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Sunshine

Most of us have suffered with lockdown. For us the hardest thing was being stuck in with the triplets. With everything apart from the supermarket being open and unable to travel it made it a hard winter.

But with daylight savings and the first bit of warm weather the girls can finally get out to play in the garden. It may only be a little thing but it has made a huge difference to the girls, and to us. It’s brought a break from the monotonous routine of being stuck in the house.

Super chilled

It looks set that we are to have run of decent weather. It means we can enjoy local walks and make the most of the little garden we have. Lockdown bought a certain fatigue about it. It’s been especially hard on the girls over winter.

Thankfully they have been going to school 3 morning’s a week which has given Stacey a much needed break. But it has still been tough being unable to travel anywhere to enjoy their day’s off. Going to the supermarket shopping has been the only real outing for them.

Ice lollies in the shade

We are praying that with restrictions lifting that this summer will resemble a bit of the normality and freedom we are used to. We want to take the girls for trips out to the beach, and just make the most of the better weather. There is so much we want to do with them now they are at an age that they enjoy a day trip out.

So let’s hope the ease on restrictions doesn’t create any further lockdowns going forward. Let’s hope this will be a summer of making memories after such a bizarre year.

Sleep deprivation, insanity & Early fatherhood

Sleep deprivation is a tool for torture. The victim is kept awake in various ways until their minds snap.

Welcome to early parenting.

Looking back at the first six months is a blur. If it wasn’t for writing the book I would have little recollection of the pressure I was under to take care of our newborn’s and hold a job down. It was a tough deal.

The one blessing was that we had healthy babies but that didn’t make our situation any less difficult. There were countless mornings I drove to work with my head stuck out of the window so as to stay awake. How I didn’t have an accident is a miracle.

At work I could literally fall asleep stood up if I stopped to rest. I worked a physical job that kept me busy, I still began to make small mistakes on the job though out of sheer tiredness. Thankfully I have an understanding boss who was aware and supportive of my situation. I worked every day because I needed to earn. I had two weeks off when the babies were born, I couldn’t afford any more time off.

3am feeds rocking babies back to sleep

There were day’s I drove home from work and just sat in the car outside of my house feeling crushed. Knowing that when I walked through the door it was my time to deal with the triplets. My wife some night’s was just sat at the bottom of the stairs in exhaustion waiting for me to walk through the door. I felt I was on a roundabout that showed no signs of slowing down.

There were two thoughts that kept me afloat during those early day’s of parenting.

1. These girls are a gift

2. I cannot let them down

I hit a period of deppresion driven by frustration. I couldn’t meditate most of the time because every time I closed my eyes I fell asleep. So I was out of consciousness and overwhelmed by negative thinking. Thoughts of self pity and resentment became prominent in my mind. There was also fear that my marriage was on the rock’s because of my deteriorating mental state.

But it wasn’t all bad. There were times I cherished. Like when they were awake and not crying. I would play them my favourite music as way for me to mentally and emotionally bond with them. I loved bath time because they loved the water and would smile and giggle. These were little islands in the day that I would pull myself back up on. Bonding was so important to my mental state.

Life got easier the older they got

If you are in the trenches of early fatherhood and are struggling my advise would be to keep trudging. Practice patience with yourself and know that your situation now isn’t permanent. Before you know it they will drop the night feed and you will sleep again. The insanity you feel in your mind will subside with rest.

No one function’s properly with sleep deprivation. You may have to stay in that zombified state a little longer but you’ll survive because you have to. Your partner and children need you strong and emotionally stable. Any way you get through it is good, sleep when you can and don’t resent your situation. It’s something we dads all experience and it’s a tough deal, but the rewards are endless.

And just remember, apparently this gig gets a lot easier when the kids hit 45 years old.

Shock management

I’ve been on a good run of low pain day’s up until a couple of weeks ago when I shaved my head and triggered my neuralgia pain. Neuralgia is also known as the ‘suicide disease’. It’s intense pain and just another symptom of my central pain syndrome.

Over the last few year’s I have tried everything from hot and cold compresses to cutting my head to see if it would release some of the pain. Not a smart move but it gives you an idea of the seriousness of the flare ups.

