February 28, 2006

Absent Without Leave

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It's been quite an eventful time, punkin, that's kept your dad away from this blog for so long.

Let me try to get it all down for you.

It's been over two weeks since I've written anything, but it's all been a bit of a blur. I've often, during that time, thought of this site and my commitment to it. More than once I thought about giving it away entirely as being something that I couldn't cope with writing anymore, but I somehow feel a responsibility to its sheer size that means I have to keep going.

So your grammy and grandad were here, as evidenced by the portrait to your right. Their visit this time was different than others they have made, as it seems like they are making moves to come and visit you on a more permanent basis. It was fantastic to see them interact with you, to feed you and play with you and see how much you've grown, what you've learned. You're a very sociable child, you love to talk to people and play silly games with them, and it was a great joy to me to see my mother and Phil get that opportunity.

Grammy and Grandad went through the magic grandparent swallowing doors at the airport on Thursday morning just past, and whilst it was sad to see them leave, I'm clinging tight to the idea that this will be the last time I'll have to watch my mother walk through those doors.

On Thursday night, my sweet punkling, things took a turn for the worse.

Before I get into telling about precisely what went down, I should make it clear that you're home now, and recovering well, and that we don't hold any serious concerns for your health. We're still keeping a pretty close eye on you, but you are, as they say, Out Of The Woods.

So here goes.

Late on Thursday night, you woke your mother and I with a few choice yells. This is no big surprise for you, so your mum came in to settle you down and try to get you back to sleep. She asked me to get up and help her, as you had vomited on your matress and I needed to change the sheet before she put you back into the bed. It became clear, however, that you had not finished puking, and that you had no intention of doing so.

After a good sustained 15 minutes of hurling, we decided that your condition was getting worse rather than better, and called the locum doctor service. Being wonderful and amazing health professionals, like so many of the ones that we met in the next stages of this journey, the locum doctor was at our door within the hour.

By the time she got there, though, you'd gone downhill even further. Lying in my arms, your eyes were rolling back in your head and you were so pale I could see your veins pulsing in your skull. The first words she said when she saw you were "that baby doesn't look very well". She suggested that we get you to the hospital as soon as possible, and set about writing us a referral.

We set off for the Children's Hospital at about midnight, your mother suggesting to me more than once on the way that perhaps my driving was treading a little too close to the line between assertive and aggressive. I won't say that I wasn't driving fast. I'll only say that I wasn't driving TOO fast.

Once we got to the Children's (somewhere between 9 and 11 minutes after we left home), the triage nurse took one look at you, said 'gastro', and gave us a bottle full of hydralyte, a bright orange drink designed to get as much fluid into you as possible in the shortest possible time.

Of course, hydralyte only works if, upon drinking it, one decides to keep it in one's belly, rather than, how should we put this delicately, copiously and violently regurgitate it all over one's father.

By the time that we got seen by a doctor, which was a good 6 hours, you had successfully managed to cover both of your parents several times in bright orange puke, a fact of which you would have been proud, had you not been so sick. You lay on my chest, limp and lank, raising your head only to drink more hydralyte or throw up. Your mum and I swapped you backwards and forwards throughout that long early morning. Taking it in turns to hold you close, to let you know that we weren't going to let you down.

Finally we got through to a trolley in the emergency ward, and things started to happen. We got assigned to a doctor, although the poor lamb had been on the go for longer than we had, and she had a bit of a time getting a blood test taken. Of course, being your father's child, you're not particularly good at giving blood, but I don't think that there was a particular reason for how long it took.

Certainly, it has the tendency to make your father a little bit tense, when he hasn't slept at all and there's a woman there and she's STICKING NEEDLES into you and you're screaming and looking at me and I'm holding you down but I should be HELPING YOU UP or at least giving her a very stern talking to about why it's not ok to stick needles into boys called Bram.

That incident was past us, though, and we got on to some more waiting. They didn't have a cot in your cubicle, so when you weren't sleeping, we had to be watching you to make sure you didn't roll out.

Soon the nurse came back and told us that they were ready for you in ultrasound, so we set off on another journey through the labyrinth of the Children's Hospital. Apparently they were worried that you'd somehow hurt your tummy either as a result of or as a precursor to how sick you were being, and they wanted to have a look at it.

