Monday 20 April 2015

Right, back to the task at hand then...

My last post was July. Halle was about 3 months a foetus.

She's now 4 months (nearly 5 months) a baby... Soon to be a toddler
...and then a teenager
..and then...
...No, we'll stop there.

I'd let the blog fall by the wayside (life got busy!!) and the longer I'd left it, the less inspired I felt to start writing again.

I'm finding a little time to myself every now and again, so I'm hoping I can use those precious few moments to blog my/our experiences through the fun, joy, trials and tribulations of parenthood.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

What's all the fuss about?...

When I decided to write a blog reflecting on my experiences as a father, I recognised that there may be some expectant fathers out there who would be interested to listen and share their experiences too... So I decided to try and promote my blog on the wider Internet.

I read a few dad blogs myself, and found Paul over at Gifts from the pirates. I kindly asked him to help promote my blog and he came up with a fantastic idea. He suggested we write a joint post... I would discuss my expectations and he would respond with his experiences. Here's what we both came up with.


How bad can it be?

I’m going to go out on a whim here… I’m going be a Dad, but none of the horror stories scare me or phase me at all really. Could it be that I’m being naïve? In 7 months’ time, when baby does pop out, will l find myself in utter shock? I can’t help but question, “what’s all the fuss about?”...

There are a few phrases that any Dad just HAS to say when sharing their experiences of fatherhood. Things like, “get some sleep while you can” and “say good bye to your social life”,  "that'll be the last time you get to spend any money on yourself..." But it can’t all be that bad can it? Surely the positives make up for the negatives?

Sure, your whole life changes, but surely that’s a good thing? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what being a father means and how my life is going to change once baby enters the world. I’m going to break down 3 of the most obvious changes and discuss them individually.

Losing sleep

I can’t think of too many positives about losing sleep. But then I think of it this way… 

If it were a toss up between sleeping for hours (which I’ve been terribly good at throughout my teens) and having no child vs. a messed up sleep pattern and having a child, I have absolutely no problem choosing. Besides, I work shifts, and so 06:30 starts are not unknown to me. I also think that the whole “no sleep” thing will only last for say 11/12 years… and then after that, the opposite happens. From 12 onwards, you buy bombs and grenades and sirens to rouse your stroppy teenager from their pit… All in all, it’s not ideal, but I can think of a lot worse.

'I have been so lucky in regards to the subject of Losing sleep. When extended breastfeeding is the path you chose as parents there is little us dads can do physically and much of our time during the evenings is support. The routine in our relationship was that Mrs M would feed through the night and when Opeie was ready to get up (no matter what time it was) i would get up with him, this was usually around 5am but ranged from anywhere between 3-6am. Not having to be at work was a blessing for me though as it meant i could close my eyes and drift off with him for an hour. The lack of sleep issue can be hard, all you need to remember is to support each other, the last thing you want is sleep deprivated arguements. I found dishing out a foot rub here and there made all the difference to Mrs M's well being'.

Losing social life

I love doing ‘stuff’. I’m a ‘stuff’ specialist. I love trying new things, going to new places, engaging in new hobbies. My wife will tell you that I have ADHD, which I don’t, and that I’m obsessed with everything, which I am… So when people say “say goodbye to your social life” I worry a little. Is thisguna be the end of my fun? Am I house bound to wipe bums and clear away toys for the rest of my days? I’m not sure that I will be. I won’t be saying goodbye to my social life per se… it will just be changing and heading in a different direction. 

Instead of evenings sat in the pub socialising with friends… it will be evenings spent playing with my family, creating memories. Instead of going out to a gig with my friends… it will be a day out having fun with my wife and my children. Instead of buying myself a new toy… I will be buying toys for me AND my children ;) … You get the point.

Naturally, throughout our lives, things change, we change, ourinterests change, and so on. When I was 5, there was nothing better than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers… and then when I was 15 there was nothing better than knocking on neighbour’s doors and running…  When I reached  18 and got older, there was nothing better than getting tanked up… 

My point is that our interests and desires never remain the same. I have always been aware that one day I will be a Dad and that that would mean yet another shift in the direction of my attention. I’m not scared of losing my social life, and to be honest, I’m not scared of it changing… In fact, if anything, I’m excited to begin my new social life- one that revolves around my wife and my children

But wait… I also like to think that there has to be some ‘me’ time even when you do have children. Whether it be half an hour once a week, or one day a month, or whatever… I would like to think that my wife and I will be supportive of each other’s need for ‘me’ time. Surely you do what you can. I think it’s hugely important to designate regular time for yourself… I don’t think this is selfish, I think it’s absolutely essential to being a focused parent.

'This is the subject i get a lot of aggro from Mrs M about. You may be thinking its because I'm a party animal and I'm out all the time but its quite the opposite. i don't generally make much time for myself. When Opeie was born i switched off from everything and it was all about him. I'm a huge geek when it comes to comics, superheroes and action figures, so those hobbies work out well having two young boys. Also being into custom LEGO building, fits in perfectly for the role of a hands on dad. 

