Friday, 28 October 2011

Seven weeks old!

I borrowed a camera and took a nice photo of Issy, I know that all dads think their daughters are beautiful, but seriously, look at that face!

Izzy Isis Culture

Monday, 19 September 2011

Dads - keep your cool during birth!

Several of the health professionals we spent time with that crazy day our baby was born commented on how calm Emma and I were, and how much staying calm can help the birth.

I’d like to think that a lot of this calm comes from how Emma and I are as a couple, but kudos also needs to be given to the wonderful National Childbirh Trust (NCT) classes we attended.

Guys - if you don’t want to be that panicky fella in the labour ward telling anyone who’ll listen that you feel so helpless and have no idea what’s going on then do yourself (and your girl!) a favour and get clued up; it’ll make a huge positive difference not only to how confident you feel during the experience, but also how you’ll feel about the birth when you look back on it.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Introducing Isabelle

Our daughter Isabelle Iris was born at 1.45am Sunday 4th September 2011 in Ipswich Hospital, weighing 7lb 13oz and measuring 52cm long.

The name ‘Isabelle’ was plucked out of thin air by baby’s mum, and is the most perfect name for such a pretty little girl.  The name ‘Iris’ came about partly because we wanted something horticultural in baby’s name, and also because it means rainbow, which is just kinda pretty!

In reality our youngling will be called ‘Issy’ by those who love her.

If you want the full gory details read THIS POST...

P.S I didn’t get around to posting this ‘notice’ until today because we’ve been a bit busy looking after Issy to post to this blog!

P.P.S Issy's 'punk name' is Izzy Isis Culture

She’s here! (Our birth story).

Actually 'she' arrived two weeks ago today, but things have been a little crazy so I haven’t been able to grab a moment to update this blog.

Between June (the last post to this blog) and the day our girl was born there wasn’t much of blog-level interest to report - Emma got more rotund and the baby moved about a lot more, and apart from a slight dip in Emma’s iron levels (which was swiftly fixed with spinach, dark chocolate and Mackesons stout) all concerned were in tip top health.  Anyhew, folk seem to like knowing the gory details of each baby’s birth, so here goes:

NOTE - if you are reading this post while expecting your own first-born I don’t want you to be alarmed at all; as scary as anything you’re about to read may seem I want you to remember that when you’re there in the moment (and surrounded by wonderful healthcare professionals) you will really have very little to worry about as you’ll be in the best hands there are!

How it all started.
For about ten days before the ‘big day’ Em started getting really powerful practice contractions, so powerful in fact that the Tuesday before the birth we rang the maternity ward to let them know we thought things were underway, they thought differently so we stayed at home.  So when at 8am on Saturday 3rd September 2011 Em’s contractions started getting so powerful she couldn’t stand (and when they were about five minutes apart) we were a little hesitant to call the hospital just in case this was another false alarm.  Fortunately Emma did call, and a few minutes later a very calm sounding midwife told us that she was on her way over to our house.

Because the pregnancy went so well we decided to try for a home birth, or as the health professionals called it a ‘planned home birth’.  By the time the midwife examined Emma (at about 2pm) she was already 7cm dilated, and so some sums were quickly done and it was declared that baby would be joining us in time for afternoon high-tea.

By teatime there was no sign of baby and my poor wife had endured an entire day of grunting, squatting and making the kind of guttural noises that any hard working Norwegian Black Metal vocalist would be proud of.

At 7pm the waters broke spectacularly, and credit needs to be given to Emma who despite being at the rough end of a long day managed to aim said torrent neatly onto a waiting absorbent sheet in front of the fireplace in our lounge.  Whilst it was great news that the waters had broken what the midwives (for we had two on hand by then) saw changed the game totally.  There was evidence of meconium (baby poo) in the waters, meaning that there was a chance baby was getting distressed.

Poo at this stage (unless it comes from the mother, and yes, that does happen) is quite common so isn’t something to get in a panic over, but it is a warning sign that things might not be progressing quite as planned.

After another few hours we found out that Emma had only dilated another centimetre, and more concerning was the fact that the poor lass was utterly exhausted and was struggling to push at all.  Another inspection revealed that baby was stuck ‘OP’, meaning Emma was experiencing a particularly painful labour.

The midwives (in their own uniquely calm and reassuring way) were getting concerned and the decision was taken to transfer to the consultant led unit at Ipswich hospital.  The midwife called for an ambulance and by the time I had grabbed Emma’s hospital bag (about thirty seconds later) the ambulance was already outside our house.  Emma took herself out to the ambulance and pausing only to collect my sister and honorary brother (Graham) from a couple of doors away I followed the ambulance to hospital.  At this stage you might be expected a high-stress tale of flashing lights and daring high-speed driving, but I’m going to have to disappoint you - the ambulance drove very slowly indeed.

