New dad? It’s going to get tough at times

Okay, so you’ve been through the pressures and stress of a pregnancy. You have dealt with your partner’s emotional and physical changes and faced your own fears and concerens around this life changing event.

You’ve fixed up the new nursery and brought everything you think you may need. Maybe you got some extra hours in at work to help you financially and feel you are as prepared as you’ll ever be for the arrival of a new addition to your life.

Then baby arrives and Bang! Your in the trenches of early fatherhood, feeling exhausted and questioning your every move. Mum is 100 percent involved with baby to the point where you feel at times like the spare part. Yet there is always jobs to be done and ways to support her through the new emotional upheaval she’s going through now babies arrived. It could be months before your partner’s hormones calm down.

As a dad it can be a lonely time. With all the focus on mum, don’t be surprised if no one asks you how you are doing. It’s not personal, you are expected to be strong for the family without complaints. You work hard all day and your work carries on when you get home. Even if it’s only to relieve your partner who has been stuck in with baby all day. Which is tough going in itself.

Be prepared to live with the temptation to resent your situation. It doesn’t make you a bad father for feeling this way. Those of us who have been on the front line of fatherhood know too well the emotional wringer of the early days and months. It’s tough for everyone at home.

Also, be prepared to be consumed, and know that it is normal. The road will narrow for a while whilst your life changes to adapt to life with newborns. But If you can put the principles of love and tolerance at the centre of your home it will be easier to navigate the new challenges you face.

Be willing, especially if you are a first time parent to simply follow mums lead. The less stressed she is the more in tune with her intuition she’ll be. Support her and trust her that she knows what baby needs.

Team work is everything. You may have to live without pat’s on the back or recognition for your effort while mum takes all the credit, just dont resent it when this happens. As long as you are doing all you can to support your family you are stepping up to the plate, recognition isn’t that important.

Connect with other dads on fb groups or in your home communities. We all get hit with the pressures of our roles at times. And it’s good to be able to share and get advice and support from other dads. It’s important that we stick together through what can be a lonely time. Early parenting is tough going. We all suffer to an extent. It’s normal to do so.

Good luck dad and keep on trudging. Just do your best and know that at times your best is enough. And you are not alone.

A triplet birth – Taken from my book

Taken from my book ‘From triples to triplets; the making of a triplet dad’. Available on Amazon

3 years ago today this happened…

4th July 2017…….

It was a big theatre and we had already been told that there would be quite a few people present and not to let that overwhelm us. As we walked down the corridor and into the room we were met with an exited crowd of nurses and technicians. There were three open cots along one side of the room. Each had a baby’s name on a piece of paper attached to it. Each cot had a doctor, a paediatrician and a midwife stood with it. The atmosphere was electric. I was asked to sit on a stool, neatly tucked in besides Stacey’s upper half surrounded with wires and equipment, holding my wife’s shaking hand as the room vibrated with people. The next moment the doors swung open and a surge of more doctors and technicians rolled in. I counted eighteen people in that theatre, not including us. It was an impressive show for our girls.

It was at our request that music was played during the procedure. We had chosen Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’ which was played on repeat, a song we had played to the triplets in utero regularly at home. As soon as the music started the whole room began moving to the rhythm, with people dancing and singing along. It was a moving moment that such a show was in place for our girl’s big arrival. I will never forget the theatre that morning, or the atmosphere that was present. Not just for the reason we were there, but for the sense of joy and love that the triplets would enter the world to. It was simply beautiful.

Stacey was positioned, sat on the edge of the bed for the epidural injection. Looking at her in so much fear in a room full of so much excitement is what kept a foot on the ground for me; there was so much that could go wrong in the next few moments but also so much that could go right. Adrenalin continued pumping around my body as the surgeon and technicians prepared for the C-section. A sheet was placed just below Stacy’s chest, so she was unable to see what was happening. One of the technicians asked if we had a camera or phone handy, she was kind enough to offer to take a few photos; to capture the moments the triplets left the cramped confines of the womb and took their first hits of oxygen. I was looking directly into my wife’s eyes, reassuring her, telling her I loved her and how proud I was of her, that she was strong and we would be okay no matter what, I kept repeating myself over and over to try and give her some comfort. She could hardly speak, her voice broken with fear and her hands were shaking as she gripped mine tightly.

