Looking into the future

This final post in the #fathersdaymonth series comes from @LoveAllDads.

@LoveAllDads is a great initiative and a one stop shop for anyone wanting to peruse a fantastic selection of dad bloggers, dad voices and all things dad. It is basically a showcase for the best of Dad Blogs.

Go check out the website here www.lovealldads.co.uk and follow on Twitter @LoveAllDads

And I cannot think of a more appropriate way to close out #fathersdaymonth, with a cheeky little blog post from a guy who runs a platform for showcasing dad blogs. This post is from a man with two lovely girls and is a nod to the future, whatever that future may contain.

Even if it is boys.

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Live for the moment, not the past, as you can’t change that.

What about the future though?

Well the future is scary.

Why is it scary?

Simply I have two amazing girls and I am grateful that I have them and I’m so lucky.  

The thing is this. They will grow up.  And THAT is scary.

As things stand the girls are blonde and blue eyes, and both could melt your heart…BUT this is a worry as they grow older; what if those horrible creatures known as BOYS start sniffing around?

I have already warned the girls that boys are off limits until they are 21 and luckily at the moment they respond 

“That’s ok Daddy boys are yucky!”

I do however think this will change at some point.

As tradition dictates, it’s up to the Bride’s Father to pay for the wedding, which if things carry on, with their expensive tastes and everything, could cost me a pretty penny.

Multiply that by two and you have…well it’s not worth thinking about.

I am hoping that it is still tradition for the hopeful chap to ask me for my daughter’s hand in marriage at which point I can simply say “NO!” and in an Eastenders way ‘deal with him’.

Is that allowed? 

Of course I am joking

(sort of)

With the guidance of their parents I know that my girls will grow up to be well mannered and polite and hopefully make the right choices throughout their lives and no matter what, they will know that we will always support them.

As Frank Sinatra said ‘regrets I’ve had a few but then again too few to mention’

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Childbirth is painful, but have you ever been kicked in the nuts?

This penultimate #fathersdaymonth post comes from Stuart at @mvd_stuart. For those of you who dont know, he is one half of the dynamic duo that make up www.mummyvsdaddy.com

With his wife @mvd_sarah they run a brilliant and innovative blog that provides a space for the often contradictory (and sometimes agreeable) mix of opinions between a mother and father which make up the rich tapestry of parenthood. 

If you need any more convincing, they were also BiBs finalists this year. Go check their blog site out and follow them on Twitter.

I particularly like this #fathersdaymonth post because it is utterly tragic and brutally honest. And yet somehow, Stuart manages to work a thread of mischievous humour throughout. For this alone it’s a brilliant post. 

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Before meeting my wife Sarah, I had never imagined that some day I would become a father. I was a lazy, childish and slightly mental teenager who at the time found kids nothing more than irritating.

Having children of my own was ‘never’ on my life’s agenda and for me nobody was going to change that. But apparently things do change.

I was 23 years old when I learned that I was to be a Daddy for the first time. Despite my reservations from years gone by, I was ready to step-up for what was to be my little girl – but other plans were made for her.

My first experience of a hospital delivery suite was the 13 hours 50 minutes delivery of my daughter, with my wife and I knowing we would be leaving the hospital empty handed.

On April 24th 2006 my first child Ryleigh Jayne was born sleeping, and to my shame on that day I made the horrendous choice to not look, and to not hold my daughter before she was taken from my life forever.

To this day I consider myself a bad father because of my decision that day. I may try my best for the children I have with me now.

But the fact remains the first thing I ever did as a Father was turn my back on my daughter.

Of course I wanted to see and hold her, but I did not have the courage or strength to do it. I will forever be disgusted with myself.

Ryleigh was delivered at 4 months gestation, after being given just a 5% chance of reaching full-term but then a 0% chance of survival at birth. Before our daughter began suffering we had to do what was right for her, as heart-breaking as it was and will forever be.

Ryleigh had Cystic Hygroma with Fetal Hydrops, and Turners Syndrome.

She will of course always be my first child.

Needless to say the issues we had with Ryleigh made the next pregnancy with our daughter Rhianna all the more stressful. Both me and my wife were always worrying that something may again go wrong. Instead of looking forward to every ultrasound scan, we feared them, as it was an ultrasound which first revealed Ryleigh’s problems.