Before i had children my spare time was taken up by drinking and being out partying, you are right when you say that 'interests change', it is important to make sure you keep your own interests but you start taking on the things your children are into to. If they are anything like my boys then these interests change intermittently. some times these new interests are actually old interests brought to the surface, buried deep from our childhood. It turns out i still love climbing trees, skateboarding, making a bow and arrow, digging huge holes, obviously Lego building and many many more.

Being a dad is a great way to take all those interests and the things that you learned as an innocent child and installing all the fond memories into them. The best thing this time round though is having a mini version of yourself looking up to you and shaping the way that you play.

Its only been recently that i have been making new friends and branching out but my socialising still involves my family, all of our close friends have families and the ones that don't are old friends that are more like part of the family anyway. The only time i go out without them is on the odd occasion where there is a movie i want to see. I can see the impotence of having time to yourself but i waited so long to be in the position I'm in with kids and a great relationship that its all still fresh and I'm fully embracing that. In the words of Mrs M though (an it applies to you too)."You need to be a little selfish sometimes, no one is going to hate you for it!"'.

Losing money

Tricky one. It all depends really doesn’t it? If you are minted, then money isn’t an issue. If you are poor then you might struggle and provide with what you can. Sarah and I are neither rich, nor poor… we are comfortable. Will that change once we have a baby? I think it probably will; but only as much as we let it. If we insist on spoiling our child rotten to the point that we have no money, then we may find ourselves struggling financially… If we lock our child in the coal shed, feed them bread and water, and buy them nothing then money won’t be an issue at all. Fortunately for our children neither of those are mine and Sarah’s intentions - we don't have a coal shed for starters.

Obviously we will have to start paying for things that we have never had to… child care, nappies, days out, more food, baby essentials etc. etc. etc… That will mean sacrificing some of our luxuries. But I don’t have a problem with that if it means our children will grow up comfortably.

I have no doubt that it will tighten those purse strings a little more than now… But I’m not worried about it. The last thing I want to be doing as I raise my children is worry about money.

There are certain things that you can do to soften the blow financially when having children, breastfeeding is one of the biggies! imagine all that money that many parents spend on formula milk, now imagine if you could completely take that cost away! Breastfeeding is the best thing for your child, it builds a relationship between mother and child that cannot be compared to anything else. it supplies your child with all the nutrients and antibodies that they need for the start of their healthy life and to top it off its free. If this is a route you decide to take though it is so important for you to be supportive as it's exhausting for mom.

Nappies is also one of the high cost items, to lower the cost here reusables were an enormous help, there's obviously the disadvantage of having to handle what comes out of your child rather than just rolling it up and throwing it out but its so much better for the environment aside from being a bit of relief on your weekly out goings.

I just asked Mrs M of any other money savers we have used over the years and she just pointed out two worth mentioning. Making baby food from scratch rather than buying jars etc is a big money saver. we always made extra and froze it so we were never short. Also Mrs M was and still is awesome at buying clothes a year ahead. As seasons clothes go in to the sale Mrs M snaps up the bigger clothing for the following year, genius. Don't be scared to buy second hand too it can save you a small fortune.

And I still don’t feel concerned…

Maybe I’m looking at Fatherhood through rose tinted glasses? Maybe I am being naïve? And I guess until baby arrives, I can only assume how massive these changes are going to be. However, having a positive attitude going into this is surely a good thing?  I am not worried, I’m excited. I recognise that change is afoot… but I want to embrace that! This is singularly the most life changing event of my life… Bring on the change. After all, it’s not about me anymore, is it? It’s about my children.

'It sounds to me like you have absolutely nothing to worry about, of course there are going to be some huge changes but you are fully aware of that. No matter what changes there are or what hardships you may go through that look on your childs face and those words 'daddy i love you' will out weigh it all. Being a parent defines me as a person. Meeting Mrs M And starting this adventure is where my life began'.

Tuesday 10 June 2014


That there is the 12 week scan of the newest addition to the Dudley family... His/her very first photo.
Baby has been dated as being a conceived a week later than we first thought... So he/she is 11 weeks and 2 days old. Which means the expected due date (EDD) is 27th Dec 2014; which just so happens to be Sarah's birthday.

What an incredible experience it was to see our child for the first time. The tears welled up, as a smile a mile wide came across my face. She/he was wriggling like nobodies business.
It was possible to identify the heart beat, but only visually. I was expecting to hear it, as well as see it, but apparently they don't do that there... That comes with the midwife appointments.

It all became just that little bit more real yesterday. Our anxieties (only natural) were relieved and that meant that we could go ahead and tell the world. So now everyone knows... The Dudley family is expanding.

Thursday 22 May 2014

One of these days...

The top of that ridge is called 'Crib Goch', which translates as Red Ridge.

