Friday, June 27, 2008

Good news travels fast

Yesterday we flew in to Minneapolis airport and as soon as Char, Erin's mum, turned up we were whisked away to see Erin's grandparents.

As usual Grandma Jane had some supper ready for us and was all ears at our foreign adventure stories. When Erin said she wanted to show her some photos she didn't really know what to do with some black and white and not very clear seeming polaroids.  She looked at them, then again, then turned them upside down, looked at them again the right way up and with a little help from Erin's smile realised what they were.  She turned round and automatically gave Erin a huge hug as she asked: 'Are you pregnant?' She knew the answer.

Two minutes later Erin's cousin, Cory, turned up with his wife as did one of her aunts.  It's fair to say that most of Erin's family, and there's a lot of them, will now know, 24 hours later.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Over the pond

We're off to the States for a few weeks.  This will be a time of telling Erin's extended family about our news - only her folks, brothers, sister and their spouses know.

I'm sure there will be lots to report.

It'll be a lot of whooping, hurrahs and people saying...Finally, as Erin's grandparents have 12 great-grandchildren already.    

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Life and death - a tribute to eight o clock

On Wednesday and Thursday night we called, sent emails and texts to people to let them know our news.

We talked about the scan, how it's been very difficult to keep the secret, when the due date is, where we're going to live in the future, if the baby will be English and the death of Eight O Clock and her chicken friends.

I'll explain.

Our friends Johnny and Jo and their two adorable children live in Cardiff in a beautiful cottage with everyone's dream garden.  In it is a tree house, adventure climbing frame, a never ending shed, and a chicken coup which houses four hens and three ducks.

Our conversation went something like:

Me: Hi Jo, it's Jason.

Jo: Oh hi Jase how are you?

Me: Very well thanks, you?

Jo: Er, not so great really.

Me: Why not?

Jo: Well, it's a bit superficial really, I'm all right I suppose.

Me:  No, go on. What's wrong?

Jo:  Well, a fox has killed all our animals.

Me:  What?

Jo: Yeah, it must have been last night and our garden just looks like a greek tragedy now.


Jo: So, no more Eight O Clock.

To explain, You couldn't have made up Eight O Clock.  He was the runt of the litter. A weird looking, bedraggled duck which strangely bossed all the animals around while simultaneously making humans fall in love with him. Nobody even thought, let alone mentioned orange sauce around him. 

Me: How have the kids taken it?

Jo:  Well, the eldest (who's 7) seems to be taking it in his stride and I'm sure will want to talk about it more in the next few days while the youngest(who's 3) keeps walking around shouting duck dead. Chicken dead. Duck dead, without any idea of what she's saying at all.  

She giggled then asked how I was.  I said something like, well from death to er, life.  Erin's expecting and she shrieked with Joy. 

Is this life going full circle? 




Today, Erin experienced what many pregnant women have uttered either on blogs or in person happen. She had her belly patted.  Some friends of ours saw this happening and seemed stunned, reacting: 'Is he allowed to do that?'

I wasn't sure and neither was Erin but three different people did it independently - admittedly, all are pretty close friends. It was a bit of a surprise as neither Erin nor I have been this excited while seeing other pregnant friends or family.

While chatting, after we left the party, Erin said she generally doesn't feel like she looks pregnant and that she has just put a little weight on and when her belly is touched she gets quite self-conscious. She's not showing too much and nobody seems to notice that she's pregnant unless we or others in the group talk about it. But when people see her for the first time since they've found out they get very excited.  I guess that's how people want to show their affection, instead of a usual hug.

Erin's also become conscious that people are talking to her as if she's now a pregnancy expert and other topics of conversations are difficult to get into even though she's the same intelligent, arty, politically minded, interesting person as before.

On another note, apparently pregnancy can lead not only to a loss of teeth but loss of brain cells.  Is this for the father too?  Erin hasn't demonstrated too much difference in her thinking and levels of concentration but I seem to be losing it for two.  

I've forgotten my Oyster Card twice this week.  The second time was after making sure Erin had hers.  I went back for mine, got it, then dropped it as it was supposed to go in my pocket, I carried on to the bus stop where Erin was waiting and then had to trace my steps right back home to eventually find it.  

If I can't look after a little card how am I suppose to bring up a child?  At the party people were telling me I'll be a great dad.  I really do hope so.

Text your name

I got a text on Thursday from Fred saying: 'Another name for you to consider. Paul.  Think about it.'

Later on that evening Chris sent one saying: 'Off The Waller? or Berlin Waller?'

Random but brought a smile.  And nice to know that conversations can continue long after they started.

