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Take the pain

My health was always something I took for granted. My one priority in life since meeting my wife and Frankie six years ago was to work hard and raise my family.

And it was an achievable goal. I had no reason to doubt that I couldn’t build a good future for us, to move us into a good neighbourhood and do well in my job and give those who rely on me stability. And I did those things. As well as raising the triplets.

I’m still trying to come to terms with the rapid changes in my health that have occured over the last year, and it’s not easy.

I am still in limbo as to discovering a cause for the intense electrical nerve pain I experience almost permanently around my body and face. The mental strain also takes a toll when the pain increases during flare ups that can last from days to months.

The inevitable has happened and I have now been signed off work indefinitely while awaiting another MRI scan and memory tests, hoping to rule out MS. The weight of that alone is not always easy to manage. I have a good neurologist but as with all things NHS it takes time. So it’s a case of trying my best to practice daily patience.

It’s almost as though I’ve lost who I was. There are days it’s difficult to comprehend my situation, and days I struggle to imagine the ongoing impact on my family. The pressure on my marriage has also been difficult as my wife has had to adapt to the changes herself. As she sais she’s not used to me being so limited. We are joking that I now have to use a walking stick. I can’t say I’m over happy about it but that’s just my pride taking a dent.

But as with all things it’s faith that keeps me afloat in the darker moments. I will adjust and learn to cope with the changes. For now though il make the most of being at home with my wife and daughters. As someone reminded me this week. Love is the most important thing I can bring to my family. Everything else is just a bonus.

It’s still madness, what else would you expect!

It feels like a while since I last posted an update on the trio. They are growing so fast it’s hard to keep up with them, literally.

Since they arrived, routine has been the number one recipe for settled happy babies. We rarely waver from it and it has paid off in dividends. That, and a relatively calm environment has contributed to the fairly chilled out toddlers we are now dealing with.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still tantrums when blakely wants to keep her shoes on to get in the bath, or if Lacey gets upset because I have to fish a dog biscuit out of her mouth but these are just the normal problems a toddler has to deal with.

There is a definite pecking order in place now. As we suspected from day one, Ava rules the roost. She has a big personality that she likes to keep at the forefront of the pack. Lacey tends to follow Ava, and take directions from her when it comes to trying new things.

It’s always a case of ‘Lacey, why don’t we see what happens if we push things out of the letterbox, but you should probably do it first in case it gets us in trouble’. Blakely is more of an observer. She prefers watching acts of irrational silliness unfold from a distance.

Father’s Day was perfect this year, especially that I got the entire day off. Got booked in for a massage and was on orders to relax. I wasn’t going to argue with that so I spent Sunday doing nothing but chilling, with a little help from my three youngest who made damn sure I wasn’t getting up for anything.

It’s also looking like the book will be published and available before the year’s out. It’s been a labour of love to get it finished in the middle of the chaos and with all the unexpected problems that this year’s brought with it. My hope is that I’ve written something of value. You can let me know if you get to read it.

life keeps bringing the pressures as it always does, but at least it’s entertaining when I’m home. I mean who really needs a quiet life!

Better men – Better fathers

I have started a closed fb group for dad’s.

It’s purpose is to be a community of shared experience that deal’s more with the emotional aspects of fatherhood. There are already some fantastic sites already established for multiples. However I want this page to be a little different, with more of a singleness of purpose.

All dad’s are welcome at all stages of fatherhood. No matter how many children you have. Or what pressures you might be under or have overcome. There may be problems with drugs, sex or alcohol that are concerning you. There are recovered men in the group who can help you with those issues.

You may just be finding yourself overwhelmed by your situation. As fathers we all struggle with the job at hand now and again. There will be others in the group who can offer valuable experience.

If you are finding yourself battling with emotions, maybe anger and fear are getting in the way of you becoming the dad you want to be. You will also find solutions within the group. Namely through the non contemplative meditation I share the link to on this blog. There are other dad’s in the group who have found a way to live consciously by using this free exercise.

If you think you could benefit from this group. We’ll see you there. Just search fb for ‘Better men – Better fathers’.

Training triplets

In just over a month the trio will be two. As they grow ever more active and curious they are needing more to entertain and stimulate them.

Their personalities are stronger than ever, especially Ava, she’s smart and a little bit of a monkey to go with it, or ‘strong willed’ as I call it. We have found ourselves at the point of starting to discipline them. Nothing harsh but they need to know what is right and wrong, and with three testing the limits it is imperative to our own sanity we are on the ball in dealing with their outbursts and sometimes naughty behaviours.

Ava and Lacey having a bundle, they all get pretty rough with each other

With the new changes they are going through we are adapting to these changes ourselves. Conversation between Stacey and I is regularly about the best ways to deal with them, teach them, and to keep working together in doing so.