I was determined to be waiting by the doors of the ambulance when they opened -  so that Emma could see I was there - and I made it without much more than a gentle jog across the car park.

A few big changes in a surprisingly short period of time.
Once safely installed in the biggest single-bed room I’ve ever seen in a hospital we met a very nice doctor who told us that Emma needed to be drip fed a hormone to assist her contractions.

Because the contractions were about to get crazy Emma was offered pain relief, and for the first time all day she accepted.  Emma was worried about feeling dopey during the birth so she opted for an epidural over pethidine, and when that wonder drug kicked in everything changed, and the relief was enormous, for Emma, me, and of course the baby.

After about an hour and a half the hormone that was supposed to be helping baby out started to distress her, and a quick inspection of the relevant area revealed that Emma’s cervix was swelling.

The Registrar came and spoke to us, and when he asked me to sit down I knew the news wasn’t going to be great.  Because baby had been stuck just a few centimetres from crowning (popping out) there was a very real chance that she might be getting starved of oxygen, and therefore a decision needed to be made very soon indeed.  The Registrar took some blood from the top of baby’s head and told us that her oxygen levels were fine for now, but potentially wouldn’t be for much longer.  The decision was made that we needed an emergency cesarean (c-section), and as scary as that moment was it was also something of a relief.

Within just a few minutes we had gone to theatre, I had changed into surgical scrubs and we were in a room full of people poised and ready to do baby a favour.  I was sat on a stool at Emma’s head and a fabric screen was hung across Emma’s chest so that neither of us could see what was about to happen.  Having the view obscured was a huge relief to me, until I noticed that the operating theatre windows were incredibly reflective - I don’t think I’m terribly squeamish but I concentrated on staring at Emma just to be on the safe side.

Emma was cool and calm as she lay on the operating table, and didn’t flinch once as the surgical team did their thing.  After just three or four minutes we heard a noise like a tiny (and very brief) gas escape and the anaesthetist grinned and told us baby was sneezing!  There was an almighty squelching noise (to which Emma sighed and declared a huge relief) and a few seconds later we both heard a noise that will forever bind us at the very core of our souls - we heard our baby cry.  The time was about 1.45am on Sunday 4th September 2011.

That first cry was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard - in an instant it healed every second of fear and frustration we’d been through that day.  Emma and I looked more deeply at each other than we have ever before, we’d made it, we really did have a baby.

After she had been checked and cleaned up the midwife who had stuck to us like glue since arriving at hospital placed her on Emma’s pillow and introduced us to our beautiful baby girl.  Now that came as a surprise; for no particular reason at all we had both been sure we were expecting a boy!

Emma lost about a litre and a half of blood and was quite poorly for a couple of days after the operation, but the care we all received was unbelievably consistent and gentle, and Emma has said the memory of the pain and worry is slipping away from her more each time she looks at our gorgeous baby girl.

If you are expecting your own child I sincerely hope you take the positives from our experience; it didn’t go quite to plan, but the support and care (I nearly typed ‘love’ because that’s how it felt) we received from the NHS was beyond reproach.  However you decide to have your child you can be sure that you’ll be very well looked after indeed.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Hiccups, kicks and every lottery on earth

So far in this pregnancy I’ve confirmed more cliches than I’ve debunked, and this post will be no different...

For the last few weeks I’ve been (not very) patiently waiting to feel the first bit of movement from the baby; Em has been feeling jiggles and wiggles for weeks, and often stops what she’s doing to look into the middle distance before quietly announcing that ‘baby is awake now’.  But due to the placenta being at the front (apparently) there hasn’t been much movement for me to get excited about.

A couple of nights ago I was laying my fat head on Em’s (now sizable) ‘pummy’ (and trying to figure out if the noises I was hearing were the result of the baby moving or whether I was listening to Em’s supper taking its natural course through her increasingly space-restricted innards) and ‘pummy’ jumped.  I looked up at my cutey-wife and gave her sympathy for what I assumed was her hiccups, and that’s when my life changed a little more, and that tiny little twitch made my life even richer than it already is.  So what am I getting at? Well it turned out Em didn’t have hiccups, but the baby did!

I’m struggling to find the words I need to describe how giddy feeling those hiccups made me feel, so I’ll force a  bizarre analogy on you instead - when I felt baby hiccup it felt like I’d won the lottery.  So this morning when I was laying hands on pummy (I’m getting a bit obsessed, poor Em!) and I felt TWO very definite kicks it felt like I’d won everyone lottery on earth and been declared supreme overlord of the entire galaxy, but in spite of all the lottery money and ruler-ship NONE of it mattered at all, all that matters is that tiny little double kick...

