Getting through the night

Welcome everyone! I hope all is well with you. As I’ve stated in previous posts, A.P Writing is a blog that focuses on crohns disease, writing, and being first time parents. I’ll be varying what I write accordingly; today’s post is dedicated to the struggles that parents can face when trying to get their child to sleep. Over the last 10 months I’ve learned so much as a father, but getting Ezra to sleep through the night is something we’re still working on. It’s always one of the first jokes thrown your way when you announce you’re expecting a baby: well you better get used to living with no sleep. You’ll probably just laugh the joke off when it comes, but believe me, that joke is so annoyingly true. Sleep is something that all new parents learn to live without during the first year of their baby’s existence. It’s not something to be embarrassed about; it’s just part of being a parent. Being honest about how little sleep you’re getting is important; most parents are experiencing the same things. So, with all of that in mind, I’ll be using my experience with Ezra over the last 10 months to discuss what did and didn’t work for us. Hopefully this post will help you to avoid some of the mistakes that we made along the way.

Routine is key
This might seem a little obvious, but it is so important. Getting your baby into a routine as early as you feel comfortable with will make sleep realistic in the long term. During the early new-born stage setting a routine can be difficult, but with perseverance it will come. As first time parents it is hard for me and Chantelle because we’re constantly learning on the job; there is no hard-set rule book that contains the answers to our catalogue of questions. We used to let Ezra nap whenever he liked during the day, afternoon and evening. Of course, looking back now we realize our mistake, but it wasn’t until someone pointed out that he was sleeping to late in the day that we understood why he couldn’t sleep through the night. At first you might feel like a bad parent, you ask yourself how did I not know that? However, how are we expected to know? Don’t put yourself down, just learn, adapt, and move on. Having a solid night-time routine isn’t always a precursor for sleep, but it’s a very good start. Ezra now has two naps a day; he has one in the morning and one before 3pm. If he sleeps after 3pm then he won’t settle for bed. At 5pm he has his dinner which is followed by a bath at 7pm and then bed. This process is what we’ve come to learn works well for Ezra and also for us.

Listen to the right advice
I feel this is perhaps one of the most important pieces of advice I can give. When you have a child there will be a hundred different people ready to give their advice for any issue you might have. The vast majority of people mean well, but the advice isn’t always helpful. Everyone has an opinion on why your baby won’t sleep; learning to take on board the advice that will help is not always easy. We tried everything with Ezra, listening to as much advice from as many different people as possible. That may have been from close friends, family, or things we’d read online, but we were still struggling to get Ezra to sleep. As parents you can begin to panic, especially when you know of other parents who are successfully getting their children to sleep. Eventually we contacted a specialist nurse from the baby centre to discuss what we were doing wrong. She immediately identified Ezra’s naps being to late in the day, the fact that he was having to many naps, and also told us to try settling him in his room more often that we were. I remained sceptical, but the next night Ezra slept for 5 hours straight from 7pm to 12pm. I couldn’t believe it; just like that, crash, bang, wallop, he was settling into a routine. We weren’t made to feel like bad parents after listening to the nurse’s advice; she was realistic. Now we’ve adapted her advice and turned it into a real routine for Ezra; his sleep still isn’t perfect, but it is much more manageable. So, if you’re really struggling and everyone else’s advice isn’t working, seek someone who has experience and whose job it is to identify where, if anywhere, you could adjust certain things. Don’t sit there wondering what you’re doing wrong because the truth is that you’re not doing anything wrong; you just might need to tweak a few things that’s all.

Nobody knows your child better than you
As parents, and especially new parents, it can be extremely difficult to listen to your gut instinct. We often lack the confidence that experience can bring, but nobody knows your baby better than you. This is why I feel it is important to listen to your own advice; listening to what you feel is right for your child can often lead to good results with sleep, also. If the advice being given to you doesn’t feel right, if you think it will have a negative effect, you don’t have to listen to it. Of course, don’t throw away good advice from reliable sources that you trust, but be realistic. We spend the most time with our children; we know which things could work and which won’t. Try not to let yourself feel pressured into trying something because it worked for someone else; you should be optimistic that it will work for you and your child before trying it.

Make their room feel like their room
We all like to have our own little home comforts, and it’s no different for your child. Making their room a space that they want to be in will allow them to feel comfortable. That space can then become somewhere that they associate with sleep; they won’t feel so restless being left in the room by themselves. We were advised to try and get Ezra to take all his naps in his room as well as his night-time sleep. This is something we tried and found successful to begin with, but Ezra now won’t nap for more than 20 minutes at a time in his room during the day. We don’t get disheartened though; the older he gets the less nap time he’s needing. This is something we’re learning to accept, but it just goes to prove not everything will work when trying to set a routine. We are listening to our own advice on the matter now that we’ve gained the experience: Ezra simply doesn’t need to nap for as long during the day.

Create a calming space
This is another piece of advice that might sound pretty obvious, but it is something that me and Chantelle didn’t take seriously to begin with. Ezra seemed to be able to fall asleep at any time of the day with as much noise as possible. We simply didn’t think that noise during the night-time would affect him, but it really did. The nurse explained how important it was that during the night he was surrounded by calm; so, we made changes and the results were pretty instantaneous. This advice happened to coincide with us moving Ezra into his own room, but still, I think that making his room as quiet and calm as possible really helped encourage him to sleep. We tried hard to minimise the outside noise reaching Ezra’s room, paying particular attention to things like how loud our TV was and how much general we noise we made once he was asleep. Some parents find that black out blinds are very useful; I must admit that this is something we haven’t tried before. They may be something we try in the future though. Another thing that we worked hard on was trying to regulate the temperature within Ezra’s room so he is comfortable while he sleeps; we aimed to get his room to a medium temperature of 22 degrees.

Falling into a deep sleep
This might be something that just works for me, but I find that Ezra needs time to fall into a deep sleep before being put into his cot. I rock him until he falls asleep and then wait for 30 minutes to make sure that he is really settled and comfortable. I do this in his room; it is important that he knows he’s in his room when he goes to sleep to prevent any panic should he unsettle during the night. By leaving him for that extra 30 minutes, I find that he is much easier to place in his cot and less likely to unsettle when being put down. The temptation is often to put our child straight down once they’re asleep. It’s been a long day and you’ve got things you want to do, and for some parents this might work, for others it might not. It is a technique that certainly works for me however.

Learn when enough is enough
Ezra is notorious for waking at 10pm: It is a lottery as to whether he goes back to sleep or wants to get up. I’ve had many nights where I contemplated my sanity whilst trying to settle Ezra once he’d woken. Over time, experience taught me that sometimes it’s better to cut your losses and get up with him. As much as I don’t want to, mentally and emotionally it can be incredibly frustrating continuing to try and getting nowhere fast. I’ve learned to get up and let Ezra play for a while; this allows him to burn off any excess energy, hopefully encouraging further sleep when he starts to tire once more. This method isn’t ideal, but it keeps me from becoming upset or frustrated, and when I’ve been dragged out of bed during the night, that’s important. I now work on the assumption that if I cannot settle Ezra within the hour, it’s probably best to get up with him.

