Sunday, 29 December 2013

A year to the day since the fateful pregnancy test

One year ago today R took a pregnancy test. She had been getting positive ovulation tests for five days, which seemed a bit odd, as the ovulation window tends to be perilously short. I googled it and discovered that these positive readings can also mean pregnancy. I tried not to get too excited but casually mentioned it to R and encouraged her to take a test. It wasn't the first one we'd taken, but this one felt different. We were just back from a few days in Wales and set to host a New Year's Eve party the next day. 

R took the test kit into the bathroom and a few minutes later the following statement emerged:

"There's a very faint line, so I guess I'm not pregnant."  My heart stopped. Many of you will know that with an ovulation test, you're not properly ovulating unless the line is definite. However, with pregnancy tests, the rules are very different. She came in with the paddle she had just wee'd on to show me, and I breathlessly explained, once I'd looked at it, that she was probably pregnant. Silence. Neither of us knew what to say. We were expecting a baby. We hugged and no doubt talked all kinds of nonsense before calling our parents. 

From this moment, all would change!

And here we are, one year on, with a three and a half month old beautiful daughter with whom we celebrated Christmas in our new house. Here she is in her very first toy box. How very lucky we are! 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Top ten parenting milestones

Everyone who has a baby will be familiar with the idea of milestones - first smile, first sitting up, first steps, first words, first dry night etc etc etc. So, with that in mind I have devised some key parenting milestones:

1) Abject terror - some point in the six hours after you get your baby home and realise this is now your life. 

2) Projectile poo on several items of your own clothing thanks to your baby - week one

3) Develop ability to make cups of tea while still asleep - week two

4) Confusion because there are so many guidelines about feeding, sleeping and general safety that make logical sense but do not seem compatible with your baby - one to four weeks. 

5) Guilt about the above - four to six weeks. 

6) Decision made to stop feeling guilty about the guidelines you don't follow because you know your baby best - six to eight weeks. 

7) Look at newborn babies and barely remember that your child was once that small and new - eight weeks. 

8) Sense of achievement that you have finally nailed your baby's routine and have a much better idea of what you're doing - around ten weeks. 

9) Utter horror that everything has changed and your baby has stopped doing anything predictable suddenly - around three months. 

10)Sigh that this is your lot as a parent - around three months. 

Yes, I've been through all these (and many others). What are yours?

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Everyone has a good book inside them right?

They say that everyone has a book in them. Well, I can confirm that there is more than one in me! It's been fantastic writing this blog, and hearing feedback from you, my lovely readers. I only really started writing about my parenting experiences from a selfish perspective, as an outlet in a way. However, as I have carried in and my audience has grown, it has occurred to me that there is perhaps a book here. From what I gather there is pretty much nothing out there in mainstream literature about being the 'other mother' even though it's clear there is a hunger for information out there. So, here begins my bid to publish my story. 

What do you think? Would you buy it? (Please say yes!)

In my other life, before I was a parent, I published a novel called Four Movemenents, the extraordinary tale of an ordinary upright piano and its owners over 50 years. Download it on Amazin and see what you think:

The sun shines through

There are moments when parenthood is unremittingly tough. It's one long cycle of snot, puke, wee, puke and tears - I include myself in that! You wonder why on earth you did this thing to yourself. 

And then, your baby smiles, and you feel like the most amazing person on earth. You wonder why you felt so moany in the first place. You wonder how you possibly survived life without her and what purpose you had!!

Thank goodness the sunshine comes out. 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Attack of the germ fairy

I can safely say that the last two weeks have been thoroughly miserable. Poor M started it off with a nasty cold. The snot fest was quite spectacular, and after a few days she started a quite terrifying wheeze and cough. In the end I braved a two hour wait at the local walk-in GP surgery last Saturday morning. The doctor was dismissive to start with - he clearly thought I was behaving like a neurotic mum. Thankfully though once he'd listened to her chest he agreed all was not well and prescribed antibiotics. I was thoroughly relieved, especially as her temperature went up that afternoon. 

As she started to feel better, both me and R began to come down with the same nasty virus. In fact, less than a week later I was back at the same out of hours clinic with a bad asthma attack. R and M came with me because I wasn't well enough to go alone, even though it was late in the evening. The doctor however seemed less than sympathetic. She seemed to overlook the fact that I was struggling to breath and told me I was fine. She asked who R and M were, so I explained that R was my wife and M was my daughter. She furrowed her brow, and then referred to me as R's husband. I didn't have the breath or energy to contradict, but R did, explaining that I was also a wife! The doctor simply stated then that we were lesbians and that seemed to be the end of the matter for her - although not before telling us our daughter really ought to have a hat on. Never mind the fact that we were in a stuffy surgery...

M thankfully is now fully recovered, and R is well on the way to recovery herself. I'm slowly improving too, but I can safely say that all of us being ill at the same time has been utterly awful. 

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Vaccination day - brought to you by Calpol

We took M to have her first vaccinations today. No parent enjoys seeing their child upset, and inevitably, any baby is going to object to having injections, especially when she has no idea what is going on. She was actually very good, although she has been very grumpy and upset all afternoon and evening. It makes it hard to remember sometimes why we do it. But I have absolutely no doubt that we have done the right thing in having her vaccinated against diseases that are virtually unheard of in this day an age. But if course, that is why they are unheard of. 

One of the conditions she was vaccinated against today was Diphtheria. In the 1930s this was the third leading cause of death in children in England and Wales. My Nan, who was a child in the early part of the 20th Century had Diphtheria before the vaccine was available. Once diagnosed with the illness, her terrified mother arranged for her to go to a sanitorium, which is what happened at that time. It was a very dangerous condition and she was very unwell. I remember her telling me about the little girl in the bed next to hers, who also had Diphtheria. One day, her parents came in to see her, bringing a brand new very expensive doll as a gift.  The girl died later that week. Nan was, fortunately, one of the lucky ones. She was in the sanitorium for a long time, but she recovered. She lived into her late 80s. 

I feel so very lucky to live in a time and place where Diphtheria - among many others - is a disease from another generation. This is what I am remembering as I give my daughter Calpol to ease the discomfort she is feeling. 