It’s taken me this long to finally accept that there is nothing I can do about my neuropathic pain. Other than adjust my medications I have to live day to day with varying degrees of facial and head pain.

It’s not an ideal situation because I have also deal with work and home-life. I’ve chosen to suffer in silence because I have no choice but to get on with life. My wife doesn’t need to know I’m in pain every 10 minutes so I’ve learned to hide it well. Complaining doesn’t help either of us.

The main problem I’ve experienced in the past is that I got angry at my situation. Frustration at my health condition has just caused me further stress. It’s so easy to fall into self pity. ‘Why me’ is a prominent thought I need to just observe and not get pulled in to. I suffered a period of deep deppresion last year and it’s a dark place I don’t want to go back to. Especially with my history of serious mental illness.

I have found the most simple way to cope with my health problems is to manage my mental health, first and foremost. Overthinking is a real problem as you could probably imagine. Getting lost in negative thoughts is easily done. So as a defence against intrusive thinking and the bombardment of negativity my mind is subject to I practice a simple meditation.

Noticing inner light through meditation brings a protection against negativity

Every morning on awakening I sit still and meditate for around 15 minutes. By doing this I am pulling back from the stream of thought, separating from it so I can just observe what passes through my mind. In a place of conscious awareness, good and bad thoughts loose their power to pull me in. Leaving me in a place of neutrality, safe and protected from them.

When I am conscious this way I am less inclined to react to any stressful events that may happen throughout the day. I am not burning up energy as I would have done in overthinking. There is a real freedom from negativity that comes from the stillness of non contemplative meditation.

I know, I plug this meditation a lot. But for good reason. Everyone has the ability to overcome overthinking and recover from deppresion and anxiety through this simple, free exersise.

Maybe it could help you.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

Being dad

Being a dad is a varied job. From refereeing the kids to being the family mediator there is a lot involved behind the scenes. Sometimes we may feel overlooked in our roles but one thing is for sure. Our strength is needed.

Most of us feel the pressure from time to time between work and home-life. But most of us do what needs to be done without complaint. Supporting our wives and partners so that they are less stressed in dealing with the dynamics under our roofs.

I went into fatherhood with a conscious mindset. I knew it was going to be my job to remain emotionally neutral. In that I mean I knew it was down to me to bring a sense of stability to my home. During the pregnancy my wife went through the emotional wringer as her hormones raged. I had to keep my cool.

And nothing has changed. It is still my job to bring stability to a highly stressful home-life. I don’t experience the same emotional storms as my wife. Men and women are different in that sense so it falls on me to be consistent in myself. I wouldn’t be much use if was in and out of anxiety and resentment everyday.

As men we have to be the rock. To raise our families with patience love and discipline. We can not afford to resent the cards we’ve been dealt. I speak to many men who struggle in this respect. Their emotions get the best of them under the pressure of fatherhood.

It’s usually a relentless routine that drags men under. The change in lifestyle can be drastic in itself. But if met with a conscious mindset becoming a father becomes the job we were put on this earth for.

If you are feeling the pressure and are open to experiencing life consciously, i will leave the link to a free meditation exersise that has helped me be the dad my family needs.

Non-Contemplative Meditation™

Reconnection

Stress and pressure are forces i meet daily being a dad. They are inescapable, from dealing with chronic pain to dealing with the many daily tantrums.

All this pressure has a detrimental effect – if I let it get to me.

Over the last few years there has been the constant temptation to resent my situation. Being thrown into fatherhood with triplets has not been a smooth ride. It has been a life altering event.

In the early day’s I got overwhelmed with our situation. Suffering from sleep deprivation whilst trying to hold down a job was an intense effort. One that I gratefully survived by the skin of my teeth. I almost cracked under the pressure of new fatherhood on more than one occasion.

A force to be reckoned with

Once resentment gets in it changes my ability to cope. Instead of practicing patience and tolerance I get lost in overthinking and judgment of everyone and everything around me. Irritable and short tempered is an ugly state to be in. Especially with a young family to support, and who are relying on me to be emotionally strong.