She asked me when they would be starting the procedure, a kind smiling technician leaned down and told us that they already had begun and to watch above the partition sheet. In the next moment a baby was lifted into the air, the twisted umbilical cord still attached, her arms stretched out straight to the sides like a bird stretching her wings in freedom for the first glorious time. In that instant my heart stopped – my breathing stopped. Everything stood still. I was looking at Ava for the first time. The tears began running down my face as her cord was cut and she let out a cry as they placed her on the open cot to be cleaned and given oxygen. She was out, alive and breathing, and the relief and joy I felt was overwhelming. Stacey looked at me and smiled for the first time that day at the sound of our daughter working her lungs out while the midwife and team cleaned her up. Exactly two minutes later Blakely was pulled into the world, visibly smaller than Ava as we knew, but just as vocal as we prayed she would be.

Two were out and breathing well. Another two minutes past and Lacey was finally with us. She too let out a high-pitched cry at the shock of leaving her first home in this world. The room kept buzzing with excitement as Ava was brought over and placed on Stacey’s chest. Lacey and Blakely were then brought over one at a time with their little hats on, wrapped in white towels. Their little faces were beautiful. They passed each of them to me and I held their tiny frames for the first time. Stacey ‘s face was beginning to show signs of relief that the babies were out and okay, and that she seemed to have gotten through it without complication. We later learned she had actually lost litres of blood and was given a transfusion, and that her uterus wouldn’t contract and had to be manually squeezed back into place by hand which caused her a lot of pain when the medication wore off. But there was no panic in the room from anyone, it was all efficiently taken care of without us being aware of any problems.

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One of the memories Stacey has of the C-section was our surgeon bobbing up and down in rhythm to Bob Marley while he smiled down at us and stitched her up. I was called over to the cots and asked if I would like to trim their umbilical cords back as they had been left long during the procedure of their exiting. It was another moment that strengthened my bond with the triplets. My hand has never been steadier. Ava was born at 9.37am weighing 4lb 12oz, Blakely at 9.39am weighing 3lb 4oz and Lacey at 9.41am weighing in at 4lb.7oz. And we were soon to discover – identical.

So that was it over. The triplets had arrived after a pregnancy with no complications to enter the world all screaming. God had graced us with three healthy babies who were already making waves with their arrival. After a short time of holding each one with my wife, they were taken through to another room to be checked over thoroughly by the doctors and moved on to the Neo-natal intensive care unit to be closely monitored. Lacey was off the oxygen almost immediately and holding her own. Ava and little Blakely needed a bit more support to begin with. Stacey was cleaned up and just before we left the surgeon said to her with a smile “you were my third set of triplets”. He and everyone in that theatre had done a phenomenal job in taking care of us and the babies and in keeping the whole situation calm. It was one of the most moving hours of my life, nothing has shifted and lit up my consciousness more. When I held my daughters, I experienced an unconditional love for another human I had never felt before. It was a pure conscious connection – a spiritual bond. As a Father I knew that whatever happened now during my time here on earth I could not fail them. Moving forward and growing towards love as a human being had to become my priority for those who had been entrusted to me, for all those under my roof.

The toddler triplets and the test of sanity

Three babies in one hit was never going to be a breeze. But Stacey and I have done well to work together to bring structure and stability to our home through each of their growing phases of development.

As a first timer doing the baby deal I have had my sanity tested on more than one occasion. Sleep deprivation was the biggest challenge to date, next to chronic pain. Having to function on two brain cells and keep a family together was no mean feat. How I didn’t crash my car or have some kind of accident at work was beyond me. I was literally a zombie for months.

I have managed to stay sane during lockdown but am now at a stretch of road that is getting increasingly difficult to navigate, the toddler stage is upon us and is in full swing.

The relentless routine is getting harder to mentally deal with as our completely irrational triplets barge scream and punch their way through the days.

It may be normal toddler behaviour but it is a new experience for the both of us. And although we are doing our best to keep them entertained and distracted sometimes it just gets overwhelming. They are testing our sanity on a daily basis.

TV gives us some time out

They have gotten increasingly more energetic and abrasive with each other since the switch to toddler beds. Potty training has also led to sleep regression and frustrating evening times that wears us both down. Some days it just gets tough.

