The Gallery: Animals

We’ve had a lot of sun here lately. In fact over the last few days it’s been a bit too hot! I had trouble sleeping last night & had to keep the fan on, & I almost dread getting in the car for fear of being turned into a roast dinner!

And in case there are ever any doubts about my Britishness – I was after all born in New Zealand – here we are in the middle of a blazing sunny heat-wave, & I’m complaining about the weather!

(I love it, really…)

This being Wales though rain is never far away & this summer we’ve had our fair share.

Going outside in the wet stuff seems to bother me, & most adults, a lot more than it does my children!

During a recent shower Ellie insisted on going outside into the garden. And I insisted that she put on her raincoat.

Another creature who’s very fond of wetness is that little slimy thing beloved of all gardeners everywhere: the snail. We found millions of them! Mostly on the flowers, busily munching away of course.

We decided then that we would find as many of them as we could & put them in their new home.

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We ended up having a lovely time! Ellie was giving each of  her new pets their own names: first Daddy Snail, Mummy Snail, Jake Snail,  then her friends, teachers,  grandparents, cousins, aunts & uncles – anyone we could think of. It was a great little game!

She seemed really pleased with her little snail-house, full of her new pets!

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I was also pleased that they were there & not eating up all the garden plants…

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
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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.

What’s in a Name?

“A rose by any other name…”

“I’ve got a cousin called Rose”

“No, I meant…. Actually I like Rose. And stop interrupting”

“Sorry. Yeah, she’s nice. She’s a twin too.”

“No, I meant I like the name. Is she?”

“Yeah, her brother’s Peter”

“Peter?”

“Yeah, Peter. My best man. You’ve forgotten already?”

“It’s allowed: I’m pregnant. With twins. Did I  mention that?””

“Oh yeah, sorry. It makes you do a lot of strange things doesn’t it? Like how you explained to me that you have to have the remote all the time or the babies get upset & start kicking you. And how I have to watch Glee with you”

“That’s right, very good.  Anyway, you said you like Glee! Actually, Peter’s a nice name”

“No I didn’t.  (OK, but don’t tell anyone: not good for my image)”

“Another Rose & Peter though, & twins? That would be a bit weird”

“What? Oh, OK. So…Paul then?”

“No, don’t like that. I work with a Paul & he’s horrible”

“Adam?”

“Mmm, maybe. He’d probably get given lots of apples”

“Larry?”

“Definately No! Wait: you’re just going through the names of U2, aren’t you?”

“It was worth a try. What’s the Edge’s first name. anyway?”

“‘The’?”

“You think you’re funny don’t you? At least I didn’t suggest Bono”

“You were about to weren’t you?”

“Yeah I was. Thom? My Dad’s name was Tom”

“Yeah, maybe: that’s a good name”

“Jonny?”

“OK, but a bit too public school. O god – you’re doing Radiohead now, aren’t you?!”

“What’s the name of the bald bloke on the drums? I like him”

“We are not naming our son after the bald bloke from Radiohead!”

“Are you shouting ‘cos of you being pregnant & all? With twins?”

“Yes, dear, that’s right.”

The debate continues…

Disclaimer: Although this is the kind of chat we often have, my wife would like to have it made clear that she’s not actually this stroppy most of the time, & that I am allowed the remote sometimes. And that if I don’t write this the babies will be upset & start kicking her.

title courtesy of William Shakespeare