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.


But You Don’t Look Unwell

Welcome back Everyone! I’d like to start this post with an apology, sorry for the lack of posts recently, life as it often does, has taken over. We’re back however and it feels great to be writing again. I’m going to discuss something in this post that I feel is relevant to pretty much everyone in their daily lives, whether you’re a new parent, suffering with crohn’s or simply just being the best version of yourself. So, what’s this thing that’s relevant to all of us then? Well, I’ll come straight out with it, personally I feel there’s a concept in today’s society that unless you look unwell, you’re not unwell. Now, that statements possibly a tad dramatic but there’s also a hint of truth behind it, silent illnesses are a real thing. We’re very good at putting on that perfect visage, getting up and going about our daily lives like everyone else, but do we really know what a person is truly feeling?

As you all know, I suffer with crohn’s disease. This is something that until starting A.P Writing I’ve kept to myself, it’s not particularly visible from the outside but it has a huge impact on my life. I’ll come onto how it impacts my life later in this post, but for now I’m going to talk about what’s made me want to discuss it, why now after years of being embarrassed? The truth is becoming a father has made me see things from a completely different perspective, if you don’t share these invisible illnesses they’ll just swallow you up, it’s okay to not be okay sometimes. Of course, crohn’s is my invisible illness but there’s more to life than crohn’s disease, you might be someone who’s battling depression, anxiety, perhaps you suffer from PTSD. The point I’m making is we cannot immediately see this in a person, we’ll take them at first glance, and at first glance everything’s as it should be. When that person says I’m not well we’ll automatically think ‘well you don’t look unwell’ , some people might even say it, I’ve had that many times and let me tell you it’s probably the worst thing you can say to someone suffering with an invisible illness. How is anyone meant to build up the confidence to open up if they’re put down before they can begin? I don’t think that many people if any do this deliberately, why would we? I think it’s perhaps down to years of associating real illnesses with some kind of visible form, that and the emergence of social media. News is so readily available nowadays and we’re so easily influenced by what we read, we’ll see that some celebrity is struggling and what a mess they are, their pictures will be spread over every magazine, always the worst photo of that individual. To the average person they’ll look at social media and think ‘I don’t want people to think I’m like that, these problems I’m having I’ll just keep those quiet I think’. Social media, in fact media in general is a fickle business, we all saw the tragic events that unfolded surrounding Caroline Flack. It’s unforgivable the role media played in her death, they portrayed her as guilty until proven innocent, the invisible illness she was suffering with, whether that was depression or something else was completely ignored, we weren’t asking if she was alright, assuming that on the face of things she was fine and she was probably too scared to open up to us.

Earlier in this post I said I’d explain how an invisible illness like crohn’s can affect my daily life, like most illnesses there are good and bad days, I’ll be discussing an average day. Now, believe it or not, most days start with a quick dash to the bathroom, poop number one never can wait. If I’m lucky I might get a sip or two of tea before it’s time for poop number two, sometimes poop number three comes before breakfast, but it’s normally after. Of course, we can’t go to work without poop number four making an appearance. I’m sorry for being so graphic everyone but that is honestly an average start for me and a lot of people who suffer with crohn’s. If I’m tired or fatigued, mainly at the end of the week, I might be sick in the morning as well, add to that the five tablets I take for good measure and the day’s off to a wonderful start. Ezra isn’t sleeping particularly well at the moment either so both me and Chantelle are quite drained before the days even begun. I’ll arrive at work feeling empty, despite it only being 8-30am I’m ready to eat lunch I’m that hungry, I’m drained after losing many nutrients through going to the toilet so much and I now have to pretend to be happy, I have to put on that visage we talked about earlier. The day will progress, I’ll eat lunch at 10/11am, end up buying more lunch to try and feel full up, I’ll think bout falling asleep at my desk, already thinking about getting home and going to bed. Eventually work will finish, I’ll come home knackered, spend some time with my beautiful partner and son, go for poop number five and six if they didn’t already come in the morning and finally struggle to eat dinner, after taking another two tablets I roll into bed and repeat all again tomorrow. As I’ve said that is an average day, a bad day would be a flare up which would likely keep me in bed unable to be much help or use to anyone. If you took me at face value however you wouldn’t think anything was wrong, I talk as you’d expect anyone would, act normal and don’t express what I’m feeling, but you can see what it’s like just to get to work sometimes. I consider myself lucky because my crohn’s is manageable, for some it really isn’t and they’re just unable to complete the things we all take for granted, like going to work or exercising. This is applicable for many silent illnesses not just crohn’s, depression is a huge taboo subject at the moment, we’re trying to raise awareness but still not enough people feel confident enough to come forward and talk about their problems. So, with all that I’ve discussed in mind, lets open up more and welcome others opening up to us, no more of the ‘but you don’t look unwell mentality‘.

The majority of people in our society are incredibly understanding and allow others to express whatever they might be dealing with, for that I’m very grateful. Moving forward I won’t be so quick to judge a book by it’s cover, I’ll also be trying to keep a more positive outlook on things, yes we all have to deal with, things we might not want to open up about but they don’t have to become limitations. I know this has been a slightly edgy post, (it’d been building for a while) but I promise the next one will be as I’ve said, far more positive. It’ll include the first few days of my new initiative Ditching the Dad Body which starts tomorrow. As always I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my posts, I’m incredibly thankful, please feel to leave a comment or a like, catch 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 https://www.facebook.com/apwriting19/

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.


A New Direction

Do you ever get the feeling that time is slowly passing you by and you’ve got very little to show for it? Well for those of you that do I’m feeling your pain, 2020 has been absolutely manic but I’d like to wish you all a belated happy new year, welcome back to A.P Writing. I’ll keep this post short and sweet, as the title suggests A.P Writing will be heading in a new direction moving forward. Over the last few months much of my writing has become quite stagnant, I’ve really struggled to sit down and work on anything with any real vigour. Of course, there are many reasons for this, holding down a full time job, helping raise our beautiful baby boy Ezra, (he’s AWESOME) but I think the telling factor is that what I’ve been writing simply isn’t inspiring me. So, with that in mind the new theme for A.P Writing will be POSITIVITY, there will be a greater focus on other topics that I’m passionate about in life. Crohn’s disease has always plagued me; however I refuse to let it control me anymore, I’ll be turning a negative into a positive, giving advice when possible and offering regular discussion. Becoming a parent will also feature heavily, I cannot describe to you how incredible it is to bring a child into this world, it’s utterly life changing. I’ll be discussing my own experiences, the good and the bad. I’m by no means an expert, but one thing has become abundantly clear, as a parent you’re constantly learning, every day is a new challenge and I’d like to share this journey with you. Now, if some of you are wondering what’s happened to my writing related topics then there’s no need to worry, they’re going nowhere. Writing and reading remain my main passion, I love talking about them and will continue to do so, giving regular updates on my own projects. I’m going to end this post by thanking you all for sticking with A.P Writing, I promise do deliver content on a more varied and consistent basis from now on. Stay tuned!! 