Chinese Burns and Swinging Chandeliers

I have a weakness. One that causes me a lot of distress. I’m pretty good at covering it up I think. I mean, I’m only passive aggressive when I don’t get it about 70% of the time. The rest, I’ll get pissed or clean the bathroom, cook some veggie burgers, basically, find anything I can do with my hands that lessens the internal, constant, chatter from inside my head.

Did you guess it?

I’m constantly, and I mean this sincerely and without apology, constantly horny! I think it’s a mental illness to be honest. It’s not that I want sex all the time, I know you have to eat and pretend to care about the economy and shit but I definitely want it more than say, watching telly, making money or socialising with family and friends.

If you’d have asked me a few years ago how much sex could you actually handle? I’d probably have said sex for breakfast, mutual masturbation for lunch and a slow candlelit sensual massage and oral sex for tea. And a bit of rough play for dessert. Oh and really naughty sex after a few drinks once or twice a week as well would be lovely.

Although, it’s fair to say, I’ve changed my opinion on this subject somewhat recently. When we were trying for our son, sexy time was on the menu everyday. At first, I thought it was amazing.

‘Right, come on,’ she’d say.

I’d be over in a shot. Kissing, cuddling, fondling our way to the eventual orgasm. It was bliss. For about a month, my life was so sweet. Then one day, it all changed!

‘Right, come on,’ she said.

I dropped whatever I was doing like a sack of spuds, rubbed some warmth into my hands and flipped a fresh mint into my grinning mouth while Dirty Dancing my way over to the bed. Smooth as fuck. I lent down and took in the sight of my beautiful wife. I placed a loving hand on her cheek and kissed her tenderly on the lips.

‘What you doing?’ She said.

‘What?’

‘No time for any of that, just get on with it.’

‘Erm, seriously?’

‘I’ve got a uni assignment to finish.’

Wow! What did she think I was, a piece of meat? How rude. I must admit, as I began taking my pants off I felt a little used but I love my wife so I did what I was told.

‘Okay,’ I said. ‘Just this once.’

I can’t lie, I struggled to enjoy it. She made it worse by constantly checking her watch during but I’m a trooper and with a lot of concentration, I powered on through. A bit like an athlete completing a marathon or a neurosurgeon removing a tumour.

This became the norm. From then on, even if I was tired, or if I wanted to talk about her day, or my feelings goddamit! It didn’t matter. She might as well have had a whip, cracking it on the floor around my feet, ‘Perform for me,’ crack-crack-crack, ‘now!’

My favourite past time became a chore. I’ve never been the type to cry after sex but it was getting close. My penis looked like it had been used for Chinese burn practise but she didn’t care. I couldn’t remember the last time we’d snuggled. She didn’t seem bothered. Who was this beast? This woman on a mission was not the woman I’d fallen in love with. She was a machine. A sperm collecting machine and if I hadn’t have given it willingly, I think she would have taken it by force!

‘I’m a bit tired.’ I said one night.

‘Haha. Funny.’ She said.

‘Seriously, I’m knackered.’

‘Lie down.’

I turned away so she couldn’t see the tear escape from the corner of my eye as I lay on the bed like a good slave. And that was it. That was the limit to my fight. After she’d had her way with me and told me to clean myself up, I realised something. Women are cruel when they want a baby!

Of course, that story is only partly true but what I’m trying to say is, be careful what you ask for because when you get the quantity without the quality you’re left with a shadow of the experience in which you enjoy.

When my wife became pregnant, things settled into a calmer rhythm. We were back to love making and tenderness. Plenty of kissing and fondling and always time for a spot of foreplay. My wife nor I ever had any qualms about having sex while pregnant. We didn’t try the wheelbarrow position or swing from any chandeliers but the intimacy and togetherness we shared during that period brought us even closer together.

Now the little pudding is a toddler and wakes up thirty times a night demanding to be breast fed, our sexual relationship has changed again. It makes me feel a bit shit sometimes. Fundamentally, I’m the same person and I struggle with the animalistic urges inside me. My desire for my wife remains the same and I expect more than she’s able to give. She knows when I’ve turned inwards for one of my little sulks and she gives me time to become “normal” again.

I don’t want sex every day, I’ve experienced that and it wasn’t fun in the end. About three times a week and maybe an extra one at the weekend would be ideal. Maybe with age, the urges inside me will fade or maybe they won’t? Sometimes I think there’s something wrong with me but the truth is, most men and other dads don’t talk about this part of their lives so I don’t have anything to compare my experiences with.

