Baby, baby, baby
Hopefully in July we will be having a baby!
So many thoughts, emotions and agh! I am processing some emotions, ignoring some and expecting some more.
When I was a child I imagined being older and have ‘a family’. I’m not sure I’d say it was a dream, but it was something I really liked the idea of and wanted. That changed when my first marriage ended as we were about to start trying for children. The sudden end to that relationship impacted me in many ways, including my desires and plans for the future. My depression then also eroded those desires; as my depressive mind meant it was impossible and undesirable to look forward. Any future plans or hopes were gone.
To be here today is… it is another life. It is a gift. It is so separate from where and who I was. The life I have now is such a privileged one. I am surrounded by the love of my kind, caring, thoughtful, beautiful wife Laura. And by three amazingly funny and cute cats. Plus, I have some amazing friends. What more could you want.
I say all this first because it’s been a journey to be here. Not to ‘get here’, this isn’t a destination for me. It has been and continues to be a journey.
Laura and I are both very excited, nervous and grateful to be pregnant.
We both know many people who are unable to have children or who have experienced miscarriages. We know there’s no guarantee and anything can still happen.
This knowledge coupled with parts of my depressive mind does mean I have found some parts of our pregnancy really difficult, particularly at the start. Because my brain needs to process the bad things first before I can accept or think about the good.
At the beginning I was very worried about Laura dying during labour, it was something I really struggled with. Both as an abstract thought and emotionally. While I knew to some extent this was unlikely and a somewhat irrational fear, it was/ is something that is possible. That meant my depressive mind held on to that. Fortunately, thanks to a few conversations with different people and after reading some pregnancy/ birth books I feel more balanced and relaxed. The fear and worry is still there, but it’s at a more manageable level.
We are at the practical point now, where we’ve looked at pushchairs, cots, mats, monitors and talked about nappies, feeding and how to manage days out. Thinking about all of these different adventures and experiences is so exciting. I think maybe naively, I’m not worried about baby and parenting things. I’m sure there will be things that are hard, scary, tiring and more. But that (currently) doesn’t scare me. It’s hopefully all opportunities to share experiences with Laura and to share our love and create a wonderful environment for our little one.
As exciting as all this is, I still always say we are “hopefully” having a baby. Yes, in part that’s my depressive brain. But it’s also the mindset of: no expectations, no assumptions, no guarantees.
I have found many people (from my point of view) seem to have so many expectations of what they deserve or expect. My life experiences have pretty much removed that from my mindset. Maybe as a way to protect me from future potential trauma or experiences. Maybe because I’m just more informed through experiences. Maybe both? But that’s why, even when writing this, I started with “we are hopefully having a baby”.
Reading, watching and listening to pregnancy and birth material has massively helped. Being more informed has helped to acknowledge and to some extent put into perspective some of my worries.
Talking through the birth process along with Laura’s birth preferences has been great. Learning more about what Laura’s wants and finds the most relaxing and comfortable environment means I feel positive about being able to provide that environment and support for Laura (while she’s doing the important work).
We have started to say no to almost all invitations from summer onwards. We don’t know what this experience will be like or how it will affect both of us yet. So having that time is valuable and important to both of us.
We have also carefully mentioned to friends and family there’s no guarantee of visits to see us in the first couple of days. Maybe we will be up to that, maybe we won’t, and it’s been tricky to manage some of those expectations other people have.
Who knows how the next few months will go. As informed as you can be there will always be opportunities to learn. What I have found is doing your own research/ learning helps. ‘Men, Love and Birth’ by Mark Harris was a really great read, with some valuable insights and information. Delivered in a easy to read friendly format. Definitely a book I’d recommend. ‘’The Expectant Dad’s Survival Guide’ by Rob Kemp has also been informative. I think reading more than one book helps, so your insight isn’t all from one person or point of view. While I haven’t read too much yet, I’m very keen on the chilled ‘Pocket Commando Dad: Basic Training’ by Neil and Tara Sinclair. There’s a lot of notes that I think I’ll be re-reading either for knowledge or to reassure myself at a later stage. There’s one or two other books I’ve read, but I wasn’t very keen on them. I’m sure they are fine, they just weren’t for me, or someone in the same place as me.
We have also started our online hypnobirthing course. Which has resulted in lots of pausing, conversation, pausing, another conversation. It’s been interesting to see a reasonable amount of overlap with some of the insights from the ‘Men, Love and Birth’ book. So while there’s new conversations and tools to learn, it hasn’t all felt new. I think each time you invest and introduce a new resource it feels like it builds on top of the last. Sometimes there’s lots of learnings, sometimes it’s just one thing. But it all adds up. Hopefully meaning we are creating a more informed and positive birthing experience and preparing for those first few days. We also have antenatal class starting soon, on top of finishing the online hypnobirthing course. Which I think we will keep referring to.
It’s an amazing wonderful privilege to be taking this journey with Laura. Hopefully everything goes well and there’s a positive update in the summer. Pretty soon I’m going to need to pay more attention to the parenting blogs, instead of the pet ones!