Ill II

I appear to be playing a game of pass the pathogen with my boy. After slipping him the common cold, which he re-imagined as throwing-up everywhere, he kindly handed it back to me as a cold, yes, but one with knives sticking out of it. At some point my wife joined-in but she didn’t quite get the rules and only savoured the horror for a day or two.

I, on the other proverbial, took possession of the malaise for a further week. Just as I was about to give it up we were awoken in the wee hours by a noise akin to Darth Vader attempting to shit away three cheese burritos and a litre of cookie-dough ice cream. On entering his room his little face was obscured by a veritable river of oily mucus that ran from his chin like busted guttering. The better half gathered him to her bosom where he was fed, but it was obvious from the horrific rasps that he was having problems breathing and eating simultaneously. Ten minutes later, at 3.25, he threw up all over the bed and us.

For the next three days he’d keep nothing down, just as you thought he’d turned a corner sick happened in a variety of disturbing situations. When he did finally keep something down the other end, which had been dormant throughout the sickness, kicked-off. If you’d told me a year ago that one day I’d be overjoyed to change an overflowing nappy would I’d have vehemently spurned you, that’s how much I hate seeing him puke.

Fortunately, he’d stopped throwing up before nursery day but downstairs it was business as usual. The evacuation he had after his breakfast, about fifteen minutes before I was due to drop him at nursery, was so bad he was transported to the bathroom on his changing mat and rolled into the bath still clothed.

The boy’s nursery is located in a notorious council estate in East London; it resembles a prison complete with buzzing security gates and razorwire. The estate in question is a lot calmer than it was a decade or so ago and the nursery itself rated ‘outstanding’ by people who rate such things, so this aspect of the grim weekly trek to drop him off isn’t an issue. My concerns revolve around, primarily, leaving him in the care of strangers, how much it costs for the privilege of doing so and the fact that the staff refer to him as ‘bubba’.

From what I can glean from Wikipedia (not that I’d trust that crap, especially after being commissioned to write an entry by my wife’s brother-in-law) and other slightly less salubrious sources, ‘bubba’ is an Americanism that derives from ‘brother’. Of course, a word can occupy two (or more) different meanings at once, so in addition to meaning ‘brother’ in the USA, the definition of ‘bubba’ in the UK is ‘baby’ whilst awkwardly retaining its American derivation. I’m sure some of the more rural parts of Norfolk and Gloucestershire think that’s fine, well I don’t. ‘Bubba’ gives me the bloody willies.

On the plus side, the word ‘bubba’ has helped taking the sting out of dropping him off at the nursery. By focusing on how much it annoys me I’m able to pass my son to a member of staff, turn away as if stopping myself from complaining about their referring to my little boy as ‘bubba’ and mentally pretend to ‘storm off’.

Now I’m down the corridor and on my way without having to turn back and get all upset as he watches his crazy dad preparing himself to return to his flat scattered with silent toys, small clothes and bits of shredded wheat that have become glued to the wall.

Sick (as in ‘ill’ rather than ‘vom’. And Certainly not as in ‘radical, dude’)

It was inevitable that I’d get ill too, though I was convinced I’d gotten away with it. The bastard came on in the space of about five minutes as I was making breakfast on Saturday morning. By the time the toast popped up I could barely stand, it felt as if my bones had been exchanged for play dough and someone had injected builder’s caulk into my head. For the next five days my life existed in three places, on the sofa, in the bed and perched atop the privy, barking at the water. During one such moment I vaguely considered how I’d cope if I were a single parent. I was weaker than pimp’s promise and barely able to process thought, how do they do it? I toyed lazily with the idea before releasing that I was due for a taster and promptly forget all about it.

For the past eleven months the better half has been on maternity leave for fairly obvious reasons. Her return to work has been lingering on the horizon for so long it sort-of lost its reality. Since Christmas casual reminders that in so-and-so weeks she’d be returning to work didn’t really gel, so it came as somewhat of a shock when she suddenly left for the day leaving me in full charge of a small boy.

