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The Cat’s in The Cradle

No, not really. Although it was one of the things we were worried about when we found out that we were expecting. You never really know how animals will behave around children, especially newborns.

We rescued a kitten a year ago and to us he’s great craic, albeit a bit feisty at times. But yeah, he’s an animal at the end of the day, so we absolutely had to remember that. He’s our little Shadow. He’ll purr and rub, but you don’t really know what he’s thinking. It’s all fine and well us batting him off, but a baby can’t really do that.

So we were a little worried. If it came down to it and Shadow reacted badly towards the baby then unfortunately he’d be finding a new home. Yes, we love him, but we have to make the right choice for our little one.

So the big day came and it was time to bring home the baby. Which would also be the first day my new wife would be coming home, but that’s a whole different story. We were nervous and unsure of what would happen. We brought little Anna-Marie in, gave Shadow a treat and let him relax. Shadow reacts badly to noise by the way. Yeah, newborns, they make noise I hear (literally). She shrieked and he just looked at her and went back into his nap. So far so good.

Apparently cats can enter a loving and protective mode with kids. We were about to see that. We did everything slowly and didn’t force her on him. We were upstairs feeding her and he came up, looked at her, sniffed her and then turned his back and watched the door for us, remaining alert. He continues to do this now, he’ll sniff, have a look and then stay nearby. When she cries he comes and has a look, sees that we are there and then he’ll just standby. Brilliant, we get to keep our first kitten with our first child.

Things are working out great with him and I’m genuinely delighted. However, that doesn’t mean I’ll make him head babysitter. He’ll never be left alone with her and she’ll have to learn his limits too, when she’s old enough of course. As long as we don’t forget that he’s an animal and that animals have animal instincts then I think we’ll be fine.

Overall, animals and babies, yeah, it can work out fine. Just keep an eye on them.

An Eventful 2 Days

As some of you may or may not know I was due to marry my Love, Michelle, on Monday. If you know that then you will also be aware that she was 8 months pregnant at the time. Yes, it was risky to have a wedding that close, but feck it, we figured it would be ok.

So, the ceremony was short, sweet and lacking in babies (with the exception of my 3 year old nephew, but he is surely not a baby anymore). Everything was as it was supposed to be. We got married, signed the bits, took the photos and then headed for dinner in a classic Bentley! Beautiful! The day was going so well and we were delighted.

We made it to the venue, had the dinner, had the speeches, mingled and then Michelle headed up for a rest. This was at half 6 in the evening and we were enjoying our special day. Michelle had her usual aches and pains, or so we assumed. I got her wedding dress off so that she wouldn’t crease it while lying down and within 5 minutes her waters broke and her contractions started. 2 minutes apart and lasting 30 seconds each. Yeah, it was baby time. Turns out that the day was so good that our little bundle didn’t want to miss it, despite the fact there was still 4 weeks until her estimated check out time. Eager beaver indeed.

So, we got some clothes on the Mammy to be and headed for the car. I just had time to pay the DJ and apologise to him for having to leave abruptly on account of the waters breaking. He was shocked, I was shocked, Michelle was shocked, the baby was still cracking on.

Just to clarify, I had a couple of drinks (2) for dinner and did not want to risk driving. Michelle, with her 30 second contractions took the wheel. From Kippure estate in the Wicklow mountains to Dublin. She was a hero, this is why I married her.

Our birth plan went out the windows. The bags we prepared stayed at home. I made the call, straight to hospital. We arrived and a short 11 hours later little Anna-Marie Olivia Higgins came into the world with the sunrise. In a space of 18 hours we were catapulted from single people expecting a baby to a married couple with the most beautiful little girl in the world.

I fell in love with Michelle quite quickly. I fell in love with our little girl immediately!

One things for sure, it makes one hell of a story! One hell of a true story!