In the latter stages of the pregnancy with Rhianna she was measuring quite small, which added to our fear that perhaps something wasn’t right – but thankfully our fears were without foundation.

First impressions of the delivery suite this time around were completely different. This time I didn’t arrive knowing I would be leaving again without my child, although at the back of my mind, a little fear of that remained. I was after all yet to be a Dad physically, so this was still all new to me.

I did my best to stay positive as it goes without saying Sarah had so much more to worry about. Yet I proved to be pretty useless to her.

It turns out that my usual cool, calm and collected nature didn’t apply within the walls of a hospital. The experience of child birth took me by surprise to say the least.

I’m not sure what I was expecting. As a man, by far the most common comment I see and hear about child birth is how lucky men are, and that I as a man could never imagine (or stand) the pain of giving birth. Of course the comments always come from women.

To those women my response is have you ever stopped for a second to imagine just how much more painful it would be for a man to give birth? Excuse my phrasing, but our holes are tighter than yours, so of course we consider ourselves lucky that giving birth isn’t our role. But rest assured we appreciate what you go through.

I must admit that I myself have in the past asked women if they know what a proper, full on kick in the nuts feels like and placed it arguably up there alongside child birth on the top shelf of painful experiences.

Although I have always said it in jest, but with a straight, dead-pan face giving the impression that i’m being serious. Just for my own entertainment, it never fails to get a reaction.

In reality the pain women bear during child birth is incredible without a doubt, and as the very proud Father of four (plus my angel Ryleigh) my wife has shown her strength time and time again, not that I have ever doubted her.

For the want of a better description she has seemingly breezed through each delivery and I couldn’t be more proud of her.

As for me though, and my role as her “birthing partner” I have been pretty useless and overwhelmed every single time which surprises me.

I am and have always been a super relaxed man, I take everything in my stride but upon arriving at the delivery suite I fall into a corner and have become almost invisible until it’s time to cut the cord. But I have always been there and at her beckoned call if ever she has needed or wanted me. So I did my bit, albeit a very small bit.

Do I feel I should have done more during the birth of my children? Most definitely.

Do I feel like my wife needed me? Honestly, no.

Because when she needed to be the one to take things in her stride she went head to head with that pain threshold and won comfortably

Although perhaps comfortably is the wrong word!

The whole experience of child birth from a Dad’s perspective was for me far less traumatising than I expected, but far more overwhelming if that makes any sense at all.

Before you become a Dad for the first time all you know is what you hear, or what you have been told by friends or family members who have children. And if the people you know are anything like my lot they will say just about anything to try to put you on edge.

If you are an expectant Dad I would advise against you reading any baby books or asking people what it’s like because there is no routine for child birth.

Your experience of it will be unique to you, so do whatever you can to enjoy and make the most of it because once that baby comes squeezing out (or sliding, depending on the size and shape of your partner) that’s it.

But you can forget about silence, and forget about doing things your way ever again!

Inside the delivery suite you will see your partner in a whole new way, however long you’ve known her. She will not only abuse you physically, but verbally too.

She will at times give the impression that you’re needed, but as soon as you step within reach she will be clawing at your arm like a f****d off raccoon. You will also hear all kinds of new sounds. Just pretend it’s aliens, it’s less scary that way.

And as for the smells… sorry ladies, there are new smells in there too – ask your partner and the look on his face will tell you that he wants to say yes, but is terrified of doing so.

Finally, I want to remind the dads out there that the delivery suite represents your last chance to prepare your partner for Motherhood. She may find these following things irritating at the time – but it’s for the best.

Firstly, do not be afraid to poop yourself and scream for some clean pants.

Secondly, if you feel a bit sick be sure to get some in her hair – she needs to learn to cope with this.

Lastly but not least, if you fancy a cuppa, and the midwife is refusing to make it because she’s delivering your baby, you are well within your rights to throw a tantrum.

Saliva, snot and tears; one man’s reflection on childbirth

This is the fifth guest post in the #fathersdaymonth series. This comes from a great dad blogger called The_iDad. According to his Twitter profile he is “…dad to a crazed toddler and another in production“. Go check him out on Twitter @The_iDad and you can find his great blog here www.idads.co.uk

This is a lovely post that reflects on the need for adaptability in fatherhood (and in parenting in general) and demonstrates clearly that being prepared for childbirth is good, but that you also have to be prepared for the eventuality that sometimes EVERYTHING can change……

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During the 40 weeks of pregnancy you have quite a while to mentally prepare for what life will be like when your baby arrives. A lot of that time maybe spent wrestling with flat pack nursery furniture, debating over nursery colour swatches or purchasing ridiculously overpriced novelty clothing.

