Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Home sweet home

Aidan is now home.  Hurrah!
 
He's heavier now than he was when he was born. Hurrah!  

He's a lot less jaundiced than when he was when went he went into hospital. Hurrah! 

And the doctors are happy with him. Hurrah!

There's another thing too.  The midwifes, in hospital, wanted him to fill as many nappies as he could.  And they wanted the fillings to be similar to specific substances.  First they wanted Nutella. Then they wanted pesto. And finally English mustard

English mustard is now being served.  Grandma is about to change him. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Another night

Erin and Aidan are taking full advantage of the full board treatment at St Thomas' Hospital again tonight. But they are doing great. Erin's exhausted but is keeping her strength up.  And Aidan is getting stronger every feed - so are his dirty nappies.

Hopefully, after the doctor has given the go ahead, they should be back home for the New Year's Eve celebrations.

Aidan has put on two ounces since entering hospital and everything the doctors were worried about has either dropped or risen the way it should.  He's getting more energetic - especially after feeding - and seems to be learning new tricks.  This morning he sat on his mum's lap, raised his arms in to a yogic pose and looked like he was meditating. This afternoon I'm sure I caught a smile at his grandma.  And this evening he didn't pee while we changed him. 

I still worry but, hopefully, things are getting better.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Silence is not golden

I have to say a baby who sleeps and is quiet all the time is as scary as one who continually screams the house down. We've been worried about Aidan since around the fourth day when he was becoming extremely lethargic and more jaundiced.  And things came to a head yesterday.

Erin and Aidan are tonight spending a second night in hospital.  For those of you who don't know, they went back to St Thomas' on Sunday after the midwife came round to our house.  We saw that he was jaundiced and getting worse throughout the week, and worried, but because of the holidays we weren't able to get a visit from doctors or midwifes.  He also wasn't latching on to Erin to feed so we fed him through expressed milk and a medicine dropper.

When we got to hospital on Sunday they said he'd lost a little more than 10 per cent of his body weight and was jaundiced and needed to stay in for a few tests.  It was an awful feeling but we were, however, reassured that through what we'd told them, they said we'd done everything right.

The tests showed that he was dehydrated and slightly jaundiced.  He and Erin have now been feeding every three hours.  It's exhausting for Erin, but as ever, she's been a trooper and is digging deep.  Even after a full night of feeding and not too much sleep she had the patience to get Aidan feeding this morning by singing songs to him and livening him up.

Tonight he was being cheeky and playing with us (and his food), showing a lot of life, so he's certainly on the road to recovery.

I'll let you know when they're back home, hopefully, tomorrow. 

Friday, December 26, 2008

4th Day

Grandma De Vos and Roby are around at the moment with the Waller Grandparents.  Photos are being taken by the family-paparazzi.  Aidan knows what Posh and Becks feel like. Here are a few favourites:


Three generations of the same hairline.


At his most active.


A wrinkle for every time he kicked his mum inside her belly.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

What a difference a day makes

Here's Aidan on his second day.


He slept most of it.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Here he is...

...with mum.

And taking centre stage.

The reason for this blog

Just to let you know, Erin and I are the proud parents of Aidan John Waller who arrived on December 22nd 2008 at 17:26hrs, weighing in at 8 pounds.

More to follow...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

On the other side

This morning I woke up late and walked into our lounge.  Erin was sitting at the computer and asked if I wanted to go out for Sunday breakfast as 'it will possibly be the last time we'll get the chance as just a couple'.

I thought this was great idea.

The choices were to either go to Clapham or Wandsworth.  We settled for Wandsworth (or Nappy Valley) to go buggy and bump spotting.  I wanted to go to the usual cafe called Boiled Eggs and Soldiers but Erin insisted we try another place.  This led us to going into Crumpet

If we'd have gone in here nine months ago we might not have been in the state we are now. Even if we'd have gone in 6 months ago it would have been scary.  Admittedly today was a little worrying.  But exciting too.

There are two sides to Crumpet.  The first, where we sat, as you enter, is a normal coffee/brunch place for DINKY types.  As you go further into the cafe you see it opening up a little.  There is a buggy park opposite the tills.  Then deeper still, is a larger room with high chairs, family friendly space and a dolls house in the back.  It's a bubbling hive of activity. Possible frightening to those who haven't even thought about tears and nappies yet. But a haven to parents who want to escape the walls of home a little. 

We thought our life of papers and coffee on a Sunday morning might be over.  Not after today though.  Crumpet has opened up a whole new world.  Life-as-we-know-it, officially, does not end after a baby arrives. 

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Waiting

As I write, Erin is pushing the buggy around our flat finding areas where it's tricky to manoeuvre. She's just been sipping on Raspberry leaf tea after eating a curry.  She's a little antsy.

Yes, she's due in 10 days but is ready. The baby bag is packed, mother's bag is packed and dad just needs to put his spare clothes in.

People must know we'd like an early arrival as we're also getting texts to see if there are any signs.  There aren't.  

This week has been a bit up and down too.  Erin went to see the midwife and was told she had high blood pressure and possible symptoms for pre eclampsia .  This news sent the blood pressure even higher as she worried about all this would entail.  A lot.  The next day she saw the doctor and the blood pressure was down.  Life was back to normal. Phew.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Inactive birthing class

Recently, Erin and I attended an active birthing class.  We went to learn some ways to make childbirth more bearable and so I could learn breathing and massaging techniques to hep Erin.

We started with a meditation.  Erin had to lie on her favoured side and I lay on my back. The leader of the group spoke to us and relaxed us.  He took a long time to relax us making sure we were very relaxed.  After a while he asked the relaxed men to place their hands in between our partner's shoulder blades.  A few seconds after he had said this Erin nudged me to see why I hadn't done as he asked.  There was a reason.  A big one.  I had relaxed so much into the meditation, I had fallen asleep.  I had no idea where my hand was supposed to be, what I should be doing or where I really was. Erin looked at me and whispered: 'Remember why we're here.' 

Oops.

To be fair I haven't been well and I'm still not completely over some fluey symptons. 

After that little mishap I concentrated.  Lots of breathing and massage and general birthing tips then came our way.  

Friday, December 12, 2008

Place your bets

Ok,  so I've noticed that this blog is getting a few more hits on average per day.  I know it's not because the writing is getting any better, so it must be that you all realise that the baby could come any time now.

And if you didn't know that, well, the baby could come any time now.  Erin's at 37 weeks which is full term. The baby is now ready for the real world, but of course, might be a little shy.

So we thought it would be a good idea for whoever reads this to guess when the baby will finally arrive.  You have from now until week 42.  That's until around January 12th.

So leave your dates in the comments section.  The winner gets to push the Bugaboo.  Around the block.  Twice.

On a side note...A very big congratulations to Adi who recently became a doctor.  I  don't think it's the kind of doctor we're going to need very soon, but still very exciting. 

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas cookies

Last night we had a few friends over for Erin's Annual Christmas Cookie Decorating.


It sounds nerdy and it is. One of the boys who was painstakingly designing a psychedelic Christmas tree simply said: 'If only my 18 year old self could see me now.'

With all the preparations and baking during the day Erin was quite tired. She was also uncomfortable with the baby positioning itself with what seems to be his or her elbow in between Erin's lungs and ribs. Half way through the evening Erin got up and as she was stretching, started chatting with one of our friends. The next thing we heard was this: 'Oh yes I can feel it. It's so nobbly. It really is very nobbly. I think you've got a monster in there.'