Monday, 11 November 2013

Things they don't tell you about parenthood

In the run up to having a baby, there seems to be so much that people don't tell you about parenting. There are books, and everyone has advice, but there are critical gaps... For example, I never knew:

  1. How much I want to cry myself every time my baby cries for more than about 10 minutes in one go
  2. How long something needs to go in boiling water before it is properly sterile
  3. How you can manage to keep it sterile given that everything else in the household is not - including me and the baby
  4. Baby books are full of 'advice' about sleeping which bears no resemblance to real babies and how they behave
  5. Ditto the above re feeding
  6. Ditto the above re crying
  7. There is absolutely no rational way to parent
  8. Babies continue to be an absolute joy, no matter how much of the other rubbish goes on
  9. I have no idea what I did with my time before my daughter was born
  10. I am so very lucky. A report last week gave the statistic that 1 in 133 babies in England don't survive past a week old. A shocking figure, and one that I have witnessed to be true through the experiences of others. 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Back to work

M is eight weeks old today. I was so lucky to have four weeks away from work after she was born, but now I've been back for four more. I have to confess, the first week or two were tough. Disturbed sleep and a clear head do not go together, and inevitably, in my absence, a few things in my part of the company have gone awry. I spent a lot of the first few weeks clearing up a couple of messes. I'm in a lucky position, meaning I can work from home a day or two a week. This means I can spend time with M while offering support to R. I've even managed to be productive at home, which is a pleasant surprise. Looking after M between two people is vastly easier than on your own. 

M continues to be a joy. Rather marvellously she has started smiling at us in the last week, which is indescribably wonderful. The balance between work and parenthood isn't always easy, and I'm a little nervous about the upcoming week, where I'll be away from home overnight, leaving R to fend for herfelf for 36 hours. I have my fingers crossed that M will have a 'low maintanance' night and that I don't come home to find them both a bit frayed at the edges. 

Friday, 25 October 2013

Biology and race: a dangerous obsession

I warn you now, this is going to be a bit of a rant...

For the last few days we have all seen headlines like the one below in newspapers. 
I want to ask you to think about whether this headline would be acceptable were the word 'gypsies' replaced with 'blacks' or 'asians'. No, it doesn't seem right does it? That's because this is racism, pure and simple. From what I gather, the child seized in Greece has been taken by the authorities on the basis of being blonde and not connected to her parents by DNA. On that basis, presumably in a few years time I should expect Police to come sniffing around me and my daughter. She will almost certainly have different colouring to me and definitely has no DNA connection to me. That doesn't make her any less my daughter. I helped bring her into the world, change her nappies, cuddle her, care for her and fear for the future for her, as most parents do. Of course, I am not a Roma gypsy, and therein lies my safety. 

One of the most worrying things about this news story is the fact that on the back of this, two children closer to home, in Ireland, were taken from their Roma parents because they looked different to them. Following DNA tests they were returned. What kind of trauma is being inflicted on these families? I cannot even begin to imagine the horror of having one's child taken away. 

So where will this end? I urge you all to think carefully about what parenting is really about, because in my view it has bugger all to do with DNA or ethnicity. It has everything to do with love and responsibility. 

Thursday, 24 October 2013

All grown up (me, that is)

Our little girl is doing really well, and already I can't believe how much she has changed. She has grown upwards and outwards, can hold her head up and even treats us to a smile from time to time. Our lives have, naturally, changed. But, I think it has changed for the better.

Last weekend we went to a fancy dress harvest bash at one of the baby groups R takes M to. As you can see, she fitted right in. In fact, I'm beginning to think that R only had a baby in order to dress her up. I write this while a CD of nursery rhymes is playing and deciding which park M would most like to be taken for a stroll in.

In a few days time I will turn 35. I was thinking earlier of my 25th and 30th birthday celebrations, and my life as it was then. And I have decided I am now, officially, all grown up. I am now married to a wonderful woman and living in a lovely house with my wife and daughter. I have the joy of doing a fulfilling job and coming home to my family and, thankfully, not having to worry where the money is coming from. I know, it's all a bit Pollyanna, but genuinely, I am appreciative of my lot. Having a new baby isn't always easy, but it is definitely worth it.

Monday, 14 October 2013

This is my life

Yes, this is my life. Incredible highs where I can't imagine being happier and awful lows where I wonder what happened to the world. One particular low point was changing our bed sheets in the middle of the night because M's nappy exploded on them...

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

28 days later

Sleep deprived.

Poo and wee soaked. 

Cluster feeding.

Milk spots.

Nappy disasters.

Sleep debacles.

Caesarian recovery slow.

Crying (all three of us).

Deeply in love with my daughter. 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The new me

I've written a few times about the predictable cliches people come out with about having a baby. I have come to an alarming conclusion...

...they are all true!

So, let's get them out of the way: My life has changed beyond all recognition, I'm surviving on half my usual amount of sleep, it's hard work being a parent, I don't have room in my life for anything else at the moment etc etc. It is all, without question, wonderful, and I am very aware that while there are challenges, I am very lucky to have a baby at all. For some people, sleepless nights and poo-ey nappies are something unobtainable. I love my daughter, and can no longer imagine life without her.

M is 10 days old today and already my routine and approach to life has changed. Now, a few minutes to read the paper and drink tea while it is still hot is a rare luxury. My shower at the beginning of each day is something to savour, and at times, nights are something to dread. 

I think M is having a growth spurt at the moment. She is putting on lots of weight, and demanding feeds from R on an almost hourly basis. R is coping really well and now has the art of popping a boob out down to a fine art. She's only forgotten to put her top back up over her bra once so far...

I am lucky to be on parental leave for now. When I go back to work the routine will change again, but I will cross that bridge when I get to it. In the meantime I am concentrating on enjoying my daughter and looking after my wife. 

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Our new bedtime regime

New baby means new challenges. To start with, R is still recovering from her C section, which means that she has been sporting a rather fetching pair of surgical stockings. They are fiendishly hard to get on, and because of her wound (which is healing really well) I've been chief stocking putter-onner and taker-offer. She also came home from hospital with five pre-prepared injections to stave off DVT, along with a sharps bin. After about 30 seconds training from a nurse, I was let loose on my wife with a syringe. That was a bit scary. I'm generally quite a squeamish person, but given that last week I sat in on R's operation, an injection or two seemed less of a big deal!

M wasn't sure about sleeping in her cot to start with. Last night we discovered that she settles much more easily if we carry on talking. If we are all to sleep though, this isn't really sustainable! In the end I found an old Victoria Wood cassette to play her which did the trick. The things you learn...

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Six days old

My last post focused on the birth, and so now that M is six days old, I thought it might be good to fill in the gap since then. M is doing wonderfully. She was in hospital for a few days with R, and lost a little bit of weight to start with. R found feeding quite difficult to start with but is determined to breastfeed. She is doing a great job, especially since with a C section there is often up to a 48 hour delay for the milk coming in. Once home though, things began to improve. 

