When I look back at the 26-year-old lost little lamb version of myself I cannot believe:
a. I was so naive and unprepared
b. I was about to change so much
Unfortunately, Mrs H [@allabouthurr] and myself started our parenting experience with a miscarriage – #rainbowbaby. We were only just married and were so excited to venture into parenthood, only to be left devastated. For me personally, I didn’t know how to feel; I was mourning the loss whilst trying to stay strong for both of us without the first inkling of how to make it better or truly understanding the despair Mrs H was feeling.
Then along came no 1, induced ten days late and perfect. I was completely useless; I spent the entire labour process trying to be supportive whist the whole time reading the same poster on the wall to stop me from passing out – #embarrassing.
That first look and the wave of pure love and joy was amazing, but I wonder if I started to influence his personality from that very moment. I refused to cut the cord out of fear and ignorance, and he was so precious I watched him like a hawk hovering over him and allowing him no space or freedom. I was nervous for him and his safety. I know now I was far too protective and I can see a lot of these mannerisms in his behaviour now, and feel guilt that if only I’d been calmer, more knowledgeable and better prepared.
Poppy came along 18 months later and I was overwhelmed at having a baby girl. I’ll always remember the trip down to the car to ring the grandparents and grab the chair. I sat there with the radio on and Razorlight’s Girl With The Golden Touch came on – it was amazing and I bonded that song to us and it will always be our song. We were more mature and relaxed as parents and it seemed to really show in her behaviour. She was so free and adventurous, she climbed to the highest point of everything and occasionally over the other side which meant a few trips to our second home; A & E. What a difference it made loosening the reigns to test her boundaries and explore her limitations. We’ve always had a good bond but teenage years have brought new experiences and problems, but that’s for another day! Needless to say there will always be a dad hug and a listening ear no matter how strained the relationship.
Gracie and Neve came along and life had its bumps but as a family unit the transition from 2 to 3 to 4 was relatively easy. We were in a really good place, life was good we had a great understanding and routine and my parenting skills had taken on a calm and relaxed role – you could say I was loving every aspect of it.
We found out we were to be parents again and now comes my one regret in life. It came at a point when my work schedule was very busy and we decided Mrs H would have to attend the scan alone whilst I worked. I received the call at a work to say that there was no heartbeat and that Mrs H would have to have an operation to remove the foetus. I was devastated and thought that I had completely failed my wife in my role as her husband. I was supposed to protect her and keep her safe, how/why could this have happened again? How do we explain it to the children? How would we manage the loss again?
That said, I find it amazing how you can find the strength you need and have witnessed it within friends and family alike, and it is inspiring.
Shortly after, Felix came along and everything was great but there were some signs he was going to require more of our time and love. He would shut down and become very frustrated, but it was down to our anxieties and lack of understanding. Whilst attending the same nursery as the other children, the staff there brought up some autistic concerns. Deep down I just didn’t see it or believe it and felt he just didn’t fit in their ‘box’. We changed his nursery and through the excellent staff, research and changing our own behaviour and methods towards him, he has become a loving and calm little boy. I can’t lie it was testing and difficult but once again I believe our stress and anxiety were a trigger for his behavioural traits. It can be very testing to keep calm in certain situations when eyebrows are raised and unkind comments are thrown at you, but until society becomes more tolerant, sadly that will never change. It is almost as though there were never indifferent [I don’t believe in naughty at this age] children in the history of the entire past. Anyway, rant over!
We were complete; 3 girls nicely nestled in between the safety of two boys – Perfect. Sadly we then suffered an ectopic pregnancy and the amazing Mrs H was so strong to deal with the procedures, stress, loss and me. I was trying to be strong, but inside I was so sad for my wife and our family. We plodded along happily, our unit was working fabulously in a smooth routine and life was good.
Then two little blue lines change our world again after 4 years having already whittled away all our baby belongings and clothes. It was a very stressful pregnancy with Mrs H extremely poorly and a high risk of a still birth. We headed to hospital for an induction 4 weeks ahead of birth. What followed was just haunting as Mrs H was rushed off for emergency surgery and me and Milo were off to NICU. Thankfully, 8 hours later we were reunited and safe. The happy ending/beginning is our miracle boy who has brought so much happiness and completion to our lives.
Parenting really is different experiences from one to the next. You never have it nailed and you’re always learning something new. The happy moments far outweigh the unhappy. I’m now 41, dad to six and husband to the fabulous Mrs H. I am immensely proud of each and everyone and see such huge potential in them and us as a family. That lost little lamb is now a fiercely protective and proud lion with a big heart full of love and six weaknesses. Oh, and a nine-seater fun bus!