Tag Archives: Friends

5 years ago.

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Last night, we had my mate Phil and his family round. Towards the end of the night, we watched some old camcorder footage of times we have shared and of our daughter when she was 1 0r 2. We began talking about when my daughter was born and Phil said his presiding memory of their first visit to our house after the birth was that our house was so peaceful. This got me remembering…

Just over five years ago, my wife Lisa gave birth to our daughter in our bathroom. I look back on the birth with wonder and pride because it was such a great experience and because we did virtually the whole labour without anyone else around. We had opted for a home birth as, after doing a hospital visit, Lisa realised that home was where she would be most comfortable.

The night before, we had been watching Eastenders on the tv, but Lisa felt uncomfortable and went to bed early. Around midnight, we called our midwife to announce things were happening but she told us to go back to bed. (I should say we chose our midwife because she is lovely, wacky and very relaxed and makes you feel confident and able). She then decided to pop round anyway,  just to tell us in person to get back to bed! She left our house telling us that she would be in touch in the morning.

So, it was just Lisa and I at home. Lisa labouring in our bed. We hugged through the contractions and slept in between. This being our first baby, we had nothing to compare with and just presumed that things were moving steadily, but with Lisa slightly fearing that things would ramp up at some point. Every now and then, I would bring Lisa some iced water, or carry her to the loo, or give her a back rub – and the night just seemed to pass, both of us sleepily excited. Throughout the entire labour and birth, Lisa had no ‘medical’ pain-relief. I say ‘medical’ because one of the things we had learned was that if a mother is relaxed and supported, then her body will flood itself natural pain relieving hormones.

Around 8.30am, our midwife rang to see how we were getting on. I said that things were fine and that Lisa was managing her contractions but I had no idea how far things were.Our midwife said she would pop to the hospital and then come over. Around 9.30am, she arrived after having an argument with a hospital staff member about parking. She walked in without her equipment as it sounded like things were moving slowly, only to find Lisa was very close to giving birth! She ran out and came back with her equipment, but then she did nothing with it (- another reason why we wanted her. She was very hands-off and could see how things were progressing just by observing).

Long story short, our daughter was born in our bathroom only 45 mins later. Lisa had her head on my shoulders as our daughter was born and within a short space of time the two of them had their first bath and feed together. In the meantime, the midwife and I made the bed and tidied up and then we all celebrated with cake and champagne! The midwife left and, within an hour or so, it was just the three of us in our bed, Lisa and I just grinning in wonder!

And we stayed like that for a good fortnight. Visitors were kept to a minimum. Lisa stayed in her pyjamas. The curtains stayed drawn and the house was peaceful. Yes, we upset some people who didn’t understand why we weren’t letting them just walk in, but this was important to us. They got to see our little girl eventually, and it didn’t seem to matter after that!

Lisa is now an antenatal teacher, doula and champion for home birth, such was the impact that the experience had. As for me: initially, I told everyone I met every single detail about the birth until Lisa told me to reign it in a bit! And I did come to realise how difficult it is for some parents to hear our story when they have had emergencies during birth or other difficult experiences of birth. I know that somehow,things just went right for us – but I also think we’d managed to make the right choices for us as well. And I do believe that if a mother would feel safest and most relaxed in hospital, then that must surely be the right place for them.

But I also chose to talk about this in this blog because a few of our friends are/have recently been pregnant, and talking to them I found a common thread. People seem to love telling pregnant women their horror stories! Why this is so is beyond me. But it makes me want to tell our story. And to keep on telling it. Again and again. And hope that at least one person/couple is made more relaxed ahead of their birth having heard a good story.

As a dad, I want to tell our story because I was fundamental in the birth. It was a shared thing and I had a key role to play. I wasn’t a spare part, I was involved in every contraction and am so glad that I was.

I want to tell our story. Not to brag, and certainly not because we really knew what we were doing, but because we are evidence that births can be, and often are, an amazing experience.  If anything helped our birth, it was the positive guidance and support we received from our friends, antenatal teacher and our midwife,  and most importantly: Lisa’s and my belief in each other.

Five years on, I am still inspired by that day and by Lisa’s strength, courage and dedication. And I still grin with wonder!

 

 

Riding without Stabilisers

Today, a very good friend of mine – an idiot called Bob – ran the Brighton Marathon. Next week, he will also run the London Marathon. All in aid of ‘Children with Cancer UK’, and you can sponsor/donate if you follow this link. But just to recap – Bob is doing two marathons a week apart. And I have no doubts he’ll do it.

Bob is one of a select bunch of friends and colleagues who I love because they are all about encouraging others to be the best they can be. I mentioned yesterday that my wife has taken to running in a big way. A large factor in this was Bob, who has encouraged her and gently pushed her to going further and faster in her running. She recently ran a half marathon after having entered a few 10k races. If you had said to her a year ago that she would run a half marathon, you’d have been called an idiot (probably).

I have another very good mate, Phil, who has done the same for me. We’ve done loads of mountain challenges together, and Phil got me round a mountain marathon orienteering challenge whilst I had suspected bronchitis! He has been a constant encourager with regards to getting fit but also with challenging myself in all areas of life, and his favourite phrase is ‘What’s next’? Whatever you achieve, he wants you to think about what your next challenge will be.

Today, I took my little girl out for her first bike ride without stabilisers. At first she wanted me to hold her arms as she slowly pedalled. I pointed out that she’d need a little speed to balance. She trusts me, so she sped up a bit. Soon, she was riding with just one of my hands holding the back of her hoodie. She could actually ride better than she realised, because I was barely providing any support. Every now and then she noticed this and, in order to test that I was still supporting her, would lean to the side so I had to take her weight. If I told her that she was doing it all on her own, she wobbled.