So there was ultrasounding done, which wasn't quite as traumatic as the bloodtesting, but you weren't happy about it nonetheless, until the nurse found a crazy toy that made some groovy noise and you were somewhat tractable for a few minutes, but still clinging to me like a gorgeous snuggly sweaty pukey baby monkey.

We took you back down to your cubicle in the emergency ward, the doctors looked at your results, had a bit of a confab and decided that you weren't ready to go home yet. They put a drip in your arm to try to get some fluid into you that you would be able to keep down, and decided to move you into the Short Stay Unit.

I think there's some time missing from my memory here, because it seems to me that by the time we got you ensconced in your cot (with sides, finally) in the Short Stay Unit (thanks to the fabulous Mel), it was time for your mum to get some sleep (finally, in a foldy outy cotty beddy thingy) and time for me to go home to get some of the same.

Of course, when presented with the concept of having a house to myself (and more importantly, a home entertainment system to myself), any thought of my lack of sleep went out the window and my brain began to focus instead on videogames. Upon procurement of a suitable diversion for the evening, I settled in to stay up far too late given the circumstances.

This was a mistake.

At 5am, the phone rang.

It was Simon, at the hospital. While I was still trying to get my brain around the fact that I was awake again, after what seemed like a cruel and unusually short time to be asleep, and I'd just got my handicap down a few points in Tiger Woods PGA06 and bought a new driver so I was consistently getting 240 yard tee shots but hangon Simon's on the phone and what?

Sorry Simon, what was that? Simon was saying that I had to come back to the hospital?

Hangon what? Your mum is sick? Oh no. No no no no no.


So I threw on some clothes and marched out the door, back to the Children's Hospital at 530 in the morning. Simon met me at the nurse's station and we had a bit of a chat about your mum's condition. She had been puked on so extensively by your good self by this stage that the hospital had had to lend her some spare clothes, and she was not feeling well at all. By the time I got there it was pretty obvious that she needed to go to hospital.

Sure, she was IN a hospital, but it was a hospital for kids, and whilst she's young at heart, punkin, she's not quite young enough to get treated at the Children's Hospital.

So I comandeered a wheelchair and sped her 400 yards up the street to the Royal Melbourne, simultaneously on the phone to the first one of your godparents I could get hold of that they had to come and sit with you at your hospital while I sat with your mum at hers.

Let me tell you that arriving at an emergency room already in a hospital gown and in a wheelchair is a good way of getting seen straight away. In no time at all, your mum was in a room of her own and on a drip just like yours.

February 15, 2006

Swiss Family Phlegmmerson

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It's been a tough week, punkin. Having your grammy and grandad here is fantastic, but it's hard on everyone to make sure that we get time together without changing your routine too much.

Your routine, as we have discovered by trying to vary it, is something that needs to be maintained at all possible costs in order to avoid the appearance of The Demon Child.

It all starts at about 545 - 630 in the morning. You wake up and stand up in your cot. If we don't hear you moving around, you're not averse to banging on the bars or just flat out yelling.

I come into your room and bring you back into our bed, where you jump onto your mum for a feed and then she gets up to have a shower while you and I play on the bed for a bit.

I think that's my favourite part of the morning. You haven't really woken up until you finish feeding, and being there when you open your eyes makes me feel so... connected to you. We snuggle and wrestle and bounce around on the bed. Sometimes I have some toys handy, sometimes I don't, and we have to make do with each other. You push and pull at my ears and bite my eyebrows. I hold you upside down and tickle your feet. You grin at me with those shining eyes and I know that you know that you're safe and loved and you can go out into the world knowing that.

Love you.

February 14, 2006

A Guitar from Grandma

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Electric Babyland

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Your great-grandmother, punkin, who loves you very very much, has just sent you your very first guitar.

In conjunction with your excitement at playing the piano at Fiona's house recently, I can only surmise that your musical talents will fairly closely emulate those of your mother and father.

Namely, that your enthusiasm will far outweigh your ability, and that people will applaud the end of your recitals chiefly out of relief that you have stopped.

Of course I could be completely wrong. Your uncle Nick is an accomplished guitarist and pianist, and there's no reason you can't, with appropriate levels of dedication, do anything that you put your mind to.