As Stacey says, if we had only one toddler to deal with it would be a challenge in itself, we just happen to have three bouncing off each other which makes it seem a bigger problem than it is.

It’s not all bad though, they have their moments of calm. They just prefer to be loud and boisterous. Getting them out for walks helps their moods and keeps them entertained in between rounds. Taking them out for a drive also brings some momentary peace and quiet.

A drive and a lolly

I get that this is just a phase (I say that with fingers crossed), and that they will hopefully settle as their hormones calm down. But it’s a bumpy ride at the moment. A loud, tantrum filled ride that is testing both of our patience. Thank God for meditation – without it I have no idea how we would be coping!

Stress & chronic pain management

At my first pain clinic appointment I was told that they couldn’t fix my pain. I was a little surprised by this as I was expecting physical treatments like steroid injections or new medications. Anything that would give me a quick fix by people who would understand what I was going through.

Instead I soon realised that what was on offer was pain management. Ways to alleviate stress, and therefore be in a better mental condition to live with the pain I was experiencing.

In the pain management group I signed up for the talk was more about diet and mindfulness, not a steroid injection or a magic wand in sight! It was not what I was expecting at all. But the more I dug into my own experiences the more relevant a factor stress became.

I was on the back foot to begin with. After all I meditate daily, and my pain began as a physical result of a car accident rather than a stressful incident. Although the accident brought it’s own stresses, none more than the permanent nerve pain that began following the incident.

But I was open to listening and understanding, and soon realized that stress and chronic pain go hand in hand. Therefore managing stress became paramount if I was to be able to cope from day to day with CPS.

When the suggestion of seeing a clinical psychologist was brought up my immediate reaction was ‘nope, no need to go down that road’. But in looking at the whole picture of my situation I began to see how that bigger picture was now playing a part in the way I dealt with, experienced and managed my pain.

I had triplets to raise, a family to support. A long history of mental illness that had never been fully addressed or discussed. There was childhood sexual abuse that had been kept brushed under the rug. All problems that without pain I was dealing with quite well with on my own.

But now add in the factor of daily widespread electrical nerve pain, the stress of not being able to support my family workwise and a whole bag of worms now opened with it. My past it seemed was also now catching up with me.

I had to be willing to look at past suppressed resentment and fears in order to make my pain more manageable. Everything became relevant, no matter how insignificant or irrelevant it seemed.

In short I accepted help and in doing so have gradually improved my pain levels and lessened the hell-born flare ups.

I still have a long road ahead. But with understanding of the direct correlation between pain and stress. The road may become a little easier to navigate. Minus the steroid injections and magic wands.

Diet and pain

Learning to live with chronic pain has forced me to seek better ways of managing it. Medications help me function but beyond that they do little to lower the pain of flare ups.

Over the last few months i had sunk into a depression from the frustration of having to live with chronic nerve pain. And in disappearance up my own backside, I was causing problems with my relationships at home. Something had to give.

It has been Stacey that has nudged me to becoming aware of the darkness i found myself lost in. Deppresion caused me to get bogged down in self pity around my situation. The further I sank the more I was removing myself from my duties as a husband and parent. It’s my job to bring stability to my home, instead I only brought problems.

Lately some big changes have occurred that have dragged me back to a better mental place. Which in turn makes the pain easier to tolerate.

As well as stepping up my meditation practice my wife suggested a 7 day juice only detox from sugar and carbs. And to follow it up with a healthy diet. This would also help keep the weight off that I had put on from taking medications and comfort eating over the last few months.

The results have surprised me. As well as losing a few pounds my mind has been clearer. I have also come off some of my medication that were causing me drowsiness. I have now got my medications right down in dosage.

I feel mentally alert which is making dealing with the pain more manageable, rather than being overwhelmed so easily.

I have added turmeric to my diet which is a natural anti inflammatory. All in all I have made a big life change which it seems is paying off.

I am responsible for my pain management. No one can help me alleviate the symptoms, that job is solely down to me. And the more I can do to make changes in the way I treat my pain the better my life becomes.

It’s a good feeling to have got back some control over my cps. Because for a while the monster was getting the better of me.

Hows dad?

I have been writing this blog for almost 3 years now and have been through some big changes as a parent and husband.

