Saturday, 16 March 2019 – My Day Of Discovery
I never wake up in the morning anxious about going to the bathroom, but today is an exception, which is stupid, because I’m anxious about something that professionals have told me won’t happen.
I’m also pissed off, because this particular form of anxiety is something I promised myself I wouldn’t succumb to, and it’s something I’ve warned the woman lying asleep next to me about as well, so now I’m a pissed-off, anxious hypocrite.
She’s wearing Frosties pyjamas, the woman next to me – as in Frosties, the Kellogg’s breakfast cereal. Tony the Tiger smiles at me as if to say, ‘You never know, mate, even the pros get it wrong sometimes.’
In my head, I instruct Tony to go and fuck himself.
Back to the woman lying next to me. She’s the only thirty-something woman I know who occasionally still gets ID’d for alcohol. She looks the same this morning as she did last night, apart from the odd bit of dribble (which I love).
She stirs and then opens her eyes and smiles. After four and a half years, that smile still shatters me.
But then she remembers what we have to do this morning, and I can tell from her facial expression that anxiety has hit her as well. ‘Shall we go to the bathroom?’ she says.
I nod, but not without trying to invoke a thread of my Don’t Be Anxious campaign. ‘What must we remember?’ I say without a hint of shame.
‘Not to get our hopes up,’ she says. ‘I’m not … don’t worry.’
At least I’m not the only liar in our relationship this morning.
We shuffle to the bathroom. The woman sits on the toilet and begins peeing on a stick. Tony the Tiger is still smiling. I want to slap him in the face, but that would result in me slapping the woman I love on the right tit, which would be awfully bad timing on my part, because she’s been complaining of pain in that area recently.
Which brings us to now. It’s been almost two years without success. The woman peeing on the stick has some body parts that aren’t working correctly, body parts that are critical to the thing we’re trying to accomplish, parts that doctors want to remove surgically. Pregnancy will not happen naturally, they said. That’s why they have also put us on a waiting list for IVF.
And yet she’s peeing on a stick because she doesn’t ‘feel right’.
But with the odds overwhelmingly stacked against us, it’s pointless to get our hopes up, which is why I began the Don’t Be Anxious campaign in the first place. Oh, I should add that we tried the pee-on-a-stick game yesterday and the results were not what we wanted.
Not everything’s in the ‘Nope’ column, though. The woman’s boobs have been hurting her recently, and she’s been in a shitty mood; so much so that I’ve reconsidered slapping Tony, after all.
There could be dozens of reasons why she’s experiencing pain; might one of them be the one we want? Another item to add in the ‘Not-Nope’ column is that we have a difference of opinion about the validity of yesterday’s results. I’m adamant it was one line, while she thinks there might have been the briefest-of-brief, faintest-of-faint appearances of the much-coveted second line. It would hardly be the first time that I’ve been wrong about something and she’s been right (not that I would ever be stupid enough to admit that). I wonder …
Fuck, I’ve done it again. I can’t help it. Hope is lethally effective at breaching my defences, no matter how many barriers I plant in its way.
I compromise: I tell myself that it’s not going to be the news I want, and I believe that. But in case I’m wrong, I snap a quick picture of the woman peeing on a stick. Tony the bellend Tiger still smiles, telling me that his bowl of Frosties is half-full, not half-empty.
And now we wait sixty seconds for the results to reveal themselves.
I have everything crossed – my campaign is officially dead in the water.
We’re back in bed. It’s 7.28 a.m. I’ve turned the stick over so we can both read the results. I’m looking at two very distinct blue lines.
And just like that, I discover I’m going to be a Daddy.
‘You’re pregnant,’ I say, never imagining I’d be uttering those words this morning (or possibly ever). ‘I’m going to be a Daddy, and you’re going to be a Mummy.’ Saying it aloud feels – let’s start with wonderful, but one three-syllable word doesn’t begin to do it justice: every single one of my 86 billion neurons is alert and firing more powerfully than ever before and my head is a neurological explosion of pure energy and electricity.
What a feeling!
Unless the test results are wrong. They boast a ninety-eight per cent success rate, so it’s unlikely, and even if it were only five per cent accurate, in my heart I would still know that it’s true: I am going to be a Daddy for the first time to … you, my unborn child. And the woman next to me is going to be your Mummy.
My emotional framework has begun a period of terraforming.
Fuck, fuck and fuck!