The other girls went over to see what was going on while the boys started singing What's that In Erin's Belly, Is It A Monster? to the tune of The Automatic's Monster.

If Erin did have a monster in her belly, that would be scary. She doesn't, so it's not. But what was truly frightening was when someone got a little carried away with one of their creations and ended up with Ginger The Funky Angel.

You've never seen anything like it.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

It looks warm but it isn't


After this was taken we went to pick something up from friends.  If you saw two people struggling on to buses with a moses basket and a white wooden stand then that was us.

Nesting?

When I have a day off I find time to waste on the internet, read books I never finish or listen to mid '90s indy rock B-sides.  

Erin had her first day of maternity leave this week and tidied and cleaned the flat.  I mistook this for nesting but she reminded me that this is what she does when she's off.  She does.  I don't.  I was reminded of that too.

Amid this, she packed her hospital bag and the baby bag.  Erin and I ran though the final things to put in them this morning.  I now know what's in and what's not.  What's needed and what's not. This is unlike last weekend when Erin said she felt funny, thinking the time had come, and I went into a complete psychotic-fumbly-panic, worrying what on earth we had to get ready. Now I know.  I can't promise I won't fumble when the time comes but it will be less psychotic.

The baby's bag has the cutest things in it, boys' blue and girls' pink tops - we honestly don't know the gender, unlike some people think - and simply the cuddliest all-in-one white winter snow suit to come home in.

I think we're getting ready.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas lunch

I told her I was going to write this so I better had.

We had our Christmas lunch at work today and one of my colleagues who occassionally reads the blog started talking to me while there was a bit of a lull in the general conversation. 'Just don't do what my husband did when I went into labour,' she must have been bored and been in a bit of a daydream as this was out of the blue.

'Why?'

'Well,' she continued. 'We didn't have mobiles in those days and I started contractions while he was out. I tried to get hold of him but couldn't. I left messages everywhere. Well, he'd got one of the messages but didn't call me back. I didn't hear from him for ages. I was worried sick.

'The next thing I knew I got a message from the hospital saying "I've got your husband here, I'm going to send him home, as we can't start without you".'

I hope I don't do that. But we'll see.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Transition

'What's it called when women go a bit mad during labour?' said the husband of one of Erin's workmate's to his wife at Erin's leaving do last night.

I much prefer talking to men about labour than women. The most women give is, 'you'll never know the pain unless you go through it yourself.' But most men don't have the filter in their brain to stop themsleves.

'Transition, that's what it's called,' his wife answered, having answered this question a few hundred times before.

'Yeah, transition, that's it. Wow, it's awful. You'll get called everything under there sun, they have no idea what they are saying,' he said looking at his wife for confirmation.

He got it and carried on, 'They tell you they don't love, never loved you, hate you, that you'll never go near them again and you shouldn't have been near them in the first place. There is anger and venom in their voice. They lose it.'

He let go of the emotions which he certainly couldn't during this tirade in labour and ended 'But when it's all over they have more love for you and the baby than you will ever know'.

Later we snook into his son's bedroom. Erin and his wife didn't know what we were doing and thought he was showing his son off. What he was actually doing was letting me feel the temperature of the bedroom. Showing that children need the room cooler than we do. 18 degrees to be precise.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Astrological

Erin's just read her star sign for this week from the Observer Magazine.

Faster! Given the following wind granted you until Christmas, the despatch of outstanding business should be simple, plus you can instigate new projects even complex ones, with minimum opposition.  Avoid getting sidetracked and sneak a favourite scheme under the wire.  A similarly abrupt attitude may apply to relationships...

Erin's response: 'That's rubbish.  That doesn't tell me if I'm going to have the baby this week or not.'

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Daddy class IV - The final chapter


When people find out you're pregnant the first question is usually When's your due date?  Then it might be do you know what you're having? And then the debate starts on baby names. People feel very free with talking about names, everyone's got one, and everyone likes having a go at influencing your baby's name.

The last thing people talk about is labor. I did this once with friends back up north, and I now know why people don't. It's the unwritten rule

Last night's class, however, was all about labour. A guest midwife was invited to come in and - without our partners in the room - the theory was that we would ask the most pertinent questions (but we all know they know more gory stuff than we would ever delve into anyway).

Well, Julie was the midwife, the one who Erin and I met last Friday. We were in for a good night.

We started at 6:30. As one question was answered the next one lept off the tongues of the men. We started with the moods of our partners, then got into labor, then on to what men should be doing in the first few days, then back to what we should be doing in labor, massage in labor, how much labour hurts, what the best birthing position for women is, the best position for men at that time, what the baby will look like, what problems could occur at the beginning of a baby's life, what injections the baby should have, when the next visit to the doctors should be, how long it takes a woman to heal after the birth, then back to the labour. And the forceps and venteuse.

These were in Julie's bag of goodies (or is that baddies?).  A Venteuse looks like a Fisher Price toy but the forceps look like BBQ forks, nothing toylike whatsoever.

Back to the questions. What should we say or not say during labor? What should we wear and what should be in the pregnancy plan and bag you bring to the hospital?

8 o clock came very soon.  Too soon. We still had plenty more to ask.  But after we left with little gems such as only offer two fingers for the woman to hold so she doesn't crush your hand, we went for an end of term drink.

The conversation in the pub?  Baby names.

What a difference a day makes

The class last Friday was a little more relaxed than Thursday's.

We were met by the firm-but-fair-motherly-type midwife Julie who took us through what to expect after the days after labour.  These days may be fraught with fear and epic tiredness but the class was delivered in caring and knowing tones. There was a great you'll-be-all-right nuance throughout the morning.

I really do wonder what it would have been like if she'd taken the class the day before.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Scary movie

On Thursday and Friday, Erin and I attended parents' classes at St Thomas Hospital. The first was a full day about the birth, and the second was all about what happens when the little one arrives.

We were joined by other expectant women in various state of bump. There was about forty of us in the room. Around half of the women were joined by their partners who were in a various state of anxiety.

It was scary, no traumatic and most of it will not be written down here. Words like Pre-eclampsia, Gestational Diabetes, and Hypoglycemia were just the tip of the iceberg.

We were put in groups and met new people who were due around the same time as us, but as soon as we were, we had to discuss pain relief - Gas and Air, Water Birth, TENs Machine and/or Epidural.

After we went through those it was on to a ranting lecture on when to come into the hospital and when Established Labor is. They are both at the same time - after the cervix is 4 cm dilated, apparently. When the waters break we can call them, and should call them, but should not at any costs go to hospital straight away. We were told in no uncertain terms that we would be sent back home if we were there too early.

Lecture over, onto a video.  And if we thought what we were being told was scary, then this was taken to a whole new level.

I think the director and editor of the video may have been a young James Wan who went on to work on the Saw films. It was supposed be a real-life look at labor. It turned out to be a harrowing 5 minutes of a woman screaming without hearing her natural sound, only panpipes in the background. And anyone who knows the sound of panpipes knows that's scarier than screaming. Both together were truly X-rated. If it wasn't specifically designed for them, you'd advise pregnant women not to watch it.

Then came lunch. Surprisingly, we weren't very hungry.

Things got better after lunch.  And towards the end we were taken to see the wards we would be on if we were given Home from Home care.  Single wards over looking the Houses of Parliament.  

