"Halleluia" they thought - he's stopped blighting us with his vitriolic rants about weight vests, showing off and how good Ned is. No more the pointless gossip about who linked which hold to which on the beastmaker board, the self obsessed drivel about endless failure, or random musings on the perils of filling your splits with anti hydral. The Maclellan witch hunter, cast from the blogosphere, has finally hung up his boots? They wrung their hands in anticipation. Well no, sorry. He is/I am back. Once again. With the ill behaviour.
The building work dragged on into an eighth week. It felt like longer that men wielding power tools had been creating plumes of dust in the house. It feels now like that was all of a different world - one where she was still pregnant, and everything was as normal - just that she didn't walk far or drink gin. We were driving down Carterknowle road that evening, and as we crashed over a speedbump, her waters broke. 10 days earlier than the due date, a week away from the end of the building and everything was covered in dust and in boxes! We just wanted to collect up the waters, push them back up and seal the baby in for a few weeks.
We'd been whispering to it that it wasnt to come until the 16th - a week after its due date, but it wouldn't listen. It (cos he was still an it at this point) had been wrestling and kicking away at his mother, desperate to get out, but we weren't ready. There's a risk of infection from having your waters gone but not being in labour, so we ended up getting induced in jessops on wednesday the 28th. We had wanted to have a water birth, for her to be active during labour, and to stay at home as long as possible, but all this goes out the window when being induced, because you're hooked up to a drip and can't move about. Plus, as labour is being brought on by a synthetic version of the hormone, it suddenly comes on at full tilt, so you don't get chance to build up to it. We were warned to expect it to be hard, and consider all the pain relief options. It's not a competition, so we took them. And things went from being fraught and her suffering to her chatting with her dad about colour schemes for the house!
After a pretty chilled labour, we started pushing at about 11pm. They ended up suckering him and giving him a little pull to get him the last bit out, and at 12:46am on Thursday the 29th Harry Jack Morton hatched. As he was pulled clear of his mum, my eyes caught sight of a little red ball bag - a boy! get in! I couldn't believe it. So many people seem to have been having girls, that whilst I wanted a boy, I didn't expect to actually get one. They put him straight on his mum's chest and he squealed and squealed whilst two new parents looked at him and at each other and felt relief and awe and mild terror! It was like we hadn't realised there was going to be a baby at the end of it all. The world started to spin faster, and it hasn't slowed down since!
All through pregnancy and labour, the support is brilliant. The staff of Jessops are amazing. They do an incredible job, but at the end of it you are presented with your child and it feels like you've jumped off the cliff - all these people helped you get there, then pushed you off! It's then that the realisation dawns on you that you're gonna have to look after this totally dependant thing from hereafter, that your self indulgent lifestyle of old has gone forever - and we weren't unhappy! People do warn you that things change when you have a child but you just think 'yeah, yeah - whatever, we'll still do stuff' and I have no doubt that we will, but for the first few months its all about them.
The tide brings a ceaseless stream of visitors, then slowly the frequency abates, and you start to get back to normal. Only its not the old normal, its a new 'dictated-by-child' normal. One of the things people have said which most resonated was that the first couple of weeks were more about coping than anything else, and now six weeks on we're already getting better at it, and I have come to realising that something else a friend said is also true - the days may seem to drag on, but the weeks and months fly past. Six weeks old already. Six weeks, and much chunkier, more alert and almost having a smile baby exists, and its parents whilst not fully competent, can make at least a reasonable show of knowing what they are doing.
So then, what you really want to know, is during this paradigm shift in my life - how much have I been climbing? well, I figured I wouldnt be going out much, so i bought a kettlebell, and did a few sessions of hanging, but have actually been popping to the wall a couple of times a week, certainly after the first three weeks, and in the day rather than of an evening. But you know what? in the daytime the wall is full of other dads on stealth missions, and the weather's been shit anyway.
So it's ok fatherhood. At least so far. The feelings of this child has taken over my life and I dont get to choose what i do have been replaced by ones of 'but he is cute though', and dreams of his future and wondering what he'll be into. I chatted to Gill Whittaker last night (Katy and PWhiddy's mum) about how she got them into it, and know the secrets. Nick Brown seems keen to make him the next Adam Ondra, Foley's had a go, and he even did a poo on Ned. 'Doin' allright, getting good grades, future's so bright - i gotta wear shades'...