Then 5: When Darcy came to live with Daddy.

Darcy was 4 months old when I brought her back to my house to live.  I wont go in to the details as to why she ended up with me, but she has pretty much been with me ever since. There was a strange feeling attached, like when you bring a guest into the house for the first time and feel the need to ask them if they want a tour or point out where the bathrooms are.  She had obviously spent plenty of time with me before – up to this point I’d had her most weekends, but usually I went back to my parents so she could A, visit the family and B, so I had help!  I never had to do it all solely on my own and as she looked up at me, obviously expecting me to do something, it occurred to me that I didn’t really know what to do next.  Normally on a Sunday I would be ironing my uniform and getting my admin sorted for the following week, but as this arrangement had taken me slightly by surprise I had to make other plans.  I knew that work was out of the question for a few days, I would need to get some childcare sorted for Darcy and that would take god knows how long. 

For now, the immediate issue was getting her sorted for bed and getting the house a little bit more baby friendly.  The good thing about a 4-month old baby is generally their mobility levels are pretty low, depending on how gullible they are, you can angle them at something bright and sparkly and buy yourself at least twenty minutes.  I found her baby activity mat and set her on it, as I attempted to leave the room, she took one look at me and started to ball her eyes out.  Assuming she’d rolled onto something uncomfortable (god knows how as baby mats are generally made from clouds and cushions) I went and checked it out. By the time I’d got to her she had stopped crying but I did a quick look over her area anyway. All clear, quiet again, I went to walk out.  This time I got maybe a yard or two further than last time before she started crying again.  She’s testing me, I’m sure of it, ok different approach. I moved her mat so she could see the TV and put on the baby channel – a channel created in my opinion for one purpose – to buy me time.  Granted it meant that I was going to spend the next hour listening to renditions of nursery rhymes sung by an irritating bumble bee, but we appeared to have success.  I made it out the room without her noticing.  So far I had been in the house an hour and my only success is I have managed to put my child on the floor, not a hugely productive evening. 

I went into the kitchen and put some water on the boil so I could make some pasta later on, and went back into the living room to witness my first cock up of fatherhood.  Little did I realise, that after putting the TV on, I left the remote control on Darcy’s mat and she had rolled onto it, face first. The baby channel was long gone and some how Darcy was watching a documentary about Seal (the singer not the animal) and my remote was covered in so much saliva that to this day, the mute button has been rendered useless.  Lesson learnt I suppose.  Baby channel back on, time to consider getting her ready for a bath.  Whilst I was comfortable being in the kitchen while she was in the living room, going upstairs to run a bath leaving her downstairs seemed a little worrying, I mean what if a badger got in? So I decided to take her with me. 

This was a mistake. Everything is a million times more difficult when you have a baby in your arms.  For one thing, you have to be careful not to whack her head on things.  A simple enough notion for most, but as I bent down to stick my elbow in the bath (temperature testing for dummies 101) I had to manoeuvre Darcy into a counterweight position to stop me falling to the bath and avoid falling cracking her head on the sink.  All things considered, I think I did pretty well,  granted I could have filled the bath a little less – there was enough water in there to bathe Shamu, but Darcy was clean.  I am not entirely sure at what age your allowed to use a hair dryer on a child, but it was a short lived question.  Darcy answered it for me by completely losing her shit the second I turned it on so that was out the window. 