This was very cool and something to look forward(ish) to but Erin and I still didn't sleep very well on Thursday after what we had learned.  I wonder why.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Daddy class III

We were welcomed to the class last night, not by the teacher, Janice, but the youngest member of our class who flipped open his phone and said: 'Meet Ella.'  

His partner gave birth on Tuesday after 3 days and 15 hours of labor, that's 87 hours.  87.

All I could think was, crikey that's almost a (cricket) Test Match.  And I'm sure a lot more of a rollercoaster.

Anway, even though he'd come straight to the class from work after that ultra-marathon-labor, you couldn't wipe the smile off his face and the baby had given him a new lease of life.

We were asked to think about 3 things: how we thought life would change after the birth with our partners, work and friends.

We all thought our priorities would change.  Some would work harder to get more money, others work less as they do too much.  Some mentioned life would now have to be more planned. And all of us said we would be going to the pub less.

The last question on our sheet asked us how we thought we would change as people. I wrote quite an essay.  I got a bit serious, thinking what we're going to have to do in the next few weeks, months and years, about the books I now read from what I used to, and how life is just going to be a whole lot different - all in a state of exhaustion.  

I snapped out of it by telling myself I wouldn't become a typical dad with certain things.  Music was the first I thought about.  I might dance like a dad already, but I won't be buying any Phil Collins or James Blunt in a hurry.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

This'll be the last time...

Beware this is a rant...

Two things, one's a question, the other a statement, keep cropping up in conversations at the moment. They grate.  The answers are December 30th and, yes, we know this will be the last ...(fill in appropriate occasion)... where we'll be as a couple and not a family.

As it's written above, the latter sounds nice. Erin and I will, in a couple of weeks, all being well, have started a family. But that's seemingly not how it's meant by others.  At a recent wedding we were watching a father entertaining his daughter by taking her up and down the stairs.  The mother caught Erin's eye (and saw her belly) and instantly turned round with what can only be described as spite in her words: 'Make the most of this, it's your last wedding as just the two of you.'

First of all how did she know we weren't invited to the next Hello magazine celeb affair?  

And secondly - I might regret this statement later - but surely bringing up a baby, no matter how tiring, how life changing, how prioratising, it shouldn't leave you bitter should it?  Erin and I have a had a great run so far and are ready for a family.

So the lucky couples, who I know, who haven't got a child, rest assured, if you do get pregnant, and you're in my company, I won't be uttering those horridly smug words. (But I can't promise I won't use too many commas in your congrats card.)

Nor will I constantly ask you when you're due date is.

If I ask twice it'll be too many.

There's a woman at work who knows what week Erin's pregnancy is on, when her next midwife appointment is and the day the baby is due.  This may be over efficient - she's the best PA I know, by the way - but she shows that she also listens. 

Before I was married I would sometimes get wedding invitations and not reply by the RSVP date. I am apologising now to those people who I let down.  Since getting married, knowing how annoying this is, I do reply - or more correctly, Erin and I make sure we get the RSVP off as quick as we can.  People planning a wedding need to know you're coming, for numbers and that they know their special day is also important to you.

It's the same when people are pregnant.  It's our priority and we're talking about it a lot.  I know it's not yours, but if you're asking more than 4 or 5 times and not remembering, we know you don't really care.

I used to get a little peeved when people would ask about Erin's well being and not mine.  I don't care about that any more as she's the important one. But the other two sentences?  Well, now you know.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Daddy class II

I was late for Daddy's class last night.  When I walked in, it looked like only three of the 7 lads who attended last week had turned up, but the group had been split in two.

I joined two of them on the floor discussing a group of words which had to be placed in a diamond shape to state the most important to a father.

In no particular order, here they are:

Carer
Homemaker
Bread Winner
Nurturing
Disciplinarian
Friend
Responsible
Entertainer
Playful 
Loving
Hardworking
Trustworthy
Role Model
Dependable
Practical Carer
Good Communicator
Teacher

It was obviously more about the discussion than the order we eventually put the words in but we put Role Model at the top with Dependable and Responsible just under it.  Our logic was that if you are these things and the others below, such as playful and loving - and help to distinguish between what it is right and wrong - a father will naturally become a role model.

This theory was slightly blown out of the water when one of the lads in the other group - who didn't have a great relationship with his dad - said that as his dad wasn't a role model, nor around much for him, and our top pick didn't mean anything to him.  We tried to argue that being a role model is what he could personally strive for rather than just remembering the experience of his dad, but he wasn't having it.

The discussions throughout the night really brought home to me that our only true experience of fatherhood is from our dads.  

Glad I have a good one.


Monday, November 10, 2008

We'll always have Paris


Paris was great.  We met our friend Sarah at Gare Du Nord and went back to hers near the Pomidou Centre on Friday night.

The weekend consisted of walking, almond croissants, the Eiffel Tower, (Above - note it's not the one in Blackpool) a boat trip along the River Seine, and cafe bars drinking coffee and hot chocolate.

It was good chatting with Sarah and catching up but a lot of the time - which was noted by Erin - I was quite quiet and just enjoyed relaxing.  

I was quite day-dreamy, probably as this was the last trip Erin and I would do on our own. Everywhere I went would remind me of the past, present and indeed make me think of the future.  If there was a smoochy young couple I'd think of our trips around China, to Thailand or Summers in the US.  If I saw a pregnant woman it would make me think about what Erin is currently going through, most of which I can't comprehend.  And when there was a pram in the vacinity, it was all about the future which filled me with both excitement and anxiety.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Daddy class I

'Tonight is going to be all about handling the baby,' Janice, the leader of the Expectant Father's Class at St Thomas' Hospital, told the 7 of us men who had ventured forth to learn what the heck we are supposed to do when we become dads.

My initial thoughts were brilliant, we're going to learn the 3-step-putting-kids-on-your- shoulders-manoeurve-without-pulling-your-back. Or, brilliant, we're going to learn the daddy throw (click here to see what I mean - 12 pictures down).

But...I soon realised this was not what we were going to learn as I saw a dreaded baby doll with a nappy on in one corner and another one in a baby bath tub opposite.

After the initial introduction we each explained who we were by stating our name, the name of our partner, how far into her pregnancy she was and why we had come to the lesson (Most of us had already found out while we were waiting for the class to start - we were asking all these questions, not the usual work or sport related ones). The pregnancy dates ranged from 20 weeks to 36, and the reasons were from being forced by partners to a general fear, meeting others to having read too many books which were mind blowing.

Janice cracked on with the lesson by asking who had changed a nappy. Three of us put our hands up. She continued by saying we were going to change the nappy of the baby doll in the corner and she needed a volunteer. All this was said while looking at me. I was the intended volunteer. Half way through realising this I worked out that the only time I had done this had been 18 years ago. Anyway, I got up and took the nappy off pretending there was a great smell, got a few baby-wipes, wiped, got the next nappy, put it on rather awkwardly and sat down with an amazingly sweaty brow (All of this was done with a lot of encouragement and help from the crowd).

Janice was kind in her praise and pointed out that we should talk to the baby - good for bonding - cuddle afterwards, wipe from top to bottom and showed us some holding/cuddling techniques (I'm ashamed to say we needed them).

Everyone else got their own turn and then it was over to the table next to the door for bath-time.

She took us through top and tailing, washing the baby's head - in an 'American football hold' - and a full bath. We were told that a bath is only necessary once a week unless they're really mucky and washing the face and private parts is the only thing you need to do every day.

Then it was splash time for us all.

