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.

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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.

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!).

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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?

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This looks like a good lesson to start with!

The Nursery

Oh my word. Things are getting ever-more real. I started clearing out the nursery last week. It’s been the office/games room since we moved in. The house computer and desk are now downstairs, all game and film media have been removed and furniture is slowly being taken apart.

Plenty more to remove, before we can decorate / fill with new furniture, but we’re constrained by the available space into which we can move things. I’ll do some more today no doubt.

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A nursery. Ours may or may not look like this. Ever.

We have – as always – a long list of things to do. We need to do it in a sensible focused way rather than flitting all over the place. For me it’s sort the nursery and continue car seat / travel system research. Car seat mainly as I need to be ready in case anything happens early and without one of these I’d not be able to take the little one home. Dope.

In other news, as continued preparation, I bought a new car yesterday suitable for a three-person family. And it’s a little bit newer than the current one. Oh, and all doors open and shut appropriately. Older cars, huh? Now just the wife’s to get as well….

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My new car (if I didn’t have a wife and baby on the way..!)

Uncharted & Reflective Gaming

Spoilers reside below for Uncharted 4 – continue reading only if you’ve completed the game, or really don’t care 🙂

I recently had the good fortune to play the latest, and final, installments in two of my most loved gaming series: Dark Souls III and Uncharted 4. Aside from the awesome fun of playing them (and you should too if you have even a passing interest in gaming) they both mark an end, and a new beginning.

Each game is an ending. In Uncharted particularly there’s a very definite finality about it. Looking back at each series as a whole the journey has been a wonderful one, starting with shock, awe, love and finishing with reverence, seriousness and again, love. I don’t want to get into the games and the stories themselves but I do want to illustrate a couple of things.

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Praise the sun!

These series have ended now. Just as a series of episodes in my life ends, and a wonderful new one readies itself to begin. I grew up, went to Uni, met a wonderful lady, got engaged and then married. Now all of that’s ended (although let me be clear, many of those things continue in perpetuity, like marriage!) and we look to the next series, or act. Parenthood. It’s kinda cool that these games I so dearly love would end now too, freeing me from their grasp to enable complete focus on the real life.*

What’s more important for this post is the end of Uncharted. After the main events of the game we jump forward in time. We see a new character, a girl aged around 12, who is clearly the daughter of Nathan and Elena Drake, the couple who we’ve adventured with for the past 9 years. I have always been one for a good story, and will always feel the emotional hooks if done well, regardless of the subject matter. But here, seeing a young couple older, with child in tow? It kinda hit me hard. In a good way. This will hopefully be us someday. The way I viewed this scene with my current view of the world, versus how I would perhaps have seen it a year ago? Night and day difference.

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Nathan & Elena Drake

I haven’t told my wife about the ending of the game. I wanted her to read it here first. That might seem odd but I’m a guy and saying this kinda stuff is a little bit out of my comfort zone. Writing this blog was a way to say stuff that needed to be said without necessarily having to say it. So there you go wifey, the ending of Uncharted 4 was awesome but probably not for the reason you might have expected I’d give. Thank-you Naughty Dog.

* – Note I will absolutely continue playing games BUT I recognise a certain new something has to creep above games in the priority list 😀

Babymoon!

So, we just came back from our Babymoon:

“babymoon
ˈbeɪbɪmuːn/
noun

informal
noun: babymoon; plural noun: babymoons; noun: baby-moon; plural noun: baby-moons
  1. a relaxing or romantic holiday taken by parents-to-be before their baby is born.”

I had not heard the term until a couple of weeks ago when my ever-so-educated wife said something and upon hearing this particular word my ears pricked up concerned about what I was getting myself into!

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I insisted on the pregnancy pillow coming – I’m a sensible person.

We decided a long time ago that money and biology meant we’d not be going on a ‘proper’ holiday this year but we knew something was required or we’d go mad. Also, it dawned on us that all being well, in a few months we’ll not have a holiday to ourselves for quite some time. Oh my.

