Monday 28 December 2009

I blame Disney

‘Cheeky little monkey’ rings out quite often in the homes of the pregnant.

Or at least it does if our home is anything to go by.

We’ve projected a playful persona upon this child. A mischievous wee bugger, scurrying from one side of the belly to the other, delightfully lodging its feet between the ribs of its host, happily toying with the idea of snapping a couple.

Every kick is interpreted as a spirited wink to the outside world, each head butt to the cervical canal a merry nod of its cap in our direction, and all occurrences of an internal organ being trod on is merely an impish wave.

We’ve mentally made this child into a rogue. A scut. A tease. Everyone does, while of course this could be complete and utter nonsense.

What if digging a heel into a bladder is the kid telling us to stop singing, or each head-first dive for the emergency exit is its way of telling us that there is a dreadful smell in there, or each fist pumped into the uterine wall is a demand for the immediate removal of Mugabe.

What if the child is a disgruntled old thing? A grump in a bump. A foetal Victor (or Victoria) Meldrew, constantly displeased with everything around it.

Simply put, we don’t know what it’s thinking, or what its bursts of activity mean. What we interpret as a pixie-like dance with an umbilical chord along to the top 40 chart countdown may in fact be the child freaking out, swinging its lifeline around its head in uncontrollable rage, like a nine iron in the paws of a pro golfer’s discontented spouse.

What makes us force a happy personality on a human who dines on their own urine and whose greatest ability is jabbing itself in the face with a fist it doesn’t know it has?

I believe we are extremely lucky that babies can’t talk, otherwise we’d be witnessing a barrage of abuse in delivery rooms and birthing centres the entire world over. We’d be inundated with complaints of being poked and pushed and prodded into uncomfortable places, being ridiculed over the weight it was carrying, cramped conditions, dreadful food, hideously uncomfortable journeys, late arrivals, and reaching the other side without a stitch of clothing.

They would reveal to us the horrifying truth that pregnancy and birth is in fact a service provided by Ryanair, a fact that we as a civilisation are just not ready to cope with.

Thursday 24 December 2009


I’m sitting here on Christmas Eve and I’m of the opinion I may be going just ever so slightly mad.

It’s not because I take my own life into my hands anytime I step outside the door, the 3 inches of ice up and down our road testing my already dubiously misaligned centre of gravity. Cranial blood on fresh snow is a tremendous sight.

It’s not because people have gone demented. Even though there’s no milk in the supermarket, the vegetable aisle is a fire hazard, and I saw an old woman bludgeon a teenage boy to death for the last six pack of Heineken. The shops do open again on Saturday, right?

It’s not because I’m twice as drunk as I ever am because my biblically pregnant other half is sipping horse chestnut juice or some such, leaving me to ‘waste not, want not’ and finish every bottle that gets opened. Those nightclub sized bottles of gin were a bad idea.

It’s not because I’ve noticed that I have a bigger gut, more stretch marks and higher blood pressure than the aforementioned human incubator, meaning that either they squirted that wallpaper paste into the wrong half of this couple or I need to eat a vegetable occasionally.

It’s not because I can’t come up with a second verse to the ‘night before Christmas’ beyond:
It was the night before Christmas, when all through the house
The foetus was kicking, trying hard to get out’

Creativity is dead, I can live with that.

It’s because now, today, on Christmas Eve we are just 7 weeks and 6 days away.

7 weeks, 6 days.

Fa la la la lah, la la la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!

Monday 21 December 2009

Was Madonna Dutch?

There are going to be a couple of interesting hurdles to navigate in bringing a child into this very below sea-level of worlds that is Holland.

The language itself doesn’t bother me, learning how to say ‘go ask your mother’ in Dutch should save most of my blushes, while proclaiming ignorance of what is being said will spare the remainder.

The food may even turn out to be an interesting experiment; the Dutch are a giant race, every single one of them directly descended from Gulliver. What better way is there to settle the nature versus nurture argument than by feeding the child of two vertically challenged individuals Dutch food and see if we grow a six-footer? I’ll see it as a challenge.

The traditions are different, but we can adjust. While the rest of the world’s children are preparing for Santa Claus this week, the great Dutch gift giver has been and gone since early December.

Sinterklaas is an elderly Bishop who sails into Holland on a barge from Spain, helped by a crew of black slaves, all named Piet. He fills the kid’s shoes with presents and quickly buggers off again after a few songs have been sung. If the kids don’t behave during the year, the bishop then kidnaps them and takes them away on his barge. We can probably come to see this child trafficking by the clergy as perfectly acceptable, we are Irish after all.

There is one thing I will truly struggle with. One thing that grates at the back of my brain, one thing that send shivers down my spine, one thing that makes me want to read another Tiger Woods story for a pleasant distraction, and that is what Dutch children call their fathers:


I have no desire to live in Walnut Grove, nor to be addressed like an aging Smurf, and certainly not to be brow beaten by a teenage Madonna.

I can be a lot of things, within a conservative and low achieving margin, but ‘Papa’ can’t be one of them.

Time to move.

Tuesday 15 December 2009


It’s getting hard to sit still. It’s getting harder still to not be still in any constructive form.

Half a disassembled wardrobe is blocking the upstairs hall, and half a tonne of IKEA’s cardboard excrement is lying outside our back door, waiting to be cut up and properly discarded. The Christmas decorations are still in the attic and my poor car could pass for an army vehicle it’s so in need of a wash.

We are close enough to be all but ready, and far enough away to be thoroughly unprepared.

I am full of great ideas though, I’ve calculated that with all the bandages and cotton wool left over from the kraampakket, we can insulate the attic. If some lazy bugger would move the Christmas decorations first.

The kraampakket has caused me to suffer an expectant father confidence blow too, it turns out the blue dinosaur in the kraampakket isn’t a blue dinosaur, it’s a blue dragon. Fire breathing et al.

How could I confuse those? This child is in for a rough time with someone who can’t tell Barney from Hannah Montana.

This was the tip of a realisation iceberg. My naivety being my Titanic, and I’m already up to my shriveling Di Caprios in icy waters.

The poor kid is screwed for entertainment.

I can’t do funny voices, other than my default one, I don’t have an imagination, not one whose manifestation into reality wouldn’t land me jail and Mena Suvari in hospital , and I’ve decided children don’t actually like me.

That last I have no proof of, but my boss doesn’t like me and that must mean something.

If I’m going to survive this, this child is going to need low expectations.

And maybe box cutters.

Thursday 10 December 2009

The kraampakket

We knew it was due to arrive.

Every pregnant woman in Holland gets a package from the health insurance companies as she approaches her due date. The package should contain everything needed for a home birth, lots of items for after birth care, and a few other bits and bobs. This is known as the 'kraampakket'

Ours arrived yesterday.

ET sat at the kitchen table as I removed the tape and started to unpack the contents of the box.

With every item I removed she turned a whiter shade of pale. It seems they are fully expecting her to bleed to death, or at the very least be guided through the birth by hungry wolves.

Pack after pack of bandages. Box after box of gauze compresses. Mattress covers, bags of cotton wool, pads, protectors, and plasters.

By the time I pulled out the bottle of 70% proof swabbing alcohol I was shaking with laughter and ETs jaw was resting on her belly.

The contents of the box were like something Florence Nightingale would be concealing beneath her petticoat.

It seems that our insurance company don’t think ET will be going into labour, she’ll be going into first world war trenches.

Clearly, the hope is we never have to use any of this, and if we don’t we can use the umbilical cord clamps to keep our Doritos fresh. I’m not sure what we will do with the baby sling they included, which could easily accommodate a large sow, a 7lb baby would be lost for a fortnight in it.