Throughout the prolonged countdown I found myself spending more time contemplating life after birth than birth itself. My thoughts of labour constantly flip flopped between sheer joy and excitement, to utter panic and terror.

Could I be the man that my Wife needed me to be during the birth?

As I write this I realise how pathetic that may sound as I appreciate I am a mere passenger to the birth experience rather than the one actually having to give birth.

I hate to compare the role of the birth partner to that of a back seat driver but the catalyst that fuels the vocal reaction of the panicked passenger is that of lack of control.

I feel as though my fears of labour were stemmed through the feeling of being out of control. Whether or not the birth experience would be good or bad for my Wife seemed as though it had little to do with me. The speed of which I could mop my Wife’s brow or fetch hot towels seemed irrelevant to what my Wife would be going through.

As naive as that sounds I had never been around birth before or even babies so my understanding of it all was slightly out of date.

Having acknowledged my fear and prehistoric knowledge I embraced the opportunity to learn the way of the force and be the best birth partner a man could be.

As an open minded, hip hop, modern era kind of couple we jumped at the opportunity to sign up to 6 weeks of hypno-birthing classes. The experience was great and after the course we both felt empowered to go and pop the baby out with minimal fuss. After all, a pre-planned cocktail of relaxed breathing and a bucketful of oxytocin meant the baby would simply just slide out. Right?!

Wrong!

Yes, with my new found skills I could identify the optimum volume for the hypno music, light several calming candles with the precision of a pyromaniac and produce a knee wobblingly good foot rub; but what if something went wrong during labour? I would be unprepared.

And unfortunately in reality I was.

I found the ethos of hypno-birthing to be incredible and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

But when you find yourself in the stark reality of an emotionally charged emergency c-section situation, deep breathing isn’t enough.

The catchy tune of Elton John’s Rocket Man was still ringing in my ears as my pupils sharply adjusted from the dim sensual lighting to the piercing glare of the surgery room.

As I frantically tried to find the arm hole of an inappropriately ladies size 8 scrubs top that I had been thrown, my concentration was abruptly cut short by the sight of my Wife’s spontaneous projectile vomit coming towards my face.

My knuckles were whiter than my face as I clung on in confusion to my distressed Wife. My fear of being out of control was at its peak and my knee jerk reaction to regain it was coming across as desperate and weak.

It was time to put our trust in someone else and hope for the best.

Well the best couldn’t have been much better, the sight and sound of our newborn son was embarrassingly overwhelming.

Soon after cleaning our newborn son off, the staff were doing it again. But this time it was me they were cleaning as a combination of saliva, tears and snot congealed together to create an alien like emotional eruption that Mount Etna would have been proud of.

The best laid plans may have gone out of the window but the end result was the same.

I am now two and half years into being a Father and the feeling of not being in control still niggles away each time we reach an obstacle for the first time.

It may never go away but I know with each new experience I will learn from it and aim to be better for the next time.

I am thankful to say that I will have a next time as my Wife is 25 weeks pregnant with our second son.

How will I be different during birth this time? I don’t know is the truthful answer.

But I do know that I will be more aware of the various scenarios that can play out and I will support my Wife in every way I can.

 

 

One born every minute

It is actual Fathers Day! And this is the fourth in the series of #fathersdaymonth guest posts. This one is a second post from @dadvsthekids. You can read more from him on his new blog http://www.dadvsthekids.com

It’s a post about childbirth. And I particularly like this post because it is funny. Really funny. But also that there is a great central message here. Kids dont play by the rules. Neither should you. Stick your hands out and get them dirty.

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Hi. I’d like my coat dry-cleaned please. That stain? Yeah, it’s just my wife’s blood. Do you reckon you can you get that all out?”

Okay. Let me back up a bit.

THE KID IS IN MY HANDS WHAT THE HELL DO I DO?!?!?”

Okay. Maybe I need to go back a little bit more. Because if you’re bringing a child into this world, you need to be prepared. But not prepared in the way you think you know right now.