Be prepared with night-time necessities
I’ve been caught out numerous times during the night and lost out on sleep because I’ve not been prepared. Now, what are the night-time necessities I hear some of you ask? The night-time necessities include nappies, wet wipes, bottle preparation and anything else you feel you or your child might need were they to wake during the night. The last thing you want to be doing when your child wakes up during the night is trying to find the wet wipes or making a bottle. By the time you’ve succeeded in doing those things, your child might have woken up fully and another long night will ensue. I like to make sure I have a pack of nappies and wet wipes set aside on Ezra’s bedside table that are purely to be used during the night. I know where they are and can get access to them easily. I have a similar routine with Ezra’s bottles as well; I sterilise two before bed and fill them with sterilised water. If Ezra were to unsettle during the night, all I have to do is add his milk powder and they’re good to go. This process saves time, and I find that the more efficient the process is, the easier Ezra is to get back to sleep.

Co-sleeping – Yes or No?
There seems to be some stigma surrounding co-sleeping. I’ve been told many times how letting your child co-sleep with you can significantly affect their sleep routine, especially when they get older. Transitioning them into their own room can become troublesome if they’re not used to sleeping in a room by themselves. All those points have some form of truth to them. I do believe that co-sleeping indefinitely could lead to problems with sleep in the future, but it is important to be realistic. As parents we need sleep as well. I’m not afraid to admit that with Ezra, both me and Chantelle have let him co-sleep because it was the only way we could get any sleep ourselves. We try to limit co-sleeping whenever possible now though, but occasionally Ezra will end up co-sleeping with us. It can become counterproductive to stay up all night trying to settle your child in their cot when you know that they’ll drop right off to sleep in your bed. The outlook I have towards co-sleeping now is that it’s a last resort, but I will let Ezra co-sleep if I’ve exhausted all options and cannot get him to settle in his room.

Remain positive
Another obvious piece of advice for you here, but again, it’s important. Trying to remain positive and not get frustrated with yourself, your partner, and your child is not always easy, especially during the night when you’re tired. We mustn’t get disheartened though. When Ezra has an unsettled night, which thankfully isn’t very often anymore, I tell myself that tomorrow will be better. Having that attitude allows me to remain calm and get through the night. If you tell yourself it’ll get easier, it often does get easier because we learn and get better at dealing with certain situations.

Letting your child know who is boss
At times your child will push your limits just because they can: Ezra is a master at this. It’s amazing how someone so small can be so good at winding you up, but sometimes being stern can be the answer. Me and Ezra have had many babbling conversations late at night where I try and convince him that going back to sleep is a good idea. It doesn’t always work, but on occasion, I do have some success. If Ezra wakes me up at stupid o’clock now, he knows that there will be no TV and no lights. This way I’m trying to teach him that it’s not playtime; sometimes being stern like this works and sometimes it doesn’t, but you won’t know unless you try.

Alternate roles with your partner
Deciding on which role suits you when it comes to the night-time with your child can make all the difference in the long term. Alternating and sharing these roles with your partner makes the whole routine more efficient, and often it can become less stressful when you know there is a plan in place. Chantelle used to do the entire night-time routine all by herself, and I used to get up and do the morning routine with Ezra while she caught up on any sleep she’d missed. For a time, this worked, but it can be a lot for one person to deal with. As Covid-19 swept across the world our roles merged; I am now around a lot more and able to get up with Ezra during the night. We always go to bed with a plan for who is going to be getting up should Ezra unsettle during the night. This helps to take the pressure away from the situation and avoid any arguments. We’ve had some of our biggest rows in the early hours of the morning because we were both exhausted and didn’t have a plan in place for who would be getting up. It’s natural to get frustrated in those types of situations; If there is a plan in place however, you can avoid them entirely. If one parent is tired because they’ve been up during the night, then you swap roles and allow them time to catch up on sleep. If this is something you’ve not done or haven’t considered, it might be worth having a conversation with your partner.

Turn their routine into your routine
Quite often, the only time we get to do the things we want to do during the day or night is when our child is asleep. So, turn their sleep time into your time. If you know they get tired at 7pm, make sure you plan to do the things important to you when that time comes. Ezra goes to sleep at 7pm most nights; I always work on my writing and read my book once he has gone to sleep. He’ll normally wake between 3am-5am and want a bottle and bum change, and when I get him back down to sleep again, I study for an hour. That is his routine and I need to work my time around it. Chantelle likes to use this time to catch up on any TV she’s missed and just generally unwind. We also spend the time together as a couple because although we’re together for most of the day, Ezra takes up nearly all of our focus. It can be hard to give the kind of attention to your partner that they deserve, so, utilise this time when you do have it and let your partner know how important they are. I like to plan what I’m going to do when Ezra goes to sleep which may sound a bit extreme, but if I don’t plan what I’ll be doing, the time often passes by and is wasted.

Reassure yourself with reliable equipment
When your child transitions from sleeping in your room to their own room, it can be just as worrying and hard on the parents as well. Both me and Chantelle were petrified because we weren’t able to simply roll over during the night and check on Ezra in his cot. This is why it’s important to use equipment that you can trust and allows you to sleep easy. The first thing we did when we moved Ezra into his own room was buy a video baby monitor. Initially we had looked at the ordinary baby monitors that only pick up sound, but having had an honest conversation, we both agreed that neither of us would be able to sleep if we couldn’t see what Ezra was up to as well as hear him. It took us quite a while to choose a cot we liked; we wanted him to be as comfy and settled as possible to encourage sleep. Ezra also has a stargazer in his room because the lights seem to settle him. Perhaps your child has a favourite teddy or blanket that they can’t sleep without, or maybe they prefer to settle in a sleep bag. Whatever works for them is important, but it’s almost more important that we’re relaxed as parents. If your child is asleep but you’re worried because you can’t see them, you’re not going to sleep properly are you? Investing in good, reliable equipment can take away all that stress and allow you to sleep when the opportunity presents itself.

Thanks for taking the time to read through my blog post everyone! I really hope some of my experiences can help you. Please feel free to give the post a like and follow me on Facebook and Instagram. I’ll see you all real soon.


Sleep Regression – The Daily Struggle

As we continue on through these difficult times, I’d just like to say, I hope you’re all doing well. Under the current circumstances I think it’s safe to say that nobody is finding life particularly fun at the moment. The effort shown by all key workers has been nothing short of heroic, and for all their sacrifices I’m incredibly grateful. It is also a strange and testing time for everyone faced with lockdown, whether you’re a family with young, energetic children or retired, this lifestyle is almost unrecognisable to most of us. It’s this new way of life that I’ll be focusing on in today’s post, discussing in particular the affect it may be having on new parents and their children.

In previous posts you might remember me mentioning sleep regression, it’s something that could affect your child at various stages of their development and is something we’re currently experiencing with Ezra. So, just what is sleep regression exactly? Personally, I feel sleep regression can come in many forms, but the main symptoms are frequent waking during the night, shorter nap times during the day and fighting sleep when tired. All these things can happen quite quickly, one night you’ll have a great night-time routine with your child and the next they simply won’t sleep. Ezra experienced his first bout of sleep regression when he hit five months old, as first-time parents we were actually quite worried that something might be wrong. However, after talking to our health visitor they soon explained that everything was perfectly fine and we needn’t worry. They explained that sometimes when a baby is trying so hard to learn all these new things, like crawling and rolling over, their brain is so active that they can find sleep difficult. With our worries quashed we continued on despite Ezra’s infrequent sleep, eventually getting him back into a regular routine. One thing that our health visitor also explained to us was that sleep regression can resurface again, but not always. Ezra is now seven and a half months old and seemingly entering his second bout of sleep regression, having experienced it all before we’re not so daunted this time, but for some parents it can be unsettling.