The triplets are well into the toddler stage, now potty trained and in big girls beds. It feels like the time has shot by. It seemed only yesterday they weren’t even crawling and dependant on us for everything.

I rarely get time to reflect with so much happening in front of me but felt with it being international father’s mental health awareness day, It would be good to take 5 and see where I am, and how I’m holding up as a first time dad.

Passing the torch

The first six months was a whirlwind of emotions and pressures that I had to adapt to. I have always seen it as my role to bring stability to my home and provide for my family. So I struggled mentally to deal with the changes at times. My wife held us together in the times I wavered.

I didn’t believe that becoming a parent would take almost every ounce of my attention and presence. There became no time for a social life and my wife and I both lost friends while in the vacuum of early parenthood. And with my wife’s family so far away we were petty much left alone to cope. The one blessing was my mother in law who moved in to take some of the pressure off.

But as time past we found our groove. Meditation kept me conscious until the unexpected happened and I developed a health condition when the girls were a year old. I then had to adapt to time off work, financial problems and chronic nerve pain to which there is currently no cure.

I have struggled with the last two years, with depression and fear around the future. I haven’t been the father and husband I wanted to be at times. But being a dad I have felt alone to deal with it all, because a man cannot let his family down. I feel the weight of responsibility daily.

Through the ups and downs I have reached out for help. But with months to wait for appointments I am still alone to deal with life and fatherhood. I am learning from my mistakes and hope I am outwardly bringing the love and support needed to my home.

I do my best. I have tried to keep emotionally afloat and with meditation I am making progress in overcoming some of the obstacles that arise from raising a young family. And in dealing with past issues that can cause problems in the present from time to time.

My hope is that one day there will be services available for new dads during the pregnancy and early days of fatherhood. Not all of us have the tools to deal with the pressures at such a crucial time of a babies development.

Men count, and a fathers love is vital to a newborn baby, and to his family who need him present and awake to deal with the rollercoaster ride that is parenthood.

My full journey is available on Amazon in paperback and kindle

International Fathers mental health day

Unfortunately there is still a huge lack of support and needed services for fathers throughout the pregnancy, and going into fatherhood.

If you follow my blog you will be aware I’m a first time biological father to spontaneous triplet girls. You’ll also know I have overcome my own serious mental health conflicts before I discovered I was to be a father. Had I been in a less stable mental condition I don’t believe for a minute I would have been able to cope with the huge emotional changes I experienced to get to this point.

The day I found out I was to be a Father of multiples, I also discovered I was completely alone to deal with my situation. After the scan took place, on asking a midwife if there was any sort of help, or somewhere I could find advice I was met with a simple apology. No such help or service exists for men.

My wife was in a state of shock and panic, overwhelmed with the news of the triplets. I was left without any landing equipment, heading into the biggest, most difficult event of my life without a clue as to what was coming. The entire focus of the pregnancy was understandably directed on the wellbeing of my wife and the triplets. Any questions that came my way were questions directed at how my wife was coping. I had no choice but to push on the best I could in the hope my intuition in dealing with my wife and family was right to trust.

The stress of the pregnancy was a test of our marriage, it was down to me to keep stability in the home even though I had my own constantly rising fears and concerns.

I met with my GP within the first month of the pregnancy. I was experiencing fear around old mental health concerns and felt it wise to discuss my concerns with a neutral party rather than burden my wife or friends. Even with a long past of diagnosis, I was given a form to send off and explained the waiting list would be at least 6 months to speak with someone by which time the babies would have arrived. It would be over a year before a meeting with a professional councillor took place.

My saving grace was that as a recovered alcoholic, In order to stay well and mentally stable I practice a daily meditation exercise that allows me to build resilience to stress. It was a way for me to remain conscious and aware of my rising fears without becoming overwhelmed. The situation at home was difficult as my wife suffered mentally and physically with the pregnancy. I had to stay out of anger and fear for the sake of the unborn babies and my family.

Thankfully the triplets arrived safe and well. And with the safe arrival of the babies my wife’s depression and fears left. I, on the other hand was beginning to get hit with mental exhaustion from the pressure of the previous months. Life was only to become more challenging when the babies came home. Again there was no support for myself other than the social media multiple Dad groups that became a God send to me.

