iDad v2.0 – God Sakes

With No.1’s persistent visits to the hospital and the extensive, yet fruitless search for the triggers for his allergic reactions, Blue Eyes and I were lucky to find five minutes for ourselves. Ergo it was a great surprise for iDad the night that I found out we were pregnant with our second child. It had been an especially ‘challenging’ week for our little family. No.1 was going through the terrible twos, Blue Eyes was working three days per week and iDad was up to his neck with University assignments. ‘Me time’ was an esoteric concept and sleep was something only other people enjoyed. On Saturday night however, we caught a break when No.1’s sugar withdrawal abated earlier than expected and by 8:00pm he was fast asleep. Thirty seven seconds later Blue Eyes and I were beginning to doze ourselves. As I held her from behind she snuggled into me in the familiar and very comfortable ‘spoon’ position. The sandman had sprinkled his magic dust over us and although daylight saving meant it was still light outside, we were all bound for sleepy town. I kissed Blue Eyes on the back of her neck and whispered,

“Good night my honey.”

“Good night darling. Oh, guess what?”

“What sweety.”

“I’m pregnant.”

iDad’s eye twitched involuntarily.

Cake!!!!!!

No.2 arrived in December that year. He was fit, healthy, brown haired, brown eyed, beautiful little baby boy and iDad was suitably chuffed. With two little namesakes my dynasty was assured. No.1 was a great help in these early days with the new baby. He was extremely adept at shoving the dummy back into No.2’s mouth with the gentle twisting motion of a deep sea drill bit from an offshore oil rig. He was also an expert at tipping No.2 out of his bassinet ‘by accident’ and did so on many occasions. In spite of all the ‘help’ No.2 managed to survive long enough to reach his first birthday. Our friends had begun having children as well so the social occasions had moved on from late night drinking and dancing to mid-morning party pies and fairy bread. In fact the only aspect of our lives that maintained any consistency was the afternoon nap on the couch. This time however it was more out of the necessity to catch up on some zzz’s as opposed to a self-inflicted need to recover.

On the day of the party No.2 was sitting quietly playing with his toy cars while No.1 made it his personal mission to taste test all the birthday treats. Chocolate frosting, hundreds-and-thousands, freckles, mini franks, sausage rolls smothered in tomato sauce, everything we suspected may be a trigger for his asthma and anything else he could get his hands on, was stuffed into his mouth and smeared over his face in an orgy of preservatives and artificial flavouring.

Then she arrived!

Our dear friends had had a baby girl in between our No.1 and No.2. She was a beautiful little blue eyed tomboy who could scale fences, climb trees and escape through windows. On top of that she had made it her personal mission to send her parents grey; and she was succeeding.

From the depths of the hallway leading to the front door of our unit we heard the deep throaty growl of a pack-a-day smoker,

“Caaaaake!!!”

No.1 dropped his third hotdog onto the dirt trying to get out of the way whilst No.2 crawled behind my legs and peered through the opening as Hurricane Cake touched down amongst the goodies on the kids table. With sauce in her hair and a jelly bean up her nose Cake showed No.1 the proper way to gorge upon party food until finally her father was able to pries her away from the table so the other kiddies could get something to eat.

Cake would have a lasting influence on our boys lives and I’ll tell you more about her another time.

God Sakes.

As a parent one of the things you come to realise very quickly is that little children are like sponges. They pick up on every thing you say and will mimic your words perfectly; especially those things that they shouldn’t. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not one for foul language, but after the seventh idiot had almost run us off the road even iDad was on the verge of a minor misdemeanor. With the brakes locked up and the tyres leaving a trail of rubber in our wake I let the moron have it,

“Oh fffffffffffffffffffffff…………….. for God’s sake.”

I don’t know how many times I had said it this trip but obviously No.2 had heard it more than once because from the back seat of the car came the ‘God Sakes’ song. It was a high-pitched ebullient rendition of my blasphemy that repeated the same verse over, and over, ad infinitum until finally, 300 kilometres later, we reached Coffs Harbour and could tune the radio into a station without static. Unperturbed by the driving guitar from Bad Company, little God Sakes kept singing at the top of his lungs. What started as gobbledygook finished with Blue Eyes and iDad horrified as our 18-month-old sung the chorus word perfect, ‘I feel like making love to you.’

For the most part though God Sakes was a good little boy who kept out of trouble and put up with the overzealous attention of No.1. Unfortunately Blue Eyes and I were lulled into a false sense of security with God Sakes and before too long No.3 was on the way.