Into a nappy and Babygro, next came my second cock up of the evening, I suddenly realised that I’d left the pan of pasta water on downstairs.  I quickly put Darcy in her cot and ran downstairs muttering profanities under my breath and found most of my water had buggered off.  I was left with just enough time to fill the pan with cold water again and put it back in the hob before I heard Darcy screaming.  I tripped up the stairs (more profanities) and judging by the noise, half expected a badger to have gotten in after all.  Took me ten solid minutes to work out she’d decided she disliked the stuffed monkey at the end of her bed (the same one that she had been attached to for the last 4 months).  By this point I had gotten a bit of a sweat on, and needed a sit down so decided we’d have a story.  At 4 months, Darcy was a bit young to understand what’s in her stories and can’t sit up yet.  Nevertheless, she seemed to settle down when I started to read, so we cracked on with ‘Each Peach Pear Plum’.  A bit beyond Darcy’s years maybe, but she had a great time teething on the corners of the pages.  The evening, for Darcy as least, finishes with a bottle or warm milk, I had to endure some more screaming as I left her to go and sort the bottle, but I looked to be on a winner as she settled into my arms with her bottle and started to look a bit dosey.  Warm milk to a baby is like whisky to an old boy. After a about minute of knocking it back they go into a sort of stupor and look utterly content with the world.  Darcy actually seemed to fall asleep with the bottle teat hanging out her mouth.  Wishing I could have left it there, I had to lift her into a seating position in order to burp her, she seemed fine for a minute or so, until she jumped out of her stupor and threw up an entire cow.  Baby sick always stinks of expired dairy products, and its gross.  Feeling like a little bit of my soul had been taken from me, I got Darcy undressed again wiped her down with baby wipe and took her nappy off.  In what can only be described as a planned, organised attack, sure enough, there was a gooey turd staring up at me from the nappy.  To recap, I now have one screaming baby, a sick covered onesie, a crap filled nappy and very little will to live. 

   Once I’d changed the nappy, got her into a new Babygro and settled her down, I put her in the cot with a dummy in.  Thankfully it didn’t take her long to drift off. Looking at the clock I realised it was now after ten, I hadn’t done any of my kit, or sorted any of my admin.  I had just enough time left to leg it downstairs to find that once again, all my pasta water had gone.  A small taste of things to come, my first evening alone with Darcy went swimmingly.  

Now 4: Icelandic excursions….

For the first time in what seems like a lifetime (actually around 6 years) I am on holiday and writing to you from Iceland. It is a strange reality, despite the fact I am only here for four days, I actually miss my girls. They spend all day every day driving me completely insane and as soon as they are out of sight I’m busy wondering what they are up to. Nevertheless, Darcy is with my mum, Mila is with her mum and Daddy is really, really cold.

From the moment you fly over the Icelandic coast, the beauty of the country is outstanding. On the descent, the transition from cloud to snow is almost seamless, and the ratio of civilisation to snow is so large that there is the constant feeling of eerie isolation. Even from the plane, the towns and cities are so covered in a blanket of snow that they are only identifiable from the tiny moving vehicles circling round. I was expecting it to be cold when I walked out of the airport, and as England gets that award winning 3 cm’s of snow each year, I had it in my head the temperature would be similar to an English snow day. I was wrong. As I walked out the airport doors the first thing I felt was the freezing cold air fly straight up my nose to the point where it hurt. In my suitcase were some thermals, but not wanting to boil on the plane I hadn’t bothered to put them on in the hope I could make it to the hotel without them. Huge mistake, the second I walked out the door, my balls ran screaming and nestled themselves somewhere in my stomach refusing to return back to place until I was significantly warmer.

Everyone in Iceland is friendly, I am not sure whether it’s prerequisite of citizenship, but the people just appear to be genuinely kind and considerate. Maybe its the law here, I am not sure, but even if you were attempting to cross the road on a busy duel carriageway, the next car to see you WILL stop, without fail. There is one glaring exception to the friendly population – bus drivers. The bus drivers in Iceland, hate everyone, everything, and as a breed, are totally insane.

You would think, in a land completely covered in ice and snow, there would be a certain vigilance when behind the wheel of any vehicle let alone one carrying various unassuming members of the public hoping to make it unmolested to their next destination. On an Icelandic bus, this assumption could cost you, at the very least, your front teeth. I am perhaps a little cynical when it comes to people, but in my head, the bus drivers are working on a point system. Ten points if you can make a toddler fly from one side of the bus to the other. Twenty point if you can make anyone head-butt the seat in front of them (an additional 5 if you can draw blood). Thirty points if you can catch someone in the doors and then pretend they aren’t there as you progress down the street despite the screaming and banging on the windows. And fifty points if you can help and elderly citizen on their way to the afterlife (an additional ten points if they slide down the centre of the entire bus first).
Whats more worrying is that despite the propensity for savagery, buses seem to be the number one preferred method of transport in Iceland. There are hundreds and they run every ten minutes so as long as you dress correctly (ice hockey body armour) its pretty easy to navigate your way around.

