Thursday, 31 July 2008

Bouncing back to contentment

Several people told me before Jamie was born that there would be times when we'd try almost anything to shut him him him happy.

And, of course, we've now had countless opportunities to do just this. Some have worked, some haven't.

I mentioned earlier in the week that Granny White had bought Jamie a special departing gift which we thought would come in very useful. Well, I'm delighted to confirm that our hunch was correct.

I can now exclusively reveal that the mystery item is a baby bouncer and it is fantastic. It belts out tunes, it makes nature noises, it even allows baby to hear fishy sounds without getting wet.

Added to this is the fact that it can vibrate in two different ways - continuously or like a heartbeat - and to a strength of your choosing. Simply magnificent.

What's more, as tonight's initial trial proved, it shuts Jamie up. Sorry, did it again - MAKES HIM HAPPY.

Above you can see two pictures. The one on the left was taken just before we switched on the baby bouncer, the one the right was taken after we'd fired it up.

Let's just say that Mummy and Daddy regard this new piece of equipment as an extremely welcome addition to their armoury.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Dotty about Jamie

I'm not long back from a five mile run but I can't be any more tired than Jamie who's worn out simply by all the attention he's been receiving today.

First thing morning he was off to get weighed and, to everyone's delight, he tipped the scales at a very healthy 10 pounds and 5 ounces. Spot on.

Then it was round to see Grandma Judy, Grandad Mike and a cast of many others gathered together in Horsforth, before hot footing it across to Cottingley to meet Auntie Dot (pictured above), Uncle Malcolm, Auntie Rachel, Molly, Tom and Olivia for the very first time

Dot, Malcolm, and Rachel are committed readers of this rubbish and I love them for it. I also think they're mad - bless them for that too.

Thanks to all the excitement - and Rachel's very kind purchase of special gripe water for Jamie - we're now hopeful of baby, Mummy and Daddy all getting a good night's sleep. Only hopeful, mind.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

And now for something completely different

A nice little break from the old routine today as I attended my third annual 364 Club Lunch at Headingley Cricket Ground.

Held in honour of the late, great Yorkshire and England batman Sir Len Hutton and his legendary innings of 364 which remains the highest ever score by an Englishman in Test cricket, the guest list is pretty much a who's who of Yorkshire cricket and a privilege for someone like me to be part of.

So why was I, I hear you cry?

To cut a long story short, almost three years ago I was deputising for someone much more important than myself at a book launch and was queuing up to get several copies signed by the now also late but equally great Fred Trueman.

Behind me was a distinguished looking gentleman by the name of Colin Slater who I soon discovered was the voice of sport on BBC Radio Nottingham and has been for more than 50 years.

Hearing my accent, he was curious as to my interest in Fred Trueman and cricket in general. Explaining that I was only there as a poor substitute for someone else, I went on to emphasise that I was also a huge cricket fan in my own right and a fully paid-up Yorkshire member.

In an act of supreme kindness, he mentioned the 364 Club Lunch and suggested that I come along the following year as his guest. Several months later he was back in touch and soon we were sitting together at the event which featured Trueman's ex-Yorkshire teammate Mike Cowan as the speaker.

Last year, along with me, he brought John Kettley (Is a Weatherman) to hear Roy Hattersley make the main speech.

Today, with Mr Kettley on holiday (he sent me an e-mail to say how sorry he was he couldn't be there - I loved that!) it was just the two of us (plus 200 plus others) to see ex-MCC Chief Executive and current Surrey Chairman Roger Knight followed by Dom Antony Such, a Benedictine Monk fond of a drink and a flutter. Mr Knight was good, Father Such - dressed in his habit - was magnificent.

On the other side of me from Colin was the Reverend Max Wigley, Chaplain of Yorkshire County Cricket Club. And, yes, I did watch my language.

Before proceedings began, I ran into Colin's friend and mine, ex-umpire Dickie Bird; Colin has known Dickie for years and, until recently, I was a Trustee of the Dickie Bird Foundation.

So, all in all, a quite bizarre few hours but great fun.

But now back to the present - it's time for Jamie's bath.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Granny White goes home with Jamie's thanks

As I write, my mum's currently sitting at Leeds Bradford Airport waiting for her delayed flight back to Belfast. Thankfully it should only be 40 minutes late in taking off - at the moment.

She's only been here four days but she'll certainly be missed, especially by her new grandson.

Everyone has been wanting to hold Jamie since he came along but no-one more than her. Almost every time we've changed and fed him, we've simply deposited him back in her arms and prepared for another three hours plus off duty.

This has been particularly welcome first thing in the morning when, after his 6.30 feed, we've simply taken him into my mum's room and returned to bed until around 10. Absolute luxury.

Shortly before she left today, we picked her up a webcam with the plan of setting up some regular video chats with the three of us on Skype.

