Month 0 First month : Sleepless in Seven Sisters Month 2

"Charlie, if you fall asleep there, there will be consequences, only I don't know what those are, and you'll soon find that all my threats are empty." -a.

Okay okay, you were right... taking care of a newborn DOES take up every second of the day. Where before the baby was home and every waking moment of the day was spent thinking "what could I get done?", now I can spend two hours lounging on the couch with a baby sleeping on my shoulder and consider it "doing something". We've both come to the realisation that things just aren't going to done at the rate they once were... and that's okay.

What does this mean for you? Unfortunately, the website has taken a turn for the what-can-I-get-done-in-the-seconds-of-free-time-before-she-needs-me-again. The trilogy has gone from page-a-day to page-a-week, and now we've gotten even lazier and gone to page-a-month (and we're still behind). But what the hell, that means loads of pictures, and that's all you really care about, isn't it? Here, in fact, just go to the bottom of the page where all the photos are, and just skip all this ridiculous text. I swear, I don't know why we even bother writing stuff.

Highlights from December 2006...
1 No point starting on December 1st, really... Aimee was still pregnant, and I was in Belfast. Actually, that was a pretty good story. Here, read about it on Week 39 (I'm sorry to ruin the ending for you, but I make it back in plenty of time).
5 Had a funny thought this morning... Here we are, sitting on our hands thinking, "Hurry up, baby! Where are you, baby?" on what would likely be our last day as a carefree childless couple. What the hell are we doing sitting around here for? We should be out doing all the things we won't be able to do once we do have a baby! Like... go to the movies! Awesome! Now let's go out to eat! And think think think what else can we do? Stay out late! Yeah!

We ended up going out for lunch and a matinee, which is fine because both are cheaper (we have a baby's financial future to plan for, you know), but I think we tanked on the "stay out late". In fact, I think we were in bed by 8 o'clock. Good thing too...
6 Happy birthday to meeee, Happy birthday to meeeee! KEV, WILL YOU STOP SINGING AND GET ME TO THE DAMN HOSPITAL?! Click here for the full story.
7 Had a baby. Named her Charlie. Not much else happened today.
8 I know we already told you about it, but it's worth stating again... the hospital kicks dads out of the maternity ward at 8pm? And why? Because they're a "security risk", that's why. One man in an entire ward full of women, well, goodness gracious he must be some kind of sex-pervert! And if he says he isn't he's lying, because ALL MEN are sex-perverts. Why, he's probably hoping to peek through the curtain and see some BREASTS! Out! Out! All the men out! You sex-perverts!

Likely it's the sort of thing where one man once in one hospital in one city one time got on to one maternity ward when he wasn't supposed to be, and I'm sure that was a terrifying ordeal and my condolences go out to whoever was traumatised by the incident, but I'd like to think that the overwhelming majority of men who want to stay on the ward with their wives are there for support. It's not like any is provided by the midwives.

Anyway, I showed up promptly at 11am, spent the day hanging around the ward waiting for a doctor to show up to release Charlie. The doctor never showed. I got sent home with the rest of the dads at 8, so we all went back to Marvin's house and watched porn. Actually, we didn't do that.
9 Told at 9am that Charlie is healthy and happy, and just needs to see a doctor and then she can be discharged.

The doctor arrived at 5:30pm, picked her up, turned her around and said she was fine, the midwives would draw up the discharge papers. He returned 15 minutes later, "The midwife said to check for jaundice." He picked her up and turned her over again. "Nope, no jaundice."

Midwife came up with the discharge papers about an hour later, and we were home by 8:30 or something. That's and 11 and a half hour discharge process, folks. All praise the NHS!
14 One week old! Seven days on planet Earth, and Charlie has blossomed into a fine baby. She's alert, cheerful, charming, and attentive for her visit from the midwife (the nice one, not the mean ones). She's weighed in a little stork-baggie, and managed to get through the procedure without peeing on any of the equipment. However, she did receive a heel prick test (where they take four drops of blood out of a hole poked in the heel), which, understandably did not make her happy. We could only calm her by saying over and over, "Pain is weakness leaving the body... Pain is weakness leaving the body..."
16 Charlie, you're already nine days old, and you've done nothing but sit around the house, lazing on the couch, feeling sorry for yourself. I think it's about time for your first major public outing.

