So here we are, parents. A little girl dependent on us to provide for her, trusting us to look after her and know what she needs. Parents who should know what’s best, know what is wrong when she cries and fix it, know how to make her laugh when she’s sad, know how to comfort her and protect her when she’s scared.
First time parents, yet needing to be an expert from day 1. Expert in putting a nappy on, in bathing and cleaning, in knowing which cry means food and which means change my nappy, in doing up a babygrow and in mixing formula.
We’re the adults so we should be control right, making the decisions, deciding when to sleep and when to eat. But we’re not, this little girl dictates the day. She decides when we can have rest, whether we can go out for the day, when she wants a cuddle. She’s the boss and if you do it wrong you know it.
But we’re learning, every day a new lesson, every day discovering something new about her, everyday noticing her growing and changing, As each day passes we gradually restore order and routine and find new ways to live our lives now that we are a family. We may sleep less and drink more, but so far we’re loving every minute and have the photo’s to prove it.
My last post was about ‘tomorrow’ and would you believe it tomorrow came! On Friday 15th April Matilda Rose was born; the wait was over and we finally got to meet the bean. The week since she was born has passed in some what of a blur of visitors, sleepless nights and nappy changes. So this is the first time I’ve felt like I had time to sit down and pin down some of those thoughts flying around my head. Now’s the time to take stock and reflect on our first pregnancy, our first labour and of course our first week as parents.
If there is one word that can describe my feelings during labour and those first few hours it is awestruck. As I sat holding Matilda for the first time in the delivery suite I was lost for words, in awe of this little girl who only a few hours ago was curled up inside the lady of the manor. Yet now here she was holding her daddy’s finger in her little hands and sleeping quietly. This perfect little person with beautiful fair hair and big blue eyes, wrapped up and protected from the world for a little while longer at least by an already over protective dad. Any prospective boyfriends in the future are going to be grilled….
The lady of the manor was truly amazing throughout the labour; despite having contractions for 48 hours and very little sleep she delivered our little bundle in 3 hours once ‘official’ labour had started. She used only gas and air to help her and just breathed her way through the rest. It is a strange feeling to watch someone you love go through so much pain and effort without being able to share the burden. I of course dutifully supplied drinks and food as needed along with words of encouragement, but a man is supposed to provide and protect his wife, however all you can do is watch. The reward of course is worth it, everything forgotten the second that little red, screaming baby is delivered to you for the first cuddle.
So here I am, a very proud daddy to a beautiful little girl, learning something new everyday, trying to provide a happy and peaceful home where the biggest worry is running out of milk.
Welcome to the world Matilda, it’s going to be one hell of an adventure
As a man I find it useful to equate situations to sport as a means of dealing with the stresses or challenges that life presents. Pregnancy and labour is no exception, from a man’s perspective it’s much like being an athletics coach. First you identify the talent and potential, then you put her through her paces and conduct some ‘training sessions’ (This is a family blog so I’ll leave it there). Then eventually you strike the big time and entry into the premier race, I’m thinking 100m final in the Olympics, all that time preparing for (hopefully) a short flurry of activity at the end.
So you’ve got the entry into the race for your athlete and now as coach you job is to provide support and encouragement. Diet and nutrition are important so you have to make sure that there isn’t an increase in junk food or biscuits. Clearly they shouldn’t be consuming alcohol and the only performance enhancing drug allowed is folic acid (you may want to have random drugs tests to check). Training should continue so that your athlete can keep fit and healthy, but it should probably look to taper off towards the end. Some light walking or perhaps a swim are particularly good options. The job of a coach isn’t easy, particularly in those tough first 12 weeks where no doubt there’ll be some tears and a few temper tantrums. Plus of course this training will reduce energy levels so you have to provide regular meals and massage’s to relieve stress. Prepare to become their cook, cleaner and general dogs body.
As you approach the big day you may attend joint training sessions with other competitors for some final expert advice. This is a good chance to size up the competition and judge who you think will finish first. You may decide to invest in new equipment at this time, always brings a sense of re-assurance to have the latest greatest technology even if people have been running for hundreds of years and never needed it.
Then before you know it the day is here, the final push for the finish line. A good coach will anticipate his athletes needs and be ready to reassure her. He’ll know what words of motivation she needs and what will make her relaxed enough to perform to her potential. This is where it gets tough, where grit and determination will be needed. Where you know it’ll be painful, but when it’s all over the pain will be forgotten and the sense of achievement will be everything. You do it, both of you, she may go through it physically, but you’re in this together and as a team you’re going to have to stick together for what’s coming next.