How does anyone process these feelings? Chemicals are flooding my nervous system. I’m shocked and surprised, and beyond elation. I’m feeling a hundred per cent pure happiness; not a fraction less. It hasn’t been cut with any other emotions, it doesn’t contain additives and no synthetic processes were used to manufacture this product. It’s pure, organically produced happiness.
It’s rare for me to exhibit such an outward display of emotion, but I’m crying. Having said that, I cried when Stallone reprised Rocky in Creed.
I wonder if you’ll ever see me as a role model like Rocky. Doubtful. Is it normal to have these thoughts right after you find out you’re going to be a Daddy for the first time?
It doesn’t matter. Regardless of what you think of me or how you see me, I’ll still be there for you. One day, you’ll start calling me ‘Daddy’.
Your Mummy has deployed me on a mission to secure breakfast. I don’t feel ready for a field assignment; in fact, I’m so preoccupied with the news that I’m going to be a Daddy that, coming out of a junction, I almost drive into another car. On paper, it was arguably my fault. In reality, absolutely my fault. Oopsie. Regardless, I call the other driver a shiny wankstain and go about my day – my amazing day.
I’m at the store, and I’ve bought Mummy a unicorn Easter egg. Mummy loves unicorns – what 34-year-old doesn’t? It comes with a unicorn soft toy. That’s for you. I’ve heard that it’s bad luck to buy anything for the baby before the twelve-week scan.
Fuck it. I buy the damn thing and I head home.
The unicorn’s red punk-style hair is questionable, and it has eyes that I don’t immediately trust. But I do approve of the unicorn’s choice of companion (you). I don’t know the sex of the unicorn, just as I don’t know if you’ll be a baby boy or a baby girl. Even you don’t know that yet; you won’t make that decision until you’re seven weeks into your development (I’ve just looked that up). Mummy and I have decided not to find out your gender until the day we meet you. It’s our first parental decision. Unlike a million others that we’ll make, this one requires no compromise.
We do need something to refer to you as, though. We can’t use ‘it’, ‘thing’, ‘the baby’ or ‘fill in the blank’. My preference is ‘Thunder Strikeforce’, but it’s a no from Mummy, so it’s back to the drawing board.
It’s just occurred to me that your Mummy has over ten years’ experience working in a nursery. When it comes to infants, she already holds a number of qualifications. Surely that gives us a leg-up? I, on the other hand, have little childcare experience – but I guess that’s about to change. Whenever life presents me with a new subject, my default move is to read as much about it as possible, so I’ve purchased a bunch of books on babies and pregnancy. Thank God for Amazon Prime. I wonder if Amazon Prime will still be around when you read this.
It’s later on in the day, and I’m with friends (but without Mummy). I’m not paying attention to what anyone is saying or doing. It’s surreal. It’s as if the efficiency of all my senses has reduced. I can see lips moving and I can hear noise, but it sounds like background conversation in an almost-empty restaurant. I can’t seem to focus on anything. I’ve spent the day in a higher state of consciousness and it doesn’t look like I’m leaving it any time soon.
I had originally planned to spend the night with these friends, but I want to get back home and be with you and Mummy. It’s not every day you find out you’re both going to be parents for the first time.
I’m lying in bed wide awake. I wish I had the skills to accurately transfer from mind to paper the emotional journey I’ve been on today. It’s hard to explain how I feel, because how I feel changes every few seconds. My thoughts and emotions are unstable; they’re without order; they’re racing around. It’s like watching a Grand Prix motor race on the TV with the fast-forward button pressed up to maximum.
I am going to be a Daddy, and your Mummy is going to be a Mummy. It’s something we’ve wanted for years. Right now, the canvas of your life is blank. But soon that canvas will begin to teem with colour and beauty as you grow and reveal yourself.
We can be a part of that process. We can watch it, and we can influence it. We get to decide (partly) how you’re exposed to the world. We can help shepherd you through childhood into adulthood and try to share with you the greatest lessons life has taught us. We will equip you with everything we possess to help you along on your path: this is a gift that has no price tag. You will be loved unconditionally and parenting you will be our greatest privilege. A challenge, yes, but a privilege – and a joy.
