Monday, 30 June 2008

Happy eater

Excuse me for being soft and I know it's late but I have to share this with you.

I've been privileged to have seen some memorably cute sights over the last seven days but there is one recurring scene that always tickles me and it's not particularly glamourous; it's when Jamie is being winded following his latest feed.

The picture above was taken just a few minutes ago after he finished his supper.

Who says babies can't smile after a week?!

She's a star

Jamie's a week old today and still hasn't found a job. I'll give him a couple more days yet but I am getting a little concerned at his idleness.

In the meantime, he had a visit this morning from Alison the community midwife (pictured above).

Alison is a wonderful ambassador for her profession; what she doesn't know about babies and new mummies simply isn't worth knowing.

We first met her at the LGI last Tuesday when she was on the ward. As I mentioned in a previous posting, Jamie had a little problem with his arm at that time and required an x-ray and a scan.

Alison set up both of these for us and even personally accompanied Jamie and I when we went off to have them done. This was not her job and she was on her break but she came anyway, leaving her cuppa and piece of cake behind.

She gave both Jamie and Vanessa their first once-overs last Thursday, our first morning at home. She repeated the checks today and all seems well.

Alison's dedication, skill and understanding have been invaluable to us over the last seven days and it's something we will not forget.

I hope, one day in the future, Jamie will have the chance to say thanks.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Dummy run

Incredibly, a good night's sleep was had by all last night - including mummy and daddy.

The previous night, we couldn't get Jamie settled properly and it looked very much like several more hours of torture lay ahead.

Then, in a just-before-bedtime conversation with my mum, she suggested we try him out with a comforter (or dummy to me and others who know nothing about these things).

I know some people have reservations about the use of these little devices and I do understand the arguments. However, life is not perfect and neither are the Whites.

My mum, like Vanessa's mum and the rest of her family over here, has been a rock over the last few days. She had also taken the trouble to provide us with a large bagful of essential baby items in advance of Jamie's birth, a new born comforter being among them.

So I raced to find it, sterilised it as per the instructions and hoped for the best.

It took a couple of goes but, after no more than a minute, he was slurping away like Maggie Simpson and, as the comparison above shows, even adopted her famous posture.

The result of this episode was that he only woke up twice in the night and, last night, only once for a feed. Sheer luxury.

This run of good fortune is bound to come to a shuddering halt soon but we're enjoying it while it lasts.

PS I was passing by the telly just before lunchtime today and happened to spot ex-UB40 frontman Ali Campbell being interviewed on Sky News. I always imagined him as quite a cool kind of bloke so quickly pumped up the volume to find out if I was right. He sounded just like Noddy Holder. How looks can deceive.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Showing off the trophy

I'm zonked (our new word) and Vanessa's already in bed.

Today was dominated by the visit of four very close friends of ours, left to right, Jenny, Vicky, Mark and Jo.

All seemed impressed by our little man and he with them. Quite right too!

Much more tomorrow.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Rude awakenings

Look at him. Just look at him.

Butter wouldn't melt in that sweet little mouth. Surely not.

"My name's, Jamie. I'm a special angelic, bundle of joy and harmony who could do nothing but make his parents delirious with happiness and give them an easy life at all times," the picture cries out.

And, up until last night, I could almost have believed it myself.

What the picture, taken about 11 o'clock this morning, fails to reveal is that, from about midnight until around 6am - he cried, he wailed, he vomited, he shouted, he pooed, he yelled and he vomited again.

Then, after mummy and daddy were so punch drunk and exhausted from proceedings to sleep themselves, he rolled over and had a five hour kip. Cheers mate!

Needless to say, all of Master White's activities were completely what you would expect from a three-day-old boy, of course they were.

It's just that, being new to this particular game, mummy and daddy had convinced themselves thought that their little Jamie might be different, that all their friends who had had babies over the last few years might have been exaggerating a little in saying how hard it was. Hell no!

As we approach teatime, he's been good all day but there is more than a little trepidation about what might happen when the sun goes down and Master Jamie's latest meal no doubt comes back up.

