Music Monday: Birthday

One of the things you lovely people out there in the blogosphere & the twitterverse may have noticed is that something I sometimes eloquently articulate upon bang on about with insightful  profundity monotonous regularity is music, my love of it, how I listen to it a lot, how my iPod Touch is now up to (just a sec…) 8,735 tracks so far, & how I should have been a singer in a rock’n’roll band. I even have a twitter account specifically for tweeting what I’m playing on my iPod, via YouTube. At least I don’t drunkenly tweet random lyrics late at night anymore as much as I used to…

So it makes sense for me to feature music in my blog. With the sad demise of Musodad’s blog I feel moved to blatantly take advantage try to pick up where he left off & do a post where I put up a few songs that have recently taken my fancy for one reason or another & write some words about them.

And… some may also have heard me mention that it’s Jallie’s 2nd Birthday today (yay!). So that gives me an obvious theme then for my first, & possibly last:

Warning: may contain traces of soppiness. I’ll try to add a little sarcasm & some bad jokes where appropriate.

Altered Images: Happy Birthday

An obvious place to start: it was either this or the Bjork-lead Sugarcubes’ “Birthday”. Altered Images’ lead singer was the scrumptious Clare Grogan: not only Gregory’s Girl, the object of Dave Lister‘s unrequited love (& the true Kochanski), but also the scourge of Craggy Island & Father Ted when she turned up there to tell him & the boys a thing or 2. So I’ll take her over Bjork any day! Also: Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” is a bit rubbish. And I don’t care if it’s about Martin Luther King.

U2: Two Hearts (Beat As One)

Say what you like about U2 & Bono, & most of us do, this is just a great rock song; from the pre-Joshua Tree “War” album. You know what I think of now when I hear this? Jake & Ellie inside their Mummy, entwined together, separate yet one, apart but together now & always, like two hearts that beat as one.

There ya go: soppiness, with rock’n’roll!

Steve Miller Band: The Joker

This was Jake’s early theme song. Yes, we give our children theme songs: doesn’t everyone? From a very early age he’s exhibited a terrific sense of humour, getting & making jokes long before we’d have thought a young child would. OK, some of the lyrics aren’t appropriate: if I find he’s a smoker or a midnight toker I may have to have words. And I don’t know what the “pompitous of love” is but I’m pretty sure I disapprove. But it’s a good song.

Elton John: Tiny Dancer

I adore this song: Elton John at his very best. It’s almost worth watching the film “Almost Famous”, about the ’70s music scene, just for the Tiny Dancer sequence. Shows the ’70s wasn’t just prog, punk & disco!

My Tiny Dancer, of course, is Ellie. This was my early theme song for her. She’s loved to dance virtually since she could stand, & has been much better at it than her Dad for at least that time. She’s always sung beautifully too.

I also used to jig her about to this, substituting in “Ellie!” & lifting her high up in the air at the appropriate moment. She loved it! Then she’d usually throw up all over me. Happy Days.

Bob Dylan: Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)

Jake’s current theme song: “Come on the juice, come on the cake: you’ll not see nothin’ like the mighty Jake”.  He has a great sense of humour; it’s sometimes a mystery where he gets it from…

Donovan: Mellow Yellow

Ellie’s current theme song: “They call her ‘Ellie-belly’ “…

I’m starting to think that the quality of the songs we choose for our children may be on the wane…

Beyoncé: Halo

From the ridiculous to…

Beyoncé: a bona-fide Superstar, supremely talented, ravishingly beautiful, jaw-droppingly sexy: you name it, she’s got it. And this song is just epic, beautiful & moving. Her music was playing in the operating theatre during their birth, & I’m pretty sure ‘Halo’ was playing as they were delivered into the world. I even gave it its own little post.

I can’t now listen to this already beautiful song without being profoundly moved. It’s Their Song. It always takes me back to those mad, magical moments when they came into the world & into our lives. They were so wanted for so long, & it took so many tears & trials before they finally became a part of us. When they did ‘it was like we’d been awakened’: “Baby, I can see your halo: you know you’re my saving grace”.

Happy Birthday, Jake & Ellie. We love you.

I warned you that there might be soppiness! I can’t think of any sarcasm or bad jokes at this point, sorry. Maybe next week…


The Gallery: Children

This week’s subject for Tara Cain’s Gallery at Sticky Fingers is an even tougher one for me, maybe the toughest yet.

Children.

You’d think it would be easy, right? Not for me.

My children are the reason for this blog.

For the 10 months of their lives & for most of the time they were inside their Mummy they have been my life – & have lit up my life.

Not only that, they’re now pretty much the main reason for my existence.