If anything I’ve said resonates with you, please leave a comment below because I would love to know what you think.

What TV Did To My Baby

The TV turned my amazing baby/toddler into a proper little pain in the arse. In what way, I hear you ask? Well, let me explain. He was poorly for a few days, the weather was a bit rubbish and to be honest, when he’s unwell, we all suffer. He wakes more than usual in the night which of course means we get no sleep. And what does lack of sleep and illness create within a person? Fatigue, grumpiness and, not the worst ailment, the desire to lie on the sofa under a duvet while blitzing through a box-set of something adult and sexy!

Well, those days are well and truly gone so we had to resort to a half thought out plan B. We don’t have the telly on much, either with the baby about or when he’s asleep but we still own one and enjoy it occasionally the same way most people do. We’ve managed to last over eighteen months without relying on the magic box to entertain the little one for a few hours. Now don’t get on your high horses here, I’m not judging you and the amount of time your child watches the TV or plays on the smart phone. I don’t care. It’s personal choice and you’re free to make yours. We quite simply don’t like having the TV on much. However, during his latest illness, while attempting to grab a moments peace to work on the laptop, or clean the house without him dragging Aliens Love Underpants towards one of us for the one millionth time that day, we plonked him in front of some nursery rhyme videos on YouTube and there we have it. Space to breathe!

It was cute for a few days. He’d put his little chubby fingers together signalling his desire to watch Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and we’d look at one another and say, “Fuck it, anything for a minutes peace and quiet.” And so it began. Every time he got bored of playing in the garden or with his toys or with us, he’d rip his coat off and plant himself on the sofa with his chubby little twinkle twinkle signal. We’d oblige. THIS WAS A MISTAKE.

Very quickly, to him, everything except the TV was shit. And nothing would do but the most ridiculous looking animations you’ve ever seen in your life. I’ve come to consider some of the traditional nursery rhymes as very odd but the more modern ones are next level weird. Weird and fucking absolutely pointless. Some “Kitten,” has lost its “Mitten,” and other brainless lyrics. Nearly as bad as 90’s shit sensation Des’ree singing, “I don’t want to see a ghost, it’s a sight that I fear most, I’d rather have a piece of toast.” Utter crap! 

As we all started feeling better and the outside world didn’t seem so cold and filled with racists, we ventured out to the park and other fun places. Usually, our monster is the first one out of the door. But no, no; he didn’t wanna go anywhere. Whilst getting ready to leave, we’d have to wrestle him away from the sofa, tears streaming down his red cheeks, still signing twinkle twinkle over and over again. He was addicted, no doubt about it.

During the first few days when, like I said, it was still cute, he’d stare at the screen. Literally, expressionless and motionless. Just staring, open mouthed like a nerd at a strip bar. It wasn’t cute for very long, it was worrying. We started to take a real interest in his behaviour and we realised quickly that our fun, outdoor loving, ball throwing little monster, was in-fact, turning into a real pain in the arse. And not much fun to be around either. Pretty much like his fifteen year old sister who has to check the internet moment to moment to see if she’s still actually got a personality.

So we had to get tough. I placed a blanket over the telly and the next morning when he swaggered all cock sure of himself into the front room, planted his ass on the sofa and turned his porridge smeared face, up towards the blanket where the telly was hidden behind, we saw real pain in his face. He was devastated. Proper! But we had to do it. He screamed, bit his own fingers in protest and continually threw himself to the floor. Changing his nappy became an absolute nightmare, initiating any type of play was impossible and when he saw the food on his plate, he gave you a very sincere look which translate to, “Why you trying to feed me poison, Nazi!”

Three days to create the addiction and luckily, three days to wean him off it. It was tough but the little monster is back to himself and we’re very, very happy. Now and again, he points up at the telly, now blanket-less, as if controlled by some type of muscle memory but his heart’s not in the request anymore and micro-seconds later, he’s forgotten about it and moved on. I honestly don’t see how we can introduce the TV back into his life now and I have no idea whether that’s a bad thing or not. All I can say is, I’m glad to have him back dragging Aliens Love Underpants towards me a million times a day rather than the emotionless drone he’d turned in to.

To Co-Sleep Or Not To Co-Sleep?