She also bought (yet another) gift for Jamie which looks brilliant and exactly what we needed. More of that later in the week.

The only downside of today was being told by the staff at the Stone Trough pub near the airport that we had to sit outside to eat as under 14s weren't welcome through their door. It's a door I'll not be crossing again in the future, you can be sure of that (and no, I didn't swear!)

And then it was back to the car - Jamie in his special seat - to prepare to wave Granny White off.

Jamie hopes she'll come back soon.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

The Major drops in for tea

Jamie's special guest did make it over to see him last night, my long time friend Major David Sherrard of the Royal Artillery.

Dave and I have been friends for 25 years. We went to school together, played rugby together, attended each other's stag dos and weddings and Dave was even misguided enough to ask me to be godfather to his now eight-year-old son Huw. Following Jamie's arrival, I've promised to be better at that in the years ahead.

From Portrush, Dave is not long back from a seven month tour of Afghanistan dodging Taliban bullets and instructing his men to fire back at the buggers with double the venom (and accuracy).

Previous to that, he served in Iraq during the last Gulf War where he worked with the Americans in search of that nice Mr Saddam Hussein. He really should learn to keep better company.

Now based in Germany, he was on his way down to London from an engagement in Sunderland earlier in the day and wanted to pop in to say hello.

The good news is he's shortly about to start a new posting in North Yorkshire which will allow us to see a lot more of him, his gorgeous and very patient wife Hayley, Huw and their other little boy Niall.

Dave and Hayley are also due to join us for our annual Hallowe'en fancy dress party at the beginning of November.

Above you can see what we looked like at a school disco party in Scotland a couple of years ago. I would imagine our costumes will be a touch more ambitious in a few months' time. Mine might even be a little less camp, although I can't guarantee it.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

This little Jamie went to market

Weather forecasters proven wrong yet again (the sun was cracking the kerbstones rather than the thunderous rain cracking our windows), Granny White, Mummy, Daddy and Jamie headed off to Otley just before lunch and a fine day was had by all.

First stop was Otley Market where everyone bought a load of things they didn't need other than Jamie who really, really didn't need anything.

Then it was a pause for Yorkshire fish and chips, except for Jamie who just fancied a drop of milk.

A long walk along the river was the next port of call where the swans seemed to be having a whale of a time showing off to the tourists - until they saw Jamie coming. Clearly aware of our son's increasingly noisy reputation, they attempted to hide from him. Personally I thought they were just being rude.

And finally, it was off for an adult ice cream whilst Jamie took the opportunity for a quick nap.

He's preparing for his bath now as we're expecting a very special guest to join us this evening.

More on this tomorrow, if he turns up.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Making the best of a very sad day

My mum made it over today as planned. Unfortunately my sister Jacquie didn't after her father-in-law, Ted Reid, tragically died overnight.

Ted was a terrific and very talented man who should have had many more years ahead of him. He'll be greatly missed by his family and friends.

In an attempt to make something out of a horrible situation, my mum, Vanessa, Jamie and I retired to the garden for - can you guess? - another barbecue.

Whilst there, Granny White had her first opportunity to feed her grandson and I think he enjoyed the experience.

Jamie will be delighted to know she's prepared to repeat her kindness as often as he wants in the days ahead.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Sleep would be nice

Only me.

A truncated night's sleep last night (can you guess why?) has left me feeling even more wrecked today than I was yesterday.

Just back from a full day's work, the obvious remedy is to lie down and close my eyes. But having foolishly signed up to run the Leeds Half Marathon in just over six weeks and seriously under-trained since Jamie arrived on the scene, I now have to go for a four mile run. After that, I need to cut the grass and carry out several other chores in advance of our next guests' arrival, namely my mum and big (yet tiny - ironic or what?) sister Jacquie.

But it'll be great to see them (although Jacquie's hard to spot). Equally exciting is the fact they've kindly offered to take over some Jamie duties to allow Vanessa and me to catch some zeds.

It certainly won't all be sleep, though, and quite right too. As well as yet another barbecue on Sunday (Jamie has insisted), we'll try and think of a few Yorkshire type things to do to ensure both ladies go home with no option but to tell people how nice we are.

They'll probably want to say something about Jamie too, but that's up to them.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Marking his territory

I'm wrecked. And my bum hurts. But thankfully, both problems can be quickly and easily explained.

The rear ache is the result of walking up and down countless hills yesterday morning searching for my lost golf balls; the breakdown of almost all my vital bodily functions is a legacy of downing the best part of two bottles of wine last night at the Bye Bye Barbecue for my dad and John who departed first thing this morning.

Before the evening ended, Granda' White formally unveiled the nameplate on Jamie's nursery door. Grandma Judy and Grandad Mike joined us for what I'm sure you'll appreciate was another thrilling occasion for all concerned, almost on a par with last week's official opening of Jamie's curtain.

