IT’S A BOY!!! A Labour Day Story

Baby J 1
Baby J striking a pose

Good news everybody. I’m now a father of 3 beautiful little humans with the most recent addition to the family checking in yesterday morning at 0605 am. It is with great excitement that I present Baby J (pictured) weighing in at 8lb 5oz. This is the story of how he came to enter the world and the events leading up to it.

The Preliminary Build Up:

The first thing to note about this delivery is that it was always going to be close to overlapping with the delivery of our furniture and belongings following our move down from Darwin. In turn the important thing to note about the move down from Darwin is that my wife and kids will be living in Wodonga while I work Monday to Friday in Canberra (300 km away) and that our belongings had to be delivered to Canberra but were mostly needed in Wodonga. The planned date of delivery to Canberra was 15 Jan 18 and the projected due date for Baby J was 22 Jan 18. This would give me a week to drive to Canberra several times with a rented truck (pictured), collect our things and deliver them to our home in Wodonga. What could possibly go wrong?

Rented truck
The little big rig used to move our stuff from Canberra to Wodonga

The Fuse is Lit:

When my wife first informed me that she was starting to feel as though she was in pre-labour and that things were starting to progress it was about Thursday last week (11 Jan 18) still 11 days before the due date. This was concerning because I still had at least two over night trips to make to Canberra to sort out the move. We were really concerned that I would miss the birth if she went early (which was now looking likely).

Labour Day:

Monday 15 Jan 18 dawns and it is going to be a busy day. I need to drive the rented furniture truck to Canberra, unload two containers of furniture into an apartment before loading some of that into my rented truck to drive back to Wodonga. My wife needs to be at our new house in Wodonga in the morning for the internet hook up before going to the ante-natal clinic for a check because she’s been feeling like she’s in pre-labour for a few days and has had contractions on and off but still no baby. We’re both anxious in case the baby decides to come while I’m off in Canberra (roughly a 12 hour long errand). But there’s nothing more to do, we need the furniture. The race is on.

09:00 am:

I depart Wodonga, heading for Canberra. My wife is at the house, the internet guy is at the house hooking up our connection and I have contacted my friend in Canberra who will be in location to open my apartment for the removalists at 12:00 pm. I settle in for the four hour drive up the Hume Highway.

11:45 am:

I arrive in Yass (about 280 km North of Wodonga) needing fuel for the truck. I take the opportunity to call my wife. She has been to the ante-natal clinic and has been put on the baby monitoring machine. The staff are happy that baby is still content and doing well. They are satisfied that the discomfort and symptoms my wife has been having are consistent with pre-labour rather than any potential problem and we still don’t know how long it will be until labour actually starts, it could be days yet or it could be minutes. I’m now three hours from home with an hour left to drive before starting the furniture task before driving four hours home. Realistically I’m probably seven or eight hours away from being home.

12:40 pm:

I arrive at the coffee shop across the road from my apartment because (let’s be honest) there is always time for a cheeky coffee. I then head over to my apartment to sort out the delivery of my furniture, car and belongings. This is the first time that I have seen any of my stuff since leaving Darwin a month ago and I’m anxious to see whether it has a) all made it, and b) made it in one piece.

The removalists from Wridgways do me a solid and happily separate my belongings into the items that need to remain at the apartment and those that need to be loaded into my rental truck to take back to Wodonga. They then help me load my little truck as well. This is of great assistance and saves me hours of hard labour running things from the third floor apartment back down to my truck.

04:50 pm:

I’ve just left the apartment (via the coffee shop again of course) heading home. The truck is full of furniture and we should be now be able to move into our new home properly. I just need to make it home in one piece and before the baby comes.

06:50 pm:

I pull into the truck stop at Gundagai for fuel and dinner (about 200 km North of Wodonga). While there my wife sends me a message saying that she didn’t want to concern me but that she’s been having strong contractions all afternoon and is pretty sure that tonight will be the night. Since I am still two hours away of course I’m concerned, I might not make it back in time. So I hit the road immediately and hurry home.