The realities of parenthood are finally kicking in but, do you know what? Still definitely worth it!

By the way, I've mentioned in my last two blogs that I'd tell you what happened on the day Vanessa and Jamie were released from hospital. But, to be honest, Wednesday seems like such a long time ago now.

So, quickly, he wasn't feeding so wasn't going to get home, then a stern looking midwife from County Mayo called Theresa appeared on the scene. Theresa hadn't been spotted by us on the ward before this incident and wasn't seen again after it.

However, after a request from daddy, she went in to see mother and baby, assessed the situation, used her dulcet tones to scare the bejeezus out of baby who was then eating within seconds and, not long afterwards, he and his mum were heading home.

I only spent a matter of minutes in the company of this mystery woman and am unlikely to ever see her again, but she was magnificent.

Could she have been the real St Theresa? Perhaps. But whoever she was, us Whites will always be grateful.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Bath time

I'll tell you more about what happened on hospital release day in my next blog because an equally ground-breaking event has just occurred: Jamie has had his first bath.

Life is, in many ways, a succession of landmarks and surely your inaugural dip must be up there amongst them.

Jamie's was certainly memorable for mummy and daddy. As for the centre of attention himself, I very much hope it has already been erased from his little memory as all did not go according to plan.

And I did think ahead. The Greatest Hits of The Waterboys were playing as he entered the bathroom. How more appropriate can you get?

The undressing went well, as did the wrapping him in the towel - each step as laid out in The NHS Pregnancy Book and read out loud by mummy (other than The Waterboys bit which the NHS bigwigs clearly hadn't thought of, one up to the Whites I'd say).

However, when it came to applying the water, the wheels came off the, he didn't like the experience any longer and made this point forcibly.

Washing his hair created the most difficulties for mummy and daddy as it was crusty, his head was still tender from the delivery and, despite mummy's delicate unpicking of the blood clots, he clearly didn't believe we loved him any more. The last three days were all an act, as far he was concerned (babies can be so shallow).

After about three minutes, the washing and rinsing were done and the towelling down began. Jamie didn't much like that part either.

On the upside, as soon as his fresh nappy and new little night outfit were safely on, the crying stopped as - hopefully - he realised how nice his hair was. And it did look good, there was no doubting it. A young Bono would be an obvious comparison.

He'll surely thank us in later years, especially when we show his first girlfriend the action shot. Or maybe he won't.

LATE NEWS: Home James

Yup, the hospital bit is over and little Jamie White will shortly be spending his first night (what's left of it) here in Pudsey. The picture above hopefully serves as proof.

The picture below is simple self-indulgence on my part. I hope you'll forgive me.

I'll tell you more of the story in a few hours after an attempt at sleep.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Dealing with little sh*ts

First full day of being a daddy and already looking forward to the next one.

I was back at the bedside slightly later than intended this morning after a very long but highly educational chat about baby boys with two nice women in the flower shop.

Then it was across to Ward 56 at the LGI to see the two heroes of yesterday; one said they'd missed me, the other can't talk yet but I kind of hoped he'd missed me too (sad, isn't it?!)

"The boy Jamie" (as Alan Hansen might describe him) apparently twisted his shoulder on the way to Leeds last night so, soon after my arrival, I had the pleasure of plumping him into a pram and taking him down first for an x-ray and then a scan on the sore bit. Thankfully all seems well.

In the afternoon it was an opportunity for some of our close family members to meet their new relation for the first time and no-one seemed to go home disappointed.

However, whilst they were there, it became apparent that Jamie needed his nappy changing and fast. Until this point of my life, nappy changing was not something I could list as an achievement.

But, forced into a corner, I stepped forward and, to my great surprise, it wasn't half as bad as I thought. Indeed, by the time I left the hospital an hour and a bit ago, I'd done four. Very pleased with myself, I have to say and - weirdly - the highlight of my day (how life has changed in such a short space of time!)

The moral of my first 24 hours is therefore thus: baby steps are not just for babies, they're for babies' daddies too.

