Saturday, 23 August 2014

Blue is for Boys?

With the 20 week scan a raging success, confirming all is good and he definitely is a "he", me flinching every time the midwife said "willy" and "scrotum" and my girlfriend spouting out "aaaahhhh" at an image of the cross section of our baby boys brain, we have now moved onto...

Furniture, prams, changing stations, cots, baskets, baths, blankets, weird sleeping bag type things

The list is endless! I have been thrown deeper into this new world of "WTF is that for?!".

My other half is already well on board with all these mad contraptions and absolutely MUST HAVE items, most of which have either been browsed, ordered or purchased by the grandparents under her strict supervision. I thought I would start with something I feel comfortable with...painting. Pick a colour and paint a few walls. Simple. We're having a boy so a nice blue (preferably an Everton blue), possibly some stencils of dinosaurs or cars on the wall? If only it was that easy!

"We can't be too gender specific"

Hang on, we're having a boy. That's pretty specific! That was my argument in a nutshell. Not that arguing with a pregnant lady gets you anywhere. Now, I do see where she is coming from. I want to raise my child to be confident in forming his own opinions, making his own choices, not to be too influenced by his surroundings and media on what's cool and what's not. But do I want him playing with a Barbie? Not really. I would never tell him he couldn't, nor would I fill his room with toy guns, footballs and action man. There is a fine line, and together we need to find it.

Back to the paint. Orange. Orange and cream. That was the "compromise". I'm hoping the bright orange coloured feature wall doesn't give the little man some type of ADHD or burn his retinas. I WILL be the first to say "I told you so" if that happens! A strange compromise, but a compromise nonetheless. The winner of this debate is ultimately going to be our child. There will come a time, sooner than we think, where he will want to choose his own coloured walls, clothes, hobbies and activities. Deep down, I can't help wanting him to like the same things I like...who wouldn't?! Despite being at the other end of the scale, my other half has made me realise that I will actually have to work pretty hard on this. I want my son to be an individual, not a carbon copy of myself. I feel that, for now, while these choices of wall colour and bedding are somewhat trivial, I will stay neutral.

As I find myself coming to some sort of conclusion here, I can also see the challenges on the horizon:

  • By encouraging him to be an individual, am I in some way moulding him into what I want?
  • I want to be there to guide him, but where does guidence end and persuasiveness start?
  • At what point do I need to step in and TELL him what is right and wrong?
Answers on postcard please  :-/

Friday, 22 August 2014

Anomalies and Abnormalities!

The 20 week scan is a few hours away. 12 weeks since we found out "we" were pregnant. That's 3 months! Three months of sobriety (aside from a few friendly drinks with the family and some close friends - NONE for the Mrs I might add). Three months of coming to terms that this is actually happening!

At this point I feel like I have reached the eye of the storm. The baby tornado that has swept through our lives seems to have settled for the time being. I guess this is the natural progression. Coming to terms with it ourselves, settling into our new lifestyle. The initial excitement of friends and family settling down and the build up to D-Day!...I guess...


Now we already know it's a boy.  I paid for a private scan on the 16 week mark.  Well worth it! £40 for peace of mind that everything is going well is a small amount to pay even if you don't want to know the sex.  we did, and finding out that "it" was a "he" was up there and possibly THE best day of my life so far.  I can't say my girlfriend shared 100% in my enthusiasm as she was holding out for a girl...and I suppose chanting "LADS LADS LADS" down the phone to my brother didn't help!

Anyway, now its only one hour to the scan. Nervous.  I've not really felt like this in any of the others.  All has been A-okay so far and I get some relief in that, but there is this niggling feeling in the back of my mind.  Thinking about it, I'm not sure it was the best idea to Google it.


Thats the only thing I saw.  Hundreds of words right there in front of me on my screen and they were the only three in focus.  So my only real advice on this topic is that if you are about to have your 20 week scan, DON'T BLOODY GOOGLE IT!  But you're already reading this, shit.  Sorry...It will be fine...

That's what I am telling myself right now.

I think it might be the parental instincts kicking in.  That protectiveness that I haven't really felt over anything else other than my PlayStation so far.  Obviously on a much greater scale I must add.   

Hopefully it is that primal instinct. Hopefully I have nothing to worry about.  We will see...

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Champagne For My Real Friends and Real Pain For My Sham Friends

Prior to finding out my girlfriend was pregnant, I would have said I had a large and diverse friendship group. People who I considered myself close to were the friends I would see all the time, at work and at weekends, friends who would come join in with our late night partying and those who would pop round for a brew in the week.  I also had (and still have) another set of friends, old friends.  Now these guys I would have considered myself to be close to and still friends with...Looking back on it now I clearly wasn't.  These guys I had written off, fooling myself that through a few "likes" and comments here on there on Facebook that we were still in touch.  Partying and all night "sessions" had taken over.