So we decided a nice bank holiday weekend away in the UK somewhere was called for. I did some basic searching and decided the Cotswolds worked – we went there last year and it was ace. It was close. It was easy to get to. Yay me!

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Lower Slaughter (means muddy, not the other thing)

I then had to help find where in the Cotswolds. That took some effort. Found some places, we took our time and half had gone. Tried again – and booked somewhere. Only to be told they would have events on 2/3 nights and this would be noisy. Hardly what a ~20-week pregnant lady needs! Nor her erstwhile husband…

Third time lucky we got somewhere. It was aces. Nice room, great food, very quiet. In Cheltenham which was simple to get to on Friday evening. We used it as our base from which we travelled to the Slaughters and Stow-on-the-Wold Saturday; Bourton-on-the-water Sunday and Burford on the way home Monday.

dogicecream

Dogs all love ice-cream, and the cone. Mine does too!!!

 

The Slaughters were lovely and peaceful. Rivers, short walks and dogs all over the place. Stow was more busy but it had fudge-making, a Ploughman’s lunch for me and some funky shops to gaze at. Dinner at the hotel was a awesome burger, some prawns, a belly of pork for the wife and some chocolate goodness for pudding. Some nice red wine and Belgian beer for me, too. Drinking for two, wasn’t I? Both the place we had lunch and the hotel were understanding in helping us work out what was in all the food so we knew we were ok from a baby point of view. It’s hard eating at the best of times, but when hamstrung by not actually being the one cooking it…

Bourton was great fun! We went to Birdland, which of course meant PENGUINS!!! And some other birds too. The rest of the day was walking, dog-watching, sitting and cream-tea eating. Some dogs we saw were lucky enough to get ice-cream from their owners too, which was aces.

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Blooming awesome, no?

Today was mainly the journey home. We’re both exhausted, but refreshed after a lovely couple of days away. So ends our Babymoon. Phew. Is the real thing as tiring ;)?

Our First Antenatal Class – ‘Earlybird’

So this past week my wife and I attended an NHS antenatal class, named Earlybird, for first-time parents to let them know what to expect. First thing’s first – I did not get surprised, blindsided or shocked by what we covered. This is a good thing. It shows I have some grasp on the reality and gravity of the matter, but also have done some decent reading and research despite the fact I haven’t a pile of Dad books on my desk. The internet wins clear to all 😉

It was a useful couple of hours to be honest. A bit of biology which did help me better understand the organ movement my wife is going through, in relation to the baby’s position and so on. How this can vary from Mum to Mum was quite intriguing as a scientist.

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This is antenatal. It also fits with my wife’s expectation that her tummy button will flip. Cool, no?

There were a few Mums and not quite so many Dads there. But we were split up at one point to see what the Mums needed to be comfortable, and what the Dads could do to make the Mums comfortable. We came up with an amazing list. We win. Here’s what I can remember from it:

  1. Pregnancy pillows
  2. Reach for stuff / lift heavy stuff
  3. Listen, nod and say yes a lot
  4. Do housework
  5. Comprehensive catering
  6. Don’t try and fix things
  7. Emotional support
  8. Body image concern alleviation
  9. Massages
  10. Leave space as needed
  11. Man time (to refresh ourselves to ensure tip-top condition for our wives)
  12. Placeholder for when I recall the other 3…
awesome

Us Dads-to-be were. Honestly, every Mum is. Especially my Mum-to-be.

All good stuff, huh? We were awesome. The lady running the class was very impressed. It was a good morning. Makes me eager for the proper NCT course closer to birth. But let’s not rush things, huh? Lots to think about between now and then 🙂

Pregnancy is Hard

I am pretty sure I don’t need to tell anyone that. It’s obvious, right? What the wonderful, strong Mother has to go through is amazing. Yet they do it. Often, time and time again. My wife is working on our first right now and I know she’s finding it tough but you know what? She’s not complaining. Yes she lets me know what’s going on, but not once has she complained about it, rather than just let me know so I can hopefully tell her it’s ok, I understand or at the very least not try and find a solution (this is hard, too). She’s awesome.