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A brilliantly average scan.

During the scan we saw so much of the baby that it was
the next best thing to actually holding him/ her, but
as soon as it was time to take a photo
he/ she got stage fright again.
Today we had our twenty week scan, and after sitting around listening to the local tin pot radio station in the waiting we were ushered into the special darkened room for another gawp at our youngling.

The baby is HUGE!  I think I saw it from almost every angle as the scanner-lady (I would learn her job title but this is probably our last scan so it's already too late) probed my lovely wife's bump.  The biggest (and therefore campest) gasp from my end of the bed was when I saw the baby's face: after a few fleeting glimpses when it looked like the eye of Sauron I saw a perfectly clear view of the front of a face, and it was the most pure thing I've ever seen.  It may sound daft calling an unborn child pure but that's how it looked; totally disconnected from the pressures of the real world, and yet by its very presence is massively simplifying and hugely enriching my existence on this lump of rock as it hurtles through space.

Measurements were taken by the scanner-lady and reported in a neutral tone to an assistant with a pen, the tone was in fact so neutral that I didn't relax until the whole experience was over and we had both been assured that all is well, in fact our baby is better than 'well'; it's 'average'.

I've spent my whole life rejecting the average and seeking out the unconventional in everything I do, being anything other than average is at the very core of my being, and yet today while I was looking at baby's chart (and wondering what it all meant) knowing that our child was average was the best news I've ever had.

P.S we still don't know if it's a boy or girl, the scanner lady offered to tell us but we said no.

P.P.S although I think I've got a fair idea...

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Surprising privacy.

This blog was intended to be a way that Em and I could share our feelings, hopes and anxieties during our pregnancy, but I've the further we get into this adventure the more private a lot of it feels, and I guess that's part of the reason that I haven't been posting quite as often as I thought I might.

Another reason that I haven't been terribly verbose is that I think a lot of the little things I'm noticing only mean such a great deal to me because I've been with Em for fifteen years - I can spot the subtle changes in her daily behaviour that are making me fall in love with her more than ever.  I'll give you a brief example - I noticed a couple of days ago that Em walks around the house with one hand gently laying on her (still quite small) bump.  It means the world to me, but does it really have 'mass appeal?'.

We're not having this baby as an audience participation event, and I will share some of the more significant events with you, but for (possibly the first time in my entire life) I feel the need to keep some things private.  This is by no means a negative thing, in fact it's quite the opposite; it's confirmation that this baby is now the most important thing in my universe, and not something that belongs to the public arena.

I hope you understand, and knowing myself I'm sure I'll get over-excited again soon and want to share something like the exact shape of Em's belly button, but for now I'm going to enjoy the subtlety of pregnancy, and keep it to myself.

Friday, 25 March 2011

All’s quiet on the baby front.

When people ask me how the pregnancy is going I don’t have a lot to tell them, and when they look disappointed with the lack of news I remind them that a dull pregnancy is a good pregnancy. 

A couple of days ago we had another lightening fast visit to the midwife’s office, and as lovely as our midwife is (seriously, where do they find these amazing women?) I was incredibly grateful for the brevity of our visit - I’m sure all expectant parents are the same, but I feel like I’m some sort of information hungry worry-beast, any indicator of any news at all connected to this baby seems to quell one fear and spawn a handful of others.  If our midwife didn’t keep our visits so gloriously brief I’d be tempted to ask her any one of the hundreds of daft questions I have spinning round my head.  It’s not like I think she wouldn’t give me answers, in fact I’m sure she’d take pretty much any interrogation with good natured geniality.

So there you have it; all is well, Em’s blood pressure is great (which for some reason I’m dead proud of) and the next big step will be the twenty week scan, and by this time (the midwife has assured us) the baby will be too big to hide from us!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Instant calmer.

Please forgive that rubbish play on 'Instant Karma'...

This may be the shortest post I make here, but it's about one of the biggest impacts fatherhood is having on my life at the moment.  I'm talking about the instant calm that putting a hand on Em's tiny little bump instils in me.  It doesn't matter how stressed I am with work, how distracted my mind is with anything at all, a few moments of my hand on that tummy and perspective wraps around me like a giant hug rug.  The baby is too small to be felt from 'outdoors' yet, but every time Em and I make that connection we get a little closer to each other.  Apart from when my hand is cold...

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Funky baby beats!

Photo of me by Martin Rondell
So there we were sitting with the midwife (a different one to last time) explaining (and feeling like apologising) that we didn’t get what were supposed to from yesterday’s scan, when she took us both by surprise by saying ‘so, let’s see if we can hear this baby’s heartbeat’.  Just like that, no warning, no warm up; nothing!

