Monday, 28 July 2014

Four weeks to go...

JUST one month left, one month before our lives change forever! It only seems like two minutes ago since an excited wife came bounding into the bedroom clutching a little bit of plastic with a blue cross.

Fast forward and the cause of that blue cross is now a living, breathing, wriggly little human who is exploring his house in great detail.

J has been breech for about 10 days and was on the last scan but over the weekend it appears our little boy is bored of the new position he found and is off discovering where else he can visit. Of course he never forgets to either lie on or push his feet against that lovely squishy thing next door (aka mummy's bladder)

In the last few weeks I have marvelled at how much her belly moves when he does, yes at first all you can think of is the Alien movies but after a while it's a source of wonder.

I will miss his little thumps and kicks when he is with us, my tummy time is the highlight of the day some days for me, Pam insists he often is soothed by hearing my voice although I highly doubt it - I've never soothed in my life!

Things are progressing so well on his room, we ordered the carpet on Saturday and it's being delivered and fitted TODAY (Monday) such speedy service!

We also brought a Cosatto changing table from the lovely staff at Babies R Us in Oldbury at the weekend who kindly brought the box down so I could see if it would fit in the back of our little KA.

Pictures to come, my DIY skills are to be employed this coming weekend so expect complete disaster and much swearing!

It's time the spare room became spare once again and not Baby J's warehouse of stock we have brought, been given, stole (only joking)

Because four weeks from now, the room will have a little person in it....

Friday, 25 July 2014

I'm thinking of a career change

WOO HOO 50 POSTS!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway now that is out of the way, I can start talking sense...what do you mean that would make a change???

I'VE had a strange feeling the last few days, the feeling that I want to leave my career behind and go down a different path, that of a male antenatal teacher.

This experience preparing us for J's arrival has really opened my eyes and shown me what an important role dads have for their partners through the pregnancy, birth and beyond.

But I have also seen how men can become disconnected with the process, like when you are virtually ignored at midwive appointments and the like.

And I don't know whether it's the giddyness of becoming a dad or just frustration with my current job as a local journalist but I really am thinking of retraining to become an antenatal teacher.

I have had so much help from the likes of Dean Beaumont at DaddyNatal and through the NCT course it has made me think what I can do to help other men becoming dads for the first time.

Without both courses I would be really dense about parenthood and while I appreciate there are many great dads like my good friend Craig aka @ADayInThisDadsLife who did no classes at all, some men (me) do need to learn the basics before baby's arrival.

It was interesting to talk about it at our most recent NCT class and even more so to find Isabelle our teacher was in full support and questioned why there were not more male antenatal teachers in the UK.

Pregnancy highlights the difference between the sexes in my opinion. Women are concerned about their changing body but begin to bond with their baby from a very early stage and obviously have all the attention, as they should.

Men are congratulated and have to make the connection themselves such as touching her belly and talking to the bump but experience no body changes other than the well known sympathy belly...that's my excuse anyway!

It's easy for a man to become disconnected and not involved, none of the changes actually happen to you but there is so much you can do be a great dad before your baby is even born.

I've learned that and do feel like I want to maybe pass on my knowledge to other dads to be, a brave move I know and could be a silly idea but hey, it would be a radical career change!

My biggest fear is...

NAPPIES, there I said it. I am not scared of not feeding him, killing him, exposing him to a deadly virus (ooo someone watched too much 24!) but I am frightened about changing J's bum.

The amount of nappy related dreams I have had this pregnancy has now caused  a real fear, from putting it on the wrong way to not being able to seal it up - I think I am going to be a disaster in the blast zone.

Everything looks just so fiddly and combine that with a wriggly baby, it is the recipe for disaster.

I had the chance to tackle one (on a doll but they all count) at the NCT class and was so fingers and thumbs I swear the plastic child on the changing met did another wee while I was fiddling about!

I need to practice before J's arrival and have contemplating asking my Twitter friends if I can pop round when it's bum change time but realised that would be a jolly good way to lose said friends....

I am stuck, I am throwing myself on the blogging fraternity here to ask for tips and advice but please can someone tell me they felt exactly the same when their partners were pregnant.

