Archive for the ‘Family & Parenting’ Category

Why I got plenty of sleep during Elina’s labour

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017 | Family & Parenting

Sleeping might seem like the last thing you should be doing when your wife has gone into labour. But there is a good reason to get some rest.

She has gone into labour, while you are snoring your head off in the bed next to her. Something wrong? You might think you should be awake to support her, but there is a good reason for you to be asleep.

Millions of years of evolution have made mammals pretty good at giving birth. Like breathing, most of it happens automatically. Hormones pulse around your body, directing your emotions and subtlety controlling your behaviour.

One of the hardest things about labour is not the pain itself, it is the sheer exhaustion of the whole thing. You can be in labour for days, with little or no sleep, and yet somehow women find the strength to go on. They do so because their body makes sure they do, injecting careful amounts of oxytocin and adrenaline at the required times.

Birth partners do not have the benefit of this of course. Things have changed a lot in the past 50 years. We are no longer in the waiting room with a cigar; now we are at our partner’s side helping her through the birth. Mother Nature has not cottoned on to this, though, and leaves us with a few vicarious hormones at best.

So, after 72 hours of sleep deprivation, exactly how helpful are you going to be as a birth partner? This is an important question because when your partner reaches transition, she is going to rely on your support to get through it. If you are barely functioning because you have had no sleep, you are not going to be in a great shape to do that.

Sleeping through half of the labour might seem a selfish thing to do. In reality, though, a somewhat rested birth partner is going be to able to offer far more support than one who is utterly exhausted.

How to support your wife when she wants an active birth

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017 | Family & Parenting

Waiting for the labour pains with a well-timed “I told you so” might seem like a good idea, but turns out not to be if you like your balls attached to your body.

The active birth movement has now been going for 50 years and is almost certainly here to stay. That makes sense. Research suggests that active birth reduces the number of complications and interventions, and allows the mother to recover quicker.

As with everything in pregnancy, though, there are benefits and there are also drawbacks.

First, labour can be really painful. It varies from person to person and from birth to birth, but often the amount of pain management required is going to be dictated by the situation.

Second, not everything goes to plan. So you may be planning to have an active birth but the situation could change quickly if there are any issues with labour. Therefore it is important to go in with a mindset of being ready to adapt to the changes required.

How should you handle it? The most important step is to be supportive. Active birth offers a lot more chance for the father to be involved, supporting your partner through the process and helping with non-drug based pain relief (such as massage, and helping her in and out of the bath).

It is also important to be supportive if things to not go to plan. If she decides she does need pain relief after all, remember to reassure her that almost everyone does, and there is no “failure” in resorting to it.

Overall, active birth is a great decision, especially for dads. The advantage is the reduced chance of intervention, and the disadvantages of additional pain are only felt by the father vicariously.

This is what Valentine’s Day looks like when you have a baby

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017 | Family & Parenting

Some people’s day will start with breakfast in bed. In the Worfolk household, this is true also. Venla will be having her breakfast in bed. Our bed, not her own.

As a special Valentine’s Day treat, we may both shower.

Upon returning home, gifts will be exchanged. One gift. Elina will hand me a baby and go for a nap.

Finally, at the end of the day, we will collapse into bed exhausted. But not embracing, because that would wake up the baby.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Never work with children or animals

Monday, February 13th, 2017 | Family & Parenting, Photos

Do you know how many photos you have to take before you can get one of a smiling baby? The answer is a lot.

Trading down

Sunday, February 12th, 2017 | Family & Parenting, Music

One of the remarkable abilities of babies is to force you to throw everything that you have ever loved. This happened several times before Venla was once, again after she was born, and now more time. With each iteration, you think there is nothing more you could possibly do without. But there is. You have to keep getting rid of more and more stuff.

In general, I think this is therapeutic. However, it is not like we now have less stuff. It just means we have different stuff.

One of the latest victims is my guitar amplifier. I had a beautiful Vox AC15VR with a value pre-amp. Unfortunately, it had nowhere to live.

I have had to sell it and replace it with a small Orange Crush 20. It does look cool, but it does not sound as good. It does, however, fit in my apartment.