There has been one constant in my life. One that I have practiced since getting sober 8 years ago. Meditation has always pulled me back from the brink of madness. From developing central pain syndrome to becoming a fathers to triplets I have always been dedicated to living consciously. To improve as a husband and father.

I haven’t always faired well and have suffered from resenting the path I have been given at times. There are still times that I get overwhelmed with my lot. But these minor back steps into fear and resentment never last. As I have already said – it is meditation that has always been at the centre of my life that has kept me afloat and out of anger.

If you are a dad who is struggling i will leave the link to the free meditation exersise. If you can stick at it your life will change beyond measure. Life doesn’t need to be a struggle. And stress can ultimately become a force we can sharpen from. If we reconnect to the light – anxiety and deppresion no longer run our lives. It’s that simple.

Non-Contemplative Meditation™

The testing triplets

It was never going to be a smooth ride, we knew this from the start. But lately home life has become more trying.

Ava Blakely and lacey have become quite a force. I imagine one toddler could be a handful but three is insane at times. Especially because they bounce off each other. They are demanding and relentless in their energy.

Thankfully Stacey gets a break while they’re at school 3 mornings a week. And I get to go to work 4 mornings a week. So it’s not all bad. We do get some rest bite from them.

They are developing fast right now. Their speech is improving as the weeks go by and their personalities shine. They love school, especially the new songs they are learning. They enjoy singing and regularly put on little shows for us with their toy guitars.

Blakely helping out

Ava is still the boss. She is also the most helpful and doesn’t like getting into trouble. She is developing a strong sense of right and wrong. Unlike the other pair!

Lacey loves to wind her sisters up in anyway she can. She’s frequents the naughty corner regularly and is the least likely to get involved at cleaning up time. But she is also super sweet and a total daddy’s girl. She can usually be heard singing Christmas songs at the top of her lungs.

Blakely is a real sweet pea at the moment. She likes to do her own thing and is still a little behind with her speech. She loves helping me out in the kitchen and loves a cuddle, as they all do. All three are hooked on the Frozen movie at the moment. We thought we were done with ‘let it go’ after Frankies obsession a few years back but it seems were back into it full tilt.

So it’s all go in the Woods house. I feel sorry for our neighbours at times, thankfully the walls are pretty solid. It’s also been a blessing that the weather has improved. At least we can wear them out at the park now.

If you enjoy catching up with my posts, if you click on the link at the bottom of the page you can get new posts delivered straight to your email as they are published.

My book is a also available on Amazon. It is my journey into fatherhood from a somewhat rocky past.

Thanks for visiting.

Si.

CPS – What has changed?

It’s been almost 3 years since the accident that caused my central pain syndrome. It’s been a long and challenging road so far.

From the start I spiralled into negativity. I struggled daily to function as I did before but was unable to keep any consistency. I couldn’t perform at work and had to give up welding job because of the pain and my mental state.

I got lost in resentment at the forced changes to my life. I struggled to financially support my family. There were times we took charity to buy the girls food and nappies. We got behind on our mortgage and bills. And the harder I pushed myself to get better the worse my body reacted.

I sought help with the pain clinic and it was there I learned of the negative impact of stress. And how it can ramp up the pain. And I was stressed to the max. A good friend told me that I had to let go of my anger. It was a wake up call that began a road of mental recovery.

It soon became clear that my condition was permanent and that the main focus of my management had to be in dealing with the emotional strain. As long as I resented I was going to suffer and there was much to let go of. I had to change my attitude towards the pain.

One of my biggest resentments, next to my pain was that Stacey was struggling to accept my condition. We were in a difficult situation with triplets and I wasn’t doing great at home. I wanted her approval in a way and I wasn’t getting it. In truth no one could deal with my cps but me. I was getting lost in the problem and was doing little to seek ways of managing my pain. She had to adjust to my cps as much as I did. I had to be patient and allow Stacey the space to come around on her own.

Letting go of my resentment and frustration at my pain wasn’t going to happen over night. Especially as the pain would change and appear in other parts of my body. The main of my cps was centred in my head and lower spine and lumber region. But I knew I had to find away to cope. Medications worked but it was months before they became fully effective. Another thing I resented.

