Sunday, January 30, 2005

A plan (or two) is hatched.

We've decided to tell our families about the pregnancy on the weekend before Valentine's Day. We'll have to go to Wiltshire and tell Hayley's family on the Saturday and then drive back up and tell mine on the Sunday. That will be the middle of week 12. After that we can tell our other friends and work colleagues.

We've also been plotting our possible departure from Craig Close. Or rather we've started looking at areas where we might hope to buy a house. Our current place only has 2 bedrooms and would be too small eventually. It will be fine while the baby is small but after that...

The trouble is we have a number of possible ways to go. We could stay in Stockport, move out of town altogether or move to a different urban area. Of course the cost of houses is no joke and it remains to be seen what we can really afford. But you have to start somewhere and today we made that start by driving around a few Stockport suburbs.

We've something to tell you...

When do you tell people?

How do you tell them?

You'd think we'd have these sorted by now but we haven't. We're on the point of abandoning our original idea of waiting until the end of the first trimester and/or waiting until we have the first scan. The reasons for this are the midwife's comment that the risk of miscarriage is diminishing fast and the fact that we could still be about three weeks from the scan. Waiting is starting to seem pointless.

But HOW do we tell people?

We had thought of producing the image from the scan. It's seems pretty self-evident to me that this would convey the reality of the pregnancy better than any words we might find, which would also rather nicely save us from having to find any words! Maybe we slip the image in with some other photos. Or even just hand it over witout explanation! Hmm, probably not.

We tried to think how we could make a little celebration of the occasion, maybe by going out for a meal, but that starts to become complicated and my family does that so infrequently that it would instantly raise suspicions. We even wondered about hiring a limo to do it when we saw one at Old Trafford today! What next!!!
So at this rate we are just going to end up going round to tell them.

Then there's the question of how they will react. But that's a whole other story. We'll be finding out soon enough... just as soon as we finally decide when and how to tell them!

Friday, January 28, 2005

Oh come on, that doesn't really happen... does it?

I've felt a bit dodgy this week. Rough. A bit sick. Nauseous you might say. The first day i put it down to nerves at the football. (Well it was a big game!) Then yesterday I figured a had a bit of a bug. And today, well I'm just run down right?

I suppose it doesn't help that I've had this back ache. Mostly in my kidney area but it seems to move around a bit. Still, nothing too bad.

Then tonight I found myself reeling from the smell of Hayley's curry. Curry? Me? I LOVE Indian food. How odd!

Then I popped across cyber space to where I read what men can expect in Week 10: Couvade Syndrome. Couvade what? Couvade Syndrome, aka sympathetic pregnancy!

[The sound of a penny dropping!]

Oh come on, that's just something they make up for funny movies, isn't it? I can't really deny that I have some of Hayley's symptoms but it really has to be co-incidence. That and the fact that a beer gut starts in much the same place as a bump.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Meet the midwife.

Today we had our first meeting with the midwife. I'd been a little concerned that I'd be seen as intruding into an all-female world by attending this meeting but I was pleased to be welcomed in when I checked it was OK to sit in.

Our first impressions of the midwife are good. She seems quite warm and relaxed. We were bombarded with information and Hayley was given a large amount of reading material. Of course I'll be reading it too but at the end of the day it was given to Hayley first and foremost. In fact in some ways I did occasionally feel a bit of an outsider during the interview. Perhaps it's the man's lot to be a bit of a spare part for nine months.

But part of the reason was the kind of information that they are obliged to give the mother-to-be. For example the midwife has to give the mother-to-be information on dealing with domestic abuse. So this is done as if I - who has sat there a picture of the attentive partner until this point - am invisible. But it does remind you what bad situations some mothers must be in, as does the offer of an HIV test and the listing of all the reasons you might want one, i.e. if you are an injecting drug user, having unprotected sex with someone who is HIV positive, etc. As we sat there telling her how well we eat, that we don't smoke and how Hayley has given up all alcohol and caffeine I couldn't help feeling we were almost embarrassingly (or sickeningly) well behaved.