The only disappointing aspect of the event was that Jamie didn't turn up. Having shouted the place down for the previous 45 minutes before finally going to sleep, we decided to leave him under his blanket. Still, it was a nice surprise for him this morning, prompting a Gwyneth Paltrow type moment where he cried uncontrollably. Or perhaps that was because I wasn't holding his head properly. Or because he'd pooed himself - sometimes it's just so difficult to tell.

Vanessa and I now have a couple of nights to put the house back together again before our next long weekend guests arrive. More of that tomorrow.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Jamie goes down't pub

It was sort of inevitable and I can't believe it took us four weeks to get him there, but Jamie had his first drink in a pub this afternoon.

Earlier, John and I thrashed golf balls around for a few hours whilst my dad trimmed our hedge (he enjoys that sort of thing and he's good at it, alright?!) before we hooked up with him, Vanessa and Golden Child for lunch at the Bankhouse in Pudsey.

Whilst Vanessa stuck to shandy and John, my dad and I had pints, Jamie had three and a half fluid ounces of Mum's Brew.

It was transferred from barrel to bottle first thing this morning and is a strange concoction, cream in colour and apparently very nutritional.

He's drinking gallons of it at the moment but it tends to make him fall asleep in company before wetting himself.

Hopefully he'll lose these habits when in pubs in later life.

Sadly, I know quite a few people who haven't.

Monday, 21 July 2008

They think it's all over...and it IS! (thank goodness)

I hate to be negative but I'm glad the cricket is now at an end, South Africa having just beaten England an hour ago by ten wickets.

I've looked forward to the game for months but, in the end, it was more than a little disappointing and England's defeat has been inevitable for two days.

The bonus of it ending now is that there's a free day for all three of the Whites to do something with my dad and John and plans are currently being hatched.

The other good news is that our camera appears to have had a Lazarus moment so I can keep the crap pictures coming (plus ones of Jamie, of course).

Above is the pic of the Amy Winehouses I mentioned last night. Aren't they lovely?!

And, on the right, is a shot of a chicken who managed to make his way into the executive part of the ground - as they do. Finally, below is my pic of Freddie Flintoff in full flight. I know it's not very sharp but you can tell it's him so I feel a bit smug.

Back in Jamieland, you'll obviously be fascinated to hear that he peed up his back again during the night. That boy really has talent.

He's also been good to and with our guests. Let's hope he keeps up his high standards for one more day - especially when he finds out he's going to his first pub.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

It's all going wrong

Several times over the last two days I've been reminded of when Vanessa gave birth to Jamie, just under four weeks ago now.

There were moments over the many hours from the point we reached the hospital to the stage when the little man eventually emerged that I honestly thought we would never get to the "good bit."

That is exactly how I've felt at Headingley both yesterday and today where my dad, mate John and I were forced to bear two of the dullest days of Test cricket I can remember.

England were awful, South Africa were turgid and I was bored.


Even the fancy dress wasn't as good this year although the Amy Winehouses at least brightened up our Saturday. And, admittedly, the chicken we saw today was also quite fun. Unfortunately I can't show you the pictures as the camera appears to have croaked it too. Marvellous.

The game should end tomorrow when England finally fold.

I'll tell you more then, by which time I'll probably have cheered up and possibly even have bought a new camera.

In the meantime, I give you an early pic of Jamie to hopefully keep you interested.


Saturday, 19 July 2008

We're wide awake

Up and at it early again this morning after Jamie peed up his back - how do babies do that?!

But the ordeal did not end there. Maybe it's a deficiency in my technique (almost certainly I'd say) but he then managed to poo in three clean nappies before I got the fourth and final one on. Obviously I was thrilled, as was Jamie.

Previous to this I'd given him the equivalent of a bed bath on the changing mat. Then, with nappy on, he had a baby massage with oil (what a modern kinda dad I am) before Vanessa and I took turns to cuddle him in bed. The picture above shows you the effect, which lasted all of three and a half minutes.

Indeed, it was almost as if the four nappy incident hadn't happened (yes, FOUR ****ING NAPPIES!!!

Our guests seemed to enjoy themselves last night with Jamie generally on form and Granda' clearly impressed by the latest addition to the clan.

We set off for Headingley again in an hour.

Friday, 18 July 2008

A cute way to start

An excellent first day at the Test which saw the return of Freddie Flintoff, Kevin Pietersen top scoring for England (do you like my picture below?!), 13 wickets falling and no shortage of dirty South African gamemanship.

The day began with Jamie having his photo taken with "the boys" in our back garden. And, although he's currently too little to go to the cricket himself, he insisted on wearing his whites which, I hope you agree, was a rather cute call.

