Get Even More Visitors To Your Blog, Upgrade To A Business Listing >>

Kingsley Can't Swim and Other Observations (part 1)

Tags: helen mother baby

The car carrying us to the hospital did not swerve desperately between the other traffic on the road. The car was not driven by a stunt man, and the traffic was not spaced conveniently to lend extra suspense to our choreographed dance to the labour ward. I was not being played by Hugh Grant, and my girlfriend was not a leading American actress. I did not faint during the birth. She did not vow to never let me touch her again. This was not a film written and directed by Richard Curtis, this was Life – no, not the award-winning documentary series narrated by Sir David Attenborough and featuring rutting deer and boisterous badgers, but my life, starring the occasional stationary deer (one stuffed, decapitated) and the one known around the world and through the ages as puer, il ragazzo, die Bube, 'r bachgen, le garcon – the boy.

Part One

Let me tell you something about the birth of my son.

The maternity room window rattled in its frame twelve storeys above Brighton, where the pier's dim lights flickered below. The city was in storm, and the wind howled up from the sea and crashed against the pane.

One of the midwives asked me to close the window. The rain was getting into the room, and the wires to the machines were swaying. I told her I found the scene… atmospheric. She told me that the previous night she had watched The Omen, and the maelstrom was giving her the willies.

Helen, whose waters had broken 40 hours previously, lay back on the bed, looking unimpressed. I suggested it was a shame the moon was not in full bloom, on account of the fact that I had tried to persuade her to call our first son Wolf, assuming, of course, that she was about to deliver a boy. On learning that Rudolf Hess, the deputy leader of the Third Reich, had named his son Wolf, I was later glad to have been over-ruled on this.

Then, not quite half an hour old, the boy was in my arms, bright red and opening and shutting his mouth like a fledgling gagging for worms. "I think he's going to be sick," I said. He projectile vomited what looked like blood and crap into the air. The spurt of matter landed on my shirt, and I learned my first lesson of childrearing: if a baby looks like it is going to be sick, it is probably going to be sick.

But blood and crap? We called in a nurse – the midwives had clocked off from their shift minutes after the delivery and left us alone with our son. The nurse seemed amused at our concern, and stated his diagnosis like it was the most obvious and innocuous thing in the world: "Your baby ate some blood. That is fine."

It turned out that the blood was eaten in the birth canal during labour, and the crap was blood, too. Unpleasant stuff, but that's life. Later, I found the flush on the loo adjacent to the delivery room did not work properly. Unpleasant stuff indeed.

As another nurse led us from the room, Helen in a wheelchair, Kingsley – for it was he – in a sort of incubator on wheels, we could hear the resigned sighs and the thrashing of a brush as some poor cleaner dealt with the problem in the U-bend. And I remember thinking, God bless the NHS.

Helen was soon cursing the National Health Service. She spent two nights on the ward, where the nurses slammed doors at all hours of the day and night and served up food which included sprouts, diced swede and a pasta dish that looked like it had been fed to, and then regurgitated by, the hospital cat. (I must stress that the Royal Sussex County Hospital did not officially house a cat, for to do so would probably be contrary to best practice in healthcare).

The rationale behind this poor service was not made explicit, but could be guessed at. Sprouts and cat sick would not be most women’s first choice from the menu as they recovered from labour, but were the food to arrive piping hot and delicious three times a day, and the nurses to come and go silently, the patients would never leave. It was a policy of simple efficiency.

In fact, the only real problem with the maternity ward were the patients themselves. Take the fools located in the curtained-off area opposite (the ward housed four women and their babies to a room). Having successfully cajoled their small daughter into going to sleep, the father would either cough loudly, like he was trying to rather unsubtly send a secret message to someone in the next room, or unzip the mother's night bag so loudly that I genuinely thought my own flies were being ripped open. Their baby would wake up, prompting such comments from its parents as "Maybe she is cold" and "Maybe she is hot".

I would like to point out that 'unzip the mother's night bag' is not a euphemism.
On Helen's final morning in hospital I earned brownie points by bringing in a breakfast I had prepared at home: a bowl of Sugar Puffs, sealed with sheets of kitchen towel, and a mayonnaise jar half-filled with milk. I thought it was a nice touch that I Selotaped a spoon to the cereal bowl, and Helen seemed impressed – and did not mention again the fact that I had failed to bring her flowers the previous morning, contrary to custom and the experience of every other mother on the ward, whose bedside tables were adorned with flora.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the maternity ward was being allowed to leave – with the boy. We had no experience of rearing children. Neither of us had eaten or slept properly for several days. It was public knowledge that we planned to use Paddington for his second name. And yet no one raised an eyebrow when we put him in his car seat, packed our bags, and left the hospital.

For his first journey home, we had dressed the boy in a plain white vest and something called a babygrow. We vowed never to dress him in clothing bearing such legends as "I love my mummy and daddy". His parents were not so emotionally insecure that they needed him to advertise such rubbish. Neither his mother nor his father was a pre-pubescent girl, and the boy was not a doll. Every time I saw a baby advertising its parents’ assumption that “I love my mummy and daddy”, I thought of Philip Larkin – "They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do." Perhaps Baby Gap would use This Be The Verse on their next range of tops for toddlers: This Be The Vest.

We also lacked that strange compulsion to surround the child with everything in pink or blue depending on its gender. At the lift outside the maternity ward we found a couple with a pink car seat. In it sat a baby in pink clothing. A pink cuddly toy rested on its lap. No doubt the poor girl was being whisked off to her pink nursery.

In fact, the boy did rather well clothes-wise from the generosity of friends and family. Of all the vests, shirts, trousers and babygrows sent to us – we soon had enough stuff to open an infant clothing shop that would rival Baby Gap – the only indignities were a vest carrying the words "little star", a suit declaring that the wearer was a "little dude", and a bib stating "I love cuddles". It would have been ungrateful to complain about such gifts, but the boy was handsome enough and did not need twee slogans that attempted to make him more so.

Other people's babies were ugly and gross. To those women who coo uncontrollably at every human being sprung from the loins of friends and family and declare, "Oh my god, he's so gorgeous!" No, he is not. He is fat and ugly and his chin is shiny where the drool has collected. "Oh my god!" they scream, possibly wetting their knickers at the same time, "she is the cutest baby EVER!" No, she is not. She looks like her father – a man – and is cross-eyed. And she stinks.

Stop putting up pictures of her on Facebook. They are making me feel sick.