But then comes fear. You might have instantly become our most valued possession, but you’re also our most vulnerable one. At this moment in time, you’re a tiny ball of cells – a million things need to go right for you to be born healthy. And then what? Even if you make it safely into the world, there will be dangers all around you. As parents charged with your care, we’ll do whatever we can to protect you from these dangers, but we can’t protect you from everything. So much exists outside our control: disease, natural disasters, freak accidents, crime (some of it hideous) and any number of unforeseen variables that could hurt you. Parents aren’t privy to every possible outcome when making decisions for their children. How do we cope with this? Does this feeling ever go away? Does it last forever? I ask the questions even though I already know the answers – despite being new to the game.
No matter what happens, no one will ever be able to take away from me the feeling of finding out I’m going to be a Daddy – a beautiful, beautiful moment. I will remember this day for the rest of my life – my day of discovery.
Sleep well, my beautiful ball of cells. Daddy loves you.
Sunday, 17 March 2019 – Am I Dreaming?
I’ve woken up with my mental state resembling a zombie invasion. Every zombie represents an idea, a feeling or a question. It’s crazy and chaotic. I take a deep breath and attempt to bring order to the chaos.
First question: am I dreaming? No, I’m not. I am going to be a Daddy. Good. Next question: is Mummy OK? I turn over to make sure. Whack. Fuck, I’ve just elbowed Mummy in the head; she’s not OK. Red alert – I repeat, not OK. I make all the right noises, apologising to the mother of my child: ‘I’m sorry, baby, that was my bad.’
It’s not my bad – she’s occupying seventy per cent of my side of the bed. Well, she was, until I took accidental action. At least now I can get back to eliminating this fast-approaching mental breakdown.
Questions. I have so many questions. How can we be sure you're developing OK? What foods can Mummy eat? What foods can’t she eat? What if you develop into more than one foetus? How do we become good parents? How do we not fuck up your life?
Yesterday I was the happiest man alive, but now realisation is setting in, and I’m a different person.
What if something goes wrong with your development and we have to weigh up your quality of life and decide if you should be terminated or not? What if you are born with disabilities? How absurdly terrifying is this? I can’t help it; my internal wiring is forcing me to consider every conceivable scenario that could hurt you over the next eight months. I need to go through this process so I can implement as many risk-reduction strategies as possible.
Except I’ve remembered – I’ve gone through this exercise already, last night. And I have already arrived at the truth: I can’t control everything. I can barely control anything.
There’s no use denying that we have a long road ahead of us. Right now, all I can think about is looking after you and Mummy and getting the three of us to the twelve-week scan. At least, when it comes to babies being born healthy, statistics are on our side. Actually, the more I think about it, statistics are very much on our side, and I’d be stupid not to take comfort in that.
It’s settled then. I will live my life with the belief that you will be born a healthy boy or girl and that you will grow up to have a life full of meaning and purpose. Until something happens to suggest anything outside that belief, I will keep hold of it, treasure it and nurture it as if it’s my favourite childhood soft toy. My favourite childhood soft toy is a black cat called Charlie. He’s still knocking around, so I’ll introduce you to him someday.
Not to blow our own trumpets, but your Mummy and I are nailing parenting. We’ve made another decision that we both agreed on without any argument. The same cannot be said for what colours we want the walls painted in our living room, but let’s not talk about Mummy’s poor taste in colours. Let’s talk about you. We’ve decided that your nursery will be Pixar themed. Mummy loves anything remotely related to Disney, and I love film; Pixar ranks as one of my all-time favourite studios. It might seem silly to you as I doubt you’ll ever remember your nursery, apart from when you see pictures of it. However, building you a nursery while you’re gearing up to hatch is the thing we’re most looking forward to. We will pour all our love and energy into getting it just right for you – and for us as well.
Monday, 18 March 2019 – Are You Fucking Kidding Me?
Our first job this morning is getting Mummy a doctor’s appointment. I imagine this will happen quickly; the doctors and midwives will want to see Mummy immediately. After all, we have precious cargo. We’re not carrying any baby; we’re carrying our baby. And because our baby is not any baby, then surely we jump ahead of any critically ill patients in the queue for appointments. They’ll probably send an ambulance. It will all be rather exciting. I know NHS funding is restricted and, technically speaking, ambulances should only be deployed in emergencies and not for a routine check-up at the start of a pregnancy, but as I’ve already stated, you’re not anyone’s baby, you’re our baby.
I ring through to the surgery and find myself positioned number sixteen in the queue. What the fuck?
Five minutes pass and we’ve only progressed to number fourteen.
This morning started well but it’s now turned a little bit ball-achey – how much longer?