I think it's because the feeding will probably be taken care of by Pam herself, I am viewing tackling the end zone as my role in this parental comedy.

The worse thing is I am not actually bothered or even thought about what smells await yet or getting weed on, not that I have fetish for that sort of thing you understand! More that these 'worries' have taken so much of my time up I haven't yet contemplated what delights J has stored up for me.

Any help or support would be greatly appreciated and if anyone has the number for Nappy Changers Anonymous that would be great....

I did find this thanks to Tesco Baby Club so anyone with the same fear, here's a stress reliever of sorts!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Pam's last day at work

ANOTHER landmark reached today as my dear wife is currently halfway through her last shift at work before maternity leave.

To say she is both excited to be stopping - no more early mornings for a few weeks and no standing on her feet all day - is an understatement.

But also she is rather sad and a little nervous about going off into the great unknown, you see Pam always has to be at her work, she enjoys holidays yes but she is a worker.

I think it is the fear of the unknown as well, she has never been in this position and perhaps early nerves about becoming a mum?

We are both very excited about welcoming J into the world but nervous as well, understandable for first time parents or just us being silly?

She has made so many wonderful friends, to say they are not colleagues but friends now shows what lovely people they are and I thank them for being the people they are and for being so supportive during her pregnancy.

It's wonderful to think they will be friends beyond Pam's days in the shop, even if she does not go back.

The issue of whether she does or doesn't is totally down to Pam, I have little say in it because call me old fashioned, I think a mum should decide whether to go back to work or not.

She has carried and given birth to J, if she wants to be a SAHM then great, if she wants to go and do a few hours then great too.

It's nothing to do with me! All I hope is she has a rest and does the things she wants to do while on maternity leave

Monday, 21 July 2014

NCT Session 3 - Caring for Baby

SO THAT'S it, we are ready to be parents!

Three NCT sessions done and dusted with all the skills we may need for labour, birth and the early days.

Am I ready? Nope! But that is not the fault of Isabelle who hosted a fabulous course.

Saturday's session began with taking a look at bathing a baby, changing nappies, sleeping, swaddling and baby wearing.

It was great to finally get my hands on a nappy, albeit around a doll and not a wriggly baby and whose contents were artificial not real!.

I wasn't as fingers and thumbs as I expected but more practice on the old co-ordination is needed, as expected the mums to be were all experts first time...

What was pleasing was Isabelle did go into more detail about bottle feeding and the session really did show
that whatever way you feed your baby, you will do a good job.

After a very lovely pizza lunch, we split up and discussed how the arrival of our babies would impact on us.

Suffice to say sleep, cheeky nights with DVD and wine are now probably out unless J is a heavy sleeper who loves a routine!

What I found really useful was a session with my fellow dads to be to discuss impending fatherhood and how we really can be involved in a major way.

That is the pleasing thing about these sessions, yes they are very female focused but with the right tutor dads are made to feel very important.

The highlight though was a visit from three new mums and dads and their little babies! A huge thanks to all three for sharing their first time experiences and answering a load of questions!

Mother Nature nearly brought on a few labours though with an amazing thunder and lightening blast very close to the venue which sounded like an explosion.

No waters were broken though and the babies on the outside didn't flinch at all, I guess they really do have no fear.

The honesty with which the new parents spoke about labour, birth, breastfeeding and the early days was amazing and really topped off a lovely course.

Dads, sometimes it's a little mum focused but if you are a first timer, book a place on a course near you, you won't regret what you learn and the friends you make.

We both have made some really good friends as a result, next stop BABY!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The generosity of others

THIS past weekend has just brought home how loved Pam and I are and to be honest how lucky we are.

My dad has brought us Jacob's cot and the Joie travel system (for all you who love a bit of pram porn there is a picture on this blog) while her parents brought us Jacob's crib, his first bed in the big world.

Added to that the oodles of clothes my cousin has sent us after they had their second boy, the fact they are going to buy the baby monitor and that our families are all giving so generously.

Its blown my mind to be honest, I wanted my dad to rein himself in and took me a while before I understood this is his first grandchild, he's entitled to have a splurge.