09:20 pm:

I made it. I’m back in one piece and the baby is yet to arrive. It won’t be long though as my wife is having regular contractions that are close enough to be timed. I quickly have a shower and make sure we’re properly packed and ready to go.

12:45 am (16 Jan 18):

It’s time!!! The contractions are only about six minutes apart and the hospital has advised us to come in. We hurriedly grab our things and let my wife’s parents know what’s going on (we’re staying at their place and they are watching the kids). Neither my wife nor I have slept a wink.

01:30 am:

We’ve arrived at the hospital, the contractions are coming much quicker and stronger now. A quick examination reveals my wife is 3-4 cm dilated and Baby J’s heart beat is strong. Baby J is head down and driving for the exit.

02:45 am:

Things have progressed quickly and within an hour we’re up to 8 cm dilation. Around this time we move back to the bed from the gym ball and it is looking as though Baby J will be making an appearance in near record time.

05:05 am:

Things have not progressed any further in over two hours and we just received the concerning news that Baby J is trying to come down transverse, is stuck in the birth canal and is becoming distressed (his heart rate was begin fluctuate wildly). My wife is told that the best option (and the one that provides the greatest chance of avoiding surgery) is to have an epidural. This is a nightmare scenario for my wife as she has a crippling fear of needles and was explicit in her birth plan that she did not want any needles for pain unless it was absolutely essential for either her or the baby’s well being. The doctor’s insistence also serves to communicate the gravity of the situation and the potential consequences.

Reluctantly my wife agrees and they set about administering the epidural between contractions. I feel completely helpless at this point, unable to help my wife any further other than to reassure her that things will turn out ok even though I have no way of knowing. I resolve to call our families once the epidural is administered to let them know that we’re having issues and that we may need to switch to a C-section.

05:45 am:

We had to wait for the anaesthetist to arrive in order to administer the epidural. Baby J is still transverse and stuck in the canal.

06:05 am:

IT’S HAPPENED, HE’s HERE!!! As soon as the epidural went in and before the meds could take effect Baby J has righted himself and drove straight for the exit. It’s as if he has inherited his mother’s fear of needles and decided to bail out before dealing with the epidural. In any case our baby is finally here, a healthy little boy weighing in at 8lb 5oz.

Best of all he looks exactly like the name that we had picked for him and will be henceforth known as Baby J. Pop the corks, drop the confetti, that’s a wrap.

Baby J 2
Baby J undergoing his hearing test

Check back again soon for my next post which will address more specifically my birth buddy duties during labour. If you have a birthing story or any questions about the logistics of rolling from an interstate removal straight into child birth leave a comment below. If you enjoyed the post and would like to be made aware of future posts you can follow me on twitter here, Instagram here or simply click the follow button on my blog.

The Dad Effect – How I’ve Changed

 

Missy Moo baby
Missy Moo as a baby

Thanks to the combination of starting this blog and helping my wife pack our hospital bag for child number three, I can’t help but feel pensive and reflect upon how being a Dad has changed me as a person. This is yet another manifestation of the Dad Effect, it doesn’t just shape children but also parents.

In order to understand how I’ve changed, it is important to understand where I came from. I became a Dad quite young (just after my 22nd birthday) and quite suddenly since my eldest is actually my step-son and he was 18 months old when I met my wife. Go back another four months and I was still a 21 year old university student (in my final semester of study) living at home with my own parents in the same house that I had lived in my entire life. I had my own car (a 2005 VZ Holden Commodore SV6) with about $15,000 outstanding on it and about $5,000 in savings.

I was the picture of success (or so I thought) because I had a full time job secured for immediately after graduation, I could easily afford the car and I could also comfortably afford to go to the pub each week with mates and save for the next snow trip. I was vaguely interested in certain boring adult things such as finance, investments, superannuation, real estate, etc but they were all things I’d get to “one day,” and without a compelling catalyst for action, I did nothing and ordered more beers.