I walked into the dining room one morning to be startled by the image of some moist-faced, horrific, snarling beast. I actually jumped at the sight of it. Closer inspection revealed that a friend of Helen's had distributed a card heralding the arrival of her daughter. The picture on the front of the card was this creature. There is a phrase, a face only a mother could love, and this was one of those faces. As our house had been invaded by slugs, I wondered if the picture card, propped up on the floorboards, would act as a scarecrow and ward off the minibeasts. Perhaps it could be stuck to the outside of the front door, like the gargoyles on Gothic churches that were meant to keep out evil spirits. No, this was all fantasy. There was no use for this card whatsoever, so I placed it face down on a table. And then piled our heaviest books on top of it.

They say that when preparing a bath for a baby, one should test the temperature of the water with an elbow. This is one of those Things Parents Must Do, digression from which provokes consternation, and even rage, in others. I used my hands. I tried the elbow thing once, but felt that as a gauge of water temperature, my hands were a more accurate part of my body. Meanwhile, bending over the bath at an angle sufficient to allow my elbow to find contact with the water put my ribs at risk of catching the edge of the roll-top. Thus I trusted my hands more than my elbows. I suspected that devotees of the Elbow Rule would rather dip an eyelid into the water than resort to their hand, but the latter never let me down. Hands, glorious hands. Talk to the hand, the face is not listening. The hands of time.

Perhaps you do not have hands. If that is true, good luck to you.

Anyway, there was too much obsession with the temperature of the bath water. The boy's skin was not going to fall off if the water was slightly warmer than warm, and water that was too cold was likely to distress him more than water that was too hot. (Please note: this does not constitute professional medical advice. If your baby's skin falls off, please call 074705 11123 immediately.)

No, don't. That's my mobile number.

Call 999.

Meanwhile, I noticed that baby baths were essentially a washing-up bowl shaped slightly differently to make them look a bit like a small bath. Aware of the scam, we initially bathed the boy in the washing-up bowl. After a few weeks, when he got too big to kick about at pleasure, he started taking baths with me. Nice warm baths, the perfect temperature of which I ascertained with my trusty, handsome hand. Although he always reacted to being lowered into the water with a grimace, this did not develop into a full-blown crying session and his skin did not fall off.

The bath gave me physical contact with the boy, and I appreciated the benefits of this for effective man-to-boy bonding. There was, however, one downside, concerning the fact that every time I took a bath with the boy, Helen found the scene worthy of a photo opportunity. Which is fine, until one considers the following conversation that took place one evening on my return from work.

"Hello there," I said, entering the house. Danielle, a friend of Helen's, had come over for dinner.
"Hi, how are you?" she replied.
"Not bad. You?" I replied, wondering if Fyodor Dostoevsky had the same difficulty with writing dialogue.
"Good, thanks. How was the train journey?" asked Danielle, fingering the mink scarf that Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov had bought her from a street vendor in St Petersburg for 40 kopeks.
"Not so bad. What have you been up to today?" I continued.
"Not much really," she continued.
"OK," I said.
"I saw your penis."

One peril of newfound parenthood was the incessant visits from members of one's family, who one would rather did not visit at all, let alone incessantly. There was only one phenomenon of parenthood worse than this, which was the single visit from Helen's mother, who in the role of mother had always acted perfectly well, but in the role of overexcited grandmother had started acting perfectly well off the rails.

I do not want to embarrass the woman, so I won't name her. But on one occasion her presence made me consider logging on to, purchasing a copy of How To Disappear Completely And Never Be Found, and either taking the advice of its author or taking the book to her head.

Sorry, anonymous woman.

This woman, who before the arrival of the boy had behaved normally, bearing in mind that unkempt facial hair and the accidental passing of wind are deemed normal in those approaching retirement, was now acting very oddly indeed. This can be illustrated by two actions she took. The first was to demand that Helen set up an account for her on The Daily Telegraph's dating website, in order that the boy might enjoy the company of an additional and strange grandfather, with the following stipulations: that her profile contained no picture of her, "because I look fat", that all personal information be eliminated, "because I don't want to be stalked", and no contact address made available, "because I don't want to be contacted". Furthermore, she wanted it to be made clear that she was "not interested in sex".

At the time of writing, she is still single.

The second action was her insistence that rather than be referred to as grandmother or one of its derivatives, she would be known by the moniker Oma, which, apparently, is Dutch for grandmother. This woman was not Dutch. Nor were we. No one in my family was Dutch. No one in Helen's family was Dutch. Oma had never been to Amsterdam. She had no intention of doing so. Neither did we.

Every written correspondence to either the boy or us was now signed off with "Oma", which was made all the more ominous by the frequent references to Oma in the body of these letters. The point was really rammed home in the letters: Oma had been doing some gardening that morning, the weather was nice, et cetera; Oma was looking forward to seeing you again, hopefully the weather will be nice, et cetera. If it was intended to be subliminal messaging, it was not very subliminal.

I coped with this development by referring to Oma as Osama Bin Laden. Perhaps unsurprisingly, she reacted badly to this, but the name stuck, with me at least.
The boy was five days old when he was paid a visit by the international terrorist, who, on arrival, declared that she planned to stay with us for an entire week. On the second morning I did attempt to sabotage her visit by turning on the cold tap in the kitchen while she was in the shower, and then turning it off, and then turning it on again, repeatedly. Unfortunately this did not work, despite the cries of "ooh!" and "aah!" and "I will crush the West!" which emanated from the bathroom.

At 3am on the third morning the boy was being particularly rowdy as I, wearing nothing but my underpants, tried to change his nappy. Bin Laden, who had evidently overheard the kafuffle, was making to enter our bedroom. I told Helen in an unhushed voice that her mother was about to receive a wallop across the face with a Denon stereo speaker unless immediate measures were put into action to prevent her planned breach of the sacred threshold. Perhaps sensing danger, the woman retreated to the spare room at the back of the house.

We finally got rid of her by not giving her any money when she returned from the supermarket with our substantial haul of groceries.

We named the boy, who is an Aquarius, after the 19th century author Charles Kingsley, who wrote The Water-Babies; Kingsley Zissou, a character in the Wes Anderson film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou; and Kingsley Road, the thoroughfare in south London on which his mother and father first met. His second name, Paddington, was inspired by the fictional Peruvian bear created by Michael Bond. (Actually, the first bit is made up. Helen's wicked stepmother asked us, on learning the boy's name, if we had named him after the author. We had not thought of this, and considered it a superior story to some road in London and a film no one else had heard of.)

So I wondered: why do people call their children Dave?