Next week is about What Type Of Dad We Want To Be. My guess is that has to include a part when we talk about if we're going be a Scalextric-buying-dad or train set-buying-dad. But I might be wrong.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election day

Guess where Erin is from and who she's voting for.

The baby would also vote for Obama but didn't get an absentee ballot.  Erin's eating for two and crossing the road for two, so she's a bit hacked off she didn't get to vote for two.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sleep easy

Erin was away most of last week.   Two stand out things happened.  

First, I went for beers and a curry with Chris and Dave as our girls were out of town.  We talked about the US elections, the BBC's current struggles and class. The latter sounded a bit like this.  
But admittedly less funny.

And then I woke up on Thursday feeling weird, realising there was something different - don't let your overactive imaginations runaway with yourselves - I had slept the whole night through. No little nudges to wake me up, no snoring, no moaning.  Nothing to keep me from my dreams. It had taken me a few days to get used to, but I was no longer sleeping - or constantly waking  - with a pregnant woman.

Erin is feeling the weight of pregnancy at the moment - she's asked me a few times if I can carry this, while pointing at her belly - but especially at night.  The baby doesn't like it if Erin sleeps on her left, if she lies on her back she snores, and she only gets comfortable on one position for a short time during fitful sleep.

Things got back to normal when Erin got back.  Who needs a full night's sleep?  It's preparation for the baby being here I suppose.  

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Erin sprouts in Brussels

As I last posted, Erin and I were in Brussels last weekend.  Before we went we had a plan that we were going to see no more than two sights on the Saturday and maybe probably only one, which would be the antiques market on the Sunday.  This was because we didn't want to tire Erin out too much as when she went back to home she had to travel to Cardiff for a four day conference.

This is what we ended up doing.   And not on my encouragement - I was happy to get my book out in a few of the coffee shops/bars.

Saturday:
Gare Centrale
Drop our stuff off at the hotel
walked around the Grote Market
Through the Town Hall square
Ate at Au Suisse
Walked passed the Royal Residence
Mooched around the park opposite
Ambled towards the Triumphal Arch
And slumped on to the Metro back to the hotel.
After a little sleep we went to Sablon Square for a mosey around the expensive art shops, chocolatiers which looked like jewellers, and ate a hearty meal. 

We walked a lot - here's proof.


Sunday was all about breakfast bread, croissants, the antiques market and buying a few keep sakes.  We also went in a toy shop, which Erin struggled to get me out of, just after lunch, before leaving for home.  A great weekend.

Brussels

This weekend we took a trip to Brussels. 

We saw the sights.

Ate chocolate.
 
And took photos of each other.


This was supposed to be our last trip to mainland Europe before the baby arrives.  It won't be though, watch this space.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Horses or trains

We went to see the midwife for our 30 week check up today.  Kathy was a very friendly but rather firm midwife whose deep throaty laugh could sound fun, a bit terrifying and slightly sinister, depending on the context.

Everything went well.  We were welcomed in with one of Kathy's laughs and were given a  financial advice package to teach us about tax credit, benefits and trust funds - Kathy laughed when Erin asked if there was any money inside the pack - and all was going well.  

Kathy asked if Erin was working.  When Erin said yes she replied: 'Good.  Hard work is good for the baby. A lazy mother means a lazy baby.'  I then told her Erin climbed a mountain last saturday and she belly laughed.

Then came the blood tests.  Erin said that she thought  - and hoped - that Kathy would forget about that.  'Oh, I never forget blood tests,' cue sinister laugh, 'I'm a vampire, I like blood tests.'  She got the blood out of Erin as quick as a flash.  Scarily impressive.

Erin popped up on the bed for Kathy to check the baby.  She measured 32 cm from the top of Erin's belly to the bottom - at 30 weeks it should be 30cm.  Kathy said the baby had probably just had a growing spurt and there was nothing to worry about, really.  She then had a feel around for the baby and found the head.  She said: 'Oh, there's the head.  Do you want to feel it?'  The next thing I knew, the baby's head was between my thumb and forefinger.  Amazing. 

Then she searched for the heartbeat which she found then lost. 'That's funny,' she said a bit worryingly and without laughing.  'The baby just moved.'  Apparently the baby didn't want to be bothered with the heart rate monitor and shunned it.  A minute or so later the heart rate was beating like horses according to Erin and a train according me.  I say this as I asked Kathy if she could tell the sex of the baby through the rate of the heart beat, she said, 'Yes.  If it sounds like horses, it's a boy and if it sounds like a train then it's a girl.'  She wouldn't say what she thought it sounded like and left us disagreeing over which one it was.

I just hope there's nothing wrong with being 32 cm at 30 weeks.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pregmunity II

I've written about a pregnancy community before.  Pregnant women are instantly friends and instantly give help and advice to each other.  Women who have been though it - mothers - also want to speak others, about their experiences.  They even speak to me and are encouraged by my probably unexpected positive reactions.  

My belief about a pregmunity has been reinforced tonight.

Erin has just walked in from her pregnancy yoga class.  She has been to four sessions in all, but to this one only once before.  And she's come home with a bagful of newborn baby clothes.  The reason? Because last time she went she said that she didn't have her mum or sister close by. This person's sister-in-law had given her lots of things and she has more than enough so decided to give them to us.  She really didn't need to.  We have a good amount of things.  But it's the nicest thing in the world to be thought of.  

If it's you, and you ever read this, thank you very much.

The only problem is that one of the items is an Arsenal Football Club one piece (onesie).  Is that how they get so many fans?  I know I'm northern, but in London we don't even live north of the river.  No off-spring of mine... 
  

Monday, October 20, 2008

Erin and the arm wrestlers

Unfortunately we didn't take the camcorder with us on the big walk of the weekend up a mountain. It would have been great to chronicle Erin's efforts.

But here she is after Sunday's breakfast with a few extras.

Bunkhouse weekend photos

The v-ewe from the front door
Simon and Sarah get away from the group...with their personal photographer


Is it cold or just Caroline?

Lyndon is king of the world

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Can I have a feel?

Three Welshies, an Ozzie, two 'mericans, two Irish, a Bristolian, a member of indy pop royalty, a chemical engineer, an estate agent, too many journalists and a top ranked UK tennis star joined in on an amazing time in Wales this weekend.




The group on top of Sugarloaf Mountain near Abergavenny, South Wales


Highlights included Chris's home made Bara Brith, watching crows fight over apple cores, and seeing people's reactions when they got to feel the baby kick inside Erin. (And yes Simon, your quiz was, as usual, spectacular).


Back to the baby, we think it's going to be wary around people, a little shy at first, but a show-off when they get to know the people they are around. This is all based on the past few meetings with friends who have tried and failed to feel what's going on inside Erin. The moment they go near her belly nothing seems to happen. This weekend Erin desperately wanted friends, and in particular Caroline, to be able to feel the movements - she's tried for the last 3 meetings without one jab, kick or head roll. But after a little bit of gentle belly holding and calm coaxing a squeal of delight let us know that she had felt it.


On Saturday night, I witnessed a huddle of 5 of our friends around Erin all holding various areas of her stomach. A few months ago that would have been weird, but it's pretty standard fare with friends now. Well, they all got to feel something. Chris was the first to get a jab, then Fred was next. Each person left Erin probably feeling that little bit closer to her. Some did say, however, that they wonder how she puts up with it.