Vanessa will get her first night of rest since the birth tonight as I'm about to go on feeding duty - after I've cooked tea for us all (aaaghh!!!)

Thursday, 17 July 2008

I'm the daddy

A bit of an earlier pit stop than usual this morning - I've already changed Jamie's tyre and Vanessa's now filling his tank.

Given that I'm up, I thought I might show you a little snapshot of officialdom in the form of Jamie's birth certificate.

Vanessa went to register him on Tuesday and the result, I thought, was quite interesting.

First, and most importantly, it does confirm that I am indeed the father which, you know, is sort of nice to see in writing.

It also appears to show that my wife couldn't remember whereabouts in Northern Ireland I was born (Belfast, for the record).

However, the upside in terms of getting her back is that the document highlights that Vanessa was born in Norwich.

I've never been there but, by almost all accounts, Norwich is a bit shit.

Perhaps the sort of place where a mother might not necessarily know where the father of her child comes from?

The evidence I provide would certainly suggest so.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Stitch that

Been a busy bee tonight and it now feels a bit like the calm before the storm with my dad and friend John due to arrive around this time tomorrow for the cricket.

In addition to fixing the kitchen table, doing the garden, going for a run and banging three nails into various bits of Jamie's room with my new hammer, I then knocked another two into his wall (bringing the total number of nails used to a round five, I think you'll find) to mount a beautiful, personalised tapestry above his cot.

Created lovingly by Vanessa's mum Grandma Judy, it's a great credit to her and something I hope he'll treasure for ever.

Equally, I hope the two nails holding it up do their job so it doesn't fall on Jamie's head and get me in trouble (or hurt him - obviously).

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Official engagement

Big moment tonight - Jamie officially opened his new curtain.

Made by Granny White and put up by Grandad Mike (because Daddy isn't very good at these things and even Mummy agrees), the ceremony went well.

All the guests turned up on time - Grandad Mike, Grandma Judy, Mummy and Daddy - and the weather held.

It's true to say that some in the audience were a little concerned the whole occasion might prove a little too much for Jamie, given its enormity.

But, in the end, he held his nerve and resisted the temptation to shed tears. Definitely the Ulsterman in him.

And he'll have to get used to such formalities; the name plate for his door is due to arrive in a couple of days and he'll have to go through the whole thing again with an entirely new congregation (other than Mummy and Daddy who've already invited themselves).

Still, surely anything Prince Edward can do, absolutely anyone else can do too. Anyone at all.

Monday, 14 July 2008

He got me good

Something new happened last night, something I'll not forget for a very long time. Let me explain.

Vanessa bought a breast pump on Friday, a very handy piece of equipment which allows her to express two feeds worth into bottles each day and stick them in the fridge for later.

This has allowed us to adopt a slightly different routine over the last couple of nights in which she gives Jamie a feed at about 7.30/8 and then I take over, giving him his final change and feed at about 10.30/11.

This worked well on Friday and Saturday but then last night I was a little late in getting my act together as Top Gun was showing on Sky One - you just forget how good that film is.

Anyway, by the time I got to my post at about 11.15, Jamie was beginning to kick off. I'd had my wash and was running around in just a pair of boxer shorts when I thought I'd better do something quick.

So I shoved a bottle of Vanessa's finest into a jug of hot water before flinging Jamie on to the changing mat in preparation for the quickest nappy change in history.

Sitting on the floor with my legs out in front of me, I swiftly whipped off his nappy and turned to my right to grab the cotton wool. Suddenly there was suddenly an almighty noise followed by the shock of something warm running down the inside of my leg.

I couldn't have! How embarrassing!

Well no, I hadn't.

Instead, Jamie had projectile pooed with the greatest possible accuracy - straight up my boxers and all over my, well, you know, "man" bits.

Given that his screaming was getting ever worse, I had to just stick to the plan and finish changing him before quickly retiring to the bathroom to change myself. Very undignified.

Thankfully the bottle feed went well immediately afterwards.

Perhaps I'll start the process a little earlier tonight.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

The times they are a-changing (nappies)

There have been times in the past when getting out of bed at 3pm on a Sunday would've been almost normal behaviour for me. How those days have gone.

Up at 7.3o this morning to change Jamie. He pooed on me.

Then, after breakfast (Jamie had milk), Vanessa and I took him for a bath and, to be fair, it was the best one yet. We adopted a slight change of tactic this time by making the water a little warmer than previously. To our delight, he didn't cry at all, providing a lesson that even I spotted.

Next, we had our second boys' trip to the supermarket where, again, he was good. Admittedly, he did cry once but only after I bought him new trainers and then attempted to put them on him on the way home to impress Mummy. The mistake I made was to forget to take the cardboard out first. Again, another lesson learnt.

