May 31, 2005

Steamed Pork Bun, Stat!

Bram's first yum cha
Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Here at last, then, Bramble, is proof of two things. Firstly, it's proof that your rowdy Grammy is here, and that she's without a doubt enamoured of you, and secondly proof that you know how to go out for yumcha.

Going out for yumcha, it must be said, is a skill that you will have to learn if you're not going to go hungry. The trick, punkin, is to sit somewhere in the middle of the table.

Too close to the aisle, and it's up to you to decide what the table's going to eat. If you're not decisive, and in posession of a lightining recall of the entire tables likes, dislikes, allergies and favourites, this is a dangerous position to be in.

Likewise against the wall. Unless your table has the perfect complement of diners (any multiple of three), the person by the wall gets last choice of the food, misses out entirely on all the choice items, and winds up gnawing on a cold stale spring roll half an hour into proceedings.

Sit in the middle, punkin, and all the glory that is yumcha will be yours.

May 30, 2005

Proof Positive

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
This photo serves, my beautiful punkling, as proof positive that you DO smile, that you DO spend time being the most cuterest baby in the world, and that I'm not insane because I love you so much.

It's important to me that I keep these photos close, and that I take them whenever I can, because when you're being an Unsleeping Screaming Demon Child (as is the case right now as we speak), it's important that I can remember why we brought you here to share this world with us. Because we have every faith that you will be a child and an adult full of joy and wonderment.

So please stop screaming.

Dad out.

Desperate Times

Desperate Times
Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Call for desperate measures, punkling. And sometimes late at night when you won't sleep more than ten minutes at a time, there's only a couple of things that will work to get you to sleep. This being one of them.

I'm worried that this blog is starting to look like the "Bram won't sleep" blog, and people will think that you're an unsleeping demon child all the time. This is categorically not the case, and I plan to very soon have photos up that prove that you do things other than refuse to sleep.

Forinstance, on Saturday morning, you did 'going to the airport to pick up Grammy and Grandpa'. Naturally, being a child of many jetsetting relatives, you did it in style.

May 27, 2005

Herro Hans Brix!

Herro Hans Brix!
Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
I told you! I don't have any weapons of mass destwuction!

Game Plan for Grammy Groundwork

The question arose last night, pumpkin, as your mother and I grappled with the fact that your grandmother arrives tomorrow, about your outfit for the big arrival. We'll be sure to take photos so you can remember it, although Grammy Linda has a rule that no-one's allowed to take her photo after she gets off the plane until she's had a chance to wash her face. This seems to me to be a sensible rule, and I would imagine that most celebrities wish that they had the opportunity to enforce it on la papparazza.

In any case, these are the facts. Your grandmother is as we speak on the Big Silver Bird (at the pointy end, no less), and she will be with us in around 24 hours. This will be one of the more momentous events in your life so far.

I'm not sure precisely what the plan is for tomorrow, but it usually runs along the lines of picking up your Grammy and Grandpa from the airport in the morning, Grammy cries a lot, and then we go to Aunt Wendy's for lunch. You remember Aunt Wendy of course, she came to see you at the hospital when you were about 2 days old.

As for the rest of the two weeks that she's here with us, we don't have any firm plans at this stage, but I'd say that it's likely you'll be seeing a fair bit of her. She's very excited that you've arrived, in fact I think it's ok to say that she's probably the person apart from us who has been the most vocally excited about it.

You'll get to meet your Grandpa too. Because your Grammy is so... rowdy, it's easy to lose sight of this, but you should treasure this moment too. You're lucky in so many ways, punkling, that sometimes we forget that you're lucky enough to have THREE grandfathers, rather than the standard complement of two, and that in this case you have absolutely lucked out in that they all have different areas of expertise on which to proffer advice to you.

Your Grandpa Phil, punkling, is without a doubt the best person to turn to for concrete answers. When your life is troubled by shades of grey, when you are despairing at the thought of never being able to find definitive answers to your many and varied questions, turn to Phil. God knows I do.