You’ve gone from having a baby that will possibly sleep through the night to one that wakes consistently, your initial reaction as a parent is probably to worry. We’ve also found that Ezra becomes quite clingy when experiencing sleep regression, he finds it more comforting to fall asleep on me or Chantelle and struggles when we try and put him in his cot. My advice to new parents experiencing similar things is not to panic, if you’re worried seek advice from a professional. I think as parents and especially new parents, we tend to worry and overthink a lot of things, I certainly do. In reality though, sleep regression is just another part of your baby’s development, it won’t last forever and you shouldn’t worry yourself silly about it.

In my experience with Ezra, sleep regression tends to last for four to eight weeks in total. Now, I’d be lying if I said it’s been a breeze, it’s definitely had both a mental and physical effect on me and Chantelle. As parents with young children your probably used to getting little sleep, or certainly less sleep than an average individual, but going from getting a little sleep to almost hitting that new-born stage again is hard. You sometimes think to yourself what have I done to deserve this? Broken sleep is the hardest part for me, your body doesn’t feel rested and when you try to get on with daily tasks everything just feels more strenuous. Children can be pretty demanding as well, Ezra might keep us up during the night but he still expects us to keep him entertained during the day, despite being exhausted. After trying to settle him for the fourth time during the night it can start to affect you mentally as well. When you’ve worked so hard to get your child to sleep, you’ve crept from the front room to the bedroom and successfully got them into their cot without waking, you’ve managed to get into bed yourself and then all of a sudden, they start crying. After repeating this several times during the night it can be tempting to sit there and cry with them sometimes, but all I’ll say is try to remain positive, this is just a stage and it will pass.

There are things you can do to try and alleviate some of the stresses on your child during their sleep regression, some may seem very basic and others unrealistic but here are a few that seem to be working with Ezra. If it’s possible under the current circumstances then try and spend as much time as possible outside, the fresh air seems to do wonders for Ezra’s mood and sleep. With the current pandemic this solution isn’t always possible due to limited time outside and social distancing, but any fresh air is better than none, even if that means standing at your doorstep for a time while your child takes in the different surroundings. We’ve also started to encourage Ezra to really practice things like crawling and rolling from back to front, it keeps his brain active and tires him out more if he’s constantly on the go. This is not always the easiest way to spend your day because quite often your exhausted and any break that your child takes is also a break for you, but powering through will sometimes encourage your child to sleep properly during the night. Lastly, and this is perhaps the most difficult, try forming a new routine around your child’s sleep regression, if they are tired after breakfast every morning because they’ve been up throughout the night then make this their nap time. If they are most energetic after lunch then make this the time that you encourage them to crawl and roll over and generally tire themselves out. Having that routine keeps us sane, it might not be the perfect routine but at that moment in time it could be just the right amount of structure to keep us going.

I’m also going to discuss some of the things that we’ve done as parents to combat Ezra’s sleep regression. Firstly, and as much as I don’t like to admit it, you might have to form some kind of night schedule all over again. I know, you probably thought that once you’re past that new-born stage sleep would be a doddle, that both parents could go to bed without too much worry about being disturbed throughout the night. Unfortunately sleep regression has other ideas, knowing which parent will be getting up during the night and which parent will be taking over in the morning is important, it prevents the awkward moment in the middle of the night when both parents see who can pretend to be asleep the longest. We’re also a lot less tolerable of things when tired, not having a routine set for who gets up during the night can lead to arguments. The second idea is a really basic one, remember to talk to each other. There is nothing worse than two parents both struggling and neither one talking to the other about their problems. It’s ok to not be ok sometimes, talking to your partner and discussing how you feel can relieve some of the stress you might be feeling as a parent. Lastly, try and work your day around your child. If they have a mid-morning nap at 11am every day then make that your time as well, plan to do something for yourself while they sleep, that could be watching your favourite TV show or simply spending some quality time with your partner. As long as you make that time for yourself, you’ll start to feel more human again and not just like mum and dad.

I’m going to finish this post by saying what we’re all probably thinking, everything seems and feels so difficult right now. Covid-19 is having a massive impact on all of us, many aspects of our lives are uncertain and isolation is possibly beginning to take it’s toll on us, especially with young families. It won’t be like this forever though, during times like this it’s important to remain positive, try and focus on the important things in life and where you want to be when this pandemic has passed.

Thank you for taking the time to read through my blog everyone, I really appreciate it. Feel free to find me on Facebook at A.P Writing for more posts, I hope you all remain safe during these difficult times, see you all real soon.


The Parental Dilema – Is this the right career for me?

Isolation, social distancing and lockdown, I think it’s safe to say we’re all a little restricted at present, but life doesn’t have to become boring does it? As I discussed in my previous post, The 12 Week Plan, if we set our days out correctly and stick to a routine, they’ll flow without feeling so restricted. However, even with a day crammed full of activities and exciting things to do, we’re still left with a lot of time to think, and my thoughts recently have turned towards my job. For some of you this may bring back happy memories, you might be one of those lucky individuals who truly loves their job and can’t wait to get back, for others the current isolation period might feel like a last minute holiday. In all honesty, I probably fall somewhere in-between those two categories, I don’t dislike my job, in fact I actually quite enjoy it, but being home so much recently has opened my eyes a little to just what could be possible. Throughout this post I’m going to discuss what new ideas I’ve had, how being a parent has greatly affected those ideas and what I’d like my future to look like once coronavirus is a thing of the past.

As we get older certain things within our life begin to change, we might find ourselves trying new food and really enjoying it, even though we might’ve hated that particular food as a child. Our opinions will probably change as well, when we’re younger we feel invincible, like whatever people say to us doesn’t matter because we’re strong and capable, but then when we hit a certain age we take a look back and think, ‘wow that actually makes a lot of sense’. At school we have no real idea of what direction in life to take, if you’re anything like me you took subjects because you had to, not with any real idea of where they might lead you. Now I look back and think of all the wasted opportunities I squandered, having Ezra has really made me think about what I’m doing in terms of my career and whether that career is sustainable. Two weeks of isolation has shown me what having a different career could look like, I’ve spent so much time around Ezra and Chantelle, it’s been amazing. Of course, It would be great to have a career that allowed this kind of life all the time wouldn’t it? I do however hear some of you saying that it’s not realistic to think we can, but my question to you is why can’t we? It won’t happen overnight, that’s true, we will have to go back to our regular jobs when coronavirus has passed, but why can’t we be working towards this new career, this new way of life?