This wasn’t going to be the same as an evening session where the primary objective was to get him off to sleep so I could slip into a wine-box, this was all-day shit commencing at 7am when a small pair of hands repeatedly smacked my head. After a failed-attempt to pull off a lie-in/cuddle we got up at 7.30, where he was promptly changed and prepared for the carnage of feeding.

It used to be so much easier before solid food, for a start not having the required equipment (tits) all I could do was to make the bottle of formula for his evening feed. Feeding was a question of injecting his little head with milk, it was a clean, simple affair with no washing up to boot.

Now we have to contend with flying scraps of mashed-up stuff, this aspect is exacerbated by his limited tolerance of all that’s offered on the spoon. He wants the spoon, he wants the stuff on the spoon, just not at the same time. So the spoon is held aloft and waggled at the Lord as milk and yoghurt-soaked pieces of shredded wheat are gingerly picked from the little tray attached to his chair and fastidiously consumed. The piece of food goes in, then comes out before it’s retrieved, examined and the part that hasn’t detached returned to the mouth for further consideration. When he’s full he takes the food and hurls it at the wall or very deliberately drops it onto the floor, but only after he’s made eye contact with the person feeding him. The wicked smile that accompanies this act of defiance is one of the best things in the world.

What isn’t so good is his reaction when you leave him unattended for more than five seconds. We’ve an open plan kitchen/living area so for the most part this isn’t an issue, but trips to the bog are a mission requiring pre-planning. He’ll need picking up and strapping into his pram before being wheeled to the bog door so he can see you, without being witness to any details. And shouting “for god’s sake don’t look at me” assuages any fears that he’ll grow up to be one of those men that gets off on wearing adult nappies.

Even when I’m not being all ill its hard work looking after a baby (all day long) on your own, especially as he misses his mum. Not that I’ll have to do it often, Friday was the only full day I’d have been required to look after him and that’s the day he goes to nursery.

I’d been dreading the latter more than anything, and we did all we could to avoid it. The fact it’s only one day says something but how we feel about it but it simply has to be done in terms of our work requirements.

He had two days settling-in, the first with both of us present in the actual nursery, the second just me in a room by the nursery (so I was on hand if he kicked-off) and finally, the Friday, all day on his own. I had the grim task of taking him there and handing him over to a virtual stranger and walking back alone feeling both wrong and miserable. Despite having a ton of work to do I spent the whole day worrying about him, my mind creating ludicrous scenarios that, at least twice, had me reaching for the door to go and pick him up. Among a litany of things my imagination concocted -without any conscious effort on my part- was a fire, flood or disease (specifically sepsis) a selection of accidents (falling through a window, choking on a sock) not forgetting your basic acts of evil like his being sold to or stolen by deviants and, most persistently, unspeakably harmed when one the nursery stuff suddenly went berserk.

It was so good to go and pick him up and see that he was all in one piece. I can’t say that I was overly impressed by the fact he was screaming the place down mind you. I asked the lady holding him what was wrong.

“He’s been as good as gold all day,” she said, handing him over to me, “until about ten seconds ago when he saw you walking through the door”.

Bollocks.

Parenting with Feet

At some point soon after Slayer’s ‘Christ Illusion’ Tour in 2006 I threw up on the Tee-Shirt I bought at the show. The circumstances of this event are out of my cognitive grasp but I do remember trying to remove it without dragging the wet bit (it was beer-based) over my lovely hair. I also recall my annoyance at having barfed on it. It was already a limited-edition shirt when I bought it and its plain wording of ‘Slayer. Death by Design. 666’ somewhat contrary to the usual skull/pentagram/gore affair that I and legions of fans have come to know and love.