I had no idea it was even possible to hear the baby’s heartbeat yet, and I studied pre-natal development for three years when I was on track to be a nurse!  Em dropped her kecks for the fourth person in two days (not including me) and out came a little karaoke microphone (from a box the midwife had, not from Em’s kecks, although she does carry a lot of weird stuff, and always inexplicably has a box of matches about her person) and after a bit of rummaging around there it was, and very loud and clear it was too!

Em had been quite focused for today’s meeting with the midwife - there had been some confusion in her notes (over just how pregnant she really is, which was weird because I thought you either were or you weren’t), but once she heard that heartbeat she totally relaxed.  It’s a cliché to say someone ‘melts’, but I can’t think of any other way of describing how my lovely wife reacted to the sound of our unborn child’s heartbeat.

After a few strong perfectly rhythmic heartbeats the baby moved, causing a noise that sounded exactly like a Fender Jazz bass down-tuned to B being struck with a medium thickness Tortex plectrum, fed through a Electro-Harmonix Big Muff fuzz pedal.  But Emma disagreed for some reason.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Would you mind shoving that thing somewhere else?

Photo is unrelated
Taken (by me) in Christiana in Denmark
We’ve just got back from our twelve week scan, and you were probably expecting to see a photo of the scan, and to tell the truth so were we!

The baby was perfectly healthy, very active but just wouldn’t pose to have the back of its neck measured (a routine test for downs syndrome), and certainly wasn’t interested in having its photo taken.

Baby started off by mooning us from an upside down position, I ‘think’ it might also have flipped us the bird.  Em was asked to drink another half litre of water to see if we could get the baby to lay in the right position, but that didn’t help, so Em emptied her bladder, and still the baby wouldn’t comply.  The final attempt at pre-natal compliance involved Em lifting her bum off the couch and jiggling her hips about, and all that did was rock the baby into a sort of ‘Andy Capp’ asleep on a settee position.

So no photo I’m afraid, but the good news is that the baby appears to be nice and healthy, and is certainly active.  We’re already booked in for the twenty week scan, and because the back of the baby’s neck couldn’t be measured Em needs to have her blood screened to check there are no abnormalities.

Oh, and the baby is now 72mm long, meaning it is three times bigger than it was just three weeks ago!

The phoney war, and poo on the patio.

I know I haven’t written for a while, but that’s because not a lot has happened, and I know that’s not the most gripping start to a blog post, but bear with me...

The last couple of weeks have been taken up with us trying to come to terms with our pregnancy, whilst not really seeing any signs of it.  Em has been getting odd sensations in her belly (well, womb I guess) but nothing terribly dramatic has been happening at all.

I’ve realised that the way I look after Em has stepped up a gear; I’ve always looked out for her but since I’ve found out she’s pregnant my level of concern has gone into overdrive. Last week we were staying in a holiday cottage in Dorset, and on the third night we were there (Valentines night no less) the bathroom flooded.  It didn’t seem like a big deal at first and Em waded in with towels to soak up the water, but then I noticed that the small patio out the back of the cottage was littered with foul water and toilet roll.  So my mild annoyance quickly turned into well managed panic as I ran through the cottage yelling ‘GET OUT, GET OUT’ at my confused wife. 

The extremely lovely agents who manage the cottage we were in put us up in their own house for the night, and then moved us to a new cottage.  It turns out the entire row of cottages shares a single waste pipe, and later that night I drove past the cottage and the entire row (and a nearby pub) was busy with water-board trucks and plumbers vans, so it looks like we got out in the nick of time!

We both managed the situation with a clear-headed logical (and reasonable) urgency, with no anxious panic or muddled thinking, hopefully this state of mind will continue throughout our pregnancy, but I somehow doubt it, we’re only human after all.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

A plea for my plums

“Ha ha, you’re going to get kicked in the nuts!” ejaculated my darling wife, totally out of the blue.

This alarming claim didn’t shock me quite as much as you might think it would, you see my testicles have been on my mind quite a bit of late. I know that might not be news to anyone who has ever been a man, been in a relationship with a man, or even seen a photo of a man, but there have recently been ominous omens pointing to the he fact that genital discourtesy’s may be a routine part of fatherhood.

Like most men I learnt at an early age to do whatever it takes to avoid any harm coming to my plums, and if memory serves me (and believe me, getting hit in the cags for first time isn’t the sort of thing one forgets) I was was running along holding a long stick in front of me and horribly misjudged the flatness of the path in front of me...