Virtually any post I make here could be an entry.

So I’ve tried to select a photo that encapsulates this. I wanted it to be one I hadn’t used before, but I really can’t think of a better one than this.

Me, holding my newborn twins for the first time, when they’re literally minutes old.

Happiest day of my life.

Hello children!

 

This image was originally posted in “What a Day!“, still this blog’s most viewed post, the first of 2 about Jallie’s dramatic birth.

Why not have at look at all other entries on Children in this week’s Gallery: it never fails to disappoint.

My Bloggy Year

Totally ripping off Inspired by this post by MrsLJHall here is my year in blog posts & pages, with stats, starting with the most read.

I’ve included some posts written in 2009 or earlier from “Random Ramblings, Pretty Pictures” that have still had views in 2010.

I’m reasonably pleased with my blogs now, especially considering that this, my main one, had a 6-month gap with no major updates. I think they both look a lot better now that I’ve learnt a few tricks of the trade; & have been allowed some time inbetween the demands of demanding twin babies!

A small percentage of the worldwide web seem to have enjoyed reading them, & for that I thank you.

I hope to continue onwards & upwards for the coming year & beyond.

What a day! 88 views

20 Ways to Annoy People on Twitter 88

Knee-Deep in Nappies 81

The Gallery: Motherhood 78

You Had Me At “Agoo” 76

Silent Sunday: Learning & Loving 62

Silent Sunday: Ho Ho Ho! 59

Silent Sunday: Babies Should Be Washed Separately 58

TwinTrek: The Voyage Home 58

What a Day! continued 54

Silent Sunday: Ellie’s New Friend 52

I’m not fat, I’m sympathetically pregnant! 48

The Gallery: Emotions 43

This Blog Is Pointless 41

The Gallery: Love 39

- Huh? What are you, some kind of tramp? (a.k.a. “About”) 38

We Can See Your Halo 38

Through a Scanner, Darkly 35

Creatures (The Gallery) 35

The Gallery: Black & White 34

Alive and Kicking 34

T-7 And Counting: Gearing Up For TwinsLaunchDate 32

Gig Review: Faithless, N.I.A. Birmingham, Dec 10 2010 32

Their First Noël 28

The Gallery: A Photo I’m Proud Of 28

The Gallery: Show Me the Funny 28

Silent Sunday: A Very Jallie Christmas 27

My Favourite Music 26

Silent Sunday: It’s Cold Outside 23

Yesterday Once More? 23

The Gallery: Sparkle 22

About Me & This Stuff (Random Ramblings, Pretty Pictures) 21

The Gallery: Black & White, (The Sequel) 21

The Gallery: White 18

Drolgerg Does Istanbul #1: Why You Shouldn’t Always Listen To Your Mother 16

What’s in a Name? 12

10 More Ways to Annoy People on Twitter: A Celebrity Special! 11

The Gallery: Seasons 10

It’s been quite a year!  I’m hoping that 2011 will be even better. And maybe less dramatic :)

Thanks again for everyone who’s taken the time to read, & especially to those who have kindly left comments.

A Happy New Year to you all!

Yesterday Once More?

Warning: contains spoilers

I watched the first episode of the new series of Peep Show today. As usual it was very funny: set in a hospital, Mark has been reluctantly roped in to being the ‘birth companion’ to his ex-fiance. Which, despite both of them wishing it was someone  – anyone – else, is probably fair enough: he is after all the father.

Along the way Mark gets a call that his boiler has exploded & Jeremy -  along for moral support / as he has nothing better to do  – ‘gallantly’ takes care of it. Which of course always means just one thing: he calls Super-Hans.

Despite his best efforts at running away, Mark is actually present when the child, a boy,  is born. And finds himself overwhelmed when holding his son for the first time – while at the same time being told that his boiler’s been fixed.

OK, I know this is a comedy. The 2 main characters are pathetic losers, bumbling their way through life & managing to pretty much mess up everything they touch through sheer stupidity.

But when Mark cut the umbilical cord then held his son for the first time, clearly moved,  I couldn’t help but remember, so so vividly, 9 months ago when I first held Jake, skin-to-skin, in the delivery room. He must have felt comfortable with me: he stopped crying, then pissed on me. Mark’s words as, in a daze,  he held his newborn son for the first time? “Minimal water damage…”.

I have to confess,  I got a little emotional.

Sometimes profundity can be found in the strangest places…

click to enlarge

What a Day! continued

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur now.