The irony of this event wasn’t lost on me a few days ago as I wrapped a pile of warm, yellow puke into one corner of the same shirt in order to prevent freshly deposited ex-food from making contact with my head. The missus and I hadn’t really slept for four days’ since the little fellow contracted Regan’s Beast and I was hoping this would be the symbolic end of it, here, on my beloved limited-edition Slayer shirt.

The last time the little bloke had been sick was following the egg/garlic incident in the pub before Christmas. In this already documented case it was as if he didn’t know he was being sick and was happily chatting away as great big lumps of sickie-egg tumbled left, right, centre, onto the floor from his cheery gob. But this was different. He was bent in two and retching in an adult way that was both disturbing and upsetting. After I’ve nursed a sick child a few more times I’m sure I’ll be just as laissez-faire as my friends/family were when I tried to explain how awful it was, but I was so harrowfied (my word, don’t look it up) by the initial event that I didn’t sleep that night, preferring instead to watch over him in case it happened again, which it did the following morning. That afternoon he seemed a little chirpier so we sated his new-found appetite with milks that he guzzled down like a baby goat.

Though this time he wasn’t sick, he exploded.

How on earth so much stuff can come out of something so small in such a minuscule amount of time is baffling -not that you have time to be ‘baffled’ when, all of a sudden, the floor is instantly awash with a gallon of sick and large portions of your body are sopping wet with heave. I mean it was fucking everywhere. I had to resurrect the bucket and mop which hadn’t seen the light of day since the Slayer-tee episode -and that was in a different flat in a different part of London over a decade ago when marriage, let alone children, were ludicrous concepts in the back mind of the perpetually stoned.

Despite not having slept for 36 hours we took him off to the doctors, just to be on the safe side. That small amount of professional reassurance that he just had a bug went a long way; we’ve already established in previous missives that my paranoia is limitless. He was sick that night and the following morning, the latter requiring another change of clothes (ours, I mean) and then, later that lunchtime, the better half went down with something as well.

Having slept for less time than it takes to watch ‘The Great Escape’ this wasn’t great, the end-of-days diarrhoea was most unwelcome too, though I did manage to coax the missus from her death bed to help clean that one up. I’ll spare you the details.

We’re still contending with the aftermath of the bug but things are certainly better, as too is the missus, but it’s bittersweet. This is the last week we have together before the better half returns to work. How on earth that’s going to work with his two-days at the nursery and my feast/famine writing schedule is an enigma, and on second thoughts I’m not sure if the beer-based vom on the limited-edition Slayer shirt was actually mine.

Snaggletooth

Because the little fellow has two parents that speak two languages, it was decided way before he was born that his mother spoke to him in her native Italian and I hold the fort with English, mostly as swearing. Apparently this will be a shot in the arm in terms of his cognitive development and, in the future, increase his chances of pulling quality crumpet at parties/galleries et al. Phwoar, etc.

The downside is in the short, immediate term. In many respects it’d be easier just to go with the one language in the here and now, I mean it’s not as if the better half can’t speak proper English like what I does. On the contrary, her English (both spoken and written) would shame most English folk, partially because she’s lived and worked her for almost two decades and partially because she studied it academically.

He really should have grasped ‘mUma’ by now but because he gets ‘mAma’ and ‘mummy’ (and, indeed, ‘PApa’ and ‘Daddy’) the poor little bugger doesn’t know his phonetic arse from his phonological elbow. Instead we’re treated to ‘Ba, ba, ba, ba’ in varying degrees of intensity which maybe an excellent source of amusement, especially when he combines the ‘Ba’ with a slap to his mother’s face, it’s not giving us much clue as to where he’s at with the whole speaking thing.

This aspect of being a parent is, once again, something I’d not have anticipated. Not that I’d given it much thought, I just assumed there would be a gradual curve in development until his balls dropped and he left home. What actually happens are sudden spurts of development that always seem to result in open-mouthed pointing. For example, we were convinced he’d miss out the crawling stage and go from rolling to standing, then suddenly -in the space of five minutes- something ‘clicked’ and he was off the rug and shooting towards a precariously placed bag of his own soiled nappies and a pile of shiny screws I’d left on the kitchen floor after having fitted yet another bolt to a cupboard door in case he could work out how to open the other two I’d fitted last week.