If I could go back to school and take different subjects, I would, I’ve got a much greater understanding of what I would like to do with my life now, It’s taken me a long time to figure out, but I got there in the end. Having my own little family has also changed my opinion of what I’d like to do, I want to be around more, I would like to be able to spend time with Ezra and Chantelle without worry. This leads me to think that carving a career that allows me to work from home is perhaps more suitable that the current 9-5 working pattern I find myself in. I’ve got all the free time in the world at the moment, structuring my days correctly has shown me that with a little discipline, I could easily work from home. This is why I’m going to go back and study, further enhance myself so that in the future I’ll have this work life balance I’m looking for, I’ll be able to work under the hours I set, I’ll be able to work freelance from home. Personally, I feel having this kind of goal will also keep me motivated for when we do all go back to our regular jobs, with hard work and dedication we can all get to where we want to be.

There are many reasons for why you could be convinced to stay with your current jobs however, and I completely understand why you’d think like this, because these are the reasons I’ve never retrained and chased another career as well. Security has to be at the top of our list of reasons to stick with the job we currently do, it’s a no brainer really, chasing a new career, especially one in which we work for ourselves is risky. We only have to look at the affect the coronavirus has had on the self-employed to realise there’s less security within this sector. This has been the main reason for me staying still, I’ve now got a family to support and I simply cannot afford to be out of work, a regular salary every month is always going to be very tempting. I also feel that one of the reasons we stay with our current jobs is because it’s comfortable, we’re good at the job, we get on with it and then we come home. Repeat on a daily basis and that’s what our life becomes, there’s no risk involved, we’re secure and have nothing to really worry about. The last reason I’m going to discuss is not necessarily something I agree with, it’s something I’ve been told numerous times over the years, and that reason is that working 9-5 is how things are, it’s just life and I should get on with it. You’ve got to ask yourself though, even with all these reasons for staying with your comfortable job, are you getting the most out of yourself? Or is there more you want from a career? Deciding to commit to the idea of a new career is scary, having a family to support makes that choice harder still, but you’re doing this for them as well as yourself right? Sometimes in life we have to take risks to get the rewards we’re looking for, if we retrain and go after a new career, we take that risk for sure, but the rewards could be incredible. In my case I’d have more time with my family if I was to freelance and work from home, I’d be around more to help out and I also feel like every day would be a challenge, I’d be constantly learning, constantly evolving.

The worrying thing for me is that the retirement age is increasing rapidly, it’s a frightening thought to think we might still be working when we hit 80 years old, but that’s the reality. Hopefully I’ll be well and truly retired by that ripe old age, but if I’m not I would like to be working on my terms. I’d also like to discuss briefly our mental state when we go to work, I’m lucky that I don’t wake up dreading going into work, we all get days where we’d rather not go to work, that’s natural, but I wouldn’t say it impacts my mental state. Although, in the past I have had jobs that’ve made me feel this way, when you have responsibilities like a family to support, sometimes these feelings get pushed to the back of your mind, and you do exactly what we stated earlier, you get on with your 9-5. Ask yourself is your current job what you really want to be doing? If the answer is no then ask yourself what it is that you would like to be doing? Then when you’ve answered that, finally ask yourself what’s stopping you from achieving this dream job of yours? The likelihood is that we may face a few challenges in getting there, but it’s not impossible. I’m going to have to retrain, to be taken seriously in what I’d like to go on and do I have to be able to show people that I’m qualified. I understand this will take time and the 9-5 is something I will continue to do until I no longer have to, the end result will be worth it however. As a new parent I’ll be able to work around my family life and create a work-life balance that’s more suitable for me and my family. I’ll be challenged everyday as I begin to make the important decisions and become my own boss. Nothing will be handed to me and it’ll take hard work to get there, but with perseverance I’ll arrive at the end destination, and so can you, just don’t be afraid to take the risk.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read my post everyone, it means a lot. Please feel free to like and leave a comment, I look forward to hearing from you. See you all real soon.

The 12 Week Plan

Welcome everyone, I hope you’re all well and finding some form of motivation in these difficult times. If the future feels a little daunting, which to be completely honest, for most of us it does, hopefully this post will help to alleviate some of those worries. I received a text message yesterday just after 5 o’clock, within the message it stated that I was one of the 1.5 million individuals that come under the high-risk category if I was to contract coronavirus. Now, I’d been expecting this but it still came as a shock when the message actually arrived, it somehow made everything feel deadly serious. The thought of contracting this horrible disease is frightening and so is the idea of being housebound for twelve weeks. So, with all that in mind, in this post I’m going to discuss the things I’ll be doing throughout the twelve weeks to remain sane, keep myself motivated and most importantly, stay healthy.

Firstly, now this is incredibly simple and takes very little time at all to complete, I’m going to make my bed and get dressed every day. Pretty basic right? The truth is, well for me anyway, that if I don’t do these very basic things my day never really starts, I cannot differentiate between morning, afternoon and night if I’m walking around in my pyjamas all day. By making your bed it means you are unlikely to get back into it during the day, by getting dressed it allows you to feel like your starting the day in a proactive way. I’m trying to keep my day as close to normal as is currently possible, if there was no coronavirus right now what would we being doing with our days? For the vast majority of us we’d be getting up, getting washed and dressed and then heading to work, so why should the routine stop just because we’re in isolation? Some people may be able to complete their regular jobs whilst at home, if so that’s awesome, but if like me you’re unable to do that, then let’s continue on and fill our days with other productive things.

I’ve started to write down a daily plan in my planner, again this might seem pretty basic and in actual fact it’s something I used to do regularly, but in recent times there’s been very few entries in the diary. Why have I started doing this now? Well, in order to fit different things into my day, I need there to be structure, from experience I’ve found it very hard to stick to things if I don’t know when I’m meant to be doing them. If they’re written down there can be no confusion, it takes away the debate we always have with ourselves about which task to start first, a debate that normally leads to procrastination. knowing what we’re doing and when breaks the day down conveniently for us, with that structure it feels like separate portions of a day rather than just one long expanse of time, something I feel helps productivity. Along with setting detailed plans in the planner I’ve also cleared and readied my office space, since having Ezra I often do my writing around the house, It’s sometimes easier that way because I’m mobile, if Ezra needs something I’m on hand to help if needed. It’s also driven by the amount of time I used to have, I’d get back from work at 6pm and be in bed by 10pm, those four hours in-between where spent as a family, cooking dinner and using whatever was left to write. However, there’s no reason not to sit in my office now, with so much time to use I can fit it all in without worry, having a dedicated place to write again will certainly help with productivity and make me more focused.

As well as writing, of which I’ll be doing a lot, another huge focus has been my initiative, Ditching the Dad Body. This is something that’s been on my mind for quite some time, I started in early March with the aim to set an example for Ezra with the way I eat and exercise, incorporating a healthy lifestyle into my routine. I was doing rather well up until the coronavirus pandemic really started, running after work during the week, eating fresh meals every day and cutting out takeaways. When I was told last week that I needed to self-isolate for seven days this new healthy way of life drifted away, partly because I was stressed and worried, but also because I got lazy. My routine was gone, I’d run after work because it was convenient and I didn’t like the idea of home workouts, the frustrating thing is when I stopped exercising properly my appetite slunk back into its old habits. Although, now knowing that I won’t be able to leave my house for twelve weeks has actually reinvigorated me, Ditching the Dad Body just needs a few tiny alterations that’s all. I will instead follow a home workout called Focus T25, this is a workout from Beachbody who are a very reputable company that get results. As the name suggests it’s only 25 minutes long, perfect for fitting into my daily schedule. The programme also lasts for ten weeks, which fits nicely into my twelve week isolation period, what’s not to like? I’m hopeful that by exercising throughout the week I’ll remain motivated; it’ll keep my mind active and release good endorphins that should promote a positive mental attitude. There are some wonderful free workouts to complete at the present time as well, Joe Wicks is performing free PE lessons/workouts for children and adults, why not make this part of your day?

