His ‘M’ Face

Bernard pulls a face sometimes which we call his ‘M’ face. This involves a certain amount of lip-smacking, slurping, tongue-gyrating etc that means “Feed Me” or, alternatively “Feed Me More”.

[Karen][], when time permits, wishes to write a lengthy article on the problems that we have had getting him to breastfeed, so I will leave that particular topic to her. (Update: it’s [here][])


In general, we’ve been seeing progress across the board, which is doing wonders for our confidence. With the help of our local midwives and maternity care assistants, Bernard is now breastfeeding with the assistance of [Nipple Shields][], he’s now sleeping deeply in bursts of up to 4 hours, he’s consuming over 150ml of milk per day ((one of the advantages of cup-feeding is that, like bottle-feeding, you can see exactly how much he is getting, rather than having to make assumptions based upon the number of minutes that he spends at the breast)), he’s spending less and less time each day in an aggravated and noisy state (because we are able to respond to his discomforts more quickly) and all of these contribute to the fact that we can love him more and more each day.

[nipple shields]:

Bernard seems like a different fella now to the chap who slithered out of Karen’s fluttering love wallet ((thanks to Muffy’s World Of Vagina Euphemisms)) a week ago. He’s more playful, more relaxed, and more likely to stare me in the face for a minute without blinking.

And we have changed too. Initially we spent the whole day trying to figure out how to get him comfortable. We created a spreadsheet to log his daily activities, we bought all sorts of equipment for expressing milk and sterilising equipment. The next stage was that of actually getting him comfortable – Wednesday in particular consisted of a lot of very practical and systematic baby maintenance. Having mastered that, we are now able to spend a good amount of time just talking to him, singing to him, telling him all about the world. We’re all very calm. We’re all very happy.



1. I now consider myself to be **an expert in nappies**. This startles me, and is probably startling you right now. When I was a father to be, I didn’t see how one could possibly find the process of changing a nappy enjoyable. Boy, was I wrong. Not only is it something that I can do with aplomb, despite my lack of breasts, it is also very edifying to inspect the contents and scribble down a few notes about what was found therein. Colour, consistency and quantity are all important indicators to the kind of nutrition that the baby is receiving. I always assumed that any nappy-related post on this site would be comical and glib, not intense and sincere.

2. [Karen][] allows me a few hours a day to myself. She posits, and I think I agree with her, that if I can get 2-4 hours good sleep per day, then my subsequent alertness will more than make up for her being on baby watch alone for a while. I have noticed, to my eternal peplexation, that when I close my eyes (either to curl up in bed or to lather shampoo into my hair in the shower), that **I picture myself as a baby**. I imagine that I am Bernard-sized, or at least Bernard-proportioned, turning over in bed, or stood at the North end of the bath massaging shampoo into his hair. I muse on the parallels between the water that made it to the house without leaking somewhere along the way; and the supersperm that was first to the egg without giving up somewhere along the way.


As [Karen has mentioned][], he isn’t the most adept feeder in this household. While she busies herself expressing, it tends to fall to me to hold the cup to his lips. Though this is great for father-child bonding, I worry that it is at the expense of the mother-child bonding which is more important right now. I put this to one side – we’ve got to get food into him, and we’ll do whatever is necessary in order to accomplish this.

[karen has mentioned]:


Home From Hospital

I lie in bed. Outside, there’s a fairly constant traffic noise, an intermittent chirrupping of birds, an occasional train passing by, and an isolated cheer of the kind that is regularly associated with football supporters.

Beside me, Karen snores like a diesel train. This snore is infused with new meaning – she snores because Bernard is asleep, to keep her own sleep account in the black. It keeps me awake, but I don’t care. I know that my worst-case scenario is to shut myself in the spare bedroom for a few hours when I can, but she’s the only one who can breastfeed him, so she doesn’t have that luxury.

The phone rings, so I take care of it. Bernard has been sleeping since we got back from hospital four hours ago. We have been visited by my mother and her mother. They provided copious amounts of food, to keep us going all week, and left within 90 minutes. They are stars.

The house is full of flowers – now I know why we have so many vases.

Thank you all very much for your messages of congratulations. Right now, I feel like the luckiest man alive.


More News

Continues from [here][].