It did take a lot of patience from all concerned to feel the baby, which is why I think he or she will be a little shy. On the way back from Wales with just the two (or three) of us in the car Erin kept saying things like 'oh baby', or 'oh, my baby', or just a 'phew', which told me that there was a whole lot more wriggling to be done than what our friends got to feel this weekend.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Erin and Big Ben

Here's Erin walking past parliament on Saturday. 


Tying shoelaces

Last night we went to an Amnesty International event.  Well, we went round to friends of ours and gave a few pounds to listen to people offer their talents of comedy, music and magic.  It was great fun.

On the way we had to take the Tube, then a train. When we got to Kings Cross station we realised we only had  a minute until the next train.  Erin turned round to me and said: 'I'm not running for it!' 

This follows missing a few buses recently, which we would have definitely run for a few months a go, with Erin turning round to me and giving me a look.  Words aren't always necessary.

Today we went for a long walk at Richmond Park for a bit of exercise.  It's a beautiful royal park with deer and a great view of St Paul's Cathedral from the far side of the park through a strategically placed telescope.  We stopped a few times for Erin to rest her legs, feet and sore back - I'm not saying I didn't enjoy the rest but there were more than usual.  Erin also asked me, as we approached the end of the walk, if I would tie her shoes laces.  I did so without hesitation, if a little over enthusiastically, which led me having to untie them and tie them again less tight.

I guess what I'm saying is Erin's as independent as they come so the difference in her is quite stark to see as she enters her third trimester. 

Saturday, October 11, 2008

This week

This week has been a busy one punctuated by three preggers events.

The first was on Monday night.  I stayed up late so I could try to win a bid on Ebay for a winter maternity coat for Erin.  This was after going to H and M, Zara, Top Shop, Gap, Next, Mamas and Papas (and probably a few more which gladly escape me) on an exceptionally rainy, wintry Sunday afternoon in London; Erin losing a few Ebay bids at the very end for 'the cutest jacket' in some kind of Top-Gun-dog-fight;  and Erin in a slight depression because 'I'll never get a winter jacket and I'm going to be so cold and miserable'.

Well, I felt like a hero, bidding at about 30 seconds to go for a winter coat at a good price. 10 second later though I was out-bid. I calmly scurried away (if you can scurry calmly) to place our next bid. The seconds ticked away to zero and I  walked away unharmed victorious.

The full stop (period - to mark the end) of the punctuation has just arrived,  Erin looks great in her new coat. Now back to a few commas of the week.

Erin had her first pregnancy yoga class at St. Thomas' hospital on Wednesday and met some new preggersmates.  The first five minutes were apparently spent with everyone introducing themselves along with their ailments throughout their pregnancy.  Erin says she didn't remember people's names but how far gone they were in their pregnancy. She wondered to herself 'are we no longer people, just bumps?' She thought the yoga was very easy, too easy and wasn't sure if she shouldn't be doing, at the very least, a bit more.

Yesterday she went to a Women's Only session at the hospital with a physiotherapist to learn about protecting her back and exercise.  Apart from sitting in a class for a few minutes full of Spanish speakers, then finding her correct class a little later, everything went really well.  But with the stories she kept coming out with every now and again last night I'm quite glad it was women's only. Wow.  

She was told at this class that she shouldn't be doing too much more exercise than pregnancy yoga.  And although it might 'seem to be too easy' it will really help during labour and is good for her baby's growth.  She now feels reassured.

 

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Mind the...pregnant woman

Yesterday Erin gave me a great rundown of how people react to her now she's pregnant while travelling on the tube.

It went something like this:

Women hardly ever stand up for her.
More mature men jump up when they realise she's pregnant and look sheepish if they'd rushed to get the seat.
Teenagers couldn't care less.
District Line travellers don't give up their seat half as much as those on the Victoria Line. And the Victoria Line is the hottest of all the lines.
If people don't give up their seat sticking her stomach out a little further than usual tends to do the trick.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Erin's back

Erin got home safely yesterday from her trip back to the States for her grandpa's funeral but before she did she went for a walk with her favourite niece, Sophie.


That might explain why she's so tired.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Calming baby

Apparently contrasting images, mainly black and white, can be soothing for babies.  I'm putting this knowledge in our armory against fractiousness.  I know that crying and babies go hand-in-hand (and there may not be anything to worry about) but anything to calm things down I'm sure will help.

On Oct 2nd a new book, Art for Baby, will be published which includes images from Julian Opie,  Patrick Caulfield, and Damien Hirst.

A black and white version of the below Damien Hirst - Lysergic Acid - is in it.



Apparently babies get transfixed by contrast.  One theory is that the differentiation mimics the white-meets-colour effect of the thing the baby most wants to seek out: the eyes and mouth of the person who is going to feed them.

Our local indian restaurant has a version of the Lysergic Acid on one of its walls and keeps me occupied - I don't need any comments about that fact.

Enough of me. If you're interested, there's a full article on the Guardian website or you can go straight to some of the other images. And here's it is being tried and tested.

So, we want to make another commission.  Erin and I know a very good artist.  It would be great if you - and you know who you are - could create some images inspired by this of your own for us.  Thank you in advance.

Saying goodbye

I said goodbye to Erin yesterday morning as she went back to the States to say goodbye to her grandpa who sadly passed away this week.

Grandpa John is the one looks like a grandpa, next to grandma Jane.

And here he is again playing with one of his many great-grandchildren, Sophie.

Grandpa John will be missed.  I miss Erin and her kicking belly.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Heads, shoulders, knees and Elbow

As a bit of a fan of indy and alternative music it's great that at the time I am about to become a father some of the artists I have on my I-pod are penning children's music. After Kimya Dawson's recordings, Elbow are to follow up their Mercury Award winning album with one aimed at the younger audience.

And I thought I was going to have to put the Beatle's Yellow Submarine on repeat to keep my youngster sweet (and my sanity up). I realise Radiohead's Kid A would just not have worked.
And apparently there are more.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A visit to the doctor

Things are never easy when visiting our NHS clinic. Erin and I were greeted by a very friendly doctor saying: 'So what seems to be the matter today?'

When Erin told him 'nothing' and that we were booked in for our pre-natal check-up with him he looked bemused and told us that he doesn't do that. He said he did post-natal but nothing before the birth.

We haven't seen our personal midwife, only temporary ones as ours has always been off. This mix up seems to have come from the temp, who not knowing our clinic, booked us in with the doctor who Erin last saw. Unfortunatley it doesn't work like this.

Anyway, Dr Castro - no relation - said he could take Erin's blood pressure and check what needed to be checked and would tell the doctor we should have seen the results 'to make sure he got everything right'.

So he did.

Erin's blood pressure is normal, the baby seems to be growing correctly - 25.2 cm for a 25 week pregnancy is normal, and we heard the traction engine heartbeat of the little one - 145 beats per minute. I shut my eyes and could imagine him stretching and kicking and generally showing off as he knew he was in the spotlight.

Erin's had a cold recently so we asked what she could take for it. The doctor was adamant she should only take paracetemol or herbal remedies. No strepsils or Hall's I'm afraid.

As she has had a bit (well, alot) of heartburn, Erin asked if the amount of Gaviscon she's taking is healthy. It is.

And she asked if she could fly in the next few weeks as she might need to take a trip home. He said the airline might need a letter but that letter would be easy to write as she's in perfect health.

