The Early Signs

angeldevilThe first time that my partner decided to tell me that she was pregnant (the time that didn’t work out) she did so through the medium of Snapchat. I think she was trying to be cool, we had only just started using it (since it became a platform for grown ups rather than teens sharing photos of their nether regions, but just before grown ups started using it purely to add face filters to make themselves look like manga kittens).

I actually thought that it was quite a cool way to do it, but when she got home I accidentally hesitated when she asked what I thought. She went into such a myriad of  confusing justifications and anxieties, paradoxically apologising and vehemently defending her reasoning, that it was a little intimidating… so I just stuck with her preposition that I disapproved, rather than face trying to ‘unpick’ where she had reached in her rhetorical argument.

It was probably a terrible thing not to dissuade her from her worries, but sometimes you can just see that, in the long run, saying nothing will be easier. I now pretend that I did disapprove, but really just for consistency.

This time when she told me, it was much better. I had gone to visit a friend the evening she found out and I was too drunk when I got home to be told, apparently, so she told me in the morning when I had a terrible hangover and about four minutes before I had to leave for work. I sort of giggle-cried my way to work that morning looking like a nutcase and I had to tell my boss that I had hay fever (in mid-December) when I got there.

In much of the literature about pregnancy, there is usually a quote that says something like this:

‘One mustn’t be surprised if the man does not really register that the woman is pregnant for the first few months because although the woman is going through many changes, the man won’t see these initially and so might not react as the woman would expect.’

Apart from being a little insulting and talking about men like they are knuckle-dragging neanderthals, I feel that this statement is entirely misguided.

OF COURSE, we can see the changes! DEAR GOD!? HOW COULD WE MISS THEM!? 

Sure! At this point you are not toting the baby beer gut or communicating via the act of duel kidney rubbing (which we all know if the universal sign language gesture for ‘I’m PREGNANT – give up your seat!), but we know because everything else is different.

Firstly, the rules of communication change. My partner and I usually communicate our displeasure at each others actions through a series of huffs and grunts. She huffs, I grunt, instead of responding coherently. This is our way of  personally marking or highlighting a point within the day that we are unsatisfied with. It is noted by both partners and is now fair game for future debate or to reinforce a latter argument. By the act of doing this it usually negates the need for further discussion, as neither of us particularly want to have an argument so we adapt our behaviour… Pavlov would be proud.

None of the books say:

‘You will now find that the usual intricacies of how you and your partner debate no longer apply. You will probably find in the first few months of pregnancy your parter will tell you, in no uncertain terms, exactly how she feels about your actions, present and past, without warning and in various states of distress. Some of these will be deep seated annoyances that she has put up with since the beginning of your relationship, some will be issues that she finds newly annoying, some will be entirely fictional, and some will be because at that moment you represent ‘male’ and a man in the lift earlier that day did not hold the door for her and she did not get a chance to vent. It is up to you how you respond, however more often than not you will be wrong, so be prepared for this and learn to apologise in accordance.’

My favourite example of our irrational post-bump arguments to date has been this:

HER: ‘You never mention me on Facebook, people probably don’t even know we are together or that we care about each other.’

ME: ‘You just thought of that because you saw that I wrote a post on Facebook that DID mention you!’

HER: ‘Yes but I mean usually!’

ME: ‘My last three posts have mentioned you!’

HER: ‘YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN! You never, say, like, ‘Happy Birthday’ on my wall on my birthdays!’

ME:’I Do! literally every birthday!’

HER: ‘For Fuck Sake!! THAT WAS JUST AN EXAMPLE!’

I hope that this example encapsulates the complexities of debating when logic takes a backseat to emotion.

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The Sad Bit

Firstly let me get the sad bit out of the way, I realise that what I am about to speak of is a phenomenon that happens to a lot of people. Many people have things happen that are far worse and my sympathies are with you all, but I can only draw from our experience and however trivial it might be to some who have been told its just not going to happen or that it is their sixth failed attempt, my thoughts go out to you. But this is what happened to us.

We were over the moon to find out that we were pregnant the first time, it lifted us, as a couple we were rejuvenated, there were talks about names, light hearted bickering about wanting a boy or girl, her boobs went up like 2 bra sizes which was obviously fascinating for me! It felt like a great time to be alive. She positively glowed and I was jumping over myself to do anything I could to help (a phenomena that does not come over me very often).

The fateful day, seven weeks later must have been horrendous for her, we were out in the nearest big town shopping and wandering with my son and an old friend who we don’t get to see very often. I think she knew what was happening but she just played it down for the day so as not to ruin it for everyone, she said she was ‘spotting’ but that could be normal. But when we got back (5 hours later! she genuinely didn’t want to ruin our day… very selfless… and a bit British), she explained that it had been very heavy and things were going badly.

We booked in for the emergency scan the next day, it was very hard sitting in a waiting room full of people also about to have their hearts broken. Everyone waited to have their initial chat and uncomfortable looking examination, then there was the scan and then back to the first nurse who had to tell us the news, using lots of soft gentle words that danced around replacing the harsher words that we both knew she was really saying.

waitingPerhaps the only person I felt for more than us was the poor nurse who’s job it was to break that news, the waiting room was full of people with our story or worse and everyone we saw come out was in pieces. I’m not sure how you would get up every morning to go to that job.

We got in the car and had a cry, we had a drive and had a cry, we formulated a genius day plan and laughed, sort of a bit, through a cry. Our plan was this:

Firstly we decided that we were not going to see this as a death or a person who was not to be, we were going to see this as nature understanding when to step in and stop something that was not supposed to happen, we were going to see this as the first hill to climb in the story of how we came to be parents, this was the beginning of a long story, not the end of a short one. I understand that many people would disagree with this but this is what we chose as our coping mechanism.

