Lowering the bar

Maybe a step backwards is a chance to review where we are and discover a different way forward? A little like learning from a mistake. I like to think of it this way as my car seems to get stuck in reverse more than it does first gear at the moment.

have spent the last year mentally punishing myself for losing my footing in life due to illness. Up until the accident I knew what I wanted to achieve in life and had the physical and mental ability ability to stay on the path I believed I was supposed to walk.

Knowing my responsibilities keeps me afloat at times

Now I’m in a rut of constantly lowering the bar in life with what I want to achieve. The bigger goals in life have rapidly slid out of the window and instead the goals I work towards now are more like going to the shop, remembering what I went for and making back without a physical flare up. Or making it through the day without having a sleep. These are achievable, but not always.

The better days of manageable batterings are hampered by the reality that any moment, for any number of reasons my central nervous system will start firing off signals to my brain which doesn’t hesitate to respond with pain.

Flare ups do not happen regularly. But when they do I cannot describe the physical and mental torture I have to endure. They are exhausting, draining and unbeatable. I have to learn to live with them. Central pain syndrome is like having an unwanted companion that is ready to knock you out with a shovel when it thinks you need it.

I keep as busy as I can to stop seizing up

Needless to say I have found myself going backwards occasionally. After years without deppresion I find myself getting overwhelmed with negativity, struggling to stay conscious of what is going on around me. It’s In these moments I get fed the horrible thoughts, the self pity comes down like a hammer and among the electric shocks and brain fog I run out of mental steam. I simply can’t cope. I have sat in tears on more than one occasion, beaten down by pain I cannot control or stop. I’m not ashamed to admit it, there are moments it’s almost broken me.

The biggest problem is that I begin to resent. And when I do my pain levels increase. Stress is a big factor in flaring up my condition. So I have had to stop fighting myself to pick myself up and push on. I’ve had to accept new limitations around work and physical activity. And be okay with them. I’ve had to ask for help at home which I find difficult. Because I feel like I’m failing my wife in doing so. We have both had to accept a new situation. It’s not been easy for either of us. We have to be okay with me being less.

So I’ve accepted that there will be steps backwards occasionally, and that I am going to get overwhelmed in the times my condition gets out of control.

I need to remember that the path I was walking is no longer there, that much of what I wanted is now beyond reach. So to step backwards has opened my eyes for the need to find another route forward. One I can manage with out resenting and bring a bit of peace back to my mind. Life has changed, and among the other forced changes I need to mentally adapt, because the shovel is coming whether I like it or not.

A little review goes a long way

Hi all.

I would firstly like to say a big thank you to all who have bought copies of my book. As a first time author, and being unsure how it would be received I have been overwhelmed with the positive messages and feedback I have been sent since it was published.

I believe a father’s perspective should be made available to anyone who may want to understand the emotional journey taken by a new dad.

If you have read it you will know that it isn’t a parenting manual, or a ‘how to’ book. It is written as a personal story of my life as it was as a result of a destructive relationship with my own dad. And how the hard lessons I learned from that relationship drove my need to be a better man for my wife and children.

From getting sober and meeting Stacey and Frankie, I then document the pregnancy and first six months of the triplets arrival. And share honestly the pressures I faced during that period of my life. Pressures that threatened to pull apart our relationship had I not already discovered a way to cope with stress.

It is a journey from triples to triplets. A loaded book that I am told is a page turner. I am just glad it is already benefiting others in some small way.

I would greatly appreciate if you have read my book to leave a review on Amazon. Being self published, it is the reviews that will stand out. And I hope this book reaches as many struggling parents who may not otherwise discover it.

Many thanks

Si

Autumn

It’s difficult to believe that Ava, Blakely and Lacey are now almost two and a half. And they have definitely rolled into the infamous two’s.

If this means having a meltdown because the corner of a biscuit is missing, or getting overwhelmingly upset because you can’t put your books in the bath. They’ve arrived at the age some parents dredd.