At the town hall in Brighton, where we registered the birth, there was displayed a list of the most popular local names. For the previous five years, the most popular name was Jack. It is a fine name, and I have met a couple of good Johns and a benevolent Jack in my time. But to choose this name, up there at the top of the list, seemed akin to picking out one's furniture from the latest Ikea catalogue.

It is perfectly possible that the boy will grow to hate his name (even I might suggest that at school he denies all knowledge of having been given a second name). He might even change it by deed poll, as soon as he is legally allowed to do so, to Jack. If he expressed such sentiments, however, I would lobby vociferously for Wolf, and point out his good fortune in not having been called Zowie Bowie, Moon Unit Zappa, or Petal Blossom Rainbow Oliver.

During her eighth month of pregnancy, Helen made a work-related trip to France. Realising there was a small possibility that our first child would be born, albeit prematurely, in the country of cheese and champagne, she asked me if her journey had my blessing. I told her I was fine with it, but added the caveat that if she gave birth to a boy in France, we would name him Napoleon.

Interestingly, the French for Dave is David.

Baby photos tend to be rather formulaic. There he is in the bath, here's one of her sleeping, in this one he is either smiling or choking. So we attempted to spice up the album with a bit of variety, which brings me to the subjects of a knitted cigarette, my nipple, and a bath pipe.

1. The knitted cigarette: There is a black and white photograph of my uncle, Philip, 'smoking' a cigarette in his pram at the age of a few months. His father, my grandfather, obviously had a sense of humour, and the result of his gag was the most remarked upon photograph in the family album. The scene was replicated for us by the boy lounging laconically with a knitted cigarette in his hand (yes, a replica cigarette in wool). The woollen cheroot, manufactured by a creative cousin, was preferential in this purpose to grandfather's cancer stick because it emitted no smoke and could not contaminate the boy's small lungs.

2. My nipple: When the boy appealed for food, he was handed to his mother as soon as possible so that he may suckle the breast. However, she was not always present to administer instant gratification. She might be in the kitchen, for example, preparing our dinner, or in the bathroom, engaged in a lengthy soak in the tub. The boy's initial cries were soon interspersed with a kind of mime, where he acted out the scene, with his lips, of Child Feeding at the Breast. When cradled, this re-enactment involved the boy turning his head to the carrier's breast, opening and closing his mouth and, eventually, headbutting the non-existent teat (for the carrier tended to be dressed, and where the boy sought flesh, he found cardigan). During one such play for satiation, I decided to lift up my top and let the boy go for my nipple – my milkless, hairy nipple (which resembled Terry Nutkins when wet on account of the strands of hair falling about it). Helen happened to have the camera to hand and took a photograph.

3. The bath pipe: This was basically a plastic reproduction of a gentleman's smoking-pipe, which was colourfully decorated and whose bowl enabled the user to blow soap bubbles, rather than ingest tobacco. It was a remarkable alternative to the traditional yellow duck at bath time, and carried an amalgamated sense of sophistication and fun. Cue photo opportunity.

One afternoon, when Helen was still pregnant, she received a message via Facebook from an acquaintance and fellow mother-to-be. It said: "Would you like to see my preggie pics?"

No. Why would anyone want to see pictures of your bloated stomach in profile? Perhaps your husband, or those who frequent fetish websites. But not us. Please, put it away.
Soon, despite no response to the first message, there followed a second. "My boy's been kicking loads today – we [the awful acquaintance and, presumably, the equally awful father of her child] think he is going to be a footballer!"

What an original thought. I instructed Helen to inform any well-wishers that our foetus was also kicking a lot, and that we expected him, or her, to be a scaffolder.
Then I was watching Masterchef, in which a contestant was described as a "father-to-be", which I found preposterous. Surely they meant "unemployed"? It is understandable why a woman might be described as a mother-to-be. It could explain her manner or appearance, or lack of engagement in the pursuit of a career. She might be on maternity leave, say, or a housewife who prefers not to be dubbed as such. But what was the father-to-be up to, other than sitting on his hairy arse in front of Deal or No Deal?

Father-to-be? Perhaps he was a trainee priest.

Old people love babies. They also have no fear in approaching parents and, uninvited, prodding their infant offspring and asking questions of it. Thus one man approached me outside some shops one afternoon, where I was holding the boy after taking him out of his pram, where he had laid angrily. "He's a small one," said the old man. "Yes," I replied, "he was six pounds ten at birth." I wondered if the ensuing silence meant the pensioner was confused, and that "six pounds ten" sounded to him like an awful lot of money for such a small boy.

Eventually, he piped back up. "How old is he?" he asked.
"Three weeks," said I.
"What's his name?" continued the man.
"Kingsley," I told him.
He looked disinterested and walked off.

Not long after this, Helen was in a supermarket when an elderly woman, whom she described as "a witch", approached the pram, pulled back the blanket without invitation and demanded: "How old?"
"Four weeks," Helen informed her.
"A little one," said the witch, who luckily became distracted by an announcement over the Tannoy about half-price yams or something, enabling the boy and his mother to make good their escape.

There is nothing particularly wrong in any of this. I simply mention it because it is something that happened. The elderly also smiled gummily at us as we passed them on the Esplanade. Apparently they find comfort in the very young. I did not smile back, as only old people and fools smile at strangers.

When Helen's midwife instructed us to attend an antenatal class, my heart sunk. I foresaw other, ugly members of the general public, and cheap plastic chairs.

We walked into our class to find nine other, ugly couples already seated on plastic, schoolroom chairs. We sat next to a large woman and her even larger partner. He looked just like Chief from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest: enormous, like a Red Indian, with a solemn face and long black hair that reached nearly to his waist. He must have been seven feet tall.

"Hello," said the woman, introducing herself.

I cannot remember her name, but she then said, in reference to the Red Indian: "This is The Chief."

I looked around the room for Ken Kesey but could not find him, so I turned to the big man.

"My real name is Barnaby," he muttered with a strong, possibly eastern European accent (not a Red Indian then).

Later, Helen confirmed that the antenatal class was indeed being conducted on the set of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. "He was called The Chief," she said. I reassessed the other fathers in the room to see if any of them was Jack Nicholson, but none of them was. I was relieved when Helen showed no intention of furthering our conversation with The Chief, or starting one with anybody else.

The Chief spent the rest of the session intermittently rubbing his hand over his partner's belly. This display of affection seemed to be spurred by the midwife's mention of the words "baby", "him", "her", and even "it". What a softie this big man is, I thought. The first time the midwife referred to a crude illustration of a foetus as "him", The Chief boomed: "We are having a boy", for some reason now sounding like Arnold Schwarzenegger – "Wee are harving a boyyyy".