Top 5 most annoying Facebook Characters

We can all think of someone when it comes down to annoying Facebook Characters. Hell, I can hardly say I’m innocent of not being annoying on social media every now and then! #Obvious

What I’m gonna do here is have a look at the Top 5 most annoying Facebook Characters. Starting with Number 5:

Number 5: The Health Status Updater. Yep, got it, you’ve got diarrhea and a runny nose. Don’t care. Get some 7UP, stick it in the microwave and away ya go. If you’re that sick then surely you don’t have time to be updating Facebook? Oh wait, you even have time to upload a picture. Best to stay off the internet. Forever. Please.

Number 4: The Character Assassin. Ya know this one. The one who complains about that certain someone who they thought they could trust but really couldn’t so now they must tell the world, but not reveal that certain someone. But don’t worry, apparently karma is a bitch. This is normally followed by a stream of comments consisting of; “You ok hun? Xoxo”, “Who is it hun? X”, “Pm sent x”. This is passive aggression in it’s silliest form. The really funny thing is that the person about whom you are talking knows you probably mean them and will comment on or like your status. It’s a vicious circle really.

Number 3: The couple. OK, so this one is one of the most annoying. Ya get a couple and they live on Facebook. They tell the world everything about their relationship and how fantastic it is. You just know that this couple are probably too busy showing the world how much they love each other and not enough time actually showing it to each other. After all, if they were that enamored with each other would they have enough time to spread the word about it? Besides, half the time these couples end up going from; “In a relationship” –> “It’s complicated” –> “Single” followed by “You ok hun? Xoxo”, “Who is it hun? X”, “Pm sent x”.

Number 2: The armchair revolutionary. Overthrow the government you say? Start a revolution? Change the norm? Take back the power? Off ya go so, lead the way. Oh, after the next cup of tea? Back into your chair you go. I know we Irish know how to complain and do we ever complain, and then not do anything. Here’s a hint, if you see a foolproof way to fight the power by updating a very long status update, look up the legality of it. Chances are if you’ve seen it on Facebook it’s probably a lie.

Number 1: The Game Invite Person. Nope, I don’t want to play your Facebook game with you. Please stop inviting me. Oh look, another game. Nope, don’t wanna play that one either. I think we can all agree that this is one of the most annoying trends on Facebook. Ya wait all day for a notification and then BOOM, ya get one, it’s an invite. Nope, block. I’m only on Facebook to stalk people, complain and put up pictures of my cat, like normal people, jeez.

Now, there’s my top 5 most annoying characters on Facebook. What are yours?

 

More than just lifting

So it looks like I’ll be doing more than just lifting now. Well, obviously, I’ll still carry the bags. Thankfully I’ll be getting some professional guidance from Michelle’s physio/pilates/former midwife instructor extraordinaire lady in Celbridge Pilates.

Yesterday I attended a relaxation class which Adeline puts on for her pregnant clients. If you’re wondering, yes, I fell asleep and yes I snored a little (much to Michelle’s chagrin). It was nice to properly relax.

So I eventually woke up and Adeline switched off the recording. Michelle had floated the idea that I would be interested in attending her class to see how I could help and try and further understand the upcoming task. Adeline has decided to bring the Dad’s into the loop, starting in October, for Q&A and probably hints and tips. Apparently other Dad’s are interested too!

I think this will make the whole thing less scary and more manageable. I get the idea that sometimes things are out of my control. It will be good to know the difference between helping and hindering.

The Parents

I recently imparted the smallest bit of wisdom on a friend of mine, something I shouldn’t have really known, but something I learned from someone else. It felt good and got me thinking, again, because I think a lot. That’s what I’ll be (hopefully) doing for my child, giving them little bits and pieces along the way.

Then I started thinking again. I just presumed that both of my parents just knew things. They were patents after all, they should know everything! What I’m starting to understand is that they were telling me the little bits and pieces they had learned along the way. I never really gave them credit for just being people.