Then back for lunch and a change of nappy. Well, three changes of nappy. As soon as the first clean one was under him, he pooed on it. And then, once he was wiped down and the second one readied, he somehow managed to pee on it and me at the same time - he does like to mix up his act.

Vanessa's long time friend (and bridesmaid, don't you know) Nicole and her beautiful little daughter Tehya arrived an hour ago to meet Jamie, allowing me to retire to the spare room to write this drivel and start clearing a space for my dad to sleep from Thursday.

After that, who knows? But I don't imagine getting back to the scratcher this afternoon or any future Sunday afternoon for many years to come.

Still, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Enjoying his first Glorious Twelfth

This is a little known fact but, although born in Yorkshire, all of Jamie's vital organs actually come from Northern Ireland.

The doctors have also said that, when he does learn to speak, he will do so in a thick Ulster brogue.

For these reasons it is obviously crucial that he has an early opportunity to be educated in the history, culture and traditions of the fair Province.

And what better time to start than today, the Twelfth of July.

As you're probably aware - and you clearly will be if you come from there - on this day every year (unless it's a Sunday) tens of thousands of Orangemen take to the streets to celebrate the glorious victory of King William III (wahey!) over that nasty King James II (boo!)

These parades received a very bad press during the dark days of the Troubles for which fault could be attributed to many different quarters.

However, with permanent peace in the Province now hopefully secured, the organisers have recently gone on a real drive to turn the day into a colourful spectacle for tourists from across the world, thus benefiting the local economy to the tune of The, sorry, to the tune of several million pounds.

Judging by the crowds in Belfast this morning, it appears this new approach is working.

Jamie certainly enjoyed the BBC Northern Ireland coverage and is hoping to be allowed to stay up late tonight to see if he can spot Granda' White marching through Coleraine in the "highlights" programme.

Needless to say Mummy's not at all convinced by any of this.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Preparing for the pygmy

This time next week, weather permitting, I'll be sitting in the West Stand at Headingley as the first day of the Second Test between England and South Africa draws to a close.

Alongside me will be my dad and also John (above), my smallest friend.

He and I went to school together and have been mates ever since.

John was also best man at my wedding where he delivered a cutting speech questioning my sexuality. Clearly I was delighted at this and haven't spent any time at all in the three intervening years thinking of ways to get back at him. Hell no.

John and my dad are due to arrive with us on Thursday night and we're not quite ready for them yet. The main task over this weekend will be to clear out the spare room - where I'm currently sitting - for my dad.

Meanwhile, Jamie is currently sleeping in a Moses basket in our room so we can put John in Jamie's cot in the nursery.

John was actually due to visit Jamie for the first time last weekend but tripped on a Wotsit and didn't make it. Hopefully he'll tread more carefully over the next few days.

I'm also going to have a word with Jamie and ask him not to bully the wee fella although he will be allowed to give him orders. And pee on him, any time he wants.

I'm planning to do exactly the same in his tea, his cornflakes, his beer, his shoes, his soapbag...

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Sights not seen before

Have you ever had the feeling you were being pushed out?

Not that I begrudge my recently born son anything, you understand. Of course not. It's just that I seem to have gone right down the pecking order in our house over the last couple of weeks.

To give an example, I fancied doing a bit of washing last night. But he'd got there first, put a load on and laid it all out on our only clothes maiden, leaving no room for any of my stuff.

Shortly afterwards, I thought it would be nice to have some tea. However, he was hungry and neither Vanessa or I were eating 'til he'd had his. And every time we thought he'd had his, he fancied a little more. And then some more. By the time it came to our turn, we were almost beyond the hungry stage.

But nothing can compete with this morning's episode. Following the reappearance of his clothes peg - and the health visitor has since insisted that there's no way he could've swallowed it, thus deepening the mystery - he didn't really sleep at all last night, meaning neither did we.

I was comforting him around 7am when I needed to go to the loo. So, I laid him down on our mattress, laid his head on my pillow and covered him up with the duvet to keep him warm.

Two minutes later I was back but he was sound asleep and clearly had no intention of moving. Plus, I was loathe to wake him up given the night he'd had. The only option was to surrender my side of the bed and head off to put the kettle on.

Thinking about all of this on the way to work, I was reminded of my great friend Sean's favourite song which he's sung more times and in more locations than I care to remember over the last 20 years or so.

It's called Seven Drunken Nights and was made famous by legendary Irish group The Dubliners. Only five verses are generally ever sung as the last two are ultra-rude, but basically each verse describes a separate night in which a man comes home in a drunken state to find hard evidence of another man having been with his wife - evidence that she then attempts to explain away as gifts from her mother, totally unconvincingly.

He first finds a horse outside the door, which she argues is actually a sow (with a saddle on). Then a coat - nope, a blanket (with buttons on) says she. Then a pipe - wrong, a tin whistle (filled with tobacco). And two boots, which she claims are flowers pots (with laces in). You get the idea.