Image via Wikipedia
So now you know how my brain works, I’m off to stock up on Lucozade (other energy drinks are available), dig out my lycra and buy a new stop watch. The big race is soon, we just don’t know exactly when….
The pregnancy process for us has been exciting, nerve wracking, jaw dropping amazing and a roller coaster of ups and downs. As you probably well know it’s also something that EVERYONE has an opinion on. Now I don’t mind this, it’s fun chatting to people about their experiences and telling them when it’s due etc; but there are 2 particular reactions from people that quite honestly piss me off.
First is when people say “you’d better get your sleep in now then”, I mean seriously, what are we supposed to do? It’s not like you can bank your sleep is it? Or did I miss that lesson at school where the secret was shared? Perhaps they are thinking of grizzly bears? Plus of course if the lady of the manor is breastfeeding then there’s no point me getting up is there, I might as well get my sleep 🙂
Image via Wikipedia
The second reaction is when you mention doing anything in the next year other than staying home tending to your babies every need. I have heard on numerous occasions a response of “you can’t do that, you’ll have a baby”. Ok, I get it, life will change somewhat, no more taking hard drugs or night clubs until 2am (like I did that anyway) but life goes on. Maybe I’m being a little naive and will think differently in a month or 2, but you can’t stop doing things just because you have children. In fact it perhaps justifying doing more so your child can see what’s out there in the world.
My brother and I have started planning our holiday for summer 2012, he had his first child in November so will also have a toddler by then and friends of his are also due this week. So the 6 adults and 3 toddlers will hopefully be going to France for a couple of weeks, which is just perfect really, cuts the cost down and we’ll all be looking for the same things from a holiday. But when I told some colleagues this they were horrified; is it child safe they asked, plus how will you transport all your stuff there? Well, there aren’t any fast flowing rivers and the house doesn’t appear to have knives everywhere so I think we’ll be alright. Plus we all own cars which may well get packed to the ceiling but I reckon we’ll manage. I know that the children will be active by then, but we’re not exactly going to just leave them on their own are we? We can take stair gates if we need them and travel cots pack down small enough these days.
But that’s not all to cap it all off we’re going to New Zealand in September for 3 weeks. The bean will be 5 months old, as long as the flights go ok I think we’ll be fine and just think of the adventure, might take some Calpol though…..
So what do you think? A disillusioned first time parent who has no idea how hard it’s going to be or a realistic parent who isn’t going to stop living just because they have a baby? What adventures have you had since becoming a parent? Any top tips for keeping normality to life?
Another task on the pregnancy to do list completed; we’ve officially finished the NCT ante natal classes. 18 hours and £120 later I started to ask myself was it really worth it? I missed 3 rugby matches on TV including England beating France in the six nations and consumed my own body weight in biscuits which really can’t be good for the six pack. Some pretty big sacrifices, but did we actually learn things we couldn’t read in a book and were there other benefits? Well to help here is my top 5 things I learned over the 18 hours, in no particular order…..
- Put 8 pregnant women around a table full of biscuits and cake and they will eat the equivalent of another baby.
- Getting in the way of a pregnant woman heading for the toilet after being shut in a room for 2 hours is like facing a charging elephant.
- Learning people’s names is easy, learning which woman is with which man is much much harder and can lead to some very embarrassing conversations
- When asked what you think of when you hear the word Labour you shouldn’t say Tony Blair in response
- Every conversation with other expectant parents turns into a game of Top Trumps – we spent £500 on our push chair, we haven’t even packed our hospital bag yet, we’re going to breast feed and use re-useable nappies etc etc
I consider myself relatively well educated in all things baby having had friends and family with babies who I’ve helped with. The lady of the manor is a children’s nurse and looks after mainly sick babies so can change a nappy in her sleep. So a whole lot of what we covered wasn’t really that useful if I’m being honest. However the labour process clearly isn’t something we have any experience of and I think for me to better understand this and how I can help is really valuable. It turns out my job is to tell the mid wife to bugger off whenever she comes around with her epidural’s or tells us she has a bad back so can’t deliver a baby with the lady of the manor standing.