I don't think there are any more puns on my name.  And Fred seems to think Off The Waller was mentioned last Saturday. If there are any more we don't mind hearing them if you don't mind not being taken very seriously.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Elevating hearts - the first scan

We set off to the hospital for the 12 week scan with around 3/4 hour to spare. We decided to go by bus rather than bike as it was threatening to rain. Two buses came which weren't ours, then the 77 arrived but looked very full. We squeezed on and then the bus squeezed it's way through the traffic to St Thomas' Hospital, very slowly.

Surprisingly we made it with a few minutes to spare. All we had to do was to get to the North Wing and to floor 8. It wasn't difficult to find, and neither were the elevators where we waited for one to come.

But this was a bit of a rigmarole.

There were 7 elevators but they were either going the wrong way, full, or had flashing signs saying Emergency Use Only, Out of Order, or - unnervingly - Crash Test to Follow. After 10 minutes, a few curses of the NHS, and a shove here and there we managed to get one. All we then had to do was manually shove the doors closed - in the 21st century? - and off we were, stopping at every floor before we got to the 8th.

I had suggested the stairs, twice, but Erin played the pregnancy card and claimed she was suddenly tired.

I guess waiting rooms are named this for a reason. We went to reception, were told to sit down and, along with a three other couples, and two women on their own, we sat down and, er, waited.

Eventually we were called and the fun began.

I was really nervous that there would be something wrong with the baby, something wrong with Erin, or all we would see on the scan would be Erin's breakfast. But apart from a constant niggle in the back of my mind about the Nuchal Fold test these worries soon went away.

The nurse put us both at ease and spoke to us as if we'd known her for a while. She covered Erin's belly in gel and told us look at the screen. At first it was a slimy blur but then something appeared which was truly amazing. The first thing that struck me was seeing the outline of a head shape. He* appeared to turn to us and look straight at us. It was unbelievable. There was also something which was bouncing in the middle of the screen. Of course it was the heart, but it didn't sink in for ages because of the speed and apparent out of body experience it seemed to, literally, be having.

The nurse showed us several different angles of him - from the top of the head, the back, the front, the spine, so the legs were the focus, and the arms - luckily two of each - but in every frame there was always this bouncing 158 beat per second ball of a heart fluttering away. Erin and I both said we could have watched it all day.

The baby was great. He performed as any parent would wish, crossing legs, stretching, turning around, turning his head towards us, touching his face, seemingly preening himself and generally having a jolly good show off. Good for him.

We have three scanned photos but they really don't do our baby justice.

The nurse told us the results of the Nuchal Fold test were very low risk and added that we currently have a very healthy baby.

I couldn't stop smiling all day.

When Erin and I left the hospital and crossed the road, she told me that I shouldn't rush her as she is now crossing for two. She then linked my arm and said that now she really feels pregnant.

Me too.

* I simply couldn't call him or her and with all the humanity s/he was showing I chose he as it was easier to write - only two letters.


We're off to the hospital for the 12 week scan.  Exciting. And Scary.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Names, names, and more names

On Saturday night we went out for our Friend Fred's birthday.

We met up with Fred and Caroline to go to the Royal College of Surgeons before we ate. Now, I know I'm trying to lose a bit of weight but there was no need to completely put me off my food. The College museum basically houses a collection, mainly put together by John Hunter in the 1700s.  It contains exhibits from a star fish to all sorts of human organs and the tools needed to get them out.  Once I'd been through the smallpox area and seen 10 seconds of brain surgery I'd kind of had enough.  Fred must have seen this in my face as he swiftly dragged Erin and I through a section he thought - as did I - a father and mother-to-be shouldn't ever see. 

After half an hour in there we walked through central London for a while to erase the memories etched on our minds and met up with Chris, Bla and Ben before we went for Korean B-B-Q.

If you ever need a protein boost go to Ko bar just off Oxford Street.  Highly Recommended.

Later we sat in a pub and discussed life, all it throws at us and baby names.   

I'm not sure who brought it up but it wasn't Erin or I.  Caroline spoke about Father's day as we left the restaurant, we had a little moment when we realised I'd get a card next year. But the names wasn't our fault.

Anyway, Fred thinks he or she should be called Brick.  As in Brick, er, Wall-er.

Other people chimed in. Rhianan, Rhian?  That was from the Welsh boy.

Then Builder was mentioned - Fred

Rudi Waller was mooted.  For those who don't know about German football it was a nod to a striking great. And before anyone thinks about extending the name to Rudolph Waller, it's already been crossed off the list as we don't want a child to sound - even remotely - like a war criminal.  