I don't need to write about the challenges of sleep deprivation. They are of course something of a cliche for new parents. I will however write about the joy if having my little family home. It's not always easy, but it is definitely worth it. There have been some wonderful moments already and I look forward to many more to come. 

Feeding is going better, but it is, without question not just a skill but a team effort. M is now putting on weight and doing very well. She is a surprisingly laid back baby given how traumatic her birth was. And while things didn't go to plan to start with, she is coping very well with the outside world. As for R, well, I don't think I've ever been prouder. She has dealt with our unexpected birth experiences and all the challenges so far brilliantly. She is without doubt a wonderful mummy. It will take her some time to fully recover from surgery, but she's healing beautifully. 

M is without question the most beautiful baby in the world (spot the cliche) and I am a very proud mama. The three of us have really enjoyed bonding. Long may it continue! 

Friday, 13 September 2013

The birth of my daughter: how it all happened

Our lovely daughter, M, was born on Sunday evening. A simple sentence but it encapsulates so much more than that!

R had mild contractions throughout Friday night. By Saturday afternoon they were much stronger so we started to use all the hypnobirthing and relaxation techniques we'd learnt. R did a wonderful job of managing the surges when they came. After about four hours of this we went to the birth centre, a lovely midwife led unit on the edge of the city, with a focus on natural births and water births. We stayed for about an hour but were then advised to get some rest at home for a few hours because there was still quite a long way to go. 

Several hours later we were back and things were definitely moving along. R's cervix was dilating slowly. By 9am she had progressed into 'active labour' and was able to get in the pool, which helped enormously with managing the surges when they came. A good friend came to help out and I managed to get a 30 minute nap. I'm glad I did. 

A few hours later progress wasn't as good as it should be, so the midwife suggested breaking R's waters. She felt a bit reluctant at first, because it was an intervention that she hoped to avoid. However, we wanted to avoid R and the baby getting too tired, so we went for it. That was the moment when everything changed. When the midwife said to her colleague: "grade three meconium" my heart sank. This means that the baby had done a poo inside R, which can be a sign that the baby isn't very happy and might be distressed. 

R was put into an ambulance to the hospital, which is just three miles away. I had to drive there myself, alone, in my car with its empty car seat. I immediately reversed into a bollard at the birth centre, such was my worry and general state. I wept on the drive there, hoping to get my tears out before R arrived. I knew I needed to be calm and strong for her sake.

Once at the hospital, I called our friend back to offer us a bit of moral support. R was now in quite intense discomfort. The staff were wonderful and totally supported her wish for a natural birth but soon it became clear she needed more help. She had now been in labour for more than 24 hours and was exhausted. Progress was still very slow and the doctors wanted to put up a drip to bring them on. After a long discussion, she decided to have an epidural. It would allow her to sleep for a while the drip took effect. For a few hours after that we had some rest. It was a good decision in more ways than one because suddenly the baby's heartbeat started to drop. It didn't recover very quickly, so quickly we were surrounded by about eight people in blue scrubs doing lots of tests and asking questions. The baby was clearly in distress, and after a quick blood test they were able to do on her head (clever huh?) they discover her oxygen levels were a little low.

It was then that R was recommended to have a caesarian section. Once she'd said yes - and really for both her safety and that of our daughter it was the only answer - she was whisked away to surgery. I had a little cry and was then myself taken to get into scrubs. Because she already had her epidural she was able to stay awake during the procedure which was great. As I waited outside the theatre for her to be prepared, I prayed out loud. I'm not sure I've ever done that before. I was terrified, but also knew that I had to hold it together. Whatever I was going through, it was much tougher for R and the baby. 

Within just a minute or two of me entering the theatre and sitting by R's head on the other side of the blue barrier, I heard my daughter cry. The relief was a physical experience. I cried yet again. She was put straight into R's chest for skin to skin and I just sat there with my two girls, glad that the nightmare of the last few hours was over. It had been truly terrifying. 

Soon the three of us were in the recovery area. We spent an hour, just the three of us, only interrupted occasionally by staff checking on R and M. It was the first bit of peace and quiet we'd had for hours and was just incredible. We had come through almost 48 hours of labour and emerged with a healthy, happy baby. She even managed to breast feed for 40 minutes which was a massive achievement!

By about 11.30pm it was time for me to go. R and M were taken to the ward and I once again returned to my car. I was exhausted, emotional and relieved. I drove home very slowly, almost blinded by the tears. Home felt oddly empty and it was strange thinking of my wife and daughter in a hospital ward. I rang my dad and told him all about what had happened, although I'm not sure I was speaking in full sentences. 

I was now a Mama. 

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

How to bring on labour...

Three days overdue and still no baby. So, I thought I would share with you all the means by which we've tried to kick start labour...

Curry (three curries actually) culminating in this evening's one - pictured - that made beads of perspiration gather on poor R's forehead. 

Raspberry leaf tea, which R has been drinking by the gallon. We don't have a tea strainer so she has delicately been draining it through a giant sieve. 

Dates - six of them every day. If they don't bring on labour, they certainly keep one regular...

Yoga - in particular, poses on all fours which involve hip circling. Disconcerting to come into the living room to. 

Induction massage which will include pushing and pulling and acupressure (or something). 

A sweep - this does not involve a brush of any kind much to R's relief. 

Walking everywhere. 

I'm sure there's something I've forgotten... 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

My baby was due today and...

...and no, the balloon didn't go up. When we woke up this morning R and I decided we needed to do something out of the ordinary otherwise we might find ourselves waiting.

We spent the day at a music festival locally, which was great fun. Lots of music, meeting friends, eating spicy food. Fabulous. Perhaps the pumping baseline and chillies might have an impact in the coming days. 

Tomorrow, assuming nothing happens overnight, I'm back to work in the bizarre situation of not having scheduled meetings because of impending parental leave. And then R and I will go and see the midwife, who will let us know what position the baby is in, which I always enjoy!


Friday, 30 August 2013

Waiting for the call...

Every day this week I have been on tenterhooks. Every time R texts or calls while I'm at work, every time she sighs or puts her hand to her tummy, I'm prepped and ready for action, adrenalin doing what it does best - making my heart quicken. 

So far no drama though, and I have been reminding myself that just 5% of babies come on their due date, which for us is Sunday. 

It's not just me - I rang my mum a couple of days ago, and I could hear the expectancy in her voice as she said hello. So now, at the beginning of all calls with our nearest and dearest, both R and I start with "nothing to report yet"... 