Another aspiration of mine in recent times has been to start an online open learning course, with what’s transpired over the last few weeks I’m finding it hard to grasp a reason not to start one now. Financially I will have to assess whether this is a realistic thing to be doing but I certainly have the time, why shouldn’t we set new goals? It would be something positive to come out of twelve weeks stuck at home, it also gives me something to aim for and look forward to. At the end we will also have something tangible and useful that can be used in the future, something we can be proud to show off, to let people know what we’ve achieved. Now, this idea might not be for everyone, I’m quite a studious individual which is why I’d look at a course in something I find interesting, but try using a part of your day to learn something different, who knows you might come out of isolation with a wonderful new passion.

Lastly, I will look to read a little more often. I’ve always been quite an avid reader but with work and a new baby taking priority in recent months, my reading pace has slowed. With an entire twelve weeks to dissect I’m sure there will be ample time to read, there’s many reasons why I feel reading will help a lot of us who are stuck in isolation. The biggest and most important is that it’s pure escapism, if we’re reading a novel or in my case an epic fantasy trilogy it allows us to be someone else, be doing something else. In that period of the day put aside for reading we’re suddenly no longer the person stuck in isolation but a hundred different characters, living a hundred different lives, and I feel like that’s liberating when all you’ve seen recently is the same four walls of your house. We also learn a great deal by reading, it keeps us informed and our brains ticking over, if you’ve got aspirations like me to one day be a success within the writing industry then reading is certainly a way to learn new, useful techniques. Of course, my family will also be filling a huge portion of my day, I’m looking forward to having so much time to spend together, having so long together is something we’ve not experienced before because our schedules have always been so hectic.

I’m going to finish this post by answering a question that you might have been wanting to ask, how does any of this prevent me from worrying about contracting coronavirus or the future? In truth, we will always have these worries, until coronavirus is defeated it’s hard not to panic, but by setting a routine like I’ve discussed throughout this post it will keep our minds occupied. Having a routine and things to look forward to during your day will make it far more enjoyable, if we sit there worrying ourselves silly about everything, it’ll end up feeling like a very long isolation period indeed.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read my post everyone, it means a lot. Please feel free to like and leave a comment, I look forward to hearing from you. See you all real soon.

Covid-19 – A Dads Perspective

Welcome back everyone, sorry it’s been a week since my last post, the worlds suddenly turned rather crazy recently. Me, Ezra and Chantelle are all currently in self isolation and have been for the last four days, within this post I’m going to discuss what it’s been like for us as new parents during this time, paying particular attention to our thoughts and worries within this ensuing pandemic.

Where to start eh? It really has been a whirlwind week in which everything seems to be changing on an hourly basis, I think we should probably start with what it’s like being cooped up with a 6 ½ month old baby whilst unable to leave the house. Now, I’m all for extended holidays and if you’d asked me a few weeks ago about self-isolation, I’d have probably said it sounds like a reasonable idea. Of course, I like many others have come to realise that coronavirus is something to be taken seriously, poor Ezra hasn’t the slightest idea why everything seems to have stalled. He’s like all of us, bored of the same thing day in day out. This is perhaps the biggest struggle we’ve faced so far as parents within this isolation period, we have an incredibly energetic baby, a baby that’s learning so quickly we can’t keep up. Oh, and to add to all the new things Ezra’s learning, he’s also teething, typical right? Going out was one of the highlights of his day, even if it was only to be walked round the town in his pushchair, he’s an outdoor baby that loves fresh air. All of his play dates are currently cancelled so he’s not been able to interact with the other babies from baby steps. These were also a good reason for all the new parents to get together and just chat, catch up and talk about their children, I know this is definitely a part of the week Chantelle has missed. You’ve all of a sudden lost that face to face contact with other people that’re going through exactly what you are, which can be a difficult thing to lose. Ezra’s sleep has taken a hit as well, we’re trying hard to keep him entertained but he’s got a seemingly endless supply of energy to burn, meaning his night time routine has become frequented with disturbances. He’s getting better as the week draws to a close, it’s true that some of this disturbance could be down to growth spurts and teething, but I’m convinced this isolation and uncertainty is playing a part. With each passing day however, I’m hit by the fact that this is probably not something that’s going to change anytime soon, so we better get on with things the best way we can. Look towards the future with positivity, keeping one eye firmly on the present, we cannot ignore what’s unfolding around us, but we can focus on all the good things life will bring us once this has passed. I’ve heard a lot of negativity from all different age groups, people saying things like ‘well we’ve all got to die at some point’. That statement is 100% true, we do all have to die at some point, but don’t be so utterly ridiculous by thinking that it has to be now, we all have so much to look forward to. Coronavirus is not the end, but it could be if you give in and choose to let it get you down, enjoy your life, limited as things are at the moment.

One thing that’s been niggling at me, both as a parent and as an adult, is how this pandemic will impact us financially, I’m not being negative when I say this, just realistic. As a dad with a family to support it’s getting very hard to ignore what kind of ramifications coronavirus will have on both short and long term. In the present, currently on SSP due to being off work in isolation, the question of keeping a roof over our heads falls into place. Nobody can live on SSP, I feel lucky to be getting that, there are many people within this country who’ve lost their jobs, they have families to support as well. The weekly food shop gets tighter and tighter, not just financially but also because of all this crazy stock piling that’s gripped the nation, I think in the immediate future it’ll be a case of prioritising which bills we can pay and which we can’t. There is of course going to be plenty of long-term plans that might be affected as well, marriage, learning to drive, studying and Ezra’s university/ house deposit fund are just a few of ours that are already being put on hold. I’m not saying these things are completely scrapped but we have to, for the moment at least, be realistic with where our money is used. The government intervention will be a huge help to all of us, of that there’s no doubt, I do think this will take time to initiate though, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

It’s important in times like these to make the most of what we have, as a parent I’m going to be concentrating on building strong bonds with Ezra, like I’ve said, he’s developing really quickly, learning new things every day and I’m glad I’m here to see him evolve. If there is to be a prolonged period of isolation or as some press have stated, complete lockdown, I will try and start an English course that I’ve been looking into for a little while which should keep me occupied. (This will be money dependant) As well as spending good, quality family time with Ezra and Chantelle I’ll also use this time to set new goals, I think when this pandemic has passed it’ll be important to know what we want to do and how we’re going to do it. Whether that’s simply finding steady income, settling back into your current job or going out and trying something completely different, if you set out plans now, they’ll become so much easier to attain when the time comes.

