natal classes, and not me weakly saying ‘push’. The doctor encouraged her to push with more conviction so she continued to push away as I forced my gaze away from the strange splishy noises southwards. There was a fuck of a lot of red in the corner of my eye.

I wasn’t sure if I was in a position to comment on how things were going when the doctor asked if it was okay if they ‘helped things along’. What do you mean? Forceps? No… Apparently the baby has turned around, throughout the entire pregnancy its been the right way, now, right at the bloody end, it’s back is pressing against its mothers spine. This isn’t good.

Are we going to have a C-section? PUSH! PUSH…!

Would you like the baby, on your tummy? What me? Why would I want a b…

FUCKINGHELLABABYISTHERE!

The baby was just lying there, crying loudly on his mum’s tummy, I lost my shit for a moment. I cut his cord with remote viewing which spurted blood all over the blood that was covered in more blood. The room looked like a cow had been hit with a mortar round, the missus looked like she was radiating ethereal light, I looked at everything, I saw the two-foot long stainless steel forceps just out of reach of the smiling doctor. It was properly fucked-up; it was 2am.

I really can’t remember what happened immediately after this, we went downstairs and wound up on a ward by the window and Flora, the lovely big midwife who’d been looking after us all night long, kissed my wife goodbye and went on her way. Christ, what if it’s deaf?

Throughout the night, then morning and finally the afternoon, people came and went, checking in on us and the baby who was sleeping in a little see-through cot. Or blind. I drifted in and out of sleep. Okay, it’s def. not deaf, they just tested… Is it blind though? ‘Probably not’, the doctor said. But it still might be. Fuck, that’s my son! There, sleeping in a cot! And not deaf (and probably not blind).

Over 34 hours later, we were allowed to take our baby home. I called us a cab and 20 minutes later we were walking through the front door with our son asleep in a car seat. How had this happened? (That was a rhetorical question employed to convey an ethereal sense of disbelief. I can assure you, I know exactly what had happened so don’t write in.)

It’s not blind by the way.

Boys’ Night

One Saturday evening, a few weeks after the boy was born, the better-half went out for the evening without her baby. This was the first time in almost ten months that she had been out, free o’child, in any conceivable incarnation, and she’d left me in charge. Irrespective of my maturing years this was a daunting task. I may be of a certain middling age but in terms of being a responsible adult I’m in my infancy. I called on the services of my bro, more for moral support than anything else, he’s no more known as the side-parted side-warden than I.

The evening had been optimistically billed as our very first ‘boys’ night in’ featuring the newly realised son/nephew. I’d made some pizza base, cut some toppings and stocked up on fresh chicken; the idea was to cook off some tucker and watch a horror-based movie whilst stuffing our gobs and enjoying a few gentle glasses of beer. The missus, in readiness for her short night on the tiles, had spent the previous couple of days hooked up to the tit pump like a lovely Shorthorn cow in order to supply a necessary range of milks in case his Lordship required an additional evening meal following his mother departure. We’d decided that if the little fella was inconsolable at the time she was due to leave she’d cancel her plans and just stay in, as it happens he was fast asleep at the appropriate hour so she slipped off leaving my bro and I with a tiny baby.

If this sounds like the start of some ‘what could possibly go wrong!! LOL!’ scenario (starring Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill, or something) then you’re going to be very disappointed. What actually happened was inevitable, less than a minute after she’d shut the door the boy awoke, first to a mewl, progressing to a full-on please-make-it-stop scream.

I’m not sure how I’d have coped if it wasn’t for the patience of my bro, who seemed quite happy attempting to soothe a gaping mouth with all yells coming off it. I, on the other hand, sort of turned all houswifey and went about cleaning pots and preparing the dough and sauce for the promised pizza as if all was jolly and whatnot. ‘Whatshallwewatchbro?’ I cried cheerfully across the room, it was like trying to whisper over Napalm Death. We got as far as the menu of Netflix and that was it. My limited methods of (newly) tried/tested methods of ‘calming down a baby’ were coming to an end, to make matters worse the little sod had managed to actually piss himself off and had entered into a never ending cycle of ‘whose making that noise? Make it stop! Waahhhh!’ Factor in his lack of sleep and you’ve the worst possible recipe for any form of peace.

As his crying took on a more agonised hue, I seriously considered ringing the missus on her electronic mobile telephone -enjoying a gothic concert if you please- as she’d be the one to calm him down. My bro, still quietly attempting to comfort The Somme, suggested otherwise, ‘dontcallheryoudaftcunt’, he proffered over the din. But what to do? The kid was on the last bottle of milk after suddenly shouting down the previous one, the single can of beer that I’d been consuming was by now warm and I took time to note that I was stressed in a way that I’d not encountered in any previous form. How on earth had time to muse on this -let on earth make a quick note of it- is beyond me. The basic essence of this fortified stress was basic i.e. my kid is distressed, but sitting darkly beneath that an unknown danger, an inkling of something catastrophic, which continued to wind itself up the longer it took to calm him down. It was highly unpleasant.

Then all of a sudden, silence. He lay stretched out, half asleep, in his uncle’s arms, nonchalantly sucking away on the dwindling contents of his little bottle as if nothing had happened at all, the little shit.