Over the years I have also learned the hard way how easily harm can come to my cobblers, and I’ve learned things like not jump onto my bicycle seat too fast, to make sure my feet don’t slip off the pedals when cycling down steep hills and to avoid the biggest threat to childhood genitalia (for those of us growing up in the 1970s and 80s) the gear lever on the crossbar of a Raleigh Chopper. But not all threats to my ahem, ‘productivity’ have been bike related; I learned at a very early stage in our relationship never to ask Em to throw me anything. Ever. Being a bassist also has its risks, but I won’t trouble you with them now, I don’t want you to think I’m obsessed by my testicles or anything...

So you’re getting the idea here - I’ve spent thirty four years trying to protect two friends who are very dear to me, and I thought I was getting a pretty good handle on the threats there are out there (and there are many), I hadn’t ever considered that my own flesh and blood might be the cause of plum pulverisation. But two of the parenting books I’ve read in preparation for this baby (‘Parenting made difficult’ by Phil Hogan, and ‘Punk Rock Dad’ by Pennywise frontman Jim Lindberg) both warn against parenting related gonad pouch punishment. I was particularly alarmed by the mention of getting a kick in the nuts in the Punk Rock Dad book because I’m only a few pages in so far. I assume the urgency in which Mr.Lindberg mentions his kids accidentally striking his stuff means it’s a very real and serious threat!

So a pedant might argue that now Em is pregnant my plums have played their part, but until a doctor takes them in hand and gives me the snip I’d really rather avoid the need to have them exposed in a medical environment thank you very much!

Kyuss, meet your future.

This weekend we had my dear mum staying with us (dad was off chasing steam trains in Poland), and after an afternoon wandering around looking at snowdrops at Anglesea Abbey (the flowers not, the frozen water type of snowdrops) we settled down for a Saturday evening of doing nothing much at all.  While I was reading a National Trust information board at Anglesea Abbey I learned that the former owner had the rather marvelous christian name  ‘Huttleston’, which Em immediately vetoed as a possible name for our baby.  But she’s not an unreasonable lass, and you’re about to find out...

My mum is tee-total (remarkable given the stress of raising me) and Em can’t drink (because she’s full of baby), but both insisted that I enjoy a tipple or two.  I cracked open a bottle and showed great restraint, even although I’m now drinking for two.

Long story short (you’ll be relieved to know) we got to talking about baby names, and then looking them up in a baby names book that a single male friend of ours had for some reason.  It’s important to check that ones progeny’s name doesn’t mean anything too bizarre, because giving your younguns a silly name that will get them picked on at school because it rhymes with something like ‘poo’ is one thing, but bestowing a name that officially means something like ‘eats poo’ is pushing your luck.  We were most amused to learn that ‘Cameron’ means ‘crooked nose’, who knew!

I like the idea of using a name from the Old Testament, but Meshack, Shadrack and Abednego were vetoed, as wereMethuselah, Boaz and Abimelch, although Eli and Caleb got some nods from Em and my mum.

I was starting to think of sensible names like ‘Orwell’ and ‘Lloyd’ when Em threw a total curveball into the mix,
“How about ‘Kyuss’ as a boy’s name?”
Well yes, that’s amazing, especially because ‘Kyuss’ is the name of one of the best bands ever to have existed!  But she got scared, and I saw reason and agreed we’d drop Kyuss as a suggestion.

The night ended with me drinking some stale port that I found in the back of the cupboard, and everyone agreeing that we’d leave the names debate for another time.  But if our baby is reading this in the future you should probably know that you were nearly called Kyuss, and whatever we end up calling you might be pleased to know that Kyuss was one of the more sensible suggestions!

Sunday, 30 January 2011

For the 24 metre tall baby in your life

Yesterday I met the biggest challenge of fatherhood so far, a three story baby stuff warehouse.  From the outside the unappealingly spelt ‘KiddiCare’ (aka house of financial horrors) looked quite inviting, there’s even a cafe for tired dads!

As we cruised around the car park in a car roughly the same age as our relationship (fifteen years old) I was a bit concerned that most of the parked cars were Audis, Mercedes and BMWs that all looked younger than our marriage (four years old).  There were no spaces inside the car park so we dumped our car among a small collection of other unworthy jalopies parked on the road outside the suspiciously high security fence that surrounds KiddiCare.

For as long as Em and I have talked about having kids we’ve been worried that we might not be rich enough to spawn, and as I walked through the huge sliding entrance doors at KiddiCare I hoped that the car park full of cars that are probably worth more than our house wasn’t an indicator of prices to come.

