Baby Preparation: Exhausting!

So today we got up early to drive to Westfield shopping centre in London for a Mamas & Papas parents to be event. A two-hour slot in which we would hear talks on various topics and have the undivided attention of the staff to help us get over the hump of all our parenting questions. Or so it was sold to us. In reality it was helpful overall, but very much a mixed bag.

The drive there wasn’t wonderful to be fair. Westfield is expanding significantly, such that the usual way into the car park was closed. We knew this and expected diversion signs / help to get to the current entrance. The diversion signage was just about the worst ever. Each time we had options the signs confused us. An example: Diversion – Westfield car park to the left. OK we thought. 50 yards down the road was another diversion sign though. Left lane commercial vehicles; right lane other vehicles – both for Westfield. OK, straight on. But that took us past the car park and away from Westfield meaning we had to find a way back around and start again. Every sign before and after relating to the diversion was equally confusing. Still, we got there in the end.

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Well, all the leaves are brown of course

We needn’t have worried. Mamas & Papas staff hadn’t turned up, or at least six hadn’t. They all arrived by around 10:06 when the shop had been due to open at 10. As it opened we were given event information by a kind staff member, it’s just she had no knowledge of what was going on that day. Awesome. We got a goodie bag though. And then started the looking around and the talks.

We were there to get more car seat and travel system information and to look at cot beds as well as chests of drawers with changing stations. The car seat and travel system stuff was helpful, in addition to our two-hour session at John Lewis last week (which was intense but amazingly helpful – the fact you can sign up for a free two-hour personal information session is amazing. For car seats and travel systems I cannot recommend it highly enough), giving us a very clear idea of what we want and need.

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John Lewis used penguins in their Christmas commercial a few years’ back. This is a penguin we know very well.

Seeing the furniture was helpful too if only to see that the one we liked the look of was rather flimsy. Whether this was because it was poorly put together or just well-worn as a demo was unclear. We asked but no-one was quite sure. It’s put us off that for now though – we’ll look elsewhere and then make a call.

I’m sure more happened. But this, plus a coffee break and then lunch took us all the way to 2.30 PM and it was time to home and give my wife some well-earned rest.

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Oh baby, the places you’ll go!

Last night I read to our baby for the very first time. This was amazingly awesome. We haven’t yet met our baby but I was still reading to he or she. I hadn’t known this was a thing before, but I’m glad now that I do.

I think I even impressed Mummy as I was able to sight-read the book first time without error, and even some actual inflexion in my voice where required, despite having not read it before ever, at all. Go me – yay!

I would recommend it to all Dads to be. It’s great fun. I plan on doing it quite a bit more.

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This is Horton. He hears a who.

Travelling with work

You know what’s kinda awesome when you’re younger? Travelling with work. It’s exciting, isn’t it? You get to go to places you haven’t been, that you love going to or that you think could be awesome. The reality is often that you fly in, sit in an office and fly out, but even with that you probably get a nice meal and/or drinks at the airport on your company.

As you get older you might still appreciate this. One thing which makes the excitement rather less though is having to travel when your pregnant wife is left behind.

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It was not like this I assure you

I went to the US on Monday and got back this Friday. The trip was productive and totally worth it from a work POV, despite the fact that two days’ travelling (it was the mid-US so had connections and stuff) was incredibly hard work (and on Saturday morning still is, although I feel much more normal than 24 hrs ago!). But I had to leave my wife behind. I just wanted to be with her, and our baby. Helping to look after her – especially in this heat. It was quite rubbish.

My job requires some travel. Many do. This is fine. But I want to keep that to a minimum. I want to be with my pregnant wife now, and my wife and child in the future.

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Hopefully this was my wife’s point of view whilst I was away!

Time to buy some baby stuff

Starting with the car seat! Tomorrow my wife and I have an appointment at John Lewis to spend 2 hours talking car seats. We need it. My number one baby prep priority is this. I want to get my wife and child home safely as soon as possible. For that I need a car seat. I spent a weekend researching them as detailed here, but tomorrow we do some ‘in the flesh’ work.

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This looks a decent foundation

It’s hard, isn’t it? One hard thing is knowing what you need. I think we’re getting around that. Car seat, pram/travel system, somewhere to sleep and a changing centre. Bosh. Everything else is gravy, right? We’ve just been offered a Moses basket from a colleague of my wife, very kindly. All we need is a new mattress.

I’m excited to get stuff. In a week or so (once I’m back from a work trip to he US) we have other appointments with Mamas and Papas, and Mothercare. We’d hope from those to either buy some bigger stuff, and/or know what we NEED (and want) overall. Awesome.

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Or maybe this? Honestly I’ve not really looked at them…but they seemed an appropriate image to pick.

We probably need to think about names now…AND TOYS!!!

Why would you do that when you’re pregnant?

My wife and I have a long list of things that need to be done around the house (and more). This list has existed for a few years, probably 3. We’ve been in the house for 3 years too. Coincidence?

Anyway, we have been slowly working our way through it, and adding more on. It’s like the never-ending story but without the white fluffy dog/dragon thing. Some things are important to have done before the baby arrives. One of those things is the internal doors, given they were all from the ‘50s and most didn’t shut. We’ve had my Dad doing those for the past couple of weeks. It’s been good to get new doors, but hard work. We had to pick doors first of all, and that took a few months. Then wait for them to arrive and then wait for time for my Dad to do the work. He likes to start and finish early, like me. That means he’s been arriving at 6.30. That’s when I’m getting g ready for work but the wife tends to leave later. Doing this for most days during two weeks is hard. I then have had to load up the skip, and hoover the house each day after the work. Ho hum, it’s the least I can do. Combine all of this with normal life, like cooking and so on, things get exhausting.