If you are planning a trip to Iceland in the future, there are some obvious choices with regards to days out, but before all that happens, its important you remember that Iceland is possibly one of the most expensive countries in the world. The beer is £7 a pint as a standard, a McDonalds equivalent will cost you £20 for a meal, the buses are £12 day pass and the taxi’s aren’t even worth considering. In the middle of the day, a taxi taking you 10 miles will see you no change out of £100. These are just normal run of the mill every day prices, when you start to venture to the tourist destinations things only get worse…

Iceland is home to some natural wonders that you don’t want to miss out on. I didn’t get round to them all, but wasn’t going to miss the Blue Lagoon natural hot springs. It is without a doubt the most surreal sensation I’ve ever experienced. Outside, its -11 degrees C, and in the middle of nowhere is water, naturally sitting at 40 degrees C.

I was bobbing around with my body feeling like its in a bath, and my nose and ears freezing cold. So odd, but not to be missed if you can help it, the water is supposed to be rich in minerals and depending on what you’re willing to spend, you can pick from several different face masks, drinks from the water bar and if you want to really push the boat out, there is a whole spar offering various treatments. The extras in this place require a small mortgage, but if you can afford it, its worth trying the LAVA restaurant while you’re here. The food is awesome and looking out on the the springs is pretty breathtaking.

The Northern Lights are the signature Icelandic tourist attraction. Aurora Borealis (the official name) is one of the natural wonders of the world and if you’re lucky enough to get a glimpse, a staple for ones instagram collection. The problem with them is, you can’t really book in a naturally occurring wonder. The Northern Lights are a stubborn bitch, and turn up whenever they bloody like. After a bus journey into the mountains and a tour guide who was clearly on commission trying to convince us that you can only take a picture of the lights with a certain camera app that costs £2, we waited in the coldest temperatures ever for four hours. Four hours of wondering whether my eyes were playing tricks on me, four hours of running back to the coach to warm up for two minutes then running back to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Every hour, more buses turning up with more and more Japanese people (according to the tour guide, 70% of all their tourists are Japanese to the point where the tour itself is delivered in three languages: English, Icelandic and Japanese) until, finally at about midnight someone shouted ‘somethings happening’.

You simply cannot wrap up warm enough for this trip!

After wading through what seemed like the entire cast of Rush Hour 2, we got to a good position and looked up to the sky. Five minutes past, ten minutes past, 15 minutes past and patiently we waited looking at a small glow emanating from behind mountain in the distance. Any minute now this glow was going to erupt into a magnificent display of colour and magnitude deserving the title of natural wonder. Then, out of nowhere a voice shouted ‘right everyone back onto the buses please’. I thought it was a joke, and I wasn’t the only one, over the general murmur of disapproval various (very British) shouts of ‘was that f***king it then?’ echoed over the crowd. I had to laugh, all that waiting and anticipation and what did we see? The very faintest glow from behind a silhouetted back drop. Kind of like what you’d see if you managed to pause the first millisecond of The Lion King before the sun rises. According to the tour guide, it is literally a lottery on how well you will see the lights, and tonight just wasn’t our night. Fortunately, your ticket to see the Northern Lights is valid for two years to be used as many times as necessary to see them in all their glory. So if you don’t manage to see them, you can go back the next day free of charge and continue to do so until you do see them. This news didn’t cut a lot of ice with me (no pun intended) seeing as in order to utilise this offer, I would have to book another set of flights and a hotel to go with it – tomorrow morning we fly back to England.

Then 4: The Birth

The drive to the hospital took about 45 minutes. The whole way there I was panicking I would miss it, oh how wrong I was. When I arrived, Darcy’s mum was laying in a bed, high as a kite on Entonox. Entonox, also known as gas and air, is quite honestly fantastic stuff if you don’t happen to be giving birth. Its a pain killer that you breathe in through an odd look tube, and it has some interesting side effects. It’s kind of like being on poppers except without the chance of getting ‘too relaxed’ in certain areas – your head goes all floaty and you start talking nonsense. I am told that in comparison to the pain of giving birth its a bit like trying to put a plaster on a gun shot wound, but for me sitting on the sidelines it was awesome.

The midwife said it was going to be a while and she wasn’t wrong. 9 hours we waited without an awful lot happening. Luckily I had brought my laptop along and Darcy’s mother slept a lot of it so I managed to get through an entire season of the walking dead. Weirdly enough, watching zombies rip people apart and eating them was not the most gory thing I got to watch that day.