Then Dry Stone Waller was uttered.  He wouldn't give up.  Heaven help his publication if that's the best pun he can do.

We mentioned that we'd had a early front runner for a girl with the name Imogen.  This was greeted in a more positive manner than when we mentioned it to Erin's mum.  It's an absolute no go now.  She didn't really like Imogen when she first heard it and  couldn't get it into her head.  So much so when Erin spoke to her the following Sunday she said she 'didn't like the name Imogina'. And that wasn't pronounced I-MO-GEEN-A.

Another-brick-in-the Waller anyone?  Guess who thought of that.

Midwife - First meeting

On Thursday afternoon we had our first meeting with our midwife.  Well, we would have if our midwife wouldn't have been sick but we had a meeting with a midwife.  

She checked Erin's blood pressure then proceeded by taking most of it out of her right arm for three tubes full to be sent for a slew of tests.  These, however, don't include whether s/he will get a first from St Johns College, Oxford; will become the 2032 Olympic 100m gold medallist, get a tattoo behind her parents' back, or if  she'll have her father's eyebrows. 


Erin then produced a full vial of urine and plonked it on the midwife's table - don't worry, she was asked for this.  More tests.

After this, we were given a Pregnancy Medical Records Book.  This will list all the history of our pregnancy.  Erin asked if she could personalise it with stickers, doodles and collages. The midwife then looked at her and said: 'You can.  But this will be kept on NHS records for the next 25 years.' Erin then realised it wasn't a scrapbook, even though there is an envelope inside the front cover for baby keepsakes.

The book's first few pages are full of the usual name, age and job questions then it goes on to all the family medical history questions.  We seemed to do well at these and ended up with the comment, Low Risk Pregnancy.  I think that's at least a B+.  (Erin's just read this and complained about my low expectations.  She thinks it should be and A.  Maybe this is a sign of things to come for our child's first report card.)

The midwife asked if we had any questions. We Had.  A whole list.  Erin started on hers, then I on mine.  We asked about flying, cycling, painkillers, sore tail bones, scans, appointments, classes, yoga, free stuff and dentists.  Finally we asked if we had forgotten anything and what most people worry about.  She then rolled her eyes and said that a lot of parents are over anxious and worry about things that don't matter at this stage.  She gave us a knowing look then said we'd be fine.

We left smiling.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Miss communication or boys will be boys

On Friday, Erin went to our friend Caroline's for a girls' slumber party and I organised to go out with a few boys to eat Thai and watch comedy in Balham. We arranged the night a few months ago long before we knew Erin was pregnant but we decided to tell those who were with us about what's going on.

JB arrived at mine just as I got home from work, and Michael and Dewi, who had come from Wales, arrived at mine a few minutes later than when we wanted to leave, so we got to the restaurant a little late. This was noted by Fred, Chris and David who were sat down having a drink.

The conversation ran from the Three Peaks Climb to the London Marathon to how many units of alcohol there are in a pint - 2, thanks PC Foster, what one of Britain's leading broadcasters is like to work with and the usual thread which is a constant to most of our conversations, music. I was sitting next Chris who likes to ask controversial questions in a very understated way. He asked if work was OK, if Erin was OK, then if Erin is pregnant. And, oh boy, was he not ready for the answer.

I answered as matter as factly as I could, affirming that she is. Fred was also listening opposite us, as was David, who I told a few days before at work.

'Really?' Said Fred.
I nodded 'Yes.'
Chris looked at me.
I looked at David.
David smiled.
Chris didn't. He didn't seem to believe me and looked a little stunned.
I looked over to David and said that I'd told him a few days earlier and he nodded.
It was now Chris's turn to say 'really?' and I said that Erin was 10 weeks gone.
Fred congratulated me.
Chris finally came round from his daze and congratulated me too.
The boys on the opposite side of the table had sussed that something was going and I announced it officially. There were a lot of 'wows' and 'congratulations'.

On the other side of the city Erin was in her PJs eating pizza, vanilla custard, and strawberries - for nutrients - dipped in chocolate. When she got home and we talked about the evening she said that there were a few times when she thought about telling the girls but nothing seemed the right time.

When she arrived she was asked if she wanted wine, she thought that was the opportune time to say something but wanted to get her feet in the door before she said anything. There were also times while they were chomping through their pizza and watching Sex And The City DVDs, but she didn't say anything.

Chris - you know the one - sent a text to his girlfriend, Blathnaid, asking if there was much squealing at Caroline's tonight. Blathnaid hadn't got a clue what that meant. Then she asked the girls, and Erin knew it was the right time to tell them.

Well done Chris - I think - for getting both the north and south of London talking.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Shove it in...