We also went into the tests that can be carried out over the next few weeks. The straight forward blood tests are far from conclusive (which was news to me) so you can not be even close to 100% sure that (for example) your child will not have Downes Syndrome unless you have the most intrusive (and therefore most risky) tests. And of course it raises the whole issue of whether you would want or be equipped to bring up a child that is in some way seriously disabled. Obviously we've discussed this but talking about it to the midwife brings home the starkness of the reality and the very short timescales that would-be parents have to digest the news and decide how they want to act.

On the positive side she said that based on our answers this morning - mostly about family medical histories and Hayley's lifestyle - she is treating Hayley's pregnancy as low risk at this stage.

While Hayley went out to get a urine sample I mentioned to the midwife (actually there were two of them there today) that it was the first child for me too. "I'm glad to hear it" she replied in a tone that I found surprising given that I am clearly old enough to have grown-up children and also that we live in a country where a third of all marriages end in divorce. Then she brought up what a rough time Hayley had in 2002 (as that had come up in the interview) and I told her that yes that was true, but that then she met me at the end of the year so it can't have been all bad (cheesy grin). I suppose I was just trying to be friendly but in truth I guess also wanted to be accepted by this person and recognized by her as the person who cares most about Hayley. After all this woman is going to play a big part in ensuring nothing goes wrong for Hayley or the baby.

Finally I asked her what I might usefully do to help Hayley that perhaps I am not thinking about. "Listen to her" was her reply. I suppose that's a fair point. Very "Men are from Mars...". She then added that Hayley will be moody: "like PMT but times ten"! Crikey! So next time she bites my head off I must remember to tell myself "that's just the hormones talking".

After we left Hayley seemed quite excited, as if it had made it all even more real for her. I had a similar feeling after she had first seen the doctor. It's seems to hit us in stages.

All in all it was a very positive experience. I feel positive about the whole thing and I'm looking forward to telling people... just as soon as we've worked out exactly when and how to do this!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

"Come here...(sniff sniff sniff)"

Like a sniffer dog on the verge of uncovering a major consignment of Class A drugs, Hayley has taken to sniffing me at every opportunity, usually with a disapproving look on her face. The trendy shaving gel that previously appealed to the pre-natal nostrils now provokes a sneer and prolonged nasal inspection before she walks away throwing me a look worthy of a mangy stray. “It makes me nauseous” is her summary dismissal of my attempt at male grooming.

But it’s worse than that. At home or in the work place there are plenty of scents that no longer pass muster. Even the swimming pool has been deemed as having “that smell”. And the kitchen at her workplace sent her racing out when someone had the audacity to cook something other than a zinger burger. “I don’t know what it was but it was disgusting” was the result of that particular culinary court martial.

But perhaps this is not all bad news. Since Christmas both Hayley and I have managed to put on about 10lbs in weight, so any curb on our ability to sustain this gain in girth might be a good thing. While I can go out and ride my bike at a furious pace to try to burn off the festive foolishness, the mother-to-be is restricted to a gentle swim or very light workout in the gym. This is one of the subjects we plan to bring up with the midwife this Thursday when Hayley has her first appointment, which I also plan to attend. I’m not sure if this is normal or appropriate or will be appreciated by the midwife, but as it’s a first chance to get some questions answered we figure it’s best if we are both there to hear the same answers.

So week 10 starts tomorrow. We’ve just had a really great weekend together and there are many things I could write now, having not written here for a while (blimey 2 weeks!), but I’ll have to settle for “Goodnight!” as Hayley is already falling asleep.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

In a bad way... and that's just my wardrobe.

As I didn’t sleep well either last night, I called my boss and took the day off. While Hayley was out I then started a major clear-out of my wardrobe. (Is this the beginning of nesting?!)

Now, I don’t consider myself particularly fashion-conscious. My mountain bike maintenance budget way outstrips my sartorial outlay for any given year. But somehow my wardrobe seemed to have mutated into a black hole, only the very edges of which I dared to visit. In its darkest corners beyond the tangle of overladen hangers lay, well, God knew what. It was time to get stuck in there.