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That’s a nice way to look at it 🙂 – now, earn that promotion!

I’m going to say something perhaps a little provocative now. Pregnancy is hard for the Dad, too. Yes, that’s right. It is. It really is. Not Mother-hard of course, that would be a clear lie. But in its own way it is hard. The Dad can’t really help with any of the pregnancy. Yes we can buy stuff, cook food, research travel systems and bigger fridges but we can’t actually turn ourselves into a little human factory. Arnold Schwarzenegger once did but I think that was fiction.

What’s hard about it from a Dad’s perspective is that we see what brilliant things the Mother is doing, often with quite a penalty (painful legs, unfitting wardrobe, lack of sleep, extreme tiredness, morning sickness, emotional ups and downs and so on), but can only nod and listen attentively. It’s hard seeing all that.

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Such a weird film now you look back on it.

What you both need to remind each other is that it’s worth it. There’s a reason why we walked knowingly into this and it’s getting closer. One last point too – enjoy the pregnancy. It’s not something either of you will experience that often in life so remember the good days, the fun bits – the quickening or the day it really is obvious bump has arrived. Make the hard pregnancy as easy as you can.

P.S. It might be hard, but it’s awesome 🙂

The Reality of Pregnancy

So my wife is now 17 weeks pregnant. And you can tell. She’s really started to show in the past couple of weeks. To me it’s pretty cool, and shows things are progressing the way they should. I think she is the same, but she’s also surprised at how big she is right now.

It’s possible she’s also started to feel some kicks from the little one. It’s a little early for someone normally to feel this in their first pregnancy. But it does happen. This is also very cool. What’s a little off-putting for me is when my wife called it the Quickening. And yes, that is it’s widely-used term. It just made me think of the Highlander film series.

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The Quickening. The Highlander version.

We’re hoping to take a break somewhere in the UK for late May bank holiday weekend. This will be our holiday for the year, and also our last one before we become parents. It’s crazy to think about that. Later this year our lives will change massively, in a good way. After 17 years together and 6 of them married we’ll not be the only ones in this family and any holiday thereafter will have a very different focus.

I’m also seriously starting to think about the items we need to buy. Specifically travel systems and car seats. I have no idea what I’m doing. I do know if you ask for opinions everyone has a good one but I must remember that their choice was based on what they needed. They did the research and took the plunge. They then have a reference point from which to speak, but in the majority of cases no second reference point. In summary, take onboard the info but remember to use it to make a choice, not be the choice.

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This is me. So very true.

A Tale of Two Midwives and a Heartbeat

So, on Friday my wife had a midwife appointment as we’re at the 16 weeks mark now. Somehow. We still don’t have a midwife yet as the local one is on long-term sick leave and right now our NHS district is covering her workload with a variety of other midwives.

We had to wait a while – as you do – but eventually were lucky enough to have two midwives, oddly. Both were very nice and each was helpful in any way they could. A ten or so minute appointment easily stretched to thirty minutes or more whilst they did the necessary checks and answered the list of questions we’d built up over time. Well, my wife had built it up but I supported it strongly.

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I was struggling with pics for this post so here you go – let’s make it a purfect day 😀

We got a bit more information about what’s to come. Specifically the consult my wife needs (as due to her suffering from ME we need to see if we need midwife or consultant led care) – which as it turns out hadn’t been booked as it was meant to have been – is now sorted. We were reminded of our 20 week scan towards the end of May and we were told to get my wife some blood tests in a while ahead of the 28 week anti-D injection she needs. I think that’s right anyway – she was taking notes and I’m doing this all from my memory!

listening

The midwives actually used a machine but it was nearly as funny as this would have been

Most excitingly on the day midwife number one decided to listen for the baby’s heartbeat. She couldn’t find it. She told us not to panic but obviously leaving like that wouldn’t have been great. Fortunately she invited midwife number two to have a go, and she was able to locate it. It was awesome hearing that. Each day brings something new, and each day makes it more exciting. And a little more scary :). 147 bpm by the way, in case you’re interested. Normal range right now is 110-160 so baby done good.