As I got about an episode or so into season two, things started to kick off. I could tell because Darcy’s mother was awake and the abuse was starting to increase. Its amazing how the miracle of birth can changes ones perspective. Ordinarily, had someone called me the things she was calling me, id be inclined to take offence, or at least give her some abuse back. In this particular case I thought I’d keep my mouth shut and just smile nervously from out of arms reach.

Whilst the miracle of life is mesmerising to witness, I won’t lie, it isn’t pretty.  I kept away from the business end unless I was told to come and see something important (the head, the legs etc.) and for the most part just kept on with the encouragement.  The actual birth part of the birth only took 15 mins, and before long she popped out and the midwife literally threw her onto her Mother’s chest.  She was perfect, gross, but perfect.
It’s a feeling I cannot describe, I was crying my eyes out looking at this little thing, trying to ‘un-see’ whatever it was she was covered in, quietly shitting myself as to what on earth I was supposed to do now I’m ‘a dad’ and yet, it was the happiest moment.

   Afterwards there were various different bases that needed to be covered.  Darcy was given a vitamin K shot, which, more than anything else, just makes you want to smack the nurse right in the chin as she flippantly jabs your new-born with a needle.  Darcy was awesome and didn’t cry once.  I cut the cord which was weird and spongy. I was surprised was how much of the cord is still there after you cut it.  It’s not like you make a nice flush cut at the belly and thus produce a belly button, oh no, you leave about 5 centimetres of this fleshy cord on the belly and after about a week it sort of dies, drops off, and smells like a stretched ear lobe. The nurse (at my request) let me put on a pair of gloves and play around with the placenta which was covered in blood and had been ignominiously thrown in a bowl on the side like a spare part.  It felt a little like a slimy balloon in water and was again, gross. Apparently you can do stuff with the placenta – it has all sorts of nutrients in it. Some like to bury it in the roots of tree, some slightly more insane people like to eat it which I find a little weird. I mean, are you supposed to cook this thing up in garlic and serve it with chips and a nice pinot noir? I didn’t ask, either way it was a no from me.  

 After her Mother had a rest, it was time for Darcy’s first bath.  I felt a little bit like a spare part during this bit as the midwife came in and did most of it, I just stood around with my hands in pockets asking shit questions like why does her head look squashed and why doesn’t she have finger nails?  I thought these were valid questions but the answers from the nurse had ‘shut your trap idiot’ written all over them so I went and got a bottle of tango orange from the vending machine round the corner.  After the bath we had the photographer come round and try and take photos of us, Darcy’s mother and I both tried to hide our snorts as the dopey bloke started using phrases like “how about one of the happy couple”?

I sat there for hours while Darcy’s mother slept, just holding Darcy and experiencing all kinds of emotions.  Her head was so squashed from the birth that if I closed my eyes a fraction she looked like Yoda. (I wrote as much in the baby book when we got home, Darcy’s mother was less than impressed). After a while, a nurse (that looked like like a bulldog licking a stinging nettle ((ok actually she wasn’t that bad but after she told me I wasn’t a fan)), came in and told me It was time for bed.  I put Darcy down in the hospital cot and turned to the nurse waiting for some explanation as to where I would be sleeping.  With no finesse at all, she told me that they don’t cater for Dads.  I very nearly lost my shit and threw my tango orange over her head, but not wanting to upset the 15 other mums and new-borns, I left without argument.  Not quite sure what to do next, I nicked a blanket off a trolley and went and kipped in my car.  Mum and baby slept ‘soundly’ in the hospital, Dad slept like a bag of nails in the car.  A perfect tableau to remind me where Dads stand in the scheme of things!