On the fifth night, the poor drunken man comes home to find a head peering out from beneath the covers of his marital bed. The wife argues it is a baby boy, to which the husband retorts, "a baby boy with his whiskers on sure I never saw before."

OK, in my case it was actually a real baby boy peering up from the bit of bed where I was supposed to be. And yet I cannot help but feel great empathy with the man in the song.

By the way, the picture opposite is of my mate Sean - Detective Inspector Fitzpatrick to his enemies.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Where did THAT come from?!

I've just seen one of the strangest things I can remember. In fact, I'm still quite freaked by it.

Regular readers of this rubbish might have seen Saturday's piece in which I reported that Jamie's clothes peg had vanished.

That was a bit weird but I had to conclude it had just fallen off into one of his nappies and we hadn't noticed. Not really a huge deal.

The one fact we could say for sure was that it had definitely gone. I mean, his belly button was there for all to see (and, for the record, it looks like it might now be an innie after all).

Anyway, that was that - until a short while ago.

The little man had been unsettled for a couple of hours. Before that we'd bathed him, put on a new nappy, clean clothes, all was well. But then, maybe 15 minutes after he was sorted, he got restless.

So Vanessa fed him. He complained. Vanessa fed him again. He complained again. We gave him some extra winding. Vanessa fed him. He complained. We tried his dummy. He complained again. Vanessa fed him again.

I then took him upstairs to check his nappy. I opened it up, I pulled it from under him. And there it was, right there in his nappy - his clothes peg, with the stump of his umbilical cord still attached.

I couldn't believe it and quickly called Vanessa who, I think, was even more taken aback than me.

Her good friend Nicole reads this blog (bless you my sweet!) and saw what I posted on Saturday. Shortly after reading the story she texted Vanessa to say that her lovely little girl Tehya had lost her clothes peg as a baby and, as if by magic, it had turned up in her nappy a couple of days later. Nicole's feeling was that Tehya had eaten it before passing it through her system.

But this thing is not small. Indeed, it's actually quite long and it's also very hard. Plus, Jamie hasn't been able to find his mouth with anything much so far (and bear in mind this was four days ago) never mind pull something out of his nappy before shoving it in his gob. And I wouldn't even like to think about its journey to the other end. It really is incredibly bizarre.

As luck would have it, Nicole and Tehya plus daddy Ian are coming to visit Jamie for the first time on Sunday. I would imagine this incident might crop up in our conversation.

In the meantime, one can only wonder what might be lurking inside Jamie's nappy next time we come to change him.

The secret recipe for Coke? Big Foot? Osama bin Laden? Nothing would surprise me now.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Killing the boredom

I can't really remember, but I would imagine it's quite dull being 15 days old.

Think about it: you can't talk, you can't play cards, you can't even walk down to the pub for a pint.

Obviously things improve but this definitely feels like the most boring stage.

So, as a dutiful father, I decided to pop to Argos at lunchtime to see if there was anything I could find to kill a bit of time for Jamie until life brightens up.

However, what I discovered was a paucity of exciting toys for newborn babies - which sort of makes sense, if you think about it.

Little model type items that might fit in their mouths are too dangerous. And their hands aren't yet strong enough to guide a car around a Scalextric track.

So I had to settle for a creation called Miracles and Milestones which is actually quite clever. It's a music box type thingymyjig which also flashes lights on the wall or ceiling. And it has different programmes for babies up to three months, three to six months and six months plus.

I've just tried the up to three months version out on our man who seemed to signal his approval with a quick blast on the bum trumpet - or he could've been scared, it's often hard to tell.

Anyway, I've paid for it now so he'd better start looking more pleased.

Monday, 7 July 2008

It moves

Minutes after Jamie was born exactly two weeks ago, I switched on my phone and captured a few seconds of him trying to work out who he was, where he was and what he was supposed to be doing there.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you can share the moment by clicking on to the play button above.

I hope it touches you as much as it did me.

'King noisy

First day back at work and, thanks to the warmness and generosity of colleagues at Bradford Council, really not that bad!

It was strange to be away from Jamie for so long after seeing him almost constantly over the last couple of weeks.

But, as a special surprise, he spent all afternoon practising his Elvis impression before showing me the results - in full costume - on my arrival home.

Please don't tell him, but the look was definitely better than the sound.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Back to the future

Well, my two weeks of paternity leave are almost up and tomorrow I'm back at my desk in Bradford City Hall.

I can scarcely believe some of the things I've seen and done, and some of the emotions I've felt over the last fortnight. It's been an incredible ride and, the best thing is, it's only just beginning.

You might be different but, for me, after I've had a couple of weeks off, I tend to go back feeling a bit morbid. The excitement of the holiday or whatever is at an end and suddenly (wrongly) I feel I've got nothing to look forward to. The contrast this time around is absolute.