Merciful peace and tranquility, and I could have a fresh beer… And now he’s completely fallen asleep! The missus walked into the room about thirty seconds later, into a completely artificial state of calm.

‘Its good he slept,’ she said.

 

 

Prequel Two

Some friends kindly gave us their son’s outgrown buggy/pram last Christmas. For weeks it was shoved in the corner of the hallway, in denial, in various bits. I decided to assemble it after imagining that the unborn child might like to see some outside shit only days before he was due to be in the spring.

After sorting out the basic components of the buggy, frame/wheels, base. Hood? And what was actually a car seat and nothing to do with the former parts, I got to work. An hour later and I’d managed to locate the mounting pegs for the top part and how to raise and lower the handlebars, or whatever they’re called, but that was it. I mean, it defied logic. Later that day I found myself in the park staring intently at kids’ prams in order to try and decipher the code of assemblage before concluding that checking this sort of thing on youtube carried a far lower risk of arrest. The youtube videos proved to be useless, some very suspect looking ‘dads’ from America extolling their own self-worth via the medium of how to fit a raincover as portentously as possible, was as unhelpful as it was infuriating. Eventually I realised I’d been deceived by how obvious it was from the off* and the new, complete, buggy was re-shoved in the corner of the hallway to await god-knows-what.

That had been one of a list of [hypothetical] dad-things I had to do. New room aside, I had to assemble drawers, cots, and shelves, fill gaps, drill holes, paint stuff, and secure a load of doors (cupboards and otherwise) so by the time the kid was the imaginary toddler I occasionally fretted about, he wouldn’t have access to dangerous potentials while he and his mother are in the pub.

I felt a bit weird about doing all those things. There is a very dark side of myself that feels that I’m somehow tempting fate. That aside, the hardest thing back then was the bloody wait. It was like waiting endlessly for take-off on a really shitty flight to somewhere you suspect will be quite nice.

By the way his new room -essentially, two stud walls and a door on one aspect of the lounge- is big enough to fit a double bed with a little bit of space to walk round two sides, and that’s about it. However, it’s superbly bright, airy, and has loads of space for pictures of motorbikes, skulls and Slayer. Obviously the better half had an opinion on this too, so only one wall has bikes on it (Barry Sheene, Carl Fogarty (signed, Carl and I, way back) and rather dubious ‘vintage’ metal plate featuring a café racer undertaking a fictitious run to Brighton at some haste) but I have managed to sneak in a skull/bones clock above the shelf, a bunch of heavy-metal stickers and Joey Ramone figurine illuminates when you turn the wall light on -I’m particularly chuffed with this act of progressive OCD.**

*In an age before laptops and smart phones, people were far more practical. I still don’t understand why there are so many bicycle shops these days, I mean how hard is it to change an inner tube or bolt-on a set of brake blocks -especially when, ironically, you can find out how to online. Another thing, despite a proliferation of cookery programmes, as a nation we now eat more takeaways than ever (we’ve more fast food outlets too) indicating that we’re not actually physically cooking anything at all but merely watching shit whilst eating it. My point is this, I expect things that require practical intervention to be bit complicated, a tad challenging, that’s how you learn, right? For example, I can dismantle and rebuild a 900 series MK1 carburettor for my 1976 Triumph Bonneville, the first time was arduous but I persevered and now I can do it with relative ease. I approached the assembly of the buggy in the same way, I pondered, mused, at one point going outside to smoke a pipe, but I still couldn’t figure out how the sod came together. It was only when I figuratively stepped back the penny dropped, it was, literally, deceptively simple. There is no point to this, by the way, outside of the one made in my opening sentence. I’m just explaining why I had some problems assembling a pram and providing examples as to why. As you were, then.

**Sorry, me again. People are inclined to overuse the abbreviation of ‘obsessive compulsive disorder’ these days. You’re not entitled to claim OCD just because you prefer to store baked beans on the top shelf of your cupboard and multipacks of crisps underneath. For a start, there is nothing funny about OCD, in fact, it’s bloody horrid, and I am on the periphery of the condition. For every tiny act of creativity that has resulted from my OCD, such as the Joey Ramone/lamp, there have been hundreds that have seen me up in the small hours, tired, almost in tears, because I can’t decide how I want to arrange drinking vessels on shelf. Yes, really. The worst aspect of it is that one act of OCD will inevitably lead to another. Take last night for example, all I did was move a candle from a shelf to a spot previously occupied by a recently disposed-of plant. This in turn led to the glasses episode resulting in a wasted two-hour freak-out as to how best arrange them. Initially I figured it should be aesthetic and then opted for practicality (i.e. which ones were used more frequently) which didn’t look right, so I tried to mix it up a bit and then one glass wouldn’t fit properly so I had to start over for the umpteenth time. And that’s just one example, smaller aspects of this will occur daily, some will last the whole day, some even longer, like the ones that have no conclusion offering the chance to return to the problem indefinitely. Of course, these all add up so you can have many ‘incidents’ running concurrently. Incidentally, did you know that an iphone has a spirit level? Go to the compass and scroll to the right, I found it by accident last week. It’s been making my life hell.