**13:00** My phone starts buzzing on the desk. *Hello?* “Come home now.” *Right away.*

**13:15** I’m at home. One of Karen’s friends, who had been invited over for lunch, is offering moral support. I start timing contractions. They are already only 5 minutes apart. I suggest that we phone the hospital. They invite us in.

**14:20** We arrive at hospital. We had anticipated bad traffic, but in the event it was plain sailing. We get settled down in a room.

**15:00** Contractions start to get more painful. We apply the TENS machine.

**15:30** or thereabouts. Contractions still getting more painful. Entonox has been applied.

**16:00** or thereabouts. Entonox is making Karen feel incredibly dizzy and spaced out. She uses it a bit less.

**16:30** or thereabouts. We request an examination. 7cm dilated. This is much more than we were expecting at this stage, and the good news gives us a real boost.

**17:00** or thereabouts. The contractions undergo a change, and Karen yells for a midwife. Pushing is going to be occurring soon.

**17:30** or thereabouts. The top of the baby’s head is visible, but we’re only seeing a little more with each push. Karen begins to get disheartened. Heck, I begin to get disheartened, but I try not to show it.

**18:00** or thereabouts. We’re getting damn close. Karen’s absolutely knackered. I throw everything that I have into my pep talk. Bless her, I can tell that she wants to call me names, but she’s very polite.

**18:20** The baby’s head reaches the point of no return. The next contraction will push the head out.

**18:23** The baby’s head is out. The next contraction will push the body out.

**18:26** The body comes out. I break down into tears.



Second Letter To The Unborn Son

Hey there, little guy.

We’re not that different, you and I. At this moment in time, we both share the feeling of being the centre of the universe. Oh, sure, I don’t deny that the world existed before I was born, but I’ve never been able to imagine it. Even when watching grainy black & white television footage from the fifties, I imagine that I must have been somewhere on the planet while it was all taking place. My lack of existence is inconceivable.

But soon you will be born, and I know that it won’t seem so strange. Because I will have seen, with my own eyes, the world changing from a Bernardless one to a be-Bernarded one, and through this reflection I will at last appreciate that I too was created.

I mentioned this to your mother, and she couldn’t grasp where I was coming from with this. I guess I always assumed that other people share my inability to imagine a world without themselves in it, but clearly I am wrong.



Computing Displeasure


I’m having doubts about the competence of the programmers at Google.

As you are probably aware, GMail is a free service, so this isn’t going to be an angry rant about how they’ve let me down blah blah blah. Rather, it’s an observation based upon how they’ve handled a particular query of mine.

A lot of the time, when I’m not feeling in the mood for AJAX, I use the “Basic HTML” view. A few months ago, I noticed that if you configured a different default “from” address, the Basic HTML mode would not pick up on this, and it would continue to use the default address.

So I sent a little message to the GMail team, not so much a bug report as a suggestion for an improvement.

A few weeks later I remembered this incident, so I set up a little test to see if they had implemented my suggestion. However, I was getting inconsistent results. I probed a little deeper and found that if you clicked on the “reply” link then it appeared that the change had been made, but if you dared to use the “Quick Reply” feature, it still used the defaults. To illustrate, the standard Reply field sent emails as:

> Pete <>

…and the Quick Reply sent emails as:

> Pete <>

This was my first alarm bell. The initial state of affairs could easily have been an oversight during development, but this new observation suggested to me that there was insufficient abstraction in the replying mechanism. Rather than having one supreme “reply” function, with the two possible reply methods hooking into it at different places, it looked like the “Quick Reply” and the standard “Reply” were both using totally different functions, which is why it was possible to fix a bug in one of them but not the other. Generally, and specifically in this scenario, a bad thing.

So I sent another message to the GMail team detailing the new situation, and in the meantime I accustomed myself to avoiding the “Quick Reply” box.

Another few weeks have passed since then, so I ran my little test again. They’ve partly fixed it. The “Quick Reply” box now uses the specified default email address, which is good, but it doesn’t use the specified default “from” name. To illustrate, the standard Reply field still sends emails as:

> Pete <>

…and the Quick Reply now sends emails as:

> <>

Two observations. Firstly, there’s still no abstraction of the replying mechanism, which doesn’t really surprise me. But secondly, this kind of oversight is characteristic of someone who is (a) drunk, (b) habitually slapdash or (c) inexperienced as a programmer.

I’ve been led to believe that Google only hire talented, experienced programmers. What gives?