It wasn’t all doom n'gloom and nightmare inspiring paraphernalia though. Right at the bottom, underneath the hacksaw and incontinence pads, was a fluffy blue dinosaur.

Altogether now, awwww.

9 weeks, 6 days.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Horizontal stripes

It is remarkably small.


Balled up it would fit in my tightened fist, which I couldn’t even dare to do, for the baby Jesus would surely weep and governments would fall if that kind of violence were to be perpetrated against such fabric innocence.

Opened up, it fits onto the palm of my hand. The short sleeves not even long enough to hang over the sides.

It looks warm, it feels warm, but it is just so small. How can it ever be enough to protect a human torso to the extent that fingers stay warm, shoulders feel snug with a dozing head flopped against them, and a pot belly remains unbothered by draft.

It is the cause of comically disproportionate indecision . What to do with such a thing?

Should we throw open the double doors of the wardrobe, to hang it from the rail, sliding it from the left, to the centre, to the right before sliding it back again? The space below it seemingly vertigo inducing, a long way down for such a small thing.

Should we feed it into the cavernous jaws of the dresser drawer, laying it flat on the lined tongue of the huge beast before pushing its jaws shut around it? Opening and closing it twice more to make sure it’s still there, still ok in the dark, before taking it out to place it on the palm of my hand again.

Try once more, this time absurdly folding it to puff out its chest, and sliding it into the corner where it can at least keep an eye out for danger.

It is not easy to leave the room. It is not easy to put it to rest, such a small thing, the striped sweater with an anxious magnetism.

Friday 4 December 2009

Next month

Maybe it was because of the electricity bill, or the insurance perhaps, I’m not sure.

Either way, I was standing in the middle of the room trying to work out what the date was. Had we reached the 14th of November yet? or was it the 21st already?

ET looked at me as if I had grown the two extra heads to go with my chins.

It was the 3rd of December.

December. It’s December.

If this kid decides to come early, say, two weeks early which is still considered full term, it will be here next month.

Next month.

I need to renew my blood pressure prescription.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Infancy insolvency

‘I’d like a cake please.’

‘Ok sir, that’ll be €100. When would you like it?’

‘Well, the wedding is on…’

‘Oh, wait, I’m sorry, it’s a wedding cake, then that will be €850.’

Same story the world over, businesses squeezing multiple times the value of something out of poor Paddy Soap because it’s for a ‘special’ occasion.

It seems that opportunistic bastardism is in full swing in the world of baby supplies too.

Leaving aside the large items like a buggy, crib, furniture etc, babies don’t need a whole lot. To be kept warm is just about enough. This, we humans achieve by making sure the child is wearing a few scraps of cloth, and is perhaps wrapped in a few larger scraps of cloth.

A few metres of cotton, cut into a few different shapes, with the occasional bunny rabbit printed on.

Simple enough.

How on earth can less than one square metre of a cotton sheet and blanket be peddled to the public for €60? You need at least two of course, and that is at least two for the crib, and the pram, and the Moses basket.

So, to put the kid to bed we are looking at €360 and a futile hope that bedding doesn’t need to be changed more than once a day. If you don’t want to wash and dry them every bloody day you can throw a grand out the window and pawn the cat , just so the kid can catch a few Zs.

If you want avoid fumigating the house on a weekly basis you may also want to clean the child. One option is to buy back the pawned cat and train it to lick the child clean, just don’t mention that you want it for baby licking or the price will quadruple.

The other option is to do it yourself. Clean it, not lick it, I mean.

This of course means mo’money. Those delightful flannel hooded things which are basically regular towels with the hems sewn by epileptics are going for €40 a pop. Why does a facecloth cost 99 cents unless you buy it in a baby store where you have to pay €20 for a pack of 3?

When did flannel become pricier than a human kidney on the black market?

I’m not even going to start on the obscenity that is baby clothing. Socks that couldn’t hide a malteser, a hat similar akin to a golf ball warmer, and mittens that are heresy to practicality. Paying €15 for mittens for a baby that is hardly going to be driving a bloody snow plough makes my face ache.

For its first Christmas next year, this kid is getting an invoice.

Saturday 28 November 2009

Back to school

This week was ‘partner week’ at ET’s pregnancy course.

I was ready to ‘hoo-hoo-hoo’ and ‘hee-hee-hee’ with the best of them, but my self motivation was proven to be wasted when we walked through the door of the terraced house that is home to the course.

‘Tea?, or coffee?’

‘Er, no thanks.’

We hung up our coats and headed into the classroom, which was home to one of the more surreal visions I've had the pleasure to experience.

In the middle of the converted sitting room was a hospital trolley bed, on top of which was a spread of biscuits and cookies, tea and coffee.

It seems partner evening was to mostly consist of the ladies proving they that they had one, and that the gigantic swelling under their shirts wasn’t as a result of an unhinged decision to shove a rolled up cardigan up there, or from using a unisex cubicle at work.

Niceties out of the way, the instructor (who I can only assume was qualified to give the course due to being born in the not too distant past herself) began her class.

With pictures of innards, and talk of growing foetuses, she eventually worked her way up to repeated mentions of runaway turds and vaginas being snipped.

That was the moment I couldn’t decide whether I was happier that didn’t have a vagina or that I hadn’t had one of the jam biscuits on offer.

I was sorely tempted to ask how would I be able to tell which was the turd and which was the baby if they both arrived at the same time, but I held my uninspired tongue.

When she was rounding up she handed out a sheet which she claimed would be vital to us men when the time came. Despite a distinct absence of ‘hoos’ and ‘hees’ in the class, I was delighted that I might actually learn something, so I snatched my copy and began to translate.

It seems that the Dutch have a very longwinded multi-bullet-pointed way of saying ‘Don’t freak the fuck out’.

That handout won't be going on the fridge door.

Minutes later, it was goodbye turd talk, goodbye bizarrely placed and utilised hospital trolley, and goodbye an hour of my life never to be seen again.

I left with one more question than I had arrived with, what DO you Americans do for the months on end you spend at Lamaze classes?

Monday 23 November 2009


Call the cops, we’ve been burgled.

The lowest of life forms have been creeping into our house, maybe when we’ve been out, maybe while we were asleep. They’ve been sneaking into our kitchen, our bedroom, any room where they can sniff out what they want.

They find them, they take them, and they leave.

Somewhere here in South Holland they stash their loot, somewhere there is a hidey hole or concealed shoebox containing the spoils of their thievery, their ill gotten treasure, the torn out pages of our calendars.

Ordinarily the loss of a month or two wouldn’t concern me much, but now that the pixies and elves of time long stolen are up to their games, we are left with only 12 weeks until D day.

Out of nowhere, we are in week 28, and the weeks that pass are only gathering pace. It seems like only yesterday that ET was flat on her back, vagwinking at strangers at a rate of knots.

How can we only have 12 weeks left?

In two weeks we will be back home, a couple of weeks after that is Christmas, surprisingly followed by New Year. When that passes it will leave us 6 weeks from playing ‘amniotic attack’ with various soft furnishings.

To compound the realisation that we are closing in on end game, it’s come to our attention that ET is one abrupt elevator stop from having the kid’s head dangling out for all the world to see.

The midwife today confirmed that the kid is head down, in the bungee position, ready to leap from the pelvic bridge, through carnal canyon, and out into the world below.

I hope its not expecting too much when it gets here.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

No pain, no name

It’s been a big few days in the world of a very little person.

On the beautifully apt Friday the 13th last, ET received the H1N1 vaccination.