That's right, at just over a week old, Charlie sampled the delights of Nando's (not the chicken, just the atmosphere), and took a brisk hike around Wood Green shopping centre. Well, perhaps "brisk" is the wrong word when used to describe Aimee's top speed. Let's call it "relaxed". Charlie was so excited by all the wonders the world has to offer that she prodigiously shat through the diaper, the onezie, the sleeper, right through to her coat. It was a monumental production. I was in the changing room with her for a good 10 minutes, and I ran out of wipes.
17 You know how when you're holding someone else's baby and it starts crying, you immediately hand it back to the parent? That happened to me for the first time today and it was rather shocking. I have to admit that charlie hasn't been particularly generous with our visitors lately and there's been an awful lot of handing back. At which point, I usually last about five minutes before passing the buck to Kevin.
19 Gramma arrived from Canada today! Hooray! We can finally get some sleep!
20 While Gramma recovers from jet lag and her first Charlie all-nighter, we slipped out of the house and up to the Registrar's office to get Charlie a Birth Certificate. (Note to anyone interested: Charlie's birth certificate does NOT make her a UK citizen, sadly. She is, however, Canadian, which is a fine achievement for someone who's never been there. I'm sure she'll love it. People say Canada's nice.)

Now, whoever thinks that being a government paper-pusher is dull, you should talk to the guy at the Haringey Council Registrar's office. He loves his job and backs it up with stories, histories, anecdotes and photos. He's met people from just about every country in the world (he's only short two, like the King Solomon Islands and East Timor), and every stage of the process has a joke to go along with it. Plus, he thought Charlie was adorable... and who wouldn't? Too bad he has to register deaths too, or else he'd have the happiest job in government!
21 Charlie asked to go back to her favourite restaurant again... Nando's, here we come! This time we got a family platter, since there were four of us, but for some reason Charlie didn't want any of the hot Peri Peri sauce. Oh well, breast milk it is! Snooze you lose!
22 Most people find that a new baby is enough change in one's life, but not us... In a couple of weeks, we'll be packing our house and baby into a van and moving a couple of countries over to Northern Ireland. The only hitch (besides the whole "moving with a baby" thing) is that I've never driven a manual before. All the vans over here are manual. That ain't good.

Luckily, Gramma's driven a manual, and she's up for a day of sitting in the passenger seat for the whole day watching her son stall the car at every traffic light. After a slow roasted petrol station coffee, we drove in and out of London's suburbs and ended up in the town of Maggot's End, having only scraped the crap out of one of the hubcaps, so we thought we were having a pretty good day. Then we got a 40 parking ticket. Bollocks! Bollocks! Bollocks! To read my letter to the parking authority, click here. I'm not expecting any result, but after posting it I did feel slightly better.
24 It may have been the night before Christmas, but there was considerably more than "stirring" going on, and it was significantly louder than a mouse. Aimee went to bed early, and Gramma and Kev switched back and forth trying to get the miserable Charlie to sleep. We tried walking, dancing, patting, bouncing, playing, changing, feeding, singing, shushing... and finally bathing. Bathing was a high-stakes gamble. Why we tried it I don't know, but every time before today we popped her in the bath, she screamed and flailed like we'd cut a hole in the ice and dipped her in Oliver Lake. But this time, ahhhhhh. Nice and calm. Just enough to get us through until midnight, when she went apeshit again and we just woke up mum for a feed. Merry Christmas!
25 It's baby's first Christmas... and she slept right through it. As to be expected, her motor skills haven't progressed enough in the last eighteen days for her to be able to open her own pressies, so we had to help her out a bit there.

Our own excitement aside, Christmas with a newborn baby is kind of like every other day. Charlie's in charge, and we just go with whatever she decides the flow should be, which doesn't differ much from eat, sleep, poop. I'm really looking forward to next year, when she'll be able to tear open some wrapping paper and play in some boxes.
27 Definition of a Pake: The Dutch equivalent of a grandpa, one who sings silly songs with lots of clicks in them, talks silly talk and farts loudly. Charlie's Pake showed up today from Indonesia with smiles and frilly dresses.
28 What a doozey of a year! I've overcome my fear of public speaking (mostly - at least, I'm getting better at it); I've overcome my recent fear of labour; and today I overcame my feat of the London Eye. I would say that I have overcome my fear of all things dangly, but that's not true. I am still terrified of chair lifts and normal, rickety ferris wheels. I think it has something to do with not trusting the mechanics or there being no back-up plan or something... so I think it's something to be proud of to have ridden the London Eye! Even if I did stay near the middle for most of the ride, at least I didn't spend the trip in tears.