Co-sleeping’s been a nightmare.

Co-sleeping’s been amazing.

Both these statements are true. Let’s deal with the nightmare situation of having a fat, wriggling lunatic crying for the majority of the night between you and your beloved. It’s frustrating. A passion killer. It’s not what I signed up for. I’m not saying the only reason I got married was for sexy time but it’s definitely top three.

Don’t judge to harshly, I’m also on board for plenty of cuddles and chatting in the darkness but these basics have continually been thrown out the window. Co-sleeping, breastfeeding and not wanting to put our son through the whole controlled crying technique are all connected in my view and I’ll tell you why.

For whatever reason, (not too be explored here today, although we have researched) Arlo wakes in the night screaming. Not little cries, a stretch and back to sleep. I’m talking about snot gurgling screams worthy of any horror film. And when that milky breath unloads that tortured cry next to your ear for the fifth time in the night, you can’t help but want to join in. For long periods of time I’ve suffered from anxiety during the night. I can only describe it as the flight or fight sensation and as far as long term health is concerned, this isn’t good. And I’m the lucky one, I can always skulk downstairs, red eyed and twitching, my wife must endure. Her boob’s are all that stands between sleep and madness.

Claire’s ready for change, there’s no doubt about it. We tried to gently take the boob away and he screamed all night with ten minute gaps for sleep before continuing. We were right next to him, supporting him through it but he was having none of it. He went mental. It was horrendous. We decided to never do that again. That was four months ago and ever since, it’s been one big massive mixed bag of emotions.

It’s been marginally better recently but we’ve had to find new ways to spend time with one another. Example; he’s in bed at eight, there’s a massive chance he’ll sleep for two hours straight before the nightmare starts again. So we go to bed early too so we can enjoy the intimacies of the night. But even then we’re tiptoeing our way through it. Putting any naughtiness to one side, the one thing I miss at the moment is spending time with my best friend (my wife) out on the town, drinking and dancing the night away like we use to do. It’s been two years since we’ve been out on the piss together and we really need it! Luckily though, we’re very close and able to discuss these feelings so we hold tight to the saying, “This too shall pass.” Knowing or hoping we’ll regain some freedom.

Maybe if we’d used control crying things would be different but no matter how punishing it’s been, we wouldn’t do it any different.

Here’s the amazing bit.

Whatever it is Arlo’s experiencing during the night, we’re there for him. Eventually when he crosses that bridge and develops that sense of security which we’ve helped him achieve through patience and red wine, he’ll look in his own bedroom, see the den I’ve built for him and he say, “Sack this, I’m sleeping in there with all my cool shit.” This could then lead to him coming off the boob, us getting a baby sitter, him sleeping right through, 8 till 8 every single day, climate change turning the UK into a tropical paradise, all governments imploding in on themselves, human beings becoming self-aware and realising energy can never die, all this so the wife and I can get pissed in nice clothes while dancing to cheesy 90’s anthems in a space that isn’t our front fucking room!

Went off a bit there.

Back to the amazing bit about co-sleeping. When he’s not being a psycho, he’s lovely. He wakes us in the morning with a kiss. He talks to himself and plays in the room while we get a sneaky half hour before breakfast. We play and wrestle and laugh lots and he’s right there with us when we finally begin stretching and discussing the day ahead.

If anything, this experience has made Claire and I closer because we’ve had to adapt to the change. We’ve not been able to live the life we became accustomed to but we managed to create a different one.

Do I want Arlo in his own bed? Off the boob? Yes of course but in his own time. I want him to have the strength and confidence to seek his own space but know we’re only a room away. And if this doesn’t happen in the next year, forget everything I’ve just said, he’s getting chained to the radiator in his room and we’re buying earplugs. And we’ll just chalk it up as one of those things and allow him to live a life of emotional trauma like the rest of us!

 

 

 

Sleeping Like A Baby. Pffff!

Don't Drink and Sling

How many times in conversation have you said, “I Slept like baby?” Hundreds of times probably. Unless you were born in the noughties or something pointless like that. Did you mean it when you said it? I hope not because that means you spend large portions of the night screaming like a demented chimp clawing for my wife’s nipple in your mouth!

That saying led me into a false sense of security while preparing for fatherhood. It lied to me, you all did! Normal happy babies slept at night, that’s what the world taught me. Good healthy babies slept at night and sick babies in Victorian houses cried all night. I thought they liked sleep anyway? I thought it made them happy? Wow, I was wrong.