So now I really feel for my Mam for the pressure she must have been under and I really miss my Auld lad for not being able to share this moment of clarity with him. I’m sure he would have just laughed and patted me on the back.

So hopefully I can let my child know that I am just a person and that I do make mistakes. They’ll understand right? Nah, not at all!

You carry the Baby and I’ll carry the bags

Myself and herself went to the Pregnancy and Baby Fair in the RDS recently to see if we could scope out some good deals for our upcoming Sir/Madam. I found myself looking around and I uttered to the ever patient lady at my side “You carry the Baby and I’ll carry the bags”! Yes, it’s fine in the grand context of the whole thing, after-all pregnant ladies shouldn’t really be engaging in manual labour.

However, it made me stop and think about things. OK, so the Mammy will be carrying the Baby, feeding the baby and overall (on average) spending more time with the baby, so everything around us at the moment is geared towards the welfare and education of the mother. But I started to think that I wanted to be more involved in the whole thing so I could get a handle on what my wife-to-be is going through and what she is likely to go through, ya know, try and put myself in her shoes a little bit. That may help me to lower the amount of times I ask; “Are you OK?”, “What can I do to help?”, “How do I fix this?” and that old panicky one “Should we go to the hospital? I think so, I’ll get the car ready”. By the way, the answer to these questions has started to become “Shut-up, I’m fine!”. So, I’m thinking that my knowing more will help lower both of our stress levels.

In the old days it was apparently fine to just stay in the background, do the heavy lifting, build stuff and change nappies when the Mammy took a nap for a little while. I’m very conscious of the fact that the task of being a Mother is not an easy one and how it may weigh heavily on both the physical and mental well being of a person (I now appreciate my Mother even more for raising 3 boys, each bigger and bolder than the last). Honestly, everything is aimed towards the Mother. When we go Baby shopping all the questions are directed to the fairer sex. I often get the feeling that I’m only along for the ride, so I have to be quiet and sit back. Of course my partner knows my thoughts on this so won’t place me on the back burner like so many sales assistants and reps have. We make decisions, not me, not her, we.

I intend on being very active in my child’s life and on sharing the weight of parenthood. However, I feel that we Irish men are very Ill equipped to do the task and to a certain degree we have been fine with our secondary care giving role. It’s not easy to try and get more involved sometimes though. It would appear that there is a lot of support available for the Mammies, all sorts of classes and groups. But for the Daddies, we’re kind of in the dark on the whole affair. Yes, I know, I can read the books, and I have. But not every pregnancy is the same and not every Mammy to be is the same, so basically there is no universally correct method to follow. What I want to know is how do I help? What can I do to help with the back pain, the cramps, the tiredness, the funny little muscle pains. A q&a session for the Daddies which runs alongside the Mammies classes would be greatly appreciated.

What would I like to see? More Father friendly support groups, more interaction and more inclusion. Lady M attends a Pilates class in Celbridge which helps with preparing her for the physical side of childbirth, but also has a section supporting the mental toll it will take. She has nothing but high praise for the Physio led classes. In addition to that she likes the comfort of being around other pregnant women, all heading towards the same goal.

I’m also very aware of the fact that I’m not the one who’ll have to give birth. So yeah, a lot of the support is designed around getting the upcoming Mother through that stage. OK, fair enough, but afterwards we’re both going to have to raise a real life human being and that will dramatically change our lives. When that day comes I want to be able to hit the ground running, not like I’m fumbling through a thick forest of gorse. Do I feel ready? Hell no! A new Mother should not have to be teaching both a child and father how to act, jaysus, they have enough to do.

That got me thinking. If I were to be bluntly honest I have a range of emotions going through my head. I’m nervous, anxious, worried, scared, excited, panicky (see above), scared some more and happy. Most importantly, above all else, I am happy and that at least gets me off in the right direction. What’s the issue then? The issue is that I have not talked to any other soon to be fathers about what they’re going through. It’s nerve-racking. It’s lonely. It’s frightening.