I'm loving taking the first uneasy shuffles forward in my new role and, like Jamie, I have no clue about what future adventures lie ahead. Hopefully he, like me, will enjoy the ride.

PS I took some great photos today - then left the camera beside the cot. However, friends and family, I hope the above pic of him and his mum from last night will satisfy your extremely heartening needs (especially if you fancy offering to babysit sometime soon).

Meet James Richard (Jamie) White

We didn't have to wait long in the end.

Just over fours hours ago at precisely 8.49pm, James Richard White joined the rest of us on this crazy planet, weighing in at a whopping eight pounds 12 ounces.

And isn't he cute?!

As it turned up, Vanessa's waters broke at around 11.40pm on Sunday, the contractions started shortly after midnight and we were in the delivery suite at the Leeds General Infirmary just a few minutes after that.

Over the next 20 hours plus, Vanessa was an absolute trooper. All sorts of little difficulties befell the birthing process but she stuck to the task with incredible patience and bravery and, thanks to the immense professionalism and skills of the doctors, midwives and others on duty, a slick front door exit was the result for a gorgeous little baby boy who will answer to the name of Jamie.

Just returned from the hospital, I'm currently writing this with a small glass of Bushmills on my desk.

Then, first thing tomorrow morning, I'm back at the LGI to visit my wife and newborn son.

How cool is that?!

Sunday, 22 June 2008

And we wait...

Just three days to go now, in theory, and the rabbit remains in its hole (if you know what I mean).

It really is one of the most bizarre situations I've experienced. Deep down, I don't think either Vanessa or me truly believe we will soon be parents.

Yes, Vanessa's hospital bag is packed, the nursery is ready, the baby clothes are ready, even the nappies are ready. But I wouldn't say for a moment that we are (please don't tell the baby if you happen to bump into it before we do).

I had a very strange feeling late on Friday afternoon when Vanessa rang to tell me that she'd had a physical reaction which - according to "the book" - suggested we were on the home straight.

This shouldn't really be a surprise - the baby is due on Wednesday after all - but I was struck dumb and even felt a little sick.

Today I've got a bit more shuffling and perhaps a bit of cricket watching planned. But other than that, all we can do is wait. And wait.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Hopping and bopping

Something's going down: Vanessa's bump is going down.

Not in terms of size you understand. Hell no.

It's just sort of dropping down towards the ground, a bit like my jaw. It also makes her look a bit like a lady Space Hopper which is quite fun.

As a means of killing time, I've also come up with a great new game for three players - one soon-to-be mummy, one soon-to-be daddy and one unborn baby.

What basically happens is that the unborn baby thrusts its foot, hand or elbow hard against its soon-to-be-mummy's tummy (from the inside). Then the soon-to-be daddy rubs the said foot, hand or elbow (from the outside of soon-to-be-mummy's tummy) until unborn baby pulls it back. And repeat.

Terrific entertainment although unlikely to be in the shops in time for Christmas.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Birth signs

1. Hiccuping
2. Straining
3. Bleeding
4. Loud squealing
5. Exhaustion
6. Body smelling like nail polish remover or acetone
7. Metallic smelling breath
8. Depression
9. Increased size
10. A desire to bite others

The above, my friends, are (according to the internet) ten tell-tale signs that the birth is not far away.

The birth, that is, of baby guinea pigs.

Vanessa, meanwhile, has pains in her legs which, according to "the book," do not suggest in any way that she - as opposed to a pregnant guinea pig - is set to pop any time soon.

Work tomorrow then.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

10 days and counting...

Yup, we're down to ten days now before the big moment is due (although, as it's a first child, many people have said it'll be late - I can never understand why that is).

In the meanwhile, I've spent a large part of this weekend - like the last - up a ladder, paintbrush and/or roller in hand. This time the bathroom has been the object of my tender loving care. Lucky it.

I also sorted out the garden yesterday (I am good - I even went for a run this morning), leaving only the spare room (from where I'm currently writing this rubbish) left to sort over the coming few days.

By next Sunday night, I reckon I'll be getting quite edgy. As for now, I'm at ease.