I’m going to finish this post like I usually do, by stating the obvious. Getting through coronavirus is going to be hard. I’ve already seen the impact its had on my life, motivation and general wellbeing, I hate to think what it might be like If I were to have/contract this horrible disease. As always though, staying positive about things and concentrating on what we can do is vital, I’m lucky that Ezra is so young and probably won’t remember much of this but I’m still going to be an example for him. I won’t let him see me get frustrated or down, when he’s bored and annoyed I won’t let that stop me trying to keep him entertained, it wont stop me trying to make his day the best it can be. Coronavirus, like isolation is only going to be temporary, the sooner we come to realise this and concentrate on fighting this disease, and also by listening to Boris, things will become easier.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read my post everyone, it means a lot. Please feel free to like and leave a comment, I look forward to hearing from you. See you all real soon.

Ditching The Dad Body – An Update

Welcome everyone, to another addition of A.P Writing. Although this post will only be a short one, I’ll look to keep it informative and interesting, as the title suggests it’ll detail my progress through Ditching the Dad Body. I’ve been following the initiative for five days now and I’ll be completely honest, it’s been difficult.

So, I guess what you’re all wondering is what kind of programme I’m following? Well, to be truthful I’m not following any particular programme, instead I’m running or doing weights one day and resting on the next, alternating this day on day off pattern. I did seriously consider starting a professional programme like Insanity or Transform 20, for those of you who don’t know, these are programmes run by a company called Beachbody and they’re extremely effective. The main problem I have with these kind of programmes however, is that they’re quite restrictive, it’s everyday for 6 to 8 weeks, from my point of view I simply couldn’t commit to that rigid routine. When I run, I go straight from work after the day’s finished, I’m home by 18-30pm ready to be dad again. As much as I’d love to commit to a strategic 2 month programme it’s not fair on Ezra or Chantelle, they still need me to be dad, I can’t push my responsibilities aside every night to complete a workout. I wouldn’t have it any other way either, for those expecting parents out there, all those new dads, it really is the best feeling in the world knowing you get to leave work and come home to your beautiful baby. You’ll find that the time you have to spare becomes precious, of course, there is time for things like running but it’s about being practical, fitting those things around your responsibilities as a parent.

One thing I’ve really concentrated hard on though is my diet, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that my diet before starting Ditching the Dad Body was absolutely atrocious. I’ve cut out crisps and chocolate completely, instead replacing them for healthier alternatives. I’ve switched to more meals throughout the day, these meals being healthier. I think to give you some perspective I should probably run you through what my daily food intake used to look like. So, I’d have some kind of cereal in the morning, normally coco pops, I’d get to work and eat my lunch which would be some kind of sandwich, crisps, chocolate bars and fruit that I’d end up leaving. Later in the day I’d get hungry again, go to Subway or Greggs and order a baguette and more crisps, upon arriving home I’d drink a mug of coffee and order us a takeaway. Now, it’s no excuse but when you’re a new parent your time is often limited, that style of living is something I fell into because it was comfortable, to make a change you really have to want to. I make sure that all my lunches and dinners now contain some form of fruit or vegetable, I don’t snack on junk food like I used to either. It does take some sacrificing and will power, I’d actually go as far as to say that the eating healthy part of Ditching the Dad Body is 100% harder than the physical working out part. Being strict must come with some rewards however, every two weeks I will allow myself a cheat day. This is something I’ve learned from previous experience, I can’t eat this way indefinitely, but in order to make it a way of life I need to allow for a blowout every now and again. This’ll allow me to re-energise, re-focus and move forward full of new motivation.

Again, being truthful, the first time I went for a run nearly killed me, my legs felt like they might fall off and I had to walk for a little while. The second time wasn’t any easier either, believe me I’ve wanted to pack it all in, but this isn’t about me anymore. If I give up it’s not just me I’m letting down, it’s Ezra as well, I want him to see me setting an example, what kind of example would I be setting if I just gave up when things get hard? He doesn’t always make it easy, long nights with disrupted sleep don’t mix particulary well with healthy living but as I keep saying, things will get easier. I’m going to end this post by letting you know a little secret, the more you prove to yourself you can do something, the less daunting it becomes, I’ve never felt so motivated to Ditch the Dad Body. You can use that positive energy in everything you do, our little ones won’t always make things easy but with a tiny bit of determination we’ll see results.

As always everyone, thanks for taking the time to read through my post, I really do appreciate all the support. Please feel free to leave a comment and like, you can also find me on Facebook at A.P Writing, catch you all real soon.

When did you learn to do that?

Rolling over, babbling, crawling and maybe even sitting up, what do all these things have in common? Well, for the average person not a lot, they’re just words, but if your life is full of the challenges associated with raising a new-born, these things are probably becoming commonplace. Ezra’s surprising us every day with each new trick he’s somehow learned, within this post I’m going to discuss what all new parents can expect when their baby starts to develop. So, grab a quick cuppa and put your feet up, we’ve got lots to cover.

I’m going to open this post by making it clear that there really isn’t any particular time frame for when you can expect your baby to start doing these things. The reason I’d like to highlight this point is because as new parents we can often put far too much pressure on ourselves when it comes to the rate at which our baby is developing. Relax and let your little munchkin lead the way, getting upset that your friends’ baby has started rolling over already and yours hasn’t leaves nothing but negativity. This is something I’d say both me and Chantelle suffered with at the beginning, of course as new parents it multiplied our worries as well, we only knew for certain what we read on the internet, and even that was inconsistent. Some websites will say your baby should be all singing and dancing at 6 months old, others will quote 4 months, all I’ll say is ignore all that and focus on what’s in front of you. Ezra is over 6 months old now, he can roll over, partially crawl and babbles to anyone that’ll listen, but he can’t sit up yet, am I worried? Absolutely not. He’ll get there in his own time and the important thing is that he’s trying, his attempts at sitting up currently result in a few giggles, a little chat and then a paddy when he realises, he’s not quite ready yet. I can’t help but feel proud to be completely honest, for the past two weeks he’s tried to sit up and each time he gets closer than the last, it won’t be long before he raises himself up all on his own.

It can be quite frightening seeing our new-borns suddenly roll over or come out with a new, strange sound for the first time. I remember thinking ‘is he meant to do that?’ when Ezra first rolled over, it seems silly now but you’ve got to remember that most new parents haven’t got vast amounts of experience to fall back on, each new thing can be pretty daunting. I’ll give you an example, Ezra no longer wants to sleep on his back, proffering to settle instead on his side, this is fine until he decides to roll onto his front during the night. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve woken in a panic and moved Ezra back onto his back, he’s persistent though and in the end, we spoke to our health visitor because like all parents, not just new parents, we became worried. We soon found our worries quashed however, as the health visitor pointed out, Ezra can roll himself over comfortably now, it’s natural that he’ll do it in his sleep, and as easy as that our panic was over, crazy eh?

I think it can sometimes be hard to imagine our beautiful little new-borns being anything other than new-borns, we get used to them needing us for everything, so when they suddenly sit up by themselves it feels strange, we don’t always know how to react. The problem as well is more often than not they’ll try learning all these new things all at once, one day they’re relying on you to lift them up and feed them, the next they’re pulling the bottle out of your hands and sat up using nothing but their own devices. I’m learning to embrace it, like I said earlier, my first port of call was always to worry, that’s natural right? I’m a new dad and learning on the job, when something changes, I always assumed it’s for the negative but in reality, it’s all positive, while I learn how to be a dad, Ezra’s learning anything and everything he can. Enjoy it while you can is what I’ve been told, before we know it our little new-borns will be walking, talking, eating machines and we’ll need eyes in the back of our head.