There is a massive failing in relationships and marriages within the first year of multiples. Without a way to remain conscious of rising negative emotions, men feel evermore pushed to the sidelines feeling ignored and left out. Depression becomes a common symptom of the suppressed resentment energy that men are unable to shake. Yet they are left to struggle unless offered a real solution. When self-pity starts creeping in with added tiredness all hell can break loose in a home.

I feel I’m one of the lucky ones who survived the first year. I suffered at times in silence, my wife didn’t need the extra burden of worrying about me. She was discovering her own place. As difficult as it was at times I did my utmost to put her needs first.

It was during the first week in the NICU that a nurse came in and sat next to me while I was alone with the triplets, she asked me how I was doing, I immediately began telling her about my wife and she stopped me, she said again “no, how are YOU doing with all of this”?. I poured my heart out for a good hour. She understood my situation. It was the first and last time I have ever been asked solely as Dad how I was by someone professional dealing with us as a family. I think that’s pretty sad considering what we as Fathers go through.

A Fathers role is equally as important, and needs to be treated that way, it’s why I began this blog, to share with others who may be lost in the fear of a high risk pregnancy. I have discovered a solution to depression and a way to deal with the stresses of home life. Many haven’t.

We no longer live in a time where women deal with the babies and men stay out the way. I was fully involved from day one and continue to be as much as possible.

Maternity services need to start recognising the absolute importance of our roles and offer support to those who most need it. Many Fathers begin their journey into parenthood already suffering with un resolved mental conflicts which is why a fathers mental health needs to be taken seriously.

I am currently writing a book hoping to be published next year, sharing my experience and highlighting the emotional journey as a new Father to high order multiples I embarked on, and how finding my role early kept me involved no matter how disconnected I felt under the pressure of adjusting to a new life. It is possible to maintain stability in the home, and in oneself.

https://tripletdad.blog/2018/02/28/my-mental-wellbeing-my-babies/

Sober – 7 years recovered from alcoholism

3 minute read.

Seven years ago today I came off my last drunk after six years of failed sobriety. My journey into sobriety originally began in New Zealand, from leaving my then home in Australia after failing a marriage and a good life.

My decline into chronic alcoholism slowly twisted my mind into darkness. I became violent and unpredictable in blackouts which frightened me. Yet I could not stop drinking.

Contemplating ending my life, full of anger and frustration at my failings the thought of making it all stop had become appealing once again. I had to stop drinking but didn’t know how. I began seeking a spiritual solution as it seemed to be the only hope left after trying almost every avenue of help.

My fear of sobriety was overwhelming, my inability to stop was destroying me. That year a failed stay in a drying out clinic just reaffirmed what I already knew by that point. I was beyond human aid. I was in the grip of a compulsion that I had no mental control over. I hated myself for what I felt as a weakness in me. When I started I couldn’t stop and I couldn’t leave it alone.

The fear I experienced around sobriety was that my mental health would quickly decline without the crutch of alcohol. Sobriety brought mental tension, anxiety anger and conflict that I would always eventually turn back to alcohol for relief of. It had been the solution to my mental suffering since first discovering it. I have spent years in the mental health system and couldn’t face going through that wringer again.

The next six years was littered with failed attempts at sobriety, in and out of meetings looking for a spiritual solution that seemed to have been lost within a now largely made up fellowship of amateur therapist and people with other problems. I remained angry and fearful.

I was back in the mental health system, detoxes, a year out on a remote island in the hope that in solitude I would find peace. Nights in police cells, psychiatric evaluations and homelessness became normal once more.

Medications brought a little temporary relief but the pain always got to much to sit with and I would return to the bottle. Its what I did. I couldn’t get off the roundabout. My great hope was that I would one day get a handle on my drinking, that I would drink like normal people. That thought became a deadly obsession it itself.

My life revolved around obsessive thinking and compulsive drinking. Earning enough to drink while struggling to find balance with work and hold a job down in order to earn the money for alcohol to keep it in my system for some sort of perceived sanity.

The last 18 months of my drinking I convinced myself I had discovered that balance. But my mind was slowly sinking back into darkness and thoughts of suicide. I worked and drank, medicated on anti-psycotics, trying to maintain some stability.