Then: 3

    At around the 30-week point, after rather a lot of persuasion from my siblings I decided I was finally going to have to tell my parents.  Otherwise they were going to get a bit of shock when I waltzed through door one day with a sprog in my arms asking them to babysit!  I wasn’t really sure how to go about it, but an opportunity presented itself one Saturday morning over breakfast when I was spending the weekend at their house.  I hadn’t planned on letting it slip over morning tea, but I’d come downstairs to find the two of them talking about my brother and his child.  (My younger brother had already had a baby with his girlfriend about a year prior to Darcy’s mother falling pregnant, despite the fact that he and his girlfriend had been together for six years it was still a subject of angst for my mother who thought he was too young.  Although it was still going to be considerably more accepted than me knocking up a random woman they’d never met). I took this moment in the middle of their discussion to say the following sentence:
“I need to tell you something and you’re probably going to want to sit down”.  Now, I don’t know why I do it, probably because I’m a berk, but whenever I have to deliver ‘bad’ news I cannot help but have a massive grin on my face.  Given the amount of times they’ve heard this sentence from me in the past, followed by something god-awful, I cannot imagine the amount of initial dread it must have brought on for my parents.  However, due to the nature of the conversation they were having previously, my Mother didn’t take long to work out what my news was and promptly burst into tears uttering something nonsensical about having ‘lots of illegitimate grandchildren’.  My Dad, a man of few words, said nothing at all.  After the initial hysteria had worn off, I was able to do my best to discuss it with them.  I knew it was never going to be something I could sell to them straight away.  So if this happens to you, my advice is give it a month or so to settle in.  When they hold the kid for the first time, believe me they won’t give a toss how it got there, they will have a goofy smile sewn on their face either way!

As all women are different, it is difficult to generalise when it comes to pregnancy.  Some women experience morning sickness, which despite the name, doesn’t necessarily happen in the morning. Just lots of chundering and dry heaving, not a great deal you can do here, could rub the odd back or attempt to hold her hair – do not blame me if you get bitten, pregnant women are unpredictable! As you progress through the pregnancy you will find you have more interaction with the midwives.  Take all the advice you can and act on it – they know what they are talking about.  You will be encouraged to attend various ante-natal classes and parenting groups.  Now I am sure the thought of sitting around with other would-be parents pretending to wrap fake babies in blankets is enough to make your skin crawl, and some of it is bollocks and nothing you can’t learn by doing, but some of it is worth the time.  The first aid for babies’ course is definitely worth doing, some of the content is certainly not common knowledge and could save your child some serious injuries. For example, during the first few weeks of their lives, babies are so sensitive to temperature that a radiator that might seem warm to the touch for an adult, could burn a baby – as I said, things you wouldn’t think of.   As for the other courses, you may have to compromise, if your partner is nervous about the baby and wants to go, best you go, it could save you some depression at the other end if she feels more prepared and less panicked.

The last few weeks of the pregnancy are when you dads need to be on the ball. And above all else, regardless of the situation, regardless of the rationality or reason, just do what you’re told. I cannot stress this enough, whatever her request, just get on with it. If things are starting to overrun, and your wife/partner has read somewhere that sex will speed things up, just do it. Contrary to what you might think – your baby wont have a clue whats going on. If you think your baby is going to get ‘prodded’ think again, unless you’re an elephant, junior will be none the wiser!  

The morning I got the call to say it was game time, I was laying in my pit in an army block, thinking about breakfast.  I was excited, but I’m not going to lie, I was also hungry.  Darcy’s mother had informed me that she was being taken to hospital but things looked like they could take a while, so like any man would, I went and got a Full English.

Now: 3

Last week, Darcy and I decided we were going to have an ‘outdoor’ day. Which in itself got me to thinking, when did enjoying the outdoors become something that is such a feat that it becomes an abnormal day?

When I was a kid, if you wanted to have fun, you went outdoors. From a younger age it was outdoors to throw a ball against a kerb, having boundaries from one lamppost to the next and riding our bikes from said lampposts and hoping your mum wasn’t poking her head out the window when you crossed those boundaries. As I got older, the boundaries got bigger and it was off into the woods to build fires, to skate parks and various sets of steps around the town that we could do tricks over on our skateboards. Older than that, it was off to the fields on a Friday night for even bigger fires, a bottle of white lightening and a badly rolled joint, both of which got passed around a group of at least ten of us until we all could pretend that we were completely wrecked.

The point is, it was always outside. Before the invent of iPads and Netflix, you wanted to do anything, you went outside. And now, going outside has almost become unheard of. To the point where, I ask Darcy if she’s wants to go for an adventure in the woods she looks at me as if to say, ‘Why on earth would I want to go walking in the woods? Wont I get eaten by a bear or something?’