Sure enough, after about 3 hours of piling up clothes as candidates for me / charity shops / the bin, I had managed to reduce the extent of my wardrobe by about a third. For the final decision on some of the “better” items I enlisted Hayley’s help, perching her on the edge of the bed as I provided a fashion parade that owed more to C&A than D&G.

Out went at least one jumper fit to be worn in the Christmas scenes of a Bridget Jones movie, along with almost anything in pale blue denim (“You look like an old man from the 70s in that stuff”), one rather fabulous silk shirt with a subtle italic motif (she just smirked silently at that one) and one pair of jeans that I must admit nearly cut off the blood supply to my nether regions when I tried to prove that “yes, of course I can still get into them!”

So now there’s more hanging space and I still have clothes I like to wear. I can’t help thinking I’ll have to do all this again in a few months though, when space is at an even higher premium. And I fear that next time that dubious Arran sweater, so long preserved in the depths of cupboard space, will have nowhere left to hide.

A right pain (in the left leg)

Hayley has been experiencing a worrying numbness in the top of her left leg, which last night was a little worse. This, on top of the nausea, contributed to a pretty poor night’s sleep. So this morning she asked me to call in sick for her.

Later she was able to see the doctor – my regular GP in fact - and he put her mind at rest, though without offering any sort of remedy. About par for the course it seems for most pregnancy ills: it's a case of grin and bear it. Or, more likely, grimace frustratedly and rant in a hormone-induced rage before bursting into tears. Just kidding. Sorry. :)

Actually there's been very little of that so far. I shouldn't tempt fate!

Monday, January 10, 2005

And now the weather

Well it’s been very windy round here this weekend. Gale force winds both inside and outside the house!

When we were woken by a bang in the night we thought the wheelie-bin had blown over or the gate had blown shut. After a restless night we were woken by the doorbell. It was the police. Our next door neighbour’s door was kicked in during the night and she was burgled. We felt awful, clearly. Amazingly, and perhaps thankfully, she slept through it!

On a lighter note the indoor gales came from the ever changing innards of my girlfriend. There was substantial belching as well as emissions from the, erm, contrary direction. But to be fair she followed every one with “Excuse me!” And sometimes a guilty giggle.

Saturday, January 08, 2005


Zinger burgers!

She’s craving them almost daily at the moment. She walked in the door last night with another tell-tale empty KFC bag in her hand and a guilty look on her face. (Not sure why she looked guilty as my attitude is that she should just continue to eat as healthily as she already did but also to listen to her body and add in whatever else the cravings tell her.)

Hayley had a couple of pains last night but nothing that lasted. I guess everything’s still changing within her. Again it makes us want to keep the pregnancy to ourselves “just in case”.

I read a few Blogs last night and it made me realise that perhaps I’ve been quietly over-confident that Hayley will get through the first trimester without so much as a hiccup. But it’s not helpful to worry either. So right now I feel there’s something of a tightrope to walk between optimism and complacency.

Thursday, January 06, 2005


Hayley has been at work this week and tonight she has fallen asleep at 9pm watching TV. (Aw, bless her. She's asleep next to me on the sofa as I type.) This seems to frustrate her. But she knows she is likely to need to sleep more. Ruda told us that Dasa slept all the time when she was pregnant. He called her "Panda" I believe.

Tonight we've been watching the programme about the South East Asia tsunami. It's upsetting to see the number of children lost but even more upsetting is the grief of the surviving parents.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

They know you know

Women that is. Hayley's friend Viv spotted she was pregnant. Mostly because she spotted that Hayley had switched to decaffeinated tea, stopped going to the gym and stopped resisting chocolates at work. At the end of the working day yesterday she said
"I wish you'd tell me."
"Tell you what?"
"You know what."
A feeble attempt to withhold the already detected truth ensued before she finally told her and begged her indulgence to keep it secret until she is through the first 13 weeks.