May 26, 2005

The Learning Curve

Unsleeping Demon Child
Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
You know, punkin, your mum and I are both quite intelligent people. We are well read, and we've seen lots of difficult films. It seems, however, that there are some things that just completely fail to make an impact on our teeny brains.

This concept, you see, of "establish a going to bed routine for your baby", appears to have eluded us entirely. This of course results in what the books choose to charmingly call an "unsettled" baby, which loosely translated into English appears to mean a grizzly wriggly angry crying wailing yelling unsleeping demon child.

Perhaps, punkling, new babies should be issued with some kind of flashing neon sign, or red light, some sort of siren or other warning device, that would let new parents know that their course of action (say, watching another episode of Kingdom Hospital) will likely result in an unsleeping demon child if pursued.

The endpoint of all this, punkin, is that I'm working from home today so that your mum can sleep, and you're currently helping me write a document entitled ERP Application Management Services Transition and Related Upgrade Activities. I'm sure that the riveting nature of this document is what has triggered your self defense styled response, of falling fast asleep.

Love you, unsleeping demon child.

May 24, 2005

Operation Procreation Part 2

So when your mum called me an hour after her appointment with Pete, and said that she thought she might be going into labour, punkin, I was a little skeptical.

I was a little skeptical very quietly.

I told the guys at work that I had to leave immediately (your mother had called my mobile phone - it was accepted that this meant something was happening.) and drove home at a brisk but safe pace.

Arriving home, I found your mum having what seemed to be fairly mild contractions. They were sporadic, and, given that she'd never had any before, we weren't 100% sure that that's what they were. She got on the phone to the hospital, and then to the trusty Emma, both of whom told her that if she thought she was having contractions, then she probably was having contractions.

Being people who live a long way away from some of the parents in our lives, we had decided in advance what the next few hours was going to be like. Given that it was a Tuesday, Harry and Liz were already on their way over (TOP MODEL), so we didn't need to call them, but we dropped them a line to make sure they were bringing toothbrushes. Next on the list was tidying the house a bit and making sure the bag was packed.

Meantime, of course, there are people coming for dinner. So your dad makes dinner (being a man, he needs some thing to DO), and your mum cleans the house, sitting down every five or so minutes while she has what I keep assuring her are more "phantom" contractions.

By 8:30, when TOP MODEL starts (at which time you would usually need a 6 foot crowbar and a team of wild brumbies to get your mum off the couch), she's in the bath, telling me that no, she doesn't want any dinner, and that yes, I probably should actually call the hospital again, and that yes, she would actually now actually like to ACTUALLY GO TO THE HOSPITAL.

So, amid fanfare and general rummaging (Harry and Liz wanting to help, but being unable to leave the couch (and who could blame them)), we depart for Frances Perry House, with me being positive that they're going to take one look at your mum and tell us to go home again.

Driving again at a brisk but careful pace, we arrived at the hospital and were ushered into a delivery room. A couple of belts were stretched around your mum's belly, so the nurses could tell what was going on with you.

And they didn't send us home.

May 23, 2005

Raindrops keep falling on my head

It's raining tonight, pumpkin, I think it's the first time it's rained since you've been alive. We're going through a bit of a dry spell at the moment, and when it rains at night it's like you can feel the whole country breathe a little sigh of relief. The nature strip is happy too.

Here's what I wrote at 9am on the day you were born. It's a little disjointed, I'd been awake for about 30 hours, and it's a little emotional for obvious reasons. When I wrote this, you were still about 5 hours away.

Not knowing where to start - chronologies of what happens when are not of much use to other people after the fact - everyone's experience of this time is different, and I don't know if our journey will help anyone else's.

How, then, to talk about what's happening right now?

From my perspective. Being an outsider. Feeling extraneous to the process, but knowing simultaneously how integral to Eve's focus my presence is. Feeling like I don't know what to do, looking for signs of what Eve needs.

Things that have surprised me so far in labour. For all the screaming and yelling and panting, there are lengthy periods of quiet, of stillness, of chances for reflection like this. Eve doesn't want to hear any music, so the only sounds that intrude on us are buses, the bells of trams on Swanston St and your heartbeat on the monitoring machine.