Across the room sat two women who could have been mother and daughter, but whose dual pregnancy made this, to my mind, unlikely. They both spoke like Cock-er-neys from a 1960s Disney film set in London, and I was ashamed to find myself suggesting to Helen, under my breath, that they were "slags from the estate". My estimation, perhaps harsh, was nonetheless given some measure of credence when the women, during a question and answer session with the midwife, contributed the following interlocution: "When we're breastfeeding, can we go out and get pissed?"

Judging by the women's ruddy faces and displayed patronage of market clothing stalls, I decided that beastfeeding would be a more appropriate term for their suckling.
(Please note, I am not a snob. In my youth I spent nearly 12 months in the employment of the local Tesco, for which I was engaged in the task of stacking the shelves – including the toilet-roll aisle – in the days before the introduction of the minimum wage.)

Another highlight of this class was the knitted boob, which was used by the midwife to demonstrate effective methods of breastfeeding. Interestingly, these visual aids had been knitted by elderly women and donated to their local hospital. The form of our booby prop and its nipple had evidently been well studied, and the thought of grandmothers knocking them out six to the dozen from their armchairs conjured an interesting image in my head.

I later rued missing the opportunity to steal the knitted boob and take it home with me. It would have gone nicely in the nursery with the woollen cigarette.

By the time Helen told me she was pregnant, she had already been pregnant for eight weeks. However, I had strongly suspected – unsuspected by her – that she was expecting. (This is why I nearly called this book What To Suspect When You’re Expecting). I knew she was up the muff, so to speak, from about the fourth week. This meant that when she did tell me, I had to feign surprise – as well as gently berate her for trying to keep the news to herself for so long.

I am not the most observant person in the world, but when you share a bed, and the occasional pair of socks, with someone, it is not difficult to spot certain signs that certain things might be afoot. For instance, I was highly suspicious, around the fourth week of pregnancy, that Helen had missed her time of the month. In fact, around this time, I boldly asked her "How are things downstairs?" on account of the fact that she was not exhibiting the kind of behaviour I had come to associate with the Red Rage. For one thing, there had been no interruption to the occasional rutting referred to in the Prologue. (Dear reader, try not to be sick. Or turned on.) For another, there had been… no, stop. I am not Jilly Cooper.

I caught her snacking one afternoon on pickled gherkins. Yes, I know it is a cliché to have a pregnant woman crave foods such as the humble pickle, but she was actually eating the things. In fact, I ate some too, and they were very nice, and while I ate I ruminated on everything that was happening.

I noticed that her breasts had grown slightly. She was only six weeks gone at this point, but they had definitely improved, I mean grown. I do not remember mentioning this to Helen at the time, as I was building sensory evidence of a phenomenon she was either unaware of or secretive about. I do, however, remember thinking that an increase in the volume of her bosom was no bad thing, partly because it would enable me to use the word whoppers, which I like.

The announcement of her pregnancy coincided with the 60th birthday party of Osama Bin Laden. My preparation for this ceremony involved wiping ALL the porn from my laptop so it could be replaced with a large, eclectic mix of songs from the sixties, none of which were listened to after it emerged that Bin Laden was in possession of an inferior brand of stereo that was incompatible with my technology. Yet I was in a surprisingly good mood. Largely, perhaps, because I was as drunk as a boiled owl.

The one person abstaining from alcohol was Helen, who usually enjoyed a drink as much as the next man. And when someone at the party took me aside and slurred, "Helen's not drinking, she must be pregnant", my suspicions were confirmed.

The following morning, Helen turned to me in bed and said, "I've got something to tell you." I prepared myself to act surprised. Not Hugh Grant fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck surprised, but surprised nonetheless.

"I think I'm pregnant," she said.

I sort of raised my eyebrows and opened and closed my mouth a couple of times like a fish. Realising that I probably looked like I was doing an impression of Gordon Brown, I quickly put a stop to this.

"Oh my god," I said.

And then, for effect, I said it again. "Oh my god."

In fact, my acting here was proficient enough for me to become genuinely surprised at my acting ability and subtlety. Later, I regretted being like Gordon Brown instead of Hugh Grant. And, bearing in mind her now public condition, I felt guilty that I had let Helen leave the bedroom at 3am to help other members of her family bring a storm-ravaged marquee under control in lashing rain and howling wind.

As we have seen, names can be controversial. There was the grandmother, now known by the abbreviation OBL to humour Helen, who had grown tired of hearing her mother referred to as Osama Bin Laden. There was the boy himself, whose name started confusing the authorities from the outset. (When the health visitor came to the house on the fifth week, her records showed that the boy lived in Paddington, and it took a lot of persuading to get her to move this word from the 'address' field and into the 'name' one. His great-grandfather, who had traced his own lineage back to the 15th Century, remarked that the boy was the first member of the family "to be named after a mainline railway station". He started referring to him as Mainline.)

Then there were the nicknames given to the boy by his parents. In times of stress, these tended to have negative connotations. Thus I might receive a text message referring to our charge as "grumpy bollocks", which certainly made a change from his mother's usual "little man". Or I might inform him at 4am, while fumbling for cotton wool with one eye closed and my pants wedged into my crack, that he was indeed "a screaming bag of shite".

It is important to note that even the latter barrage of abuse was administered affectionately. I stress the point because I had often come a cropper for making negative associations in my terms of endearment. There was the girlfriend who took exception to me calling her, after I discovered her third nipple, Mr Scaramanga. But there was no such risk of reprimand from the boy. He could not understand a word I said, and saying them was cathartic. This benefited me because it lowered my blood pressure, which in turn benefited the household income because it lessened the chance that I would put on something warm and catch the next train to Gatwick.

Calling one's infant son "a screaming bag" of something horrible only emphasises how naming a child is fraught with danger. One might, for example, have settled on the name Rose in memory of a particularly well-liked great-aunt, only to be told by a friend: "Oh no, that won't do. I went to school with a Rose and she was a right cunt."
All names have associations, so one man's Teddy is another man's Adolf. There is little that can be done here, other than telling people with opinions that their opinions count for nothing, or choosing a safe, neutral name which inspires no emotional response at all, such as James or Clare – the magnolia and beige of names. Readers of The Guardian might find Alfie and Mia more appropriate.

