Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Are we awake?

My drive to and from work is this week more illuminating than usual. As I navigate the traffic on the M6 and M62 I've been listening to a series of lectures on Existentialism (as you do). I'm now on lecture 4 of a series of 20 lectures by Professor Robert Solomon that are entitled "No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life". Solomon was, until his sudden death of a heart attack last year, professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin and was by all accounts a very highly regarded scholar and speaker on this topic. And I can see (or rather hear) why. His delivery is rather downbeat and fairly matter-of-fact, but he makes the subject matter very accessible and relates the ideas he discusses to everyday life.

To give you an idea of his style, below is a short clip from YouTube that's taken from Richard Linklater's film Waking Life. It's actually a kind of animated version of Solomon as the film uses something called digital rotoscoping to create its unusual effect. I'd really like to see all of this film but it seems to be only available in NTSC format (still, there's plenty of excerpts from the film on YouTube). Anyway, the clip gives you an idea of Solomon's approach.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Special Delivery

The reason I am up at 6am is the same reason it has been more than three months since I last posted a blog. On the 18th October 2007, I became a father again. The baby (let's call her Freya, because that's her name...) made an appearance 5 weeks early and so caught us by surprise! Just 4 hours separated the immortal words "I think my waters have broken..." shortly after midnight and the arrival of our beautiful baby girl in the early hours of the morning. After the initial shock and denial ("You sure you haven't just wet the bed...?"), I think Rachel and I made a pretty good team. Cool, calm, and collected was the impression I was trying to give as Rachel tried to tell me what I should pack in her hospital bag from her vantage point of the toilet.

All was going well apart from the fact that I couldn't seem to get Rachel to leave the safety of the bathroom in order to get her into the car. She was far too busy making sure there were no excess foodstuffs in her stomach (we're talking both ends here...). An hour after I had first phoned the hospital and been told to bring Rachel in, I phoned again to explain the allure of the bathroom and was advised to call for an ambulance. As I dialled 999, I realised that I had never dialled 999 before, which I guess is a good thing.

I explained that Rachel seemed to be in labour (she was now experiencing contractions a few minutes apart) and that I was unable to persuade her into the car to get her to the hospital. The man on the other end of the line assured me that an ambulance was on its way and stayed on the line until it arrived. "Whatever you do...", he instructed, "don't let her sit on the toilet!" Now he tells me.

Another half hour passed before the ambulance arrived, at which point I think I relaxed knowing that Rachel was now in safe hands. Only the previous morning, at our first (and as it turned out our only) antenatal class Rachel and I had talked of our plans to have the baby at home. But that idea had involved a birthing pool, relaxation CDs, and candles. Not me being instructed over the phone what to do if the baby's head appeared in much the same way as the guy in the Airplane movies is talked through landing the plane!

We arrived at the hospital at around 2.30 and were taken straight to the delivery suite. From here on, things progressed quickly. Rachel was an absolute star (she even told me she loved me between contractions!). For a few moments, when the doctor and midwives seemed to think that things weren't progressing quite the way they would have liked, there was talk of an assisted delivery. But it seemed that the sight of the doctor in his mask and gowns brandishing a pair of forceps was enough to give Rachel the extra push (as it were) and within minutes we were the very proud parents of a gorgeous little girl, born at 4.23am weighing 5lb 10oz.

I know I am just a little bit biased, but she is absolutely gorgeous. If you don't believe me, look here. Cute, eh? She now weighs more than double her birthweight and is now generally sleeping through the night till around 6am. After her feed this morning she has gone back to sleep as has Rachel, but I was wide awake so I thought I'd take the opportunity to post my first blog since Freya was born.

To my sleeping beauties. x