PS Sorry? What's that? Vanessa? Vanessa who? Oh! Right, I get you. Yes, Vanessa's fine (thanks for asking). Last week - the first of maternity leave - she felt like she was on holiday. Then this week, she began to slow down and, over the last couple of days, has been occasionally heard to yelp, "get this thing out!" One would expect a bit more of the same in the days ahead. Thankfully the crowds at Euro 2008 are fairly noisy so a couple of quick stabs to the volume button should sort that particular distraction out. Or she might go to bed early.

PPS What? Look, I lovingly make that woman a cup of tea in the morning before going off to work. And I let her watch whatever she wants on the telly. Until I get home. She's spoilt that woman - spoilt!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

The clouds roll in

One of the first things I did last October after discovering the date our baby was due was to dig out my 2008 Headingley cricket fixture list.

This might not have been everyone's knee-jerk reaction to such news. Don't get me wrong, I was hugely delighted at the prospect of becoming a father and my excitement has increased day-by-day ever since.

But, you see, I quite like cricket. And, since moving to Yorkshire almost five years ago, I've enjoyed going to Headingley to see Yorkshire and England strut their stuff.

This, of course, is when it hasn't been raining - which means I haven't seen much cricket at all.

As for this season, I had hoped to have attended about four Yorkshire games by now. But I've only seen one - the others have either been rained off or it's been too cold to leave the house.

Tomorrow evening the much-heralded Twenty20 season begins with the visit of Derbyshire and, on Friday, Nottinghamshire come to town. This guarantees, after several days of glorious weather, that rain must surely be in the air - and, according to the forecast, it is.

After Friday, three more Twenty20 matches are scheduled at Headingley with the last one taking place on 26 June - the day after our baby is due.

Meanwhile, on 18 July - just over three weeks after the baby should've arrived - England will entertain South Africa in the Second npower Test.

If you don't know much about cricket, Test matches last for five days.

Also, my dad and mate John are coming to stay with us for the duration - so that'll be six nights then.

Naturally Vanessa's delighted (ahem).

Monday, 9 June 2008


Okay, okay - so the baby's still in Vanessa's womb thingy but still.

With her help, I sorted out the border in a couple of hours. Then I put the cot together and what you see are the results.

I have to admit, I feel rather proud of what I've done over the last five days. Not so much the decorating, more the fact that I didn't lose my temper once or swear (more than usual).

It's also rather warming to know I've made an actual tangible contribution to this whole baby thing. As the daddy-to-be, it's sometimes really hard to feel as if you're doing your bit. (There's been several occasions I've been fully aware that, if anything, I was hindering rather than helping matters).

But anyway, now I've decorated the nursery and I'm pleased.

Let's hope baby likes the results.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

This nursery is delayed

Do you know that advert for Ronseel Quick Drying Woodstain? The one that says the product in question does exactly what it says on the tin?

Personally I believe the tin. The whole reputation of its contents clearly depends solely on the accuracy of its legendary slogan so surely it's not all mouth and no drying.

Which brings me to B&Q One Coat paint.

I bought two containers of this revolutionary substance (in Lemon Ice, don't you know) to decorate the walls of the nursery. In theory I only needed one - it's not a huge room - but I'm always a bit cautious with these things. I might lay it on too thick. Or I might spill some. You get the idea - all sorts could happen.

However, what you don't expect is that B&Q One Coat will require two coats.

And of course, you've guessed it, it does - in the case of our nursery, at least .

The good news is that, twelve hours' of painting later (I like to get it right) two coats are now on the walls. The bad news is that the walls are, as yet, without a wallpaper border.

I'm going to have a rattle at this tomorrow night. After the birth itself, putting up the border in the nursery is the bit I've been dreading most about having a baby (sounds a bit exaggerated but it's true).

Hopefully I'll be a better daddy that a wallpaperer (if that's a word). Surely I couldn't be any worse(er?)

Friday, 6 June 2008

You wouldn't be able to see what it is yet

I threw a first coat on the ceiling last night AND touched up the skirting boards.
And then, tonight, I've chucked a second coat on the ceiling which is now officially finished. Exciting stuff I'm sure you'll agree.

