Labour – Part Two

So, now we were at hospital and we made our way slowly up to the birth centre. A midwife(maybe – I didn’t know at this point who was who) let us in and we were asked to sit and wait for a while. It seemed like an eternity but was probably 20-30 minutes before someone came to get us and took us to a side room. There my wife was assessed by the on-duty midwife whilst I tried to help make her comfortable and get through the next while.

This room was a normal room as far as I recall. No fancy birthing bed and no pool, either. The midwife did her checks and my wife was 5 cm dilated. So yay, we didn’t need to go back home and labour was properly established. This relived me massively. I believed we would be given the delta between contractions but I still worried we’d be sent back as we weren’t far enough along. By now it had started in my head, and the car journey was such a hassle for my wife that I really don’t think I could have taken a knock-back!

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Castor oil. Can help induce labour but really it’s here because Google wasn’t helping my ‘icky birth’ search and this looked cool

I made the room as comfortable as I could. I put on some hypnobirthing background music, I got some food ready and some drinks. I was helping my wife stand, sit, lie as she wanted (mainly the former two – lying was bad as that would not help the labour now would it? Gravity is your friend…). I was doing as much as I could think of too help, and responding immediately to her needs. She was focused on labour; I was focused on making that as comfortable as I could.

My wife mentioned to the midwife that she had wanted a pool. So this was going to be setup for us, and would take a while. In the meantime we stayed where we were and periodically upped the Tens machine, did various hypnobirthing exercises and let the midwife check us from time to time. In a couple of hours we moved to 6 cm dilation. Not the pace we’d hoped for but still good progress.

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Yep, a birthing pool. Move along…

As part of this labour started to get real. I don’t want to go into details nor do I need to. But being a very intense biological event it puts stress on the human body. I knew this. I had accepted it. My advice to any man is accept, expect and deal. It’s reality and part of the birth of your child. It is not icky, scary or anything else. You need to be there for your wife/partner. Get over it ahead of time, or straight away. You frankly do not matter. If you pass out and fall over? That’s where you’ll stay. And you’ll be no help to the Mum nor will you see the birth. Pull yourself together, man.

The Tens machine’s limitations were starting to show. Gas and air was requested and provided. I avoided trying any which must be the first time in the history of man that the male birth partner has not partaken. To be fair even had I wanted to (I was focused on helping, not getting air-drunk thanks very much) there wouldn’t have been much time. Contractions were between 2 and 3 minutes and that gaseous cocktail was needed elsewhere…

mayo

Believe it or not my search term for this was ‘midwife dilation’. The mind boggles.

At that moment, around 7, the pool was ready and we moved rooms. I gathered what I could and the midwives/assistants helped with the rest. Oh, and my pregnant wife of course! I think the birthing pool, and what I guess is act III of our labour can come in a third post…

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The 39 Steps

Or, when ignoring the fact the title is the name of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, the 39 weeks.

My wife is 39 weeks (+3) pregnant. Our baby can come anytime. This is hella exciting. Is it nerve-wracking? Bizarrely no. I don’t suggest for one minute I know what I – or we – are doing, nor am I anything less than intrigued by the changes which will be coming but, nervous? No. Ready, excited – looking forward to this wonderful change.

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Pretty much.

We’re about as ready as we can be too. I mean we had hoped to have had the house decorated but lead paint in the door frames delayed that (we need someone to seal it in and paint on top and we couldn’t get anybody quickly enough after two sets of decorators let us down and a third wanted to sand the paint – a big no no). But we have a cot, a dressing table, changing mats, travel systems, car seat, clothes, muslins, nappies, frozen food for Mummy and Daddy, a heavily pregnant wife with SPD (so painful and I can’t do anything to help relieve it) and much, much more I’m forgetting. Oh yeah, we finished our antenatal classes without giving birth too which pleased me a lot.

I’m actually so becalmed that I’m evolving a kid’s story in my head. I don’t know whether to go for a baby-type execution (like Where’s Spot or similar) where I need good pictures, or a more Winnie The Pooh type one whereby my story needs to be a little more involved. I have a great pun in the title though :).

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I have felt baby quite a lot but this happens a lot too!

We’re nearly there. At the end of one chapter we found difficult to begin and hard all the way through. But then the start of another one which will be rather amazing, crazy and much more in-between all on its own.

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.

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.

horton

This is Horton. He hears a who.

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!!!

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!

bumpman

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.

Car Seats: Rather Complicated!

I have been reading about car seats over the past few days. This is my personal number one priority given we have passed V-day and were our baby to arrive we wouldn’t be allowed home without a car seat. It’s really rather complicated though, thanks to all the myriad options, ever-changing regulations and possibility of using it as part of a travel system.
Here’s a precis of what I have learnt to save you doing so, but with some links if you want to read more:
  • Group 0+ takes you from birth to 13Kg / 15 months.
  • After that we would need a second car seat – you can get one to cover group 0-1 (age 4), but this is heavier of course, not so good for travel systems and probably not great comfort for a tiny baby.
  • Lie-flat car seats exist, and are better for the child. You can keep the child in that for as long as you like, as effectively it’s the same as being in a cot (babies need to lie flat to promote development and ensure proper breathing).
  • All car seats are heavy! But there are lighter ones…
  • Isofix connectivity and/or seatbelts are how you fix a seat to a car.
  • Often an isofix base is an additional expense.
  • Currently all children up to 9 Kg must be rear-facing; rear-facing is recommended for as long as possible. i-size ensures rear-facing until 13 Kg / 15 months, but as mentioned a group 0+ seat takes you this far anyway.
  • Any car seat will have limitations as to which travel system it fits.

