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 clich├ęs.  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...