Indeed I had a text from R saying: "Can you call? (Not in labour) xxx"

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Top 10 things I've learnt as a mum to be

Avid readers will know that R is now 39 weeks plus 2 days pregnant. Sunday is the due date, which means that almost certainly Sunday will be spent impatiently waiting for something to happen only to wake up on Monday with baby bump still in situ. However, I thought I would take this opportunity to share my pregnancy learnings, before the new chapter of parenthood begins:

1. No one quite knows how to deal with a mum-to-be who isn't pregnant. At work last week someone felt it appropriate to ask me to 'explain again' how it is that I will be taking maternity leave in the next few weeks. It surely isn't that hard to understand - let alone same sex couples, what about all the couples who adopt?!

2. Being the non-pregnant partner can be quite tough. You get a lot of the emotional baggage of becoming a parent, without society's natural sympathy which is directed to pregnant women. 

3. More people than you expect will ask 'how did you do it?' We've almost always happily answered this question to hopefully demystify the process. Again though, it really isn't rocket science.

4. Everyone's an expert. No, really, they are. Even if they haven't had children, they will tell you exactly how pregnancy is, will be and what parenthood is like. 

5. Cliches become part of a depressing routine: get sleep now while you can; your life will never be the same again; you'll go to work to relax; if she's born on time she'll be oldest in her school year; you'll never get a full nights sleep again...

6. Horror stories are de rigeur - no one ever tells happy and uneventful birth stories. They always feel the need to share the horrific, dramatic and terrifying, conflating blue lights, sirens, drips, doctors, forceps, surgeons etc etc ad nauseum.

7. Babies need an inordinate amount of stuff. We now have a whole room full of what can only be described as 'baby equipment'. You start getting competitive with other parents about which buggy you choose. The fact that we've *not* opted for a travel system appears to be something of a political statement. 

8. Moving house seven weeks before the due date should be avoided at all costs. Ok, so it was the right move and we now actually have room for a baby, as well as a garden. It was worth it, but was by far the most stressful house move of my life. 

9. After a certain point, if you are in the pub (even having an innocent shandy), without your pregnant partner, you are teased for being irresponsible and 'leaving her at home'. She's pregnant, not ill!

10. The biological stuff means very little. When I set up this blog it started off by dealing with the fallout of me not being biologically linked to my child. It felt like a big deal to start with. But now, all those months on, I feel without question I am this child's Mama. The donor was just that, a donor. And while I am grateful for what he did, it is me who has supported R through the pregnancy, will sit by her side in the birthing suite, and bring up our daughter. Parenting is about proximity. 

Friday, 23 August 2013

Dear baby...

Dear baby, 

we're all ready for you and I know you're due on 1st Sept, but I really want to meet you soon. In fact I'm so excited about you I can't sleep. Mummy wants you to wait until Wednesday because she's going to a posh restaurant on Tuesday. But I just wanted you to know that I'm ready now. I've even read mummy's hypnobirthing book. So, if you want to come this weekend, that's fine. 

Can't wait to meet you and welcome you to our family. 

Love always (and impatiently),

Mama xxx

Tuesday, 20 August 2013


I feel a bit like a microwave that has just gone 'ping'! I am, whisper it, ready for baby. Followers of this blog will have read my hopes, fears, anxieties, rants and confusion. But here I am, less than two weeks from the due date, and I cannot wait to meet my daughter. 

It hasn't always been an easy nine months, but both R and I know it has been worth it. The bag is packed ready for the birth centre. The car has petrol in. I've stopped drinking so I can drive any time. We have a cot, clothes, pushchair, nappies, moses basket, toys and much more. We've done antenatal classes, breast feeding classes and practiced hypnobirthing and active birthing yoga. 

There is just one thing left: labour. 

Wish us luck!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Reasons to be fearful: 1, 2, 3

I've written about fear before, but now, two weeks from our due date, the fear is very different. It's the fear about how our lives will change. 

Yes, we chose this baby, we want and love her more than anything. But when she arrives everything will be different.  Forever. Every time we go past the theatre and see a play we'd like to go to we say "oh we must book tickets" and then realise that we won't be able to go out at the drop of a hat anymore. 

And whoever said "hell is other people" had a point. Or perhaps it should be "hell is mother people". Everyone seems so keen to tell us horror stories of screaming babies, sleep deprivation and life being fundamentally altered. And yes, if course I know that these things will happen from time to time. But I am desperately trying to keep hold of the love we will all share, and the wonderful things we will do. They don't tend to be the stories people tell so much though. 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

We're engaged!

Yes, it's true, baby's head has engaged according to our midwife (and the shooting pains Rachel's had in her pelvis). My mum was thrilled when I told her, and reminded me that she dropped her shopping in Finefair when my head engaged with her tiny pelvis. 

What is less encouraging is that this is no guarantee of a timely baby. It just means she's ready as and when the contractions start. To R's credit, she is doing everything she possibly can to usher her oxytocin levels into overdrive, including drinking raspberry leaf tea, eating dates, doing yoga and hypnobirthing us all into oblivion. 

In other news, is it just me or is the TENS machine a teensy weensy bit scary? It made me squeal when I tried it out...

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Jealous of maternity leave...

R started her maternity leave yesterday and if I'm honest, I'm quite jealous. I'm trying hard to be a supportive partner and prepared parent-to-be while carrying out a demanding job effectively. R is now able to focus herself totally on the baby, and I really wish I could too. I definitely have moments currently where I feel I'm failing in all of my roles of mum, wife and employee. 

I am so glad that R is now able to relax a bit more now. Our little baby is definitely fully baked as we have reached the 37 week mark. So now, she can put her feet up, let the Oxytocin flow, and wait for things to begin... Hopefully I'll start to relax a bit too as we approach the due date in two and a half weeks. I won't hold my breath though. Life is about to change dramatically, as everyone keeps telling us, and I am somewhat concerned about the impact sleep deprivation will have on us. 

I am trying to keep my mind focused on taking our little bundle for a walk in the local park in her pushchair when the storm has died down. 

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The dominance of dads...

Dads are great. I love my dad, and I am really enjoying my relationship with him as I grow older. Talking to him as I prepare to become a parent has been really helpful and enriching. It is odd though, as I travel ever deeper into parenthood, that I am beginning to resent the word 'dad'. I shouldn't really, but on Saturday R and I went to look at the birth unit we hope to have our daughter at in (whisper it) around three weeks time. It was a gorgeous centre, very patient focused, more like a spa than a hospital, and culturally sensitive in almost every regard. The one regard that seemed to be overlooked was the fact that even though R and I were holding hands and talking about our baby, the woman showing us round continued to talk consistently about 'mum and dad'. 'Dads will be able to...' etc. I'm now used to the odd inevitable slip of the tongue in antenatal classes, but it is always followed by an apologetic glance and then the reinforcement of the words 'parent' and 'birth partner', which reassures me that I have been acknowledged.