As a side note: I got a little angry at waiting in the cold rain, with a crying baby, and paying 15 for the pleasure of doing something I really didn't want to do. This caused me to take control of the one variable and I happily breastfed Charlie while standing in line. After THAT, I can breastfeed her anywhere.
30 Congratulations Colin and Crystal! Mazel Tov!
31 We've conquered all our fears this year (well, I have - Kev apparently only has a fear of really deep water which is pretty easy to avoid), had a gorgeous little baby, survived the first few weeks with said baby, and have come out smiling through it all. Bring on the new year! ...Oh, it's 9pm. We're going to bed now.

Charlie Tivoli on Christmas morning.

Let's talk about... DIAPERS

Before this month, I can honestly say I've never changed a diaper. And why would I? It's someone else's poo. Surely if someone has to clean up poo, it should be the person closest in relation to the poo, that being yourself, your parent, or perhaps your sibling (this may even count your child, depending on how old you are and how far it is to the toilet). One degree of separation on the family tree, and the poo should go no farther. At least, that's how I was able to get to this point in my life without a diaper change.

However, we've now been through morning sickness, water breaking, labour, placenta, meconium, and spit-up. That's a whole lot of grossness packed into a short time span. After all that, hell, poo is a walk in the park. In fact, when you look at the whole pregnancy process from the point of view of an obsessive compulsive, it's pretty gross overall. There are a lot of body fluids floating around that you've never had to deal with before, in all the colours of the rainbow (just like Skittles), loads of textures, and even some new smells. Yippee!

I think, biologically, pregnancy is so graphic to mentally prepare you for daily poo and spit-up duties. After all the stuff floating around in the hospital, a dad like me can look at a diaper and say, what's a little poo between friends?

Diaper tip of the month: Slide the clean diaper under the dirty diaper before you change it. This way, if there's any spillage or unexpected happenings during the transition, the new diaper is there to catch the consequences! It works!

Did you know?

... an average baby goes through 5000 diaper changes in the first few years!

... nearly 8 million diapers are thrown away in the UK every day!

... you can equip your baby with all the cloth diapers it needs for less than 50! That'll only get you a miserable 7 weeks of disposables.
Q. Did you use cloth or disposables for your baby?
     I'm such a brilliant parent, I could sense when my baby was going to poo and held him/her above the toilet just in time.* I'm also lying.

*The 3rd method is actually suggested by the NHS as somethng you might like to try. Good friggin' luck, supermom.

Charlie's Book(s) of the Month

A Series of Unfortunate Events
By Lemony Snicket
Storytime is a wonderful time. She gets her "last feed" before "bedtime" (they're really still just naps at this point, but you know what I mean), and a story to close those little eyes. However, since we've already read her all the books from the library for early readers while still in utero, we figured she's ready to graduate to books for 9-12 year olds. (Actually, our line of thinking was that if she can't understand us anyway, why not read something we'd find interesting, rather than Hop on Pop for the next seven months?)

I know what you're thinking: "I saw the movie and wasn't impressed." That's what most people say (I liked the movie, but on the other hand, I hated Shrek, so I'm obviously not among the average American demographic). However, the books are brilliant, and fun for any age. I've read the first 12, but not the 13th, and I figure that by the time I've read all 13 to Charlie, she'll be ready to start Hop on Pop and actually follow along.

Things you can do with one hand:

  • Make a cup of tea
  • Check email
  • Put the dishes away
  • Answer the phone (but not take messages)
  • Answer the door (provided it's not the postman with a delivery of baby clothes ordered on eBay)
  • Make a list of all the things you're going to do as soon as the other hand is free.

  • Ummm.... I think that's about it! I have a feeling I'll get better at this one-handed thing soon, but for now, I'm a newbie.

