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Created 27/6/2008. Last modified 27/6/2008.

There's Klingons on the starboard bow

It's life Jim, but not as we know it. Ok, I figured there was no need to start off yet another entry with "sorry, I've been busy." I figure readers will have guessed that. And you know what. It's life. Not as we knew it, but we're getting used to it.

Mark will be 8 weeks old this weekend. Within that time, Mum (Bobbe) and Dad (Grandaddles) have gone home. Bec's parents (Nana Joan and Zayda Keith) have come and gone. It was great having them here, great that they got to spend time getting to know their grandson, great that they were able to help with chores, and fantastic that they got to change nappies!

So far there has only been one nappy that has made me want to throw up. The rest I have taken calmly and in my stride. Mark is generally sleeping quite well - I think I have lost more sleep thinking about work at 3AM than I have because of him crying. It is kinda funny watching the 4AM Mark makes a noise, Bec picks him up in her sleep, Mark feeds half-asleep, Bec puts him back and they both go back to sleep properly routine.

I'm not going to go through all the developmental milestones he has achieved yet, mostly because it isn't a competition and I don't want the parents reading this whose children weren't able to burp the alphabet at 4 weeks old to feel bad.

To Rebecca's relief, he has broadened out his musical tastes somewhat. While he still likes heavy metal best, and I'll know that both he and Bec have had a bad day if I come home to Pantera's 5 minutes alone, he seems to like a few different styles (and seems to dislike a few styles too, particularly jazz). And he likes being danced around the room. But then, he seems fascinated by the downstairs wallpaper. I'm not convinced that babies are renowned for their aestethic taste. So saying, he didn't choose it. He just stares at it.

We have found lots of games he likes playing. He likes playing "follow the fingers" and being bounced up and down by someone on the Swiss ball. In fact, it has not been an uncommon evening where I have come home, switched on the computer, bounced up and down on the ball while holding Mark in one arm and working with the other. In fact, it has not been an uncommon evening where I haven't avoided using double negatives.

We had our first run of illness as a cold worked its way through the household. Didn't stop Mark feeding though. In fact, nothing seems to stop Mark feeding - he's definitely his Daddy's boy. While doing some experiments while I had the cold, I was torn: having sneezed into a tissue, part of me said, "I wonder what its extensional rheology", while part of me answered, "That's disgusting. That'snot appropriate."

These entries take far longer than they did a few months ago. Mostly because I keep stopping to turn and look at my beautiful little boy sleeping peacefully while Henry Rollins screams out "Rage" on the stereo. Or picking up to play with him as he stirs. Or dancing him around while Bec sets up for a feed.

Last weekend, Mark went to his first birthday party as we went to Anja and Simon's place to celebrate Anja's birthday. As usual, Mark was the centre of attention. It was a good afternoon / evening, and I'm fairly sure Bec enjoyed the chance to spend some time in the company of adults-who-are-not-new-mothers, even if she does seem to be making good use of having a social network of mothers.

And, of course, life goes on. Besides work, I have still mostly kept up my other activities when I can. Welsh class has broken for the summer, but not before we could take Mark in for his first class! He speaks Welsh as well as he speaks English.

Footy has started again. Swansea has quite a few exciting new players, and I am really looking forward to some of these players donning the Welsh Dragon later in the year. My creaking, aging body keeps trying to tell me that I'm not 22 anymore, but that only seems to mean I limp through the week before running out again on the weekend. It's good to be back.

But yeah, life is different. Things take more planning. We can't just move off at the spur of the moment. We do need to stay with him. Thing is, you read the books, and these are made out to be negatives, but I don't see them as such. It is just the way things are. I guess it is what happens when you have a new member of the family. Life is good.

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Created 19/5/2008. Last modified 19/5/2008.

What's verse, its the end of paternity leave

Week one of Mark's life
was covered in prose,
The second shall be
in verse, I suppose

Well, on the surface,
'twas just like week one:
Nappies and crying
and feeding with Mum

He fed and he pooed;
He fed and he grew.
Now he is nearly
At size number two.