As it turns out – another twenty minutes. Twenty minutes to get through to the most nonchalant of receptionists: a real ‘Casual Carol’. You’d have thought we’d misdialled the local bowling alley. Still, Mummy maintains absolute decorum.
‘I need to book an appointment with the midwife; I’m pregnant.’
Excellent. Polite, short and to the point.
‘Would you like to come in in three weeks?’ Casual Carol says.
What the fuckery…? First, I think you’ve forgotten to say congratulations, and in answer to your dumb fucking question – no, Carol, my dear, we wouldn’t. Did you not hear us? We’re having a baby! Arranging an appointment for us is your number one priority. You need to get off your arse and divert all resources to our current situation.
Now, where do you plan to land the helicopter?
Absolutely nothing from Carol except to say, ‘Well, we are quite busy at the moment.’
Thanks for fucking nothing, Carol. See you in three weeks.
Tuesday, 19 March 2019 – The Baby Daddy Dance
The doctors told us it would be ‘extremely unlikely’ for us to conceive naturally, which I took to mean that it was almost an absolute certainty we wouldn’t, for two reasons: I didn’t think the doctors wanted to commit to any absolutes in case they were wrong (I know I wouldn’t); and they found several internal defects with Mummy’s reproductive organs that suggested a pretty grim outlook for making babies, as far as I could see.
Here’s a section taken from the medical notes following a failed procedure that Mummy underwent to try and establish what was interfering with our family goals:
On scan today the uterus is anteverted. There is a small polyp on the fundus; it doesn’t look like a fibroid. On the right side, the ovary looks normal and mobile. The left ovary shows collapsing corpus luteum; however, there is a fluid collection which could be due to peritoneal fluid adhesion as she has Crohn's; the other possibility is hydrosalpinx. Unfortunately, the HyCoSy tube was pushed out by the uterus, she was in quite a lot of pain and it was in the cervix, therefore we abandoned the procedure.
Rolls off the tongue, right? I still don’t know what any of it means, but the general drift is that Mummy has one set of problems on the right side and a different set of problems on the left. That’s the simplified version as described by the doctor, anyway. I used the doctor’s abridged explanation plus a bit of maths to calculate my optimism of us conceiving – it was never high!
The outcome was that Mummy landed herself on a waiting list for surgery that included removing at least one of her fallopian tubes. And, to reinforce how unlikely the doctor thought our chances were, he referred us for IVF on the NHS (which we never started).
This was a big blow to our plans and our emotions, so you can imagine our surprise when we read the test results. I don’t know what the doctor did when he tried to examine Mummy, but he must have inadvertently shuffled something around.
Rather than question our good fortune, I’ve decided instead to celebrate through the medium of dance. Now, when it comes to dancing, I’m something of an outlier. But instead of featuring in the top one per cent, I operate all the way over at the other end of the spectrum. The bottom one per cent. Actually, it’s more like the bottom one per cent of the bottom one per cent. In short, I cannot dance, not for love nor money. However, that doesn’t stop me trying.
And if God loves a trier then he’s head over heels for Daddy this evening. I’ve invented a cute little number for your Mummy. It’s called ‘The Baby Daddy Dance’. My approach is minimalist in terms of how I’ve engineered the steps in the routine, opting more for understated elegance as opposed to high-octane adrenalin.
It goes something like this: I fist-pump the air at perfectly timed intervals, yelling ‘Baby Daddy’ in a slurred tone akin to a football stadium fan-chant.
If you’re not welling up with pride already, you will be when I tell you that your old man was naked; except, of course, for Mummy’s pink bunny-eared headband.
Wednesday, 20 March 2019 – Your Pre-Birth Name
Your Mummy is not feeling well today. She’s tired, she’s sore and she’s getting cramps in her tummy. This isn’t anything out of the ordinary. Doctors think Mummy suffers from this rubbish thing called Crohn’s disease. It means she has trouble digesting certain foods and she’s used to having her tummy cramp up – to the extent that she occasionally lands herself in hospital on morphine for a week.
But here’s the kicker: what we would previously dismiss as ‘Crohn’s tummy’ is now analysed as a potential threat to your development; a threat that we need to eliminate. But we have no idea of how, so we do ourselves no favours and begin researching on the internet. One website we check says that severe cramps in your stomach could be a sign of a miscarriage or placental abruption. Mummy doesn’t think they’re severe enough for either of those but, still, this evening isn’t as much fun as winning a game of Monopoly against people you dislike. And how do you determine how severe a cramp is, anyway? I doubt there’s a cramp-pain index to refer to.
