The Bumpy Flight.

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It occurs to me that this blog gives me an opportunity! This being a place of refuge for me, a place to vent my concerns without risk of judgment, for as we all know, the good people of the world who peruse the internet, always do so with an open-minded and thoughtful manner, thus rendering this the perfect setting for me to air an apology to my partner regarding the way that I have behaved over a certain issue over the last few months, and that issue was the issue of her holiday.

A couple of months ago my partner approached me on the subject of her going away abroad with her mother, it was shortly after we had found out that we were pregnant again, and after a very short debate my final word on the subject was this:

“I don’t think it is a good idea, I don’t approve, I can see from your face that it is going to happen whatever I think, so I’m not sure why you mentioned it? Why are you even asking me? this is going to happen anyway so I guess that is that.  I don’t particularly want to talk about it again.”

…and we didn’t. And she went.

She is coming back tomorrow and I bet she is one of those people that keeps her phone on, on the plane, so I thought (since none of the terrible things that I thought would happen, happened). I should offer her (You, if you are my parter reading this) my sincerest apologises, I was a dick about her (you) going, I’m glad she (you) is (are) coming back home soon safe and sound, I have missed her (You) terribly… if she (you… or anyone going through Duty Free actually) reads this before she (again, anyone) gets through Duty Free, please understand this is a very sincere apology, one that could be celebrated with a small bottle of Johnnie Walker perhaps?

So… Was it brave of me to selflessly publicise my apology to the world? Perhaps, I couldn’t possibly say… I guess some people might say brave and quite modern! Were my fears about her eating abroad, going on a plane pregnant, possibly getting in a situation that was unnecessary dangerous, grounded in reality? Sure! perhaps. Could one say, that any caring partner might have reservations about  someone he cares about, who is carrying his child, going somewhere that he couldn’t reach if they needed him, be deemed a legitimate worry? I suppose so!

Might some people believe that my way of tackling the holiday was a little blunt and perhaps quite controlling? No… or I would hope they would at least see past that. Is there any possibility that apologising in this way was perhaps a rather contrived, cowardly and manipulative way to say sorry without doing so face to face? No way! Is it conceivably unfair and insincere to make an apology, whilst still shoehorning in your initial argument, without giving the other person the chance for rebuttal even when you know that you were in the wrong? I’m sure no one would ever see this that way!

I think we cleared that up, but just to be sure: I am truly sorry, you did deserve a holiday and I was a little blinkered about the whole thing… Come home safe. And lets never speak of my prior behaviour again.

Then it dawned on me the day she was going to leave!

I realised I had missed a very significant point about the whole affair! I was home alone, oestrogen free, bump free, pregnancy free… for a whole week!

This is how I planned the week would work out:

  • Reconnect with all friends that I have neglected since [her] being pregnant and party like it is 1999 (or whenever is the presently accepted quintessential date to mention when ‘partying’ at the moment).
  • Make the house really tidy, as though it is easy, so when she gets back she would realise how much work I do around the house.
  •  Watch many violent films.
  • Lose loads of weight from not being on pregnancy food regime… Maybe start jogging?
  • Finally sleep properly.
  • Put together an online illustration portfolio.
  • Drink heavily without feeling guilty, venture back into pubs!

This is how the week actually worked out:

  • Managed to see a few friends (after some begging), had a lovely time, drank sensibly and discussed pregnancy, wives, partners, being old etc.
  • I did face painting at a spring fair.
  • I just about managed to keep the house as tidy it was before and realised that I don’t do as much as I thought around the house.
  • I drank red wine out of a mug one day because I didn’t wash up (it tastes exactly the same, except for the mildest tang of shame.)
  • I watched Beauty and the Beast with my son at the cinema.
  • I put on a pound, I jogged once but only because I realised we left my sons iPad in Subway (the sandwich shop).
  • I couldn’t sleep at all, I missed the all-terrain sleep patterns we had got used to.
  • Following the sleepless nights, I attempted to imbue glycerine and glycol with Nytol to see if I could create a eJuice for vaping that could speed up the onset of sleepiness, had the briefest fantasy that I might make my millions inventing a vaping pen for napping… It doesn’t work, it tastes awful, it hurts your lungs and I have a suspicion that it is quite bad for you.
  • I went to several pubs but mostly wondered back early, trying to clarify why I had ventured there.

In essence, it was ok but I actually really missed all the ‘stuff’; her, the pregnancy, the sleepless nights… Everything! I’m not restricted from doing things because I am with a partner or because of pregnancy, I’m restricted from living like a student because, I am getting really old and my friends are getting really old and this is more fun, and we are all just working towards trying to make a great family life, even if we need reminding of it sometimes.