That routine became my existence. I had a couple of friends but couldn’t be honest about the suffering that was eating at me. The memories of my past and my guilty conscious were getting harder to blot out with each bottle.

7 years ago, after coming around in the morning off a bender I sat in my stale smoke filled flat and poured a rum and coke. I sat and stared at it, I hated what I had become in my head. There was no peace, no relief anymore, I realised in that moment that where I was would be where it all ended. I was never going to get free from alcohol on my own will power.

I had run out of fight, justification and excuses. I couldn’t live another day in my head. I was beaten daily by reminders of the hurt I had caused others through my self centred existence. I had tried everything to be a decent human being but the fear and anger that my ego fed on didn’t allow me any emotional consistency, even with the best intentions I only ever hurt people.

It was a rock bottom like I had never experienced, the pain overwhelmed me. I prayed in tears for help, for strength I couldn’t muster. My own darkness had brought me a desperate need for light. An experience followed that left me shaken and uneasy. After a time got up from my knees and poured the drink away. I have never felt the need to drink again, the obsession had left me, I had been freed in that moment. I have never taken a drink since.

I began looking within a twelve step fellowship for a recovered alcoholic who would be able to live by the spiritual principles it’s original members discovered and put into print back in the late 1930’s. It wasn’t an easy search. But I eventually found a man who had some answers, who had recovered himself. He showed me a way to grow in the spiritual principles of love and tolerance by way of prayer and meditation.

My life has never been the same since. Two months after getting sober I met Stacey. She has never known me drunk or lose my temper. She has only known consistency from me.

Tomorrow I will wake up with the triplets and begin another day with my family in the life I didn’t believe was possible or that I would ever experience.

I don’t look back at my sobriety with a sense of achievement, I’m not one to pat myself on the back. A supernatural power of love did what I could not and removed the anger that fuelled my alcoholism. My only job has been to grow in the spirit of love that replaced it. All credit goes to God’s grace, without which I wouldn’t be here now. Recovered from alcoholism and living a life beyond anything I could have imagined.

If you believe that you may be experiencing the two symptoms that make up alcoholism, an obsession to drink coupled with a craving beyond your control whenever you take a drink – don’t hesitate drop me a message, As a recovered alcoholic I can offer you a permanent solution. Or at least point you in the right direction of help.

My journey in full is available on Amazon

Potty training triplets – send prayers!

There are three words that can strike fear into the hearts of the toughest of dads and most confident of mums – potty training triplets!!!!

As you may well understand we have been reluctant about this big milestone in their development. We have only just cracked their transition into toddler beds which is a move that tested us both in the beginning.

Just the idea of potty training has boggled my mind. I hear one can be enough of a challenge so where to begin with three hectic toddlers was beyond me.

Thankfully Stacey has experience with potty training and has also been reading up on ways that will help us help the trio crack this big transition. Which in my mind was just going to be stressful, and literally a shitty time for us.

Ready to scrap the nappies

So here’s how it’s going so far.

We are currently on day three, and right now I wish I could just stay in bed and hide under the duvet for the remainder of the day. Our living room stinks of wee and the rug, sofa and carpets need replacing. Thankfully though it is Improving by the day.

To be fair it hasn’t actually been that bad, the hardest part has been that we are stuck in the living room all day, constantly watching them like hawks and encouraging them, and keeping them interested in a new way of doing things and staying calm and positive for them.

Ava and Lacey have cracked it now but still need watching, Blakely is a little behind and needs a little more encouragement than her sister’s.

Yesterday we introduced marshmallows as an insensitive which helped. The only problem with this has been that they have clocked that even the smallest of wee’s equals a reward which means they are pretty much glued to their potty’s now, and we are having to empty them every 5 minutes while remaining exited about it. It’s a real test of patience.

Thankfully it will be be less stressful as the day’s go by. At least I hope this will be the case.

Il keep you posted. Over and out from our smelly front room.

One last gig

It has been fun, but all good things must come to an end.

Over the last couple of months I have been playing weekly gigs to give my friends and family a break from the monotony of lockdown. These gigs are also open to all.

This Thursday 4th june at 8.30pm uk time, I will be playing one last set. If you wish to be a part of this final gig simply follow this link, join my fb page and see you on Thursday evening.

Please share this post so others can also join in.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/510598143013778/?ref=share