Fast forward a few months and I had moved 1500km away from home to start my job and was living by myself and loving it. This was a period of self discovery where I found the confidence to be my own person and think my own thoughts free of the opinions and baggage that sullies your perspective when you have spent your entire life in the same town surrounded by the same people. By the time I met my wife I was a different more confident person, but my world view was fundamentally unaltered, in fact I had just booked the next trip to Queenstown (New Zealand) to party over New Year’s Eve.*

By the time we had been together for six months something profound had happened, we had just got engaged and were now trying to pay for a wedding. Not only that, but I still had the car to pay for and I now also had new expenses such as paying back my student loan and also covering the costs of day care. Along with wedding planning come discussions of family planning and discussions of home ownership. These things were all very important to both my wife and I and while I don’t believe that the wife should have to be a stay at home mother, it was important to me that my wife had the option (not the obligation) to pursue that path if she wanted to rather than basing the decision on finances. We also agreed that we didn’t want a large age gap between the kids and since we already had one it meant any others would have to follow quickly.

This series of rapid changes to my priorities stirred me to action and I decided that before I could seek professional advice I first needed to educate myself to such a point that I could reasonably distinguish between valuable advice and incompetent or worse corrupt advice (spending my late teens in the midst of the Global Financial Crisis and observing the carnage it caused had made me wary of blindly following expert advice). So I set about raiding the local book store for every personal finance/business book I could find. I read it all, property books, books about share trading, books about starting your own business, books about the psychology of success, etc. I was obsessive, and still am, every time I pass a book shop I have to check out the selection in these subjects. It has become such an obsession that as much as I love reading fiction, I struggle to because it feels unproductive.

Four years later (and five years after I first left home), we have just moved into our own home, have paid off the car and the student loan. With our third child just about here and our golden Labrador Nala the transformation is just about complete. I have gone from a beer guzzling (make no mistake I still love beer but I don’t go to the pub at 10 am anymore) university student living at home with my parents playing Xbox in my mate’s shed to a boring suburban husband and father who gets excited about reading finance books and saving money on my home loan.

The changes in my outlook have been profound and I wouldn’t change a thing. I have far greater responsibilities now and that is exciting in itself. I have confidence to navigate my way in the world and to try and provide a good life for my family in the process. This puts a sense of adventure and creation into the life that my wife and I are building together and it never would have happened had I remained the same carefree snowboarding, pub frequenting guy I was before. That guy still exists but he is no longer my driving force.

Becoming a Dad forced me to re-evaluate how I was living my life and many things that had previously been important, just weren’t anymore. The biggest change to occur in my life since becoming a Dad has been intrinsic to my character. Even though I was legally an adult, I didn’t truly grow up until I became a Dad.

What has been the biggest change in your life since becoming a parent?

*By the time I went on the Queenstown trip it no longer seemed like the awesome get away I thought it would be, so I flew home early to spend New Year’s Eve with my future wife and I don’t regret it for a second.

One Messy Mama

A Walk Among The Berries

 

a walk among the berries 3
Berries and ice cream, a winning combo

 

Let’s travel back in time a couple of weeks to 23 Dec 17. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful mild day (especially after recently moving down from the tropical heat of Darwin). So we decided to treat the kids to a little adventure and take them berry picking at a place called Beechworth Berries (about 10km North of Beechworth).

We’ve been there before (about two years ago) and loved it, especially because of the simple beauty of it. You rock up and receive an empty bucket. You then meander around in the strawberry patch (Beechworth Berries is mostly strawberries but other nearby farms let you pick other types of berries) filling your bucket as much or as little as you like, taking as long as you need. At the end you simply head back to the kiosk where your bucket is weighed, your strawberries packaged and you pay for what you picked (about $13/kg). The one proviso is that you take heed of the notice board at the start which tells you which lanes are open for picking (the strawberry patch is divided into rows of raised planters which are numbered).

