Sunday, 28 August 2016

Mara's Diary - 6 Months & Counting (Part 3)


I've spent all afternoon crying (I had a busy weekend and I'm tired, but don't tell the big people that.) They kept trying to make me go to sleep but I was too tired for that so fought it hard for about 17 minutes. The next thing you know I woke myself up starving because I'd slept through second lunch. Cried some more.


One of the big ones sneezed today. Possibly the most interesting thing I've seen them do. Apart from when they turn their hand into a duck. That's brilliant.


Tried to do the rolling over thing during every nappy change. Makes things easier for the big people. They need all the help they can get.


Just noticed I haven't pooped since Tuesday night. Should I be worried? Maybe I should talk so someone about this. I used to poop all the time.


I'm a little bit obsessed with one of the big folk. I hate it when she goes out of the room. Not fussed about the fuzzy on though. To be honest, I don't really think he knows what he's doing. Don't tell him I said that.


The fuzzy one spent all morning checking my nappy. I think he was worried. I'd forgotten all about it. Then I had to go. When I finally gave him what he was waiting for he looked proper grossed out. Don't really know what he expected to find in there...


More big people came to the house today. How many are out there? One of them had the worst breath ever and insisted on kissing me on the bit of head above my nose. How's about no?! Sicked up on their clothes.


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Year Of The Dad Article

You can find out more information on Year Of The Dad by visiting

Now for the Dad Olympics!

BabyOlympics.jpgAfter the recent display of skill and talent in Rio, new dad MARK IRVINE encourages fathers to bring the same training & dedication to building parenting skills - with a little help from Year of the Dad & Dads2b...
HOW much of yourself do you have to give to attain the level of greatness we saw in this summer's Olympics? How do you learn your chosen sport?
You educate yourself and train as hard as you possibly can. Surely that is the key to achieving anything: education and practice. It's how I Learned the trade which earns my living; how I learned to play music when I was at high school.
So how can this be translated in to the biggest challenge of them all - caring for and raising a little mini-me? For me, that's where Year Of The Dad and Dads2b came in handy...


Before I go any further, let me introduce myself. I'm Mark, husband to Caroline and daddy to Mara who is now six months old. I'm also a blogger who has been documenting our lives since we found out we were expecting last summer. Because you don't become a dad when your child is born, you become a dad as soon as your partner tells you she's pregnant!
Caroline spent a lot of time sleeping in her first trimester, I began to write and this is how my blog, Thoughts Of A First Time Dad, was born. Then Mara rocketed into our lives two months early, just before we were due to commence our antenatal classes, so the Dads2b course I had attended a matter of weeks before was really a blessing!


I was first made aware of the class after an early visit to our midwife for a check up. I emailed one of the co-ordinators and signed myself up for four weeks of training. Fast forward a few months and there I am, sitting in a room in St Johns Hospital, Livingston, with 10 other guys from around West Lothian.
Dads2B was organised by Andie Hewitt (Parent Education Co-ordinator, NHS Lothian) and Stephen Gorman (Early Years Development Worker, West Lothian Council - Sure Start) to help expectant fathers in the West Lothian district (and recently expanded into Edinburgh) step up and be the best fathers they can possibly be by participating in a hands-on, dads only, antenatal class.
There is so much to learn over the four weeks, I wonder if I would have been able to cope if I hadn't taken part. Looking back now, it was incredibly funny at times to be part of a group of grown men changing nappies on dolls and pretending to bathe them with looks of sheer determination on their faces, but it was totally worth it in the end.
We even got to watch Andie bath a baby in the maternity ward who was only a day old. Six months on, I'm still the only one who gets to bath Mara because "I did the class, I know what I'm doing!" (I'm a bit stubborn like that!)


The course itself covers 5 main areas:
  • Labour and Birth
  • Baby Care
  • Feeding
  • Post Natal Depression
  • Baby Brain Development
Also, usually on the last week, one or more dads who have previously completed the course come back and share their stories of their little ones' birth and how life has changed for them and their family since.