After an adult discussion (the third one of our relationship) about the road ahead and how we approach the many periods of uncertainty, we agree to take it one day at a time.
In the film Finding Nemo, the character Dory has a catchphrase: ‘Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.’ It’s a wonderful metaphor for moving forward in life despite the many obstacles that we come up against. That’s what we’ll do – just keep swimming. Every day, the three of us will keep at it.
At least I know what to call you now.
Your pre-birth name is Dory.
Thursday, 21 March 2019 – Pregnant-Woman Road Rage
Let’s talk about Mummy’s roadside manner. Since I’ve known her, road rage has formed an integral part of her daily routine. Like breathing, it’s a naturally occurring activity. It’s strangely endearing how she’s able to seamlessly edit in a spot of road rage while having a deep and thoughtful conversation about life.
But this is a personality trait that is at odds with her character. Your Mummy is a carefree, smiley, happy woman, who would give her left big toe to help a stranger in need. And yet, if you piss her off on the road (which isn’t hard), she will verbally fuck you up into next Tuesday.
So, it came as no surprise to me when we were in the car this morning that Mummy affectionately referred to the little old man driving his equally little old Fiat as ‘a dithering old cunt’ because he was driving half a mile per hour below the speed limit. Naturally, she followed this up with a demand for his licence to be revoked and his life to end. That’s par for the course.
But rather than return to her normal, happy self, she’s remained in angry-road-user mode. What’s more, she’s dialled it up to unimaginable levels. Her face is contorted into pure rage: a bulging green vein appears on her forehead, and red streaks flash across her eyes like lightning in the sky. She’s frothing at the mouth, accelerating aggressively to beat the lights and yelling at young, innocent schoolchildren to ‘mind out the fucking way’. (Disclaimer – they’re walking on the pavement with no intention of crossing the road.)
I’m about to ask her if she’s OK, but then I remember that I want to live, so I keep my mouth shut and my body still – so much so that ten minutes later my musical-statues ranking has shot up into the global top ten. If I were an anger-management therapist and my choice of client that morning was either Mummy or Darth Vader, I’d pick Darth.
Who is this monster, Dory, and what has it done with your Mummy? I’ve heard people joke about pregnant women becoming hormonal, and I’ve also heard that it’s an unwritten rule that you don’t anger a pregnant woman. But how can you not anger a pregnant woman who hulks out over someone driving half a mile per hour below the speed limit on a road that’s experiencing heavy traffic? (Oh, I forgot to mention the traffic.)
I don’t like this, Dory. I don’t like this at all.
Friday, 22 March 2019 – What To Do, What To Do?
We’ve not told anyone of your existence yet because we’re still a way off from the twelve-week scan. This is when most expecting parents begin sharing their news. At the moment, it’s the three of us that know (which I love), but we don’t think it can remain that way for much longer.
Mummy is both emotionally and geographically close to her parents, Granny Feeder (Mummy’s Mummy) and Grandad Tools (Mummy’s Daddy). Granny Feeder and Grandad Tools are from Ireland, but they came to England when they were both in their teens.
Granny Feeder gets her name on account of her unrivalled hospitality skills. A look in her food cupboards reveals a magnificent pantry, stocked floor to ceiling with culinary solutions for even the most hard-to-please taste buds. She has some adorable personality traits. One of them is to make stuff up. If it were any other person, they’d be labelled a liar, but your Granny has a certain panache when she bullshits, which gives her diplomatic immunity. Her daughters affectionately refer to these instances as ‘hashtag-Mum-facts’, or #MumFacts.
I’ll give you an example: she’s very good at understanding exactly what toys and books your cousin likes. On the surface of it, it’s not unusual for a grandmother to get to know her grandchildren. But your cousin is three months old and she can barely see properly.
Grandad Tools is one of my favourite people in the world. If you take all the stereotypical features of a grandad and multiply them by ten, you’re on the green. He’s extraordinarily accomplished with tools. I’ve seen him whip up a stud wall in less time than it takes me to eat a packet of crisps.
He’s also rather skilled at bargain hunting. So skilled, in fact, that the bargains find him, usually in the afternoon, down at his local pub. I don’t know how he does it, but a whole consortium of independent retailers visit Grandad Tools to offer him discounted goods. It’s amazing; they give him up to eighty per cent off the RRP. The only thing they ask for in return is to conduct their business away from CCTV cameras. Bloody nice blokes, looking after your Grandad Tools with the best-value deals.