Firstly the cot is lovely, as you can see from the pictures it's easy to see why we fell in love with it and a cot bed as well so J is sorted.

Whether it still looks so nice when we get it from flat pack to built in his room is down to my limited DIY skills. Incidentally we had a massive boost as it was a four week wait because it was out of stock when we went to Kiddisave in Walsall on Saturday/

However on Monday I had a phone was in stock and they are holding it for us! A huge weight off my mind!

As for the Joie (no I can't pronounce it either) Chrome travel system, we fell in love with it at the Baby Show and thanks to the lovely staff at Mothercare in Walsall we learned more about it.

Got a cot, car seat and front and rear facing pushchair as a result, it's so easy to operate even Mr Dense here can fold it up in no time!

Just got to get them home now and start assembling them. I know you pram lovers love a good picture or two so yes there will be a blog and maybe ongoing tweets about putting it together.

Man, anyone would think we were having a baby!

Jacob's new friends

I THOUGHT IT was about time to introduce J's new friends, both of whom hope to be his lifelong companion.

On the left is Rosie, who we brought in Bournemouth not long after we told everyone we were expecting a baby, a very fluffy rabbit and cute.

On the right is Buttons the Elephant, who we have inherited and he is just lovely, once the cot is up they are both going to live there.

Daddy is being really daft!! But I promise there will be a picture later in this journey of ours of J with one of them mwah ha ha!

Monday, 14 July 2014

NCT Session 2 - Breastfeeding

BOOBS, nipples and poo filled my Saturday morning yet it's still almost six weeks until J graces us with his presence.

Yes, it was time for the breastfeeding session of the NCT antenatal classes and yet again what an eye opener for this rather dense dad to be.

I started the sessions thinking I knew a fair bit, well ok just enough education to perform my duties, but turns I am a complete newbie.

Again the teacher was lovely, breastfeeding consultant Alison Needham was a delight, very passionate about her subject but not one-eyed enough to suggest the mums to be would be murdering their child slowly if they didn't breastfeed!

She breastfed her three sons and is very knowledgeable about the subject but has a great way in walking mums to be through the process, breaking down what clearly is an emotional rollercoaster for mums desperate to breastfeed and also desperate not to 'fail'.

We learned a lot about the stages of breast milk from the colostrum to the proper milk and she walked us through a typical day, using cue cards at relevant times.

One of the cards mentioned unexpected visitors who want to be waited on hand and foot - let me tell you now any visitor in the first month who expects that will be pointed to the kitchen themselves!

Now, I am going to get dirty...not in the way you are all thinking you mucky pups!

See one of the cards also said 'Matthew' (the imaginary baby used in this day) had done a poo and it had gone 'all up his back'.

This was quite a shock, I know the brown stuff is going to be catastrophically smelly but did think from the adverts for nappies any explosion would be contained, clearly not!

I clearly need more preparation in that area! After a short break us dads got together to discuss certain situations which all just need a little common sense approach but it's good to hear we are all pretty much in the same boat.

We were then treated to a video about breastfeeding, again I never quite knew how a baby actually did it but I do now!

I would say it was far more useful for Pam than for me but certainly opened my eyes and that is never a bad thing, thanks to Alison for her time and expertise.

One more session to go then apparently we will be 'ready' for parenthood, eeek!

A DaddyNatal class to remember

ONE of the highlights of the Baby Show for me was a class by Dean Beaumont, founder of DaddyNatal, classes about pregnancy and birth for dads, by a dad.

Dean has three children and it's clear from the taster session we enjoyed at the Baby Show the full class is geared for blokes and how we can be the very best we can be during labour, birth and beyond.

One of the biggest messages I took away is I cannot fix what might happen, no matter how heavy my desire to do so as a man.

I have to be her advocate and her protector.

ADVOCATE - ensure her 'preferences' are listened to and adhered to (don't do a birth plan fellas, you can't plan childbirth, come up with preferences instead)

PROTECTOR - once the action gets going, protect that carefully crafted environment to ensure oxytocin and endorphins flow naturally while the biggest source of naughty adrenaline (me) basically doesn't exude any!.