Our house is bursting with different personalities. When the girls are up and awake they are busy, hectic and cheeky. A non stop force of energy.

It would be easy to get frustrated at them while they step into this age of hormone bursts, irrationality, frustration at not being understood, and also just testing the waters with us as parents. To see how far they can step the mark before no means no. It can get tiring. But it’s also an incredibly important time for them to begin to discover themselves. We have to be so on the ball, with everything from discipline to being willing to listen to any conversations they come to us with. Our attention is vital to them.

It’s a given that Ava will be the head of her own company. She’s advanced in her mental abilities and is a little girl who knows exactly what she wants, when she wants it and how it is to be delivered to her. We are currently all here to serve her. Make no bones about that.

Lacey is sensitive to others, quite the opposite of Ava. She needs a little more reassurance in her decisions and adventures. She is happy to join in with Ava’s ideas but is always the one checking back at mum or me to see if there’s a reaction coming. She likes to be good, to be told she’s doing well. And she loves her Daddy at the moment. She’s never far behind me.

Blakely is just Blakely. She has immense physical strength for a little one, and also has the least concentration unless it’s something she’s found she likes to do. She has fire in her belly when she’s upset and makes sure we all hear about it. She is also a master at hiding. My personal favourite is when she just closes her eyes and smiles while stood In front of me, convinced I can’t see her. She loves her dolls and Milo. She also loves books as they all do.

They are changing daily. And growing into confident little girls (especially Ava). Together though they still play well. There are more times they are taking care of each other than fighting. Their sisterly bond is strong, they are completely, and beautifully connected. And no matter how relentless and trying they can be at the moment, we are blessed to have been entrusted with them.

Book reviewers wanted

Do you enjoy a book? And do you have a blog with regular visitors? Maybe you review books for a pastime.

If so I am looking for anyone who would be willing to give an honest review of my book ‘A meditative parent; The making of a triplet dad’.

It is the story of my journey into fatherhood. From overcoming the fears I faced as a result of my own dysfunctional upbringing.

Not every man grows up with the tools to become a loving dad. For some, like myself the road of fatherhood seemed impossible. I had fears and resentments from an abusive childhood. I then left home with anger towards the world and myself that resulted in damaging behaviours and mental illness.

I eventually crossed the line in my late 20’s into chronic alcoholism, an illness that only a few truly recover from.

To drag the emotional wreckage of my past into marriage and fatherhood would only have destroyed more lives than I already had. I had to find a way to live.

This book is about transformation, hope, and is honest evidence that a man can change to bring love and stability to a home, to a relationship and to fatherhood. No matter what the damage behind him.

If you would like to review my book please drop me a message. I will gift you a copy.

Thanks

Si x

Early bonding – the vital connecting of dad and baby

Looking back at the early days, and the pressures surrounding a high risk pregnancy it would have been too easy to have got lost in the stress of our situation. It was inevitable in what we were both facing.

Stacey was struggling badly from the first scan in dealing with the reality of our situation. The weight of the pressures we both felt was putting a massive strain on our relationship. It’s as if we veered off into two separate directions in our reactions. Me in excitement, Stacey into fear.

Knowing the damage that stress can cause to a pregnancy and the complications it can create to an unborn baby I had to take the the lead in practicing patience and tolerance at home. Yes I was overwhelmed with the situation we found ourselves in but I couldn’t allow myself to get pulled into my own fears. Two of us panicking would have complicated everything.

As strange as it may seem, and it really pissed my wife off, especially in the early days of the pregnancy, I felt a connection to the triplets from the minute they were discovered. There was a part of me that could intuitively see the bigger picture. They were a gift. To all of us as a family.

I know a lot of men don’t feel this way, but also many others do feel the purpose of the path they have been given as fatherhood. It’s an exciting, frightening and daunting realisation to feel the gravity of such a life changing event however you feel.