Another area of delicacy was the child's first words. Parents can be rather protective of these initial utterances, and the conventional desire is for the first word to be either "mummy" or "daddy", or their derivations. This is understandable, but overzealous pursuit of this end smacks of the insecurities manifested in clothing that states "I love my mummy and daddy". Remember, your baby does not love you, he loves sucking tits and pooing.

Obviously I would not have minded in the slightest if the boy's first word was "mummy". I would, though, have minded if it was "Oma". I spent many a spare moment saying "mamma" and "Oma" to myself, because they sounded similar and I did not want to unfairly admonish the boy if I mistook his "mamma" for an "Oma".

But this only made me paranoid that Oma was easier to say than mummy and daddy. There was only one thing for it. The boy's first word, like the baby in Meet The Fockers, would be ‘asshole’. Which is why I could often be heard repeating the word to his non-comprehending face at bath time.

My verbal encouragement of the boy may therefore have seemed low-brow, but I was encouraged to continue this behaviour by evidence that an intellectual approach often leads to failure. For example, I read in one national newspaper about a child prodigy who, at the age of five, was prancing about his grandfather's house reciting the speeches of Sir Winston Churchill. This boy went on to live a troubled adolescence, which involved drugs and mania, before committing suicide at the age of 18 by jumping from a moving car into New York's Hudson River. Then, on the internet, I learned that a victorious University Challenge contestant could read at the age of one. Having watched her performance on the show, I found the girl quite smug. I was riled enough to inform Helen that I wanted "to slap her [the girl] across the face with one of my own turds".

So as we can see, genius in childhood is often followed by misfortune in later life.

The boy was making me Jewish. Well, not really, but he was making me sound Jewish. For a reason unknown to me, when he cried out in distress I uttered what I regarded to be a soothing "oi!". Unintentionally, my pronunciation of this bark soon evolved to sound something more like "hoyyy!" I sounded like a seasoned movie extra auditioning for the role of Jewish Man in New York Street.

Helen, always eager to learn, also started saying "hoyyy!" in an effort to calm the boy. The walls between our terraced house and the next were thin, and the neighbours might have thought a nice young Jewish couple had moved in. Which would have been fine if we were a nice young Jewish couple, but we were not. Danielle could testify to this because she had seen the photos of me and the boy in the bath and knew me to be a Cavalier.

I wondered, though, if I should tailor the door bell so it played the twangy signature tune from Seinfeld.

How to avoid getting your hands dirty. Sometimes it will be your turn to change the nappy, sometimes it will be the mother's turn. In the case of the former, you will just have to get stuck in and deal with it, and in the case of the latter sit down and have a nice cup of tea. However, there will be many times when you and your partner decide to carry out this task together. In this instance, it is quite simple to ensure that you do not bear the brunt of the burden.

First, make certain that it is you who carries the baby to wherever it is you change him. So, if you are all sitting in the lounge watching Come Dine With Me, and your bundle of hoyyy has compromised his undergarments, react as soon as possible by saying, "I'll take him." This should immediately be followed by the physical action of picking up the child, even if he is already happily sitting in his mother's arms, and making a move to the changing room. Your partner will follow you empty handed, and this is important because it symbolises that you are Doing More Than Her.

When you get to the changing mat, place the baby on it and suggest to the mother that she goes to the bathroom to fetch some warm water, say, or a clean babygrow. She will do this obediently because she is aware that a rebellion would be contrary to the etiquette of shared responsibility. After all, you have already carried the small, smelly, gurgling person upstairs (the baby, not your girlfriend).

While she is fetching whatever-it-is, undress your baby as much as necessary and undo the tags of his nappy. When your partner returns to the room with her water, she will observe that although she has carried out one task, you have now completed three: carrying the baby; undressing him; and undoing the nappy tags. The latter of these can seem a minor, even trivial, task, so make sure you mention it. Say: "I've stripped off his clothes. And I've started taking off his nappy… those stairs are a nightmare."

Then, before your partner can take the initiative, take the baby's ankles in your hands and hold them up in the air. Now you are not only being useful, in that the baby is in a prostrate position ideal for the cleaning of his bottom, but you have also made it impossible to personally carry out any other immediate tasks, because both your hands are occupied.

Now, not only will your partner remove the baby's nappy and wipe the effluence from his bottom, but she will actually thank you for holding his ankles in such a way that is making her task that little bit easier.

It does not matter who finally puts on the new, clean nappy, as all the dirty work has been done. You have carried out more tasks than the mother, thus gaining a moral advantage useful for any future arguments about housework, et cetera, and you have kept your hands clean.

One evening the boy was screaming down the house. Anyone would think he had not been fed for days, or he was being strangled or dipped into boiling water. I plucked him from the Moses basket, but no amount of rocking, patting, stroking or soothing words would console him. Who is this monster, I wondered, convinced that the child was screaming simply to challenge me. He had recently been fed, he was warm, he was clean, and he was ready for sleep. Perhaps we had created a little Hitler who would grow up to terrorise the world, after he had grown bored of terrorising his parents. “Shh,” I cooed, “shhh”, half sure that the beast would kill us all in our beds as we lay sleeping. He screamed and screamed and screamed. “You are Hitler,” I said to his contorted, frothing face. “You are Hitler.”

And then he burped.

It was wind, after all. The Gathering Storm.

Similarly, the boy's 'first smile', initially met with joy, turned out to be something more ambiguous. The boy was sat on my lap not long after feeding on his mother. He was looking up at me contentedly. I was probably complaining that EastEnders was rubbish or that Celebrity Come Dine With Me was populated with retards when I noticed a grin spread across the boy's face. Either he was agreeing with my critique of popular culture, or he was expressing pure, unbridled happiness and love.

"Are you smiling?" his mother asked, excitedly. "Are you a happy boy?"

He responded by letting a mouthful of semi-digested milk gush down his chin.

Pure, unbridled happiness and love? In hindsight, I could not blame him for puking at my sentimentality.

When the babies next door cried, which they did nearly all the time, I was reminded that I did not particularly like children, and, if I was being honest, did not particularly like babies. Which would have been concerning for the boy, if he could have conceived of such an idea.

Fortunately though, the boy mewled like a kitten, and even when most distressed made an inoffensive “wah” noise – with the exception of the time I accused him of being the reincarnation of the leader of the Third Reich.

When people are listing the reasons they do not want children, having to change nappies tends to be pretty high up the list. However, it is not as bad as all that. In the first three or four days, the boy's nappy did not smell at all, and even in the first few weeks did not produce an olfactory offence worthy of exclamation.