"Such a good group of people we have here"
"I bloody love ..... so much, they're so cool"
"Really get on with .... he's such a nice guy"

All of the above I would say is true, these people I do get on with, I do respect, I would consider my friends.  However, what happens when you take away the one thing that all these people have in common?  Getting absolutely off your tits.  How do relationships with these people change and evolve?  Will they adapt to revolve around something else like a child???... because that is what my life is going to do!

I will tell you right now that you shouldn't expect other peoples lives to change just because yours is.  I made the mistake of expecting others to adapt and change their priorities just because I have to.  I think now, after 20 weeks my girlfriend and I have come to terms with peoples reactions to the news and their actions since.  Some people we thought we were close to are now almost completely out of our lives and there have also been a few pleasant surprises!  But no matter what happens, the only advice I can give is not to expect anything from anyone.  Don't expect the party to stop just because you have had to pull out.  Don't expect the people who you are closest to or the people you may keep at arms length to have the reaction you would like or expect.

So the party has stopped (for us), we broke the good news to our closest two friends, which we both share and love.  One has been great.  Given unconditional support, respected the privacy of the news we shared (we kept it on the d-low prior to 12 weeks), has kept checking in even if it's just a text in the week and has made time for us outside of "party time" on the weekends and even toned things down himself.  Everything you would expect from someone you hold close to you...

Unfortunately for us, not everybody we had invested hours and days of our time in over the last few years had the same reaction.  They fall into the following categories:

The "Congratulations - Goodbye" friends

"Congrats man, thats such awesome news"... last thing I have heard from them.  Quite a few of these out of the party pot...but I guess in real actual awake day time life I'm not close to them at all.

The Ones That Are Actually Gutted Deep Down

 Now you can sense disappointment from some of the true wreck heads, clearly thinking "that's it pal, party is over for you.".  I don't really mind that seeing as I am moving on with my life and they are happy to continue...but when it comes from someone you thought was one of your best friends it's a lot different.  The other close friend we initially broke the news to surprised me straight off when we told him we were going to think about keeping the child or not.

"Well that answers it then, if you are considering not keeping it then you shouldn't"

Woah, woah, woah...hold on there sport!  I thought that was a bit of a rash and somewhat harsh thing to say at the time and actions since have also surprised me...well...the lack of actions.  Needless to say we don't even get the odd text.  It's the fact that if you strip it down to the bare bones, that conversation that we had 12 - 13 weeks ago is essentially saying get rid of your child so nothing has to change. FUCK THAT.

However, I can also tell you that there is light at the end of this seemingly depressing blog post tunnel.  Seeing as I am categorising:

The Constant

The person that doesn't really change their behaviour and/or attitude towards anything to do with you, themselves, the baby or any other aspect of life.  They are just all out pleased for you, and in my specific example the guy was genuinely happy for us.  But as things go absolutely baby mental it's, its fucking brilliant to have this person in your life to feed back in a bit of normality.  Still pops in for a brew.  Will still roll up a spliff, but have the decency to not make a big deal and go out into the garden by himself.

I guarantee you will be so grateful of this person.  Things change, and fast.  Everything revolves around the baby so you need this person to inject some normality and engage in a bit of down time with, even if its just a quick cup of tea one night a week.

Old Friends

Friends you thought you may have lost contact with, or in my case, those who I thought I was still in contact with but was just kidding myself.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the reaction I have had from them, not to the baby, but to me.  I had brushed them aside for three years.  I would stop and talk to them in the street, but it would be an awkward conversation.  Since breaking the baby news to them I have met up for dinner with two of them and was even released for a few drinks in town one Saturday.  They know what I was doing for three years, they know I feel guilty as hell for sacking them off, they know I am sorry for it, but will never ask for an apology or act that it matters.  I did bring it up with them, wanting in some strange way some verbal confirmation that they recognise I was a dick head, but forgive me.  It was just brushed off with a "it honestly doesn't matter mate"

True Friends  

We all have best friends.  The ones that are not just there for the party.  The ones that have known you for years.  The ones that have seen you grow up and grown up with you.  The ones that have been there when life gave you lemons and have picked you up and helped you make the most delicious lemonade!

My two TRUE friends reacted quite differently but have never for one second let this baby change our relationship.

One quite similar to "the constant"...  Awesome, congrats, brilliant etc etc...then back to normal.  The other is already sorting out our season tickets and one for the little guy too.

So there you have it.  I have been through some real highs and lows in terms of friends over the last 12-13 weeks.  Some friends I have just had to accept that our lives are on different paths now.  There is no room in my life for them and theres none for me in theirs.  Those who are still here I know now that they will be for a long long time.  Those who have let me back into theirs and have welcomed a baby along for the ride I can't put into words how grateful I am.

You can never be sure of how people will react, who will be there and who won't.  Not when you break the news of pregnancy nor in any other situation for that matter.    One thing that all my friends now, and those that I have lost can be sure about, is that, for me...




"Outside My Own Head"


"When the Sunlight Stings My Eyes"

"Into the Unknown"


"Light at the End of the Tunnel"

"Through it All"

Monday, 18 August 2014

Breaking Habits

A dark, smoke filled room. Awake and aware but struggling to hold a conversation due to the amount of shit I have pumped into my body over the previous 24 hours.