So what would help? Talking.

We still don’t like to do that here, we still see it as a sign of weakness. It’s not. It takes strength to talk. Talking can be very exhausting, relieving and difficult. I recall once running a 10km and going for a pint. Apart from a sore ankle I was mostly fine. I recall once talking, then crying and then feeling like I had just fought ten rounds, it was utterly exhausting. So that’s the issue, we don’t talk, we’re strong and silent, and that’s that. We also have one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Strong and silent; that’s not a trait I want my child to copy from me.

So what do I really want? I want to know I’m not alone, I want to know that other first time fathers are feeling the same way, I want to know that I can contribute equally and that I am a part of the whole thing. Above all I want my child to know I wasn’t afraid to look for help and advice. I want to be more than just the carrier of the heavy things, the builder of the impossible Ikea wardrobe and the slayer of all things creepy and crawly. I want to know how to actually help, what to (sorta) expect and I want my child to take that on board.

Why I’ll Never put a picture of my kid on Social Media

So I’m going to be a new father, and yes, that’s very exciting. This is news which has made me excited, nervous, happy and afraid. A whole mix of emotions and sometimes all at once. I’m very much into taking photos and I believe my child will be one of the most photographed children ever and that I will take photos of all their little and big moments. He/she nearly rolls over? Yep, gonna be all over that! He/she does their first wheelie on a bike? Yeah, I’ll be there! I’ll pretend to be somewhat annoyed, but I know I’ll be proud of them! However, I will not be sharing any of my photos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine or any other social network you may think of or that crops up in the mean time. I know, seems a bit paranoid. Have a look at these for a moment:

Yeah, they’re funny. But think about the fact that most of those photos probably had their origin in their parents just taking a cute, innocent and perfectly timed photo of their beloved bundle of joy. The resulting photo was probably shared online and was then copied by someone who decided to add a humorous twist to it. It’s not so funny when it becomes a little more real. None of the kids in the photos decided to become a symbol for a cheap and lazy joke, but there they are, up there for all the world to laugh at.

The internet is a funny auld thing. It’s a great place to learn, grow your horizons and connect with people. It’s also pretty scary. Once you put something up there, it’s never coming down. That’s a fact! Yeah, you can delete it from your own account, but the image you uploaded stays uploaded and that’s that. So, you’re in effect releasing your child’s image for all to see. No matter how safe you think your account may be, it’s not. It never will be. You’re also forfeiting the ownership around your photo. I upload a lot of photos, but that’s OK, I’m not making money from them at the moment. But do you honestly think that any of the parents of the kids in the photos above chose for their child to become the poster kid for a crappy joke? No, probably not. Do you think that child will appreciate the photo in years to come? No, I would imagine not. Do you think it will be easy to have it deleted from the internet? No, it doesn’t really work that way.

When my kid grows up and becomes an adult they can do what they like, whether I like it or not, but I will not be ruining their image before they’ve had a chance to do it themselves! They make a mistake and someone snaps a photo of it? Yeah, it happens, and they’ll learn from it. They could definitely do without me exposing them to that world before they have a chance to defend themselves!

There’s another far scarier reason I won’t be putting pictures of my kid online. If you were in a playground with your child and a dubious character comes up to you and asks if they can use your child to help trick a group into thinking they have kids so they’ll trust them and let them in, would you? No, not a bloody chance! When something goes online it’s there for everyone who can access the internet to see and keep. Trust me, your privacy settings on anything are not as secure as you think. You put it online, you’re giving it to the world and there are a lot of sick people in the world. It’s creepy, yes that’s a given, but you will never know when your child’s image is being used without your knowledge and you will never know for what purpose.

Yes, I may be being too paranoid, but there are a lot of freaks online and offline. I will do my best to protect my child in the real world, but you are very limited in protecting anything online.

So yeah, I’ll be paranoid, I’ll be weird, I’ll be obsessive about it, but I’ll protect my child.