Now that we have Nugget in our lives myself and the lady friend are getting into a few new Christmas related traditions. One of those is bringing the little bundle of joy out and about on cold winter nights so we can have pictures taken. The better to build memories my dear.
Anyway, as most people who glance at the telly around this time of year will know there is an advert for Coca Cola where an articulated trucks branded with Christmas cheer drives around. The kids smile, the adults all look wistfully at the truck as it passes the by, there is a Christmas miracle at the end. All very moving and what not.
Well tonight the truck, or one of them, was parked in the Tesco carpark in Maynooth. A short hop in the car and off we went with Nugget to get our picture taken and kick off the festive season for us.
As is always going to be the case with these sort of things there was a queue. A fairly long queue. One of those windy ones that is four lanes deep before you get near the main attraction. But we had nothing else to do, Nugget was wrapped up so snugly she was sweating, so the end of the queue we joined. It was cold but the line moved at a fairly steady clip. There was a Santa running around entertaining the youngsters. People handed out cans of coke and a bunch of Santa's little helpers kept the crowd entertained with singing and other little photo opportunities.
When we reached the half way mark it started to rain and a good estimate was that there was about forty minutes of queuing left. The lady friend and I decided to leave it and try again next year. We made our way back through the crowd to a corner point of the line, where one of the helpers opened the barrier and out we stepped. As we were about to walk off he kindly pointed out that if one of us wanted to stay in line, while the other brought Nugget back to the car, then they could text and bring back the baby for that Christmas family photo.
Considering how cold it had gotten I did the manly thing and volunteered to bring Nugget back to the car, so the lady friend was conscripted into returning to our spot in the queue.
I had only just arrived back at the car, climbed in, when the lady friend shows up and takes Nugget out of the car seat. It turns out that manners go out the window with some people at this time of year. A family of ignorant asshats refused to allow the lady friend to return to our spot, quoting that she had 'Left so she could just join the back of the line' as the valid reason. Since, as you all know, the extra ten seconds they had just gained was going to be put to good use being ignorant asshats to somebody else in the near future. This rightly upset the lady friend as she really wanted to get the photo taken, but she decided instead to just leave and went back to the corner exit.
The polite gent opened the barrier and asked if she had decided to just not bother at all. She told him the story and his reaction has to be the very definition of 'instant karma'.
"Well I can't have people not being Christmassy around Christmas time," he said. "Go get your husband and baby and I will bring you to the top of the line now."
So back to the line we went, escorted by this local spirit of Christmas to the top of the queue. Picture taken, wife happy, Nugget farting, and all was right in the world again it seemed.
Such a random act of kindness as the direct result of a random act of ignorance. You just don't see it as much in the world as you should, but thankfully there are still some nice people out there and this lad was definitely one of them.
A few years ago, which is actually not as small a number as I would like given my current age, I tried to write my first book. It was a rambling mess that had a plot which would have made Chaos Theory look structured and sane. It was, after all, a first attempt at writing. Not that this is a good excuse but this is my site so that's the excuse I am sticking with.
Anyway that book never saw the light of day for a number of reasons. Reason one being how bad it was. The main reason was that I got a nasty computer virus (this being back in the day when I knew a little less about computers than I do now) which basically wiped my hard drive.
Being a poor wee lad I had no backups of the file. There was no such thing as Cloud Storage and the concept of using your inbox as a temporary backup location was a mad idea. Meaning all the random crap I had tied together as a rough story was lost to the ether.
Ah well, lesson learned.
Except not really.
Roll on a few years and when I began writing Filthy Henry I made backups regularly. As in each chapter got a little backup action. On a USB stick, a hard drive, the laptop, my Dropbox. The works. All in fear of losing it all again to some random act of computer craziness.
Book one this was done but thankfully never required. Book two likewise, bar a slight panic when I deleted the wrong folder one day. Thank god for backups then.
As I write the third novel I've been backing up each chapter when they get completed. Which is, it turns out, not the best plan. What I should have done is backed up each chapter, even the one I am working on, each time I make a single edit. Why? Well the other day I lost the entire tenth chapter of the third book. I was coming home from work, doing the writing on the bus, when something happened and the tablet restarted randomly. End result being that when I got back to the chapter the file was empty. Nothing. Nada. Zippo.
With no backup to use as a saving point.
There is an upside to it, if you force yourself to look for the silver lining on the crashing cloud. I wasn't entirely happy with how the chapter had been going. Not really sure why, just that it was definitely being flagged for a complete rewrite.
So the crash allowed me to fix up the chapter from the get go and now I am upping the backup routine.
Lesson learned again...til next time.
Not just a random string of numbers anymore but my favourite string of numbers in the world.
At six minutes past six in the evening on September 7th 2015 my wonderful wife gave birth to our first child: Olivia Grace Power.
It was the day we both (well all if you included everyone in the extended family) been waiting for for nine months. When the baby's due date came and went we were both on red alert. Anytime I was in work and the phone so much as vibrated I was checking it to see if the main event had started. One morning the lady friend had sent a message whose preview read 'I think you should come home...' and I nearly jumped out of my seat. But when I read the rest of the message it was an invitation to play sick from work and have a day of Netflix binging.