In a couple of weeks' time - according to "the book" - Jamie should be smiling (I've already got some of my best jokes lined up for him). And, who knows, two weeks after that he could be doing backflips (I would guess not but I haven't read that far ahead yet).

And whether I've had a good day or bad day at work, I'll be coming home to my little boy (and wife - don't worry, she'll not be neglected).

One of the few frustrations of the last fortnight has been the lack of time to actually take in what has happened. The endless nappy-changing, running to the shops, looking after guests, clearing up and so on - coupled with sheer physical exhaustion - have left little opportunity for either Vanessa or me to truly reflect on the significance of Jamie's arrival and how lucky we are to have him.

Don't get me wrong, all of these "tasks" have been a joy. Indeed, one of the most time-consuming parts of our days since the birth has been dealing with all the cards and presents we've received from friends and family whose generosity has been genuinely overwhelming and extremely humbling.

We are amazingly fortunate to be surrounded by so many good and kind people.

But, tomorrow morning, when it comes to saying goodbye to my wife and child before rushing off to catch my train (which will no doubt be late), perhaps the process of truly understanding what has happened can really begin.

In the meantime, I think I can hear Jamie crying...marvellous!

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Jamie loses his clothes peg

A very bizarre thing has just happened - Jamie's clothes peg has vanished.

As you'll no doubt know, the hospital sticks a little clampy thing that looks like a clothes peg (and maybe even is a clothes peg) on to the stump of the baby's umblical cord just after he's born. Then, at some point over the next couple of weeks, the clampy thing and the remants of the cord drop off and baby is left with a brand new belly button.

Apparently the stumpy thing stinks to high heaven when it comes away and the advice is to get it out of the house and under a tree or something as quickly as you can. Indeed, Vanessa and I were talking about where we might put it only a couple of days ago.

However, it looks like we won't have a decision to make after all as both the stumpy thing and the clampy thing have disappeared!

I discovered this very strange development just a few minutes ago whilst changing Jamie's nappy; there's simply nothing there.

I even rumaged around inside his nappy but found nothing other than, well, you know, stinky stuff. Very odd.

So if you do come across a stumpy thing attached to a clampy thing on your travels today, Jamie would quite like them back for burial.

In the meantime, the big news on the belly button front is that Jamie appears to have an outie.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Taking two for the team

I remember, when I was a little boy, getting a microscope for Christmas.

The thing about microscopes is that you have to have something interesting to look at (particularly if you're a child) otherwise they're a complete waste of time.

Realising this (and no doubt responding to me being a spoilt little sh*t), my dad peeled a scab off his toe and wiped it onto a slide so I could examine his blood.

I've never forgotten that.

Tonight's incident bears little comparison but I'll quickly mention it.

Jamie wasn't settling, despite Vanessa and I utilising everything in our repertoire. So I decided to try him out with his dummy.

Following its dramatic introduction last weekend, we haven't actually used it very much over the last few days. But tonight we were getting on the wrong side of desperate.

Trying to take the initiative at a point where our little man was really kicking off, I grabbed the dummy and ran to the kitchen to sterilise it.

Normally this is a simple case of five minutes in a plastic container of boiling water. But, on this occasion, five minutes seemed a very long time, so I reached for the kettle, boiled it and then attempted to pour its contents over the teat of the dummy.

Bad (and, OK, brainless) move.

The water didn't get me but the steam did.

I'm now typing this using only my right hand as the first two fingers of my left hand are in a glass of cold water - where they've been for almost two hours (and yes, I've changed the water several times to keep it cold, thanks!)

Unlike my dad's act of self-mutilation years ago, my wounding was very much accidental and therefore lacking any hint of bravery.

But I reserve the right to dig this story up when I'm old and grey, Jamie's in the bar and I'm struggling for the price of a drink.

Wouldn't you?!

Shouldering responsibility

Leaving mummy to have a well-earned bath, Jamie and daddy have just been for their first ever boys only trip to the shops - and what fun it was!

Granted, Jamie slept through pretty much all of it but not crying even once is surely a sign of approval at such a young age.

Meanwhile, daddy, although slightly nervous before setting off, revelled in being a pretend kangaroo and particularly enjoyed all the gushing looks other mummies were giving him (or was it Jamie? He couldn't be sure).

Indeed, so much so that daddy decided to go an extra specially long way around the shops to ensure every single mummy who wanted to give him (or maybe Jamie) a nice look would have an opportunity to do so.

The boys (well, daddy) are already planning their next trip to the shops, probably on a Saturday when there will be even more mummies ( around.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Guinness IS good for you!

Vanessa and I have been fortunate to receive some excellent pieces of advice over the last 11 days from doctors, nurses, midwives and other heathcare professionals.