At this birth centre though I may as well have been invisible. We were only a small group, maybe five couples, and we were inevitably the only same sex couple. However, it seemed truly odd that a centre that prides itself on person centred care and cultural diversity should ignore me and R completely in so many ways. I have no doubt that as and when we arrive there ready to give birth, the midwives will be brilliant, and I am glad we have chosen the centre. But, surely it could be made more welcoming to the 'others' like me?

Alongside this, all magazines have 'daddy' pages, which I actually find really useful to read. They offer really handy tips about supporting someone who's just given birth. But once, just once, wouldn't it be nice if there was another mother on one of those pages too?

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

I kid you not - the things you learn as a mum to be

No one tells you about perineal massage...

...yes, that's right, it's a thing. 

And there's a handy demonstration video too:

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Eight months pregnant: how did that happen?!

Oh how time verily flies when you are busier than Father Christmas during the Festive season... Yes, that's right, R is now eight months pregnant and we are just four and a half weeks from the due date. 

What have we been up to? Where have we been? You may well ask... (Actually you may not, but I'll tell you anyway.)

We have explored the delights of being the only same-sex couple in our antenatal class. I must say though, it was well worth it. What I don't know about the three phases of labour (yes, count them, three) isn't worth knowing. We were then the only same-sex couple in the breast feeding class. Scratch that, we were the only couple. I felt for the rest of the mums to be, all alone. I got to practice with a doll and everything! That bit was good. The slightly fascist breast feeding teacher was a bit much to take. The general message seemed to be 'breastfeed or die'. Now while I agree that it is ideal, it really isn't the be all and end all. 

We have also (whisper it) moved! Yes, that's right, seven weeks before R's due date we moved out of our two bedroomed flat into a three bedroomed house. It has been hard work - see image to get an idea of what I've mostly been doing - but it has been well worth it. We now have a garden and a room just for baby. 

The birthing bag is now packed and we are, sort of, ready. Obviously I realise that no one is ever really ready, but we've done all we can.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Babies are *so* controversial...

I'm not quite sure how it has happened, but we much now own about 20 pregnancy/baby books. People have been keen to share with us their personal favourites, which has been lovely, but of course they all give different advice. In fact one book that has divided opinion just in the last couple of days is one about the Gina Ford method. Basically, this is about routine, routine, routine. In the space of 24 hours one couple has raved about it, and another person has pretty much disregarded it!

And as for car seats versus travel systems versus prams versus iso-fix... My head it spinning!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Do I even exist?

We had a wonderful time in a sleepy Continental village last week, savouring the sunshine and peace and quiet. As babymoons go, it was pretty good. However, in the staunchly Catholic environment I found myself vanishing. Everyone wanted to talk to R about the baby and when she was due to give birth. She has quite a spectacular bump now. Every time they spoke to her though, they looked at me, and then looked away, not sure of my role. One man even asked R if she was married, and even though she explained she was married to me, he seemed confused as to where the husband was.

I'm slowly growing used to the uneasy looks of people who aren't quite sure if I'm a friend or some kind of hanger-on. I guess it has meant I haven't needed to answer any of the inevitable parent-to-be questions about sleep deprivation and whether I'm excited. But even so, I felt pushed out of the picture. What's more concerning perhaps is that I didn't push myself back into the picture, I just let them get on with it. After all, I don't know them. But all of a sudden I think that perhaps I have a responsibility to educate them. But then, is that my job? It's all so tiring!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Time for a babymoon.

Yes, it's true, a 'babymoon' is a thing. What is usually a holiday and occasionally a honeymoon is called a babymoon if you do it just before your baby is born apparently.

We're off on Friday to somewhere suitably warm and continental to celebrate our last sunshine and lounging in the sun holiday before the baby arrives. R will be 27 weeks pregnant, so our last chance to fly before the magical 28 week cut off when airlines refuse to take pregnant women in case they pop in mid air. Or something like that...

I'm really looking forward to our week away. We've already started talking about next year's holidays, which will be a very different affair, for all the right reasons. For now though, I am looking forward to sleeping, drinking, eating, reading and generally enjoying peace and quiet. 

And yes, I *know* I should enjoy it while it lasts - that's the point!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Baby stuff is taking over my life: Part 1

I made a terrible mistake yesterday. 

Rather than spending a sunny afternoon in the local park, appreciating peace and quiet with my new wife while I still can, I went to the NEC for the Baby Show.  I can safely say I have never seen so much mind-boggling baby stuff at the same time as so many determined parents and parents-to-be. You've never known fear until someone has walked towards you at pace, pushing a pram laden with organic, home made, personalised nappies...

We did manage to get a few things in preparation for the arrival of our daughter though, which was good. But, ultimately, I think the most productive baby thing we did this weekend was chat to our baby. I put my head by R's tummy and could hear little pops and gurgles as our baby wriggled around.  It was amazing! I am growing to suspect that this is more helpful than running around trying to buy baby stuff...

Saturday, 27 April 2013

News flash! We're having a girl!

At our 20 week scan, we found out that we're having a girl. We were thrilled with the news (although of course we would have been delighted with a boy too). So we are to be an all female household - imagine the hormones in about 15 years time...

It has been lovely beginning to get a sense of who our baby is, and we have been able to delight in looking at gorgeous girls' baby clothes. One slight disadvantage of all this though is that my mum has decided that she doesn't want to know what we're having. My parents have been staying with us this weekend, and every conversation seems to have a potential gender pitfall in it. It's been very stressful! I think there have been a few wobbles along the way, but I think/hope she is still in the dark as to whether we're growing sugar and spice or puppy dogs tails.

In reality we know that she will make her own way in the world, and I would like to think that her gender will not hold her back. I want her to feel free to be herself, wear whatever she wants and have the life that she wants.

Friday, 19 April 2013

My wriggly baby

We had our 20 week scan this week. It was incredible to see the baby in such detail, although it wasn't easy for the radiographer to do all her checks because our little one is a real wriggler. You can see in the photo above, the baby is facing downwards - that's the head on the right. Happily, the scan went well and baby is developing well.

R is beginning to feel the baby moving around now, which is quite exciting for us both. I feel much more at ease as well. As readers of my previous posts will know, I have done a lot of thinking about the kind of parent I will be, and the impact of my not having a biological connection to my child. But, as time goes on, these worries and thoughts have receded. Having been through the pregnancy every step of the way with R, I really feel like this baby is every bit as much mine as it is hers.