A brilliant plan for sure but not exactly what I was waiting to rush home for
At term you start to get anasy for things to happen and that is coming from the Dad's point of view. The ladyfriend wanted to get things moving for a while at this stage. Each day officially becomes known in medical lingo as 'Term plus...'. By the time we headed into the hospital we were at Term plus nine.
Once again The Soup is going to be a blessing instead of a curse in this matter. I remember the lead up to our trip into the hospital. We had spent the day out shopping and picking up some last bits and bobs from around the shops. I also had to get a new laptop as the plan going forward will be I try and do a day from home work wise and the current laptop struggles when given more jobs than just browse the Internet. I was sitting in the spare room doing the nerdy stuff with it and the ladyfriend commented on how she was having pains in her stomach.
Now according to all the books, websites and support groups one of the big things to have is a birth plan. The ladyfriend, being a PR person by trade, can organise an event to within an inch of its life. Right down to the multiple issues that could cause it go wrong and come up with alternates. So from a very early point she had a plan and that plan was that everything goes naturally to the best of her abilities.
At term minus seven this was easily doable. At term zero the baby decided they had other plans and moved inside the ladyfriend to a different position. This meant that the further from term we got the more likely that Plan A was no longer a runner and that we'd have to consider a C-Section.
But like I said the ladyfriend factors everything into her event planning so while she wasn't exactly happy to hear that the first plan wasn't looking likely she had planned for the change in plan.
Like seriously I'm lucky if I can come up with two changes of clothes for a night out. This woman can come up with multiple ways to bring new life into the world.
Anyway the point of that ramble was that if we had any movement at all it was super important to get herself into the hospital as soon as. So with the dog in the car, my mother informed that she was about to get a four legged lodger, and the bags fired into the car off we went. When we got in the nurses were stellar (I'm going to make a paragraph on that at the end). But the movement, while good, was not the amount that meant we could stay in the hospital. So back to the car, back home, sleep for the dad-in-waiting and a hot bath for the ladyfriend. A few short hours later and the show was well and truly on the road. Back into the car, speed limits optional, and off we went. This time everything was moving in the right direction and it looked like that we might actually have a chance at the first plan.
Much to the ladyfriend's delight.
I won't go into the details of the next few hours but the ladyfriend showed just how her sex has earned the stronger title. The amount of pain she went through while the meds were not fully working was insane, resulting her being known as 'the girl who had the failed epi...my god'.
Alas though the moment came when the medical folk had to make a call and the call was we go down the c-section route. Scary to hear, yes, but these guys know what they are talking about. I'm a tech head, I understand wires and digits and code. Medicine was always a dark art to me, no matter how much I read. So we just went with their advice. Off to theatre we go and a fantastic support staff performed the most life changing operation either myself or the ladyfriend would ever go through.
The birth of our daughter.
One of the most powerful moments in my life was being able to go over to the little table and stare down at this tiny human, less than a minute old, staring back at me. Everything changed in that moment, my world went from being vast and huge to less than thirty-six inches. It needed protecting from harm and encouragement to grow. It had endless possibilities for the future, paths into the unknown that until that second I had never even had to consider. In the infinity of the universe every single random event that has ever happened contributed to this little girl coming into the world.
And staring back at me.
I had the privilege of being able to tell the ladyfriend if it was a boy or girl, a big thing for the dad to be entrusted with since the mother's really do everything else during birth.
In a way this was the strangest meeting a parent can have. A person that did not exist minutes before and yet one we both had been waiting for months to meet.
Luckily their stay in hospital wasn't long and now the three of us are home and settling into the new normal for the foreseeable future.
A normal I wouldn't have any other way.
===The Extra Bit===
As promised above I just wanted to talk a little bit about the nursing and midwife staff in the Coombe Hospital. When we arrived first they were professional to the last, despite the fact we were technically 'wasting time' even though the rules stated we had to come in. They didn't care and they made the experience a breeze. Once we got back in the second time they treated the ladyfriend like it was her first visit again. More they made it like this was the first pregnant lady they had ever dealt with. After we were moved into the labour ward our mid wife was second to none. She guided the ladyfriend through the pain and the meds, made sure she was comfortable (as far as that could be achieved) the entire time. Even when the doctor came in and said a call had to be made the midwife requested that we try at least one 'push' to see if Plan A could be saved still. Something that didn't have to be done, but showed that she was in our corner as much as she was in the medical one. The operating team were amazing as well making the entire experience the least stressful thing that either myself or the ladyfriend had ever been through. Again as if this was the very first baby they had ever brought into the world.
Say what you want about the public health service in Ireland, this hospital goes above and beyond what they need to so that new parents are in a near constant state of ease. These front line medical staff are the real victims of the constant cuts the Government forces on the health sector. If I was told tomorrow that 100% of my property tax for the rest of my life was going straight towards the running of the Coombe I would never complain about it again. It's the blackhole that it goes into which funds the fat cat politicians pensions that I have gripe with.
Not that they will ever see this but to the staff of the Coombe a big thank you from the three of us