*UPDATE: It’s now fixed.*

Meander Photos

Bulbs. Not the garden sort.

Headlight bulbOn Wednesday night I noticed that one of my headlights wasn’t working. Curiously, it was the bulb that I had changed only about six months ago that had given up the ghost.

So I went to Halfords yesterday and bought myself a replacement bulb (and a spare, but that is by the by). But my dreams of a swift and easy changeover were hampered somewhat by the fact that the bonnet wouldn’t open. As you can imagine, at this point I became a little stressed out. I had visions of myself having to submit the car to be crushed into a tiny cube, simply because the engine compartment was now an impenetrable fortress and there was no engine oil or windscreen washer fluid left.

Google is your friend – I found [this][]:


> Pull the lever and have your mate press down on the bonnet where the catch is. Worked on my Cav ((Vauxhall Cavalier)). I think the cable has stretched a bit. I made a temporary repair by putting a Scotchlock connector on the end of the release cable. (Temporary = 3 years ago and it still works well!)

Sure enough, it worked. Valuable tip there.

Which leaves me only with the question – why did the bulb only last for a few months?


Not Giving Up The Day Job

It’s very childish of me, but I’ve been gleaning an unhealthy amount of pleasure from [Karen][]’s situation in one particular way.


Being, as she is, nine minus epsilon months pregnant, if provoked to anything more than a slight giggle, the floodgates open and she tumbles down a painful and scrunch-faced slope to the valley of uncontrollable laughter. I don’t know whether it is because of hormones or some other factor, but that’s just the way it is.

I’ve been seeking to gain as much mileage as possible from this, by telling jokes that aren’t even particularly funny, just funny enough to cause the desired effect. After a certain amount of experience, you figure out where the relevant boundaries are.

And then, when she goes all red in the face and loses the ability to speak due to paralytic mirth, I do not find it hard to convince myself that I must be the funniest comedian in the world.

Which is nice, for a while.


The Beast Returns

[It has followed me][].

[it has followed me]:

The terror that haunted me, through my waking hours and in my darkest nightmares.

I thought that I had escaped it. I thought that 16.6 miles would be enough to throw it off my scent forever. But I was wrong.

It has also developed a hideous new ability: the ability to teleport at will. When you think that you have managed to outrun it and leave it far behind, and your chest is pounding and your legs are aching, somehow it reappears in front of you to terrorise you some more. You cross the road to escape its deadly attack, and this outfoxes it… for now.

Your journey home takes forever. When you finally arrive to the safety of your abode, you barricade the doors and windows, and curl up a darkened corner: quivering, sobbing, shaking. You can not hide forever. You know this.

In the opposite corner of the room, the sodium light defines the edges of your flamethrower. You must destroy the beast.


On The Brink

It is now 8 days until the baby’s projected due date. In reality, this means that the baby could arrive any time in the next two weeks or so.

Maybe I’ll hear a funny buzzing noise while sat at my desk. I’ll quickly figure out that it’s my phone vibrating (I’m clever like that, you see) and so I’ll check the screen to see who it is. *Karen mob*, apparently. I will answer the phone with something like “Hi, are you alright?” and [she][] will say *”My waters have just broken!”* or *”I’m having real, proper contractions!”*


At this point I’ll find out where she is, and arrange a rendezvous, and then I’ll stuff my possessions into my bag and hurtle out of the office while hollering a suitable explanatory message back at my co-workers.

Or maybe we’ll be sat on the sofa watching a film, and from beside me I’ll hear an *”Uh-oh.”* or *”Nnnnngg.”* or *”Yaaargh!”* and this will serve as my cue. We’ve probably got enough time to wait until the next advert break. It’s not like she’s going anywhere under her own steam in a hurry.

Sadly, it’s also highly likely that I’ll be prodded awake in the middle of the night. If necessary, I will politely, by use of appropriate hand gestures, tell Karen to STFU while I lurch downstairs to find a vein and shoot up with espresso. I’m sure she understands that it is in her own interests to allow me to do this, in order that I may become a more effective labour partner.

Pregnancy has been a long and annoying wait. It’s only in the last few days that the end has realistically been in sight, and it has kicked in: yes, we really are going to deliver a fucking baby, how about that. Followed, of course, by a future that it would be daft to attempt to predict. That excites me.