We're keeping people overseas posted on what's happening, but apart from that we remain completely removed from events outside our room. We haven't seen a TV screen or a newspaper - heard a radio, since we arrived last night. It's like there are only 3 people in this world - your mum, me and the midwife Gaylene, along with occasional bit players like Pete.

I just had to go outside to move the car, and it was an absolutely surreal experience. After so long ensconced in one room, it was a harsh, bright world outside.

This is, munchkin, more than likely akin to how you're feeling right now.

Love you.

May 22, 2005

Operation Procreation Pt 1

It strikes me that I haven't actually talked about the first hours of your life. It seems to my sleep deprived and addled brain, punkling, that I have skipped over the circumstances of your birth, and I'm positive that I haven't had a chance to share the photo entitled "Birth of Frankenstein".

I think that the post from the day before you were born segues nicely into what happened after it, even if only in a post-Alanis piece of irony.

You see - the last thing that I talked about on the day before you arrived was that your mum was going to the lobstertrician. Looking back, I think that perhaps saying to you that you should get your act together was a mistake, and that I would have been better served to suggest that you stay put for a little while. I had failed to take into account the total lack of clocks and calendars in-utero, and it strikes me that you therefore thought that what I was suggesting was an immediate evacuation.

Your mum called me right after her appointment with Dr Pete on the 3rd, saying what I had expected her to say, that everything was proceeding according to plan, but that no-one really had any idea when you were going to arrive.

It was then, punkin, that your uncle Harry decided to throw his hat into the ring.

You see, Dr Pete's Lobstertrician's Rooms are a hop skip and a jump (or in your mum's case at that stage, a step, a rest and a waddle) away from Harry's work. It made perfect sense at the time for your mum to go and see Harry after her appointment for a cup of hot beverage on Lygon St.

Harry, being the inquisitive person that he is, chose to ask your mum a few pointed questions about precisely when you were likely to arrive. Your mother of course answered that she didn't really know, and that no-one really knew, and that (theoretically) you could arrive anytime.

"SO", asked Harry (and I'm paraphrasing here, punkling, so forgive me, "Pumpkin could get here like RIGHT NOW?".

Within half an hour of that conversation, my sweet and lovely and insomniacal child, your mum was in labour, and things started to happen very quickly indeed.

May 20, 2005

Miracle of Miracles

There's a couple of things I want to set straight, punkling. Firstly, whilst your sleeping issues have been the source of some frustration for your mum and I, they're certainly nothing out of the ordinary for a person of your age (16 days today). To that end, we were hassled and tired and categorically knackered, but we weren't particularly worried about you being some kind of freaky sleepless child or anything (I read a book about that once, a group of super children who didn't need to sleep, but I digress).

Certainly, it's been incredibly gratifying to receive advice, suggestions and support from the many wonderful and lovely people who read this site, along with the sterling staff from the The Maternal and Child Health Program and other friends / colleagues.

The endpoint which I am trying to reach with this dialogue is, of course, the following.

Last night, you slept.

Of course, I wasn't there to see this, having escaped once again to the spare room under the pretense of having to work today, but your mother assures me that about 10 minutes after I ran out of the room under cover of darkness, you SETTLED DOWN, punkling, and WENT TO SLEEP.

She goes on to report that you awoke briefly at 3am for a feed, and then again at 6, exactly as you were suppposed to.

So punkling, I'd like to say here that your mother thanks you. I thank you. My work thanks you. My sanity, mood and general outlook thank you, and I can safely say that at least for today, I'm not looking for my receipt and trying to figure out the return policy for small boys.

Love you.

May 19, 2005

Warning: Blogging may be habit-forming

You know, punkin, that I've been writing you this letter for so long now that I feel guilty if I don't continue it every day.

Certainly, in the 15 days since you were born, there's been a lot happening, and it's remiss of me to not update you on proceedings, but the truth of the matter is that your mum and I are so tired that the thought of stringing coherent sentences together is coming as a bit of a shock to the system.

Let's talk about this situation. You, it seems, are unhappy with the concept of sleeping. Now hangon that's not strictly true. You're unhappy with the concept of sleeping in your bassinette at night.