That is until the last one flies the coop then we get to try the teenage thing again but even worse because we have the spare cash to make those Glastonbury Festival (sleeping at a lovely hotel nearby the festival of course!) Welly Warrior Fashion faux pas with pride.

I apologise to anyone reading this who was expecting a blog post about pregnancy, you see without the bump, I can’t even do that, I have simply been reduced to rambling about a week by myself, which isn’t really that interesting to anyone.

…but I think that, in essence, is the point of this post.

 

 

 

 

The Sleeping Arrangements

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Well, it appears that our ‘bump’ life is now unrecognisable from our previous existence… and I feel like now is perhaps the time for full disclosure about this erroneous blog.

When I set out to write this, I was hoping to come across as a hapless and confused male, blundering through the trepidations of pregnancy, without disclosing that I qualified many years ago as a Psychotherapist and also have post graduate qualifications in Behaviour Analysis. I deceitfully thought that I might try to appear dumbfounded by the whole process, and at the end of each post I could perhaps summarise by ‘stumbling onto’ [plagiarising] and rewording some psychodynamic or cognitive theory as to why things might be happening as they were, thus giving some reassurance to my partner when reading it, that I understood how she was feeling and also trying to make myself look rather clever in the process.

I have now come to the conclusion that it was grossly arrogant and misguided to think that any qualification that I might have, could give me any head start on trying to work these things out with any psychological theory that I might have retained… It is perhaps tantamount to me feeling that I am qualified to take the lead at delivering the baby because I was a dab hand at playing OPERATION when I was younger.

An update to where we are at the moment:

We still have morning sickness, it is just outwitting us more as to when it is going to occur now, usually but not often enough to set an alarm, at 2 in the morning… but only when I move… like the inconsiderate bastard that I am. We (she) now has the bladder of a hamster and needs to pee nineteen times a night… but only when I move… like the inconsiderate total bastard that I am.

I can sleep in the spare room if I want, but if I do, I often get a text explaining that she can’t sleep because I am not there… like the inconsiderate mother fuyou get it. She also cannot sleep if I fall asleep before her but needs to chat in bed before going to sleep.

My current sleeping regime is this:

Get into bed at whatever ludicrously early hour that she suggests, discuss positive things e.g puppies, babies, buying a caravan, making time to finally start doing craft together, until she starts to find me annoying or starts answering the imaginary person in her pre-dreams rather than me. I then sneak downstairs and totally regress, mostly sitting wrapped in multiple blankets, in the dark, making bad food choices and watching Family Guy.

An hour after her third pee trip it is generally safe to go up, gently roll her from star fish position into recovery position and hope that I have not passed the point when my body believes that it is morning.

The other change is that now we argue, really weird arguments, to a layman it might look like she is being totally irrational, but the terrifying thing is that there is a logic, of sorts, to it! We have probably had as many arguments in the last month as we have had in the last four years together, but now for good measure they are cryptic.

This was our last argument:

Me: I’m going to make a curry

Her: Fine but don’t make rice.

Me: Ok, I will just make rice for me.

Her: [annoyed voice] No, just don’t make rice.

Me: Why? its bloody normal to have rice! Why on earth! Can’t I have rice?!?

Her: [Angry voice] Because I have my pyjamas on and it is raining!

After some hurled insults, face palming and then a return to baseline period, it turns out that her logic was as follows I[me] always make too much rice, if I make too much rice I will leave some of the curry, if I leave the curry it will go in the bin and will make the kitchen smell in the morning, which will in turn make her feel really sick. However she is already in her pyjamas and she knows that if she asks me to put the bin out when it is raining, I will usually say that I will do it in the morning and she is getting up before me that morning so that won’t happen.

I cannot fault that logic! It terrifies me that she can make those cognitive steps so rapidly, but I can’t fault the logic! My confusion lies in the presentation of the cryptic key points and the assumption that I am somehow privy to this line of reasoning without initial explanation!

[Full  disclosure: I made rice anyway, couldn’t finish the curry and didn’t clear it away until today… I am a terrible person and she is a genius.]

I visited a friend this weekend and we discussed some of these issues, he has seen 3 children in and can still talk to his wife (so his passed on information trumps my psychobabble hands down.) His advice to me was that ‘pregnancy’ is not the time to try to take a stand. when people talk about women ‘nesting’ in pregnancy we assume that they mean sorting out the house, but perhaps actually they are ironing out the creases in the entire potential family dynamic. I’m not going to stop cooking rice with curry, that’s ridiculous! but I suppose I could stop being a dick about taking the rubbish out… Baby steps!