Well, that was that, off we went. Straight to Mountain Warehouse for an outdoor, wildly luminescent coat (for some reason Mountain Warehouse don’t sell any other kind) and some other essentials. As is always the way when I go into one of these shops I went a little Bear Grylls on the situation and started buying things that perhaps weren’t entirely necessary. I don’t think the pocket medical kit, firelighting flint, para cord, waterproof sleeping bag and solar shower were essential for an afternoon in the woods in Hertfordshire but never the less, they made the cut. However vital to the plan was the small stove, some gas, and a couple of sporks. (For those of you who might be unaware a spork is a marvel invention incorporating both a spoon and a fork into one fantastic piece of engineering. See picture below)


The next stop on our journey was Tescos for some ingredients. I thought actually attempting to catch, kill, skin and cook some sort of animal was perhaps a little much on Darcy’s first camping experience. And this way there is no inherent risk of E-coli so its a win win. We bought some diced beef, carrots, onions, potatoes and stock, bagged it all up and made our way to the woods.

Once we scoped out a suitable area for the occasion, Darcy was buzzing to make a fire. Not sure whether this is a good thing or bad thing but either way its part of the camping game so we mapped out a fire circle that she wasn’t allowed to cross, I explained to her what a skin graft was to enforce this point and we got to it. Before long we had a fire on the go and some camp stew bubbling away in the pan. The afternoon was a huge success, we chilled by the fire, ate camp stew and most importantly, there wasn’t an iPad or a TV in sight. Darcy had the best time and now can’t stop going on about more camping trips. I am over the moon because I can now start converting my shitty transit into a fully fledged camper van, and neither of us got Ecoli.

Then: 2

So you’ve told some people, you’re over the initial shock, what now?  What is actually expected of you in the time leading up to the birth?  I am sure some of the men who read this will have found themselves in a similar situation as the one I found myself in, so I will do my best to break it down for these few.  In my opinion, at the very least, turn up to all of your baby’s scans, you will regret it if you don’t, and there is nothing quite like it.

Darcy’s mother and I, for the majority of her pregnancy, were posted 260 miles apart.  I won’t lie, this made everything a complete ball ache, every time I had to do anything it was attached to a 4-hour drive.  No one can say I didn’t put in the effort, I made it to every scan and even drove up for the weekend a few times to aid her in any way I could.  Until the actual birth I found it was difficult to do contribute as much as I wanted purely because of the distance, and I was just lucky that Darcy’s mother is a descendant of hardy folk and took everything on the chin without much complaint.

  An interesting turn of the pregnancy wheel is cravings.  These can literally be anything, I read an article once that stated whilst some can be totally harmless, some women have dangerous cravings.  A woman who has never been a real drinker can suddenly crave vodka and other alcohols, and one woman was reported saying she craved sponges.  Not the Victoria or apple kind of sponge either, the soap and water kind of sponge.  So remember, if you get sent out for marmite, tuna, chocolate or fruit, you could have it worse!

  The first major milestone you come up to is the 12-week scan.  Contrary to what you believe, the 12-week scan is not so you can walk away with a picture for the memory book.  The reason for the 12-week scan is so the ante-natal nurses can do some tests to determine whether your baby has one of two life threatening diseases (Edwards syndrome and Patau’s Syndrome) and there is also a preliminary test for down syndrome.  This is done by taking a measurement at the back of the baby’s head which is then cross referenced with the age and chromosomes of the mother.  At the end of the scan you get sent home with a photo, and a promise that no news is good news and told not to worry.  I had a call after 3 days to inform me that the results were low risk for the fatal diseases, but high risk for down syndrome.  It’s a strange reality to be faced with, there is nothing that anyone can do to alter the inevitable.  If your child has down syndrome there is nothing you can do about it, no drugs, no operation, no cure or preventative measure it is just one of those things.  If your results come back anything higher risk than a 1 in 50 chance, your partner will be offered another test called an amniocentesis.  This is a procedure where a needle about 15 inches long, is inserted straight into the stomach of the mother, and a sample of either placenta, or amniotic fluid is taken.  This test is not obligatory, it’s an option. It will give you a definitive yes or no as to whether your child has down syndrome however it carries a 1 in 100 risk of causing a miscarriage.  I will not tell you what is the best thing to do here, because there is no right answer it is all down to what you and your partner decide. Darcy’s mother decided to go ahead with the amniocentesis.  It is not nice to watch, and just one of the many times you will realise just how much a woman goes through to bring a child into the world, both emotionally and physically.  After the test, you wait another gruelling three days of unknown, before you get the call.  Depending on what news you get, you have a series of options available to you, however I will not go into detail about these, everyone has their own circumstances to deal with and it is not my place to tell anyone what to do in this situation.  What I will say is this; when I found out there was a possibility my child could have Down Syndrome, I did an awful lot of research on how to cope with this.  I was pleasantly surprised by just how much information and support is out there.  The Down syndrome community is massive and to assume that people with the condition suffer a less than full life is completely incorrect.  People with Down syndrome can live happy independent lives and you only have to look online to confirm this for yourself, so do think hard before rushing into any decisions.   Our test results were negative.  Usually you will not find out the sex of your baby until the 20-week scan, but if you have had an amniocentesis, you can find out the sex early.