Sure, when you're snuggling on the couch at 3pm, you'll drop off like the proverbial man falling off a log, but at 3am, after being awake for four hours already, when lying in your beautiful cane bassinette, you'll just scream.

And scream.

And scream.

Now it's incredibly unfortunate that during this period of your life, your parents have failed dismally in their attempts to be independently wealthy, and therefore your dad has to get up in the morning and go to work. So, at 3am, after a particularly energetic bout of your histrionics, I ran for the safety of the spare room.

I realise this makes me not much of a correspondent, given that I subsequently missed the highlights of the entertainment, which apparently included:

  • You not going to sleep
  • You NOT going TO SLEEP
  • YOU not GOING to SLEEP
As you can see, I got a colourful rundown from your mother this morning, at which time I fervently wished that she was able to do my job so that I could let her escape to my office for the day, although I'm fairly sure that management would not be incredibly impressed by her curling up under my desk and snoring (although it's probable that she would raise the tone of the joint purely through her presence).

So that's the update, punkling. We're ok, but we're very tired. We love you, but we wish you'd go to sleep.

May 17, 2005

Unsustainable Architecture

You, punkling, are the only one who's getting any sleep.

Because of my status as Primary Breadwinner of the Peeny-Deeny household, I have been delegated a bed in the spare room. This is theoretically devoid of distractions and therefore would in most cases enable me to get at least enough sleep between your 11pm bath and your 6am feed to function in a semi-literate manner at work.

Of course, that's not the way you want to do things.

For your ENTIRE LIFE, you say, you have got to sleep with your dad, and you didn't see why last night should be any different. So.

At 2am, in tears, your mother opened the door to the room in which I lay sleeping, blissfully unaware of the carnage with which she had been presented. I could tell what was wrong even before she told me, and I reached out for you. You settled briefly on my chest and we lay back down, but then you snuffled and struck out, your whole body tensing, limbs flailing. You cried like that, with agonising wails tearing through your tiny frame, for a good five minutes. Your mum collapsed beside me, apparently defeated, thinking that her tactic had failed and that she was doomed to another three hours of you refusing to sleep.

I began searching for a reason for your cries, trying to figure out what was wrong, but to no avail. You were full, your nappy was clean, and the temperature was ok. We had just about made the decision to either strap you in the car or call the Maternal / Child Health Care Line (13 22 29).

But then you stopped. Too tired, it seemed, to go on.

You collapsed against my chest and fell, as you do, immediately into a deep sleep. Too scared to move for fear of waking you up again, I suggested to your mum that she go back to our bed and get some rest, and that I would come in and wake her up when you raised your head for a feed.

Then I held you. All night. And you slept in my arms.

At about 3:30 I heard the dogs in the living room eating something they shouldn't have been, but I didn't dare yell at them for fear of disturbing you. At about 5 I descended into a fitful doze, still holding you, desperate to avoid waking you up. We stayed like that until I got up for work at 7:15.

You slept last night, Abraham William Peeny-Deeny, longer than you have ever slept in your life.

Your mum got some much needed rest.

But please, please, please, learn to sleep somewhere other than on my chest?

Love you.

May 14, 2005

The sleeping game

He sleeps again!
Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
This is undeniably, Mr Penford-Dennis , a photograph of you sleeping. I'm a little confused, however, because it shows you sleeping in a location with which I'm unfamiliar. You see, punkling, it appears that you have decided the only place you want to sleep during the night is on your dad's chest.

This is a fine idea, and has some merit to it. Certainly, monsters will not attack you if you're snuggled up to your dad, and it's unlikely that you're going to be cold. But Bram, there's a few things we need to sort out.

I know that I asked you recently to stop urinating on me, but perhaps I was too specific. Please stop inundating me with your bodily fluids. Certainly the display of projectile vomit last night was impressive, and had your mother and I laughing hysterically and chanting "the power of Christ compels you", but I don't think that you needed to perform an encore at 3am directly into my neck.

"Skin to skin contact" all the books say is a sure way to keep you healthy and happy. A cute misnomer like "posseting", punkling, in no way prepared me for the torrents with which I was presented early this morning. Perhaps the books should mention a handy towel as well.