It is pure treasure in the eyes of both mine and one of my best friend's, Karl. Crib Goch is an 'arete', or ridge, which provides the most challenging ascent of Snowdon (the second tallest mountain in the UK). It's a knife edge with an elevation of 923 meters (3,028 ft in old money) and is famous for being a challenging, but enjoyable, scramble.

Karl and I will often escape the hustle and bustle of the rat race (and the nagging of our other halves), for the peace, tranquility and adventure of the Welsh mountains. When we went last time, we found ourselves looking up at Crib Goch with a desperate longing to conquer it... Unfortunately, our lack of experience combined with the dangerous weather meant we had to go for the easier route :(
I think about it often, and we were due to be going to Wales this month. Sucks that it will have to wait for another month.

Jonesy, we will make it to the top of Snowdon before sprog enters the world... that's a promise!

Nesting already...

With a few days of nice weather, I chose to spend some time working on our front garden. If you know me at all, then you'll know that I have the exact opposite of green fingers... so that would be red fingers then, according to the colour wheel. It took around three days, a fight with some serious brambles, and some well earned pennies, to get it looking like it is in these pictures. Very rewarding I have to say! A few locals from the village have commented when passing by... Which is nice -I'm always welcoming of positive feedback!
Unfortunately, I made a school boy error and forgot to take a 'before' shot, so all we have are the after shots. You're going to have to take my word for it - the garden was a STATE! A massively overgrown hedgerow, and soil that might as well be called a rockery, made for some strenuous work... The result are pleasing though.

Goodbye Friends!...

Not that I've told anybody, but about two weeks ago I 'unfollowed' all 300+ of my friends on Facebook, bar about ten of my closest friends and family. And boy does it feel good!!

It's only since then that I've realised just how much rubbish I have been feeding on. Surely it can't be healthy... constantly filling our brains with useless, pointless drivel? I don't miss it at all!! In fact, without it, I feel so fresh and so clean... I feel like I've undergone a Facebook detox!

Only a couple of weeks back, a video went viral that highlighted the social media and smartphone obessession pandemic that this nation is well and truly gripped by - ironically, that same video made numerous appearances on my Facebook feed. It's only when you take a step back from social networking, and take a look at the real world, that you notice how much time we spend with our heads in our smartphones/tablets/laptops, missing out on reality - it's difficult to see with your head in your phone. I'm not going to pretend that I'm ditching all technology and ways of communicating in the modern world, that would just be ridiculous... but I have a new awareness of just how often I used it as a boredom killer, pointlessly and unfrutifully... and for me that had to mean a commitment to ditch the 'habit'.

I'm not sure about you, but certainly for me, Facebook has proven itself as a life sapper. It became a problem when I realised I was having to check Facebook the second my eyes open, posting significant events online before I tell people in person, checking if anyone has 'liked' or commented on my post within a minute of posting it (For an ego boost? For approval?), feeling embarrassed for people as I watched people air their dirty laundry for the world to read, having to skim through hundreds and hundreds of useless cr*p that I have absolutely no interest in whatsoever but felt compelled to, simply because it kills time.

I don't doubt for one minute that Facebook is a great thing for many people. If you can manage to keep it under control, you have the perfect means to maintain positive relationships with people who you might not see as often as you like. It's a way of expressing your feelings, values, opinions... It's blogging and sharing your life with the many people who you've met, and are going to meet, throughout your life... Great! I'm all for that! It would be hypocritical to suggest otherwise, as I sit here writing a public blog. But I can't help but feel that, for many, Facebook just doesn't end there. It comes with all the other rubbish as mentioned before, and on reflection, I was unable to stay in control. At such as life changing point in my life, I am keen to lose the 'pointless' in my life and replace it with more important things... like my beautiful wife and our unborn child.

So if you see me around and expect me to know whats been happening in your life, because of our good old friend Facebook... It's likely that I haven't seen it. Likewise, if you ask me whether I saw your Facebook post about that amazing thing that happened last week... then the answer is probably 'no'. Perhaps we could catch up over a pint, or a coffee, or anything else that isn't social media?

First midwife home visit

The midwife came today along with her 1st year student. What a lovely experience it was.
Both were really lovely, friendly and reassuring. The student was fantastic and really confident. Sarah and I thought she had been doing it for years before being told she was a 1st year! The chat involved discussions around entitlements, support networks, antenatal courses, medical histories of both of us, contact details, future appointments, future dates, and general advice for pregnancy in the early stages.
I was interested to see how much I, as the Father, would be involved in the discussion. I've read in a few places that it's often the case that pregnancy related organisations focus solely on the mother and disregard the thoughts, concerns and involvement of the father. It certainly wasn't the case at all today. I felt respected and, although Sarah is their main focus (obviously), I was made to feel that I'm as much part of the pregnancy as she is.
I wonder how accessible the rest of the outside world will be for me, as a parent. I intend to use this blog as a means to review and critique the pregnancy industry for males. After today's experience I'm feeling fairly confident...