So some good stuff, was it worth 18 hours in a village hall while the sun was shining? I’m not so sure. But we now have 7 other couples who all live locally and are in exactly the same position as us as first time parents. The ladies are now all meeting weekly for coffee, cake (notice a pattern?) and gossiping. We now are also Monday night pub quiz regulars with a couple who live just down the road from us. Clearly we aren’t going to be life long friends with all 7 couples, but £120 to gain 3 or 4 couples who we will stay in touch with? That’s pretty good value in my view.
So now we play the waiting game, less than 2 weeks to the due date and we are now officially in what I like to call ‘the red zone’. It really could come any day now, I like to tell the lady of the manor that regularly, she likes it, it’s exciting. The car seat is permanently in the car along with the hospital bag. The nursery is even going to have a carpet soon. One day soon we’ll have an answer to all our questions; boy or girl? Like mum or dad? What weight? Good or bad sleeper? Will the dog like him/her?
I. Can’t. Wait.
Amazingly this blog has been going 5 months and I don’t think I have mentioned wine! Given that this is one the topic areas I planned to write about it’s a little shocking, so here in all it’s glory is a wine blog:
Today was a big day, big decisions were made and I put my money where my mouth is. You see today I purchased wine for the first time en primeur, that is buying wine while still in the barrel, before you really know if its good or not. I didn’t spend a fortune (only 3 digit’s) but I did buy wine that I haven’t seen or tasted and I won’t set eyes on the bottles for at least 3 years. It’ll stay in a nice cool warehouse until such a time that I want to try some. Sounds a little crazy I know. But I do love wine and as you may have gathered from previous posts I have a love of most things gastronomic and if you like good food chances are at some point you will begin enjoying the occasional glass of wine with it.
There are few things as satisfying as drinking a few glasses of wine in the evening and getting that warm, fuzzy feeling. At home I rarely drink anything but wine, well maybe the odd tumbler of whisky on the rocks (Glenturret mmmmm), but I digress. I am by no stretch of the imagination an expert on wine, I know what I like; generally it’s red in colour, more often than not its new world, if push came to shove then the label most likely says New Zealand and Pinot Noir on it.
Fortunately though, I have a brother who is the wine trade, he works in the fine wine department of a certain wine merchant that has been around for just a few hundred years. This means I have a free wine advice service whenever I need to match wine to food etc, it also means getting the inside info on new wines as they come in.
Right now the wines from 2009 for the Rhone region of France are just being released. This offer somewhat better value than the better known wines of Bordeaux and even Burgundy. Which is good because I really can’t justify £3,000+ for a case that is needed for the top wines in those regions. By all accounts 2009 was a good year for the Rhone wines and hopefully this purchase will be very tasty in a few years time. For now I just have to play the waiting game until I can sample my wares. But I would like it to be the start of a collection; I’m not interested in buying for investment, it’s all about the drinking. But now that I’m in a position to enjoy this luxury a little I do like the idea of building up a cellar of wine to enjoy as our family grows. If 2011 is a good vintage then I will of course have to buy something to celebrate the bean being born!
P.S. In case you’re interested the best of the selection is the 2009 St Joseph, Silice. 91 points from Mr Parker no less.
The first NCT class was everything I expected it to be; slightly eccentric teacher, dads looking like a rabbit in headlights, mums clearly worried about the whole labour thing and a a nice dollop of awkward silences peppered with nervous tension. In case you’ve been following the news in the past week or so the ‘C’ word was mentioned by the teach in the first 30 seconds. That is C for Caesarean not C for crying or child or even cut down on the chocolate fatty. So good to know we have an open minded teacher who is trying to give us as much information as possible.
However there was one issue, the teacher reminded me of Alice from the Vicar of Dibley. Starting in the first 5 minutes with the repeated use of Okee Kokee and continuing throughout the evening. Quite honestly I couldn’t take her seriously, it felt like I was being taught by a pre-school teacher. This of course greatly annoyed the lady of the manor, who tried to rise above my childish giggles.
Interestingly when asked the top question from the group was ‘what the hell are we going to do for 6 hours on Saturday’! Seriously how long does it take to learn how to breathe correctly! Plus the men were somewhat intrigued by the very secretive ‘ladies only’ session next week. Intrigued, but actually not really wanting to even imagine what may be discussed.
But actually a worthwhile evening in the end, met a few people in the same boat as us as it were. Plus discovered one of the couples live about 100m away from us. We only moved to the town a year ago and have struggled so far to really build any friendships given that neither of us actually works there. So the next few sessions will be spent figuring out if they are ‘our kind of people’.