    Charlie's Christmas haul

    At a mere two and a half weeks, how much stuff does a newborn baby need? This much:

  • 9 x Little Miss books
  • Wooden block train
  • The Curious George collection
  • Square peg round hole toy
  • Ikea rocking moose
  • Froggy teether
  • Blue giraffe-like stuffed toy
  • Sea creature finger puppets
  • Teddy bear
  • A few baby's first ornaments
  • An angel figurine
  • A ridiculous flower costume
  • Stuffed elephant
  • Teddy blanket
  • Set of coins from the year she was born
  • Link-a-doo Kitty Cat
  • sleepers, hats, clothes, blankets, rattles, socks, booties, etc...

  • In comparison, Kev got 3 shirts and a game. Aimee got soap, pyjamas and some cash.

    What the...?

    The column that tries to explain the unexplainable.

    SITUATION: Aimee's tea addiction. I don't get it. Ever since I left the hospital, I have become completely addicted to strong, sweet tea. I am downing the stuff left and right. I know that a litre of tea each day can't possibly be good for me, but I just can't stop!

    ANALYSIS: Being in the hospital institutionalised Aimee. She was only allowed to have tea at certain hours, and only when others people said she could. This so drastically contrasts with Aimee's usual style (of doing whatever she wants, whenever she wants) that it made her become obsessed with having tea once she escaped the dealthy grip of North Middlesex. The situation should calm once she gets used to having her way again.
    British English

    What they say:
    "I'll have to come around so we can wet the baby's head."
    What they don't mean:
    "I would be honoured to baptise your child for you."
    What they do mean:
    "We'll have a drink to celebrate your baby's birth, during which a drop of one of our drinks may inadvertently land on the baby's head, thus wetting it."

    baby's first few days at home baby's first bonding sessions
    baby's first food baby's first visit to marks and sparks baby's first bath in the sink
    baby's first tourist attraction
    baby's first cuddles with gramma
    baby's first look at pake

    We've got mail...

    Well, well, look at how beautiful she is! I want to wish you all the best and hope you have a wonderful first Christmas together! I hope you are all doing well and attempting to get some sleep! A baby is a wonderful thing, and enjoy all the times together, it goes by fast!
    - Jenn
    Edmonton, AB

    Happy 10th day in the world Charlie! You look adorably beautiful! I really love your snowflake dress! Wish I was there to give you a hug and a kiss! But Gramma promised to give you one from me when she arrives! Love you! ~*~smiles~*~
    - Auntie Ingrid
    Thunder Bay, ON

    Yay for you guys! What a fucking gorgeous child. Oh wait, I probably shouldn't swear around the baby - oops.
    Even though I've been a horrible correspondent, I swear I've been lurking all these months on the site, anxiously awaiting Charlie's arrival. And I admit it, I cried when I finally saw her. Congratulations! Surely she represents the next leg of your continued adventures... and she'll be the ginger who defies all those stereotypes, no doubt. (you didn't get her middle name from that amusement park in Copenhagen, did you? Tivoli Gardens, I think...)
    Congrats again, and enjoy every moment (even the sleep-deprived, poop-smelling, spit-up covered, crying ones...)!
    - Jess
    San Francisco, CA

    Congratulations, Aimee and Kevin, and welcome to Charlie! I have vicariously enjoyed your adventures over the years - of course, this will be the big one! Enjoy your precious baby girl. I have one (now 12 and almost as big as me) and can recommend them highly.
    Best wishes,
    - Sally
    Bothell, WA

    Hey guys,
    Hope everything is going well with little Charlie :) She is beautiful in the pics I have seen and Kev, your labour write up is AWESOME. :) Sounds similar to my birth experiences.
    So, Merry Christmas to the three of you - love you tons, can't wait for spring when we come!
    - Nadia
    Thunder Bay, ON

    Hi Guys, The Baby really looks healthy and cute. Hope your Mom is having a great visit.
    Welcome to the world Charlie!!!!!! Congrats Kevi and Aimee, all the best for you and your bundle of joy.
    - Doug and Judy
    Thunder Bay, ON

    Charlie is beautiful!!! I went to your website this morning because surely you would have had her by now!! Congrats to all three of you. Make sure you rest and enjoy every single moment!!! Life is about to get really fun!!!
    - Michelle
    Acton, ON

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    Interested in Kevin and Aimee's other adventures? Of course you are!
    Lose a month out of your life reading the Roadtrip or the Bikeabout. They're rather funny.

    © 2007 Kevin & Aimee & Charlie Beimers.
    Fooling the public, 80 at a time.