Coming soon: iDad v3 – Hello Granny!

iDad © Matthew Green 2010

iDad 1.1 – No.1 Finds His Voice

One of my fondest memories of life with our first born was watching the interaction between No.1 and my wife. Dirty nappies, bath time, bottle cleaning, teat boiling and projectile vomiting – Blue Eyes took it all in her stride and still found time to blow raspberries on his belly, powder his backside, cuddle with him and talk to him in a language I’m sure only they understood. iDad on the other hand seemed to spend the first twelve months with my jaw agape in astonished horror, waiting for No.1’s head to start spinning. I actually suggested at one stage that we change his name to Damien but Blue Eyes knocked that idea on the head and then did the same to me.

Finally, after months of mum, mum, mum and dad, dad, dad, No.1 uttered his first word – ‘Maccas.’

Thinking back on it now I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised. As the sole grandchild on both sides of the family No.1 was spoiled rotten. Red cordial, green jelly, chocolate, and lollies with more sugar than a Krispy Kreme doughnut, conflicted with the bland soy formula that Blue Eyes and I had tried desperately to get our little boy to eat. As a result we spent many a Sunday night watching No.1 bounce of the walls before the sucrose withdrawal finally caused him to crash into unconsciousness. It was a sight akin to the Tasmanian Devil tearing his way through the scrub in a frantic search for Bugs Bunny, the only difference being that our devil was toothless. Through the week we would ween him back off the white powder and bring his eczema under control, all in preparation for the next round of grandmotherly love.

The real clue was the finding of soggy, half-sucked french fries in his nappy from time to time. The culprit though was never identified.

Speaking in Tongues.

‘Maccas’ opened the flood gate so to speak and more words quickly followed. Having both a grandmother and a great-grandmother on one side of the family caused but a moments pause for No.1 and so ‘Nanny’ and ‘More Nanny’ came into being. The grandfathers though were a little more difficult. My wife’s family is partly of Lebanese descent and the Arabic word for Grandfather is Jidi (pronounced zhiddee). Unfortunately the Australian vernacular often mispronounced the ‘zh’ as an ‘sh’ and so Jidi refused to be known as Shit-tee. It was a fair request, upheld by most members of the family, and because the other adults referred to Jidi as ‘K’ No.1 began doing the same.

My father on the other has was a little more stubborn. He refused to accept the fact that he was now a grand parent so Grandpa, Pop, Gramps etc were all off limit. So my son did the only thing he could do and that was to invent his own name. I’m still not sure to this day whether ‘Bynel’ was actually pleased with being called ‘Bynel’ but I do know for a fact that grandma was none to pleased with being dubbed ‘Mynel’. She seized every opportunity available to get No.1 to change her nickname but for many months Blue Eyes and I would get daily requests to visit ‘Bynel’ and ‘Mynel’.

My sisters fared better than my parents and to this day they are still known as ‘Dee’ and ‘Pee-Dee’ whilst my brother-in-law, who was a huge bear of a man, simply became ‘Bop’. On my wife’s side of the family we got ‘Dabe’, ‘Doughie’, ‘Muck’, ‘Wibby’ and ‘Dinta’ to add to the mix.

Asthma.

A child with allergies is a terrifying experience and iDad quickly worked out the fastest route to Prince of Wales Children’s Emergency from every part of town. Watching their little faces puff up with anaphylaxis and not knowing the cause is the stuff of nightmares. Blue Eyes and I spent two Christmas Eve’s in the Asthma Ward at POW with a number of other little kiddies and their bewildered, frightened parents.

There was one incident in particular that haunts me to this very day. No.1’s face and neck was so swollen with the allergic reaction that he was almost double in size. I had dropped him off at Emergency with his mother and dumped the car illegally in the handicapped zone. I’m not sure what the thought process was that made us to drive to hospital instead of calling an ambulance, only that blind panic makes you do the craziest things. As I crashed through the automatic doors my wife tore a photograph out of her purse and thrust it into the face of the apathetic orderly, screaming at the top of her lungs,

“This is what my boy is supposed to look like.”

The dawning apprehension that we had not arrived with a miniature sumo wrestler hit the orderly, the triage nurse and the resident doctor simultaneously and No.1 was quickly snatched from our grasp, injected with adrenalin and placed on a ventilator. We sat together for hours that night in the semi darkness holding hands. Neither one spoke, words weren’t necessary. We had come as close as possible to losing our child and the tears, sniffles and sighs of relief were the only noises outside the click and puff of the oxygen mask.

