Didsburydad's Blog

From the not so mean streets of M20, blog about being a dad, Didsbury and dealing with parental confusion

Archive for the category “Pregnancy”

Didsbury Dad, Agony Uncle

I never realised how easy it was raising just Didsbury Son until the Mighty-Headed Boy and The Pearl-Topped Princess turned up. Becoming a new father well over the age of 39 and 364 days exposes the physical scars of a misspent youth very quickly and from elbow to knee I have been in agony most of the time. My sciatic nerve is so pinched it looks like Ann Robinson and 20 months of this qualifies me as an agony uncle.
This week my imaginary inbox has been bulging with questions from soon-to-be, new and confused dads. Remember always do as I say, not as I do – one of the few genuinely useful pieces of advice I have given Didsbury Son.

Dear Didsbury Dad
I am considering a change of career from something mediaish and successful to loafing about as a freelancer once my partner gives birth to twins early next year. What do you think?

Dear I.M Mad
Are you joking? Ideally look for a full-time job which requires you to be away once a week, cancel all social arrangements until 2019 and before Boots relieve you of any spare cash, buy a shed.

As a former something media and occasionally successful something thingy what do you think?

Good Question. Cafe Nero until they are about 14 months for the baby change, the free babychino and the lovely staff; then Cafe Rouge so they can run around.

Mr Dad.
I have three children – 1, 3 and 4 strange names I know, the wife chose them ( courtesy of Ted Robbins). Will the numbness in my left leg and shoulder ever go?

No, but you’ll stop caring.

Dear Mr Dad
Having children of quite different ages and needs how do you make sure that they all know they are equally loved?

How or why? Soon as Didsbury Son finishes the ironing and the car I’ll ask him.

That’s all for this time. If you need more pearls of wisdom leave a comment or contact me through Twitter @DidsburyDadBlog.

The best advice I can give is apologise most days and don’t hold a grudge. That and a hot Pain Au Raisin and Americano from Nero solves most things.

Next week – live blogging from Didsbury Festival.

The view from my shed

My parenting video – a taster clip

A Melancholic Meander through M20

There has been so much going on that I have had barely enough free time to make sure I avoid The Winter Olympics, Katie Hopkins and her male doppelgänger Nigel Farage. So as we welcome April, here is March in a moment.

1. A joke for people who watch CBeebies (cheaper than a nanny) in the morning. “My wife came downstairs and told me about a terrible nightmare she had. There was a mute called Claude, a weird grinning ageless woman who smiled but seemed sinister, the least convincing doctor in the world and a woman in a pink taxi who’s an advert for carjacking.” I looked at her stunned “Oh my word that’s uncanny” I said “Me Too”
This and a Jewish cartoon about a working farmyard called Schlepper Pig are what fills my head early morning.

2. The vivid green on The Crown has to have gone through a committee with the decision shouted down a bad line to a decorator with hearing impairment – doesn’t it?

3. The Turkish- Nido refit is impressive. We so want it work I was considering chanting outside. The Laughing Budda; now au in da is losing letters faster than a crime wave on Sesame Street – sort it out.

4. Didsbury welcomes Golden Beach Holidays and good luck. Replacing Co-Po travel means you have small shoes and average service to live up to. I used to enjoy going in to check exchange rates on days when I had not been tutted at enough. If business gets tough buy a coffee machine and a chair and mirror – it’s the default fallback in Didsbury.

5. When will The Strokers Arms re- open? Or is it a supermarket by stealth?

Does anyone else giggle at Brimelow’s insistence he is the original purple one. I think suntanned Oompah Loompah when I see that.

This is a bittersweet week. My inert little blobs are now bouncing, noisy, cat-grabbing, Didsbury Son loving, snack-snaffling people. This week they officially become toddlers – not babies. My only saving thought was that my Didsbury Mum still tells me I’m her baby.


Kofi Annan at The Cheese Hamlet

Men are from Mars, Women are from Didsbury and thankfully Didsbury Wife used the wisdom of The Clocktower ( the actual tower not the pub named after it) to restore equilibrium.

Like many men I am better in the middle of the night and the early morning than I am between 6.30 and bedtime. We are generally better reacting and being heroic occasionally rather than conscious consistent measured parenting.

By the time Iggle Piggle got back in his boat yesterday I had managed to contradict, confuse, combobulate and concheese off everyone to such an extent that even the cats hissed when I walked in. I had backed into a homework cul-de-sac on a high horse I could not ride and was in danger of creating an atmosphere more sour than cheap wine. Being eyeballed by thee disappointed children made Millwall away seem easy.