It was a fascinating 45 minutes and at the conclusion I spoke to Dean for an article I wrote for the paper I edit which you can read here -

Newspaper articles are forever constained by word limits so I have reproduced the quotes from the interview here

"With the birth of my first, I had done traditional antenatal classes and we went through the birth. It wasn’t a particularly traumatic birth but I came out of it feeling guilty," he told me.

“That then affected the bonding with my son, I then looked at what I had I missed, what had I done wrong and came to the conclusion I hadn’t done anything wrong.

“There was nothing out there to prepare me, from there I went off, did my diploma, did my research and then we started and formed DaddyNatal.”
"It’s all about understanding on how we can best support our families so within the full class we look at the pregnancy, what is happening during the pregnancy, what mum is going through in the pregnancy.
"We look at what us men worry about, what the mums worry about so we get an understanding about that. It’s then on to our role during labour and birth and the post-natally as well we look at the things we have to be aware of and the changes for us and the mum.
“We also do the practical thing like learning how to swaddle, lean about baby wearing. Its all about how all of us make it work together as a family.

“I felt most of the classes I went to was about mum with a little bit thrown in for dad.
“Society has changed and because of this dads have been thrust into the birthing environment but without anyone supporting us to be there.

"Michel Odent came out four years ago and said dads have no place in the delivery room because we can be detrimental and we can be because the adrenillin we can create.
"Therefore if we going to propely support mum we are going to need to properly support dad so he does have a positive effect on the birth and not a negative one.

"We are not there yet, we obviously have different experiences across the country, but it is improving it is getting better but there is still a lot that more that can be done.

"I take it one stage further, I still think brands have a lot to answer for because still within the baby industry brands are very much focused on mums.
"If we had more positive images of dad roles within products it would be more generally accepted that we are talking about a family rather than mum and dad as separate units."

To try and help dads to be like me, I asked Dean for his three top tips to help us get through the biggest change we have ever experienced.
"Firstly, its about preparation, make sure you are prepared, make sure you understand, make sure you have your birth preferences sorted out.

“Secondly, its always about being honest, sometimes as dads if we are criticised we can withdraw, there is no room for withdrawing, we have got to step up, not in a manly way but be prepared to admit if we are unsure or uncertain and look for help.
“Thirdly, at the end of the day just remember we are all on a learning curve but its about our family, forget other people lets focus on what is right for you as a family and make your decisions based n that but always make an informed decision.

I would strongly recommend you buy 'The Expectant Dads Handbook' by the man himself (pic below) because fellas, everything you want to know but afraid to ask is in there in a language we understand!

Fantastic experience and a wonderful opportunity for me to learn from a dad who is clearly passionate about ensuring dads know as much as mums.

Visit for more information

Bumps, babies and bargains at The Baby Show

BUMPS, babies and bargains were all on show as The Baby Show came to Birmingham.

'The best baby products and brands, a fabulous line-up of guest speakers and heaps of family fun all in one place' screams the introduction to the official show guide for the popular Baby Show.

False advertising? Nope. No matter if it's your first or fifth baby, any expectant parent should visit the Baby Show.

When you first find out you are going to be parent, one of the many things which will daunt you is the sheer amount you have to buy for your new bundle of joy.

So what do the organisers of the Baby Show do? Try and get every baby product manufacturer under roof to make the shopping just a little easier.

There was even a race-track in the centre of the hall for you to 'road test' a particular range of pushchairs and travel systems.

All of the big names were in attendance from Tommee Tipee, Cosatto, Britax and Fisher Price to baby care giants Mothercare and Babies R'Us.

There were offers aplenty on all of the stands at prices to suit all pockets - it would not have surprised me if some parents got everything they needed on the day.

For those who truly shopped until they dropped there was even a shop and drop and collect by car service for those bigger purchases.

Guest speakers including Professor Robert Winston, Jo Tantum and Clare Byam-Cook were among those taking to the stage to share their wisdom during the weekend.

A particular highlight though were the classes run by The Natal Family, a family run company helping both mums and dads to be on the journey to parenthood.