Whilst I was running alongside her though, I thought of Phil and Bob and other encouraging friends. And I was glad that somehow, I was instilling belief into my little girl. I know it might seem a bit dramatic – most kids learn to ride a bike around her age. But I was thinking beyond the bike riding. I hope to be someone she looks back on as an encouraging friend as well as dad. I hope to be a dad who made it safe for her to muck up and fail. One who spurred her on to be confident and excited about what she might achieve.

One of my proudest ever moments was taking her ice skating for thevery first time a couple of months ago, and on her second or third lap she suddenly started doing these awkward little split jumps as we skated round hand in hand, each one coming with the slight risk that we both fall down and I crush her little body under my weight! I asked her what made her start jumping and she just smiled and said ‘The idea came in my head, so I thought I’d try it’.

That’ll do me.

By the way – Bob, I hope you have a really great race on the 22nd. You idiot.

http://www.justgiving.com/Bob-Smart

Heeellllooo Again!

It’s an absolute kicker when you are away from your blog for 2 months and yet you find the daily average number of hits you receive remains at the same level!

Sorry it has been a while…

I think I’m gonna take this blog down a slightly different route. I’ll still post the random links etc. but I won’t post as many. I’ll also try and talk a bit more about what’s going on for me, not that there’s anything particularly amazing at the moment!

Anyone in Reading should have a look at this It’s my mate’s site and he runs a fitness and training business with a difference. Have a look and give him/me feedback if you have anything to say i.e.how the site could be improved etc.

I’m not gonna aim to blog daily cos I always say I’ll do that and then it becomes a bit of a millstone, so I’ll be back on soon. Hope you’re all well.

Barrie

Another epic snowman!

So, I share a link to my friend’s snowman at work and my mate Laura says, ‘We had a good one in our road too’. Today, she emails me the pics. Check them out!

Epic snowman

Epic snowman 2

Just loving the detail…and the dog!!If anyone else has epic snowman pics, please share them!

Barrie

Best snowman ever. Fact.

One of my mates  has posted these pics on his facebook profile – an epic snowman that he built today after we had a foot of snow. Just heroic!

Strain.

Cheeky

Popping Truffles

Almost there

Cheers Thom – good work!

Barrie

The world would be a much nicer place….

If everyone thought of small ways of using what they have, like the business pictured below, to help those who need a helping hand, we’d be doing alright. What they are offering is what they do anyway, it’s a no-brainer, and it doesn’t cost them too much. What it does mean is that someone who may have the odds stacked against them in an interview has a chance to play on a (slightly more) level field.

I remember once that my wife and I were driving into town one Sunday when we saw a couple in their fifties running to catch a bus. The bus drove away without them and they stopped and turned on each other looking really upset. My wife asked whether we should offer them a lift, knowing that the next bus wouldn’t be for at least an hour. The couple accepted our offer and looked surprised that someone would actually stop and give them a lift.

As we chatted during the drive into town, they told us that they were celebrating their wedding anniversary by having a dinner in town. If we hadn’t offered a lift, they wouldn’t have made it into town in time. It seemed to me that our little gesture was going to go some way towards making the day a happy memory! It cost us nothing, we were going in anyway, but meant a big deal to them.

Stumbling upon this pic, (which you can find here), reminded me that I used to actively look for little ways to help, bless or cheer someone. A massive ‘Uh-huh’ to these guys for being so great and for inspiring me to look again at little differences I can make.

Barrie

Happy New Year

Wow, it’s been a really long time since my last post. I’ve been decorating at home and the whole Christmas period is busy, my blog has just fallen into the background. However, I’m hoping to pick it up again.
I’m also hoping that 2010 is a really good year. Lots of my friends have had a really tough year, really tough, and particularly for them I hope that this year turns things around.

On a lighter note, I had a fantastic Christmas and was at a great New Year’s Eve party. I have really enjoyed the festivities this year, usually I can find them a bit of a let down!

I hope you all had a great time too and that 2010 brings happiness and good times.

Barrie

Bringing people together.

This artist, Luke Jerram, is placing pianos on city streets and spaces around the world.

As it says on his website, which you should visit btw:

“Located in skate parks, industrial estates, laundrettes, precincts, bus shelters and train stations, outside pubs and football grounds, the pianos are for any member of the public to enjoy and claim ownership of. Who plays them and how long they remain is up to each community. The pianos act as sculptural, musical, blank canvas’s that become a reflection of the communities they are embedded into. Many pianos are personalised and decorated.

Questioning the ownership and rules of public space ‘Play Me I’m Yours’ is a provocation, inviting the public to engage with, activate and take ownership of their urban environment.”

I happen to think that there’s more this, in that I expect that some people will be surprised at finding out another person’s hidden talents. I also think that if you look at the photos, people are coming together and possibly singing along whilst someone plays. I love the way things like this bring communities and people together; it just demonstrates that people do want to have community and that life gets in the way sometimes. Such a simple and original idea.

streetpiano-luke-jerram.3

Clap Hands!

As soon as I saw this video of Beck it reminded me of a holiday I had with a ton of families and mates from my church. We went to Dartmoor and while the mums and little kids stayed in semi-luxury, the men and older kids/teenagers stayed in a freezing cold stone house with no heating, electricity, water, or even mattresses on the beds!

One evening, we were sat around a long table just having eaten and we only had torches and candles for light. I don’t really remember how it happened but we ended up like the guys round this table, banging cutlery, plates, hands, the table – whatever, and someone was playing the guitar I think. It was brilliant. We weren’t a patch on these guys but it was just cool to be making a rhythm together led by the two resident drummers, Josh K and Charlie ‘The Div’ B.

Goodtimes.

Check the video here

Josh

josh