Stacey handles most of the new routines whilst I’m at work. For example she has trained them to come down the stairs on bums in single file, another little thing that gets them working together patiently. It also takes some of the physical strain of carrying them in 3 trips up and down the stairs. Plus they are chuffed to bits they can do another thing by themselves.

Navigating new obstacles

We have also started taking them for regular walks on our housing estate. The sooner they learn about crossing the road safely the better, They really have come into their own over the last few months. They seem to be better with people now which is a good thing. Last week we went for lunch with them after getting them new shoes and they didn’t seem to fazed by the attention they were drawing. A few people who stopped even got a smile from them.

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Enjoying a run around on the green while learning to safely cross the roads

We live in a constantly changing environment. It’s fun, hard work and relentless at times but we continue to do our best to keep them content and thriving. Frankie is as great of a help as ever and we don’t know what we’d do without her. She has had to adapt to the shifting currents of our family life too, with all the challenges we have faced this year. She is an amazing big sister, the girls are blessed to have such a good role model in their lives.

So life roll’s on. And I still pinch myself when I look at the family I am raising. I have so much to be grateful, and so much to work for. Living with chronic pain gets me down at times, it frustrates me as to how limited my life has become over the last year. But above all of my personal problems there is only one thing that is really of importance. That I raise my family in the principles of love, patience and tolerance. Because I believe what they learn now will shape who they become in the future.

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The band

The weekend before the trio arrived I played my last gig with my band.

I had my phone on the floor monitor throughout the gig, with a keen eye on it, just incase of an early emergency at home. Thankfully the babies waited till the due date and the show went as planned.

As a new dad I was not sure if I would be able to carry on with my only pastime. I did a gig when the babies were around three months old, but as a singer it was exhausting. Sleep deprived and with no energy it wasn’t enjoyable. It took me days to recover and I decided It had to come to an end.

The day I was going to call my drummer and give him the sad news my wife intervened.

She told me to wait. Not to quit and that things at home would become easier as the month’s went by. I was still unsure if it would ever be possible to balance a band, with full time work and triplets at home.

I took her advice and didn’t quit, and thing’s did get a little easier as predicted. The band continued after a few month’s break. I have even been able to begin rehearsals for a one off show with some other musicians in August.

It is my only outlet. I don’t drink or have a social life. But I love to play music, and my wife knew this when she met me. She loves that I have a passion, and that she gets a night to herself a couple of nights a month.

We have just began gigging again for the year after a five month break and it is tiring, a small price to pay though for doing something I love so much.

I’m glad my wife talked me out of leaving the band. And that life in early fatherhood did change. It would have been a decision I would have regretted. Because even parents need to keep on doing what they love.

Having children doesn’t have to be the end of the world.

Triplet talk – makes sense to them

On Sunday morning I went in to change the triplets. As I was dressing Ava on the floor who was happily chatting to me, I watched through the bars of the cots to Lacey who was sat on the toy box, and Blakely standing in front of her.

The two were deep into a full blown conversation complete with hand gestures, giggling and the occasional pause for thought. At one point lacey babbled something to Blakely who promptly toddled over to the book shelf, picked out a book, returned and handed it to an ecstatic Lacey.

It’s an amazing thing to watch, unfortunately we have no clue what they are saying. They talk in their own language and it seems They understand each other perfectly.

They are also happy to stand and talk to us, in depth, serious chatting about something that is obviously important to them. We simply return the conversation in the hope they pick up our word’s along the way. Sometimes they get frustrated that we don’t understand their babbling, but that goes both ways at the moment.

We also read to them frequently now, we figure the more they listen the more they’ll take in. Hopefully it’s encouraging them to say more than ‘woof woof’ ‘dadda’ ‘mamma’ ‘uh oh’ and ‘Alexa’. The bedtime routine is a time they enjoy a book the most.

The girls also understand us when we ask them to do thing’s like tidy up toys. Or get their juice bottles. They are just without the ability to talk back.

It’s normal for multiples to be behind on their speaking. Only because they spend so much time focused on each other that they have little reason to talk to us. We’re just there to change nappies, feed and play with them.

I’m told it will probably all change when they begin preschool, when they will be left with no choice but to communicate with other little one’s. I am also told many multiples will also use their own language even into their older years. But for now they are happy and growing ever more connected to each other. And the dog certainly enjoys that someone now makes the time to tell him stories.

Is parental intuition a myth?

It was a given that I would question my every move as a first time dad. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t. Although my role during the pregnancy was clear, I was still facing a brand new situation. One that thankfully my wife had experience of even if only with one newborn. I had to be prepared to shut up and learn as a man who had never changed a nappy before.