Didsbury Wife rescued me. Like a Blue Peter presenter with a pile of rubbish infront of her she created something good out of it and Didsbury Son was even able to patronise me before he scooted around to his friends to park himself on a different chair and watch a different screen.

I retreated to the boddlers where there is nothing that can’t be solved by popping your cheeks, tipping them upside down and singing In The Night Garden.

Didsbury – a historical lesson

I have a friend who went to Nido the week it opened. His rationale being to try it before it closed. This front for something, 60-Minute makeover of a restaurant was a slow car crash of a failure, whilst we watched the manager occasionally pace around outside.

As the letters symbolically fell off the Laughing Buddha signage next door the lights went out on the restaurant customers forgot. If only Didsbury Magazine had done a feature, if only Wadden v Brimelow’s aubergine v purple Estate Agent war had taken place over lunch there… But if onlys are scattered across Didsbury Village’s failures. Remember the fake gangster Japanese place where now lies Zizzi and what was always The Old Grey Horse? No. Neither does anyone else.

Time for a little indulgence. Starting at the library end where Didsbury station was a get-on for London we finally say good riddance to O’Neill’s. I loathe Irish-themed bars. I’m not Irish but The Railway across the road seems a great pub with strong Irish connections and when I see an “Oirish” bar I think of people making Cream of Chicken Soup and passing it off as the real thing. We are getting The Strokers Arms. ( not a euphemism).

After many years Ashley Brown’s iconic locks are finally swapping with the sublime Wendy J Levy who leaves the cobbles of Warburton Street to trade online. We are promised a deli, we expect Costa Express. Ashley Brown took over Jim’ s a green grocers. In the. 70s the Evans-Axons-Hamlet axis of power was a square. Jim was their D”Artagnan.

Jaanum ( which translates as Nido without seats) is still boarded up and Urban Grille’s baffling menu still pulls those who shirk the call of the burgeoning Domino’s.

So back to Padmore Parade. Jo Padmore took over Thresher, which was begat by a serve your own Victoria Wine. Nido followed an average Turkish Restaurants with name changes to cover every City in Turkey, before that a wonderful small restaurant and take -away. To those of us of a certain age it is always Sykes, one of Didsbury’s best record shops where we rushed home from school to buy Lipps Inc. in the 90s it spent time as Namaste Village (before the definition of Namaste had filtered down from Chorlton). This meant that in the mid 90s every Didsbury Child ( then named Ella or George) had their own dream catcher and Peruvian Worry dolls.
Next door was Ho Wah. In the 70s this had been a KFC. My own Didsbury Mum took a moral stance and refused to take us there – the bags of chips were too small.

* No facts were researched during the writing of this blog. Other facts are available.

The Y Chromosome, a success story

I used to dream of a BAFTA, now I dream of accepting my BAFTA and having a shed with a radio and a lock.
I used to stay up all night, now I am up most of the night. I realise that for most city-raised men – we are are always up all night. It’s a seamless procession from teen angst to all-night parties, to crying babies to the looming prostate. It has its bonuses; but the head full of ideas that used to keep me up scribbling, pacing and talking endlessly now competes with a bottle full of formula and a stare that draws you in to the cot for aimless hours of doting and cooing.

I am a dad.
Dad: (noun) one who is invisible to women whose husbands didn’t help much with their children (verb) to be not quite as important as Didsbury Wife or Didsbury Son. To make mistakes with the temperature of milk and what constitutes clean and sterilised.

If men were as rude about in public mixed company as women are,
“Is he needy [pointing at baby boy twin with enormous beautiful head]? … They all are, all boys are, all their lives.” People would think it was still the 1970s.

There’s no escaping your gender and the benefit of genes. On Thursday the twins both slept through the night for the first time. Didsbury Wife and I were giddy with continuous sleep. This morning I woke up and glanced at the clock, 6.09am – Bingo. I smiled, smug with rest, stretched and leaned over to stare beatifically at a rested Didsbury Wife. In turning I bumped into 2 wide-eyed babies and a 1000 yard staring Didsbury Wife. They hadn’t slept through the night but I had.

The male genes had tuned out efficiently. Didsbury Wife forcefully told me – I had slept through the 2, 4 and 5am wake up – snoring happily. i had been oblivious to the twins cries, the night feeds and the odd prod in the ribs from Didsbury Wife’s toe.

A dent in the ribs v a full night’s sleep. I think that is 1-0 to the Y chromosome.