 

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This looks immense but is it safe?

Here are some links to read more about the above:
—————————————————————————-
I have looked at a few and listed below are ones which appeal to me, why they appeal and why they might not. I’ll provide the main review link I was using:
Very common brand and therefore well-known performance, and I believe more choices of travel system. Weighs 4.5 Kg though which is top-end. Not lie-flat.
Extra safety protection on the sides. 4.2 Kg. Multiple travel system options. Not lie-flat.
A Group 0 – 1 seat! It’s been rated a test winner by Stiwa in Germany so we know it’s well-regarded from safety POV. Swivels so you can more easily put baby in the seat in car. Stays in car though – not usable as a carry cot type thing, i.e. not part of a travel system.
Very light! 3.3 Kg. Combines with same company’s travel systems (I think), but again they do a light system (7.6 Kg). Not lie-flat.
i-size. Lie-flat. Heavy – 4.9 Kg, and big.
bugaboo

Choose your car seat first – perhaps with travel systems in mind – then finalise your travel system choice.

Some parting thoughts:
Safety is paramount but all of these, and others are very safe. You (and us right now) need then to think about what’s important – weight, lying flat, travel system flexibility.

A Separated Future?

Today the world awoke to learn that The united Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has voted to leave the EU, with a 51.9 to 48.1% majority.

My wife and I, plus many of our friends and family have been trying to get our heads around this news and the many ramifications that might come from it. Some things have started already – my particular favourites being the drop in sterling, the drop in share prices and the various Leave voters explaining how they didn’t think their vote would have an impact and now they regret it and are fearful for their futures. Oh, and Cornwall demanding the UK government matches the current subsidy they get from the EU, which they voted to leave.

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Our future PM? This is the man we must hope can lead the post-EU plan and help make the best ever from the situation we’re in

What’s a little more pertinent is the fact that later this year, all being well, our child will be born into this country and this country is accelerating towards its inexorable fall from great empire to insignificant island.

However, that’s not a very productive way of looking at it, is it? I mean, yes, so much looks like it will go bad. But I want our child to have all the good. So let’s take a little time to get over this, then watch our political leaders swap around. Let’s watch strong leaders take their place at the top of the tree and let’s listen to their plans and let them know what’s good and not so good. Let’s make the most of the hand we’ve been dealt by yesterday’s vote and make the most of it. Let’s make the future the best it can be. For us, and our children. We might be separated from the future Unites States of Europe but we might be able to retain some of the greatness we have had. Or we can move to Iceland.

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See, Iceland it is!

V Day!

So, today is an important day in mine, my wife’s and our unborn baby’s lives. It’s V day. Now, this could stand for voting day given the UK has it’s in/out EU referendum or it could be vehicular entertainment day (come to think of it, that’s Saturday when I collect my new car!).

24

Viability day is after 24 weeks of pregnancy. That means we’re also well past half way. Must start learning how to be a Dad…

What it really is though is viability day. Our unborn baby, were it to decide it fancied joining us for the summer (if you can call this weather summer), would be looked after as much as humanly possible.

That’s kinda awesome.

When I think back to January and February when my wife and I had a multitude of ups and downs, it’s really pretty damned awesome. It feels good, too. I’m totally cool with the idea of being a Dad. For the moment, at least! More people at work know, I’m formally stating my desire to take paternity leave and all of this is being taken in my stride as I look forward to my new role as Dad. It’s said people can only really have five roles. Which one do I need to put aside for 18 years or so?

learningdad

This looks like a good lesson to start with!

Sailors?

Let’s talk about maternity wear. Lots of people need it. People who need it like to wear nice clothes which make them feel good about themselves. I know my wife does – if she’s wearing something she likes, she’ll be a happier person that day. It’s also helpful if it fits well at that point in time. You know, pretty basic things really.

So why is it so hard? My wife’s now 20-something weeks’ pregnant and she’s struggled with pretty much all clothing, but the dresses I think are what cause the most consternation and befuddlement.
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This dress is called Nautical. Quite.

It seems you can have any maternity dress as long as it’s blue with stripes and makes you look like a sailor. Ahoy there! It also seems that unless you go high end it’s rarely going to fit anyone at any stage of pregnancy. Not really conducive to joy, is it?
I’ve told my wife she should learn from this pregnancy what opportunities there are for an enterprising woman. Namely, to create a better-fitting selection of maternity wear with a wide-ranging variety of designs. The market’s clearly there for them. My wife must have ordered the equivalent of all stock in Amazon’s distribution centre – and returned all but a couple of things – via trips to and from the Post Office, Collect+ and more. I know, I’ve listened intently and helped shuffle things back and forth where possible.
sailorstuff

I have no idea.

So, for now my wife has very little clothing she’s enjoying wearing, an idea for a future business and a vast understanding of Seraphine and other maternity wear selections.