There’s no doubt about it, I had a sneaking suspicion my life would change in various, wonderful ways once Arlo arrived. But I also…

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Misdiagnoses and Me

Five months before my son was born I experienced what my wife Claire describes as “An episode.” For two weeks, I suffered from the most severe case of dehydration, blurred vision, loss of appetite, weight loss, frequent urination, (putting it mildly) and my personal favourite way to go insane, sleep deprivation. My immediate and unqualified self-diagnose was I had a bug and it would soon be on its way. After all, I never get sick!

Two weeks is a long time to be unwell in my opinion but my symptoms didn’t ease they persisted. We were enjoying a calm, well planned pregnancy and this just didn’t make sense.  This wasn’t supposed to happen to us. I was going to be a healthy dad, I mean, I don’t even take Class A drugs during the week anymore! Or eat pork!

On the way to the doctors when I’d finally admitted defeat, Claire said, “It sounds like Type 1 diabetes to me.” I was shocked but the symptoms were all matching that disease.

  1. Dehydration – Liquid would cascade down my chin because it was unable to penetrate the wall of cracked dryness of my mouth. I’d wake in the night short of breath because my inner cheeks and tongue were swollen. So hard they would clonk together like bricks.
  2. Blurred vision – I’ve always had great eye sight. I can read small signs from great distances. Godlike some might say. Well, my power vanished and all the detail and clarity I usually enjoyed was replaced with a haze like quality. Like someone had placed a dimmer switch inside my retinas and turned it to pissed.
  3. Loss of appetite and weight loss – I couldn’t bring myself to finish a meal, starting it was hard enough. I’d smile at my family as I presented them with their evening meal. Sip on a glass of organic beer, smile a bit more and watch as those around me tucked into the food. I’d look down at my plate and as far as I was concerned, there was a dog turd on it. No way was I eating that!
  4. Frequent Urination – Wow, I mean, wow! Has another human being on this planet, ever, I mean ever pissed as much as I did back then? I doubt it. And the smell, wow, oh wow. Four times during the night, hourly during the day, at one point I considered having a catheter inserted to save me the trouble of having to schedule my day around having a piss.
  5. Sleep deprivation – A personal favourite of mine. Nothing like a little bit of sleep deprivation to force someone’s mind to the edge of insanity. I’ve always been a light sleeper and I seem to cope on less than most but there’s a breaking point and I probably came very close. When I was lucky enough to fall asleep, I’d dream about water. Searching, craving and fighting for droplets of moisture. I’d wake up panicked, clawing for the drink next to the bed and drain the contents which would usually then dribble out the sides of my mouth.

Then, I’d check the time and be deflated to see it was still early, maybe 1am, which meant I still had the rest of the night to endure. Only one word sufficiently describes that experience, nothing fancy, it’s simple . . . shit. It was shit!

After two weeks, enough was enough. Claire was worried and I was a physical and emotional wreck. Blood was taken at the GP on a Friday morning, in the evening; I received a call from the receptionist. She advised me not to consume any sugar over the weekend and that the doctor would see me on Monday morning.

Claire and I went to the GP.

We sat.

He read from the computer screen.

GP said, “You have diabetes.”

My wife and I nod our heads and hold hands.

“Type 2 diabetes.”

“Erm, what? Type 2?”

He typed out a prescription for Metformin. He explained something about diet and Olympian Steve Redgrave, and off we went to the chemist, to confused to question his knowledge.

“It’s okay,” I said, “let’s play the game and see how we get on.”

Claire wasn’t convinced. And she was right.

Let me break down the next month very quickly so we can get to the juicy bits:

  • All the symptoms worsened.
  • I was unable to spend longer than half an hour on my feet.
  • Went back to the GP to tell him the Metformin was making me feel sick and it wasn’t working. In front of two junior doctors he said “It will take some adjustment, you will have to get used to it.”
  • Started to secretly believe I was dying.
  • Kidney pains started.
  • Claire takes me to Accident & Emergency.
  • Almost immediately diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes by the doctor – Insulin dependent – Type 1 diabetes. A diagnosis after one blood test and one conversation with the hospital doctor.
  • Two nights in hospital, monitored hourly, insulin injections and a constant drip filled with saline to stabilise the potassium and ketone levels and bang, I feel more normal again. Two stone lighter, mentally, physically and spiritually battered but definitely more normal.

