The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted thatmy byline picture that normally sits atop thiscolumn has been dramatically transformed. And no, dear reader, I haven't resorted to extreme anti-ageing botox coupled with a raw food diet – instead I am now the overjoyedfather of two gorgeous boys.
My eldest son Krishan (pictured above right, where my ugly mug usually sits) is now a proud big brother to baby Rohan. The snap was taken by a delighted dad the day after he was delivered, the first time that the two brothers met.
And, although in the traffic jam on the way back from the hospital, Krishan quietly confessed that he actually wanted a little sister (I blame Charlie and Lola), since then the two boys seem to be getting on better and better each day that passes.
It seems remarkable to both my partner and I that eight months have already flown by. And the contrast to the same period five years ago when Krishan was born is marked, too. Obviously we have been through the whole process once before – the meconium, random yelps, coughs and sniffles, the snuffling and fidgeting that keep you awake into the early hours – but time seems to have sped up immeasurably.
When Krishan was born, the initial eight months seemed to last forever. I remember being as wide eyed and helpless as the tiny, squeaking, bleary-eyed bundle who stared expectantly up at me.
It's natural, of course, to worry about everything as a first-time parent. And worry I did. Why was he making that funny noise in his cot? Why wasn't he making any noise in the cot? Is he drinking too much? Why wasn't he drinking enough? Second time around you are more in control, more measured, more relaxed and, I have to confess, definitely a tad more blasé about the whole parental process.
And, of course, we've had the elder sibling to deal with, too. When Krishan was a baby my partner and I made sure we tried to share all the duties from day one. Apart from the breast feeding, natch.
But second time around, with a boisterous four-year-old who'd just started in reception class, the line of demarcation was far more pronounced.
Basically my parental responsibilities for the past eight months have been centered around my eldest. So, rather than spend hours transfixedabsorbing every flick of Rohan's eyelids, every coo and cry and kick of his chubby, cute, little limbs, I have been dealing with son number one.
From the school run to the park, library to the shops,swimming lessons to children's parties, the months have flown past in a whirlwind of car journeys. Dad's taxi indeed.
And that's where it becomes tough once again. I have missed some of the early days bonding that I had with Krishan. I've also not been around to change nappies and deal with the constant screams of delight or angst (he has a remarkable set of lungs on him) that my partner has selflessly put up with morning, noon and night.
It's been an emotional time for everyone. And a joyful time too. Laughter, tears, tantrums and smiles.
Long may they continue.