May 11, 2005

In related news

The person, my beautiful one, to thank for the fact that we're able to share all of these too-cute-for-words photographs with the world is Shauny.

Your dad has known Miss Shauna in a virtual sense for many, many years, and it was in fact her blog that prompted his adoption of the blogging meme. She has been witness to many of the ups and downs in his life for the last five or so years, and I was incredibly chuffed to read that she had recently got married to a wonderfully lovely Scottish boy called Gareth. In Las Vegas. By Elvis.

Shauny, being a very very clever and fabulously generous person, must have somehow known that I was just about to buy a flickr pro account so that we could share tons more photos with the world and, punkling, without prompting, GAVE us one.

So, pumpkin, when people stop you in the street and say "aren't you that baby from pumpkindiary?" and we have to hold on for a while so you can sign some autographs, it's Shauny we should be thanking.

Love you.

Note to self

Don't eat the nose!
Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
When, during a scheduled 3am pitstop, the child begins to evacuate directly onto the bunnyrug on the changetable, DO NOT remove the bunnyrug in order to clean it. PUT A NAPPY ON THE CHILD. When, subsequent to bunnyrug removal, the child begins to decorate the changetable, DO NOT pick the child up in order to clean the change table, PUT A NAPPY ON THE CHILD. There is no way to ensure precisely when a defacatory episode has reached its denouement.

Also, that is the second time, my darling punkling, that you have willfully, and with intent, urinated on your father.

I'm your territory.
I get it.
Now stop pissing on me.

Current number of items soaking in NapiSan in the bathroom sink: 7

Maternal & Child Health Care Nurse visit: you have put on 3 times as much weight as normal for a bebe 2 days out of horsepickle. Boob Juice Freak indeed. Current weight: 3.88 kilograms (8.38 pounds) up from 3.6 kilograms (8 pounds) at birth.

Love you.

May 10, 2005

Things people want to know

Little did they know
Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
You weighed 3.6 kilograms at birth, or just on 8 pounds in the old money. You are 50 cm tall. We have enough babygros (or grosuits), but we're short on socks in size 000 and bibs. Your hair is looking more blonde and less red every day, but it's still got a healthy copper tinge to it. Your eyes are still going to be blue.

You were named Abraham because we liked tbe name Bram. Abraham stems from the Hebrew "Avraham", and means "father of nations". Bram is both the name of the man who wrote Dracula and the name of the man who invented BitTorrent. Your middle name is William because your mum's cousin stole John two weeks before you were born. Significant people in your family who were called William include, but are not limited to; your father and two of your great grandfathers.

You went on your first long outdoor journey today, to the shopping centre in search of some groovy hats (an example of which is presented here). Comments from the parent's room included "Six days? good lord, we didn't leave the house for three weeks!".


I love you.

May 06, 2005

Thoughts on fatherhood

Da Boys
Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Or at least, the first 36 hours thereof.

Last night, as I walked you up and down as you screamed, I was aching to be able to communicate with you, to tell you that it wasn't so bad, that you didn't need to be scrunching your whole body up so tightly, when it came to me that there was a decent reason for you to be crying so much and so hard. This was, for you, the worst thing that had ever happened in your life. Of course, it's no use me telling you now that a bit of wind is going to be the least of your worries when you turn 25, but there you go.

Last night made a few things apparent. One, that you're not as placid and lovely as we thought you were. Perhaps naming you after someone who had an affinity with creatures of the night was in hindsight not the best idea.

Of course, they say that music soothes the savage beast, and we discovered last night that this was true. Your dad being your dad, I had, by the time we'd been in the room for 3 hours, installed a stereo system.

I am happy to report, my beautiful Abraham, that your first lullaby was side B of Electric Ladyland by Jimi Hendrix. Apparently you're fond of "And the Gods Made Love".

Love you

May 05, 2005

Remaining Men Together

Remaining Men Together
Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Sorry punkin, I promise I'm taking notes, and I will do a giant big amazing post about what your birth bits were like. I promise I haven't forgotten. In the meantime, there's a couple more photos up in the photo album.