The moral of the story? Buy an amp large enough that it itself can become a piece of furniture you can store things on.

Sleepy baby

Friday, January 6th, 2017 | Family & Parenting, Photos

In what possible way could this ever be a comfortable position to sleep?

The restaurant queen

Thursday, January 5th, 2017 | Family & Parenting

When my daughter arrived, I assumed that my days of eating in restaurants were over. Everyone told me it was just too difficult. We would not be living the high-life anymore. It turns out that such predicts were massively incorrect, at least initially.

In her first five weeks, Venla ate in nine different restaurants. Different restaurants. This does not even include the ones we visited multiple times.

  • Byron
  • Miller & Carter
  • McDonald’s
  • All Bar One
  • Ricci’s Tapas
  • Bossa
  • Weatherspoon’s
  • Turtle Bay
  • The Pour House

That equates to a new restaurant for every four days she had been alive.

Things have slowed down a little now, as we are getting back on top of our budgets and meal schedules. However, one thing is certainly clear: rumours of the demise of our restaurant dates have been greatly exaggerated.

Venla’s first Christmas

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017 | Family & Parenting

Well, we have survived Venla’s first Christmas. Here is a guide on how to do it. First, buy a gammon joint as big as your baby…

6kg. It took us until New Year’s Day morning to finish it off. Second, build a gingerbread house…

You cannot have a proper Christmas without a gingerbread house. Step three, start the day off right…

And by “right”, I mean have a bacon sandwich for breakfast, where you use gammon for bread. Completing the Parkrun is optional. Step four, pretend your baby has any kind of knowledge of what is going on…

Finally, step five, try and find somewhere to put the mountain of gifts your baby has received.

Funerals

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017 | Family & Parenting, Life, Thoughts

I have been meaning to write about funerals for a while. Looking back, I think there has been quite a lot of emotional resistance, so I will probably keep this post brief.

I was only six when both my grandfathers passed away, and not much older when my uncle died. Therefore, when my grandma passed away in August, it was the first funeral I had been to as an adult and the first one where I really knew what was going on.

In a way, I was actually curious to see how I would cope with the whole affair. For years I had known that eventually, someone would die, and had no idea how it would affect me. It turns out that I coped just fine. There was no emotional breakdown, nor much in the way of tears. Nor was it a surprise, though: when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I knew we were on the clock.

Mostly, I felt bitter at the world for my own selfish reasons. Venla, who arrived two months later, would have been her first great-grandchild. I felt I had failed her in some way.

It has been a while since I have been truly nervous before giving a speech. Even my wedding was fine. But delivering the eulogy was a tough one. I always joked at my public speaking club “humour improves any speech: but I have not had a chance to try it out in a eulogy yet”. Well, now I have had that chance, and I can confirm it is a good idea. If anything, humour is even more important at occasions that are bound to include an element of sadness.

The truth is, I already had a few ideas for what I was going to say, should I be called upon to give a eulogy. Because that is what happens when you have an anxious mind that never switches off: you think about all the horrible things that could happen to everyone you love, and what you would do if it happened.

That all sounds very gloomy, and that is not the message I want to convey. Actually, funerals are fun. They are enjoyable, in a macabre way. Not because it is a celebration of life, which it is, but because it is a time when an entirely family comes together.

Over the past year, I have witnessed match and dispatch of the hatch-match-dispatch triangle. These events are important. They bring families together, using social rules and customs that other events have not been able to achieve. You get to see people you do not normally see, and bond over an emotional event, forming stronger ties between those that remain.

Funerals are always going to be bittersweet by nature. But they provide more than closure. More than a celebration of someone’s life. They are part of the social glue that help hold families together.

A birthday shout-out

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016 | Family & Parenting

I would like to take this opportunity to wish my mum a very happy birthday. She is 60 today.

We currently have four generations of Worfolk women on the go, running from Venla at 3 months old, to my gran, who turns 90 next year. We have it lined up quite well: I turned 30 earlier this year and, assuming I survive that long, will be turning 60 just after Venla turns 30.