Feeling my purpose I knew that a show of my consistency to my wife would do more than any words of comfort would. I needed to show her I meant business. That I was up to the task that was coming and that worrying about my ability to cope and deal with multiples was not something she would need to be concerned about.

This meant action on my part. Which meant bonding with my unborn daughters. A show of affection and love that would benefit my wife, myself and my 3 growing daughter’s. I also got my step daughter Frankie involved. As big sister she was also feeling the uncertainty of our future relationships at home.

We began talking to the growing bump each night. I felt a bit stupid at first, but knew on a conscious level it was my duty to make the effort.

We would read stories to them. Play them music. I would tell them about the family they would be joining and how much love they would be born into. And I stuck with it. No matter how tired or irritated I felt.

It was a simple act that also kept my feet on the ground in the harder times. I never stepped to far away from the bigger picture and it paid off.

Once they were born, the first time I got to hold them, they knew my voice. The nurse in the SCBU even mentioned the calming effect I had on them. And it was only because I put the effort in from the start.

If you are taking care of a pregnant partner and struggling with the weight of the pressures you face. Take a little time with the bump each day and don’t feel embarrassed to do so. It will remind you of the importance of your role as a father. To bring a little emotional stability and calm to your babies in the most insane of times. A vital job of responsibility that will fall on your shoulders going into fatherhood. It’s a great beginning.

And it will be worth it.

A day in the life of triplets

We often get asked how do we do it? So I thought I’d let you in on a normal day at home with triplet toddlers. This is a day that my wife would have done alone whilst I was out at work. But as I’m at home at the moment we are running a tight ship together. Teamwork is everything.

6.am – I get up. I have always got up before everyone else in the house, reason being I need to meditate. My head needs to be in the right place to begin the day. If I wake up agitated or rushed my impatience will cause friction. I also need to give myself a chance to let my nerve meds kick in so I can get moving and mobile. Which is incredibly important when dealing with toddlers who do the opposite of what you ask and don’t stay still.

6.30 – I get Frankie up to get ready for school and wake my wife up who also meditates. This puts us both at a mental advantage to deal with whatever may come throughout the day, and to deal with whatever moods the triplets might be in with patience and tolerance. It’s good for us and them. A win win. Once Frankie has left for school the triplets start stirring. Usually between 7.30 – 8.We normally walk into happy excited girls keen to point out with looks of concern that all the dolls and teddies ‘fell down’. Or more accurately they launched at each other at some point before they went to sleep and they ended up on the floor.They make their own way down the stairs on their bums now, so we don’t need to do trips up and down the stairs, which I’m truly thankful for.A quick bum change and it’s straight into breakfast before we settle in to a morning of refereeing and keeping them entertained to ensure less refereeing. They are at a stage where they get bored easily and this usually ends up in tears with at least one sat in the naughty corner until they are ready to apologise to their sisters. Breakfast is usually followed by play time. They still need constant supervision though or they might end up doing something silly like getting in the sudocream.We are now doing our best to educate them with colour charts and flash cards. This is best done one on one, or it just ends up with one or two in the naughty corner. Chaos can ensue quickly when trying to get all three to concentrate. The easiest way to teach them is for me to play with two in another room, and for Stacey to spend 20 mins at a time with one separately without distraction.Snack time is at ten. This is chill time watching Twirlywoos. Then it’s dressed and out to play. We usually take them for a walk depending on how mobile I am on that day, or play in the garden or out on their Scootie bikes. Getting them out is important. Three toddlers stir crazy from being stuck in the house is a situation no one needs to deal with.After a bit of fresh air we have the lead up to lunch. We usually do songs and dancing for half an hour before we get them changed. Lunch is at 12. This is followed by a dash to grab teddies and dollys to take up to bed. They then go down for a few hours sleep. As do I. I’m usually physically drained by lunchtime and my pain levels are rising. Thank God for nap time.