Not even a picture of a baby with red licquorice made Didsbury Wife smile

And then there were 3, the twins cometh…

I have tried not to make Didsbury Dad a pregnancy blog. I am preparing to fail in my attempts at  not being a baby bore  BUT a delivery so chilled Occado could have made it, followed by 6 days on a ward with Wythenshawe’s wonderful staff and eclectic clientele has… whilst dealing with the roller coaster of Didsbury Son’s emotions and being one of the few post natal dads to have sailed past 21, let alone 30 40 something –  whilst losing touch with the real world for a week and fawning limply over my two little potato heads and re-marvelling at female fortitude, anatomy and tenacity and finding myself surrounded by baby experts at every turn and kissed just about everyone in M23 whether they liked it or not and let Didsbury Son sneak a 15 movie on the video in a giddy haze as I have lived on biscuits and crisps for a week (my greens have been Cheese and Onion); Whilst learning more about life, friends and social media and then kissing everyone in Didsbury Village and grinning like Didsbury Son with a praised piece of artwork .

And breathe.

A new baby, before it has been ironed resembles Yoda

Or an alien

All life goes through a Manchester maternity ward. Didsbury Wife has just spent several days sharing a space with a range of Mancunians that  sing the diversity of the city. I am sure they looked at our Hessian bag of Alpro snacks and muttered “Didsbury”; I have sat back with twin 1 or twin 2 and enjoyed the show.
I marveled at the new father next to me who would only come in if his girlfriend got the TV working. He lay on the bed, curtains drawn watching ITV to recreate home between fag breaks. Having listened through a curtain on Saturday I now know that X Factor would not work on radio.

The Polish woman opposite slept brilliantly, the only woman on the ward undisturbed by her baby’s cries as she snored consistently between (her own) feeds. Her unwavering face was kind but she bore the weary look of annual childbirth interrupting hard work. Her Slavic stoic stance contrasted with the shrill nasal drawl of visiting Mancs showering Adidas and Nike on new babies and their junior parents.  I have smiled knowingly with all the grandparents, knowing the majority were my contemporaries and would remember The International rather than The Warehouse Project or The Kardomah. Thus, we have spent the week hanging out with the people with whom Didsbury Wife, Didsbury Son and I will share all of our milestones over the next few decades.

The greatness of a maternity ward is that  everyone is equal and the potential clash of so many cultures dissolves in an oxytocin-driven, testosterone snipped haze of relief.

All babies are tagged at birth to avoid mix-ups. This is mini Didsbury Son 2 at 18 hours old

Everyone is hopeful – whether main ward, TCU or ICU. Everyone is friendly and supportive ; we are all either ecstatic or thinking there but for the grace of… and all Gods are Here. I munched my bagel with Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Atheists, our cultural non-competitiveness providing a blueprint. keep everyone sleep-deprived and besotted and there will be no trouble. Over mini teats and sterilising units I have eaten Polish, Japanese and Walkers with new brothers in cord-snipping and have cooed, consoled and cuddled babies with easy and difficult lives ahead of them once they leave the ante-womb of the postnatal ward.

My little wonders still feel as though they are mine on loan and I  squint at them for hours, inhaling their scents and wondering which one will like my pants on the head, finger-pulling best gags. I look forward to the chance for a Saturday morning mooch with Didsbury Son and me sharing the pram-pushing, shoulder riding and hand holding duties.

I feel a bit of a fraud. All the clichés at which I scoffed, all the sappy wet-eyed new dads I ignored and all the joy with a much smaller Didsbury Son that I had forgotten have re-enveloped me in a syrupy cocoon with the most wonderful aroma.

I can’t wait to re-read this with milk spattered clothes and sleepless, red-rimmed eyes around  Christmas, whilst Didsbury Son is trying to convince me everyone in year 7 is getting a tattoo and a Blackberry from “Santa”. It will remind how wonderful this tiny week 1 world is – when the colour of a nappy filler is a cause for celebration and each sneeze, hiccup, finger squeeze and eye open is a cause of genuine joy.

This joke gets stretched even further

Ante-natal scans and the football season

At some point in the next few weeks Didsbury Son will become a big brother twice over. I cannot guide him. I am the youngest in my family. He has taken the endless procession and pram talk with an openness that has been a joy to share. After an initial lip-trembling and leg-clasping reaction he is now a full member of team twins and makes plans, asks questions, gulps and cheers with the rest of us. We have practiced changing nappies on the toys and can now pick out the minutest detail on a scan picture.

It’s the pram I’m staring at, not you

Waiting for an ante-natal scan is a great leveler. All, well almost all strata of society comes through here. The really rich may have clinics with carpets and a choice of water but within the NHS it’s a sociological dream.