The problem for me with music has always been one of making a conceptual leap. I can understand how to do it, I can, with appropriate instruction, copy and parrot other people's efforts to a fair degree of technical competence, but I've never been capable of taking the step up to actually creating any of my own. Certainly it's early days yet to be telling you what you can and can't do, so we'll leave the instrumental capability on one side awaiting further evidence.

But I can tell you one thing now.

One thing that will surprise me even less than when your mother got home from the maternal health nurse and said "She says his height is fine, but he's underweight". The maternal health nurse, punkin, has obviously never taken a good look at your dad (who is, although with a small amount of breathing in and squeezing, the same pant size he's been for the last 15 years) or your grandad Ian (who's not much bigger).

You, punkin, will never be a great singer. Your mother and father are both full of enthusiasm for singing, particularly when they think there's no-one else around, but they are certainly not in any way what one would call tuneful.

Love you.

February 10, 2006

Scheduling Conflict

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
'Twould appear, punkin, that this is the face of an Angel Child.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

No, let's be fair now, it's not entirely your fault. Well ok if we're going to lay blame on someone let's look at your father.

When the nuclear powerplant goes into meltdown, punkin, and they're looking around for the people to blame (aaaah, Tibor), and there's a guy standing there looking kind of bewildered like he never actually beleived that the flashing lights and the sirens and the warning bells and the tannoy screaming "evacuate evacutate evacuate" meant anything. Like he kind of somehow still thought in the back of his mind that this was some kind of a drill and that it didn't really matter if he switched off those rods or opened the escape valve or whatever it is that people who work at nuclear power plants actually do...

That's your dad.

That's your dad, who was standing there at 4am, looking at you in a sort of dazed bewilderment. Who would have thought that someone that small could scream that loud and that long?

Sure, your dad kept you awake through your morning nap, but hey, we had to get to the airport. And, well, yeah, he kind of missed your early afternoon nap too, but you know, Grammy and Grandad lost their luggage so we had to go buy them some undies to get through the next 24 hours until the nice man came with ther bags. Ok so then maybe you sacked in the car for ten minutes, but then we skipped your late afternoon nap because we were chatting and jawing and laughing and let's have another glass of this delightful Yarra Valley sparkling...

Then we got you home.

And it all went horribly wrong.

You're not particularly well at the moment, punkin, you've got a bit of a lingering cold, which is not so much of a hassle when you're sitting up or standing, I mean, you're not the one who wipes your nose anyway, so who cares, right? But when you're lying down in bed, it starts to get to your throat and you cough and cough and cough.

Until I had a wee bairn of my very own, I think that to me the phrase cough til you puke was something of an esoteric one. I knew that it was possible, but I'd never seen it done. Certainly I'd never seen it done with such grace, class and style.

So there we were, at 4am. You'd already been screaming for a solid 2 hours, and I had to go to work in the morning. Your mother, who loves you more than you would think would fit into a human being, got out of her warm comfy bed, snuggled onto the gigantic armchair in your bedroom (purchased precisely for this reason), wrapped you and her into the couchblanket and held you.

You slept soundly from 5 til 7, and it was the worst night we've had since you were born.

The next day you were a perfect, beautiful, wonderous angel child again, delighting one and all with your cheeky toothy grin.

And you love your new guitar.

Love you.

February 08, 2006

A contender for what?

Naturally, being a parent comes at many costs. One of these is losing any semblance of feeling that one has control over one's surroundings or one's schedule.

Also, fairly early in the proceedings, you figure out that you don't have any control over your child.

It was, then, therefore no real surprise to me to arrive home and find your mother in tears on the couch, holding a not screaming, but bruised baby.

Apparently, while in the bath, you launched yourself towards towards a rogue rubberduck on the outer reaches of the water and slightly misjudged your jump.

What we're saying here is that, at 1120am tomorrow morning, you're going to be greeting your grandmother with a halfway decent black eye that looks like we've been undertaking a systematic program of enrolling you in underground baby boxing competitions.

We haven't, I promise.

The chief point to make here, given the proclivity for overreaction amongst your relatives overseas and on our fair shores (not to mention the ones currently in transit between the two), is that you're fine. As with your previous adventure into self-injury, you were playing and laughing while both of your parents were still very much in a traumatised state.

We should also make abundantly clear here that it is not only your mother who has issues in the arena of baby wrangling. It was your father, punkin, not two days ago, who went left when you went right and succeeded in banging your head into the doorframe on his way into your bedroom.