Between 3 and 4 the girls are awake and raring to trash the downstairs of the house. They have dinner at 4. After which they go into a slow progression of getting tired and whiney.This means more entertaining from us. Thankfully we have Frankie home by this point so we can take one each if need be to keep stimulated and out of a sibling skirmish (or full blown attacks).

We let them play as they want to in the afternoon. Our little garden is perfect for them to get out of the house and give us a chance to get a few jobs done.At 6pm, we chill and watch ‘in the night garden’, by which time we’ve changed between 15 – 18 nappys throughout the day and broken up endless arguments. getting them calm before bath time is also important. No one wants to deal with 3 fired up hypo toddlers in a bath tub. Especially not me who baths them while Stacey gets their room, and clothes ready.

At 6.30 they have a bottle of milk and a bedtime story.By 7pm we are downstairs, mentally exhausted and ready to have dinner and chill.10.30 – bedtime – wake up and repeat.

Central pain syndrome

I never imagined that by the time the triplets began pre school that I would have gone through such a life changing event. One that has now affected every aspect of my life.

It has always been my main priority to take care of my family. With Stacey unable to work as a full time stay at home mum. I felt it my duty to be a good example to my daughters of man who works hard to provide for his family. And it feels like that rug has been pulled from under my feet. And il be honest, I’ve really struggled this year with the changes.

It’s difficult to get my head around that physically I am fit. Other than some wear and tear to my lower spine every single blood test and MRI scan has come back clear for any evidence of structural damage that could be creating widespread nerve pain.

It was suspected last year that the problem was centred in my central nervous system, so the tests were all a process of elimination to reach a diagnosis of Central pain syndrome. In simple terms I have haywire pain signals being sent within my spinal column, brain stem and brain. As a result of this shake up, probably caused by a car accident last year, my brain is now getting good at creating pain. And because my central nervous system is no longer functioning as it should it is in a constant state of wind up.

The advice from the pain clinic is to become my own advocate in learning about my condition. I’ve now accepted that it’s permanent and it’s down to me to find ways to manage the pain through rest, meds that work to slow down the signals in my nervous system (the strongest pain killers dont touch it) and mental management which I do my best to practice daily with non contemplative meditation. Not getting overwhelmed with negative emotions is vital. Stress can cause pain flare ups as well as physical activity.

There is currently no cure for central pain syndrome, although research is making slow discoveries around the complex condition. My case has now been accepted by a specialist neurological unit in Bristol, unfortunately I have a 7 month wait for my first appointment. Other than the group I have found on social media I am on my own with it.

Its put me out of work and caused all sorts of problems this year at home. The fatigue is difficult to deal with, I now sleep in the day just to give my nervous system a chance to calm down. The pain is widespread from my face to my lower back and hips. There are constant electric currents running through my feet which makes walking painful. I struggle to concentrate because I am in constant vigilance and awareness of what my body is doing. I have been told it will take years to get a handle on it, and in that time the pain will still be evolving.

I’m not writing this to complain. It is however a part of my life now that as a parent I have to adjust to and not become consummed by, which is no easy feat. I don’t want my limitations to stop me being a good dad. I’m determined to do as much as I can, and to stay mentally present each day for my family.

A reflection

There are some big changes happening at the moment. Namely Frankie starting high school and the triplets beginning pre school this week, t-shirts with names on are ordered to save any confusion with the teachers and staff.

Looking back over the last year is a strange view. There were unforeseen changes that have rocked us as a family, and difficulties I have struggled to come to terms with. But we have pulled through none the less.

There seems to be some light shinning at the end of the tunnel as I’ve finally found some acceptance around my health condition. I have plans to return to work to a less stressful role with less responsibility. Only working three morning’s a week to allow myself a chance to rest. The less my nervous system has to physically deal with the lesser the chances of pain flare ups.