But no single suggestion can compete with the one offered yesterday afternoon by a nice health visitor lady who came to see us at home.

Jamie's doing brilliantly in health terms; after an expected weight loss over the first few days, he's now beginning to put it back on so all appears well.

Vanessa, meanwhile, is still a bit sore from the birth but also a touch anemic and generally not feeling as well as either of us would like.

So we raised this with the nice health visitor lady who was very sympathetic about her plight.

"I was on iron tablets during the pregancy," Vanessa explained, "should I just go back on to those?"

"Well, you could," pondered the health visitor lady,"but you could try Guinness."

Daddy's eyes lit up, forcing him to quickly cover them up to avoid detection. He took a couple of deep breaths. Then another, before turning to the nice health visitor lady with his most serious face.

"That's very interesting," he announced in a trainspotter voice. "I understand Guinness used to be a recognised remedy for iron deficiency in days gone by."

"Indeed," responded the health visitor lady, "and, in my book, it still is."

"Right, right," said daddy as calmly as he could.

"And how much would she be much would it be beneficial for her to take?" asked daddy.

"Oh, a glass a night should do it," she replied.

"OK, right," said daddy, trying to appear polite yet slightly disinterested. Before he pounced.

"Actually, I'm feeling a bit under the weather myself at the moment," he whimpered. "You know, the baby's arrival has been very tiring for me too. Do you think drinking a moderate amount of Guinness would help me? Would that be a good thing? Not too much, you understand. Of course not. It would also mean I could be there for Vanessa when she's having hers. You know, it would it be a shared experience for us both," daddy went on, realising he was slightly tearing the arse out of the situation by this stage but trying not to make it so obvious that he would get in trouble with mummy afterwards.

"Oh yes," responded the nice health visitor lady in a warm tone. "I see nothing wrong with that at all."

Daddy resisted the temptation to jump up and punch the air. At least until after the nice health visitor lady had left.

And about an hour later, the Whites were off on their first family trip to Asda to pick up their "prescription," a large box of Guinness.

We didn't have our medicine last night as it got a bit late before we were ready for the task.

But tonight will definitely be the night when mummy and daddy start their course of treatment.

I just love it when things work out.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

My son thinks I'm a t*t

I was warned in advance by many wiser people than me that Vanessa and I would reach the stage where we'd do almost anything to get our baby to stop crying, or eat or whatever.

Jamie's crying has worsened a bit over the last couple of days and the two of us are currently working on ingenious strategies to help him stop.

However, on the feeding, the reverse has happened; he wasn't so good at the start but is now getting much better.

Vanessa took the very brave decision to breastfeed Jamie and, although this might not continue indefinitely, she and he have got quite good at it over the last 10 days.

The health benefits attributed to breastfeeding are considerable so the efforts have certainly been worth it thus far. On the downside, it's not immediately clear what the father can do to help with this particular aspect of childcare. Unless you employ a little ingenuity, that is.

The hardest part is to get the baby "on to mummy," so to speak. And once you've got him on, sometimes he'll get frustrated that he's not getting milk as quickly as he'd like and becomes unsettled.

It is at either of these points that daddy's nose can come into play. Well, my nose, which is pictured for your convenience.

Jamie first latched on to my nose when one of his first feeds at home wasn't going too well. And he didn't quickly let go. Indeed, he sucked viciously on it 'til it hurt. And because I didn't want to upset him, I just let him carry on.

Since then, if he's not showing enthusiasm for a feed, we'll try him on my nose. And if he's showing frustration to the point where he needs to be calmed, he's back on my beaker.

Other than the fact that I've broken it playing rugby in three different capital cities (good ice-breaker fact that or what?!), I've never thought that my nose is particularly special. A bit big, maybe, but certainly without magical powers. But, following events, I might now have to re-evaluate the situation.

That said, there is clearly a negative side to this story.

I've been called a tit many times in the past but I've never been told I physically resemble one.

Kids these days can be just so harsh.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Jamie throws a BBQ

I haven't known my son for very long. And he hasn't known anyone for very long. But already the signs are good.

A little embarrassed by all the attention he's been receiving, Jamie today decided to throw a barbecue for his mummy and daddy, and also Grandma Judy and Grandad Mike who have already done so much for him.

Granted, he asked me if I wouldn't mind doing the cooking. And buying the food. And pouring the drinks. Although he was happy for everyone to help with the clearing up afterwards - other than himself, of course.

I was quite relaxed with this arrangement as I like doing the cooking at barbecues - even if others don't always enjoy the results.

And, in the end, all went swimmingly.

Jamie had his first real view of the outside world yesterday when he spent half an hour in the garden. Today he was out and about for around four hours and came back in seeming pleased with the possibilities ahead.

I now look forward to finding out what next treat he has lined up for us all.