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To be fair it doesn’t mention anything about new doors, plastering or painting. 

Still, it’s all for a good reason. Now however we have a lot of wall damage from where things like picture rails have come off. Not a problem as after the doors we knew we wanted plastering, painting and decorating of everything. Thing is, we have ~3 months until baby arrives, and we want at least a month before then for the fumes to dissipate. This is working on the assumption the baby will not arrive too early….

It turns out plastering, painting and decorating has more considerations than we realised. That’s fine, we’re at the point where we need to make a decision (what work to do, colours of rooms and the like) which should help as we have less time to think and re-think, then overthink everything! There is an element of should we get it done now, or later. Thing is, after the baby arrives we’ll never get it done and my wife would not cope in the meantime with the mess the walls and doors will be in (they need to be painted too!). I don’t know why we are doing it but I know we have to do this! It will be awesome once done though – we have been living in a house that’s needed decorating for 3 years. To finally be in a position to press go is all kinds of awesome…so let’s hope we can do that. We’re gathering quotes this week. Fingers crossed.

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Maybe it will be like this, maybe it won’t.

Baby Bump Library

So, yesterday I found out that books exist where the intent is to read to our bump. Not for the baby when it arrives, but the bump whilst inside Mummy still. That’s pretty cool.

Up to now I’ve enjoyed seeing the bump grow, and I’ve appreciated the stories my wife’s told me about the baby’s movement and fidgeting and more (it clearly takes after me with the fidgeting!). I’ve felt the baby move and I’ve heard its heartbeat. All of this is good stuff but I’m still very much removed from the process of growing a baby right now.

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The requisite Cat in the Hat image given we’re talking Dr. Seuss here

Maybe a little less so now. I ordered Oh, baby, the places you’ll go! Last night. It’s a Dr. Seuss book so I fully expect it to be a little odd and full of rhyme. But it’s designed to read to our bump. It’s designed for me as the Father to read to our bump, and get that little bit more involved in the process. Pretty cool, huh?

I have actually started ramping up Dad prep recently. I have bought a man-bag changing bag and a couple of books on how to prepare for Fatherhood. The bag is black, and boring according to my wife – but that works perfectly for me. It has space for my phone, change, tablet/laptop and more. The more being changing mat, nappies and so on J. The books are The Expectant Dad’s Survival Guide and Rocking Fatherhood. One’s old and well known; the other brand new. Both seem to take you from the start of the journey to the early days (or beyond?) of actually having a baby to look after. I don’t have any preconceptions about how useful/relevant either will be but figured I should get reading to help prepare as much as possible. To be fair, I think I’m old and wise enough to have an idea of what’s coming along so to date I’ve not been fazed…and hope as I read the books that continues!

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That’s me, that is. In this case.

It’s weird. I actually feel calm about it all right now. How much will this change? Is it normal? Is it that I’m getting on a bit and my mind has just had many more years to get ready for it? Either way it’s helpful as I can focus on what we need to do and help get it done.

Hypnobirthing, or how I learned to stop worrying and love the birth

Really I’m not sure how much I had thought about the birth yet, let alone worry about it, but I always seem to write titles analogous to Dr. Strangelove. Some might say I can’t fight in here because this is the war room but hey, you know.

I digress. What I really wanted to talk about is the day my wife and I had yesterday. We were in a Hypnobirthing class ran by Mindful Mamas. It was a really good day, providing useful information, tools and support as we look towards the birth of our baby and how to make it as great an experience as possible, rather than the horrible one we’re conditioned to expect by British society.

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Honestly hypnobirthing is nothing like what this chap does!

As a man I’ve spent my life knowing very little about the actuality of birth. What I do know is what I’ve gleaned from very British people talking about it (oooh it’s so painful, and lasts ages and the only reason you have another is because you forget what it was like) and TV or film. It seems that whilst all of this can happen, it doesn’t need to happen. Birth can be swift, pleasent, amazing and anywhere in-between. The key is to help yourselves get it as far as possible to the good side of the spectrum. We can’t predict what will happen but we can prepare to achieve what we want.

That’s where hypnobirthing comes in. It’s not sciencey mumbo jumbo. It’s not all about being hypnotised. It’s just a mindset, some tools and help and support to get you through the big day and beyond. It is based on actual science though.

Birth can be split into four stages:

  1. Opening / Transition
  2. Pushing / Crowning
  3. Placenta
  4. Babymoon

The first part if the long and slow part, and the part where all the contractions are felt. The transition is the point at which most Mums seek out that epidural, or decide they’re off. It’s all to do with hormones unsurprisingly. But, before that, part 1 is all about Oxytocin versus Adrenaline. You want the former and not the latter. The former will make you feel happier, physically better and so on. How do we drive the production of that and hinder adrenaline? By focusing and relaxing. It’s not easy, but that’s where the tools come in.

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Simple really – use the techniques to remain calm and relaxed, feel the oxy flow and enjoy!

Really they are just ways of relaxing – perhaps by deep breathing, or by conditioning certain items, sounds and so on to remind you of good times. I won’t go into detail but one or more of the techniques will work for your partner and therein lies the path to success.

This all feels like a self-help blog post doesn’t it? Pah. The point is hypnobirthing is easy to do. It will help. It might not solve everything but it will definitely lead to a better birth. From my point of view I can see how I can help my wife here and also a little more knowledge is now present about the day itself, and what I can do. I encourage everyone to go on a course, or read the book here. My wife and I are much more relaxed about birth now, and at the very least – if we had taken nothing else away from yesterday – it was great to hear stories about good births and how it doesn’t have to be horrible.