There are other things that might have given her away. Her hair is more wildly curly than ever recently. Her bust has got bigger too (and it wasn't small to start with!). And she has found that her tummy (which still had the odd inch to lose as she approached her goal weight) is now no longer capable of being held in. So she does in fact look a little bit pregnant already. Of course the fact she is "showing early" has added more fuel to the "it's twins!" fire.

Unfortunately at least one other person at Hayley's workplace is also suspicious that she may be pregnant. We'll see how long it can be kept to ourselves. The brutal truth is that the fewer people we tell, the fewer we will have to tell if she miscarries.

Even so, I find myself wanting to tell some people. Paul and Dave at work both have young kids and sometmes I instinctively want to mention what's going on, but I manage to stop myself. On a few occasions I've almost forgotten and blurted something out. But I think I can manage to keep my mouth shut a few more weeks.

Nah, it can't be. Can it?

Just read about the pregnancy at weeks 7 and 8 with Hayley on Apart from the ultrasounds that show tiny arms starting to sprout, it said that if you are having twins you may get earlier gastrointestinal and indigestion problems. This now has Hayley more convinced that she is having twins after lots of wind pains and some idigestion last week in the Czech Republic. We both know it’s not very likely but on the other hand she is already showing quite a lot and there is a history of it in her family, so you never know. And don't even ask her about the fortune teller years ago who told her she'd "have three children but only carry twice"! 40

…at 40

"Life begins at 40". Or so they say. When you discover you are going to be a first-time father in a few months it certainly has a ring of truth. Life does indeed begin. And not just mine.

To paraphrase Billy Bragg I’m 40 years now but I won’t be for long. If all goes well then when Hayley gives birth I’ll be 41.

Ah yes. It seems like yesterday and yet already it’s 17 days since we sat in the bed and watched those two little pink lines appear. Yet Week 8 starts tomorrow and this is the first post! It must be time to recap.

So how did we get here…? Ahem! Let me re-phrase that.

The story so far…

Hayley and I have always known that we wanted a family. One of the unusual aspects of meeting via is that you know this about each other – in principle at least - before you even meet! We decided that we would start trying for a family at the end of 2004. In reality what this meant was that Hayley would finish her contraceptive pills and not get any more from her doctor.

The doctor told us that we should not expect instant results. I am 40 and Hayley is 34. We were told to expect it to take perhaps 6 months (or more) to conceive.

Now I’m not going to go into details here, but there are a couple of amusing things that can’t really go by without mentioning them. First of all, Hayley finished her pills in November. For some reason I thought the last pack was in December. One evening early in December as we made dinner we had the following conversation:

Steve: “Don’t forget to tell the doctor you are coming off the pill at the end of this month.”
Hayley: (surprised) “What do you mean? I’ve already finished them!”
Steve (equally surprised) ”Oh! I thought they ran out at the end of this month.” (As if the body’s calendar so conveniently aligns with the 12 months!)
Hayley: “No. I finished them in the middle of November.”
Steve (rubbing Hayley’s tummy and laughing) “So there could be someone already in there!”

Of course we didn’t believe that for a moment that she was pregnant. We then worked out that the first time that (we thought) she might become pregnant (on the assumption she wasn’t already) was December 29th when we would be in the Czech Republic! Little did we know that Hayley was already pregnant at that point!

We later worked out that conception must have occurred around the time we went to Steve’s work’s Christmas party, when we stayed in a hotel right next to Old Trafford football ground as we’d been to a game in the afternoon. Of course the idea that the baby might have been conceived a stone’s throw from Manchester United tickled us greatly.

Regardless of when it happened, it’s interesting to consider whether the fact that I didn’t know Hayley had finished the pills might have meant I was under no pressure and therefore (according to the experts) she was more likely to conceive.