Pam enjoyed a relaxing MummyNatal class which focuses on empowering mums-to-be to have the labour and birth they want.

Meanwhile I experienced a DaddyNatal class in the safe hands of Dean Beaumont, father of three and the first male antenatal teacher in the UK.

It was refreshing to be in a room full of dads to be, all of us nervous but instantly reassured by both Dean's own experience and his relaxed style which involves his audience immediately.

I have a whole other blog devoted to a chat with Dean, the original copy of this article was in the Evesham Observer today, therein is the disclaimer as I went to the show on a press ticket.

Visit for more information about MummyNatal and DaddyNatal.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Why is 'the belly' public property?

SINCE Pam's home for J has become more round, obvious and beautiful our journeys home have been increasingly dominated by the nice comments customers have made to her.

Now don't get me wrong, I am glad so many are noticing and making the lovely comments they are doing as it's great other people are praising the way she looks.

But it's got me thinking, just why is it so acceptable to comment on pregnant bellies? They are such a conversation starter wherever you are.

Pam works in a clothes shop, so comes into contact with plenty of mothers and women who have all said how nice she looks, 'how long you got left' etc.

And luckily no one (except me) has felt it yet, although I am waiting for someone to try and see how Pam reacts to it...and me come to it, think the alpha male might come out and thump whoever asks!!!!

But no one ever comments on a strangers hair-do, people who are losing weight (how much more you got to lose lol) or someone with a tattoo.

Yet the belly gets comments, I am happy as long as Pam is and I think it's a great source of encouragement for mums to be for complete strangers to say how well they look.

But there is an element of 'why do you care, you don't know my wife' - I guess it's nice to be nice hey?

Saturday, 5 July 2014

NCT Session 1 - Labour and Birth

SO we are through to the other side of our first NCT antenatal session and it was rather an eye opener to say the least.

Teacher Isabelle Karimov is welcoming and warm as were the other six couples joining Pam and I for the experience.

After the initial ‘how do you do’s’ we were asked to split into mums and dads for what we wanted to get out of the course.

Being blokes we were a) practical and b) worried about asking the wrong question for fear of incurring the wrath of our heavily pregnant beloveds so came up with five points.

Of course the mums to be did more, they split it into categories and everything – the only thing missing was some sort of colour coding!

Anyway discussions were had, we went first to a relatively positive reception and some amusement was had one of the mums to be said they feared about ‘losing their figures’. The mum to be expressed her opinion she was surprised we hadn’t mentioned anything about it.

I became alpha male for the first time EVER and gently explained we felt it was more than our life’s worth to have said such a thing!

Discussions on the build up to labour and birth itself were again informative and led us to discover more about the placenta.

Now don’t get me wrong I adore the placenta, it’s feeding J, sorting out all the good stuff for him to enjoy and yes it’s a play thing for my son if he gets bored of growing, eating and sleeping.

But hearing people actually eat it, mmmm that’s one step too far for me and hearing from one couple their friend FROZE theirs after the birth of their baby was also rather ‘interesting’.

By the way, their baby is now four….

After an enjoyable lunch of chatting and nice food, we went on to look at various pain reliefs and positions for birth and I even got to roll a tennis ball up and down Pam’s back…

Given my skill with it I am apparently Britain’s number two tennis player but I digress…..

Pictures of labour and birth (don’t worry fellas, nothing too graphic) concluded a rather fun day for daddy, mummy and hopefully J although he slept throughout.

Overall is it worth it, yes I think it is, you meet nice people, all of whom are in the same situation as you and crucially due around the same time as you.

The Bumps and Babies magazine (below) is very useful as is the antenatal pack (below) and certainly worth a read.

Bring on the breast……feeding session next week!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

So you're going to be a dad?

THIS is kind of similar to a blog I wrote last week about the ten things I have learned about pregnancy but after Neil Lyndon's article I thought I would share some dad to be specifics!

Finding out you are going to be a dad is wonderful, emotional, exciting but scary, frightening and sometimes plain boring when you feel like a spare part!

But go with the journey, there is actually plenty for you to do but for once in your life you are not the driver, you are a passenger.