Occasionally, learning all this new stuff can result in our little ones brains becoming overactive, and you may experience sleep regression. This is quite common I’m told and is definitely something Ezra has suffered with; his sleep has been sporadic to say the least. It’s not really that surprising when you think about it though, when his brain is constantly whirring with all the cool things he’s learning, sleep can become a difficult business. Try looking at it as a positive thing however, it shows that your baby is learning and developing, even if it means long nights for us. I’m going to finish this post by stating the obvious, being a parent is hard, especially a new parent, but the things we’re struggling with will always get easier. Lets enjoy this new-born period now because it will only come around once, make the most of every new thing they learn, capture each moment and treasure it.

Thanks as always for taking the time to read through my post everyone, I hope you found it useful and I look forward to writing the next. Please feel free to leave a comment and like the post, see you all real soon.


Ditching The Dad Body

Welcome back everyone, I hope you’re all well and enjoying life. I’ll keep this post short, as the title suggests my new initiative moving into March will be ditching my dad body. Over the last twelve months I’ve acquired quite impressive levels of laziness, eating far too many takeaways and living generally care free when it comes to food and exercise. What’s caused this? I hear you ask. Honestly, I’d say becoming a dad has contributed most, you learn quickly that your time isn’t actually yours anymore. It becomes easier to order a takeaway rather than cook, time to yourself turns into much needed sleep, exercise nothing but a pipe dream.

Tomorrow however, Ezra turns six months old and that means one thing, he can now begin eating blitzed down variations of what we eat, I need to start setting an example. Personally, I think he’s already impressionable, he copies our facial expressions and words are already forming. It’s not such an exaggeration to say he’s picking up on my poor eating/exercise habits, I need to make improvements. This has been bubbling for some time if truth be told, I’m sometimes guilty of using parenthood as a convenient excuse for being lazy, but now there’s no excuse, ditching the dad body high on my priority list.

With that in mind I’ve decided that A.P Writing is perhaps the best platform to make these lifestyle changes. It’ll be motivating to share with you all what it’s like for an unfit, new dad to try and get into shape once more, so stay tuned over the next few months to see how I get on.

Running on Fumes – The Night Routine

Hello everyone and welcome back to A.P Writing, tonight I’ll be discussing something that all new parents go through when raising their baby, sleep deprivation. It still amazes me how quickly you can get used to disrupted nights, food at all hours and no sleep. Looking back over the last six months I’d have to say this is the one thing that’s affected me most, how are we meant to function properly when we’ve only slept for two hours a night? To be honest I can’t give you a definitive answer to that question, we simply do, we get up, we deal with it and we carry on, that’s what being a parent is all about right? I’m actually pretty lucky really, I’ve got an incredibly understanding partner who takes on 99% of the night-time routine, allowing me to somewhat function while I’m at work during the day. Even with that support I still struggle though, so throughout this post I’ll be sharing what the last six months have taught me.

For the first week after Ezra’s birth we stayed with my family, as new parents I’d describe this support as invaluable, having the ability to ask questions no matter how silly or insignificant you thought they were really helped. It also allowed us small breaks during the day after many disrupted nights. If you’re feeling nervous about the first few weeks I’d advise being honest, speak to those who can help, it doesn’t have to be family it could be close friends, as long as they can offer that support you might need at the time. Now, this is not something that’s set in stone, if you’re feeling confident, perhaps this is not your first child and you don’t need that extra support, all I’d say is it’s worth considering. When I look back to that first week now It makes me laugh, I remember Ezra getting hiccups for the first time and me being the worrying new parent that I am had convinced myself something was wrong. My dad walked up to me, took Ezra and calmly said its only hiccups son, within five minutes he had him asleep, hiccups gone and panic averted. Imagine that something so small had me so worried, but It was something you’ve got to learn, having that person at hand who’s got the knowledge and isn’t fazed really can take away some of your stress in those early stages.

So, what is a typical night in the life of a baby? The truth is that every baby is unique, one things for sure though, nearly every baby will have you up at all hours to begin with. Ezra used to wake between 3-4 times a night, some of those times would be for a feed and others would be that he needed the reassurance from a parent that he was safe. Think of how they must feel, they’ve been curled up asleep for 9 months and all of a sudden they’re free to move around, there’s all these new smells, colours, bright lights, it must be terrifying. In another post I’m going to discuss the importance of pre baby groups and the role that they play, we went to one called Baby Steps and all I’ll say is that speaking to the other parents from that group, our babies all have differing patterns and routines. Some are sleeping straight through, others won’t sleep at all, I’d describe Ezra as in between, he’ll have a good night and then a bad one. There are differing theories as to why one baby will sleep and another won’t, but don’t get disheartened when your child refuses to give in, it might take them more time that’s all. I actually think the worst thing you can do when your baby has restless nights is convince yourself it’s your fault, that you’re doing something wrong. Truthfully, you’re probably doing everything right, but by worrying you can end up convincing yourself that you should be doing more, don’t put that pressure on yourself. This also goes for the advice others can often give, take the good and let the bad sail past, just because something worked for one person that doesn’t mean it’ll work for everyone. There’s no blueprint to parenting, believe me I wish there was, it’d make life much easier at times, but the only way to learn is on the job and our babies are the best teachers.

When you hear your baby cry for the first time something changes inside you, well it did for me anyway, you realise all at once how proud you feel, that’s your baby making that noise, you’ve helped produce that new life. You might also like me, think your babies cry is cute when first heard, I’d have to say my opinion has changed slightly since then, when Ezra cries now it’s with far more vehemence. I read somewhere that our babies cry becomes so unique to them that as parents we’d recognise it anywhere, even in a room full of screaming children you’d be able to pinpoint your own. I’d have to say I agree, but by the fourth sleepless night in a row this cry has you at breaking point, it’s designed to get that reaction however and that’s what I remind myself now when I’m getting a tirade of noise from Ezra. The only way our babies can really communicate with us is through noise, they can’t sit up and say dad I’m hungry, can I have some food? Their cry is meant to prick every nerve we have so we realise they want or need something, it could be food, a bum change, or they might just want a cuddle. One thing I’ve learned is to roll with it, no matter how frustrated they’re making you, no matter how loud that scream of theirs is, it’s only your babies’ way of communicating. As hard as it may be sometimes I try looking at it from Ezra’s perspective, his whole life rests on me and Chantelle, without us he can’t eat, change his bum, even sit up, if I had to rely on someone like that I think I’d cry a lot as well.

I’m going to end this post with the notion that a babies sleeping pattern can be incredibly temperamental, and at times it does feel like the whole world is on our shoulders as parents, lets be honest here, parenthood is hard. Things will get easier however, I’m starting to see this now, we still have many sleepless nights with Ezra but he’s developing every day, growing up so fast.

As always thanks for taking the time to read my post everyone, it means a lot. Please feel free to leave a comment, I’ve also created a new Facebook page which you can find here

See you all real soon.