First feelings

So, back to the two pink lines. We sat in the bed and I have to say that it was hard to take in. It didn’t seem real. It seemed too good to be true. I’m 40 years old. I was starting to give up hope of having a family. We had spent so much time talking down our chances so that we didn’t pressure ourselves, looking positively at what we might do if we couldn’t conceive (“we’ll get a dog!”, “we have other children around in the family” “do you think we should adopt?”, “we’ll have the chance to travel”…). This all seemed too easy.

I have to say that I was not only a bit surprised that we were successful at the first attempt because of my age, but also because of such things as me riding bikes (a potential risk) and even daft things like the fact I love a hot bath (which is not good for the sperm!). It sounds silly now, but as I had never made anyone pregnant I wasn’t even sure that I wasn’t “firing blanks”. The only thing that really made me feel it was real was that I had always felt somehow that Hayley was definitely fertile. I’ve no good medical reason for saying that, I just felt it.

In truth I never saw Hayley’s first reaction as she took a preliminary test when I was out the previous day. She told me that she paced around the house, up and down the stairs, feeling a mixture of joy and disbelief and fear, thanking God and crying. She did tell me that night but as it was my works Christmas drinks that afternoon this was the one evening of the year I came home, frankly, rather drunk. I couldn’t take it in, particularly as when I left the house that day she’d said that you couldn’t have a reliable test until 10 days later. (My mistake: only a negative test needed 10 days grace to be reliable. Positive was reliable right away.) So we agreed to do a re-test in the morning when we could both see the lines for ourselves. And we did.

Who do we tell and when?

We decided that we would not tell people until Hayley had got through the first 12 or 13 weeks as these are considered a high risk period. But no sooner had we decided this than we started to make a few exceptions. First Hayley decided to tell her sister-in-law, Sharon, as she felt she needed to be able to talk to her about it. Then we quickly realised that we would probably have to tell the people we were visiting in the Czech Republic. But apart from that we decided we’d keep it to ourselves for now.

Reactions so far have been great. Sharon thought Hayley was winding her up when she rang to tell her, then she was delighted. She also rang back specifically to congratulate me too which was nice. When we told Lenka we made a toast when we went out for a meal and said it was to “the reason why Hayley is not drinking alcohol any more”. She screamed and jumped up and down laughing (despite being in a restaurant at the time). And when we told Lenka’s family the next day they were all equally delighted for us.


There have been a few moments of uncertainty when Hayley has had pains in her abdomen, but in most cases a quick call or trip to the nurse or doctor sorted it out. However, when you are in a foreign country it’s not quite that simple.

While in the Czech Republic at Christmas, Hayley had severe cramps in the night. Something like period pain. It lasted for two spells in the night and the next morning we rang the UK. Of course, as luck would have it that day was a Bank Holiday (in lieu of Boxing Day) so she could only speak to a locum doctor. He rang back fairly quickly and told her to go and see a doctor.

We rang Lenka who quickly sorted out who we could go and see. Unlike in the UK, in the Czech Republic you can go direct to your consultant without seeing the GP first, so later that morning Hayley, Lenka, me and Radek (Lenka’s boyfriend) found ourselves sitting in the waiting room of the local gynaecologist.

When we were called through, Hayley went in with me, but as we needed a translator (virtually no-one speaks much English outside of Prague) we had to take in Lenka. Picture the face of the consultant’s secretary as we explained to her that we were the father-to-be, the mother-to-be and the father-to-be’s wife (as the divorce was not yet final thanks to dithering solicitors)! As we sat in the waiting room Hayley slowly turned ashen faced: as white as a sheet. When Hayley went in to be examined, Lenka went in with her to translate. And to hold her hand as it turned out.

Thankfully all was well and Hayley came out all smiles. And when we asked how much we owed the doctor, they told us there was no charge: it was a Christmas present from them to us. Very generous.

Here comes week 8

As we sit here watching Man U vs Spurs my main worry (apart from failing to make up points on Arsenal) is that Hayley is yelling at the TV. (This baby had better come out as a Man U fan or she’ll give it hell!) We enter week 8 tomorrow on the back of a super holiday together with all apparently well. Let’s hope it continues that way.