Poop

We knew right from the start that No.1 would have allergies. Blue Eyes suffered from eczema as a child and iDad was an asthmatic from way back. This is why we started the little guy on soy formula as soon as he started biting the breast that fed him. The side effects of soy leave a heck of a lot to be desired I can tell you. Finding an old rancid baby bottle that had fallen under the seat in your car is a smell I will never forget. Neither is the odor of said formula when it has been spilled on the floor and cooked in the summer sun. But worst of all are the soy scented nappies; and No.1 was the master of poop.

iDad learned from early on to always carry a collection of shopping bags in the car. If you cut some holes in the bottom for his legs and pull the handles up over his shoulders, you effectively get an inexpensive pair of plastic overalls. There have been many occasions when we have had to employ the ‘Franklins Tactic’ and beat a hasty retreat. No.1 has befouled high chairs in restaurants from the Sutherland Shire to the Gold Coast, leaving his indelible impression on waiting staff and costing iDad a fortune in extra tips.

The worst episode however was the day we took No.1 to visit his great grandfather in hospital. As we tootled along the Grand Parade at Brighton Le Sands the familiar baby chatter in the back was replaced by a constant whining ‘er, er, er’ noise. Blue Eyes was driving so iDad looked over the back to see what was the matter. The soy explosion had not only exited the cuffs of his shorts but it was pouring out of his shirt sleeves and over his collar. It was in his hair, on his hands, all over the car seat, the window, the door and worst of all it was in his mouth.

“Honey, we need to pull over.”
“Why darling?”
“Ummm. Its best if you see for yourself.”

With the Camry idling in Bay street Blue Eyes looked over her shoulder. No.1 smiled with a mouthful of poo, held out his hands and said,

“Ucky mum.”

Whether that translated to yucky or lucky I have no idea. All I know is that a white t-shirt is not the best article of clothing to be wearing when you clean up that volume of excrement and by the time we got to St Vincent’s No.1 was the only one not coated in poop.

Coming soon: iDad 2.0 – God Sakes.

iDad © Matthew Green 2010

iDad

Having a child is not a right. Nor is it an obligation. Its a blessing. An often hungry, frequently snotty, very smelly and incredibly expensive blessing, but a gift from God nonetheless. This has been my philosophy for the last eighteen years as I have struggled to raise our five little angels and its probably the only thing that has kept them alive at times.

I remember my introduction to parenthood as if it were yesterday. My wife and I were only children ourselves at the time, scratching out a living from our love nest in Leichhardt. She looked at me one evening, her beautiful blue eyes brimming with love and desire, and sensuously suggested that we should have a baby. I stared back into those shimmering azure pools and offered to buy her a dog.

Tip 1: Do not attempt humour at the height of romantic congress. There are too many exposed body parts within striking distance.

Eventually the change in blood flow direction awoke the ‘little brain’ and  No.1 son was on the way.

Our Pregnancy

My wife looked absolutely beautiful each and every time she was pregnant. Although the rosy glow in her cheeks can be attributed to the burst capillaries from months of early morning regurgitation; and the dark, brooding eyes had more to do with lack of sleep than expertly applied mascara, she honestly looked fantastic.

I always like to refer to those glorious trimesters as ‘our pregnancy’. Yes this has resulted in some eyebrow raising, choice language and the odd lashing out by many female friends and family members, but Blue Eyes and I have a very special bond that helped me to partake in the joy of carrying a child. As a man it was physically impossible for me to bear the burden or gestation and labour, only Arnold Schwarzenegger has had that privilege (what were you thinking Emma Thompson?). In spite of our physical differences though I was determined to be a part of this wonderful experience. As our child grew and her stomach expanded I gorged myself on beer and fast food in order to achieve the same result. This had the double effect of allowing me to participate in the rituals of morning sickness, although mine was met with less respect, and helped me to share in the constipation and flatulence.

Tip 2: Stick to your guns boys. This is ‘your’ pregnancy just as much as it was ‘your’ wedding 😉

One thing I couldn’t replicate though was the ‘nesting’ phase. By the time the third trimester was well underway Blue Eyes was busy painting rooms, laying shag pile, building cribs and shopping for baby clothes. Target and Ikea became our second home and her energy levels were boundless. The only problem was that iDad was so full of fried chicken by this stage that the best I could do was offer a lot of advice. Unfortunately with my choice in colour, clothing and carpet not being ‘right for the baby’, iDad was eventually shuffled off to watch the cricket and as Alan Border smashed another ‘six’ over mid-wicket I couldn’t help but feel a little left out.

Then I heard the most frightening phrase in the English language,

‘Honey, my waters broke.’