A sore arm and plenty of normal movement activity later and everything is hunky dory. There have been no convulsions, no legs have fallen off, no hair has fallen out, and no-one has fallen into a coma, so I am delighted to announce that I don’t think the vaccination is a collective governmental syndicate plan to annihilate several generations of the human race.

So, unless kiddo turns up with three ears or knuckles for knees, everyone can just shut up.

The belly dweller has a completed room to call their own. Aside from the fact the crib won’t turn up until next year, the room is ready, bar the inevitable shouting and assault with leftover IKEA pieces.

Everyone loves a child who can perform on cue, and after a little training, the prenatal parasite learned a new trick on Sunday. Little Fitz now knows how to cause its mother no insignificant amount of physical pain, and scare the living shit out of its father.

Aww, cute.

For added effect it has perfected doing this in the dead of night, just to keep us on our toes. Luckily, the midwife is less bothered by the whole event, and we carry on as normal.

Perhaps the most significant development of the last few days is that possibly, perhaps, maybe, the kid has a name. Four baby name books containing a combined total of over forty five thousand names have proven utterly worthless, yet somehow one name has wafted under our noses and we’re not at each other’s throats over it. The signs are good.

Until we see the scrunched up face resembling a melted plastic bag make its appearance we just don’t know for sure, so therefore I openly invite all boy & girl name suggestions.

I do, of course, reserve the right to mock. Severly.

Friday 13 November 2009

Stubbing toes on both left feet

The car seat on the floor has been talking to me.

A chatty bugger too, so he is. Unsurprisingly most of our conversations revolve around the transportation of its future inhabitant.

I’m not best pleased with the tone it takes either – ‘you’ll drop me you know’, ‘you’ll whack the baby’s head against the door frame walking through’, or ‘you’ll tip the baby out putting me in the car’.

I firmly responded, and confidently assured him that none of those things would happen, but in the back of my mind all the while wagging my finger at a talking inanimate object, I knew he had a point.

I break stuff, especially new stuff. My phone and iPod both ended up skidding across car parks within their first week. I catch new trouser pockets in door handles, get paint on new window blinds, and scuff my new shoes.

What if I scuff the baby?

I can’t fetch coffee for workmates without scalding myself on the return, or having to lick someone else’s espresso from the hair on my arms.

I can’t cook rice without it turning into porridge and I don’t think I’ve ever poured myself a drink in my entire life without spilling some.

What if I scald the baby, or spill it, or end up having to lick something off it?

I’m not worried about day to day stuff, I can wipe my own arse and I haven’t starved myself to death yet so I’m almost certain I can manage the same with an 8 pounder, it’s my inherent clumsiness that raises concern.

I’m surprisingly awkward for a short person.

Tripping, stumbling, catching, cutting, and pinching myself are all common events when I have a bag or a cup in my hand, but social services generally don’t bother themselves when I trap a mug in a door hinge, or spill tea on the telly.

It’s the poor underdeveloped and unsupported cranium of the human being harvested in ET’s gut they may be more concerned about.

Can you get crash helmets for babies?

Monday 9 November 2009

King & Queen of the dump

We planned it in advance.

Three months of researching, testing, comparing, doubting, pricing, and pondering - right up until we decided to make our move.

A decision which came just 24 hours before we carried out our Saturday morning attack.

Motivational music was the order of the day on our way there, nerves were evident, but we were focussed.

Bulbous drops of rain began to fall quicker on the windscreen as I turned the key in the car park, the engine falling quiet. In silence for one last moment we stared at our nemesis looming large before us.

Fighting the urge to start the car and just go home again, with fear in our throats, we readied ourselves one last time.

‘You ready for this?’

‘Yes, you?’



As fast as a heavily pregnant woman with short legs can move first thing on a weekend morning, we bolted across the car park, towards the neon sign, and through the doors. There was no turning back now. We had to go through with it, the only question now remaining was would we succeed.

Would the forces of workshy customer service spring into action, enabling their forcefield of inverted invisibility, which renders the attention of its bearer unobtainable to the mere mortal?

Would the drawbridge of ‘that is not possible’ be pulled up before we crossed the moat into the courtyard of successful transactions?

Would the conveniently reusable sword of language barrier be wielded about our heads, forcing a retreat?

We couldn’t let it happen, not now, we’d come too far. This was too important.

‘Pardon, spreek je een beitje engels?’ I asked

‘Ja’ she said.

The store blinds flapped, the lights flickered, and the other customers protectively covered their pregnant bellies as I took the deepest of breaths before closing my eyes and continuing....’wewouldlikethemutsysliderwithraincoverandthesafe-to-go-carseatand adapterset(inkakiplease)andforgoodmeasurewewouldliketoorderthatcribupthereinmilkwhitewithmatchingmattress,heresourmoney,heresouraddress,thankyouverymuchgoodbye

And exhale.

With that, we had defeated the intimidating beast that was the ‘Baby-Dump’ shop. With that, we had purchased a stroller.

It may have paid more for it than Gwen Stefani did for hers, but the accomplishment was symbolic.

Back to the car I carried the padded baby chair under my arm, like the severed head of an enemy king. The car park tarmac passed under our tired feet like the grass of a battlefield falls away from beneath those of happy warriors, the ford focus awaiting our victorious return like a faithful stallion.

The rain lashed down hard as we drove away from the grey industrial estate, and I can’t be certain, but as we accelerated up the exit for the A4, I’m sure I heard a ripple of applause sending us on our way.

Thursday 5 November 2009


The wife squatter turned twenty five weeks old yesterday.

By all accounts, it now weighs just short of 2lbs, or just under a kilo for those of you who are, well, Dutch.

All the wee bugger’s organs are present and correct. I now have a fully qualified donor match! It’s kind of like having your own vegetable patch.

I do jest of course, something I seemingly must explicitly express for those among us who’ve had transplants of their own of a humourous variety.

Anyway, all the baby’s bits and pieces are in place, its skin doesn’t look like greaseproof paper anymore, and it even has wee tooth buds forming in its gums. Hopefully it’s listening to me whispering at it in the dead of night to come out biting when it does arrive.

All junior needs to do now, is grow. Sit back on its mother’s bladder with its feet up on her spleen, gorge itself on amniotic fluid, and just grow. Grow, grow, and grow some more.

You have the hard part done kiddo, now you just got to do what comes naturally to those unfortunate genes of yours, get chubby.

After 25 weeks, take off the boil, and simmer for 15 more.

Monday 2 November 2009

Absolutely flabulous

It’s a boy.

If you ‘carry low’, that is. It’s a girl if you carry high. That’s what they say isn’t it?

What is it if you carry low and high depending on the day of the week?

This kid just won’t sit still. From an upright position last week, it seems to have started to nosedive in an attempt to take up a more horizontal position. All of which is resulting in a distortion of ET’s belly.

With the placenta behind the baby, all movements are being felt more pronounced, and even seen. On a couple of occasions ET’s gut looked like the cranium of a bald man who’d fallen head first down the stairs.

Touching this massive protruding lump is nothing short of freaky.

What I hope is the child’s head seems to push right out, almost grapefruit sized in feeling. With a wee push back, the kid takes the hint and shuffles back into another less Sigourney Weaver-esque position.

Incidentally, if it’s not his or her head, and happens to be their backside, then it’s immediately Atkins for kiddo upon its arrival. How will we ever be able to trot around town with a baby with a muffin top?

Skinny jeans from baby GAP wouldn’t make it over its thighs, junior Jimmy Choo’s would pinch its chubby ankles, and muscle tops just wouldn’t cut it with baby-man boobs.

As part of the birth plan we’ll have a pediatric personal trainer on hand to work on the flab and Baby Botox injections will be readied in case junior emerges with chicken lips. All this alongside a stylist prepared to pluck or shave or highlight or curl as needs be, while hair colour will be adjusted to compliment the bedding.