The first section we found ourselves in was a long wide room full of car seats, and for some reason I’m still unsure of it featured half a Volkswagon Beetle.  After checking a few price tags I breathed a huge sigh of relief; as I was about to discover elsewhere in the store it would appear that you can spend obscene amounts of money on your younguns if you want, but if your budget happens to be smaller than the national output of a small African state then the chances are your child won’t go without anything it needs.

I guess we’re still trying not to get too carried away with buying baby things, but it was a real education to see just how many products designed to ease the passing of your children from birth to teen years there are available these days.  There are also an incredible number of brands carefully designed to lighten the load of an over-burdened wallet.

Em’s dad wandered the isles pondering where all these ‘essential aids’ were when Em and her brother were kids.  It was great exploring KiddiCare with Em’s parents, and I appreciated having someone with me who shares my sense of humour (Em’s dad), so that when I wanted to point and chuckle at product photos of children staring down toilets I had someone to share the mirth with.  Em’s dad also has a keen eye for the bizarre, like the stair guard that advertised itself as being for between the heights of ‘0-24m’.

One of the highlights of our trip to KiddiCare was the entire floor of buggies and prams, or ‘3D pram systems’ as the advertising boards would have it.  So much more effective than two dimensional drawings of prams, I’m sure you’ll agree.  We obviously have a lot to learn about the various technical details relating to how one can commute ones young from one point A to point B, so until those gaps in our knowledge are filled we can only judge buggies on how well they would drive over street garbage, and how difficult the tyre treads would be to clean after driving through dog dirt.  And there’s a little insight into our neighbourhood for you...

By the time we made it to the third floor I was distracted by test driving rocking chairs and Em was more interested in staring out of windows than anything else, so we decided to call it a day.

When we got back to the in-law’s house we did what any sensible person would do and checked eBay for cheaper versions of the things that had caught our attention in the store.  Our child will get everything he or she needs, as long as the shipping charges aren’t too steep and the reserves aren’t too high.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Baby is already a show off, just like its dad!

Today was what we all thought was the twelve week scan, but as it turns out it was in fact a nine week scan.  The staff at the hospital were all friendly, and Em didn’t complain too much that she had to cultivate a very full bladder for the purposes of the scan.

I watched on the small screen as the nice lady showed me my darling wife’s innards, and the first shock I got was when I thought the scanner was showing me a huge grinning mouth, but it wasn’t our child, probably just Em’s wee reserve.

When the nice lady found our baby I was shocked that it really does look like a little person, sort of, if you squint, and use your imagination.  I was pointing excitedly at the screen and identifying legs and a big head when the baby surprised us all by doing a little dance, although I guess I’d shuffle about a fair bit if a large inward dent suddenly appeared in my ken!

Em and I were both a little relieved to find out that we’re not having twins, and even more relieved when the nice lady pointed out that our youngun has a healthy beating heart!  I thought I had come to terms with the fact that I’m going to be a dad, but see the little dear wiggling about really drive that home. 

It felt slightly weird having to pop five pound coins in a vending machine in the waiting room (to pay for our copy of the scan) but I guess a lot is about to start feeling weird, like the fact we now know our baby is currently 24mm long.

I’m still on a high as I sit and write this a few hours later, a feeling backed up by something that happened in Capel St.Mary Co-op...

After a site visit to one of my clients I nipped into the local Co-op to buy some beer for a party we’re going to tomorrow night.  While I waiting in line to be served at the Co-op when I overheard two old dears talking about Valentines day and having a little moan about husbands in general.  Feeling chatty (as I often am) I piped up and told them that us husbands aren’t so bad.  They turned and looked at me with surprise, and lady A told me I didn’t look old enough to be a husband, so I replied saying that not only am I a thirty four year old husband, but I’m also a 34 year old father to be!  There was much muttering between the two old dears and lady B told me that she ‘should have gone to specsavers’.  Then to cap it all the lady behind the till asked me for ID to prove I’m old enough to buy beer!

So we’ve got to back for the twelve week scan in three week’s time.  What a day!

Fun on the farm

Written 22nd January 2011

While we’re not poor, we’re certainly not wealthy folk so to today we took a trip out to a baby exchange place.  Apparently it’s not somewhere that facilitates the swapping of babies (in the event that nature hands you one you don’t fancy), but rather it is a place that sells second hand baby clothes.

When I heard that this place was on a farm I assumed that it would one of the many exercises in diversification that modern farms have to get to grips with in order to survive, and that we’d be visiting something akin to a jumble sale in a caravan.  I was wrong - Em and I wandered wide-eyed and staring though three large barns that held what must have been thousands upon thousands of items of itty bitty tiny clothing.