This is the birth of our second child. I got this. I read all the magazines. I diligently attended all the birthing classes. I even managed to get in good with one of the staff on the maternity ward (ok, it was my mother-in-law) and secured a serene, private hospital room to welcome our latest ‘miracle of life’ into the world with the aid of the finest drugs the NHS has to offer. NAILED IT.

From the Dad’s point of view, as long as you’ve picked up the TENS machine, remembered the overnight bag, your ONLY job in the delivery room is to hold your wife’s hand, offering appropriate, positive commendation whilst resisting the temptation to take a hit of the gas and air whilst the midwife’s back is turned.

We’d been through this already with child no.1 – I knew the drill. I knew my place. So when the contractions started that summer afternoon in 2006, it was like the Rocky theme tune was playing in my head all over again. All those months of training has led to this.

 Mrs DvK calls her parents and we arrange to drop off our firstborn. Because who wants to traumatise a 2yr old child with shrieking contractions and profanities, right?

“Yep,” she breathes into her phone through the mild contractions. “We’ll drop him off to you Mum, and then we’ll go home and collect my stuff before meeting you at the hospital. The contractions aren’t too bad, so we should have plenty of time.” I make a mental note to pack myself extra magazines and maybe a Mars Bar.

An hour later, we’re back at home. Mrs DvK is on the sofa, wrapped up in the TENS machine, timing the contractions whilst I make the last few phone calls to friends and family.

Informing the maternity ward of our imminent arrival, I try my best to sound confident and jovial. Don’t be fooled – judging the window between “should we go in now” and “I can’t believe that moody cow sent us back home” is another rite of passage for all paranoid new parents. If you don’t sound convinced, then they won’t be.

“Did you call the midwife?”

“Yes hun”

“Did you put my slippers in the bag?”

“Yep.”

“Have you put the car seat in?”

“It’s done.”

“Did you pack the baby vests?”

“Yes….”

“The green ones and the white ones?”

“YES.”

Apparently no one cares if I packed my Mars Bars, but whatever. I take charge of the conversation. “Right, I’ll get everything in the car.” I slip my hands into my coat, help Mrs DvK up from the sofa and march ahead for the front door. “Let’s go!”

The first scream of pain hits me with brute force. I’m not supposed to hear that until we’re in the delivery room am I?

I turn around and for the first time, I see paralysing fear in my wife’s eyes. By the Power of Greyskull: THE LITTLE GIT IS COMING NOW.

NINE. NINE. NINE.

“I can’t move! I can’t move! I have to push!” she screams. The sheer ferocity of the contraction is too much and Mrs DvK, in a hysterical panic starts to remove her clothes.

“NOOO! Not in the living room on the carpet!” My cry falls on deaf ears. But Mother Nature has taken over and gravity is the first to say hello. With one push, her waters break, spilling out onto the floor.

Imagine what you’ve seen in light-hearted romantic comedies and hilarious TV sit-coms.  But without the canned laughter. Nobody is laughing now. It’s EVERYWHERE.

“WIFE IN LABOUR! BABY COMING! SEND AMBULANCE!” My adrenalin fuelled stuttering to the 999 operator reveals I am way in over my head. This is uncharted territory.

My wife and I are alone, with no medical professional, no drugs, and no way out. There isn’t an app for this. Mrs DvK is about to endure childbirth cave-man style, and I didn’t even get to start thumbing through my fresh copy of GQ. Typical.

Despite all the odds, she’s still on her feet. Everything is a blur. The second push is more dramatic than the first.

And then it happens.

I can see my son’s head.

My stupid brain frantically tries to recall anything from the birthing lessons that can help in this situation. Nope.

One thing I can guarantee, new Dads: Time will slow down when you see your child for the first time. I don’t remember the exact moment I dropped the phone and extended my hands to catch my son. That primal need to protect him at all costs is something that you can never fully put into words. This tiny child is fighting for survival from his first breath and he’s relying on you to step up.

The umbilical cord is still wrapped around his neck. But he’s crying. That’s a good thing right? “Yes, yes that’s a good thing you idiot”, I think to myself, “that means he’s breathing.” Unwrap the cord dammit, unwrap the cord.

Mrs DvK finally crumples to the floor in a shock, tired heap. I remember I’m still on the phone to the 999 operator. “THE KID IS IN MY HANDS WHAT THE HELL DO I DO?!?!?”

