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 After a quarter century I finally see the sound of the Knight Rider as outdated.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!