At first the boy evidently believed we needed a new driveway or garage roof, judging by his production of tar. "This is easy," I confidently told Helen while changing one of these early nappies. I could not see what all the fuss was about. I was right, of course, this was easy, and continued to be so, even when the nappies became fuller and smellier.

The smell of the boy's nappy was comparable on a scale of offensiveness to the smell of my own nappy. If I were to wear a nappy. Which, because I was not a freak who patronised fetish websites, I did not. Imagine, then, the smell of my by-product. It is not pleasant, as a certain NHS cleaner would no doubt agree, but neither is it so repugnant as to repel me from the essential task of performing the stool. I do not savour the perfumes that waft from the bowl below, but neither do I shout "For the love of God!" and storm from the room, vowing never to return.

However, the sight of the boy's freshly filled nappy did put me off ordering a Chicken Madras curry for dinner. Which was OK, because I preferred Lamb Rogan anyway.

Does Father Christmas exist? This vital question had disturbed my sleep since the boy's birth – more so than his crying. The main problem was that, like most people above the age of four, I did not believe in Father Christmas. Yet my suggestion – that the boy be told as soon as he could fathom it that Christmas is a commercial nonsense and its bearded patron saint a work of fiction – was met with universal derision.

This made me incredulous. After all, I had simply proposed not lying to the boy as soon as he was intelligent enough to be lied to. But my detractors were offended that their desire to lie to their children should be challenged. Believing in Saint Nicholas as children did them no harm, they said, when they were not too busy expressing contempt for their parents. And anyway, they said, the story of Christmas encourages a child's imagination and is a source of joy and wonder.

Perhaps I was simply averse to the prospect of performing my role on Christmas Eve – that is, dressing up in red overalls and saying "ho ho ho" through a rug of cotton wool Selotaped to my mouth, and then getting up in the middle of the night to eat the milk and cookies left out on the kitchen table, for Rudolf and Santa respectively. Or is it Santa who drinks the milk and Rudolf who eats the cookies, I must look that up. But no, this did not bother me. If I could play Gordon Brown, I could play Father Christmas. The burden of Christmas weighed heavy with me because it depended on the dissemination of a lie to an innocent soul.

Do not misunderstand me. Yes, it is morally acceptable to lie to children in certain practical situations. For instance, a man is perfectly acting within the bounds of reason and good parenthood when he informs his young children, who have become excited at the approach of an ice-cream van, that the jingle they hear is in fact a warning that Mr Whippy has run out of lollies. It is also OK, in order to promote a healthy diet, to tell children that every time a burger is served at McDonald's, baby Jesus cries.

I was worried that peddling the existence of Father Christmas, no matter what the justification, would result in a disappointed child who would never really trust his parents, or even mankind, again. He might grow into one of those disaffected souls who claim to prefer animals to people. As I did in the early hours of the 25th day of December 1983, having forced myself to stay awake to witness the arrival at our house of Father Christmas (I do not know why, we did not even have a chimney).

When the parents of the boy's friends from playschool take a door persuader to our threshold and demand to know why I have cancelled Christmas, I will point out that their children are now less likely to be sat upon the lap of a fat man of questionable repute giving out presents in his 'grotto'. If they do not quite understand my meaning, I will make it clear that I am equating ‘grotto’ with Josef Fritzl’s garden shed.

The clothes we received as new parents were remarkable – comfortable, stylish and warm. Unfortunately, the intended recipient was the boy. Take the colourful cotton babygrows designed for people aged nought to three months. I had never had the pleasure, at least not since the age of one or so, of donning such fine costumes. So soft. So convenient (with popper buttons for quick dressing and undressing). So pastel. Yet, search as I might, these outfits, which are apparently known in America as ‘onesies’, and which back in the day were called romper suits, were apparently unavailable to the likes of me. That is, a fully fledged man.

Unfortunately, such attire was available to the perverted. Alas, my own internet browser history bore witness to my innocent foray into the murky realm of fetish porn, particularly that which catered for those who find pleasure in dressing up as a baby. I am ashamed to say that many minutes of my quest for a man's romper suit were spent exploring the pages of websites featuring grown men in cots sucking on, among other things, dummies and generally debasing themselves. I even went as far as to begin to enter my particulars on an order page, and was only saved by the American site's demand for metric measures, which made no sense to me as I had been educated on the imperial system. Thus I did not possess a romper suit that fit me, and a trawl through the racks of my local TK Maxx was equally fruitless.

The boy also received, with increasing frequency, knitted jumpers from the hand of Bin Laden. It was a shame that when she announced her intention to produce these items of woollery, and I requested that she increase the scale of her patterns to accommodate the top half of my own body, Bin Laden took me for a jester. Yet I did not jape. When envelopes from her plopped onto the doormat, their revealed contents were eyed by me with utter jealousy. The jumpers – colourful! warm! fuzzy! – was each a sartorial gem. The nearest approximation that could be worn by a man was the classic Bad Christmas Jumper, but this, in its grossness, lacked… love. Yes, the love of Osama Bin Laden.

Perhaps, I thought, there is nothing for it but to have all of the boy's clothing sewn together. The patchwork suit, as well as fulfilling my desire to wear the boy's clothes while avoiding association with moral degeneracy, would also be an environmentally friendly way to recycle old garments as he outgrew them.

Everyone wanted to hold the boy. Like the incidence of old people being drawn to infants like moths to a naked flame, this is simply one of those things that just happen. I had never felt the compulsion to pick up other people's babies; even the offspring of close family members were given only a perfunctory, brief hoist. Yet the boy had become a living embodiment of the phrase 'a babe in arms'.

He was carried everywhere, and I assumed he would continue to be carried until he gained enough weight and unwieldiness to make this impossible. Then I would not be surprised if an aunt were to appear at a family function with a sedan chair and a pair of slaves, put the boy inside and have him carried around in her wake.

I guess my problem with this need of others to lumber the boy hither and thither stemmed from the projection of myself onto him. I would not like Helen's great aunt to pluck me from my bed and hold me close to her bosom, so watching the same happen to the boy made me feel more than slightly uneasy. Some might say this unwillingness to share my son points to a possessive nature, but I would suggest it is indicative of my mistrust of others. I always expect other people to fail utterly in everything they do. So I would not have been surprised to watch an absentminded grandparent, troubled by the fact that the champagne flutes are impossible to drink out of for people with big noses, deposit the boy in the microwave as he searched the cupboards for more convenient, larger-mouthed tumblers.