Our time now is spent on practicalities - making room for a cot, getting rid of stuff we don't need, and making connections with other parents-to-be. One of the great things about living where we do is that we are able to be part of a gay families group which meets at our local LGBT Community Centre. It has been a great source of support, and I have no doubt that this will continue.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Guest post: Mummy not mama for once!

B has asked me to write a guest post for this blog and I thought that readers might be interested to find out my story and how I became Mummy not Mama.

Before B and I got together I was in a relationship with a man for three years. As I've always wanted to have a child and had been clear about this I broached the subject with Peter (not his real name) after we'd been living together for a year or so. Although Peter was committed to me and our relationship he wasn't able to definitely commit to us having a child together and getting married and this was too open ended for me. It was for these reasons that I ended the relationship.

Where is this leading? Well, B and I had been friends for a couple of years already during this and knew where we both stood independently in relation to wanting to have a child and getting married before we got together. When we did get together a few months later this meant that we already knew having a child was important for both of us.

Some of my family, friends and colleagues were a bit surprised or confused when B and I got together however. I'm also not sure how well Peter and his family took the news at first. Although I've always been bisexual, B is my first relationship with a woman so maybe the concept of there being two mums for a child was completely new for some of those people. I remember that I had to learn about all the different options available to us to have a family as this was also quite new to me so I empathise with others when they don't really know or understand how it works. This is useful to have been through as if I ever get comments whereby people assume that we've used IVF I have more patience to try and explain to them how we went about getting pregnant (if they want to know).

It took a little while for some people to fully get it and my dad had to do a bit of explaining to some family members who were confused but for whatever reason hadn't felt they could ask me about it directly. I've always tried to be open about mine and B's experience and since I've become pregnant I find that it's best to make it clear that I'm happy for people to ask me as many questions about it as they like. I've found that lots of people are curious to find out more and I'm sure that this will help more widely with understanding and acceptance of children who have two mums.

So where do those slightly confused people in my life stand now? I think that they can see how happy I am and that they see beyond B's gender and just see her as being the best parent figure for our child that I could ask for. This is why I'm proud to be Mummy with a Mama not a man.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Choosing a nursery

Yesterday R and I went to look around three nurseries in our local area. Yes, she may only be 19 weeks pregnant, and we probably won't need to worry about childcare for another 18 months, but it seems now is the time. Indeed, one place we looked around is booked up until September 2014!

Fortunately we are in a position that R can take somewhere between nine months and a year off to look after our baby after he/she is born. But after that, she hopes to return to work on a part time basis. I may also look to reduce my hours. This would still mean we'd need at least two days childcare a week, if not three.

So we started looking at places yesterday. There are a myriad of things to think about, where should the nursery be? Should it be large or small? Should it pay particular attention to education? What sort of food will it serve? Will our child be happy there? My sister and brother-in-law chose a small nursery on the basis that they are both quite shy and thought that their baby might also be that way inclined. As it happens, our nephew is no shrinking violet, and happy to socialise with anyone. But how would they have known that?

None of the nurseries seemed to be concerned by our child having two mums, although it became apparent that we will have to think of a recipient for the inevitable fathers' day card our child is helped to make. (I vote for me.) Our only real disappointment was that there were virtually no male staff in the nurseries we saw. It seems such a shame. There won't be a man about our house, so for the sake of diversity, we'd like to make sure our child is exposed to some positive male role models beyond our own fathers.

Ultimately we will go with our gut response. All the nurseries were lovely, but one was lovelier than the others for reasons we cannot put our finger on. Heaven only knows what our feelings will be in 18 months time!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

What about me?

One of the challenges of being the partner of a pregnant woman is finding your role. R gets to be part of this secret society of women who give each other knowing looks, roll their eyes in unison and shake their heads over things such as pelvic floors and pregnancy pillows. As a woman, I reckon I have an advantage, and indeed R and I have done synchronised pelvic floor exercises in recent weeks. Every little helps...

However, I don't seem to have an automatic role, which is sometimes challenging. The first question, understandably, that anyone asks me is how R is. There is an assumption that I am fine and that I'm just there, making cups of tea and soaking up the stress. I guess that is what I am doing to a certain extent. But sometimes, it is hard to work out what I should be doing when I am sleeping like a log and R is yet again tossing and turning all night. People rush to ensure that R has a seat and carry bags for her, which is fantastic, but I do feel like a spare part from time to time.

As you will see from previous posts, I do feel from time to time that I don't have an automatic community. I'm not a 'dad' but I'm not a 'mum' in the traditional sense either. I fall between two stools really. Most of the time that's quite nice, leaving me to find my own way and do it the way feels right. I hope that R feels supported, and I am fortunate that when I have a 'parental wobble' she is there and willing to listen.

Last week we grabbed a bit of unexpected sunshine and sat outdoors. We talked about what each of us will do with our baby when he/she arrives. It was lovely to really start to think of ourselves as a family. In just a few months that is what we will be.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Happy Easter - new life!

Easter is a very evocative time for me. A marking of death and sacrifice, and celebration of new life. In just 22 weeks, all being well, our little baby will be born. New life in our little family.

I remember childhood Easters in Cornwall with my sister, parents and Grandparents, in an old house where the plugs had round pins rather than square ones. This Easter is without question less sunny than those ones!

Our baby is going to be lucky, as it will have three full sets of grandparents. We have decided against being too precious about who is or is not 'officially' a grandparent - we certainly can't do it purely along bloodlines. All three sets of grandparents-to-be are excited to meet the new arrival and I am safe in the knowledge that my parents feel as much involved with this pregnancy as with my sister's.

So, as is now tradition, I must say that by this time next Easter, our baby will be six months old!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

My baby's heart beat

I heard my baby's heart beat on Monday. It was extraordinary. Every now and again between the rhythmic beats there were little pops and clicks. They were the sound of our little tyke wriggling around.

I've been thinking very much about our child today. I've had a shockingly bad day at work, and R reminded me that there are much more important things to think about - such as our baby. She's right. In just five months I will have a son or daughter. Really, compared to a bad day at work, that's just incredible. It's fascinating how quickly priorities change isn't it?

Only three weeks now until our 20 week scan where the midwife will check for any problems and also, hopefully, tell us if we are expecting a boy or a girl. We do want to know, although we really don't have a preference. I can't wait to find out, but of course then we will face the inevitable name discussions...

So, now, when things get tough at work, I'm going to think again about my baby's heart beat.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Call the Midwife!