And suddenly he’s got a tooth, I didn’t think it was much of a tooth until he almost bit my bloody finger off during a double bill of Shed and Buried last night. It was a suitably painful introduction to toothing, something I thought we’d already been privy too, as I tried to explain when he was four months old. I was such an idiot, back then.

“We’d just got to a point of semi-ish peaceful sleep, a time when the mornings were a delightful explosion of smiles, practice chuckles and the days sleepy and calm, even the dreaded evenings were getting progressively quieter; of course there was the odd moan, bleat, sure, but everything was just getting, well, better. This aligned with our having an improved understanding of what was upsetting him, we knew he was pissed ‘cos he hadn’t pooed, we knew what is was, and that was okay. Hungry? We got the hungry cry and acted on it. Yep, look, he’s tired, we know. We know everything…

Having said that, you know why they may be crying most of the time, you can’t be sure all the time, babies get annoyed for other reasons, you may be holding them in a way they don’t approve of, perhaps they’re a little hot/cold or maybe they’re just uncomfortable. Our kid has doubled in weight in four months, the very physicality of rapidly expanding flesh and bones has got to hurt, but these are resolvable things that occur in relatively short phases, and anyway, we’re on top of all this shit, well, we were.

A few days ago something else started, this sort-of elongated warble that would regularly rise in pitch and volume until, as of yore, this huge mouth would bust out of his dear little face and eat all that was tranquil and subtle. This time, though, the sound couldn’t be quelled so last week after almost a day of this we came to the awful conclusion that it may be premature but, yes, he was teething

The timing couldn’t have been more desperate as we were about to undertake a five hour-round-trip to see the fam for my niece’s birthday, most of it on a bus. I used to love travelling by bus, especially if I won top-nearside-seat at the front… But now I was confined to that little space by the doors where all the wheelchairs and old-people seats are, the outskirts of the downstairs backspace where the infirm and feeble gather to mutter and wheeze on their miserable little journeys to the post office or hospital. Did I mention it smells? If I didn’t I did just then.

I don’t want to harp on about this but why would anyone elect to sit in this part of the bus if they didn’t have to? You can’t see anything save lots of traffic and queues of pissed-off looking people. Go upstairs and it’s all bright and lovely, you can see for ages too, and you get a unique perspective on the city -plus you can see all the weird crap people chuck onto the tops of bus shelters. It’s a win, win up there.

Having suffered the bus in that awful little space for well over an hour we arrived at Waterloo. Getting to the platform required us to walk in the opposite direction of the designated platform in order to get a medieval lift down to ground level before walking back through a sea of pushy, shovey arseholes. We scrambled on board the train and located facing double-seats and a clean table within, NetworkSouthEast Nirvana. But of course, the little fellow’s pram doesn’t fit in the fucking aisle does it, so we spend 30 mins stood outside the bog instead watching a succession of rugby men entering to park their Egg McMuffins’ before repairing to their seats post-flush sans the hygienic-defining whoosh of the hand-dryer.

Once we’d arrived at our destination we were met by the folks who didn’t notice me having a paddy as I attempted to collapse the pushchair as they were too busy loading the kid into the baby seat amid a sea of grandparental coo’s as I turned the air blue outside. The missus wasn’t impressed; she was even less impressed five hours later (now full of vino collapso following a jolly afternoon with the family) when I attempted to re-construct the pushchair in order to make the miserable journey back to the smoke; I just couldn’t make it lock despite violently struggling with the infernal thing, indeed, it took me so long to get it secured and the boy back in his buggy we missed the train, though this later aspect was aided and abetted by a ludicrous, convoluted journey just to get the correct platform.