“Get blankets. Keep them comfortable. Another midwife and an ambulance are on their way sir.” The reassuring tone of the disembodied voice make me think this is definitely a more regular occurrence than I’ve been led to believe. Did she just call me Sir?

Your child will shock and surprise you from the second they are born. Just when you think you’ve got them figured out, they’ll blindside you with an emotional uppercut and you’ll be left wondering why you weren’t prepared and begin to doubt your ability to keep another human being alive.

To those who have such trepidation, I say USE that. Use that fear to fuel that primal maternal/paternal bond, not shy away from it.

The books and the classes and the well-meaning (but sometimes conflicting) advice from family and friends have their place.

But you’ll be surprised what you’re prepared to do for your child when you use them as the measuring rod of your success as a parent, not the photo-shopped magazine version we all find ourselves aspiring to.

If catching my son mid-delivery taught me anything, it’s that kids don’t play by the rules. And neither should you. Stick your hands out and get them dirty.

The real professionals arrive less than 10 minutes after the delivery and do their thing.

Actually, one of the ambulance paramedics, built like brick house, and who’s probably seen more than his fair share of multiple car pile-ups, confesses he is squeamish at the sight of women giving birth. Outstanding.

He offers to make himself useful by putting the kettle on and making the bed. 

Mother and baby are eventually given the all clear by the midwife and within an hour they’ve gone, and our new son is already asleep.

Aside from the stream of text messaging well-wishers, the eerie quiet is a stark and bemusing contrast to the heart-stopping moments that preceded it.

I look at my blood-covered watch. It’s nearly 8:30pm.

“Fancy catching the last few minutes of Eastenders?”

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This was originally a guest post for @ministryofmum. Go check out her superb blog at www.ministryofmum.blogspot.co.uk

 

Why yes, I happen to speak fluent parturition.

This third #fathersdaymonth post is a lovely meditation on childbirth and fatherhood. There’s also even time for a humorous reflection on the curious and beautiful oddities that we spawn.

This post comes courtesy of Shawn Brown whose lovely blogs and beautiful poetry can be found on his blog page Circumstantially Wonderful – http://sextonsongs.wordpress.com/ – go check it out.

I hope you enjoy this post – please do feel free to leave comments and feedback

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As I was tucking in the Easy Bee (3yrs old – our 2nd of 3);
making absolutely certain that no rough part of the blanket
was touching her face in any way, at all, she says:

Dad, your hands are cold… and they’re warm

My First Born (6yrs) feeling it necessary to contend this paradox
interjects with a voice muffled by her deep nest of covers:

“…that doesn’t make any sense

weellll…” EZB continues in a single breath: “they’re middle… they’re medi… uhhh… meti…
meady…ummmmmmmm…  meaty… meat. We eat meat. We eat fish. Mosquitoes itch us. Right Dad?”

What?

My strange and beautiful children.
Where did you come from?

Oh right, I remember …

(eyes glaze dreamily, hand strokes scruffy chin):

… the muscles of my wife’s lower back rippled
(i didn’t even know we had muscles like that there)
she was turning a deep red with the effort
and still the midwife was demanding: push!

I thought: NO! she’ll burst! no one can do this. STOP!

but then…

I was called around to the front
and there was the top of our little one’s head
I teared up and I repeated: push.

In a moment the child rushed out into my hands
and I picked her up and put her on her mother’s chest.

Our daughter. Born under the water of an inflatable kiddie pool in my kitchenwhere you would sit, in fact, if you came for dinner.

I was no stoic hero (in this case or the subsequent two births)

I was trying to maintain focus on my wife

Trying to take care of the little logistical problems of having a swimming pool in the kitchen
(in which a baby is about to be born)

Trying to be as helpful as a man can be (when he’s long ago completed his required contribution for this somatic/biological process)

Trying to get the back rubs and breathing and moral support just right

Trying to be completely present in this horribly beautiful adventure

But also, I was trying to keep how terrified I was from showing
and adding drama where extra drama was definitely not needed –
hoping I wouldn’t freak out and run screaming from the room
with my arms flailing above my head.

Inside I felt like one of those tiny excitable dogs
dancing around pointlessly with their little nails
clicking on the linoleum floor;
all nerves – no steel.

My wife? Well, she was amazing, powerful…
at one point amidst the pain
she looked up at me clear-eyed and said quietly:
“this hurts more than I thought it would.”
I knew she was strong, but I was in awe.

