Being a new dad (again).

Just over three months ago, Team Fun welcomed a new member into our fold. Fraboo, Boy-Boy and Jojo now have a baby sister who, for the purposes of this blog will be referred to as Mousey. I have always maintained that it is a tremendous privilege to be a parent; an opportunity which is denied to many, and is taken for granted (or worse) by some, and so the arrival of Mousey was cause (for me at least), for great rejoicing.

The arrival of a newborn, is one of life’s most precious moments, I know, I’ve been there a few times now, but I would like to share a few thoughts about becoming a parent with you.

Newborn babies are so, so small.

 

It’s easy to forget just how tiny, and helpless these little creatures are, but in my experience they are also so perfectly formed. I remember when my youngest sister was born, having not met her, I asked my Dad what she looked like. I seem to remember that the only thing he told me was that she had the most amazing almond shaped fingernails. At the time I thought that was a very strange observation to make, but in the hours following Mousey’s birth, I was captivated by her exquisite little fingernails too.

Newborn babies don’t always look that pretty…

There are certain type of parent-to-be, who when asked whether they have thought of a name for their imminent arrival will say something like, “We’ll just see what they look like, and a name will come to us.” This is a very ballsy move on their part for two reasons.  Firstly, I can’t help but think that in the excitement of the birth and the subsequent sleepless nights, their mental faculties may not be at their best and they may have gross lapse in judgement. I assume that this is the school thought which many celebrities subscribe to (I’m looking especially hard at you Bob Geldof and Frank Zappa!), and would also account for the proliferation of terribly named children.

Secondly, if this is the route you choose to go down, you will end up giving your child a name such as Claude, Frank, Humphrey or Mortimer. This is simply because, almost without exception, newborn infants (girls and boys), look remarkably like really old men!

But you’ll think that they are beautiful.

Without doubt, your baby will be the most wonderful thing you’ll have ever seen. Perhaps not immediately, newborn babies have a tendency to look like really old men, but in time they will be gorgeous. In years to come photographic evidence may suggest that you weren’t thinking (or seeing) all that clearly. I am convinced that my children are beautiful, but I am likely to be more than a bit biased. I’ve been happily showing anyone who’ll look (and that is anyone who stands still in my vicinity for more than about 5 seconds) photo’s of our new little bundle of joy, and haven’t seen anyone recoil in revulsion, or get overcome with nausea, so I get that feeling that Mousey isn’t a hideous pigdog, but I wouldn’t really know, and I pity the person who does tell me that she is. In any case, even ugly babies become the most angelic looking children!

They small for only a short time.

I know it sounds strange, but despite not doing much except for feed, sleep, soil herself and cry, Mousey has grown up a huge amount in the past six weeks. She has a voracious appetite (I wonder where she got that from?) and has made considerable gains in weight. When she first arrived she was very lean, but can now be generously described as cuddly or more accurately as chubby. Already Mrs L. and I are bemoaning the fact that she is growing up too fast.

Every child is so different.

When I started telling friends and colleagues that Mrs L. was pregnant with our fourth child, most people’s reaction was that we there would be no surprises this time, we had been there, done that and proudly wore the (now very un-ironed) t-shirt.  This really couldn’t be more untrue. There is a Paul Weller song called Changing Man which was very popular when I was a much younger man, and the lyrics at one point say “The more I see, the more I know. The more I know, the less I understand”. This almost perfectly describes what it is to be a parent. All I know now, is that I know nothing about what it is to Mousey’s Dad. Of course I’ve got a better idea of what it is to be a parent now ,than I did before Fraboo’s arrival, but I’m still learning, and to assume otherwise would not only make me arrogant, but a bigger idiot than I already am. I think I do a reasonable job for the other three, but this new life is uncharted water for me.

I love all of my children.

Fraboo and Jojo do, I have to admit, look remarkably similar, but while they are clearly brother and sister, their personalities could not be more different. Boy-Boy however, doesn’t look especially like either of them, but I am told that he bears a pretty strong resemblance to me. His personality however, is different to the others, and I’m quite sure that Mousey will be completely unique too. Despite all of their differences, or perhaps because of them I love them all more than I could possibly say.

When Mousey first arrived, Mrs L. and I were both worried that we would be facing the issue of jealousy, but so far, the eldest three just adore the new addition. They are fascinated with her and spend as much time as they can just observing her. We were most concerned about Boy Boy’s reaction as, due to his ASD, he doesn’t cope well with change. When he was first introduced to his new sister, he had the biggest proudest smile I’ve ever seen, and he was immediately smitten.

I have some awesome friends and family.

Living a long way away from family, can be especially challenging in situations such as this, but then that is one of the major sacrifices one has to make when they move half way around the world. We were really concerned about how we would cope, especially as Mousey had to be delivered via caesarean section. Ultimately, my amazing sister offered to stay with us for six weeks and looked after all of us, and we will be forever grateful for her incredible assistance and sacrifice. I’m sure we would have found a way to make it all work

We have also had a small army of friends, new and old, making dinner for us, taking care of the kids, and generally making sure we were ok. We feel very fortunate to be surrounded by such wonderful and caring people.

And finally, my wife is AMAZING!!!

It is not uncommon for people to say that your life changes for the worst when your children arrive, and in the short term at least, there is some wisdom in that, what with the lack of sleep, the smelly nappies, and frequent trips to the washing machine, and while for many this is the case, for some, this change takes place, some considerable time earlier. Some ladies love being pregnant, while for others it is an uncomfortable and unpleasant ordeal, and this is rounded off with the experience of child birth. Mrs L. falls firmly into the latter category.  Yet she endured, with a quite grace and dignity. This in and of itself is incredible, but it would be fair to say, that the idea of having four children, was almost entirely mine. I may have never mentioned her quiet discomfort to her, as I felt (as I am) responsible for it, but I am in awe of her and this has served as yet another reminder of how  fortunate I am to be married to her.

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