 

 

The [NSFW] Post

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So, we had The Birth Conversation. To be honest we have been debating it for sometime but I think I finally won, I’m allowed in the room!

This is probably a very controversial topic and I am sure many people have many very valid reasons for thinking about this differently, but let me try to blunder through my point because, I think that it is worth it.

Her side of the conversation goes something like this:

‘What do you mean you are going to be right there with me? You are not going to be in the room with me. Why? Because you won’t think of me the same anymore! Why? Because there will be blood… I will have my legs in the air, its really undignified! You won’t think of that part of my body in the same way anymore. Because, I might cry or scream and you might think I’m weak. BECAUSE THE BOOK SAYS I WILL POO MYSELF! Because you won’t think of me sexually anymore…’

I don’t believe that this is a fear that is unusual to my partner; during my time working in care I have heard many female friends say very similar (about their own partners, I don’t request a front row seat with everyone).

I feel like the disparity between what men and women feel about this subject is immense.

These are my (and perhaps nearly every male on this planet) thoughts on the matter:

Only a woman, with her incredibly neat internal sexual organs could ever have the arrogance to think that we would be be in someway disgusted by the wonder of birth.

As men, we have grown up and have got used to having ridiculous external sexual organs, resembling something like dead mangle naked mole rats with terrible tumours hanging off them.

Our genitals can morph into any of about 4 different shapes and sizes at any inconvenient time despite being judged entirely on size at all times! They don’t even look like they should be on the outside, they look like they accidentally prolapsed out. You will know what I mean if you have ever tried life drawing:

Draw a woman and it is a wonderful flowing landscape of curves evenly distributed throughout the image.

Draw a man and it is a wonderfully contoured outer shadow with all lines eventually coming to a very erratically detailed, out of place, puppet from the film The Labyrinth, all quished  into the middle, making the whole image entirely unbalanced. However you swing it (pun intended) they look bizarre.

So, we are immune to the fact that your genitals have a multiple functions, if for no other reason than that we are reminded that ours do, literally every morning.

That… plus… my generation were totally desensitised to anything vaguely birth-like since the age of 12, following the trauma of watching John Hurt’s Chestburster scene from Alien (1979) and not being able to sleep for a week.

I am afraid it is your magazines and posters and billboards (and even some of the birthing books) that make you think we only see you as a object and we cannot compartmentalise our views on your reproductive organs. You need to own your self image! This is why women invented The Vagina Monologues and men invented Penis Puppetry… we know ours look hilarious!

I think that is probably enough of the genital discussion… Onto the bravery thing… ARE YOU NUTS? 

It is very hard watching someone you care about going through pain. We want to be there because it is the only thing we can do. We feel lame! We get to hold your hand.. if we are lucky. Everyone in the room (except for us) is qualified to save your life in someway or another. We are qualified to keep a damp flannel on your head for a bit – and we will most likely do that wrong!

You are the hero of a real life action film! A REAL LIFE HERO! Who fights and bleeds and endures and selflessly creates life, with a room of other  heroes supporting you through the journey, while we, the comedy sidekick… occasionally remember to offer you the flannel… hopefully.

…And that is why we want to be there to support you, because we love you, we want to do all we can, which is literally only be there. We are in awe of you and the breathtaking event that you are experiencing and we don’t have a hammer or a hack to mend the situation or take control… or take any of the burden.

Instead we are going to dab at you with a flannel. PLEASE DON’T JUDGE US!

The Remote Takeover

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I think that in this day and age there is a fine line between chivalry and #everydaysexism. I have never really known where that line is, or whether in fact there is no line at all, but instead a broad grey smudge encumbered with man traps.

My twisted interpretation of how I can be chivaliras in modern times (with as little effort as possible) is this:

I have pretended over the years that things in the house are far more complicated than they actually are. When my partner asks how to boost the boiler or reset the fuse box or change the TV from Netflix to The TV box or something, I  sigh heavily (hopefully, in a worldly and intellectual manner) and explain that it has been set up very complicatedly or that it has a  ‘tricky knack’. I then rise dramatically from the chair, as though I have been asked to go and fight a wolf pack or punch over a tree for fire wood, and selflessly resolve the issue… and then return victorious… like a hero [in my mind].

This cleverly crafted idea has recently fallen apart, as my partner has now realised that she is going to have to spend some time in the house without me, so whenever she has asked how to do something, and I have risen from my throne, to embark on my altruistic heroes crusade up to the boiler to add an hour extra of hot water, she has taken to stopping me and saying ‘No! I actually need to know this now! You won’t be here when I am on maternity!’