The first birth was swaddled in novelty:
attending the birthing classes with all of their predictable hilarity
acquiring all the specialized terminology; the jargon of birth

Learning that an umbilical cord is gigantic!
(worth going to class for that information alone – I was pretty ignorant).
Entering into the culture and convictions attendant to home birth
(I felt like a spy from normal-land infiltrating a strange realm
where people very seriously consider consuming parts of their own body)

The whole time I’m thinking: well, sure, but this is just one day –
then what do we do?!
Well, no one can really answer that question.
And this one day?

Nothing could have prepared me for this reality of flesh and bone…
our lives are normally so sheltered, avoiding pain wherever possible,
but this was raw – visceral – utterly exposed
and no matter how hard I tried or what I did
I couldn’t save her from that

– nor would she want me to-
and I was afraid.
the most dramatic culmination of our being one
and we would be so dramatically separate.

Together, intimate but deep within ourselves; our experiences so different.
I was there for support, a hand holding hers, a body to lean against
but ultimately all I could do was stand by and watch her bear it;
which she did with determination and grace
and it was hard and it was raw and it was miraculous.

And then I fell in love.
I was overjoyed with all my tiny new babies,
they were unspeakably beautiful to me

And I swear I didn’t mean to think this:
but, wow, they were also funny looking.
being born is hard work and it showed…

The first debuted like a cross between Yoda and Gollum
I just kept thinking: which of those parts came from me?

EZB (our 2nd) was a little garden gnome;
bright red and fuzzy – a little girl version of the biblical Esau.
and the boy (8 months now), poor kid,
he looked like Roger Ebert after his jaw was removed
(I thought of even worse stuff but my wife said not to write it here.)

But then their tough elastic little bodies
recover from the pressures and trauma of the birth
and they slowly unfold into all of their exquisite oddness;

The wondrous strange combination of things which they inherit from us
and are stuck with for the duration of their lives
(whether they like it or not)

And the things that are their own:
the unique otherness which they begin to foster and protect
whether we like it or not.
from the beginning until now and on till then
they are all so very beautiful.

And as I knelt beside my wife and this other brand new person
my heart still dancing its irregular jig
I choked out: is she breathing?
that child picked her head up off her Mama’s chest
opened her eyes wide and looked directly at me –
calm down, Dad.

 

Childbirth – a superhero movie with an 18 certificate

This is the second post in the #fathersdaymonth series from a fine gentleman called Tom Briggs. I love this post because it rightly positions the woman in labour as a superhero, but describes how the man can also feel like he has taken on heightened senses and awareness during the process. Check out Tom on Twitter @tombriggs79 and go check out his website www.diaryofthedad.co.uk 

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"...it was only when I was trudging down an empty road like the main protagonist at the start of 28 Days Later that it struck me that I was a dad....."

“…it was only when I was trudging down an empty road like the main protagonist at the start of 28 Days Later that it struck me that I was a dad…..”

If you believe what you see in films and television – which, unless you’re watching something like One Born Every Minute, probably isn’t the best way of preparing for a life-changing arrival in the first place – you’re in for a bit of a surprise when your first child is born.

These productions would have you believe that the mum-to-be has to push for about 20 seconds – barely breaking a sweat – before their bundle of joy emerges gracefully to the sound of uplifting music.

This is normally preceded by a comic dash to the hospital during which the feckless expectant dad demonstrates a ‘hilarious’ level of incompetence while trying to juggle driving, joining in with breathing exercises and panicking.

Now I can only go from my own experience here – so I’m sorry to anyone who has had a Hollywood-style birth and also to any hopeless but nonetheless loveable dads who may exist and be reading this – but it’s not quite like that.

For their part, my boys both arrived in an unceremonious fashion and the whole experience on each occasion was surreal to say the least.

Dylan faceplanted his way into the world following an agonising three-day labour, while Xander showed up a lot more abruptly and with such force that he saved me the trouble of cutting the cord. They know how to make an entrance, those two.

So, anyway, here are my perceptions on childbirth…

It’s going to be different for everyone, but it’s fair to say that the process – or at least the business end of it, let’s say – is a tad gory.

This isn’t something that bothered me at all; I think I’m so jaded by the borderline unhealthy number of visceral horror films I have in my DVD collection and, I suppose, considering the fact that the midwife didn’t look alarmed by it, that I was surprisingly quite detached from it all.