My case has also been accepted by a specialist neurological unit in Bristol which should give me a more solid understanding of what I’m dealing with. Central pain syndrome is a permanent condition with no cure. Knowing this information has been the cause of much of my frustration and bouts of depression over the last month’s. As a man whose main priority is providing for, and taking care of my family, it’s my pride that has suffered the most in that respect.

It has been an eventful summer. We had time away with the triplets staying with Stacey’s family. A much-needed break away from the relentless routine at home. We’ve made the most of our little garden and the paddling pool. Little things that the girl’s love that keep them happy and entertained.

We have watched the girl’s grow and develop so much over the last month’s. Three very different personalities finding their place at home and continuing to thrive in a home of love and patience. It’s strange to think they will be starting school this week. Our hope is that their speech will improve with being around other children. It’s going to be fascinating to watch how they interact with others.

As much as circumstances have changed for us we have kept a constant at home between my wife and myself. And that is that we both practice conscious awareness as a way of life. We both meditate to stay awake to the pressures and stresses that crop up along the road. It has kept us afloat and more importantly kept friction to a minimum where there has been so much temptation to get lost in fear around the changes.

I also managed to get my book finished and published as you may already know. A personal story of my journey into fatherhood from a life of alcoholism and self-destruction. Written to benefit others more than anything else. If you are interested getting a copy it’s available now on Amazon

As we move into Autumn I’m feeling more optimistic than I have in a while. And as difficult a year it’s been, at the centre of it all we are doing well as a family. And to me that’s all that really matters.

Frankie

It’s hard to imagine life before triplets. I do remember the house was pretty quiet though.

Frankie, as an only child, used to entertain herself with her dolls and crafts. She used to live in princess dresses and sit in the window waiting for me to come home from work. We used to go to the park every weekend and watch princess films on a Sunday afternoon’s.

Every night I’d carry her over my shoulder up to bed where we’d have a little chat about the day and say our prayers. Then ten minutes later when Stacey and I would be settled for a film, Frankie would come back down with one of a thousand reasons why she couldn’t sleep. Itchy teeth was my personal favourite.

Now she’s almost 12 and had to adjust to an invasion of triplet sisters. And boy have they set their presence over the last two years.

It’s definitely been difficult to make up the time I used to with Frankie. It plays on my mind from time to time. Although she has grown in independence and has new interests that are more geared towards her friends, I find I miss the times we used to have before the trio arrived and took almost all of our focus and attention.

Maybe it’s because of the step dad element that I feel a pinch of guilt now and then. Anyone with new babies will be aware of the consuming attention it takes to raise them in the early years. It’s natural to do so, the trick is as always to be awake to those emotions. And not let them begin to affect me. I need clarity to be able to raise a family.

We are now well into the toddler faze. They are fun, demanding and full of beans. The times they go for an afternoon nap is a time to exhale for a few hours until the next round of chasing toddlers and entertaining their growing demands.

And among it all Frankie has remained as helful as she can be. Her kind and caring nature has remained in tact through another stressful and trying adjustment in her life.

Life was never going to be the same from the day of that first dating scan. And our home will never know quiet for a long time to come. But I am grateful for the years I had to build that vitally important relationship with Frankie. Had there already been a difficult relationship with us, the arrival of the triplets would have only created all the more stress on her.

She was my first conscious attempt at parenting, and it took a lot of commitment and work from me to be able to step into a father figure role. My relationship with her took patience as she went through the grieving process of losing her biological dad and accepted me as a parent.

I guess I’m feeling reflective of our early years together. And I have wonderful memories of our building relationship before the trio came along. She no longer lives in princess dresses, or does little singing shows for Stacey and me. Instead she is beginning high school next week and is already older beyond her years.

I’m proud of her. And my one hope is that her caring nature and outward kindness continue to stay central to her spirit. She has given me hope in that the principles of love, patience and tolerance at home can be a real foundation that all of my daughters will be free to thrive in.