I once witnessed my father take his crying granddaughter in his lap. She did not stop crying, which proved that picking up babies is not necessarily the best medicine. But he then proceeded to stick one of his thumbs into the poor girl's wailing mouth. If anything, her caterwauling worsened, and I was not surprised. My father spent a lot of time in the garden, where he gardened and smoked. His thumbs were soiled and smoky. Would you like to suck on them? Well, would you? No, you would not.

What starts as a lift into the lap can quickly progress to the sucking of an old man's dirty thumb. It is a lucky child who grows too heavy to be manhandled without having had other people's thumbs stuck in its mouth.

A colleague informed me about a friend of his whose ten-year-old son was still wetting the bed. Her solution was to purchase a contraption, from eBay no less, which administered an electric shock to the boy's pride and joy on the detection of moisture. Incredibly, the boy apparently attached this machine to his old chap himself – he was sufficiently embarrassed about the bed-wetting to carry out this onerous task, like a condemned man in ancient Rome carrying his own cross on his back. Did it plug into the wall? Was it legal outside of the Soviet Union? My colleague was unable to answer these questions.

The affair made me think of two things. First, that – my god – parents can be cruel. Second, that four years ago, at the tender age of 26, I wet the bed. I cannot remember if I should blame Guinness, the cruelty of womankind or AFC Bournemouth. I decided that I would never tell my parents, for fear of what they might give me as a present next Christmas. The way things were going, by January I would be wearing a jumper made from the boy’s amalgamated cast-offs over a man-sized romper suit purchased from a fetish porn website, with my crotch attached to the mains supply.

It is a cliché that nurses are sexually desirable to men and are the subject of many a sordid fantasy. Without wanting to further this stereotype, I feel compelled to admit that one of Helen's midwives was extremely attractive, and is now the subject of many a personal sordid fantasy.

Safe in the knowledge that my words will never make it into print, I can confirm that this nurse was a sex kitten. I forget her name. Let's call her Spunk Monkey.

Having already endeared herself to me by being about 25 years of age, firm of bottom, ample of bosom and minx-like in demeanour, Spunk Monkey further charmed me with the following revelation. While chaperoning Helen and I into the bathroom, where Helen was to take a nice warm bath in a bid to ease her labour pains, we began a discussion on the merits of the various methods of pain relief available at the hospital. Helen stated that she did not want to use anything stronger or more debilitating than gas and air, which came in a tank with a tube and mouth piece and was basically laughing gas. Spunk Monkey praised the choice of drug, before revealing that as a student nurse (I was, at this point, finding it difficult to contain myself) she had fallen foul of her superiors by taking part in a "laughing gas session" on the ward. Naughty Spunk Monkey!

Later, when the labour proper kicked in, I was entertained by the spectacle of Helen's legs, which were akimbo, being held firmly at the calves by a domineering Spunk Monkey. During each push, Helen drove her feet hard into the chest of this dominatrix, who was calmly overseeing the screaming and expulsion of bodily fluids like an experienced director of hardcore pornographic films.

Fathers tend to claim that the birth of their first child was the best day of their life. At the age of 30, I would not want to assume that there will be no days at least as great as the birth of my son. But at the final reckoning, it will definitely be up there with the best of them. And much of the credit for that will go to Spunk Monkey.

I had never been one to need constant or even frequent contact with my parents, and since leaving home at the age of 18 had tended to phone them intermittently, while ignoring incoming calls likely to be from them. You could say I liked to keep my parents at arm's length, and this worked fine for all of us: they let me do my thing, I let them do theirs, no one interfered and everyone was happy. However, even I was taken aback by the further loss of attention I suffered after Helen became pregnant.

Before, as a childless man chugging pointlessly up the stream of life, I would answer my phone once a fortnight, and my mother – and sometimes my father – would ask me how I was. "How are you?" she would say. "Are you alright?" asked father.

Since the announcement of the boy's gestation, this line of questioning was replaced overnight with "How is Helen?", and "Is Helen alright?" Indeed, I would often receive a maternal email that simply said "How is Helen?" and nothing else.

After the boy's birth, my parents switched allegiance again. Now the emails, entitled "Kingsley", simply said "How is Kingsley?", with the occasional variation of "How is Kingsley? Love Mum." One email, however, sought to branch out with "How is Kingsley? Is Helen OK?"

Still, I should have been grateful. This, after all, was what I had always wanted. The boy had become the perfect middleman (middleboy?). Or, to be truer to his snuffling, pooing self, the piggy in the middle.

Telling my parents that I had sired them a grandchild was slightly anticlimactic, largely because Helen's first meeting with them, only a few months beforehand, was so eventful.

She said she was nervous; I said she shouldn't be. It turned out I was wrong. The occasion began in a bog-standard manner. We arrived. Father questioned us about the traffic. We told him it was a bit chocker on the M25 but things cleared up after Basingstoke. He nodded. We supped tea. The small talk continued: cars, magazines, wine, champagne, beards. We ate spaghetti bolognese, which was not as nice as when Helen makes it. "This is nicer than Helen's," I said. Mother knew I was lying. "I cooked it from frozen," she said. So far so good.

Later, in the lounge, I was showing mother how to download pictures to her laptop from an email. Helen had been nudging me for some time, but I ignored her, assuming she had developed a nervous twitch, or was doing something inane such as picking bits of fluff from her clothing and clobbering me in the process. Twenty minutes into my painstaking IT course, which mainly involved showing mother how to move the cursor from one end of the screen to the other without spilling tea into the keys, I relented and made to investigate why Helen was now pretty much thumping me in the arm.

The TV in the corner was displaying hardcore pornography in all its widescreen glory. "Dad is watching porn on the telly," I informed mother. She wasn't listening. "Dad," I exclaimed. "I'm sure Helen doesn't want to watch lesbian porn with you." He wasn't listening. He was watching the porn. The old git had half his head faced towards the TV, and half towards where the rest of us were sitting. I bet he thought this was rather sly; like we would be fooled by the presentation of half his head into thinking that he was engaged in our conversation, while all the time he was actually taking in premium Sky skin on Sir Alan Sugar's time machine. I nudged mother and nodded at the TV. "Dad's watching porn," I told her. She shouted at her husband. He switched over to Newsnight Review, this time watching with all of his face pointing at the screen.

Before this outrage, father had announced that he was responsible for three children with whom he had lost contact. This was news to me, and to mother, who started staring at him and using her fingers to count. We knew there were two 'others' knocking about somewhere, but three? The old man was evidently feeling dangerous in the run-up to his 65th birthday.