The Hospital and Birth – A Dads Perspective

The Hospital
For me this is when life with a new-born really started, although Ezra was still blissfully tucked away, completely unaware of the outside world, mummy and daddy where already having sleepless nights. I’ve probably made that sound much more dramatic than it really was but the week leading up to Ezra’s birth felt like the longest week in history. This was due to a multitude of things, lots of trips to the hospital with reduced movement, Chantelle, the amazing mother of our little Ezra struggling to get comfortable at night, but I think what really caused us the most stress was that Ezra arrived six days late. Every day we’d expect something to happen and it didn’t, I’d be sat at work unable to think of anything else, but still the little munchkin made us wait. We ended up being called into the hospital and Chantelle was induced, I thought great, job done we’ll be in and out within the night, just a quick note to all expecting dads, it’s never that simple. At first, you’re filled with a great excitement, we’re finally here, it’s actually happening at last. Then for me at least the worrying kicks in, all these doubts creeping forward, what if I’m a terrible father? What if something goes wrong? These thoughts are the result of our human emotions, having a child is one of the most life changing things we can experience, of course we’re going to have irrational thoughts, just roll with them and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Once the initial worrying stage has passed it’s onto good old waiting around for something to happen, the nurses bless them tried multiple methods to speed along Ezra’s arrival but he’s as stubborn as his parents and refused to budge. During all this hanging around there’s lots happening that we can’t really see, lots of tests on Chantelle to make sure she and Ezra are okay, lots of talking and lots of noise. Perhaps it’s just me but I didn’t feel very welcome, you’re probably wondering what I mean by that aren’t you? Well in truth the nurses priority is mother and baby, that’s how it should be in my opinion but the father is not even on their radar. As I touched on earlier we as dads are going through many different emotions right about now, we’re trying to stay strong for our partners, trying to ease their worries but who eases ours? I’ve probably come across quite selfishly there, why should I be thinking of myself at a time like this? Well dads, the truth is you’ll need support as well, luckily for me Chantelle had already thought ahead and arranged for two birthing partners, me and her sister Leighanne (she’s good like that). I’d advise if you’re nervous to possibly arrange something similar, it could be another family member, a close friend, anyone who puts both parents at ease. See I learned this next point quite quickly, nothing happens very fast when nobody’s relaxed, having that extra person there to crack jokes and discuss any worries you may be having can sometimes make all the difference.

Eventually and after many tea’s, coffees and idle chat certain things started happening, just my luck then that everything happened when I was sat in the hospital cafeteria stuffing my face. We’d been waiting for 18 hours for Ezra to give us a sign that he was preparing to depart but still no arrival seemed imminent so Chantelle had been given some strong pain relief and while she slept I’d gone to get some food. It’d been so long since I’d last eaten I wasn’t sure if it was breakfast, brunch or dinner that I was eating, all I know was that it cost a fortune and I was so nervous I could barely eat anyway. This is perhaps another tip I’d give to expecting dads, as hard as it may feel at the time, don’t forget to eat, Chantelle needed all her strength and energy for what was to come but so did I, especially for what came next. Upon entering the ward once more I immediately knew things had changed and we where entering another stage, Chantelle was absent and the bedsheets where in the process of being changed, her waters had broken. Again, que the panic, all I wanted right then was to find her, make sure she was okay and discuss our next steps with a nurse. In the future if we’re lucky enough to have other children I don’t think this would’ve been half as nerve wracking but right then I could’ve floated away with all the butterflies filling my stomach. When checked over it transpired that Chantelle was 5cm dilated and we needed to get her down to the birthing ward, now here’s when things get interesting, in the twenty minutes it took to get her down to the birthing room she went from 5cm to 8cm dilated. At one point even the midwives weren’t sure if we’d have time to get her into the birthing pool, however the situation calmed down pretty quickly once in the room and ready for delivery, Ezra just wanted us on our toes. Over the next six hours Chantelle progressed through active labour, me and Leighanne doing our best to calm her, offer encouragement and work alongside the midwives when needed. I could describe these six hours in so many different ways but I’d never be able to give the situation justice, so I’ll simply call it a magical experience. My overriding fear as a dad was that something was going to go horribly wrong, that’s my partner, my little baby there fighting his way into this world, I remember offering more than a few silent prayers for everything to run smoothly. Our midwife was absolutely incredible and along with Leighanne kept my and Chantelle relaxed, well as relaxed as humanly possible when experiencing child birth. I must’ve looked white as a ghost because about three hours in the midwife turned to me and asked if I was okay, she said I looked like I would faint. Believe it or not I’d prepared for this, I think the dads out there will be surprised how strong they can be when the time comes, nothing could’ve put me down. Now, the real hero here is Chantelle and all the other mothers going through child birth, by now she had been pushing hard and simply couldn’t push any further, it was time for the suction cup. There’s probably a really scientific name for the instrument used to pull Ezra his last few inches into the world but suction cup sounds much cooler. One thing to prepare for dads is that your baby may arrive shocked and by shocked I mean a little lifeless. By this point I was already in tears, I’m not even ashamed to admit it, a grown man bursting into tears, that feeling when you see your baby for the first time is something I simply cannot put into words. Of course I thought because Ezra was shocked something was wrong, he only needed warming up that’s all. I’d advise in situations like this to just let the professionals do their jobs, within minutes they had Ezra warm and I was holding him in my arms, at a loss for words.

Once Chantelle was stitched up and had been checked over we spent the next hour getting to know our little baby boy. Make the most of this time because it’s truly precious, I don’t say that lightly either, we are the first people our babies see, enjoy those first moments of bonding, it’s a traumatic experience for them as well as us, they’ll be looking for the love and care only a parent can give. Me and Chantelle will treasure this time forever, it’s also when all the learning starts, straight away you’re fascinated by all the little movements they make, perhaps you’ll here that first cry as well.

Now, moving forward a few hours, once all the initial meeting between baby and parents has taken place you’ll be faced with a choice, breast feed or bottle feed. A lot of you will probably already have made that decision before entering the hospital and in some ways we had as well. It had been our plan for Ezra to breast feed and if we really couldn’t get him to latch, we’d resort to bottles. I want to put it out there that no matter how much pressure is put on you from pre-birth groups, midwives, even relatives, it’s okay to bottle feed your baby. After eight straight hours on and off we couldn’t get Ezra to feed naturally, but he had no trouble whatsoever latching to a bottle. I know Chantelle felt guilty and like she’d somehow failed at the first hurdle, I’ll say the same thing to you I said to her, don’t be so ridiculous. After everything she’d been through and she thought she’d failed, I couldn’t believe it, it’s at this point dads that we should reassure our partners and give them a gentle reminder of what they’ve just accomplished.

I’m going to end this post on a lighter note of childbirth, your babies first poo, after many sleepless nights and the effort you’ve put into birthing your baby or babies, this is sure to brighten your day. We had no idea Ezra had even pooped, but let me tell you we could’ve laid down new roads with what came out his bottom, it’s like the stickiest tar substance ever created. It took both of us to change him and at the time was pretty eye opening, looking back now we can’t help but laugh though, it’s amazing how quickly you adapt.

As always I hope you’ve all enjoyed my blog post everyone, feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you’ve got questions or something you’d like me to discuss.