Seems more alert now,
awake and aware
Strengthening muscles
and thickening hair

Not everything starts
from birth like you think
'ven seeing him do
a proper quick blink

Following objects
When he's moved around
A quick little jump
At sudden loud sounds

Learn to make new sounds
A gurgle, a coo
Crawl up Daddy's chest
New textures of poo

But not all his firsts
Are things that he did
'Twere also some things
happen to the kid

First trip to the shops
more walks out the door
First visit from friends
You know there'll be more.

A library trip
to get your first card
Mum filled out the form
That wasn't so hard!

In English and Welsh
Was registered birth
His form that will last
His time on the Earth

He still sleeps so well;
is easy to settle
Whenever his Dad
puts on some metal

The end of my leave
draws ever nearer
Next week his Mum'll
soothe with Pantera

Regardless of that
he's still my cute boy
Daddy's adoreable
Pride and his joy

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Created 12/5/2008. Last modified 12/5/2008.

Mark - the first week

While I don't plan for this site to become purely a doting dad writing about his new son, I hope you will indulge me a little longer. I do accept, however, that that is probably more interesting to most readers than the twice a month "sorry, I've been flat out" posts that I was writing earlier in the year.

I'm not sure where the first week has gone. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it has been exceeded my expectations anyway. I think I was expecting a few months of blob-like milk-into-poo crying machine. He mostly cries when he is hungry, and we get a fair bit of warning as he starts rooting around (once again, witness proud Dad!) Certainly there is the feeding and the nappies. For obvious reasons, I'm not brilliantly well qualified to comment on the feeding, playing little more than a waiter-to-his-mother role. And as far as the nappies go, well, while no one actually likes changing nappies (anyone who does is, ummm, welcome to come and visit) it isn't as bad as I'd imagined, although he doesn't seem to like it when I change him. We've found that he does like looking in a mirror (He must get it from his Mum) This is particularly useful when he is being changed - he thinks he should cry, but doing so changes the reflection, which interests him, so he forgets to cry and looks at the mirror instead.

He isn't particularly blob-like, either. While it will be a while before he is able to hang out the washing, or even crawl, he has a lot more mobility than we expected. He has been remarkably good at moving his arms and legs, and is able to help me put his arms in his singlets/baby-grows (or hinder, depending on mood). He is also getting better head control - he can lift his head and turn it without it dropping back down with a thud on my chest. He also has a decent kick and punch to him when he is being carried in a baby carrier. I have a little bit more sympathy for his mother now!

Besides the standard eat-sleep-nappy-play arrangement, we have managed to go for a couple of walks. We were relieved that he falls asleep easily in the pram for when Rebecca gets sick of my singing. We even made it to the farmers market, and he was very good almost until the end, when, not unreasonably, he was hungry. He was still very good then, he just only has one audible means of communication.

We have still got Mum and Dad here, and it has been a big help with the little chores like cooking, doing the washing etc., altough I'm glad they are staying elsewhere (nearby but elsewhere), so that we don't need to worry about disturbing their sleep (their room would have been the one Bec uses to change the middle of the night post-feed nappies and we use to change the upstairs nappies)

None of this, of course, means that there aren't times when it is hard work. The night-time feedings and changings are hard work for Rebecca. Hearing about it is hard work for me. Having to suddenly think about things (e.g. "I'll watch him and soothe him, you go and have your breakfast before he wakes up and wants a feed." Or "You go shower, clean your teeth etc. I'll watch him."). But it is a small price to pay.

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Created 7/5/2008. Last modified 7/5/2008.