The following day, while walking to Bournemouth Pier, father decided to give Helen a brief history of his life. She heard how he once "married a lesbian", to whom he came home one evening only to find her "between the legs of another woman". Keeping her cool, Helen exclaimed that this experience must have been awful, and asked him how he had reacted. Father replied: "I joined in." A man of the world, Helen might have thought, had she not heard him the night before describe Later With Jools Holland as "the coon channel".

To be fair, Helen should not have been surprised with all this honesty. She knew, for example, that I owned a DVD called Lubed Girls 2; that I once engaged in an act of onanism in a South-West Trains loo because my travelling companion refused to lend me his copy of Private Eye and I was bored; that I choked the chicken in an office where I was ensconced for work experience; and that, as a boy, I liked tossing the caber into socks. In fact, her response to the last piece of information was: "Oh, I wish I could catch you wanking into a sock."

So, compared with this, telling my parents that I had sired them a grandchild was a rather flat affair. Mother simply said "I thought so", while father nodded. They were already grandparents, the novelty of which had evidently worn thin.

Two things are nearly guaranteed to attract the attention of girls: puppies and babies. Walking along the Esplanade one afternoon, I found myself the object of attention for practically every passing female aged between six and a hundred. The magnet was, of course, the boy, who was dressed in a fleecy, hooded suit with ears on the head which made him look like a tiny bear. As I carried him in one of those back-to-front rucksack things, with the boy sitting against my chest, we cut quite a dash.

I joked with Helen that I should use the boy as a means to pull (not every girl aged six to a hundred, but those within a less wide-ranging age group, say 17 to 17 and a half). Having attracted the interest of a nubile nymphomaniac with the boy and his fake bear ears, I would inform her that he was "my dead sister's", and that I was merely "looking after him".

And if that failed, I could always persuade Helen to let me, I mean the boy, get a dog. A really, really cute one.

I was a motherfucker. I was literally a motherfucker. My girlfriend, Helen, was a mother. Quod erat demonstrandum, I was a motherfucker. This was fine with me because referring to myself as a motherfucker in my head made me feel like I was Shaft. If I was a motherfucker, then so be it.

I was less enthusiastic about the following development though. I started calling Helen "mummy". My girlfriend. Mummy. As in, me to the boy, who was being held by Helen: "Would mummy like me to leave the bath water in for her?" So, not only was I referring to the love of my life as mummy, but I was also speaking to her indirectly, through the boy, like we had had a terrible argument, which we had not. "Do you think mummy would like a cup of tea, Kingsley?"

I was reminded of a friend telling me, as his girlfriend cycled past, "God she reminds me of my mother". It is not healthy to consciously associate one's girlfriend with one's mother. Ever since, I had called this friend, in my head at least, Oedipus Rex. And now here I was, an outed motherfucker. (I did decide, though, that being the protagonist of a blaxploitation film made me cooler than my friend, the anti-hero of Ancient Greece – for a start, Shaft gets much more, and much younger, pussy than Mr Rex.)

It was fine, however, that Helen was calling me "daddy" in our diverted conversations. There must have been some gender stereotyping going on here, because being The Daddy was wholly appealing. Daddies sauce: yum yum! Who's the Daddy? Me! (hopefully). And that shirt Dave the landlord of the Eagle wore when America invaded Iraq: 'Who's the Baghdaddy?' And Boney M's Daddy Cool.

So then, daddy: cool. Mummy: not so cool.

When a man becomes a father he is expected to perform certain roles, and these are more varied and important than putting out the bins and doing odd jobs around the house. I expected to not feel like a proper man until I owned a garden shed containing odd bits of wood and a selection of tools, perhaps for the manufacture of a bird table on a Sunday afternoon. What I did not expect was the requirement to humour the boy's mother on Mother's Day.

The boy was only eight weeks old when Mother's Day first reared its ugly head. It had been a while since I had last bothered to send my own mother anything to mark this arbitrary day in the calendar; we were not a sentimental family, and only one year, when I forgot her birthday, did my mother express dismay at my ineptitude in recognising anniversaries.

But birthdays are one thing, Mother's Day, and its paternal equivalent for that matter, are quite another. Like the tradition of 'trick or treat' on Hallowe’en, these are events that, despite the sizeable silent protest against them, seem destined to be endured until the end of civilisation. And I had absolutely no idea that Helen would conform to womanly type and expect a card and gift 'from' the two-month-old boy.

He had no concept of anything – nothing emotional like love, anyway, or the need to express it through the procurement and delivery of sentimental nick-nacks. All he knew were the breast, the bath and the difference between feeling comfortably warm and too hot or too cold. Yet he was expected to present his mother with a token of his love and appreciation for her on Mother's Day. And, of course, it was me who was meant to act on his behalf in this matter, like a ghostwriter penning the autobiography of an illiterate footballer, or Steve Martin's reluctant matchmaker in Roxanne.

So it was that on Mother's Day morning, at around 11am, I felt compelled to ask Helen if she was upset with me; for she seemed to be so. "No," she replied, "I am upset with Kingsley." Why? I asked, genuinely puzzled. "Because he seems to have forgotten that it's Mother's Day," she said, before striding out of the room.

I must admit that for a few moments I was flummoxed as to how she could resent the boy for not having bought her a present and written in a card. Then it dawned on me: that was my job.

At the end of a difficult day, I handed Helen something from my dressing-gown pocket. "The boy told me to give you this," I said. She took it. It was a 'card', which I had made by ripping off the lid to a box of PG Tips tea bags and folding it in half. Inside I had written a message of love from the boy, and drawn a crude stick-person picture of him and his mother. She was pleased, despite the fact that the front of the card, instead of saying "Happy Mother's Day", consisted solely of the PG Tips logo.

It is the thought that counts.

I met three gentlemen whose partners gave birth to their first child through Caesarean section. Remarkably, each one of them, in telling me his tale, was like an evangelist for some kind of burgeoning C-section movement; Fathers In Favour of Caesarean Deliveries (FIFCD), perhaps, or Daddies who Understand Caesarean Kids (DUCK).

I found their enthusiasm startling, not least because giving birth by having the belly cut open has greater adverse health implications for the mother than does a natural delivery. For instance, many women cannot properly hold their baby following a C-section, and breastfeeding can be impossible, because of muscle tearing in the abdomen. Of co

This post first appeared on This Quintessence Of Dust, please read the originial post: here

Share the post

Kingsley Can't Swim and Other Observations (part 1)


Subscribe to This Quintessence Of Dust

Get updates delivered right to your inbox!

Thank you for your subscription