Only the best looking baby can be allowed to take up residence in a room, the unventilated painting of which seems to have caused me to sneeze ‘milk-white’ and hallucinate doorbells.

I need a lie down.

Wednesday 28 October 2009


Everyone loves a cutting cliché and a juicy generalisation.

The irritating thing about them is the fact that they often prove themselves to be true.

From the moment you start trying to conceive up, right up until your kid is attempting to lure you into a retirement home with a trail of wurther's originals you get bombarded with them.

While ‘just relax, it will happen’ was the runaway champion in the days of TTC, the days and months that follow becoming pregnant bring their own beauty.

Just you wait until…

Who knew that at any given stage of pregnancy, nothing is as big, small, scary, beautiful, endearing, or terrifying as it will be at some later stage. On the basis of this, I calculate that I will should optimal happiness when I keel over and die clutching the part of my chest that houses my lard encased heart.

One of the generalisations I scoffed at in the past was the idea that as an expectant father, I wouldn’t feel any sense of connection, or have a realisation of what was taking shape and going to happen until certain milestones were reached, ultrasounds, heartbeats, and kicks to name a few.

I wasn’t having any of this idea, along with ET, I had worked and pushed for two years to get to this point, and that in itself was evidence that I was more advanced than the average father-to-be.

I'd know better.

I was wrong.

It’s hard to believe in something you can’t see or feel the evidence of. It’s hard to put into perspective, and prepare yourself mentally for, something you find hard to believe. It’s hard to put your hand on a belly and feel no movement and be 100% satisfied that everything is as it should be, and is leading to how it will be.

As time passes the evidence starts to build. Ultrasounds initially show pictures of things that look like beans, and later show grainy images that are baby shaped. Like a couple of oranges in a sock.

You hear a heartbeat, and things change a little. Things become a little clearer in your mind, more believable.

The lucky ones eventually start to feel movements. Not a feeling like anything you recognise, you could never say with any certainty that it was a foot, or hand, or forehead. Still, a feeling nonetheless, a physical touch.

But now, I look through the 3D ultrasound pictures over and over and I see the fleshy palms of little hands. I see upper arms that I bet I could ring my own thumb and forefinger around. I see lips being pushed and probed by long fingers in the same way they will be when the baby is lying in its snot green room.

I see lids covering a child’s eyes that will soon open and look back at my stupid face gawking back at theirs.

Looking at these pictures has catapulted me as if I've reached some secret level in a computer game, from where I previously thought I believed and I connected, to a place that’s a little scary. I believe more than I ever did, I’m more excited than I ever was, but I’m now aware of how much I still can’t yet believe, and how much more excitement there will be.

I’m a relatively bright person, I can do my job reasonably well, I can stutter through a foreign language, and I can understand the 3 boxes I have to fill in on my tax forms. I can drive a car, mow a lawn, and sometimes make my wife happy.

I know I can do these now because I’ve done them all before, but I don’t recall the first time I attempted any of them going particularly smoothly.

It’s hit me that this is another ‘first’, probably the first ‘first’ I’ve had in years. I don’t know what to expect and trying to think about it too much makes my brain react the way it does with mathematics. I strain and fail to wrap all the elements of the puzzle within my poor brain’s reach, and everything remains unresolved.

In the end, I suppose I just have to do what everyone says.

Just wait until.


Monday 26 October 2009

Snot and a wave

The saga rumbles on.

Slowly and unsurely the baby’s room is taking some shape. That makes it sounds far more intricate than it really is, the reality being that it just needs some bloody painting.

So Saturday morning that’s what I did, or attempted to do at least. By the time lunchtime had come around I had managed to scald myself on the radiator and roll paint onto the blinds.

Neither of which I particularly advise or encourage, but I’m going to put those mishaps in the battle scar category.

One more coat and the kid will have its own room decorated in a colour that can only be described as along the lines of something you’d find in a used tissue. Paint companies find ‘sea green’ a preferable term to ‘snot’ though.

That afternoon we went for a 3D/4D ultrasound. Getting to have another gawk at the kidlet is enough to put a smile on anyone’s paint spattered face.

The technology is simply fantastic. The views and insights into what the child is up to in its own little bedwomb world are amazing.

We saw clear images of full cheeks, lips, nose, eyes and ears. We were able to see the child leaning into the placenta on one side like a pillow. We watched it put one hand into its mouth and play with its ear with the other. Sucking, kicking, and stretching for us while we peeked in on it.

More than once the baby spread its bizarrely long fingers open wide, raised its hands, and gave us the biggest wave from inside its own hidden little world.

I’ll probably be able to stop looking at these sometime soon.


Thursday 22 October 2009

One sick prick

The letter has been on the kitchen table for weeks.

It tells us that in 3 weeks or so, vaccinations will begin at our general practice for the H1N1 virus.

The 'Swine flu', or delightfully accusatory 'Mexican flu' as they call it here, has been fodder for breaking news headlines in the UK and Ireland for months.

Not so much here in Holland.

The level of awareness is high, and the practical everyday precautions are promoted and supported. People are encouraged to stay home if they feel ill, which to be honest isn’t exactly a foreign concept to the Dutch anyway.

Even with all this taken into account, the Dutch are rolling out their first wave of vaccinations to the public in November, starting with their target or ‘at risk’ groups. As a woman past 13 weeks of pregnancy, ET is in this group.

Which poses the inevitable dilemma, to get the vaccination, or not.

It’s hard to separate the facts and reality from the flashing yellow headlines that do more to scare than inform.

Our scanning every story of another death attributed to the virus is annexed with searching for the term ‘underlying medical condition’. More often than not, it’s been there.

The vaccine is simply untested in any significant quantity for its effect on the unborn. If I’m wrong and there is something somewhere, anywhere that says otherwise we’ll gladly read it.

In one of the most densely populated countries in the world, there is a very good chance that we have been exposed to the virus in some shape or form already.

ET is healthy. Irritatingly so if you must know, with her perfectly smug blood pressure readings et al. In other words, no ‘underlying medical condition’ annex here.

Those who are informed in, and involved with the care and support for pregnancy and pregnant women, yet not connected or motivated via association or financial gain, have not promoted the receiving of the vaccine. Midwives have spoken frankly about the pro and cons of both options, pointing out that in the worst case scenario where ET would catch the virus; she would most likely be no more affected than any other winter flu.

More interestingly, of all the women in her antenatal class, all of whom who have been given the same letter and possibility to receive the vaccine, none of them are taking it. Not one.

All this helps to support our initial reaction, to not receive the vaccination, but of course it’s not that black and white.

What if she doesn’t take it and something happens? What if she does take it and something happens?

We still see the flashing yellow breaking news stories, so we still don’t know what is for the best, and the letter is still on the kitchen table.

Any constructive or informed opinion is welcomed.

Monday 19 October 2009

Kid Rock

Kidlet is now the proud owner of a pair of headphones.

I say 'proud' without being absolutely certain, but I'm taking its stoic silence as a sign of quiet pride.

I've decided that I can't let its host and mother rot its developing brain with whatever jingle separates episodes of 'girls of the playboy mansion', and so I'm piping in the tunes.

Whatsit's remaining life in the womb will be like strolling around Tesco or hanging around a petrol station forecourt, without knowing it, it will be subliminally educated in the sounds of Nina Simone, Jeff Buckley, The Beatles, Christie Hennessey et al.

And maybe some others who are actually, well, alive.