Mark - part 2

One thing I forgot to mention in the last post describing the labour and birth. In the lead up, we had been discussing songs for Mark to be born to. I suggested a range of songs, such as Up There Cazaly. One I suggested was Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire for during crowning. When Bec got to that stage, she snarled at me, "Guess what song I've got in my head." Being somewhat preoccupied with everything that was going on, particularly frequent trips to our well laid-out birth room (the midwife kept asking, "Have you got..." "yes, it's in the birth room."), I couldn't guess, but she later told me it was Johnny Cash singing, "and it burns burns burns, the ring of fire.

Anyway, from where I left off, I had my new son on my chest, the birth had happened, the second midwife went off to her next call and Bec was being looked after by the first. Mark started rooting around near my nipple for a feed. It wouldn't have done him much good if he had latched on, so I passed him back to Bec. He got so excited by his mother's nipples and by having his first feed that he forgot to breathe. The midwife took him, blew in his face and he restarted. There haven't been any problems since. I got both Bec and the midwife a cup of tea each and some biscuits all round (except Mark). He started crying, so I took him back onto my chest and sang him soothing songs. The first song I sang to him was Hypocrisy's Roswell 47. I have since found out that I can soothe my son by singing Heavy Metal songs to him (by the way, as a warning, future posts will be affected by the fact that the writer is a besotted father)

As a precaution because of the first breathing incident (and because we would have had to go into the hospital the next day for tests anyway), we went into the hospital. We got a room of our own and I sat singing to Mark (he seems to particularly like Non-Intentional Lifeform - so much so that Bec has taken to singing NIL songs even though she doesn't like them!) while Bec got some sleep. We were eventually seen by the paediatrician at 1AM, after which Bec and I fell asleep. It has been a long time since we shared a single bed! At some point in the night we changed Mark and he threw up all the liquid in his lungs and a fair bit of colostrum. We got all the tests done by about lunch time the next day and since all was normal we went back home. Mum and Dad were here and Mum had done a lot of the cleaning and stuff from the previous day.

The last two days have really just flown by. The books all tell you about all the problems, like what to do when he cries, when he won't feed etc. So far we have been exceptionally lucky. He happily takes to the breast like he has been doing it all his life. He sleeps well. While he isn't particularly fond of being changed, he is usually soothed quite quickly just by me singing to him. The thing the books never seem to tell you is all the good things. How fascinating your baby is just sleeping or stretching or yawning or doing any one of a number of things that just don't mean anything to anyone else but make your heart melt, and you could do for hours. Having this little person sleeping cuddled up on my chest in the morning while his mother gets some well earned sleep. Having him reach out and wrap his little fingers around my finger.

I'm also amazed at how quickly he is developing his communication skills. He can already burp, fart and make it known that he wants a breast. All he needs to do is learn how to ask for a beer and he will be set for life!

We have gone for a couple of walks and he has met a few of the neighbours. I am glad I get a little bit of time off for paternity leave just to spend with Bec and Mark. I will try to get some photos on Bec's site in the next day or two.

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Created 7/5/2008. Last modified 7/5/2008.

Mark Gerald Allen Lubansky - the birth

It has been said that writing a blog is the ultimate pretentious self-indulgence, although that was before the advent of Facebook. With that in mind, here is my version of the birth of my new baby boy. Focusing on me, not Bec.

Sunday, 6:15AM, I woke up to the weird indescribable sound that is made when someone pushes the buttons on the radio. I ask Bec what time it is, and she tells me two things: To go back to sleep, and that my prediction was wrong. I had predicted that the baby would be born on Tuesday. There was no way known I was going to get back to sleep after that! Bec had been awake since 5:30AM and her contractions were irregular, close together and weak.

We lie in bed for a while before getting up and preparing for the day. I shower and don old, torn jeans, old t-shirt and budgie smugglers. That's right: Mark is going to have an embarrassing Dad right from the beginning.

Breakfast is punctuated by Bec doing all the coping things as contractions come on. I ask her what it is like. She says, "Really bad period pains, but at least they go away."

Not that I know what period pains feel like either.

As the contractions come on, Bec uses her coping techniques. So far so good.