So perhaps our midwife doesn't actually look like this... But we are off to see her tomorrow. R is now 17 weeks pregnant so tomorrow we are going to check in with our midwife at the local GP surgery.

I'm feeling quite excited, as we should be able to hear the baby's heart beat for the first time. It's an odd thing really, expecting a baby. R's tummy is definitely growing, and we have seen the little baby on a scan screen, but sometimes you can forget there's a real little person in there. I'm looking forward to hearing our child tomorrow for the very first time. I am sure that will make everything feel very real.

There is also that sense of anxiety that comes before any check up or scan. Everyone knows that these appointments are to just reassure everyone that mummy and baby are doing well, but you can't help but think about what happens if that isn't the case.

No doubt poor R will have to give lots of samples of blood for testing and the inevitable wee in a pot. I will sit and try and ask useful questions and smooth her brow if that seems necessary. I would like to think that we will leave the clinic wiser as to our little baby's health and happiness.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Guest post: Our family tree

I hadn't really given much thought to what our family tree will look like, but one of this blog's followers, Kate, has looked into it. Here, in a guest post, is her experience.

Having recently discovered this blogspot I thought I’d share a few discussions my wife and I have had over the past 3 years ( DD, will be 2 years next week). One of the elements of DD’s development we have spent hours thinking about is her identity.

With family history being en vogue we wanted her to have a family tree that was true to her biological heritage as well as recognising my role in her life. After all she shares my name so how about my family history and future?

We came up with the idea of building a family tree that incorporated three family lines, both her mums’ as well as her donor’s. Although there were times when it was tough for me to accept, she does have a fantastic donor she will hopefully see periodically throughout her life.

We gathered our own data and were lucky enough that our donor was also able to provide information dating back 2-3 generations that he was happy for us to have and share with our daughter as she gets older.

It has not been easy to try and put this together and it is not a particularly clean or tidy genogram but it will hopefully go some way to helping her make sense of who she is and bring with it an element of pride.

Of course another advantage we have with a known donor is that we are aware of DD’s half siblings. The plan is that we will all try and meet up at least once a year and the children will develop a relationship with one another. The other benefit being we have other lesbian mothers we can get support from although we can’t help looking out for little similarities in our children.

Thanks very much to Kate for sharing her story - both the easy and difficult bits. Have you created a family tree?

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Top ten comments on discovering you are expecting a baby

When you discover that a friend is expecting a baby, what do you say? Think carefully, and then read the comments below. These are the ones that R and I now have stock answers for...

  1. Well, that will change your life forever. Yes, marvellous, thank you for that, we hadn't realised...
  2. Is it a boy or a girl? We don't know yet.
  3. Will you find out? Yes, but we don't mind either way.
  4. Well, make the most of any sleep you get now, in a few months you won't get any. Excellent, that's very helpful. Thank you.
  5. When is it due? September.
  6. Did you have IVF? This is one for those of us who don't have an obvious man in our lives. The answer is no.
  7. Ooh, children are a gift aren't they? Yes they are. But I am not sure I need to hear that phrase ever again.
  8. Let me tell you about my traumatic/unpleasant/painful/tragic childbirth story... No, please don't.
  9. To R when she is feeling ghastly: Oh you look really well. Nope, she's not, she feels like death warmed up. Thanks though.
  10. Will you move to a bigger place? No - having a child is hard work enough without moving house too. 
I am tempted now to refer everyone to this link. Yes, I know I sound churlish. In fact I am totally guilty of some of the above myself. Perhaps we could come up with some alternatives?

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Donor etiquette...

I had an odd thought the other day...

Someone I know who is in a same sex relationship asked if me and R might share some of our conception experiences. I of course said yes - anything we can do to ease someone else's path. We were fortunate to have similar help from friends.

It was at that point I thought that we had the perfect sperm donor to recommend - as though I was recommending a lumber or something. A very odd concept.

What is the etiquette here?!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

What does the donor look like?

No one has actually asked me directly what our sperm donor looks like, but I do know that my Aunt, once I had shared our good news, immediately called my parents and asked them.

She wanted to know his colouring, his build and, no doubt, his intelligence. There is, undoubtedly, something curious about having a child enabled by someone you barely know. Incidentally my parents replied that they didn't know and that it really wasn't relevant to them. Full marks!

If we had conceived through a clinic, the donor's appearance would just have been summarised on clinical notes, whereas we met ours on a number of occasions. I must confess to feeling very fond of our donor. For all sorts of reasons it would be impractical to be friends with him going forward, but in another life I can see how we could have been friends. That said, I do wonder if my fondness comes from his selfless generosity.

Fred (as discussed before, not his real name) is in a relationship and doesn't want children. He does however see the challenges some people face who want them, and enjoys helping them. He doesn't want a formal role in the child's life, and that is fine with us. Both R and I have very good male friends and are close with our own fathers, so our baby will have no shortage of male role models. In addition, he or she will have two loving parents who worked very hard to have a child. This truly was no accident. A lot of thought went into it.

So I'm not going to describe our donor here, beyond saying that he is a kind and generous man who has enabled our dreams to come true.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

The fear...

Are you expecting a baby? Is your partner expecting one? Or perhaps you are soon to adopt a child. Whatever your scenario, at some point you will come across 'the fear'.

It began quite early on for me. Our lovely two bedroom flat is already a bit of a squeeze, and in order to fit in a baby and all the ensuing detritus, we're going to need to either move somewhere bigger or do a life laundry. In order to prevent nervous breakdowns all round, we have opted for the former. This all sounds perfectly reasonable, but of course pregnancy is nature's way of setting a ticking time bomb that you have no control over. We have just five months left now to sort out our lives. Hence, 'the fear'.

'The fear' is that hot sweaty sensation you get in the night when you realise you have no idea where you're going to put a folded buggy.

'The fear' is the moment that people ask which nursery you will use - yes, apparently we should already know this.

'The fear' is that growing sensation that nothing will be the same again.

I am slowly learning that I will not be a perfect parent, nor indeed is it possible to be one. With this lesson, 'the fear' gets smaller, although I will no doubt still wake up in a cold sweat tonight about whether or not to get a bumbo seat...

Sunday, 10 March 2013

My thoughts on Mothering Sunday

Here in the UK it is Mother's Day, or as my own Mum prefers to call it, Mothering Sunday. It does make it sound more spiritual, although it does make me feel as though we ought to mark it in church or something which we haven't done.

R and I sent our own Mothers' cards, and we also sent each other little 'mum-to-be' cards. It's funny to think that, all being well, by Mother's Day 2014 we will have a little baby of our own.