Erin and I went shopping yesterday.  We're going to the States later this Summer for her youngest brother's wedding.  Obviously a dress is needed. 

Erin feels as though she's grown a little recently and wondered how much she would grow in a month's time.  She eventually went to the dressing room in Monsoon armed with 5 dresses all in her usual size.  They all seemed to fit well but we both wondered what they would look like a month's time.  I ran to the other end of the shop to get the favourite dress in the next size up and then she tried it on.  This was all causing a little fuss with the attendant until we explained that Erin was pregnant and we didn't know how much room was needed for growth - I said room for improvement at the time but thinking about it after Erin laughed and looked at me weirdly, I meant growth.  

The dress went on and looked the best of the bunch.  But Erin wasn't sure how much give there was in it so in one full-swing-perpetual-motion she leant down, grabbed the skirt she had come to the shop wearing, folded it, puffed it a little, and shoved it up the dress she was trying on to she how much of bump she could get away with.  I usually give an opinion of whether something looks good or not at this stage but I just had to walk away with a smile that quickly turned into a giggle.  It was genius. 5 minutes later we walked out of the shop having bought the dress.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Dummies, laughs and chocolate fudge cake

Erin and I went round to our best friends Simon and Sarah's last night with Simon's mum and dad.  We told them that Erin was pregnant a couple of weeks ago when the four of us went to France for the day.  We thought it would be weird if Erin wasn't having a glass of wine or sampling soft cheeses without any explanation and apart from saying she'd suddenly gone off the delicacies - which would be very suspicious - we couldn't think of any excuses for why Erin would not be eating them, in France, of all places.

Well, we'd told Si and Sarah,  but not Si's parents.  Si called us yesterday afternoon.  After we had sorted out that we were going to eat chocolate fudge cake for dessert, with strawberries, and raspberries, and cream,  if the local Sainsbury's hadn't sold out, the conversation paused and Si stuttered into a question. 

'Would it be all right if we told my parents about your special news?' 

'Yeah of course it would.' was my reply.
He then said, 'Great, I've already told them.' I burst out laughing.

After all the introductions, we got down to chit-chat and in a round about way, which I can't quite remember how, the pregnancy came up.  We were skirting around the issue and talking about Erin's family possibly coming over for Christmas as we would definitely not be going over there this year.  We were thinking everyone knew what we were talking about but there was a strange look from Si's mum, Susan.  We tried to carry on but she just kept staring at Simon.  His eyes gave himself away - he'd forgotten to tell his mum, that he'd told us, that he'd told them. 

After we told her officially and she gave Si a bit of  slap, which she later said she'd never done to him as a child and wouldn't condone, we fell about laughing which continued throughout most of the evening.

We tried to steer the conversation away from babytalk for as long as we could but just before the dessert came out, out of nowhere, Si's mum asked if we had any names for the child.  It had obviously been playing on her mind.  

At the moment we have our favourites which didn't seem to go down very well and everyone proceeded to give us theirs.

Daniel or Dan from Si - He thinks Dan Waller would make a good CNN News Anchor.
Christopher and Paul came from Simon's mum.  This made us focus a bit on Bible names.
Sarah shouted out the randoms such as Horace, Bridget and Foo Li Fah Fah - I think she might have had a few too many G and T's in the afternoon.
And Simon's dad tried to stay out of it as much as possible, and asked me if I supported Bolton Wanderers.

Stories of Simon and his brother, Richard, when they were kids, then followed and we later asked Simon's mum what would be the top three tips for parenthood.  And they were:

1.  Get them on a dummy as soon as possible - Simon didn't have one and didn't sleep, Richard did and slept until he was five apparently.
2.  Don't over stimulate them too young - they'll never sleep.
And Simon's dad then came up with the next.
3.  Don't let other parents' stories of their kids play on your minds too much.  They will develop when they develop.

We did talk about several other things throughout the rest of the night but that isn't what this blog is about.

At the end of the night as they were getting ready to go, Si's mum said 'Oh, there's one more tip. Love your children to death and you simply can't go wrong.'


Mum and Dad's visit

Not too much to report really. Erin and I met up with my parents and received big hugs and beaming congratulations from both of them when we met up on Thursday night. We ate at the Fentiman Arms round the corner from ours, caught up on what's generally going on and had relatively little baby talk.

Mum asked how Erin was and when she told her that she'd been tired mum mentioned that she felt the same - not now, but when she was pregnant.  And like Erin, she didn't want to drink coffee in the first stage of pregnancy. She also didn't want eggs too.  And her craving?  Vimto.  Erin's never tasted Vimto so I doubt that'll be a craving for her.