Once the triplets arrived my wife naturally fell into her new role. No longer plagued by the depression and anxieties that she suffered throughout the pregnancy she was free to focus on the job at hand. She intuitively knew exactly what the triplets needed and when.

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Without fear and stress we are free to intuitively deal with life

Even the nurse’s on the scbu were impressed with her handling of the situation. They were happy to take a step back and follow directions, and allow Stacey to deal with the triplets and their needs.

It was amazing to see how in tune she was, especially emerging emotionally from the struggles she had faced in the previous months. Those maternal instincts came into play from the moment she first held Ava.

It was clear that the only thing in the way of her God-given intuition was fear. Once it subsided everything changed for her. And not even the biggest of stresses we have faced over the last 21 months has distracted her from her purpose.

As for me as a dad, It was vital that I find my own fatherly intuition. And it wasn’t easy. As with my wife I struggled with resentment and fear once the triplets came home.

I began to feel separation from her, and the more I pressured her to meet my expectations of our relationship the worse matters got. I became petty and bitter that my needs were not being listened to. Almost overnight I lost my intuition and it was replaced by self-centred fears. All that was really happening was that I was struggling to adjust. Tiredness was making everything worse. I was battling mentally to cope with work and home life.

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It was only when I became conscious of the selfish way I was acting that I was able to let go of my fears. My wife needed me present, not lost in my own concerns. I learned a hard lesson as a man who was trying my best. I was failing to live up to my own expectations as a new parent and everyone was suffering from the bitterness of my failings. It was a realisation that grounded me back to consciousness.

Without fear I was again free to focus on my role as a new parent. Which was simple, support my wife so she could focus on our daughters. Bring the principles of patience and love to my home each day. Because without the emotional drive of fear and anger there is a natural clarity that exists. And when living by intuition, in the present moment away from the emotional pull of over thinking, the next right thing becomes apparent. And it’s a beautiful way to raise a family.

The reality is real

A year ago today I was emerging through the haze of my first year as a parent to newborns. There was nothing that could have prepared me for the pressures and stress I experienced.

In those early months of adjustment there were tears of joy, and tears brought on by temporary insanity. My mind buckled by sleep deprivation while I fought to stay consistent and keep a shred of emotional stability around my family.

As my wife’s sole focus was rightly on the triplets and breastfeeding, I found myself feeling ever more detached from my family and life.

To look back now at the madness of an unavoidable and relentless situation we were thrown into. Held together at times only by the purpose I felt as a new father. Through the stress my family experienced with a high risk pregnancy, I was convinced that the principles of love and tolerance would be enough to get us to the due date. I had to believe we could make it through.

The love I had for my family and our newborn triplets became the only anchor that kept me stable in the times I wavered.

And my wife went through a hell of a lot more than me. And as a stay at home parent she is faced with going it alone each day until I finish work. She deserves a medal.

It’s always interesting to read comments from people who say they would love to have multiples, and how much fun it would be to raise three babies. And to look at the cuteness overload of the photo’s I post of my girls I can get the sentiment.

Instagram is full of photo’s depicting the prefect multiple family life. I’ve yet to see a family photo taken at home in the middle of a norovirus, or after a week without sleep still wearing the same clothes, ferrel and wild eyed. But who needs to be made aware of that side of multiple life.

But to go through the realty of what we faced with a high risk pregnancy. The sad truth of the babies that don’t make it. The pressure it put on us as a family and the intensity of caring for three dependant babies, would anyone intentionally place that sort of mental and physical responsibility on themselves?

I’m not sure that having triplets is something would wish on anyone. But for those of us who have been entrusted with this unique task. Who know the gravity of the situation we have been given and are rising above the challenges, I bet non of us would change a single thing.

Why meditate?

Think about how may times throughout the day you feel agitated. From the moment you wake up til the moment you finally get to sleep. As the stresses of the day and worries of tomorrow whirl around in your stream of thought instead of finding it easy to rest as your body wants you too, you find yourself zoning out in front of a phone or the t.v. Distracting yourself from the noise of your mind. You wake up into the same anxieties and worries. It becomes an exhausting existence.

You may be like I once was before I investigated a way to deal with stress, under the narrow minded presumption that meditation is for hippies, travellers or monks who remove themselves from the world in search of enlightenment. Surely anyone who isolates themselves from the stresses of daily life is going to enjoy peace of mind. unfortunately most of us do not have that choice. Life is in motion, we are in the thick of it and it shows no signs of slowing down.

You may not like the idea of having to become a buddhist or join an Eastern religion in order to find a way to mentally cope with the daily barrage of over thinking driven by the pressures of an unavoidable routine of work or home life, especially if you are a parent.

I mean who has the time for books and study when you spend every waking moment either chasing toddlers around and running a home, or are at work all day. Maybe you were brought up with Christian values and have no interest in riding two spiritual horses going in two different directions. It’s a hurdle many are faced with as the majority of meditation practices derive from the Eastern world.