Tomorrow comes the walls and, on Sunday, the hard bit - the wallpaper border thing. I hate to be negative but it's got disaster written all over it. (OK, not entirely true - it's got little cartoon animals, but you know what I mean).

Before then, it's Big Brother tonight and Ireland v the All Blacks first thing in the morning (the latter might also be a disaster from an Ireland point of view but, again, let's not be negative).

On an entirely separate issue, something's been bothering me. You may've seen on the news last night and in the newpapers this morning that Yves Saint Laurent has just been laid to rest.

But what was he wearing for his big day? A suit from George would be my bet.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

On the point of despair

I've never been a particular fan of films featuring pirates (although I do have a Captain Pugwash DVD).

However, I am aware they often feature some poor bugger being sent to his watery end via the end of a plank. Now, you might think I exaggerate (and I might think you're right) but I reckon I now understand some of the emotions the condemned man must've gone through prior to the final thrust of the sword.

Yes, you've guessed it. I'm about to start decorating the nursery.

I hate decorating. I'm not very good at it for a start; as much as I'd love to be artistic, I'm just not. I'm also not very patient - ALRIGHT?!!

Add these two facts together and you get a man, not long home after a hard day's work, who frankly isn't really up for the task before him.

Vanessa's out tonight - more than likely the last time she'll be out with her friends before baby has it's first vomit on daddy. This was therefore to be daddy-to-be's special evening.

He's got a big steak in, some beers and even some red wine in a plastic pouch. Plus, it's Big Brother Launch Night from 9pm: daddy-to-be really likes Big Brother.

However, daddy-to-be is equally aware that mummy-to-be is now on her fourth day of maternity leave and is getting a little restless at the fact that daddy-to-be hasn't yet fulfilled his heartfelt promise to ensure that baby-to-be's nursery is ready in time for its birth (not that baby-to-be has any intention of using it until it's, er, however many weeks it says in the book it has to be before it uses it).

And, of course, it's now less than three weeks until baby-to-be is due to make an appearance as a proper baby and, according to the book and everyone daddy-to-be asks, it could now arrive at any time and not be regarded as premature.

So, in order to win a few much-needed brownie points, daddy-to-be decided yesterday to surprise mummy-to-be whilst she's out tonight by making a bit of a start. This is something that daddy-to-be now deeply regrets but thinks he would feel like a really bad person if he changed his mind now. Decorating it therefore is. Unfortunately.

On the upside, yes, daddy-to-be is going to have a beer whilst he's doing it. And, yes, he is also going to finish in time for Big Brother - giving him just over two hours. But it'll be a start. So it will.

However (just to make it clear), rather like being forced down a plank on the point of a sword, daddy-to-be strongly believes that the next two hours will be a massive pain in the a***.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Safely back in two pieces

The two of us headed off to Wales for the night on Saturday and thankfully, when we arrived home yesterday afternoon, there were still just two of us. More of that in a second.

We went down to a little village near Wrexham to visit Vanessa's good friend Louise who emigrated to Australia a few years ago. We had the privilege to stay with her in Sydney at the start of 2007 and, when we got married just over three years ago, Loopy Lou was a bridesmaid.

As for the weekend, it was terrific fun (what I can remember of it) and we had the added bonus of seeing Vanessa and Louise's equally good friend Jenny and her man Roge who themselves are due to get married next year. The pic shows, from left to right, Vanessa, me, Jenny and Louise.

Amidst the laughs, there was a definite sadness in the air. We all spent a lot of time together when we lived in London in the late 90s and early 2000s and, when we do all meet up, we're never sure when it'll happen again.

The other overriding emotion was one of recurring panic. It was a good two hour drive each way and, with me not yet "licensed," Vanessa had to do the driving. With just over three weeks left, the possibility of an imminent birth is now a real one.

But had it happened this weekend somewhere amidst the valleys, it would've been a catastrophe. It would've been hideous. It would've been horrible. It would've been an absolute, complete, total and utter disaster.

Our baby would've been Welsh.