1) It's OK to be scared - After the elation of finding out and congratulating your tackle for it's hard work reality can come and bite pretty hard. It's fine! You are just adjusting, talk it through if you feel the need but assess the situation with your partner. If she's had a grotty day don't start saying how you are worried, it will not be appreciated! If she keen to hear how you are feeling then  maybe share it, you'll find a load of your doubts aren't really that major.

2) Ride the wave of emotions - She will be angry at you for no reason, but pretty soon she'll be cuddling you and saying sorry. Be aware pregnancy brain can render your beloved completely incapable of some things, try and assist if you can.

3) Let her dictate what she does and when, like I said on the previous post, pregnant women are like iPhones, great fun with a full battery, next to useless when empty. Support and help with anything she is doing. When she has no energy, doing some chores to help also earns brownie points.

4) Educate yourself - don't be afraid to read up on what she is going through. The Expectant Dads Handbook by Dean Bennett of DaddyNatal is fantastic for blokes as it's written by a dad. If you understand what is happening you are likely to be calmer which is just better for your health let's be honest.

5) You are a spare part, it's fine - you will be ignored in the early stages, our midwife is lovely but frankly I didn't exist until recently! But to be honest, do you want any attention or do you want your pregnant partner to get 100 per cent of health professionals focus? A no brainer!

6) The 'Horn' - Not all dads will get this, I accept that. But yes, from the moment you find out you can feel even more horny than a bloke normally is, yes it's possible. A cuddle with your beloved, no real dirty thoughts or any touching and you are 'excited'. It's normal, for some reason your body has delivered a truck load of testosterone to reward you for your part in the conception. She probably won't want to help you relieve the situation (especially those first 12 weeks) so you may need some alone time. Things could change in the third trimester though but let her set the boundaries of what she wants to do. No point asking for sex if she is tired and plainly can't be bothered - you've both earned the right to enjoy it!

7) Establish what you will do in labour and birth - if you don't want to be down there having a good look, don't! I haven't heard yet of a mum to be mad with her partner for not wanting to have a look when baby begins his/her entrance. But if you want to cut the cord, decide early on and tell her you would like to.

8) And finally, GET INVOLVED - It's your baby too, feel him/her kick, talk to her belly, your baby can hear you after a certain time. Your partner will be delighted, she hasn't got to worry about you being distant.

Good luck!

Why is it still 'acceptable' for the dads to moan about birth?

BE warned, this could be a very angry blog. I have just read the biggest load of rubbish I have ever seen from a gentleman called Neil Lyndon called 'Why dads should keep their distance from the delivery room'.

I won't provide a link as I only do so for things that make sense, are informative or at least provide a service. This does neither.

Basically in summary, it was yet another 'how agonising it was for me as a dad to be to see all that going on'.

Oh poor you, it must have been so dreadful after suffering for the whole nine months with all sorts of things.

Oh wait no, she was the one that grew, your contribution to the first nine months was to ejaculate!

The muppet reveals he has had a 'multitude of marriages', not a surprise given how 'supportive' he is to the mothers of this children.

On the afterbirth he commented: “Dear God there's another one arriving”. Yes because a human looks exactly like a bag of blood and veins and it's not like you have a scan or anything to check the contents of her womb...

I know as a first time dad it may be unpleasant, I will see things I have never prepared for and yes it could make me feel a tad unwell.

But blimey, compared to what Pam will be undergoing my role will be a breeze – something Neil Lyndon will not understand.

Again it seems acceptable to say 'hey chaps, going to be a bit unpleasant so why should you have to be in there.'

No concept of responsibility, you put the child in there, you ought to step up and be a man and be there when it comes out.

Too many kids grow up without a father, sometimes because it's the best thing I accept that entirely, but sometimes its because the little boys that fertilise women can't step up.

Articles like this only help reinforce that: if it's OK to miss the birth then it's ok to leave the parrenting to the women.

I won't be any hero at the birth, I am not claiming it's heroic, noble or brave for a bloke to be there.

I would have just been witness to a wonderful moment and maybe yes become a man at long last.

Anyway rant over...