It was also your father who, a scant few hours ago, found himself clinging to your left foot like a drowning man clutching a straw while you investigated the possibilities of bungee jumping from your parents' bed.

And babies in the bath? Slippery little buggers.

I've said it before, I'll say it again. You should have come standard with a handle.

Love you.

G minus 16 hours

Grammy is on her way, punkling (and yes, uncle steve, this is the correct aircraft)

Your mum and I are laying back and having martinis (this is a total lie, we're frantically tidying the house so that my mum doesn't think that we're complete utter and total slobs).

Also, despite the fact that I'm actually on holiday, gigantic worldwide information technology companies don't make strategic go/no go decisions around when I'm going to be free, I actually have a fair bit of work to do. Better to do a few hours of work to do from the comfort of the couch, though, than to actually put on respectable clothing and head into the office.

So Grammy's in flight (looking at the timing, I'd say she's probably as we speak thinking seriously about ordering a third glass of champagne) and we'll see her tomorrow morning, emerging from the magical grandmother doors at the airport.

Love you.

February 06, 2006

Kneehigh to a Grasshopper

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Your grammy's getting here in three days, punkin, and I can't get over how much you've changed in the short months since she's been gone.

Last time she was here, you were a bundle of joy and happiness, but you weren't yet in a state to interact with people properly. Now you laugh, you giggle, you grin and guffaw. You stand up, you crawl around, you read books and open things that are shut. You know that things are there when I hide them for you, and you know how to do so many things.

I think what's occuring to me most at the moment is, using this measure of time gone, these months that your Grammy's been away, and how much you've changed, I'm struck primarily by knowing that you will continue to do so. That this tiny chunk of time represents only the smallest fraction of the joy I will gain from watching you grow.

I feel so incredibly lucky.

I don't think I realised, when we started talking about having kids, that the real repayment for the hard work, the sleepless nights and the poopy nappies would come so simply. I didn't know that my greatest joy in life would become time spent with you. The swell of pride I got tonight when you opened the letterbox on your playhouse to find the fireman I put there for you wasn't something that I had any conception (punintendedohyes) of before you were born. I'm sure you won't know so I'll tell you, but I know you won't beleive me for at least the next 30 years.

All you have to do to make me proud is smile.

And my heart breaks.

Love you.

G minus 60 hours

February 04, 2006

They call it stormy Monday

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It should be stated first and foremost, punkling, that this photograph represents a mood, rather than an actual atmospheric event. Well that's not entirely true either. This IS an actual photograph, that (from memory) your wonderful and talented mother took while we were down in Apollo Bay late last year.

You've been a little bit sick this week, not sick enough that we're actually worried about you, but sick enough that you're uncomfortable, with a nagging dry cough that wakes you up at night and brings me shuffling into your room like a vacant-eyed zombie to pick you up and try to console you. You pound your tiny fists into my back and wail - expecting that as your omniscient father I should be able to make it all go away, to fix this sore throat you have and make it so you can sleep, but I can't, punkling, I can't.

Beleive me, pumpkin, if there was a way that I could make it easier for you to sleep, I would do it. The state into which your mother and I have descended, reminiscent of those first few months when you arrived, brought us to the crashing realisation of precisely how well rested we WERE before this unfortunate incident. We had been under the impression that we weren't getting much sleep, while you were going to bed at 730 and sleeping right through until 630 in the morning. More Fool Us.

You're fine during the day, well enough to go to daycare, well enough to come to the market and play with your toys and laugh and giggle and eat peaches and raisin toast, but as soon as we lie you down you start to hack and cough and cry. But my brain feels full of charcoal cotton wool, I can't think straight or make accurate decisions. We went to the market this morning, came home with four bags of groceries and no bread whatsoever.

And my shoulders drop and I sigh, because I haven't had the stone-cold joy of consecutive hours of sleep in days and I wish that I could help you be at peace and sleep but I can't and when you wake up you're fine and the house echoes to the joyful peal of your laughter and I love you so much I want to squeeze you like a toothpaste tube, but I need to SLEEP god i want to sleep please let me sleep.

It's all shades of grey for me - it's a stormy day despite the bright sunshine streaming through the curtains.

Love you.