This is shortly followed by her being vocally very unimpressed that the only things separating herself from my omnipotent house powers, of being able to bring light, heat, hot water, entertainment and sound, as if by magic are:

  • The ‘other’ button on the boiler.
  • The ‘other’ switch on the fuse box.
  • The ‘e’ button on the remote control.
  • The Wifi, which occasionally needs resetting.

This is in no way a slur against my partners ability to use basic technology, but more, a credit to my persuasiveness and deceptiveness about the complexities of simple tasks and my ability of making them sound very unappealing.

So, in one foul swoop, I have lost my self-appointed special ‘alpha-male’ house powers and she has gained her very real ‘able to give the gift of life’ powers!

Everyday I appear to be becoming more and more surplus to demand! If they invent a way of opening jars easily, I might become entirely obsolete.

 

 

The Feeding Frenzy

We’re on the cusp of week 13 and it appears that I now have Munchausen (by Proxy). In layman’s terms, I am having my very own morning sickness and cravings gently and attentively thrust upon me.

Essentially I am being told that I am hungry, a lot. I am not sure why. My partner has a new found interest in what I eat all the time! She becomes very worried if I skip a meal (there is really no danger of me starving. I am being very kind to myself in my illustrations, you can add a stone to ‘illustrated blog me’… even then I’m probably still being quite kind to ‘real me’!)

I know! This sounds like the worst kind of ‘poor me’ British problem, but let me give example before you judge me…

For the last week and a half, every day after work we have had a very formulaic conversation. Here are the topic headers from my partner:

  • What I have eaten that day (perhaps this is because I divulged that sometimes I secret eat in the last post?)
  • Why I haven’t eaten more.
  • Why I am weird because of my eating habits.
  • Why I have always been weird because of my eating habits.
  • How I should eat correctly.
  • What I am eating tomorrow.
  • Why that isn’t enough.
  • A quick final recap about how weird I am about food.

I tried to sneak out without work sandwiches the other day, only to find sandwiches pre-packed in my work bag and an an accompanying guilt-bribe note explaining that she was sick twice because of the making of these sandwiches so I had better eat them. (It’s probably worth noting at this point that I had spent a large percentage of the evening before profusely assuring her to the fact that I did not want lunch, and that she shouldn’t worry about making anything for me.)

I had organised to meet a friend yesterday, but a meeting at work took longer than expected so I only had time to nip home to get changed. I spent my entire journey home assuring my partner that I would be fine missing one dinner while she panic listed in cross conversation all the food products in the house that she thought I could digest in the 10 minute turn around before going out.

When I got home, it was explained to me, in quite some detail exactly how to explain to my friend that I needed to eat, even though this had not been arranged as a ‘dinner’ friend-date! I’m not sure I would have been allowed to leave without acknowledging that I understood this. She continued: “He must not be offended just because you missed your tea and therefore have to awkwardly eat out with now. If he is a real friend he would understand if you bought yourself some dinner whilst out with him, even if he had already eaten!”

It appears as though my partner has taken on the role of my nan, except with whole meals rather than just lemonade and party rings (or latterly Bailey’s and Ginger Nuts, which nearly got me in a lot of trouble in Year 8 at school.)

I have to be honest, I am completely stumped with this one.

Here are my theories so far:

  • She is trying to eat vicariously though me because she still feels sick.
  • She is trying out her ‘inner mum voice.’
  • She would like us to have matching bumps (I’m still winning at the moment so she needn’t worry.)
  • She cares about me and feels particularly emotional at present, and food (because it is on her mind) is how this is manifesting itself. And yes, I am shamelessly trying to exploit that for a cheap laugh on a blog.

I’m pretty sure it’s the thing about the matching bumps.

The Scan Hack

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WE FOUND A HACK! …Well, kind of. We have been lucky enough to have two scans, for the initial scan we were a day too early for them to do the measuring bit to tell if the baby was growing normally.

The experience was ok. No real complaints but there were two things we could have improved on.

Firstly, I was so panicky that it said ‘have a full bladder’ on the form that I encouraged my partner to basically drink her own weight in water an hour before the scan and didn’t even consider that there might be a backlog of patients, so when it finally came to us my partner was in relatively excruciating pain, which I can only imagine she quietly (and quite rightly) blamed me for.

Secondly, we were so dumbstruck by the experience, we really didn’t ask any questions, so we only really got the economy package tour of her womb.

For our second run through we had a game plan: namely, my son! After much debate as to whether it was appropriate (despite Google mostly suggesting that Hospitals either did not allow it or at least disapproved), and after discussing what we would say to him if things were not going well, we decided to do it anyway.