That’s not to say I was absent in any way; I remember every minute of both births.

I recall reminding my wife, Kate, that every push was bringing us closer to meeting our sons and telling her how well she was doing and she insists that I was very supportive. It’s just that I seemed to be a completely different me.

Normally, I can be relied upon to lose it over little things. In the delivery room, however, I suddenly adopted a zen-like demeanour and put the emotions firmly to one side until my sons were born. It was the same both times.

There’s no logical reason I should have been calm either; with both pregnancies we hadn’t had any useful antenatal classes.

With Dylan, there was a two-hour class during which the midwife spent most of the time talking about baby poo and its resemblance to a well-known yeast extract product.

Apart from confirming my theories about what’s in that divisive jar of spread, the session was a complete waste of time.

We weren’t taught anything about breathing exercises, when to call the hospital or anything.

We had also just moved home and our ‘old’ hospital had lost our records.Twice.

In fact, until I made a grovelling phone call to the hospital near where we had moved – during which I was told that my wife ‘probably wasn’t that far along’ and that we’d most likely be sent home again – it looked like we’d be having an unplanned homebirth. Yet I was horribly chilled out about it all.

Seeing Kate in pain was naturally distressing but I somehow knew everything was going to be okay. Even when Dylan came out with the cord around his neck, I could tell that he was going to be fine too.

I’m no medical expert, but I think I must have picked up on the lack of concerned body language from the professionals in the room.

It’s as if I temporarily had a heightened sense of awareness of everything in my vicinity. I’d be interested to find out if any other dads have had similar experiences – Spidey senses, if you will.

It was only once the boys had been born that it hit me. With Dylan, this was after I had basically been kicked out of the hospital when he and Kate were moved to the ward as he’d been born outside visiting hours.

I’d held him and spoken to him while Kate had a bath and done a bit of skin-to-skin bonding by giving him a shirt-free cuddle as soon as he was born, of course, but it was only when I was trudging down an empty road like the main protagonist at the start of 28 Days Later that it struck me that I was a dad.

Then the emotions hit me.

With Xander, I suppose I had the benefit of experience and allowed myself a happy tear or two as soon as he was safely in Kate’s arms.

So having intimated that there’s no such thing as a movie-style birth and then looking back at what I’ve written here, maybe I’m wrong. I seem to have unwittingly compared the process to a superhero film – albeit one with an 18 certificate.

An unusual way of looking at a happy ending, I grant you, but one I’m proud to call mine.

Daddy Day Care

It’s Father’s Day month! The first post is here!

This first post comes courtesy of Dad vs The Kids who has a seriously funny Twitter account (@dadvsthekids) and a great new blog at http://www.dadvsthekids.com/ – go check him out!

I love this post and he is right, it does ALWAYS start off with the crayons……

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if you ever wonder whether you’re ever doing the right thing as a parent, DON’T. Those rewards are coming

Parenting – if you are doing it right, they will let you know

DADDY DAY-CARE

In the beginning, Mrs DvK would coddle and hold our kids tightly. I, on the other hand, would count down the days until their neck was strong enough for me to throw the kids into the air and catch them like all the other ‘cool Dad’s’ did on the TV. The women would scream in horror. The men would secretly hi-five me for my reckless abandon. Good times.

This would be my downfall. The following experiences of calculated mischief and impossible mayhem can only serve as a warning to all Dads who think its ok to close your eyes for 5 minutes when you’re entrusted to watch your own children.

THE COVER-UP

It starts off with the crayons. ALWAYS with the crayons. You didn’t buy them, but you accept them, not realising the full impact of what will eventually happen. Soon enough, you walk past a once pristine cream wall in your living room to find a piece of blue and orange wax wall art you don’t remember commissioning. And the tiny culprit nowhere in sight. Banksy?

The taste for wanton destruction escalates as your precious bundle of joy reaches each milestone of curiosity and creativity in their development.

My attempts to maintain my place as ‘cool Dad’ means, inevitably, I am the complicit accomplice in their misdemeanours, often hiding the evidence before Mrs DvK comes home.

As I fish out yet another brand new loo roll from the toilet, or wipe up urine and other unspeakable substances from every room in the house (except the bathroom), I give thanks to shows like CSI and Dexter for teaching me the finer points of crime clean-up.

