Wednesday, 18 September 2013


This will be a non-baby blog post. I am not obsessed with the baby. Honestly.
Awww... (the straightjacket helps her sleep)  
I am currently in the process of trying to organise next year’s ice trip.  We may have something rather special on the cards, but I won’t share the details until it is confirmed.

But one thing is for sure, I am going to need to be at an all time high of fitness for it!  Both in terms of general fitness to cope with some seriously long days and lots of slogging and in terms of specific ice fitness – and by that, I essentially mean the ability to hang on my tools longer than I have ever been able to before.

So, ignoring the elephant in the room that is Willow and how she may have something to say about my putting in hours of training, I have built a revolutionary new Ice Climbing Training Rig at the back of the house (inspired by Will Gadd’s campus-board-for-axes thing).  I can’t pretend Holly was overly enthusiastic about it, but I think she is mildly impressed it tucks away so well.

Firstly, I took four of the 2.4m wood battens leftover from boarding the loft and fastened them together with glue, bolts and screws to form one long ‘plank’ that was 5.5m (18ft) long. Actually I had to cut six inches off it so it tucks under the gutter, it is that tall!  I then built a small base that it bolts onto so it can pivot, the base is screwed to the decking (until it rots, not sure the plywood will last).  I placed four anchors in the main wall of the house – one each side to keep it laterally stiff and two to take the outward force.  Using old climbing rope I rigged it so the plank leans by about 10 degrees.  I then treated the wood and placed 4mm (diameter, not length!) nails in each side at six inch intervals and added some small footholds to the front.

I will climb it using my Fig4s to hook the nails, but I think axes would work just as well as the nails are angled to ensure the weight is kept against the wood.  I think it is reasonable strong this way.  

I haven’t done a risk assessment but on first impression it is way too scary to venture above two thirds height (and the higher one is, the more force on the anchors).  I can’t envisage any real point of weakness – there are two anchors equalised plus some tension in the side ones, the nails seem strong and the wood is solid.  I will pad out the rubber on my Fig4s as due to the relatively small nails the rubber is deformed round a small circumference.  Of course, should I fall, there is a two foot wall roughly at the point where the back of my head will land...

I should be able to climb 2.5m with ease, so ten reps is 25m, plus climbing down – it should work a treat.  For the moment I am just back on work-lunchtimes Insanity and ten mins of pull ups and leg raises each evening.  It’s a start.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Rejoice: she has arrived!

I am very pleased to announce that our baby daughter, Willow Sierra Harvey, arrived on Saturday 31 August at 0650hrs.

You will notice the date does not make her near the oldest in the school year like we had meticulously planned.  I was not pleased, but you can't stay mad at her for long.

Holly's waters broke at about 1930hrs is on the Friday night and we decided we better visit the hospital at 2300hrs ish, and as expected we were sent straight home again with orders to return the next evening if contractions had not started (still naively hoping to last until September).  Contractions had definately started by around 0100hrs (we think earlier but Holly initially identified them as cramps) and we returned to the hospital at 0245hrs.   Willow was head down but facing the wrong way (her back against Holly's back) and as she turned with each contractions, Holly was in a lot of pain.  The midwife offered some completely ineffective Co-codamol but other than that Holly just flexed and Willow bust out!  So four hours after arriving at Whipps, the soon-daughter became the now-child.  We opted for a water birth and it was quite surreal seeing a small purple slimy face sticking out from Holly's doo-dahs.  When she popped she came up between Holly's legs, surface and blinked - not a peep from her and it was really very peaceful.  She was a slimy critter though, covered in vernix - you have probably never thought about this, but it's the stuff that stops a baby getting water-logged inside the womb and dries out as babys approach due date - as Willow was three weeks early she was plastered in the stuff.  They don't rub it off either, as its a great moisturiser.

After waiting a while for the placenta, then weighing and some rest and the final check, we were discharged at 1700hrs.  The final check involved the gag-reflex test where the midwife sticks a finger down the baby's throat - still no crying!

Out first night lulled us into a bit of a false sense of security and we got three cycles of three hours of sleep, feed and change.  The next day the community midwife came round and spotted jaundice in our as yet unnamed daughter.  So back to the hospital we went.  The doctor proclaimed she couldn't see any jaundice but returned with the test results praising the midwife's mad skillz.  We were admitted to Acorn ward and Willow went to sit on the blue light that would be her home for the next 16 or so hours.  Willow had a high blood count so they also wanted to put her on a drip, but after two attempts to get a cannula in that immediately clotted they seemed to give up.  Unfortunately we had to supplement Willow's breast feeding with formula to make sure she got extra fluids to thin her blood and flush out the bilirubin (the stuff that causes jaundice).  So we had a pretty horrid night that night, and seeing Willow's heels pricked so many times for blood samples was a bit (edit: Holly says very, not a bit) upsetting (regular tests plus the usual cock-ups like them not taking enough and it clotting before they could test it).

Space baby boldy goes...
The doctor the next day was very chilled and put us at ease.  He had a student with him so explained things in great detail.  I think most of the other staff were sick of my incessant questioning by this point.  He helpfully mentioned baby's blood sugar is normally lower than an adults - might have been nice to know that when a nurse was earlier commenting on how it was only 2.2 and and adults should be between for and seven.

Once the blue light, sorry, 'phototherapy' had done it's business and her bilirubin levels were within the acceptable range we had to wait seven hours for a retest so they can see if the level was rising again.  The results came back and we were told they were fine and we could go home.  Of course then muggins here had to ask for it to be plotted on the graph they had been using and when the doctor returned she said the previous results had been plotted wrongly and we need yet another test in yet another twelve hours.  We agreed that we could go home to sleep and return at 0700hrs for the test.  At 0745hrs we were woken by Holly's phone; 'Its Acorn Ward, we are just checking you are coming for your test'.  Aaaargh!!!  Anyway, we got there pretty quickly and were properly discharged.  

One hell of a stressful experience was over.  I am not sure how much sleep we got, I lost count at about 7 hours in 80.

'Say whaaaat?'
Willow has been a delight since (fatherhood has increased my use of such words, especially 'lovely').  She does seem to be most awake at about midnight so we are really hoping she hasn't 'reverse cycled'.  We had a visit to the midwife today and all is well.

Willow meets Howie. Willow doesn't care.
So far, it's knackering, but it's also pretty darn fantastic.

Willow in the wild
Willow meets the newly re-branded 'Gee-Gee'

Finally, a big thanks to everyone you has sent cards and well wishes, you'll all get to meet her soon.