At the end I went back to the heartburn issue. We've been told that as Erin has heartburn it's an indicator of the baby having either a lot of hair or red hair. I asked if he'd heard of this. He laughed: 'No I've never heard of this.' He went on to explain what heartburn was and ended by giggling 'come back and tell me if it is true, though'.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

A policeman's helmet

We didn't go to the library this weekend as I mentioned we would. Erin and I were feeling a little groggy because of all the sneezing and blowing into tissues we were doing, so we had a lazy Saturday morning then went to Battersea Park for a walk.




I bought a Mother and Baby magazine and we devoured all its contents.

There was a great article on helping newborns sleep. I turned to it straight away as one of my worst fears in life is insomnia. And a major worry of parenthood is a persistantly crying baby at 1am. And 2am. all the way through to 3am. And further. Every night.

Despite being sponsored by a famous brand of nappies (or diapers), which in my mind slightly degrades it, the article was very informative.

Here are some hints it gave:

Make sure your baby is comfortable.
Put her in the cot when she's sleepy but awake.
Don't go back on the first whimper.
Music can help the baby drop off.
If she needs reassurance stay by the cot but don't make eye contact.
Don't let the baby fall sleep while feeding after 6 weeks.
And agree a strategy with your partner...and stick to it.

So we've got the baby asleep. Onto another issue.

While Erin, Simon, Sarah and myself were in Durham, a couple of weeks ago, it was brought up that it's stated in British law that pregnant women can use a policeman's helmet to relieve themselves in it if necessary.

But unfortunately that myth has been busted.

A journalist from Saturday's favourite read called the Metropolitan Police and their spokesperson said: 'Back in the 19th century this was a law, but fortunately,' for the police rather than mothers-to-be who are caught short, I suppose, 'it's not anymore.'

The end of a cycle

After almost 18 months of biking a daily average of an hour and a half through the heady streets of London, dodging cabs, big red buses and red lights, Erin is finally biting the bullet and joining the rest of London's rat racers on the black, blue, red, brown, pink, green, and yellow lines of the Underground.

She loved to cycle places.


Please spare a thought for her.  She's sad to be travelling with the sweaty masses.

Friday, September 19, 2008

More top tips

It's amazing what you pick up from people when you tell them you or your wife is expecting.

This week I've been told:

Babies might eat their own poo on the way into the world.  And a baby's first stools are called Meconium. WARNING: This link is not for the faint of heart.

It's wise to wait for contractions after the waters break at home where you're going to be more relaxed.  But don't wait too long as the womb can become poisonous after the waters break.

Erin found out that if you have heartburn during pregnancy, which she does, your baby is likely to have one of two things:

1. Lots of hair

or

2. Red hair

I'll let you know if either is true.

I was also told a top parental tip: When your child is very, very good, give them lots and lots of praise.  And if they are very, very bad, let them know in no uncertain terms that they have been very, very bad.  All the rest of the times in between should then take care of themselves.

Erin and I have realised we know a lot about pregnancy up to labor.  And we're booked in to see the hospital ward and all the right pre-natal classes. But we don't have a clue about the first few weeks after the arrival and thereafter.  

So, we're off to the library tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

End of the road

This weekend we spent it in the company of mud, tents and loud music. Oh, and a great group of friends.

We went to the End Of the Road festival in Dorset. It's a boutique festival with only 5000 capacity. The bands included Mercury Rev, Calexico, Richard Hawley and my favourite, Bon Iver - here's one of his songs. There were a few great finds throughout the weekend too in The Young Republic, The Mountain Goats and Clare and the Reasons.

One highlight was when Clare (of Clare and the Reasons) apologised for eight years of George W Bush and started singing the tune of Somewhere Over The Rainbow with one word filling all the lyrics - Obama. On leaving the tent we saw a full rainbow arched over the festival. It sent shivers down our spines.

Everyone we were with who knows I write this blog kept asking me what I was going to write about regarding babies or impending fatherhood related to the festival.

Well, here are a few a few thoughts...

There were lots of families who attended the festival. It was great to see but it looked like hard work. The rain on Friday meant even those without children were trudging around. But to do this pushing a pram? It looked tough. The wheels got caked and it looked like no fun at all.

Looking at these families made me have two related independent thoughts; our lives are going to be immensely different this time next year, but also that having a baby doesn't necessarily mean you have to forfeit things. The babies can come along to places with us, just put ear protectors on them when around loud music.

I also saw that our weekends are going to be a whole lot different. Parents were up very early taking their children to learn circus skills or make clay sculptures or watch kids' movies. This was all happening while we were having a lie in or chomping on bacon butties, chatting about the previous night's bands, and discussing who wants to see what. Our priorities are about to change somewhat.

One random chat while we were walking from one stage to another really brought home how much we didn't know about pregnancy when when first started this venture. Our friend Sarah mentioned the time when we announced that we were pregnant to her and Simon while we were in France. None of us were sure if Erin would have been able to go to the festival as she would be almost 6 months in. 'Do you remember?' Sarah giggled. 'We didn't even know if Erin would be able to walk by then.' Between the four of us we have more degrees than people, a few Masters' and post grad diplomas yet we knew nothing about pregnancy.  So much for higher education.

Anyway, Erin walked around a lot.  She was fine.


On another note about music...

Kimya Dawson Sang on the main stage on Sunday.  She's a serious artist, formerly of the Moldy Peaches, but has a children's album out called Alphabutt. She kicked off her performance with the Alphabutt song.  It's all about poo.

After this we commissioned our friends, Fred and Caroline, to sing and record some old and new nursery rhymes.  I'll let you know what they come up with.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Watch it

'Look, you can watch it now,' Erin has just this minute shrieked.

I hadn't got a clue what she was talking about. Then she pointed at her belly, and there it was, visible movement from her bump with little pushes here and there.

It's the first time we've seen this. We can't stop looking and giggling.

The first baby shower

Last Thursday Erin's work colleagues threw her and another girl in the office, who's preggers, a babyshower.

She sent me excited texts when we was coming home on the bus. They played games and she ended up bringing back a lot of cute stuff.

Including:

A toy multi coloured elephant made out of recycled yarn

Baby Gap socks

A wrap around hooded towel for bath time

3 beige onesies with bears and stripes

A cloth photo album for first photos

3 sleeveless bodysuits

3 white onesies

2 white bibs

1 pair of underwear with frogs on

A hat

A snowglobe

And my favourite - a Gardenbug Foot Finder and Wrist Rattle set with ladybirds (or ladybugs) and smiley bright coloured insects to fit on the baby's wrists.  Unfortunately they don't fit mine.

Thank you Samina, Liana, Sioban, Therese, Vanja, Gail, Karina, Samsam and one year old Zachy.                                               

And thanks goes to Erin's sister, Robyn, who sent a lovely little woolen suit, a newborn one piece on the same day. As well as a little toy and stretch mark cream and face cream specifically for the lovely, glowing mum-to-be.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The sign of things to come?

This morning, about half an hour before we were due to get up, Erin turned over to hold me. I didn't think much of it at first. I blinked at the alarm clock and tried to drift back off to sleep. Erin had already effortlessly done this. But I couldn't as two little jabs in my back later, then 3 blatant kicks I was mesmerized. It went on until the alarm should have gone off, had I set it. The feeling of slump and haziness at 3 this afternoon was worth the little show the bump put on this morning.

I should get used to early morning wake ups shouldn't I?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Nappy valley

We took a trip to Wandsworth this morning.  Well, to most people it's known as Wandsworth, to others it's known as Nappy Valley.  