One occasion finds me asleep AT THE DINING TABLE. I only wanted to rest for a few minutes, I swear. Seizing a rare moment of toddler independence, my two boys (about 2yrs & 3yrs old at the time) use this opportunity to find out what our large square cushions are made of.

You’ll recognise the moment when it happens to you. I jolt myself awake. Disoriented, I wonder where I am and why my usually noisy kids are unusually quiet.

Then I see the carnage.

Thousands of tiny polystyrene balls cover our living room floor like a beautiful, white, winter wonderland. Except with two small figures standing in the middle of it, one with the dustpan and the other with a brush, both working together to sweep up all the evidence to dispose of it in the kitchen bin. Busted.

In retrospect, that was the first time they worked together as a team. Brilliant, they love each other!

That was also the first time I remember regretting giving my eldest son a sibling-sidekick. Little gits.

THE ADVENTURER AND THE WRESTLER

These days my boys, now 7 and 9, are seasoned players of ‘The Floor is Lava’, leaping from dining table to sofa to coffee table with the enviable flexibility of a Parkour athlete.

In the early stages of parenthood, the house was baby-proofed, so my ‘cool Dad’ instinct is to leave them to their own devices and discover things on their own. It’s ok Mrs DvK – you go out and run those errands. I GOT THIS. What’s the worst that could happen?

Our first trip to A&E occurred when the youngest (again, probably 2yrs old at the time) somehow manages to traverse a flight of stairs, get into the master bedroom and attempt to climb up our giant chest-of-drawers.

Oh, did I not mention the enormous widescreen TV that was on top? Everything. EVERYTHING toppled over on top of him, the TV missing him by inches.

I’ll never forget the crashing noise and the mythical superhuman strength I suddenly possessed allowing me to flip the chest-of-drawers off of him in one desperate, determined motion.

Despite being stunned for a few seconds, to this day I cannot explain how he emerged from the wreckage without so much as a scratch or broken bone.

The years go by, and the kids get bigger. And rougher. We get complacent, because dammit, for the 100th time, if you fall out of that tree and break your legs DON’T COME RUNNING TO ME.

I’m home from work barely 5 minutes. The boys are about 6yrs and 4yrs, and the oldest is recreating cartoon fight scenes in the living room with realistic aplomb. I’m tired and don’t care, heading up the stairs to check in with Mrs DvK.

Suddenly the crying from downstairs hits that ‘level’. You know the one. The level that says “Okay, they’ve taken it too far; I better stop ignoring them and do some actual parenting.”

I head downstairs. The 6yr old sprints past. “I’M SORRY! I’M SORRY! I DIDN’T MEAN IT!” What? I turn back to see the 4yr old following closely, his head split open and blood down half his face.

It’s the prom scene from Carrie and I am freaking out.

My reaction does not help the already distraught youngsters.

We explain to the nurses at A&E that the 6yr old somehow managed to pile-drive his younger brother into the corner of the coffee table, bashing his head in the process. Both kids are quiet and feeling sorry for themselves.

The only fatherly words of comfort I can offer are “Chicks dig scars.” Mrs DvK is not impressed.

Why am I sharing these tales of fatherly incompetence with you? Because I look back and see that my kids are creative, problem-solvers, resilient, bold, independent and braver than I ever was at their age. And eventually, they give back.

On Sunday May 26th, it was our wedding anniversary. 12 years. We’re not big on celebrations or cards, and when you have kids, that energy to put yourselves first for once and kick the kids out for the day just isn’t in us.

I wake up and reach for the iPad and instead find a handwritten note on a small piece of paper:

“Dear Mum & Dad,

It has come to my attention that it is your anniversary. I try to keep calm and it is not working. I know you love me and Tavon although you shout at us. Please read this letter carefully.

Love, Tyrese.”

No prompting from us.

For the first time, he wanted to do something for his parents that meant more than any specially crafted card or present ever could. Acknowledge in his own way how he felt about us.

Great, I’ve got a lump in my throat and something in my eye.

Fathers: as your child grows, all your fears/anxieties come down to the one question. AM I GOING TO BE A GOOD DAD?

The rules sometimes go out the window, and you’re going to beat yourself up over it. I know, because I have.

But keep at it. If you’re doing it right, they’ll let you know.

They WILL surprise you every day. And if you ever wonder whether you’re ever doing the right thing as a parent, DON’T. Those rewards are coming. And when they’re from the heart, all your sacrifice will be worth it.