"You guys have been up all night? Wow. Its been such a nice day. I've been into town, gone out for dinner..."

A guy eight years younger than me said this after I had been on a 24 hour "session". You would think this is the point where I think... STOP. It was, until the following weekend.

We always had the best intentions...the main intention being have an awesome night! The amount of times we both said "lets have a week off next week" and come Thursday we were hitting it hard until 3am despite having a full day of work ahead the next day. It became normality. Gone were the days when I went out for a night out with my mates, had a great night and went to bed. Sleep was now for the weak. Anyone who either couldn't handle or wasn't part of this culture was written out of my life. This was now what I lived for.
The feeling of the sun stinging my eyes as I walked home as fast as I could trying to look "normal". Dreading the 5 minute walk where I may actually have to interact with someone who wasn't in a self induced zombified state of awareness. Dodging shoppers and tourists, catching a flicker of my own reflection in a window and not even recognising myself on my dash back to the sanctity of my front room where 90% of the time it would continue on for another eight hours.

Nothing was going to break this cycle. I know it now and deep within myself I knew it then. That was, however, until I found out I was going to be a Dad.

Now don't get me wrong here, I wasn't totally devoid of emotion and responsibility. We both had (and still have) good jobs, a nice house, a good relationship with our families and each other, but there was only so long it could go on for without it encroaching on one or more of these aspects of our lives. At the time you kind of know that, but like I said it was always "we will have a chilled one next weekend". That weekend rarely came round.

The little miracle that is now growing inside my girlfriend saved our lives. I know this now. At around 8 weeks we found out and it all stopped. It had to. The fact that this little guy could survive 8 weeks of what we did to our bodies is a miracle in itself.

It's been difficult. Especially with friends still living the same lives. Some understand, some don't, some don't want to. All of these I will save for another post. It hit home a few weeks ago. We were on a beach...IN THE DAY!! Awake. Aware. Alive. My girlfriend said something under her breath:

"I forgot places like this existed outside my own head"

A Prologue

So I find myself writing a blog.

Something I would never have considered, that is until a phone call from my better half on a five hour train journey changed not only my life, but my perspective on everything from family and friendships, to my own morals and behaviour.

"We" are at 20 weeks right now. Half way! Until yesterday I felt alone. Yep, alone. Don't get me wrong, my family are fantastic and so is my girlfriend and the "in laws". They have shared all our excitement, offered their support both emotionally and financially and passed on words of wisdom my girlfriend and I. So why did I feel this way?

"This will be the best thing to ever happen to you"
"You are going to be fantastic parents!"
"He won't be short of love, I tell you that!"

These words echo round my head every time I question myself for feeling anything else other than happiness and excitement. Without sounding too self confident, yes, I know we will be great parents. Yes, I know it's going to change our lives...for the better. But these words of kindness are from a different generation, from people that from the outside anyone would expect to be close to me...they are my family for gods sake! But do they really know me? No. It could be my own fault for only letting them skim the surface of my life, for not being as open and honest as I would have liked or even expected to be, but that's the way things are. Writing this all down now and looking back over the last 20 weeks, it doesn't really come as a surprise that a complete stranger would set my mind at rest. A guy called Aaron Gouveia.

Someone I didn't know. Someone on the other side of the Atlantic! But it wasn't a book by some doctor, midwife or baby expert author. It wasn't someone from another generation who had "done it all before". It was just some guy telling it like it is! A guy that answered all the questions I didn't even know to ask. If you haven't already done so, check out his article "13 Things All Men Should Know About Pregnant Women"

Why isn't she finding my immature fun poking funny anymore? Does this mean she's regretting this decision to carry my baby? Why aren't my usual "moves" working? Is it because I've put on a few pounds?? Why is she shouting at me for asking if everything's okay?

They're just a few of the questions I have been asking myself over the last 20 weeks. Wondering if I should say these things out loud or if it was just part of my inherited tendency to fret and blow the most minor of issues out of proportion inside my own mind (thanks Mum!). Was it a reaction to the lack of intoxicants that my body and mind have been so badly craving? Or was it the effects from years of over indulgence with them? Possibly a bit of all the aforementioned, but reading Aarons article, apparently not (thank fuck for that!). So I intend to do the same. Maybe not offering such up front advice as Aaron has, but sharing my experience of this life changing journey into fatherhood. Going from all night benders, partying, living for the weekend to being thrust into a world of responsibility and maturity. Friends reactions, their actions (or lack of in some cases), breaking bad habits (some worse than others) and going from drunken conversations of how great it would be to "have a kid in a few years" to preparing for a really real future!

There you have it. That's why I am writing this blog. That's why I intend to barf my brain onto the internet. That's why I intend to share some of the aspects of my life that I haven't even discussed with my closest friends or family. Life is changing for me, and although I can't say I wasn't aware that there must be millions of guys in the same situation as me - I wasn't considering it! If one person reads this and is hit with the same wave of relief and realisation as I did, then my job here is done!