 

Were we angry at the GP? Yes, of course. Had the last month been a living nightmare? Yes it had. Was I going to let this dis-ease beat me? No I wasn’t. You see, I never believed, not for one second it was simply, ‘In the genes.’ They said something had ‘Switched on,’ and it was probably in the family.

I’ve been researching the causes of Type 1 and it’s much more complicated than blaming it on the genes. I did everything expected of me by the hospital but I felt like I could do more. I didn’t want the worry of having a Hypoglycaemic episode while out with my son. The fear I couldn’t take care of him successfully motivated me into action and my health and life has improved dramatically because of it. I manage my Type 1 with a 70% plant based and raw food diet and physical exercise. I only take insulin while eating complex carbohydrate and I’ve given up gluten and diary.

I don’t check every food packet or scrutinise each option on a menu because I’m not a knob but I’m self-aware and knowledgeable about my body and what I need inside it. I’ve never felt better and I get to be the dad I hoped I would be. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a cure for the red wine hangover yet but I keep the faith.

Baby Wearing’s Cool!

“Here we go again,” I said.

“Trust me, all the cool dads wear them.” Claire said.

“Where, who?”

“Chorlton dads.”

“But we live in Stockport.”

Not the first time my wife’s lured me into a conversation by flattering me with the ‘Cool’ label. I don’t know why she bothers. I already know I am. How? I smoke roll up cigs with liquorice skins when I’m pissed and I wear a flat cap. I also own a jacket with tweed patches on the elbows and I don’t watch football! That’s cool right?

“Will you try?” She continued.

I looked at the multi coloured stretchy in her hand and thought to myself, that’s not gonna go with any of my shirts.

“Sure, why not?”

In-fact, I hate it, I thought.

Ouch! It hurts being wrong.

Let’s take it back a little in case you have no idea what a stretchy is. I’m talking about slings. Baby wearing. If you haven’t considered baby wearing before for whatever reason, I’m sorry to tell you this, but it’s great. I love it. Not a big fan of talking about it excessively like the Mrs and her mum friends. They like to tell you how slings don’t depreciate in value; it’s safer than investing in gold I might have overheard one of them say the other day while munching on a mound of chocolate cake. Some of those slings definitely cost the same as a gold bar but that doesn’t have to be the way. Prices vary, there’s loads of styles blah blah blah, I don’t care.

I love the actual wearing of my son, not like an accessory, although we do look pretty dam cute together (see pic.) And we certainly don’t get bored of all the attention we get while out and about. Wish I’d have known about the pulling power of a cute baby when I was single. Pulling power might be laying it on a bit thick though, it’s mainly nanas and grannies stopping us but we still love it.

“Isn’t he gorgeous,” Granny will say.

“Don’t call me that, he gets jealous,” I say.

Wink, wink. How we laugh!

Anyway, what I love about baby wearing is the closeness, the bonding we have enjoyed from birth to toddler. When he was a little squish I used the multi coloured stretchy Claire first brought to me but I moved on to slings with buckles because it’s easier and quicker for me.

Useful points to consider:

  • Your hands are free while carrying your baby so you can make breakfast, dinner and tea for your partner. And wash the pots.
  • Your hands are free to carry your partner’s shopping bags around town.
  • Babies love it in the sling. It calms down the screaming little nut jobs. The sling does for the man what the breast does for the woman.
  • Your hands are free to tidy the home while your partner eats cake.
  • Your hands are free to make the cake while your partner tells you about a sling that she wants.
  • You and the baby feel closer because of it. Again, the sling does for dads what breast feeding does for mums.

 

If you’d have told me a few years ago I’d be talking about baby wearing, in any way, shape or form, I would have said you were smoking crack. The truth is I felt like a bit of a spare part when Arlo was born. Claire was his everything and my role was more about supporting her. Which of course is fine, but it was difficult to know my place as far as the baby was concerned.  He wasn’t really soothed by my touch and I couldn’t feed him because my stupid nipples didn’t do anything! Using the slings helped me feel closer to him while going about the everyday.

I’d be interested to know what other non-baby wearing dads did to connect with their babies because I’m certainly not suggesting slings are the best or only way to go. It worked for me and any future dads physically able to try out a spot of baby wearing should give it go. What’s the worst that could happen?