So with any luck keeping baby dressed and unfashionable won’t be as damaging to our finances as we first thought.  The highlight of this experience for me was the realisation that there are many bizarre costumes that we can amuse ourselves with when baby is indulging in a day of screaming.  The low point was probably when I went to try on a kid’s Stoomtrooper* helmet and noticed (just in the nick of time) that a kid had apparently sneezed heartily when wearing it at some point a long time ago, although not in a galaxy far far away.

*Star Wars Stoomtrooper of course, what were you thinking?

Gasps from the stage door

Written 21st January 2011

Last night we finally caught up with Em’s brother Mark; we had been trying to reach him for a few hours but he’s an actor so his hours are erratic to say the least.  Mark didn’t react quite how we expected him to, in fact he made a noise like gas escaping and said he’d call back.  What we didn’t know at the time was that he was stood by a stage door just about to start a performance!  When he rang back he asked how it could have happened, he thought we were just holding hands...

The avalanche of emails from my sister and (kinda adopted) brother (Graham) has started already; Jed (my sister) is impatient and wants the baby born NOW, and Graham is sending me suggestions for amusing ways to dress the baby.

I must not say stupid things to health professionals...

Written 20th January 2011

Today we met the midwife, and if they’re all going to be as nice as her then this pregnancy will be a lot less stressful than I thought it was going to be.  We sat and chatted for about an hour and felt looked after and un-rushed.  We were both asked an incredible amount of questions about our family medical histories and were both greatly relieved to learn that according to the 10cm thick NHS book of baby making interrogation this classifies as an extremely low risk pregnancy.

Em asked about the birthing centre at the maternity unit and we found out that they have what sounds like a very nice birthing area that is a nice mix of home and hospital.  We were told that (unless the pregnancy gets complicated) there’s nothing to stop us having this baby at home, although I’m not too keen on the idea, our cats have a habit of throwing up on things at the most inopportune of times.

So the midwife appointment was incredibly reassuring, and I think I did really well not to make any stupid jokes.  Well nearly.  I managed to keep it down to a bare minimum-  when I was told by the midwife that I was involved in this pregnancy too I replied ‘just the fun bit so far’, and when I got out of Em’s way so that she could have an alarming amount of blood sucked out of her arm I told the midwife how excited I was that there were some toys on hand for me to play with.

There are certain aspects and ‘things that need to happen’ when having a baby that we haven’t given much thought to until now.  It was much the same when we got married and we forgot to take money to pay the registrar, or to choose wedding vows.  One of the baby things we hadn’t given much thought to was how to break the news to our parents and siblings (including a great northern lunk called Graham who is an honorary member of our family).  Em wanted to wait until we went to visit her parents next weekend before breaking the news, but fearing she might burst with anticipation before then she gave them a call.  After seeking reassurances from her mother that she was sitting down (her mother that is, Em was hopping from foot to foot) Em broke the news.  Even although Em was talking to her mum on a mobile phone a few metres away from where I was nervously standing I could still hear a lot of squealing and half formed words howling down the line.  Em’s dad was equally pleased and immediately sent me a text message congratulating me, and telling me that my hard work is already over, and that from now on I can put my feet up...


Just as I typed that last sentence my mum rang me back, she had been in a prayer meeting with two of her friends.  My mum gets together once a week with these friends so that they can pray for their children, and I must admit I was secretly hoping that when I asked her what she was praying for that she would answer ‘babies’.  My mum is very excited and a bit giggly about the whole affair, and my dad (who is usually very calm and steady) reacted extremely positively and started rambling on about when I was born, something I don’t think we’ve talked about before!

When we told our ‘adopted brother’ Graham he was more freaked out than we were, his face when he was looking through one of the many books the midwife gave us was priceless.  He looked up at Em with a horrified look on his face and said, “You might wee yourself when you laugh!”

Above all today has left me feeling very humble and grateful to have both sets of parents living nearby, and for having our health, and love, and sunshine, blue skies and lollipops.

P.S My favourite quote of the day was Em saying that her mum recently told her that she came from a long line of child bearers...

An early start for a lifetime of discoveries

Written 17th January 2011

This morning Em started calling the doctor’s surgery at about 8am, which is a standard time to start a campaign for an appointment at the practice we’re registered with.  Actually that’s unfair, our practice is excellent and there’s always an appointment when you need one.  We couldn't see our usual doctor (a male doctor that we have both been seeing since we were 18 years old) so we saw a very friendly and calming lady doctor at the surprisingly early time of 10am.

After Em sensed that I was making rambling introduction to the doctor so she came out with it and said she thought she was pregnant.  The doctor asked if we had tried a home pregnancy test, we said yes, and she said ‘in that case you’re pregnant’.  It was a bit more straight forward than either of us were expecting, all apart from when we started doing the sums for the due date and it would appear that my darling wife may already be three months pregnant!