The headphones themselves are big comfortable belly spanning padded things, which if they are actually over the baby's ears, it means we have one hideously odd shaped child on the way. In reality, there is probably one earphone on the kids forehead, and another sending Chrissie Hynde vibrations right up its arse.

It's a secret hope of mine that ET falls asleep with them stretched across the bump so I can draw a face on her gut with permanent marker.

I'm choosing to ignore the blatant possibility of the opposite being true, but due to the way it kicked up a storm 30 seconds into the opening beats of James Morrison live in concert last night, I'm of the firm belief that the kid likes a bit of music.

That's what I'm using to justify spending more on the baby's headphones than I did on its new wardrobe. A fact which is much more indicative of the quality of the wardrobe than the headphones.

Anyway, all suggestions for decent (i.e. not Canadian) tunes for the bellydweller will be greatly appreciated.

Rock on.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Vag 101

To celebrate being 22 weeks up the duff and having a very attractive foetus, ET has wandered off into the night and gone to her first class.

Taking into account the very real possibility of a translation error we are hoping it’s an antenatal class she's gone to and not motor maintenance or HTML for beginners.

What do they actually teach at these things? I’ve only ever seen what the occasional sitcom has to offer and that usually ends in one of the characters being horrified at the thought of what lies ahead.

I hope she doesn’t come back horrified.

I hope she’ll learn all kinds of wonderful things like how to push a human out of herself, how to not need stitches, and how to behave like a lady at all times during labour.

I hope she comes back able to huff and puff and blow the house down like they do on the telly, with a whole new vocabulary of purposeful ‘uuh-uuh-uuuuuhs’ and ‘aah-aah-aaaaahs’.

I hope she comes back with a healthy glow and a perineum that could strangle a small woodland animal.

I hope she comes back with a set of lady muscles that could beat me in an arm wrestle.

Most of all, I just hope she finds the bloody place.

Monday 12 October 2009

Bubbles & the superhero

It first happened just over a week ago.

She had already been feeling movements for a couple of weeks, squirmy, twisting feelings. They have become more and more frequent, and following a pattern.

Last weekend she called me downstairs to announce that she had felt the baby move again, but this time, from the outside. I stood there with my hand pressed to the spot for God only knows how long, only to be left kick-less.

The following night we tried again, ET lay in bed announcing every time she felt something and I’d swiftly grab my pound of flesh.

Still nothing.

I decided that if the mountain wouldn’t kick for Mohammed, then Mohammed would jiggle and poke the mountain, while shouting rude names at it.

It worked.

With my palm flat on ET’s lower belly there came what I can only describe as a bubble rising to the surface. It wasn’t a pointed kick or jab, just a soft rounded mass coming close to the area of skin on skin.

Our first high five.

‘Well, hello kid.’ It does me well to imagine you come when I swear at you.

Throughout last week the movements have continued, and increased. Quiet during the day at work, and lively in the evening when ET gets home. She is not overly impressed with the idea that the kid only seems to get jiggy when it is at home with me wobbling, poking, and roaring at it.

Twenty and a half weeks was quite early to feel a first movement from the outside, but the midwife has explained why.

It seems the placenta is not between baby and belly, but rather behind the baby, leaving the belly dweller‘s movements one less obstacle to be felt through.

How cool is it that my child is wearing its placenta like a cape, not an apron?

With a look that would get it community service and a suspended sentence if it were to try it 20 years from now, kidlet is living out its days as a wee naked uterine superhero.

Thursday 8 October 2009

You'll take someone's eye out with that

Even though it would undoubtedly make 'him' quite famous, or 'her' Jerry Springer famous, not to mention us filthy rich, I have to quell a myth.

That is not, I repeat not, an enormous penis posing for the cameras on the ultrasound picture.

Genitalia fatter than our arms is not a family characteristic. A fact which allows the female members to breathe a sigh of relief. And walk in straight lines.

That is not to say that there is, or isn't, a normal sized one tucked away in there somewhere, curled up just waiting to be a source of shame and embarrassment for the child, and probable hilarity for everyone else.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, yesterday marked 21 weeks.

It's been a week in which we laid 20% of a floor, we chose a colour I previously never knew existed, and we finally brought home a drawer that the baby could sleep in, if it were able to assemble flat-pack furniture.

Under the heading of 'you couldn't make it up', ET's pregnancy brain made her adamant that somewhere in the house we have chocolate covered Doritos.

We don't. Thankfully.

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Bumps on tour

Holidays. Who doesn’t love them?

Weeks filled with parading around in flip-flops, swigging orange Bacardi Breezers, donning airport sunglasses, dodging sexually transmitted diseases, and publicly showcasing your questionable fashion sense.

That was how they went in the past, at least. Not anymore.

Now you are wallowing in maturity and impending fatherhood, filled with responsible notions and a sense of familial protection. In other words, you’re screwed.

It starts on the way to the airport. Or to the train station. Or bus station, rik-shaw rank, swinging-vine terminal, or whatever your chosen mode of transport happens to be.

Your lady friend is visibly ‘with child’ so there is no way on Lucifer’s lush planet that she can be seen carrying anything heavier than lip balm or a mobile phone in your presence. That leaves you lugging three suitcases up escalators, on and off two wheeled trolleys, and heaving their slippery-from-your-own-sweat masses up onto the check-in belt.

Should she even look in the direction of a suitcase handle, you will be struck down by the evil eye of public shame.

When you arrive on the other end, you must repeat the same physical abuse lest you become the recipient of ‘foreigner scorn’. That’s worse than normal scorn because it’s scorn with an accent, tan, and good teeth.

You then proceed to spend 7 hours of each day searching for the nearest acceptable bathroom, followed by 3 hours standing outside it, holding bags filled with maternity bras and trying desperately not to look like someone who should be reported to shopping centre security.

When you are finally out of the accusing glare of mall pervert-cam, you get your holiday reward.

You are free to walk the streets hand in hand with her of swelled belly fame, and nothing quite beats that.

Granted, it’s not a Piña Colada, inflatable donkey or a sombrero you are dragging behind you, but it is your entire family. Your whole family wrapped up in amniotic and uterine goodness. Safe and cosy inside a bump, drawing sheepish half smiles from the people you catch looking from face, to bump, to face.

Orange Breezers always tasted like piss anyway.

Friday 2 October 2009

Spread those legs, baby

I learned something today.

I discovered that if there’s ever a good time to yank out one of your wife’s rogue subterranean hairs, right before she sees her unborn baby is it. She just can’t stay mad.

With the gel squirted over her belly like something from cheap German porn, the tech fired up the ultrasound.

Boom. There it was, kidlet in full high definition with a heartbeat in stereo. It was big sized, baby shaped, and swinging its arms akin to an overweight drunken uncle fighting with the best man at a wedding.

It was stunning to see a real big baby in there, not just a shape.

The tech went about her business, zooming in on the brain, heart & other organs, legs and spine. It took two sessions for her to see all she wanted to check, with everything looking and measuring just perfectly.

There was one single negative point in the whole thing though, it appears that we, two shortarses, are having a shortarse baby.

Screw you Darwin.

It’s not easy to see what the ultrasounds show when zoomed in, we spent 2 minutes cooing at our baby’s cute face which we thought was staring right at the screen only to be told we were actually ‘ooohing’ and ‘aaahing’ over its kidneys.

Bloody cute kidneys though.

Then came the money shot, the declaration of pink or blue, the choosing of a flavour, boy or girl.

The tech peered between the baby’s legs long enough to make Gary Glitter uncomfortable before passing on the good news.

After years of people knowing far too much about this wee thing even before it existed, it can stay as secret good news, for now at least.

Wednesday 30 September 2009

Half way home

We are half way home.