7:30AM Bec courtesy calls the midwife. She is told when to call back. I potter around doing stuff: moving furniture; getting the email ready (I needed to change the date, for starters), things like that. I checked the footy score - Melbourne is down by 50 points at half time. Masochist that I am, I check the live score: Melbourne is in front with a few minutes to go (they won, Rebecca said, "Go Melbourne!"). Not that that is where priorities lie, it is just that things were calm and relaxed. In fact, I didn't know what to do - I was ready for panic and screaming and pain and yelling. I'm used to it. But so far, so good. Or the calm before the storm.

9:15AM I have now got the birth pool ready to be filled. Our bedroom is just about back together from yesterday's plastering and I'm about to do some cleaning.

9:45AM The bedroom is ready. I've been out to the shop and bought the paper and some paracetemol. I still have lots of little tasks I can occupy myself with. And Bec is still doing well.

10:30AM I am running out of "feeling useful" tasks. Our bedroom is as ready as it is going to be. The birth room is as ready as it needs to be. Downstairs is a veritable labouring woman's playground. Rebecca is now electrocuting herself for future pain relief and has decided that it is time to put on her CD that I like the least. The contractions have spaced themselves out but are getting stronger.

11AM We look at the date and realise something. Today is May 4th. We are having a Star Wars baby! May the 4th be with Bec!

11:30AM Early lunch time. Rebecca has a bowl of chicken soup. Hopefully enough of the good stuff will cross the placental barrier to fortify Mark for the upcoming ordeal.

2:30PM It has been a steady couple of hours. The contractions have been getting gradually longer and closer together. I found time to sneak in lunch. And we also watched a movie. The midwife popped round to inspect Bec. Everything is fine and she is doing really well at 2cm. The midwife says to conserve her energy because first labours can take a long time and it is like running a marathon.

4:15PM We're now about 11 hours in. Just as the midwife left, Bec went through a patch where she felt quite nauseous, and vomitted after the contractions. The contractions are now basically time on- time off, and I have stopped timing. I've just tried calling the midwife again, but there was no answer. I've left a message.

4:45PM The contractions have been getting stronger. I still haven't got through to the midwife, so I tried the birth centre. They said they would send a midwife around, but she probably wouldn't be here for half an hour. Bec has been doing really well, and with a bit of luck things should be following their natural course. It occurs to me that I should be recording her breathing noises - we could reuse them on Halloween as ghost noises.

5:15PM (Note, from here on, these are recollections rather than things I was writing at the time) The midwife has arrived. She has gone to assess the situation, and Bec asked whether she could get in the pool. The midwife has inspected her, and told her that there isn't time - she wouldn't make it upstairs! Rebecca has just naturally assumed a position she is comfortable in. The midwife is desparately trying to get hold of the other midwife who is on her way from the hospital. That midwife calls and asks for directions. Fortunately for all concerned, she calls from the local pub, so I could give her directions easily.

5:40PM One final push and out comes my beautiful little boy. He goes straight onto Bec's chest for skin-to-skin. Shortly after, the other midwife arrives. Rebecca pushes out the placenta within 15 minutes. It is a good thing she didn't use the injection or the placenta would have preceded the baby! While Bec delivered the placenta, I held Mark on my chest. The second midwife went, the first midwife stayed and did all the post stuff, but more of that next entry.

By the way, for those who are wondering what I am recovering from (from the email). I realised afterwards that I was 30 mins off having to play the role of midwife. But I have recovered from the shock of that realisation.

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Recent entries

"There's Klingons on the starboard bow"

"What's verse - it's the end of paternity leave"

"Mark - the first week"

"Mark - part 2"

"Mark Gerald Allen Lubansky - the birth"

My favourite procrastinations

Rev's page

Guido's musings about soccer, politics etc in Australia

The Head Heeb - Jonathan provides a balanced view on various Israeli and (former) colonial states in less developed regions of the world.

The Bladder - a sports satire site. Well worth a look.

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