As those of you who have read previous posts will know, I started this blog to try and make sense of my role as the non-biological child that my wife, R, is currently pregnant with. We are 15 weeks pregnant today and contemplating how our lives will change. One of the wonderful things I have discovered about writing this blog, is how many people feel similarly to me. It has been fantastic reading comments and tweets from people sharing their very diverse experiences.

One thing that has become abundantly clear, and that I have found enormously comforting, has been that while I won't share the biological and birth giving connection to my child that my wife has, I will have my own bond with my son or daughter, she she will not have. We will have our own very special roles, neither one more important than the other. This has been a rather delightful revelation to me. So, no, the child won't have my green eyes, but it may well share my sense of humour. And while R will have the connection of breast feeding, I will be the one, while R is on maternity leave, that the baby will enjoy returning home from work.

Finally, this Mothering Sunday, I'd just like to take a moment to think about those who aren't mums and wish they were, or those whose mums are no longer with us. I always think this must be a very tough time for them.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

But we're not infertile!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, at the beginning of the process we did look into having artificial insemination at a clinic. We would need to pay for it, but we reasoned that the expert care and experience of the doctors would be an advantage. In addition the sperm would be pre-screened and legalities would all be covered.

Simple yes?

We had high hopes initially, in spite of the letter that invited us to the 'Infertility Clinic'. It felt a touch negative, but we swept that aside and looked forward to finding out all about our options of starting a family.

We went in to see the doctor, who didn't even look up from his papers as he said "female couple looking for artificial insemination yes?" We sat down, a bit unnerved by his detached approach. He then proceeded to tell R all the many millions of tests she would need, some uncomfortable and invasive. This all seemed a bit like overkill. Surely she didn't need those tests unless we thought there was a problem? Apparently not. She was treated like every other woman who darkened his door, and that's not about his commitment to equality, but a reflection of his assumption that all women are the same. They are not.

We asked him to slow down and talk through exactly what each test was, what it involved and why it was necessary. Then, without asking, he booked R in for them. I could see she was already beginning to feel upset. This was not the happy, exciting open discussion we had been looking for.

We left, feeling that this simply was not for us. I hasten to add at this point that I suspect had we seen someone else or been to a different clinic things may have been very different. The things that clinics such as this are able to do for couples with fertility issues is incredible. Even so, I suspect they're not overly keen on being seen in the 'infertility' clinic...

So, we put the clinic on the back burner. We would revisit should we have trouble conceiving. We have been massively fortunate to be able to conceive with minimal medical input, but still, there must have been better way that appointment could have gone.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

So in this day and age it's easy to get LGBT children's books right?

We've been thinking through all the 'stuff' we're going to need for when the baby arrives. The life laundry has begun, and we're already saying farewell to surplus objects that seemed like a good idea at the time. Why we felt the need to have three spare mobile phones hanging around is a mystery to me...

I was reassured yesterday that babies actually don't need that much stuff, and in fact a lot of the perceived need is market driven. That is a useful thing to keep in mind. Facebook hasn't worked out I'm going to be a mother yet, so I have yet to have the pleasure of constant baby ads. The wedding ones last year were bad enough...

One thing we do want to do though is make sure we have plenty of story books for both our child and others that show other families 'like us'. Sadly, they are depressingly thin on the ground. I've had to resort to Amazon. One of my faves is Mommy, Mama and Me by Leslie Newman. It is American, as many of these books are - nothing wrong with that, although some of the references don't quite work. But finding a British one seems nigh on impossible. The most beautiful that I know is And Tango Makes Three, based on the true story of two boy penguins in a New York City zoo who brought up a baby penguin. There is a theatrical interpretation of that story at our local arts centre this weekend and we're really looking forward to going, along with some other LGBT parents and parents-to-be.

Delightfully, I have found that some classics have been reinterpreted - for example Goldilocks and the three bears who are now two mums and baby bear. But in all fairness, I could count on one hand the number that I found. Am I looking in the wrong place?

If you have any suggestions of books for any children under 10 which include LGBT characters, please, I implore you, let me know!

Monday, 4 March 2013

What's in a name?

A phone call last week:

Me: hello mum, I just thought you'd want to know that me and R have chosen our names for when the baby comes. Do you want to hear them?

Mum: Don't you want to keep them secret until the baby is here? I feel a bit superstitious about knowing names before he or she is here...

Me: no mum, we've not even got that far yet. I mean the names for us, what the baby will call us!

This is something that most straight couples don't go through. Yet, for us, people often ask us what we will be called, and in turn, we ask other same-sex parents what they do.

We had several options, including:
1 - just being 'mum and dad'. This was swiftly discounted as it could confuse the child, and perhaps other children too. I do have a strange fondness of the 'dad' name though, although I feel faintly disloyal about that...
2 - being 'mummy S and mummy R'. This seemed a bit long winded, and a bit too contrived.
3 - being 'mum' and 'mummy'. This felt too similar.
4 - being 'mummy' and 'mama'. To start with I wasn't sure. But then I realised something... Children always say 'mama' before mummy, and so the baby will say my name first! In addition, I have decided that if the child ever says 'dada', I'll claim that as me too.

Ultimately, at some point, my son or daughter will make their own mind up about what to call us, regardless of what we choose, and so much the better!

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Mood swings anyone?

Pages of pregnancy books are devoted to the emotions of the mother-to-be and some of the challenges she can face. She is dealing with the enormity of the forthcoming arrival of parenthood, worries about the baby, physical symptoms of pregnancy and, of course, hormones. They are right to devote those pages. The pressure on pregnant women is immense.

What is very rarely discussed is the emotional impact on the other partner. In one of the pregnancy books we've got, there's a section on how the father-to-be might get a bit worried about the impact a new baby might have on his cricket and football playing, and going down the pub with his mates... Personally, I can't relate to that, although it did make me smile. More recently though I've begun to have my own stresses.

Will I be able to provide for the child?

Will I be a good enough parent?

How will we ever get our home ready in time for the baby's arrival?

How can I support R best?

If R is in a bad mood, is it a failing on my part?

This is supposed to be a happy and exciting time. Why am I so stressed?

Which all leads to guilt!

R has definitely had moments of being tearful, snappy and perhaps *whispers* irrational. But she's not alone. I have too. I think it is safe to say that *both* R and I have been able to tick off quite a few of those pregnancy emotions.

Not so long ago I read that depression and anxiety during pregnancy is more common in mums than postnatal depression. I can believe it. But I think it has a further reach than just the pregnant party.