   Now that the deep bit is covered, during your scans there are a couple faux pas you’re going to need to watch out for to avoid looking like a twat.  First is simple, a lot of midwives are young ladies who may have just recently graduated from University and look rather…. fresh faced shall we say.  If you find this is the case with your midwife, don’t flirt.  Its considered terribly bad form to flirt when your pregnant partner is laying there in the room, you’d think it was a given, but according to a midwife friend of mine, it happens.  Second, no scan related jokes, I learnt this one the hard way when during our 12- week scan, I commented that I was sure I could see a Cornish pasty in there – no one laughed, I looked like a twat and I heard all about it on the way home. Third and finally, if during the scan you either get told you’re having a boy, or have a keen eye and spot you’re having a boy, there is no need to exclaim to the rest of the room that he’s clearly your boy because of the size of his appendage.  It makes you look like gimp, and any educated person in the room will laugh at the irony, because at this point, your baby’s penis is the same size as a grain of rice. 

   The scans are all pretty similar, 20-week will determine the sex and 32 will give you a clearer picture of the baby but ultimately, there is not an awful lot to it.  At around the 30-week point, after rather a lot of persuasion from my siblings I decided I was finally going to have to tell my parents…

Now: 2

I don’t suppose I’m the only one, but I constantly find myself second guessing my parenting decisions. There are plenty of books and help guides that claim to give you an insight in to the ‘correct’ way to parent. From what I’ve seen of these guides, they are pretty subjective. The problem is, they can’t apply to everyone, because every child is different, and what I have come to learn is, if everyone single one of these guides gave the same theory about a subject, my daughter, will be the child to disprove said theory. So I have been left with no alternative but to disregard all the books, and learn on the job.

Now I like a challenge just as much as the next guy. The mere fact I am still here, whole heartedly raising her, rather than sending her back to whichever planet she hails from, is proof enough of this. I do wonder though, how on earth am I supposed to react to some of the things she says and does? I mean whats the NORMAL way?!

For example, this morning, Darcy and I are preparing to leave the house. She’s been asked to get her coat and shoes on and instead, has completely zoned out because the tv is on. Now I take full responsibility for this situation so far, had I wanted her to listen first time, the tv should have been off. Nevertheless, I tried for a second time. “Darcy, can you get your shoes and coat on please”. Nothing, not a solitary movement of any kind. Now the tele goes off and with a significantly louder voice I say again “DARCY WILL YOU GET YOUR SHOES AND COAT ON NOW!” So far I consider this situation standard parenting, until she turned round to me and said,

“All right all right steady on”.

‘Steady on’? ‘Steady on’?!? See now at this point I have no sodding idea what to say or do. The last person on this planet to say ‘steady on’ died from the plague, and not only that, is my 4 year old daughter being rude to me by saying it? And even more questions arise:
Where has she heard this phrase?
Does she even know what she’s saying? I literally had no idea what to do or say in response, Darcy just stared at me waiting for some sort of reaction. It was definitely my turn to talk, she even had her arms raised up at either side of her as if to say “well?” I just stood there, like an idiot, before cracking up into laughter, to which she joined in. So now, she still hasn’t got her shoes or coat on, she may or may not have spoken to me rudely, neither of us know what the protocol is, and we thinks its hilarious.

This is what I mean by a learning job because I am telling you now, get yourself down to Waterstones and search till your hearts content – you will not find a book that will explain to you what to do in the event your child turns around, and says ‘steady on’.