As my wife was being patched up in the theatre I was ushered off to a side room with my gorgeous new twin babies. In hindsight I probably should have been more worried; I was more just overwhelmed by the 2 utterly helpless but utterly beautiful tiny little sleeping people I suddenly found myself alone with & responsible for. We had already developed a huge admiration for the expertise, professionalism, humanity & compassion of the lead Obstetrician so I trusted & was reassured by her & her team. It couldn’t stop the unease fighting with the elation as I found myself alone with my 2 new helpless children while my wife was still in the operating theatre.

The main thing I remember is their frequently waking up & crying & my efforts to get them back to sleep. I wheeled them around the room in their cot; the motion seemed to soothe them. Then I kept having running battles with staff who came in, opened the curtains & turned on all the lights, then ran out again. Result: immediate crying. So I’d go around  closing the curtains & switching off the lights, resulting in peaceful sleeping babies: until the next 1 came in. Some staff did actually come in & do apparently important things, so I let them keep the lights on :)

I also soon found that sticking a finger in Jake’s mouth sent him back off to sleep as well.  That boy has got 1 powerful suck: he can actually hurt my fingers! Then my little Ellie grabbed my finger with her hand, wrapped her tiny little fingers around it & wouldn’t let go…

"It's like I've been awakened... I've got my angel now"

It was a moment where it felt like that up until then I hadn’t really lived.

Eventually my wife was wheeled in & we were all led off to the HDU: High Dependency Unit.  What happened there? Not really sure! I seem to remember lots of people coming & going, doing tests, asking questions, giving us bits of paper to read or sign.  At 1 point a Paediatrician tried to take blood from both babies for tests: by pricking a heel then shaking & squeezing. She seemed to take forever, & the babies seemed really distressed. After a bit she came back & told us she still didn’t have enough blood & needed to do it again. We couldn’t stand to see our helpless newborns so distressed! After finding out why they wanted the blood, & deciding it wasn’t urgent we asked them to postpone: which they did.

My lovely wife has always been keen to get them breast-feeding as soon as possible. In hindsight this was very ambitious. It’s especially difficult with twins apparently & a lot of mothers don’t even try, after her worse than expected C-Section she wasn’t really in a fit state for it.

We did seem to have some success, & their different personalities, even though newborn, were already emerging. Jake was & is never happier than when on his mother’s breast: the suction in that mouth is incredible! Ellie on the other hand mostly just wanted to sleep, & didn’t seem to want to feed much at all.  Jake’s a little trier too: he seemed determined to get his food at all costs, & my wife – although loving every second – was finding it quite painful. No photos: I value my testicles & I’d like to keep them where they are please.

I left them (my wife & babies, not my testicles) in the capable hands of the midwives & other staff to head home at around 8.30pm, very tired, very hungry & very happy.

What a day!

On Friday, in just a few hours ‘we’ went from this: To this:

We’d had a rough night the night before. For a while lovely wife had been uncomfortable, sore from internal bumping, bloated, with a constantly upset tummy, etc. She’d had even more trouble sleeping than usual though: we think she’d started going into labour, so even though it  was technically still  a week early her C-Section was timed perfectly.

At our prelim. they’d told us to be there for 730 but that they didn’t know when the op. would start. We got there fashionably late. We were  expecting the usual long NHS wait: I’d brought several books, food, drinks, a tent, a moonshine still & my guitar.  (Some of those might be made up: Ed.). When we got there though it was all go: lovely wife was whisked straight into pre-op. Before we knew it she was off somewhere being poked,  prodded & injected & I was dressed in scrubs grabbing some shut-eye outside the operating theatre.

We eventually got going at around 930. We were amazed to see a small army in the theatre: 3 anaesthetists, at least 2 paediatricians, 2 Ob & Gynae consultant/ surgeons + ‘assistants’ , a DJ, ushers, parking attendants, a PR co-ordinator, a photographer from ‘Heat’ & a man selling ice-creams.  (See previous note: Ed.). Seriously: I counted at least 12 staff there.

She had a local anaesthetic: a spinal (like an epidural), so was conscious but groggy. I was protected from the gory details by a big screen, which is just as well as I’m a little squeamish; I can never eat dinner while watching House or CSI. There were paediatric carts with all sorts of machines attached off to the left, & a very friendly anaesthetist on hand letting us know what was happening & checking if we needed anything. He’d brought his MP3 player & was taking requests, although for artists A-H only. I wasn’t lying about having a DJ! We requested Beyonce, & luckily he had her entire last album there: which we both love.

We were told that the first baby would emerge at around 10. When the time came & went it was clear things weren’t going smoothly. Without going into detail, there was a recurrence of problems for which she had had previous surgery, & both babies were awkwardly positioned; 1 in particular was down very low.