Hopefully, with a little luck we are hurtling safely over the Atlantic about now, and not bobbing about in it, clinging to a KLM catering trolley and waving up at CNN helicopters.

That would make for a very dramatic movie of week, but for a lousy birthday.

Today I turn 32, and that just makes me realise how miserable the last few years have really been. 30 and 31 had nothing to offer beyond disappointment and doubt.

Now all that is turned on its head, and this birthday is the first full of expectation and excitement since those in the days of single digits and Knight Rider.

Unsurprisingly, the scut in the gut is upstaging me again. Today ET turns 20 weeks, a point we couldn't even imagine one year ago. From here the weeks are counting down instead of counting up.

I can't wait for Friday for another good look at the kidlet, to have a look at who is squirming around inside ET, at who has been shoving their arse into her bladder and making my holiday a continuous search for the nearest bathroom.

A happy birthday indeed, 20 weeks.

We are half way home.

Friday 25 September 2009

Fast forward

In one week everything will change.

Next Friday we have an ultrasound scheduled. It will be a check on the health and development of the baby of course, but I'm not worried about that.

I'm excited to the point of involuntary urination because in one week we will find out the baby's gender. In one week we'll know if he is a she, or if she is a he, or if it is a what-the-fuck.

In a week we will be having a 'son', or a 'daughter'.

I'm not one for wanting holidays to end, but I just want to fast forward the next seven days.

In a week, a name we are nowhere near to chosing will come from a list half as long as it is today.

ET has her own body to give form to what is happening, physical changes that she can point to on a daily basis that reassure and remind her along the way. For me, things that apply flesh to the bones of what's happening have been few and far between, usually the glimpse of or sound of a heartbeat. For me, knowing the gender is a big one.

In seven days I will know one new small fact. One that will affect how I approach everything from then onwards, until I reach my own, most probably undignified and cardiac related, end.

A little girl, or a little boy. Anyone care to predict?

Monday 21 September 2009


It’s 10am. Or 4am. I’m not so sure anymore.

The gut is waking up.

The television is on and some over enthusiastic Chinese man is trying to convince me to pick up the phone and buy something that I can’t possibly live without at 4:30am. It seems dead of the night TV is the same on both sides of the Atlantic.

The gut has just hopped up from the bed thanks to a leg cramp.

ET’s belly made two significant ‘pops’ at 12 and 16 weeks, and it seems that now, at almost 19, it has popped a little more.

We can’t be certain if it is just rumbling intestines or not, but she has been feeling flutters and movements. Very noticeable when cycling, and settling when she has eaten.

The gut has just announced she thinks it’s awake. Not a bad way to start a holiday.

So that’s all three of us with our European body clocks, wide awake in Montreal at 5am.

Any Montreal Monday morning suggestions for me and the mutating mammy?

Friday 18 September 2009


I think I may have things a little arse-over-tit.

No thanks to IKEA and their oversized furniture, nor Ford and their undersized cars for that matter, this poor kid doesn't have any furniture, nor a floor to put it on. Don't mention painted walls or strollers, and he couldn't even sleep in a drawer because we just don't bloody have one.

I'm not going to panic, no sir, not even when I know it could take 8 weeks to deliver furniture and we are away for the next 2 weeks and before you know it you have a baby in a shoe box and a visit from child protection services. No, no panic.

Yet I've been disproportionately concerned about about the belly dweller's musical exposure, especially live.

I refuse to acknowledge the pub racket it had to put up with just 10 days post conception, and I'm not going to give Bono the satisfaction of being his first musical outing either. The way I see it, if he didn't have ears, it didn't count.
The child that is, not Bono. Bono has ears unfortunately, otherwise he couldn't wear those sunglasses.

Regardless, I forge on, and tonight the kid will feast his fledgling ears on the one and only Ray LaMontagne.

There's nothing that can kick start a holiday quite like an introverted manic depressive hermit who sings through a hole in his beard.

What I am really curious about is what will he hear in there, deep in the amniotic waters of ET's mutating gut? Guitar? trumpets? vocals? a Dutch audience who won't shut up?

From what I've read in those books, you can replicate what it sounds like for the wee thing...

Turn up the volume, click play, and put your head in the toilet.

Monday 14 September 2009

Secrets - Part Three: Bite-Size Edition

Pregnant women can be - inconsistent.

Some women who are with child have a tendency to occasionally change their mind.

By 'a tendency' I mean 'an unstoppable raging urge'. 'Occasionally' is also probably better described as 'all the bloody time'.

Work it to your advantage by making your own preferred suggestions a week in advance. They will be shot down immediately as the fodder of a buffoon, but later presented back to you as almost angelic ideology which must be implemented without further delay.

Pregnant women snore.

They snore with such thunderous force that Sri Lankan fisherman flee inland, Gazelle raise their nostrils to the dusk sky before galloping into the undergrowth, and Californian office workers dive for cover under their desks.

As fear inducing as that may be, there is no scale, Richter or otherwise, that could measure the darkness of the scowl that is unleashed should you indicate your yawning is in any way related to her nocturnal soundtrack.

Nipples take on super powers.

Some days those things can work their magic through woolly cardigans and overcoats. Forget about cutting glass, you could blow a hole in the front door of a Catholic church with one of those things when the time is right.

Unpredictable and dangerous, keep an eye out, or they'll take an eye out.

Pregnant women make life and death decisions.

About your life, at least.
A pregnant woman may take offence to the tired ramblings of a husband who thinks he's funny, but isn't really, and she may decide to slit his throat while he is indulging in his nightly 2 hours of sleep. Then again she may weigh this up against the holiday that that is finally just around the corner and content herself with the knowledge that she will be patting her bump in a Montréal cafe within a week.

Husbands are for life, not just for insemination.

Thursday 10 September 2009

Run for the border

We all have it pretty easy at the moment. Now, with 17 weeks of pregnancy gone, kidlet has easy passage to wherever she goes.

Free to cross borders at will, so long as the grump with a bump doesn't offend any immigration officials.

This liberty will be short lived. In 23 weeks or so, our spawn will be born unto the world, into a country it is not a citizen of.

Current citizenship laws of Ireland and the Netherlands are in tandem, and place of birth does not automatically qualify you for citizenship, parentage does. Therefore, when the wife squatter makes its appearance on the Dutch landscape, it will be an Irish citizen by default.

All nice and dandy.

Except when we want to leave the country. With Holland being marginally bigger in area than a Tesco's car park, leaving the country is not uncommon.

Up until 2005, Irish children could travel under the passport of their parents, but since then they are required to have their own.

In short, if we want to take the fruit of my loins, laboratory mix-ups aside, back home for a weekend, they need a passport. Should we need to get to Ireland in an emergency any time from next February onwards, the kid needs a passport.

This includes a passport photograph.

How do you take a passport photograph of someone who can't hold up their own head? Sellotape?

How do you specify eye colour on the legal travel documentation of someone who even if they did keep their eyes open long enough for you to check, you'd see they don't have any bloody colour?

How does an immigration official compare the actual appearance of a 1 year old with their passport photograph taken as a 3 week old while still coughing up bits of umbilical cord?

Do ultrasound pictures come in passport size?

Monday 7 September 2009

Secrets - Part Two

The pedantic among you will say this is more of a tip than a secret, I know this because my own nature is causing a civil conflict between the pedants and the mockers living in my brain.

Regardless of the inner turmoil and my fear of promoting miss-categorisation, this tip shall be deemed a secret.

Simply put, don't laugh at her. Ever.

You may well find it amusing that she is sobbing into her pizza over Grey's Anatomy, which incidentally is being shown 5 days a week with back to back episodes. Thank you NET5 for that. Bastards.