We knew that this day was always going to be a brutal day for us but we needed to fill it somehow and get to the end of it… So we devised another plan! Firstly we decided to ring the people that we had told early, her mum, brother and one of my friends so that, it was out the way and wasn’t going to loom over us or come at a point when we were not expecting it. Then we decided that we would buy and eat all the things that we had avoided during pregnancy, soft cheese, rare cooked meat, booze, a pack of fags (even though we had successfully quit months before), a trip to the pub, and another, then home. We invited her mum over, we laughed and cried and sang terrible karaoke from Youtube, listened to Tracy Chapman on Vinyl and talked about the future until we were tired and slept well… If you have to have the most terrible day ever, I highly recommend this as a schedule.

After that day, I did not feel sad, and I think we hit our first ‘man’ ‘woman’ difference and I was quite short sighted about it. She became sad and apprehensive and needed to process it over time. My ‘boy brain’ just made the very logical steps… We were happy, now she seemed sad, the sooner we got back to that situation we would both be happy again, and so thats what we should do. I didn’t consider her new fears about going through it again, or her natural worries that perhaps there was something wrong with her or she had somehow failed.

I became sad two weeks later and didn’t really recognise it, I became a bit withdrawn, things irritated me, I found it hard to support her, because I just wanted it to get back to how it was and I thought that she wasn’t trying to pick herself back up, I realise now that that was short sighted and self-absorbed. We eventually had a bit of a blow out argument and it finally fell into place and I hope I was supportive once I grasped the different ways in which we were processing the event. I would love to say that these things made us stronger and more prepared, but I’m not sure they did. They made us slightly more reserved with our excitement this time around and hesitant to plan ahead and dare to look at ourselves as parents together. This is something, I am going to try to work on.

But anyway, that is the sad bit out of the way, I thought it was important to include but I promise to to concentrate far more on the fun stuff from now on like how I can make her throw up by simply walking past her with a cup of coffee!

The Introduction

Last week I found myself in the most fortunate of situations, a situation that myself and my partner have been hoping for, for just over a year now, we have found that we are successfully pregnant.

Having previously believed that, with a year of hopes, thoughts and expectations, I would be entirely ready for this event. Now that I find myself here, I realise that of course, I am not prepared, not in the slightest.

So, I have decided, that while my beautiful and intelligent partner, who I could never deserve, (this isn’t a platitude, people literally tell me that… often… even my sister… not even in joke) as she, selflessly sacrifices her body and faces her innermost fears and apprehensions to bring into the world, the miracle of life, now, is my opportunity to support her by writing a blog gently poking fun at our most most intimate and private moments and generally trying to make this pregnancy more about me.

Firstly, let me introduce my partner, she is a celebrity, well, nearly. She has been on TV and if you Google her, she is the first page of Google Images, her job mean’s that she sometimes meets celebrities… So, she is celebrity-ish, to me certainly. She is incredibly driven and  at the top of her career, she got there early, through hard work and without any help and she always does more than what is expected of her.

She cares about people, she cares what people think, she cares about my seven year old son who is from a previous relationship and lives with us every weekend. This essentially means that for the last four years she hasn’t been out for a Friday or Saturday night at all, which is a sacrifice that she has never complained about or even mentioned and something that I have never brought up in case she hasn’t noticed and for fear that if she does, she will finally realise that my sister is correct in her analysis of our partnership.

She is brave, funny, thoughtful, motivated, sort of Laura Ashley-esque feminine and yet can pull off drinking a pint in a pub without looking out of place, however I am not writing her obituary so I don’t want to describe her too sycophantically, after all she breaks wind like everybody else… I can’t verify that, she hasn’t done so in front of me, but I bet she does sometimes.

…if you were going to twist my arm I could mention that although she gets ill very rarely, when she does, its proper Man Flu! Never a cold, even if it looks like a cold, it is NEVER a Cold! And she has that thing, that thing that very clever women have sometimes, where she can be discussing the finer points of a business decision to a level of complexity that I can barely keep up with and then the next moment exclaim: ‘I am going to have a boiled egg, I can’t remember how to do it, will I need a pan?’ I am not sure whether she does this because there are big chunks of general life knowledge that she has somehow entirely skipped, or whether she just asks me so that I can feel like I can definitely contributed to the conversation, as one might with a toddler.

Other than that, she’s perfect, it’s infuriating!

I, however, suffer from none of those traits! I’m not particularly career oriented, I am what you might kindly describe as over-educated but under qualified. I have spent most of my career working in the care sector in various roles. Which I guess means that I am caring, as long as it is for money.

I have four close friends but generally, if i can avoid people I will, at all costs, especially new people.

I am perhaps ‘well-meaning'(?) To give example of this. I once broke into a park at night to save a trapped dog, who then attacked me, after retreating, I phoned the Police to report  my worries about the poor animal. When they phoned back, the officer tried but failed miserably at keeping the laughter out of his voice when he explained that I had in fact, attempted to rescue the park’s guard dog.

Our Relationship? Great! We are best friends, we only argue about important stuff like who’s turn it is to put the blue bin out. I like action films, she likes romance so we settle on drama and are equally unsatisfied by all film nights. We both happily and consciously  teeter on the brink of armchair alcoholism, you know, a bottle of red wine between us more nights than not but if a second gets opened no one complains. We literally spend every moment out of  work together and it never feels too much, we often put the world to rights until the wee hours and forgive each other our shortcomings…

… And then along came The Bump.