Birth

Watching your wife give birth is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. Early in the process Blue Eyes lay on her side moaning through the pethidine haze whilst iDad was busy running around the bed in a vain attempt to comfort her.

“Where are you honey?” [plaintive question]

“I’m behind you, rubbing your back.”

“But I can’t see you.” [muffled growl]

Lap number 32.

“Would you like some ice sweetheart?” [stupid question]

“Mum can give me ice. I need you to rub my back.” [louder growl]

Lap number 33

I vowed to bring a mirror next time.

With contractions less than a minute apart and painted fingernails permanently embedded in my forearm I told her to breathe – big mistake. Fortunately the baby’s head crowned before the blow landed and ten minutes later our nine-pounder let everyone in Darlinghurst know he had arrived. iDad was both in shock and awe at what I had just witnessed.

As any man who has ever been there will attest watching the love of your life go through such agony, which you are powerless to prevent, is soul wracking. For all our years of evolution men are still very primitive mammals. We hunt, we gather, we propagate our species and we protect our clan; and when these four functions are out of our control we are lost.

iDad was no exception. My eyes were like saucers when Ridley Scott’s Alien burst forth from the chest of John Hurt and screamed at the stunned shipmates. But as I waited for the little monster to run off into the bowels of the Nostromo and slowly begin its rampage against the survivors, a strange thing happened. Our protesting progeny was wrapped up and presented to his mother as a macabre, mucus covered pass-the-parcel and all at once the noises stopped. There was no moaning, no screaming, no ‘get out of the way you stupid man’, even the machine that goes ‘ping’ ceased ponging and all that was left was the cooing of a proud new mum to her little bundle of joy.

Two new grandmothers stood alongside iDad as we all shed a tear together. Then Blue Eyes uttered the second most frightening phrase in the English language,

“I could do that again.”

Damn oxytocin.

Wetting the Baby’s Head.

Within a few short days of becoming a father I submitted my illustrious entry to the ‘Husband of the Year’ competition. A couple of beers with the boys turned into a soppy, yet immensely inebriated 2am telephone call to the delivery ward at St Margaret’s Hospital. The sisters were not happy to hear from me and my wife…. well I’m sure you can imagine her response.

Tip 3: A drunken ‘I love you’ should never be used in any circumstance whatsoever.

The next day I showed up at the hospital incredibly hungover. We missed her grandmother’s funeral and the new mum got to drive hubby and bub home. iDad was off to a flying start.

You’re on Your Own

In one of my more lucid moments during our pregnancy I had agreed to move in with my in-laws to get some assistance with the rearing of No. 1 son. Prenatal classes only pass on so much knowledge and with iDad expecting ‘Parent Craft’ to teach you how to build bedroom furniture, as opposed to folding techniques for cloth nappies, well we needed a heck of a lot of help.

My wife’s grandmother was an amazing woman. She emigrated from Lebanon at the age of fifteen, walked with her husband and growing family from Sydney to Charleville, and proceeded to raise eleven children in the dry Queensland outback. Its an incredible tale of courage, love and sacrifice that deserves its own story. Suffice to say that her funeral in Toowoomba was attended by hundreds of family and friends including our entire support base.

Blue Eyes and I stood all alone in the renovated garage cuddling our hungry bundle with an astonished look of bewilderment on our faces.

“What do we do now?” I said.

“Why are you asking me?” Was the reply.

“Because you’re a mother aren’t you?”

Tip 4: Women do not suffer fools at the best of times. Exhausted women with sore breasts and a pile of dirty nappies to clean are prone to violence.

My wife blinked rapidly as the stupidity of my statement hit home. I close mine and waited for the punch. To her credit she simply pushed past me muttering to herself.

“Great! Now I have two children.”

As the little lump began squawking for his dinner I stood all alone in the nursery. The crib, the mobile hanging from the ceiling and the change table in the corner all took turns in mocking me until finally a very deep voice inside my head said,

“You’re a dad now. Get used to it.”

It was a phrase that would become my own personal slogan over the years.

I headed upstairs to prepare a cup of tea for Blue Eyes as No.1 began his four hourly gorging process. A quick kiss on the forehead with a sheepish ‘I love you’ was reciprocated with a look that told me I had been forgiven.

We fed, burped, bathed and put our little one to bed before collapsing onto the couch. A lasagna had been left in the fridge for us and as we munched happily on the reheated pasta, pausing occasionally to sip some red wine, I reflected on the fact that day one, which had started with a headache, had finished with a life changing revelation.

This truly was the first day of the rest of our lives.

Coming soon iDad 1.1 – No.1 Finds His Voice

iDad © Matthew Green 2010