But don't laugh.

You may even find it hilarious when the grump with a bump is sitting distraught on the side of the bed in her underwear, having tried on and discarded both her normal clothes which are too small now, and her maternity clothes which are still a bit too big.

Don't laugh.

You may almost run the car off the motorway from shaking with stifled laughter when she phones you on your way to work in floods of tears because she can't find her shoes.

Don't laugh.

She knows how to grow new arseholes, so will quite happily tear you a new one.

Thursday 3 September 2009

No walk in the park

Last weekend we went to 'Baby Dump'.

The name? Don't ask, I don't know.

While it sounds like the setting for a Stephen King novel, or some sort of shrine to infant excrement, it is simply a baby goods store.

The kind of place that would have made our faces explode just 4 months ago, it still felt more than uneasy walking around there, but we had a scouting mission to complete.

Eye opening, to say the least.

Did you know that you must have 154 different types of baby seat/bassinette to attach to a stroller?

You need one kind to carry the kid to the car, another for in the car, another to remove him from the car, another to bring him back in home, another to rock him to sleep in, another to have him actually sleep in, another for Tuesdays, another if you need to go to the supermarket, and another if you plan on coming home again.

All of these need different adapters to connect to the one Über stroller that you will have remortgaged your house to buy.

You didn't know that? Idiot.

Each of these seats come with their own colour coded set of accessories too. Rain covers, sleet covers, snow covers, fog lamps, alloys, bear traps, fire extinguishers, and flick knives.

All available in midnight magenta and sea-surf blue, all essential enough to make not having them akin to child abuse, and all costing a day's wages.

Then you have the mini sleeping bags because blankets are just so passé, and you never know when your stroll in the park could turn into a trek across the arctic circle.

We left with half a dozen brochures and no idea about what we might need or not need.

What the grump-with-a-bump and I did learn is that transporting nuclear waste is less complicated and expensive than taking a baby to the post office.

Monday 31 August 2009

Today I put away childish things

When I was younger there a sound that never ever failed to excite me, whether listening to it or mimicking it.

Whoow-Whoow, Whoow-Whoow, Whoow-Whoow.


David Hasselhoff's genius car in Knight Rider. The laser would Whoow-Whoow back and forth on its bonnet, and you knew something brilliant was going to happen.

For hours after every episode it was commonplace to repeat the sound until my face hurt. Whoow-Whoow, Whoow-Whoow, over and over with the accompanying facial expressions of a randy goldfish.

Even today, twenty or twenty-five years on, I catch myself making that sound. Whoow-Whoow.

Today, I heard a very similar sound. Noticeably faster, and with no pauses, and no full-stops.

Whoow-Whoow, Whoow-Whoow, Whoow-Whoow, Whoow-Whoow, Whoow-Whoow. Over and over again.

A heart beating. Our kidlet's heartbeat. Fast, constant, and strong.

ET, the midwife, and I, respectively lying, standing, and sitting. All three of us holding our breath with instinctive silence, listening for the first time to someone who didn't even know we were there.

Eavesdropping. Broadcasting its first unwittingly audible movements to an outside world it knows nothing of. A pre-natal pirate radio, that we were privileged to hear for a few moments.

Just stunning.

The sound has been going around my mind ever since. After a quarter century I finally see the sound of the Knight Rider as outdated.

I'll still mimic the sound in my head, only from today on it will be noticeably faster, with no pauses, and no full-stops....

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Secrets - Part One

There are a few books in circulation that offer advice to men with a pregnant partner.

Some are serious and full of biology lessons for the men who can only deal in facts. Why they turn that colour, why those smells like that, and why you will never ever get to do that again.

Some are aimed at the metrosexual, or the new age man, full of ways to support and encourage the earth-mother to be, bursting with suggestions for sounds of the rainforest soundtracks, and reasons why you should be delighted if she decides to give birth alongside badgers in a ditch.

Some are oh-so-funny for the knuckle draggers who aren't quite sure how they ended up in this predicament. Full of jokes and anecdotes about clumsy, dopey, yet ultimately endearing fathers-to-be. Brimming with all the appropriate lies to tell the shed sized woman yelling and waddling around your house.

All of these variations have some worth. All are accurate in their own way. All reflect the truth under the right light.

Whatever angle they take, they always revert to the image of the curled-up-on-the-sofa couple, or the oversized scarf wearing, hand-holding in the park couple, where everything is just about a palatable shade of bliss.

None of them tell you the one thing that every man should know. None dare to pull the rug from under the feet of the poor expectant father and land him on his arse on the hardwood floor of reality.

You can not, and will not, EVER win an argument while your partner is pregnant. In fact, my guess is most poor bastards won't for the 6 or 12 months that follow.

Forget it. Totally, utterly, and completely forget it.

She will never have to do anything if she doesn't feel like it, meanwhile you can never refuse to do anything you don't feel like doing.

'Well I am busy growing a human', 'but the baby wants it', and the more accusatory 'I'm carrying your child you know' are all just variations on that theme which will see you running around like a blue arsed fly for the foreseeable future.

Whichever flavour of father-to-be you are, everything boils down to - you're screwed, dude.

You're welcome.

Monday 24 August 2009

Excuse my French

'Mind your Ps and Qs' they say.

Or is it peas and queues? I never did understand that phrase.

Regardless, it's time to pay heed to what gets said around here because apparently the kidlet can now hear.

I seemingly have to watch my tongue because the 3 ounces of baby squatting inside the wife has the ability to listen.

I'm supposedly safe enough for a week or two because it doesn't yet understand what it hears. It just hears. Me too buddy, me too.

If it's a girl I'm probably safe for the next thirty years or so because I'm yet to encounter one that pays any attention whatsoever to what I say.

The idea of it weighing 3 ounces is worth a chuckle. 3 ounces is barely a house party.

Occasionally these books supply me with a titbit that make all the drivel about grapes and pineapples worthwhile. This weeks one is about the kidlet's skin.

Apparently, it's translucent.

Yes folks, like just like Atari 2600 joystick I had 20 years ago, or the special edition Xbox that lends its very name to this domain, little Fitz is bloody transparent. Veins, arteries, intestines, and organs are all on display inside its wee body like custard creams and lemon meringues in a bakery.

I'm not a fan of using this word, but how cool is that? How cool would that be in a grown up? You could watch the 4 cups of morning coffee work their magic, you could see the tightening of a colleague's anus when your boss yells at them, you could watch your uncle's liver change colour throughout the course of your cousin's wedding day.

Here we are, on the cusp of 15 weeks, and on our hands we have a 3 ounce ball of transparent kid. Listening to every f-u-c-k-i-n-g word we say.

Thursday 20 August 2009

Purely hypothetical, naturally...

Once upon a time, long long ago, a single sperm emerged from from a tribe of billions.

Armed with nothing more than a puffed chest, retracted shoulders, and a fledgling sense of direction, he came to win.

Fresh from the trials of being launched at breakneck speed, washed, spun, and launched again, he emerged victorious.

The first, and only to reach the summit of the tallest mountain in the promised land.

There he did feast, make merry, deliver his genetic cargo, and in his wake left the beginnings of another leaf to the great tree of humanity.

In that very spot, now grows a human. Feet and ears and forehead and ribs and future wobbly bits.
In that very spot, he or she sits and grows and waits.
in that very spot, he or she listens and watches.

My question is, what does it see?

More to the point, what does it see when ET loses control of her passions and has her wicked way with me?

Does it float there, gumming on its little fist, watching all-too-infrequently deployed shoals of man-milk flurry aimlessly around its environment?