We had been waiting for a scan for about an hour and a half. Excited planning had descended into small talk , then sniping and eventually looking for an excuse for a row whilst redesigning the NHS.
The conversation around us ranged from the benefits of a Bugaboo over a Mountain Duet, to who’ll do the feed if it’s time for a spliff. This is where organic grocer meets Netto; where the great melting pot that is a modern city shares space, scanning gel and key stages – but looks down magnificently on the differences around them.
I notice I look at everyone in a new way. When out and about I have progressed from eying up women, through looking broodingly at their dogs, to my new hobby – checking out the pram. I know very little about cars but can talk about the wheelbase, handling and flexibility of “travel systems”. Do you know your donkey from your city jogger? I do, doh.
Travel System is the 2012 name for the Rubik’s Cube on wheels that now stands in for a pram. When Didsbury Son was a baby he had a pram and a car seat. He was safe, mobile and easy to wheel about. Nowadays, If your buggy does not have James Bond ejector seats, can swivel the baby like The Exorcist or make Fair Trade espresso whilst you perambulate your little (insert recycled Victorian name) then you will be the pariah of the support group; cast out before you have a chance to re-blow it in the school playground.The non eBay-won travel system costs an obscene amount; similar to a week with Mark Warner, a large popcorn and hot dog at Cineworld or a family trip to a Premier League – without the instant gratification or the tan / sugar-rush hangover
Last night we attended a twin induction tour which was lovely – except the midwife threw terms like catheter, snipped perineum and dilation around as though, as though, as though the men in the room were not squeamish cowards desperate to stay at the head end and receive a cordless and clean baby in a blanket.
The last time I considered the term dilation in detail was in a club toilet on a stag night, trying to work out if we could leave a friend there or should call an ambulance.

It will be downstairs at Costa once the twins arrive

I can now discuss nose-to-breast without cheap gags and I understand that gas and air is not for sharing. I have handheld, wept and beamed as the scans move from shrimp to alien to recognisable baby and, most importantly for any man – I have worked out the birthing playlist for the iPod and even decided to throw in a few tracks that Didsbury Wife likes.
This weekend the hypno-birthing partners class clashes with the first game of the season. When I took Didsbury Son to a cup final in May I joked that it would probably be the last time I would be able to do such a thing. Silly me.
In through the nose, out through the mouth, in through the nose…..

Three is a Magic Number

Three – it’s a magic number. De La Soul forewarned me last century and it has proved true. My family of me, Didsbury Son and Didsbury Wife has been a magical threesome and we have always had three pets up to the point that Didsbury Fat Cat mistook the hamster for a moving takeaway and tucked in. I waited three decades to see my team win a major trophy and  my first live review many years ago in a faraway city gave me 3 stars (out of 10). So, threes are all over me

A former baby look forward to the new arrivals

Now, I am going to be a Didsbury Dad three times over. We have twins coming in the autumn and my three is going to be one for each arm and Didsbury Son on my shoulders. I have sworn not to become a baby bore, but already failed and I swore not to make weak jokes and Alien comparisons at early scans and failed. I like a precedent.

My views have changed. In my 20s I eyed up the women as they strolled, in my 30s it was the dogs I got broody for and now – having sailed past 39 and with knees creaking, I eye up the double buggies for their manoeuvrability and deftness at getting through a coffee shop door.

Reactions have varied from the delighted, through the “are you mad” to the downright rude and I am lucky that I meet so many people who are experts on pregnancy, childbirth, twins and parenting and want to share their excruciating knowledge with me.

Whilst Didsbury Wife has been nesting, arranging and being practical I have concentrated on all the important aspects with Didsbury Son. We have decided to share the teaching them to whistle, burp on demand and pop their cheeks. I have my football team romper suits ready for them for photos. So I’m now ready and waiting for my go on the Gas and Air. We’ve practiced nappies on the cuddly toys, become intimately acquainted with Mamas & Papas, Jo Jo Maman Bebe and the saving grace of the South Manchester Twins Club in Didsbury Park.

Now Didsbury Wife is clearly pregnant there are set questions that we are always asked. I want to print cards with

1. They’re Not

2. Not finding out

3. Mind your own business.

With my binoculars in Costa looking for double buggies to assess. In a race at Baby Gap is a Bugaboo Donkey a match for the Mountain Buggy Duet?

I did wonder how it would change my time with Didsbury Son. No longer will we have the peerless 1 to 1 time where we can wander aimlessly and bond over knock knock jokes and red liquorice. But now we can lope around with a pram, pass our repertoire of jokes onto his siblings and just mooch happily as a bigger group – can’t wait.

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