After a few minutes we heard “I have a leg”. At 1012 we had a baby boy! (I’m pretty sure ‘Halo‘ was playing at the time).

We had been told that they would lower the screen &  hold them up for us  to see when they came out.

They didn’t.

He was whisked straight onto the cart with great speed &  immedaitely surrounded by a swarm of people who seemed to emerge from nowhere, working frantically.

He wasn’t crying.

There was just a surreal silence. I can’t tell you what I was feeling: I was elated that after so long we finally had a baby delivered, but scared to death that there was something wrong. To say I was worried would be the world’s greatest understatement, although I always stayed positive; I was confident that these wonderful professionals would get the job done.

First view of our baby boy

His airways were blocked with fluid, not uncommon in C-Sections but made worse with the complications of the surgery. He was put straight onto suction & possibly ventilation, I don’t know & didn’t care: ‘cos after what seemed like forever he was being picked up, crying his little heart out & being given to me to hold.

Crying & getting cleaned up ready for Daddy

Lovely wife was still being operated on while this going on so I got to ‘skin-to-skin’ bond with him. He was put on me under my scrubs, the warmth & body smells comforting him & my heartbeat reminding him of where he’d just come from,  easing the shock of the big bad confusing world he’s just entered. After only seconds he had stopped crying & was sleeping peacefully on my chest. In his excitement he managed to wee on me, as his way of saying “hello”.

Happiest moment of my life.

Father & Son

In the meantime the surgeons were working hard to deliver twin no. 2, & while I was bonding with my son she had been brought out, treated on the 2nd cart & given to my very groggy but very happy wife for skin-to-skinning.

Happy Family

They then had to stitch her up  – usually the most time-consuming part of a C-Section – so I got to hold them both, first our girl:

Gurning like a happy idiot with my new girl

then both of them together:

Hi kids!

In the meantime, unknown to me, the surgeons were continuing to have problems. Because of its awkward postion they’d had to cut through a placenta; as that acts as conduit between baby & mother my wife had a lost a lot of blood & had to have a big transfusion.

I’m sitting there holding my beautiful new twin babies feeling like the luckiest man alive, & I’m becoming aware that there’s a problem with their mother, my lovely wife.

Babies in my arms, I watched her lose consciousness, while noticing that the floor had become very red.

I never lost hope, but for a second I was thinking “Oh my god: I’ve gained 2 gorgeous babies & I’m going to lose my wife!” This may sound melodramatic, but it was serious: the head consultant told me afterwards it was “touch & go”.

The team was incredible: they fixed her up & she pulled through. The NHS has its problems, & I’ve been critical myself at times, but these people are heroes & we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

While she was being patched up, we were ushered out of the way into a side room, where I made the most of the time getting to know my new family.

More later: I’m heading back off to the hospital to be with them all.

Welcome to the world Jacob & Eleanor! You are adorable & adored.

T-7 And Counting: Gearing Up For TwinsLaunchDate

Have I mentioned that my wife is pregnant? With twins?

For those who don’t know, we now have a ‘launch date’: March 12th, a week today.  We can be so precise as she has to have a C-Section.

She had her last scan yesterday, saw the Obstetrician,  gave her usual sample, had her blood pressure checked & had a blood test.  They’re giving her special attention there, she’ll have 2 Consultants performing the delivery. They were very thorough! We were there for 2 & a half  hours, (& had to pay £4 in parking).  The Obby was concerned that the stomach pains my wife had recently may have actually been labour pains: they could still come early, so we have to be ready!

We’re more & more certain that we have 2 healthy strong babies: they now weigh in at 6 lbs each! In the last 2 weeks they’ve increased in weight by nearly 15%, a pound & half between them.

They were both in the breach position, head to head, facing the same way. In short, they’re spooning. 1,2,3…. “Awwww”.

Unfortunately they’re too big now to be able to get a decent picture; it would have been a great 1. Plenty of opportunity for that in times to come I hope.

The movements are yet stronger & more pronounced: we can watch my wife’s belly ‘roiling with bits of baby’. It reminds me at times of the hot mud springs in Rotorua in New Zealand!  I’m sure I felt a little hand on my thumb this morning. I of course can only feel external movements, not the internal ones against my wife’s ribs, bowels, lungs etc. It’s ‘slightly less pleasant’ for her of course, but she loves it none the less.

I said it before but this has been an incredible experience for both of us already: one that we’ll always treasure, come what may. It’s really brought us together; as a couple we’ve never been closer.

We had another good chat in the car & at the hospital yesterday & have more or less decided on names, but we’ll wait until they emerge before finally deciding. We’ll keep you posted.