Do little groups of sperm mange to find their way through the cervix and up into the kidlet's playground?

Is it sitting there with an incomprehensible sense of déjà vu as it watches hundreds of replays of its own previous adventure?

Is the wee one aware of the genetic genocide taking place just millimetres away?

Are there dozens of redundant sperm warriors sprayed across its amniotic sac like insects on a windscreen?

Will we even need to bother with 'the birds & the bees' lessons?

Cold shower time, methinks.

Monday 17 August 2009

360 in 365

It's embarrassing.

I don't like reading old entries, most of them at least.

They are usually bad attempts at humour, or full of cringe worthy naivety, or plain and simply painful. Those are the worst, the ones where I can read what seems to be someone else talking about hopelessness, seemingly endless.

One year ago today I wrote:

That was our 17th cycle. 10 more failed attempts followed that one.

One year further on, one wedding anniversary further on, we are standing somewhere that feels like the centre of everywhere.

Last year we celebrated our third anniversary with nothing. Sour taste, looming shadows, and no way out.

Next year, our fifth, we won't be alone. Someone else will be living in our house, someone else's clothes with be in the cupboards, someone else's stuff will be cluttering up the hallway.

Can you believe that?

I can't.

As much as we worked to get here, and even with as much time as we've had over the years to prepare, I still don't really believe it. Every week brings something else that makes my stomach drop just a little. A sign that I'm slowing 'getting it'.

I'm slowly and gradually believing it.

This year we are sitting here, marking our anniversary quietly. Full of expectation in every possible sense of the word.

I'm full of disbelief at how just much disbelief I find myself in. The changes from last year, the changes to next, and the here and now.

Here and now, the centre of everywhere, the spot from where we have the perfect 360 degree view.

Thursday 13 August 2009

Things to come

As far as being a pair of immigrants goes, we've had it good.

For a dozen reasons Holland is a great place to be based. One of which, while not very important in the grand scheme of things, is my favourite.

We have always been able to see the best gigs, in great venues, not half an hour away from our front door, and all for ridiculously little money.

Autumn and Winter see the best shows roll into Amsterdam, and I always keep a beady eye on what's coming up.

One in particular ET asked me to arrange tickets for, The Swell Season at the end of November.

Bearing in mind a progressing pregnancy, that would have been as good a time as any to see them. Tickets were bought, and plans were made

Until today, when a taste of our future concert going abilities popped into my inbox.

The concert is postponed. Until February next year. Falling delightfully on ET's birthday, but less delightfully 6 days after her due date. The irony of The Swell Season coming to town at the height of her own swelling season has not gone unnoticed.

An abrupt stop to our gallop, cheekily reminding us that our time isn't our own for very much longer. Oh well petal, this will have to do you.

I'll try and pick you up a t-shirt, okay?

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Books in her belly

Pregnancy books are full of rubbish.

We have half a dozen of them and check them nine times a day, but they are full of rubbish none the less.

By all accounts, and I would dearly love to know how they know this, if you were to touch the kidlets palms right now, it would close its fingers.

Likewise, a tickle to the soles of its feet would make its toes curl.

Has someone, somewhere found a way to tickle the palms and soles of 13 week old foetuses?

Basically, its all made up to make fools like me buy books. It works a treat mind you.

More irritating than being conned into dropping 20 quid a time to be fed a load of unfounded nonsense, is the fruit comparison of the week. Little Fitz is the size of a peach.

Peaches give me the creeps. Fruit should not be furry. Humans should not be likened to furry fruit. Not to mention that Roald Dahl wrote a book about a boy called James having adventures in a giant peach. That's just creepy.

The idea that my son or daughter is being compared to something furry, supposedly edible, yet large enough to host a mischievous boy is far too psychedelic for me to handle on a Tuesday morning.

Shudder. And breathe.

In better news from the land of useless information, the kids face is looking more human, and its ears are in the 'right place'. I'm not sure where they were hanging out before now, but either way, there'll be no Lord of the Rings cameos for this bundle of joy.

Its kidneys are secreting urine. I'm not even remotely ashamed to say that I find it very amusing to think of the baby piddling all over its mother.

Also, kidlets neck is now strong enough to support head movements. This is very reassuring, because if there is one thing this kid of ours is going to need, it's a tough neck.

Oh, and, thirteen weeks tomorrow. Yikes.

Thursday 6 August 2009


I make a lot of people sick.

I know that those of you still struggling to conceive must regularly want to embed a stiletto heel into my windpipe, so just for you, I'm going to irritate other expectant couples.

Yesterday we hit 12 weeks.

In those 12 weeks not one fluid ounce of vomit has passed ETs lips. We had one single day flirting with nausea but other than that ET has felt great.

She could stake a claim for a medal in many Olympic sleeping and urinating events, and occasionally her mood has swung more than your average middle class English couple on a dirty weekend away, but all in all the first 12 weeks have passed without a hitch.

Therefore, I was ready to give the whole human harvesting experience to date a B+.

That was until yesterday.

Yesterday, on the stroke of 12 weeks, she 'popped'.

I came home to find her hiding behind a bump. One serious looking bump. In the absence of photographic evidence, I can only best give an indication of how much of a bump it is by saying that I think the kidlet wants to be born in November.

Maybe it's thinking of the tax benefits of an early appearance, maybe ET is part sheep, or maybe my uber man milk is so potent upon direct application that it has initiated the gestation of a superhuman.

Today, she was planning to inform specific colleagues at work about the pregnancy. The bump saved her the bother. The most recent report I received from her was that she had just been brought ice cream.

Regardless of how she seems to be mercilessly taking a confectionary advantage of the situation, the stealthy manner in which the bump has appeared makes me award a last minute A- to the first 12 weeks.

Now, anyone know how I can have a door widened?

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Fries with that?

We've ordered an off the rack, self-service, no frills birth.

Somewhere, hopefully in mid February next, we'll grab a bag and head off to the Mcternity ward and pick ourselves up an extra value happy kiddie meal.

What am I rambling on about? Dutch births is what.

Yesterday we met with a midwife for the first time. To be technical, she was a stand-in midwife, but a mid-wife none the less.

We will be dealing with a nice local practice, which oddly has the most steep spiral staircase I've ever seen leading up to it. Lets just say I won't be walking up them behind ET once her balance comes into question. I'm convinced many a male partner has met their fateful end at the bottom of those stairs, the last life breath flattened out of them by a combination humongous pregnancy bulk and unsuccessful attempts at defying gravity.

The practice has 4 midwives, all of whom we will be meeting in the coming 6 months, so that we are all familiar and happy with each other. When the big day comes, it could be any of the four that throws me dirty looks and tells me to grow a pair.

Our first session was an overload of information, things we must do, when we must do them, things we could do, and when we could do them. Our choice is for a hospital birth, which remarkably is not the most common choice here in Holland. Home births are first choice, coffee shops are the second favourite location, with among the tulips and canal births joint third preferred birthing venues.

I may have made some of that up.

There not being a medical reason for being at the hospital, means that we will really only be using their space, drinking their coffee, and messing their bed linen instead of our own. The midwife will be there of course, but all going well, there will be no appearance from a doctor whatsoever.

In fact, if all goes to plan, the first time a doctor will attend to this kid will its first snotty nose, or its first bar fight injury, whichever comes first.

Ironic really, considering the number of medical professionals who've taken a spanner to ET's undercarriage just to get us to this point.

In one way I find this a little freaky, but I'm surprised at how calming the Dutch approach to pregnancy and birth seems to be.

Of all the things I learned yesterday, the coolest of the cool is that if there are no complications, we would all be home again within two hours of the birth.

We are going to a bloody baby drive through!