It was during one of these visits that I picked up some valuable information which helped Caroline and I out no end when Mara was born eight weeks early.
During the labour (which had been happening for 3 days and we had no idea) I was pacing around the labour suite reading a book on breathing exercises as we hadn't yet attended our couples antenatal class together!
However, I managed to hold it together and help my wife through a particularly difficult labour (although she might tell you different: I'm pretty sure at one point Caroline told me that everything would be ok and that she loved me, but that could have been the gas & air talking!)
Anyway, after five weeks in the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) and a few more weeks at home adjusting to our new lives, I went back to the Dads2B class with Mara to regale the new batch of expectant fathers with our story and also to put the fear of God into some of them! Going back to class is also how I became aware of Year Of The Dad.

YEAR OF THE DADBabies_on_chairs.jpg

When we came home that night, I immediately went online to this Year of the Dad website and was amazed by what they are trying to achieve! As you'll see from browsing this site, the aim is to spend 2016 (and beyond) focusing on "embracing the potential of fathers and father figures, promoting their importance in child development and supporting them to be the dads they want to be."
There is a wealth of information available from why they are choosing to highlight dads, upcoming events around the country, a directory of dad-friendly groups and organisations across Scotland, stories from dads who have done things differently and all you need to know about paternity leave at work, amongst other things.
Thanks Year Of The Dad for giving me the opportunity to write for you, its been an honour! I'm happy to be working alongside YOTD and promoting them through my blog and Facebook page. You can also follow my progress on Instagram or Google+.
If anyone has questions, about becoming a new dad or anything else then please get in touch! And thanks for reading!
Mark blogs at

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Mara's Diary - 6 Months & Counting (Part 2)


Went to the shops with Daddy at the weekend, some woman thought I was only three months old. Daddy got quite annoyed. I took it as a compliment!


I cried for ages last night because I had a sore tummy so the big people put me in their bed which was much more comfortable than my own stupid cot. SO... if that's what happens if I cry at night... I'll have to try it more often!


Came up with a great idea today. I can hide food under my chin between there and my neck and then I can snack on it later. They’ll never find it there. I am a genius.


I wish the big people would stop singing at me. I don't know how much more I can take. Especially when the fuzzy one joins in. Maybe they could learn some new songs or something. I don't want to hear about Old  MacDonalds farm, I don't even know who the guy is! And Miss Polly should get her dolly put down if she's sick all the time. Gross.


I'm so glad I'm only little, the big people always seem to be so tired. Maybe they should sleep some more. Sleep is incredible!


I'm getting a little bit fed up of strangers squeezing my cheeks and touching my feet when I'm out. Here's a suggestion – if I don’t know who you are, don’t touch me. How does that sound?!


Why do the big people feel the need to wipe my face every time I've had something to eat? Maybe I like it there. Maybe I want to save some for later. Wipe my toosh all day long but stay away from my face.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Mara's Diary - 6 Months & Counting (Part 1)


I tried to eat my bib for dinner tonight. It tasted awesome, much better than that green stuff they shove towards my face all the time.


I left a little bit of sick on the back of the sofa today. They wont find that for ages.


Today I was in a really grabby mood. I felt like grabbing everything I could. Including mummy's hair.


I screamed the place down for food at dinnertime tonight and then screamed even louder because I didn't want the food the big people were giving me. I don't understand why I wasn't just allowed to eat my bib. Who's running this show?


I stared at the ceiling lights in the living room for absolutely ages today. They're so beautiful. I think I could look at them forever.


A new toy arrived for me today in the post. I wasn't too sure about it so I put it straight in my mouth to explore. Still not convinced but I left it in there anyway.


My teeth were really bothering me today. When I'm crying and in pain why do all the big people think I want to see them pulling daft faces? They have no idea what I'm going through.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Things That Surprised Me As A First Time Dad

When Caroline first fell pregnant and told me I was going to be a dad I thought I had a vague idea of  what I was getting into: nappies, sleeplessness, the usual stuff for a first-time dad, but oh how naive I was. There's so much I couldn't have planned for, especially with Mara arriving early. Here's a sampling of those surprises.

