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!

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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.

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:
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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.
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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!).

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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..!)

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.
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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.