It’s not until you’re in charge of a buggy (or a wheelchair for that matter -god help them) that you realise how unfriendly the world is to anything other than spritely, fully functioning humanoids. Having spent time in the past plodding about London with a walking stick due to my spine I always knew this to be the case, but that was small beer in comparison to being fully responsible for an egg-fragile baby mercifully sleeping in his pram. Take the journey to the platform, it took no less than three different lifts and half a dozen piss stinking adjoining walkways -each juncture without instruction regarding the appropriate floor/direction- just to get us to the place of departure. It took a lifetime of swearing just to stop me from having a massive heart attack.

Fortunately, the kid slept all the way back home, an identikit version of the one we’d undertaken a few hours earlier but in reverse. Of course, when we got home we were rewarded by hours of screaming, this aspect was made all the more painful on account of some recently administered news from mum. That afternoon, in between drinks and barbequed sausages she informed us in no uncertain terms that the boy wasn’t teething, he was just a bit tired; we’d know all about teething when it happened, she said, believe you me.

Bollocks.”

Pamps

Since Christmas, shit got real -in so far as the boy is eating solid food which means we’re having to deal with the subsequent reality of an increase in mass/weight/odour in the downstairs department. Of course this is to be expected, the little fellow is growing-up and if he wasn’t dropping mudbricks into his Pampers we’d have cause for concern, and it’s a walk in the park when compared to wiping old ladies arses during my employ as an auxiliary nurse whilst studying at university. I feel obliged to add that they were old, exclusively women’s, bots because the hospice in which I originally worked didn’t have any male patients (male geriatric nurses were few and far between too) and in all my years working part-time as an auxiliary nurse I only ever had to deal with one or two male patients. And one of those times is worth a mention.

The following took place in a hospital in the summer holidays a year before I graduated. It was to be my last ever shift.

Opening scene. 7.30am. A hospital somewhere in East London.

“Hello, where shall I start, Sister?”

“Before handover you need to clean Mr. Heller’s penis”

“Right… Now?”

“Now. Because it smells.”

“Right. Er, sorry. I’ve just come on shift and, ‘hi, I’m Jamie, hi’, and, well, has it suddenly begun to smell, like, right now…?”

“…We knew you were starting this morning so we waited…”

“Right. Why? Sorry, this is a bit odd.”

“Because, you know, you’re a man.”

“Right…”

“So we thought it was better you cleaned it.”

“Right. Why?”

“Because you’re a man.”

“We’ve established that, but why does my being a man suddenly make me a, sorry about this, a cock expert?”

*silence*

“I’m quite familiar with one. I’m fairly sure you’ve seen. More… Where is Mr. Heller?”

Mr. Heller’s room. 7.35am. It’s worth noting that Mr. Heller is quite large and sporting faded blue ink, notably, Swallow’s on both hands (the sorts you see on people that may or may not have done a stretch in prison).

“Morning, Mr. Heller”

*silence*

“Er, Sister has asked me to come and give you a quick bed bath before breakfast…”

*silence*

“so if you don’t mind I just need to…”

“Fuck off”

“Okay, look mate, apparently your dick smells and it needs a wash, so let’s just get this done and we can have some breakfast.”

“Do fucking what!? You come anywhere me, Cunt, and you’ll get a fucking slap.”

“Mr. Heller, look, I really don’t want to be doing this anymore that you, believe me, in fact I’d argue that this situation is a hell of a lot worse from my angle, so let’s just get…”

*huge slap*

“Right, fuck this. I’m done. Fuck you.”

7.45am on my bike and heading back home to bed.

The end.

Anyway, it’s not just about turds, he’s now sleeping in the little room that was built within the living room my mate John and I constructed last February, which has been a lot more traumatic than I’d anticipated, especially after having envisaged a return to ordinary sleeping patterns. Up until that point he’d slept with us in a little cot that’s open on one side and cunningly attached to the side of the bed. When he woke for a feed, which was frequent, he’d be gently rolled into bed to do his business before being returned back into position. His proximity also meant that I could regularly assuage my considerable paranoia that he was still breathing.