But over time, with non contemplative meditation, medication and a change in diet due to type 2 diabetes, things slowly began to change. The main thing was that I stopped struggling with the pain. I began to find acceptance around my condition. It was going no where and my life had to be dedicated to improving. However I could.

At the end of 2020 I had finally got a handle on the monster. It doesn’t mean I no longer suffer, it just means it no longer overwhelms me. I have now accepted that many areas of my life have changed and because of meditation I no longer fight with myself, or my cps.

I’ve made progress over the last year. I have settled into a new role at work and my home life has improved. The triplets are at a challenging age so my improvement in management has come at the right time.

If you are struggling with cps my advice would be to stop struggling with the mental pressures. Let go of any anger you have towards your condition and be kind to yourself. You are dealing with pain normal folks will never understand. A small change in attitude can make a big difference in your life.

The pregnancy

Whilst out for a drive, Stacey and I got talking about the pregnancy. If you have read my book you will know how stressful it was. From not knowing how many heartbeats we’d find at each scan to the huge strain on Stacey’s body. It was a tough ride.

It’s a hard thing to imagine becoming a multiple parent. As my first biological children I had no idea what I was facing. But I was brimming with excitement under the surface. The exact opposite to what Stacey was going through.

It was bizzare how far apart we went from each other from the day we discovered 3 heartbeats. Stacey into deppresion and anxiety, and me just wanting to shout it from the rooftops.

I had to keep my cool and stay grounded, and nothing grounded me more than our doctor in Bristol who laid out the dangers of our type of pregnancy. We were up against it and looking at a high risk few months.

It was my job as an expectant father to remain solid for my wife and unborn babies. Even Frankie went on her own emotional rollercoaster at the prospect of 3 siblings. My wife was going through the emotional wringer. A show of my consistency was greater than any promises I could make.

I stayed quietly positive and did all I could to bond with the babies and calm my wife’s fears. Of course I had my concerns but there would be a time and a place to share them. For the duration of the pregnancy I did what needed to be done from all the cooking to the housework as Stacey ended up bedridden with the sheer mass she was carrying.

It was the most emotional few months of my life, and that’s saying something. I prayed every night that our girls would survive. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy adapting to life with 3 newborns but I was as mentally prepared as possible.

Thankfully the trio arrived all screaming and healthy. We are blessed for this and know it. Once the babies were born Stacey fell naturally into her role and I went mentally downhill for a while. The stress and tiredness overwhelmed me at times.

It’s no secret that stress can cause massive complications to a pregnancy. If there is one bit of advice I could give to an expectant dad it would be to practice patience and tolerance. There are times you will be carrying all the weight. Times you get things thrown at you because you bought the wrong ice cream. You will be constantly reminded that her suffering is all your fault but let it slide off you. Nothing is personal even if it is.

Our triplets will be 4 this coming july. And we are facing constant challenges as their personalities develop. Triplets are hard going. Exhausting and all consuming. But with the right mindset as a dad those things don’t really matter. Because you have become a multiple dad. Your a chosen one and for the love you will get from your children. Nothing beats it.

Sleep apnea – positive treatment

A couple of months ago thanks to a loving nudge by my wife I finally got a sleep test done. Reason being I stop breathing in my sleep.

It happens frequently throughout the night and as a result I am never getting a full rest. I was falling asleep at work and couldn’t go a day without a few hours extra nap time.

It also meant I was jolting about all night, gasping for air and snoring badly. I spent more time sleeping on the sofa than I did in my own bed.

The sleep study showed positive for obstructive sleep apnea. The treatment being a CPAP unit. A mask that pumps oxygen into my airways, keeping them open and thus allow me to get a decent night’s kip.

My CPAP machine

Thankfully the CPAP has worked and almost instantly I felt the results of a good night’s sleep. It has taken some getting used to, wearing an oxygen mask to bed but it’s been worth the adjustment.

I no longer fall asleep at work and rarely nap during the day. And the biggest benefit from my point of view is that my chronic pain condition has become easier to mentally manage.

I’m glad my wife encouraged me to seek help, although now she has to sleep next to Darth Vader but that’s just a minor thing.

It’s a good look. May catch on.