For many of us the idea of meditation sounds nice, yet completely unrealistic in the hectic lives we live. If you were to go online you find literally hundreds of exercises promoting mindfulness. Yet how affective are these practices of distraction? If you didn’t know I can tell you that most are more harmful than helpful. Let me explain.

Distracting yourself from any problem, such as over thinking, anxiety, stress, depression or just taking a break from an overwhelmingly stressful routine. Is not solving anything. There maybe a momentary detachment from the problem as you visualise your self on an empty beach in the Bahamas – or hypnotizing yourself by focusing on your breathing but nothing really changes. You only feel you are improving but in reality you are only putting yourself further to sleep. Attaching yourself tighter to the underlying problem.

If you are practicing this type of meditation and still short-tempered, or still filled with an anxiety problem you cannot shake, this is why. People reading this who have done anger management courses may still be questioning why the tools they were given are failing them.

In order to solve any problem, firstly you need to see it – to become conscious of it. If asleep and lost in distractions (or unconscious) you will be unaware of the debris of negative energy you collect, from hour to hour, day-to-day.

We really do become pressure cookers unless we can be freed from this constant build up of negative energy called resentment. Without it we would have no internal conflict. Life would become something very different for yourself and those around you, especially your children.

So how do you become free of this force? And remain awake in a position to face the negativity in the stream of life day in day out without being affected, without becoming overwhelmed.

It’s simple. We allow light in to remove it. Sounds bizarre I know, but not that bizzare if you are willing to consider that we a spiritual, as well as human beings, each with the ability to access the opposing force of resentment that exists in this universe.

A force of light that can literally drive out the darkness we accumulate. And this life saving supernatural force of Grace can only be accessed through meditating without contemplating. Without distraction.

If there was ever a case to meditate this way it would be this. That through becoming conscious yourself. You will one day be able to show your children how to also live without harbouring resentment. To live in a way that stress will become a tool to sharpen from instead of a problem that only destroys from the inside out.

I can think of no greater gift to pass on to my daughters as a father.

Here’s the link to the free meditation exercise.

Non-Contemplative Meditation™

Happy holiday’s !

Firstly happy weekend to all of you, if it’s as sunny as it is here in the south of England at the moment I’m sure you too will be making the most of the spring sunshine.

As Easter holiday’s approach, Frankie has finished school for the holiday’s and has been enjoying a break from the classroom and school work. It’s hard to believe this is her last year at primary school. With so much going on at home 24/7 I only really noticed lately how much our little girl has grown up.

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So proud of this one, if she stays as caring and kind she will go a long way in life

She has gotten in to her first choice of high school which a good few of her friends will also be attending and she is exited about the move to a bigger school. We’ll see how exited she is when all the homework starts coming in, but for now it’s great to see her so confident. She’s a world away from the shy little girl I first met six years ago.

After a bumpy start to the year with my health and the knock on effects from me being unable able to work, we are now slowly getting back on track. I have been back at work for the last three weeks. Working in a different, less physically demanding role. It has been good to get back to a bit of normality. There have been the occasional day’s I haven’t been able to make it due to flare up’s of pain but for the most I am coping with it better now.

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Stacey would never let me be down for too long, not without a slap anyway

My wife has had to deal with a lot over the last few months. It’s been difficult for both of us to understand and find acceptance around. I have found though, as with every other problem that arises in my life, the minute I begin to resent it, I get lost and consumed by that problem. And The problem with my central nervous system has been no different. I got angry with it. Angry that I had no control over it, fearful around work and how I would take care of my family, angry that I was unable to do daily tasks some days. The list goes on and on. Simply put I got infected with resentment and it made our whole situation more difficult. And since seeing it, and letting go of it – as if by magic I am coping better.

My three month’s at home with the triplets awarded me some quality time though. I watched Blakely take her first steps to becoming a toddler. Now all three are into everything, all over the place and full of energy as they have discovered some freedom through becoming mobile. And they love music and dancing.

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Dance classes with big sister are a hit

This weekend we are heading away to Stacey’s parents again for the Easter holiday’s. A week away with family and a nice change of environment for the trio. Plus bags more room to run around in and at the moment they have tons of energy to burn off. They still haven’t developed in their speech. Yet they do mouth words along with songs. But they remain only in communication with each other and have some hilarious conversations.

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A morning board meeting, topics of discussion, chasing the dog. Trying to eat dogs biscuits without being caught. And hiding from mummy and daddy.

So whatever you’re up to this weekend and over Easter have a great time. Enjoy the sunshine (if you have any) and make the most of what each day brings. Even if that day involves 20 nappy changes and endless bizarre conversations with cunning toddlers who are clearly upping their game.