The doctor had a very gentle feel of Em’s tummy and asked he she had noticed it changing shape, Em said no, I said yes.  I’m really trying not to brag or boast, but it would appear I really did know Em was pregnant long before it was confirmed, and a few weeks before even she suspected it!

This is all starting to feel very real, but after seeing the doctor I’m losing my sense of panic and replacing it with a sense of duty.  We’re seeing the midwife on Thursday, and there will most likely be a scan soon after that.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit pensive, but that’s probably more to do with me wanting to make sure Em and the baby are okay.  Then we can tell our parents that they’re officially old sounding now we’re going to make them grandparents, and I know that they’re support and encouragement is going to make all the difference to all of us.

As far as names are concerned Em isn’t against my idea of giving a boy a Welsh name like ‘Nye’, but she has vetoed my hope of calling a girl ‘Lettie’.  She quite likes the Victorian idea of naming girls after flowers, but dismissed as ridiculous my idea that we could name a girl ‘Chrysanthemum’.  I’m sure this the first of many occasions that our unborn child will be forever thankful that Em is the sensible one in this marriage!

I just got a Google calender invite email from Em (for our midwife appointment), we’re organising this pregnancy using cloud technology!  Makes sense to me, after all that is where the storks live isn’t it?

This changes everything...

Written 16th January 2011

Despite sitting up till the wee small hours drinking too much red wine with a friend I still feel really good this morning.  Everything feels different, I’m looking at everything differently, even clichés.  I’ve been under a considerable amount of stain with one of my clients over the last few months - nothing bad, just a huge workload - and while the work still needs to be done I don’t feel as worn down by the prospect of getting it done.

Hell, I’m even looking at our three cats differently.  We’ve always been quite firm that they are cats and not surrogate children, in fact we’ve corrected the vet a few times when he calls us mummy and daddy - THEY’RE CATS!  I swear they know something is up, they’re a bit jumpy today and really affectionate, although that might be because I’ve not fed them yet today...

I’ve been trying to make a fuss of Em, trying to really look after her as best I can, I don’t want her to have to do anything at all.  I know I can be a bit ‘enthusiastic’ when trying to be helpful, so we’ll wait and see how long it lasts before she asks me to cool it!

My suspicions confirmed, finally - hopefully!

Written 15th January 2011

Well after weeks of me thinking Em might be pregnant (and after years of ‘trying’ to get her pregnant) this morning she took the test, and yes, she is pregnant.

Since I was a kid I’ve always wondered what it would feel like the moment I learn that I’ve knocked someone up, I’m prone to bouts of extreme anxiety so I thought I’d probably mess my pants and run around the house screaming like a cartoon character, but I surprised myself with how calm I responded when my wife showed me the pregnancy test.  Thats not to say I didn’t react in any way at all though, I did keep bursting into laughter, which thankfully didn’t spook Emma at all.

But on the whole I am calm, clear thinking and overwhelmingly happy.  Above all I have spent the whole of today staring at my beautiful wife with doe eyes, falling more in love with her than I ever have before.

We’ve been adopting the ‘lets see what happens’ zero-contraception theory for about five years now.  We decided long ago that we wouldn’t be the sort of couple that got obsessive over charts, temperatures and vaginal mucus - we just wanted to see if what would happen would, well, happen.  That being said I went for a fertility test a couple of years ago, but I really didn’t plan to, in fact I went to see my doctor about a mole on my back and much to my surprise I came out with a spaff sample pot.  The results were good (and believe me, it’s really hard not to be an elated idiot when you find that out) but still a couple of years later nothing had happened.  I wouldn’t say I had resigned myself to a life without children, but my wife and I had certainly discussed the possibility that younguns might not feature in our lives together.

Still, it’s early days yet, and we haven’t even been to see our doctor yet.  I think our doctor will be especially proud of himself though - just a couple of months ago Em paid him a visit to ask for fertility advice!

Right here, right now I feel like Em and I are the first couple in the world to spawn life, even although I know that’s obviously cobblers.  But I guess the feeling is a bit like when you know you’re deeply in love, and you feel like you’re the first person ever to feel that way, because surely nobody else has it as good and as deep as you do?  Right?

Welcome to our baby blog!

When I learned that I’d got my darling wife up the duff I decided to keep a diary/ blog, and being a man of my word here it is.  To tell the truth this record of our pregnancy is more for my wife and I, and of course for our unborn child, than it is for the public at large but we’re caring sharing types, so feel free to enjoy what we’re spouting!

At the moment I’m writing my thoughts on this blog, and my wife (Em) is writing in her (paper) diary, but I dare say some of her words will find their way onto this blog, so hang around...