If you're pregnant and ever need to know you're not alone all you need to do is walk down Wandsworth High Street.  There are all sorts of mums and dads pushing their kids in their brand new strollers or dragging them along in their wellies in and out of the children's shoe shops, clothes shops, toy shops, natty odds and ends shops, and cafes. 

Or there are simply the mums-to-be going in and out the maternity wear shops.

It's an area of London simply booming because of fertility.

We were supposed to be going to Wandsworth Common for a nice stroll but didn't get past Petit Bateau, JoJo Maman Bebe, Pretty Pregnant et al. We skipped One Small Step (a childrens' shoe shop).  

We got one or two things but the prize possession is below, so people will know to stand up for Erin while travelling to work on the tube. 

It was free. A massive surprise considering the cost of everything else in the those shops.

Art gallery part two: the book shop

After strolling around the Tate, dodging the runners, we ended up in the book shop.

At the end of the shop was a bold sign saying Children's Books.  I was attracted to the section like an indoctrinated zombie out of old spiderman cartoons - it could be something to do with never growing up.

Here are a few of my favourite spots from last night.

Obviously the Very Hungry Caterpillar is ubiquitous in these sections but it was next to the find of the night. Now, I say it was the find of the night but neither Erin nor I can now remember the book's title so can't get a link to it.  But it was a small hard back book with card pages.  As you opened the pages you saw different animals moving along the page in a cartoon flicking style. 

I say that was the best but there was one which captured my attention much longer, a pop-up dinosaur book called Encyclopedia prehistorica.  I'm not sure how long the pages would last in my hands let a lone a child's but seeing this took me back to my days of obsessing over stickers books where I made the Brontosaurus, stegosaurus, and triceratops all run a way from my favourite, T-Rex.  

I now can't get 20th Century Boy out of my head.


We've already started a little collection of Roald Dahl at home.

I can't wait to read bedtime stories.

Names: inspiration from the greats

Erin and I went to the Tate Britain last night on a date. At the entrance is a stand containing leaflets with titles which pick out certain paintings to create certain moods. There is The First Date Tour, The Greatest Hits Tour, and among others The baby Names Tour, which I'll come back to later. We chose the I Want to be Swept Off My Feet Tour and set off to see Turner's Sunset, Lannelli's Contemplation and Richard Smiths' Vista.  Unfortunately this tour was spread out  a little illogically around the gallery so we gave up and made our own way around.

Also Martin Creed Curates was on too. This saw runners running every 30 seconds down the main hall in the Tate.  Fun and weird.  And a bit dangerous too with all those airy-fairy-arty types mooching around.

Anyway here's what the guide says from The Baby Names Tour.  I'm not sure how inspiring it is...

You've examined the closing credits of your DVD collection, thumbed through countless baby names books and that precious little wide-eyed lump staring up at you is still without a name. Don't worry, your dilemma may be easily solved by following this collection.

Chances are you're overthinking it.  keeping things simple is often the way to go. For instance, walk around our gallery and you'll come across 17 overachieving Johns, and some splendid Marys. Then again, you may prefer something more exotic.  Consider the name of the artist who painted Covent Garden market, Balthazar Nebot.

Or perhaps Oriana, a young woman immortalised by Frederick Sandys.

If you're still a bit stuck, try making a choice based on matching your newborn's personality with that of a work of art.  For instance, an attention seeking child could be named after Marcus Gheeraerts II's Thomas lee, the only portrait in the gallery without trousers.

Perhaps your child is the more thoughtful type. In which case think about naming it after the bookish Sir Brooke Boothby by Joseph Wright of Derby.

If strangers stop to admire your little one , you probably have a genuinely adorable baby. In which case you may like to choose a name of someone who was also adorable, like Dame Gabriel Rossetti's Proserpine or Thomas Gainsborough's Giovanna Baccelli.

Whatever you do, don't beat yourself up about it, we have 975 works that are still untitled so we've got much the same problem.

Oriana Giovanna or Balthazar Brooke Waller anyone?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Confused?

Most of us are when first talking about pregnancy. Now a children's charity have proven it. Their website isn't bad for getting a few answers either - very happy there's a dads-to-be section.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pregmunity

Yesterday we went to a party in Cambridge but most of us there felt old. Looking around we were all grown up, or at least getting there.  And it was a little worrying.

Our friend, Chris, turned 30 at midnight and got engaged to our friend Andrea a few weeks ago. The engagement didn't seem to affect Andrea regarding age but the party did.  Knowing that there were engaged couples, married couples, expectant couples and parent couples - and their children - turning up was a worry to her.  She didn't like that we were all becoming responsible adults. I think a few glasses of wine put pay to that though. 

Obviously Erin and I are in the 3rd category (and 2nd. Oh, and have been in the first. And, er, are soon to be in the latter).  We met some great people and had some fun chats with people in all the categories, learning a lot from the 4th.  It's quite amazing really that when your wife is pregnant, conversations are very easy. People ask how things are going - alluding to the bump - and it flows from there.  If you're talking to a couple or person who has a child it's even easier, but the questions come from you rather than the other way round.  Also, nothing is out of bounds: bodily functions, body parts, anything, literally anything.  There's definitely a pregnancy community - a pregmunity?  

We were part of this at the party with instant offers of advice, books and maternity clothes.  We took up all three offers and picked up a few things before we left Cambridge this morning, very happily - thank you Zoe and Andy.

And the advice? Here's what we learned:

Women tend not to be able to think past the birth, it's easier for men to do. 
Men: Go to the loo before the labor so you don't miss anything and you may be needed. 
St. Thomas' Hospital (ours) Pregnancy Yoga on the 8th floor is great.
Women: Make sure you really know how to relax your muscles at the birth.  It'll make everything so much easier.

When the baby comes along:
You might want to be as eco-friendly using reusable nappies but forget that at the beginning. Get the disposable ones, they'll fit better for the first 6 weeks.
The first weeks are tough, not just because of lack of sleep but the lack of response from the little one.  Once you get smiled at it's heaven. 
Baby gyms are a godsend. Get a cheap travel one so they can be stored, thrown in the corner of the lounge and got at as you wish.
Breast-feeding can be difficult, and if it doesn't work out, don't get depressed about it. Plenty of children have been brought up without it.
There's a great children's drop-in centre in Kennington - just round the corner from our house.
Life goes on, you can go out to eat when the baby comes along, just do it at lunchtime.

Erin in Cambridge

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's official

Erin was excited tonight as she was eating her dessert.  It wasn't the dessert but the memory of the morning: 'Someone stood up for me on the tube today.'

It's official, she must look pregnant.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Meet the kicking one

Blowing bubbles?
Pensive.
Acrobatic.

From out of nowhere

The reason why I didn't post anything about our second scan this weeekend was because Erin and I went up to Durham with Si and Sarah and stayed with Si's parents (Sorry for causing any worry Joey). 

The last time we were all together was just before we made the official announcement that Erin was pregnant. Everyone around the dinner table therefore knew before most people and that night Si's mum regaled us with a load of fun pregnancy and childhood stories about both her boys. We all shared a lot of belly laughs (even the often embarrassed Simon).

This time there was less baby talk which suited us just fine.  

There was the odd time though such as when Si was out of the room and his mum spoke about how even two children in the same family can be very different.  She said one of hers was a rebel but the other 'would even wear frilly knickers if I'd told him to'. Which, of course, she didn't. And neither did he.  We uncontrollably giggled at this but I think you had to be there as Si proved when he walked back in the kitchen.