So armed with our buckets and sunny dispositions we embarked upon our walk among the berries seeking out the best, most succulent strawberries (to be used on top of Nanny’s Christmas pavlova of course). Admittedly at first the pickings were slim as we had slept in and got there around lunch time. It was at this point that the “Dad Effect” struck.

Seeing that the pickings were slim and the crowds plenty, I quickly realised that the far corner of the strawberry patch was devoid of people. I then applied that age old fishing wisdom “the fishing is best where the fewest go,” to deduce that this was where we needed to go. Naturally I made a point of emphasising this point to the children as it was a good opportunity for a life lesson. I then dragged us all over to the far corner of the strawberry patch to test my hypothesis. Sure enough, the pickings were bountiful and many ripe succulent strawberries were found. Nan’s pavlova was looking good and the kids loved it.

Soon, with our buckets full and our tummies rumbling we headed back to pay for our haul and to tuck into some delicious fresh berry ice cream.  It was at this point, over ice cream, that I saw the notice board and realised that we had in fact plundered the forbidden fruit of the out bounds area of the strawberry patch. Not wanting my life lesson to be undone by allegations of cheating, we finished our ice cream and promptly left.

Overall a great success.

 

A walk among the berries 2
Buckets full, time for ice cream

 

 

The Five Year Punt

Five year punt 2
That is one stoked wizard-in-waiting.

So to give a flavour of the sort of thing this page is about we should go back to early October 2017. Following my motorcycle accident my beloved mechanical steed of destiny (Suzuki SV650) was a write off. As we only had one car and the bike we now needed a replacement vehicle. As fate would have it we were able to find the exact vehicle we wanted as an ex-demo car in Brisbane (we lived in Darwin) so we decided to make a little holiday of it by flying over to collect it and then doing a road trip back. While in Brisbane we found a magical place in Samford (for those who know the area) called the Store of Requirement. Basically it is a Harry Potter themed shop selling all manner of merchandise, food, drink, props, etc.

Now since I’ve been reading the Harry Potter books to Spud over the past few years (and as a Harry Potter nerd dating back to 2000) this was very exciting, so we decided to take the kids for a magical morning of spellbinding hijinks. While there we tried on the sorting hat, looked at wizard’s chess sets, magical mugs that change colour with heat and of course we drank butter beer, golden snitch cupcakes and chocolate frogs (see below).

Butter beer
Butter beer, golden snitch cake and chocolate frogs.

At the end of all of this magical fun it was time to look for a souvenir, so we headed to the case of magical wands. These were no ordinary toy wands, no these were high quality reproductions of the individual character’s wands from the movies. Without hesitation Spud set his heart of the wand of none other than his hero Harry Potter.

After completing our purchase and finishing our butter beer we jumped in the car and headed off. Super stoked and excited to have the wand of Harry Potter Spud proceeded to tell us all of the magic he was going to do with it. Not wanting to diminish his excitement or spirit we decided to run with his insistence that he had in fact bought the REAL Harry Potter’s wand that could REALLY do magic. This was the first leg of the five year punt brought about the Dad Effect.

Because we were on the road we had managed to convince him not to open it immediately, however after three days on the road with nothing to look at but the occasional live stock we relented and let him open it to play with in the car on the strict proviso that he didn’t tell Nanny (as it was technically a Christmas present). This was the second leg of the five year punt as he proceeded to eagerly attempt every spell he knew, only to be confused when it didn’t work.

Needless to say, not wanting to crush his dreams of wizarding excellence I quickly came up with what I thought was a brilliant save but one in which formed the third and final leg of the five year punt and lit the fuse for potential existential disappointment….I told him that the reason it wasn’t working was because he is too young, since in the books children under 11 do not go to wizard school so they can’t use proper spells yet.