We decided that it was a calculated risk and, in our circumstance, it would make for a much more inclusive introduction for my son to meet his unborn sibling than just showing him the photos the following weekend and having to explain that we had known for ages but only just told him.

I can’t say that the experience would be the same for everyone but for us it was fantastic!

The nurses made us feel very welcome as a family unit and were very friendly. But the real benefit was the questions that my son was not afraid to ask, I think they are the kind of things we would all wish to ask but possibly don’t.

Son: How is it jumping around so fast?

Nurse: The embryonic fluid surrounds it like a little swimming pool.

Son: Why does it look like an alien monster?

Nurse: Because the tissue around its scull have not developed fat cells yet.

Son: What is its mouth doing?

Nurse: It is drinking the embryonic fluid.

Son:Cool! How does it eat?

Nurse: If we look here, you can see the umbilical cord and the placenta is here in front.

Son: Dad says if we write notes to it and make her eat them we can teach it to read?

Nurse: No!? But you can speak to it and it will get used to the vibrations and tone of your voice and later you will be able to feel it kicking and moving and it will be able to feel your hand on her stomach.

The experience was really nice and we all left feeling great. If that particular hospital wing was on Trip Adviser, I would have given it five stars! I jest, but perhaps that is actually a thing you can do now…?

Oh, and all the measurements worked out absolutely fine so that was a bonus too!

 

 

The Art of Dining

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I realise that I have been putting off the ‘Morning Sickness’ post, because with the pure volume of material to write about that I have been exposed to, Morning Sickness could be a blog in its own right!

My partner is what one might describe as a ‘Foodie'[?] She is not greedy, but food is intensely important to her, perhaps a throwback from her mother coming from a family of  many siblings? Perhaps it’s a Northern thing? I don’t know.

To give an example of how important food is to her; During our relationship there have been numerous times when she has bolted up in bed first thing in the morning as if being defibrillated out of a coma only to gasp with wide eyed and yet apparent blind panic:

“W..W.. What are we having for tea tonight?!?!”

Lets say that she has a very emotional relationship with food which links in to family, comfort, nostalgia and actually her relationship with me  I guess in a way.

So, imagine for one moment the devastation that might be caused when all of this is ripped away from her by her own damned hormones spiking all over the place and picking off her favourite foods like a game of Russian Roulette.

Can you imagine it?! Yes!! Thats right!! It has been an absolute nightmare for me!!!

In our house, I cook. She is a very good cook but I enjoy it more I think, so I have unscrupulously and methodically deskilled her by cooking at her for years, to the point where I think she believes that if we split up she might starve to death. Genius!

Until Now!!! Now, I have no ‘Get Out of Jail’ card at all.  Food is now a huge bone of contention (no pun intended) within the house.

I have been trying to crack the seemingly capricious nature of the sickness so that I might beat it and resume my aptitude for cooking my way to redemption.

Thus far, this is what I have come up with:

  • All food can potentially get you in trouble.
  • Just because she craves a food, that does not mean it will not make her sick, and if this happens it will be at least two weeks until the mention of that food will not make her sick again.
  • If you think you are onto a good thing, only make 3 days worth of it because, trust me, you are not onto a good thing. (Hence the 35 unused frozen freshly ground, reduced Ginger and honey ice cubes currently sitting in our freezer, which I invented about 3 hours before Ginger started making her vomit upon sight.)
  • Eat the same as her, even if it means that your main meal of the day is Spinach and a boiled egg, because if she can hold that down but the smell of your Thai Green Curry makes her puke, you have eliminated two meals from the remainder of the pregnancy and have wrecked both of your evenings.
  • When you have cooked something and it has taken you a long time and you are proud of it and she takes one mouthful and then throws up, try to remember that she is not doing this spitefully… on a conscious level anyway… most of the time… I think.
  • Try not to point out to her that 85% of all communication, verbal, text and other now revolves around food – the flavour of, texture of, temperature of, feelings evoked pre and post consumption of, the colour of, the smell of, etc etc. I have a feeling that the answer is somewhere hidden in these communications and if you are a man far greater than me, there might be an opportunity to collate that data to create an algorithm which can predict ‘safe foods’ for that day or moment in time. And once harnessed into an app, that man will never have to work or buy himself a pint again for he will be a rock star amongst expectant fathers and a god amongst mortals.

[Please Note: It is not my intention to suggest a man should invent this due to personal sexism, I just think it would be wonderful if one of us got the Brownie points, God knows we need them.]

So, yes. Easy really! That is the Art of Dining whilst enduring her morning sickness! That and, of course, that your lunch break at work becomes your best friend as it’s a perfect opportunity for you to secret eat.