Now in his new room, we have to rely on the baby squawker to monitor his welfare. It’s actually incredibly sensitive to the point you can hear his breathing through it, but he point-blank refuses to sleep without some background noise so we leave Radio 4 on all night at a level that both comforts him and doesn’t bother us via his squawker… Bottom line is that we can only hear him when he’s yelling so I’m finding myself up during various portions of the night, creeping over to his room to make sure he’s still alive. For the first week I slept less than all the recent sleepless nights put to together. Admittedly, it’s easier now -he’s sleeping pretty much through the night- but still, when the squawker begins to whine at 3.35am a part of me punches the air.

‘They don’t tell you that at ante-natal classes’©middleagedmetaldad

Hark

Christmas Eve was the driest I can remember -the fact I can says it all- a nice quiet dinner with friends, whilst being constantly reminded throughout that, winewise, I was driving the following morning and that my duty of care was both reminding me now with her face and said care extended to the small person sat in the corner trying to eat a placemat.

Already five months with child, the missus attended to all of Christmas 2015 in a state of perfect sobriety. I dimly recall poking at the bump with a stiff forefinger whilst in charge of a particularly well-rounded cigar after lunch, I assured her that in 2016 we’d palm the kid onto family/friends so she could get utterly arseholed. ‘Of course’, I said as I knocked back another bottle of Tesco’s dubious Merlot, ‘I’ll be right there’, prior to disappearing into the shed with my brother-in-law to smoke-up some more of last season’s homegrown.

Cut to Christmas morning 2016, it’s already 10.30 am and we should have left at 10. I can’t work out how to attach this bastard baby seat into the hatchback we’ve borrowed off of my brothers flat-mate, and we’ve not even packed the car yet. In a state of pink-faced stress and worry I look across at my silent bikes parked a few yards away. ‘I love you’, I whisper to them.

The agony of driving a car on the same motorbike-route to the Surrey Downs to see the fam was offset by the fact that it was a beautiful, traffic-less sunny day. There were also no bikes to rub my face in it. I briefly remembered the English man rushing over to me at the French service station, somewhere in the outskirts of Dijon, calling me a lucky see-you-next-Tuesday because I was biking to Italy with the missus. “I’m stuck in a fucking car with my fucking partner and her fucking daughter! And ‘That’s What I call Music! 74’ on loop. Kill me!” What an A-hole, I thought, as I loaded the luggage and wife on Alan the Fireblade and pulled hard towards the Alps, ahaha, sucker!

On Christmas day, as promised, the boy was well and truly absorbed into the bosom of the family. Between grandparents, siblings, in-laws and cousins, we hardly got the chance to spend more than two minutes with him, despite repeated attempts to grab him off various family members. ‘We hardly ever see him!’ they objected before he was ripped out of our arms and removed to some far-flung corner of the house for the private entertainment of his charges. This resulted in a ludicrous inter-marital competition to see who could change his nappy, secretly hoping he’d done a behemoth turd in order to eke out an additional few minutes of seriously compromised quality time. I’d not anticipated this, I’d imagined him rolling adorably through sheets of discarded wrapping paper whilst the family collectively remarked on what a handsome little boy he was before returning to their plates laden with pigs-in-blankets and Brussels Sprouts. On top of all this I couldn’t even get properly pissed because I was driving (again) the following morning… Still one now wouldn’t hurt, it’s only 9pm which gives me hours to ensure that I’m nice and clean for the 11am start tomorrow… I catch the eye of my missus just about to demolish a glass of red wine and take heed of a warning glare, I return with crestfallen ‘it’s my birthday tomorrow’ expression and am countered by a nodding glance over to a sleeping baby in the arms of his granddad.

Bugger.

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.