This genius save met with immediate satisfaction and enthusiasm and has seen Spud telling anyone who will listen for the past few months all about how he has Harry Potter’s real wand it does real magic but it doesn’t work at the moment because he is too young but it will once he turns 11 and can go to wizard’s school.

I now have five years to hope he either forgets about it, works out the truth of his non-magical existence or if need be to construct a fake castle in the bush somewhere to teach him magic at.

The Blog That Almost Wasn’t

 

hospital horse play
This is the face I pulled when my wife told me to play dead.

 

Ok so I know that I said this blog exists to follow the humorous adventures and misadventures that I have with my family but it is important that I first cover off on heavy stuff. This is the blog that almost wasn’t. I was nearly killed in a motorcycle accident in June 2017 when I was hit by a car while heading home from work. TO make matters worse, it was pizza night with the kids and we were all quite keen for our weekly custom.

The accident occurred because the other car failed to give way and pulled out in front me from a side street leaving me no where to go. We collided and I was thrown from my bike and down the road. Both of my wrists were broken during the initial impact due to the force through the handlebars; I also dislocated my right wrist, crushed a nerve in my right hand and I tore two ligaments in my right knee which would ultimately require a double knee reconstruction (but I wouldn’t learn that for a few months). At one point in the emergency room I even stopped breathing (a fact I didn’t learn until a few days later).

I tell this story not to brag about my excellent morphine induced emergency room jokes (which were top shelf Dad jokes), nor my Team America-esque marionette style arm motion (due to the casts) but because this also coincided with the worst of my wife’s pregnancy related sickness. She had spent the previous couple of weeks laid up in bed and the stress and strain of my accident nearly cost us the baby. This was also possibly the lowest point in my life because never have I felt as hopeless or helpless as I did the day that my wife was at the hospital being reviewed for a potential miscarriage but I was stuck in bed several floors above her unable to support her in person because of my own injuries. We would also go on to spend the next few weeks pretty  much stuck in bed together tag teaming the simplest of duties such as cooking a sausage sizzle for dinner (she couldn’t handle the smell of cooking snags but I couldn’t cut the onions or butter the bread). By far though my best culinary effort was the night that it took me an hour to heat up two tins of pumpkin soup and butter two slices of toast.

All levity aside though, a small variation to initial inputs such as my speed or line at the time of impact and I probably wouldn’t be around to joke about it, meet my soon to born third child or write this blog. As it is, my accident has come to define much of my wife’s pregnancy as she was only 8 weeks at the time. On the bright side though, I now have some sweet scars.

The Dad Effect

Kid's cupcake fun
Spud and Missy Moo enjoying some hard earned cupcakes at the park

Hello and welcome to “The Dad Effect,” what I hope will prove to be a fun space that tracks the adventures of my family and I. In particular the often amusing misadventures that occur along the way, usually as a result of my attempts to substitute for Mum around the house.

As we move around a lot (three states in four years), the idea for this page grew out of a fun idea my wife and I had to chronicle the humorous side of parenthood into a book for our friends and family. Well rather than a book (so 20th century) I figured a blog would be more dynamic and better suited to the task. Hence the Dad Effect was conceived. And speaking of conception our crew is expecting a new team member in the next couple of weeks, which should hopefully provide plenty of opportunity for new material.

In addition to documenting our own adventures which I hope may prove entertaining, I also hope that I can occasionally write on more serious topics, such as the time that I was almost killed in a motorcycle accident during my wife’s current pregnancy, or the issues we had breastfeeding my daughter that resulted in her only being slightly above her birth weight at four months old.

For more information on the composition of our little team, head on over to the about page. Should you wish to get in contact with me (either with feedback or collaboration ideas), check out the contact page or leave a comment at the end of the relevant post. Lastly, if you like what you read please hit the follow button so that you can receive automatic notifications of new content.