1. Baby poop can be multicoloured.

And it's called "meconium." The official definition is "the dark green/black substance forming the first faeces of a new born infant." But that foul sentence doesn't come close to doing meconium justice. There's nothing to prepare a first-time dad for this, ahem, unique brand of poop.
And don't get me started on what happens when you start to feed them anything other than milk...
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2. Wherever you go, whatever you do everyone will give you their advice.

A first-time dad is an internet comment section in human form, with the world and their Aunty offering their opinions about what they think is for the best regarding vaccinating, gender stereotypes, dummies, co-sleeping... The list is endless. Some people are genuinely trying to be helpful, others are downright rude and look down their nose at you when you dare to react in a way which displeases them.

3. Baby noises can be scary, but silence can be worse.

For the first 5 weeks Mara was in hospital in the Special Care ward so she had round the clock care, but when we brought her home it was all on us! It wasn't her cries keeping us awake at night, it was every single gap of silence that had me out of bed to ensure she was still breathing. It took a couple of weeks for the silence to become serene and to be certain all her tiny noises weren't sounds of suffocation. This is where the Snuzahero comes in handy!

4. You'll end up with a stuffed toy collection to rival Build-A-Bear.

Before long, your newborn child will have accumulated an off-site storage space quantity of stuffed toys and if you think about the amount of dust lurking in that plush pile, you may never sleep again.

5. There are buttons in baby clothes where you don't expect them.

Before becoming a dad, I had no idea there were clothes with buttons in the crotch. They make changing nappies a breeze, but snapping those buttons shut on a wriggling baby should be a sport in the Olympics.

6. Vomit is inevitable.

A wise first-time dad goes into the experience expecting a fair amount of vomit, it's only natural after all, but he's probably not expecting it to project hard and fast onto his face at 2 a.m. By the way, it's warm, smelly, and every bit as disgusting as you'd imagine.

7. Baby food isn't bad.

As a youngster, I couldn't have guessed that someday I'd be tasting spoonful's of pureed apple from tiny glass jars (which are adorable, by the way) but beginner eaters are helped by mirroring our behaviour. So here comes that little aeroplane with a spoonful for you and a spoonful for me!

8. You'll become a feminist.

I'll admit to never really considering women's issues before I became a dad of a daughter. I have no recollection of ever discussing societal injustices or unequal pay with female friends growing up. As a first-time dad of a little lady, I suddenly saw the stereotyping on toy store shelves, looked up at their potential glass ceiling, and became aware of everything that could hinder my daughter as she grew up. Like any good dad, I want to help her overcome and solve it all. If Mara wants to be Batman at Halloween then she can be Batman!

9. There's nothing quite like sitting in a quiet home with your little one.

The hospital was a safety net with a comforting buzz of activity; assistance was only a button away. So I'll never forget the moment we brought our little bundle of joy home. She was sleeping and the house was still. We were alone with our new born and I didn't have a clue what to do next. The shaky confidence I possessed as a new dad quickly crumbled into a heap. There are no guidebooks, its one of those learn on the job situations.

10. You'll see yourself in your baby, more and more every day.

I understood the DNA of it all, that half of her came from me but I didn't know being a dad would be like walking into a hall of mirrors. As I watch her sense of humour, imagination, co-ordination and general development of my first child reveal itself, I grasped that much of who we are – for better and  worse – is transferred onto our children.

11. Your heart will be lighter — even with those extra pounds.

My baby sleeping soundly on my chest is the most peaceful feeling ever. Her miniature breaths pushing her tiny belly in and out, the sweet smell of her wispy hair, her gurgles and giggles in her sleep; those memories will stay with me forever and are nearly strong enough to make me want to do it all again. Then I re-read many of the other items on this list and I realize that actually, I'm all set.
Mara is perfect in our eyes, and you can't top that.