Love you.

So you want to be a movie star....

My darling punkinBram. I want to tell you so much, but I'm incredibly pressed for time because I'm in a hurry to get back to the hospital to spend time with you and your mum. Here are some videos of you doing your thang that people might like to look at.

They are in Apple Quicktime format. Quicktime can be downloaded from

Bram Yawning 20 seconds, 10MB (this is quite a large file, I haven't worked out how to compress them any better yet, you should do the same as the interview file with these, right-click and save as.

Bram Looking Around 2.7MB

Bram Doing His Thing 4.3MB

Again with the thanks for the many many kind words and thoughts. All is being archived and will be utilised to embarrass the crap out of this wonderful beautiful child at his 21st.

May 04, 2005

Abraham William (Bram) Penford-Dennis

The three of us
Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Born 1.32pm on the 4th of May 2005, at Frances Perry House in Carlton, Victoria, Australia. Mum and babe are both doing well, but there's a fair bit of sleeping going on. Labour went for a grand total of 22 hours before an absolutely necessary c-section.

He's well and truly one of the most beautiful babies I've ever seen (not that I'm biased or anything), and you can see more photos if you click.

Thanks ever so much for all the kind words and thoughts flying to us from around the world. Your love and prayers were felt and appreciated.

Bill, Eve and Bram

May 03, 2005

Lobstertrician Thermidore

The following has been reported by your mother from her visit to Pete.

Situation normal.

No major change.

Your mother "should I make an appointment for next week?"

Pete "No, because we're going to induce you a week from today."

There you go, punkling. You're going to get born a week from today whether you like it or not, but we'd both much prefer it if you'd come out on your own before that.

Love you.

Pending Paedeatrix

Of course it's Tuesday, punkling.

This means two things. Namely that your mother is at the Lobstertrician (the lovely Dr Pete, in whom we trust), and that Top Model is on tonight.

I will naturally update you if we find out anything more from your mum's appointment, but my gut feeling is that we won't be discovering anything earth shattering. I am firmly of the mind that Pete will look at your mum and say "Situation Normal, go home.".

Now your mother's pregnancy up until this point has been absolutely, categorically and totally textbook, so one would imagine that there's little point in assuming that there would be any difference to that trend now, and that we shouldn't even be thinking for a moment that you might come early.

But pumpkin, if you look up, you will see that you are due to arrive in just two short days. The fifth of May, 2005 is the day that you are supposed to get here punkin. 05/05/05. It has such symmetry, such grace. Cinco de Mayo, punkin. Try to get organised, will you?

Te amo.

May 02, 2005

In case anyone was wondering

  1. You're not here yet;
  2. You really, really, really want one of these; and
  3. One of these, along with its accompanying shirt for me.

May 01, 2005

Working for the Weekend

Another weekend is wending its way west, punkin. Every weekend, we feel like it's our last chance to get everything organised before you arrive, and every weekend you remain firmly ensconced inside your mum. Every time we do anything anymore, we're telling ourselves that it's the last time we're going to do it without you.

Not, you understand, that this is a bad thing.

It's a different thing. Talking to your Aunt Marie (Mum of Declan) on the weekend, I was struck by the difference that can be created after the baby arrives. Until that moment of birth, your existence to me is, for better or worse, abstracted by the fact that you're inside your mother. No matter how many words I write here or how often, my REAL connection to you will begin only after you're born.

Knowing that that day is so close, but not knowing HOW close, is the thought that occupies me day, night, morning and afternoon.

I think that somehow this period has led me to become more aware than ever of the passage of time. That the movement of clock hands and the cycle of days has now for me become some kind of excruciating torture.

Imagine, punkin, if you will, being in a situation where you knew it was Christmas in a couple of days, but that no-one would tell you precisely when. That at literally any moment, someone close could turn around and gift you with the most amazing and wonderful present that anyone had ever received, but that you didn't know on what day, or even at what time.

THAT, punkling, is what I feel like right now, and what I will remain feeling for every remaining second until your mum goes into labour.

After that, I'm planning on just alternating between garden variety terrified and Dadproud.

Love you.