There was another story too.

We came in from a walking tour of Durham in need of refreshment and to see what the football results were. Well, Si and I did anyway. The girls were all talking and Simon's mum was telling them about different parts of her pregnancy.  Si immediately switched off as boys are wont to do when their mothers are telling stories about them. I had one ear on the story and the other on a match summary. After hearing a 'really?' and trying to diffuse the words wonder goal from nowhere and this arm came from nowhere I asked for the story to be retold.

The context is that Erin was describing how she's feeling the baby a lot now. It's gone from feelings of waves to punchy kicks or kicky punches.  From what I can feel on the outside they are tiny taps. On the inside they are apparently not so tiny. Anyway, Erin had explained this and Si's mum went on to say that at the end of her pregnancy with Simon he literally made a full turn and 'from out of nowhere' she saw the imprint of a hand for a brief second from inside her belly.

And the kicks I can feel are impressive.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

2nd scan - a guided tour

On Friday Erin and I went for our second scan. We set off early to avoid any elevator worries and got to the 8th floor with plenty to time to wait around and watch the room's tiny television in the corner which contained laser-focussed baby adverts, baby advice and one random fact.

Among the ads for Bjorn Baby carriers, Tomy Toys and Bugaboo prams we were told by some government-parental-advice-giving-body about breast feeding and diaper changing.  And the advice to dads? Not to worry too much, help around the house and give the mum-to-be as many massages as she requires.  I Will do - but I do think that was written by a woman who had just been pregnant whose husband had worried too much, hadn't helped out enough and needed a nudge in the direction to give massages.

After a while, as there was a nurse off sick, we were taken into our scan-room by our nurse, Helen.  She sat us down, chatted nicely to us, then squirted gooey stuff all over Erin’s belly.

Once the scanner got through the gooey stuff the little life inside Erin started performing on screen for us. Second scans are quite different to the first as the baby is now too big to be on screen all at once.  So, we were given a guided tour around the baby's body. We were first shown the spine where we could see each individual vertebrae, then onto the kidneys, the heart, and the head. The head had two little bumps on it. This would have been worrying if the nurse hadn't said, ‘Oh look it’s got its hands over its eyes.’

Must be shy.

Not too shy however, as it showed us everything we needed to see, which was unlike the other babies who the nurse had seen that day. But shy enough to have its legs crossed so even if we did want to know if it was a boy or girl - which we didn’t and don't - it would have been a struggle to find out.

After we’d looked at the arms then came the legs and feet.  The legs were measured then the nurse manoeuvred the scan so two little feet were revealed. It was as if they were poking out of a blanket.

At the last scan the heartbeat was the highlight for me, this time it was the feet. That and the fact that we learned that polar bears are left handed - and you thought I'd forgotten the random fact.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

2nd midwife visit - a spectator sport

Today we went to see the midwife for the second time.   

We were brought in by lets-call-her Nicola who's the second substitute midwife we've seen out of two substitute midwives.  She was very nice and asked Erin how she was and caught up with the pregnancy with a few questions as well as studying Erin's records book.  She then took Erin through her blood test results which all look normal, negative or healthy - this is normal, positive and healthy.

I just smiled and nodded. It really did feel like a spectator sport.  I felt a little out of sorts in the midwife's room as, even though I'm quite an active researcher on pregnancy, try to be a hands on dad-to-be, and the midwife was professional and friendly,  it all seemed nothing to do with me.  I was a spare part.  A simple smiler and nodder.  I'm not complaining.  Erin is the one doing all the hard work.  But have any other dads-to-be reading this felt this way?

Erin's record book was filled in with the blood test results and then it was time for her to hop on the bed and get measured.  A lot of people have commented how Erin is hardly showing and that was a bit of a concern of ours before we went into the clinic.  However, when Erin was measured, she was 21 cms from the top of her bump to her pelvic bone which is a perfect measurement - it's 1 cm for every week.  

We also heard the baby's heartbeat for the first time.  The choo-choo audio from my grandad's collection of British Rail Sounds Of Train Stations vinyls were brought back to me as the baby's 158 heart-rate boomed around the room.  It was emotionally staggering. (Don't ask about the British Rail Sound Of Train Stations vinyls. They entertained a 4 year Jay but luckily didn't leave any lasting trainspotter scares.)

Erin's 21 weeks and a day now and we booked ourselves in 10 weeks ago.  Last time we took a bunch of questions which were answered easily with astounding reassurance and we left proudly bouncing all the way to the coffee shop where we reflected on what had happened. However, the 10 weeks since seeing the midwife has been a long time to dwell on other worries and another list of question were drawn up on Tuesday night.

They were nothing that hadn't been asked before so we asked them and they were answered:

The right side of Erin's bump seems to be bigger, is this normal?

Babies often start lying on the right but will move over as it gets bigger as more organs are on that side. It'll get more central.

How do you stop heartburn?

There's a natural acid build up during pregnancy.  Eat little but often and also milk before bedtime could work to reduce the acid build up.

Can we call an ambulance if we think things are going too fast on the day, especially as the waters could break in the Christmas period? 

Yes, but they prefer you not to.  If it's an emergency it's all right. Call around for taxis before the big day as some taxis don't take you when the waters have broken.

There were more but I'll save you those.

At the end, again, we walked out with an excited jump in our step.  Tomorrow's the scan.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Kick off

It's been a big weekend of sport.  The Olympics continued with Britain doing better than expected and the English Football Premier League started. Erin went up to Scotland to visit our friends Sarah and Robin and my mate JB came to London. 

John and I did the ridiculously boyish thing of setting the alarm clock for Rebecca Addlington's second gold medal chance, aimed to stay up and watch Paula Radcliffe in the marathon which started just after midnight on Saturday, and set the alarm again in the middle of the night to watch Michael Phelps' 8th gold medal race.  We let Paula down by giving up and falling asleep in the marathon but saw the live swimming.

Erin, up in Scotland, seemed to have a great time and kept texting me as such throughout.  On the way back one took me by surprise: 'I wish you could feel what I'm feeling and when I come home, maybe you will.'

When she did get home we caught up and chatted and laughed about what we'd got up to and then when it was time to relax a little she told me to do what I'd got excited but forgotten about doing earlier.

'Did you feel it?'
'No.'
'Move your hand down a little?.'
'There? And again.'
'Yes, and yes.'

I closed my eyes to imagine what was going.  A kick? Or punch? Or a stretch? Who knows? It was just incredible to think what is going on in there.  A growth of life.  Is this where the verb to describe feelings, moving, comes from? 

It was even better than the strike scored against Sunderland for Liverpool to secure their first win of the season.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The difference between boys and girls

Last weekend we spent time with our friends James and Claire.  They have a new niece called Maia. James and Claire each have the below pictures as their screensavers.



Guess who has which.


Did you aah then smile?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A rockin' and a rollin'

'Jay, Jay, come here and calm the baby down.' This was Erin's call to me from the bedroom as she wasn't feeling too good yesterday morning and went for a little extra sleep in the morning. 

'It's a rockin' and a rollin' in there,' she said looking at me mischievously. 

She told me to talk to it so I started by saying that it shouldn't try to be Michael Phelps or Rebecca Adlington just yet and rubbed Erin's belly with soothing cream. She said that the fluttery feelings have now turned into waves of movement. We are sure we could see where her head was. I gave an extra gentle rub.

I think she's about to pop and show a lot more soon.

The little one in there just wants more space.