When I say Mummy is geographically close to her parents, I mean so close that we’re all under the same roof – we’re living with them. And we have been for the past eight months while we’ve been renovating our own house (it’s been a big project).
It’s hard to avoid suspicion when we’re broadcasting real-time updates of our daily lives. Granny Feeder is highly observant (particularly of her children), and she likes to inquire, often with a frown, about the mundane, with questions such as ‘Why is Mummy tired all the time?’ and ‘Does she need a glass of bubbles?’ Fortunately, right now it’s Lent, and for the first time in her life Mummy has given up alcohol for it.
We have a few other cards that we can play to defuse any suspicion. First, Mummy has her go-to trusty Crohn’s card, which she can lay down reasonably often, although not every day. Second, Granny Feeder knows we were experiencing problems in the baby-making department. Perhaps that knowledge alone will divert suspicion. Finally, we also have the excuse that we’re renovating our house – a project we’ve each been hands-on with. That can account for some of Mummy’s burnout.
But as good as these excuses are, I don’t know if they can fool a mother’s intuition about her own daughter. Remember: we’ve been living with Granny Feeder for eight months already, so she’s all too aware of our routines and schedules. And if she knows more about the neighbours living eight doors down than they know about themselves, picking up on the nuances and micro-adjustments in Mummy’s behaviour will be child’s play to the master enquirer.
So, the dilemma we’re facing is when to tell Granny Feeder and the rest of the immediate family. We have earmarked a particular weekend, but it’s not for another four weeks.
We won’t last until then.
As a result, we’ve decided to target Mother’s Day (eight days from now) to tell Mummy’s parents and your Auntie Lisa (Mummy’s sister).
The other person we’ll be telling is my Mummy, your other Granny. You can call her ‘Granny Smurf’, on account of her Smurf-shaded blue hair. We won’t be able to tell Granny Smurf in person as she lives down in Kent (we live in Northampton), but we’ll video call her. After all, we daren’t wait too much longer, as Inspector Granny Feeder will have upped her frown game when processing her daughter’s answers to her questions.
Saturday, 23 March 2019 – Tilegate
We’ve come to the hardware store to look at tile prices. This is a quick in-and-out mission. We know what tiles we want; we decided on this weeks ago. We have pictures of the room layout that show where the tiles are going, along with the rest of the colours in the room. Easy peasy.
Transcript of events:
11.32 a.m. Dory’s Mummy and Daddy enter the hardware store, approach the tile section and quickly find the tiles they’re interested in.
11.33 a.m. Daddy: These white tiles are cheaper than anywhere else we’ve seen.
11.33 a.m. Mummy: Yes, but we’re not going with white tiles otherwise they’ll clash with the white ceiling.
11.33 a.m. Daddy: I thought we had decided lovingly together on a blue ceiling, my little rose-petal pumpkin.
11.33 a.m. Mummy: No, the ceiling was white. Let me show you a picture as you’re clearly an idiot.
11.33 a.m. The Mummy gets out her phone and begins searching through a photo album.
11.34 a.m. The Mummy seems to be at a loss for words.
11.34 a.m. Daddy: What’s up, sweetie, can’t you find the picture?
11.34 a.m. Mummy: I’ve found it.
11.34 a.m. Daddy: Excellent stuff.
11.34 a.m. The validity of Daddy’s enthusiasm is questionable.
11.35 a.m. Daddy: Well, is it a white ceiling?
11.35 a.m. Mummy: It’s blue.
11.35 a.m. Daddy: No!
11.35 a.m. The Daddy appears shocked, but it’s ninety-nine per cent certain that this reaction is disingenuous.
End of transcript.
Sunday, 24 March 2019 – Ice Cream To The Rescue
Tilegate continues. We’ve parked up outside the hardware shop, but we’re already facing an obstacle before leaving the vehicle. Mummy has taken the keys out of the ignition with a little more force than usual and hit herself in the face.
Let’s pause for a second. There exists no parallel universe in which this isn’t a little bit amusing. But Mummy’s hormones are wreaking extinction-level havoc with her body, and I have learnt that you can’t even make jokes about the mundane, let alone an accidental smack in the face.
Fortunately, I am able to pacify her with an ice cream.
On a more productive note, we complete the tile purchase.
Monday, 25 March 2019 – The Nightmare
Last night I had a dream that Mummy had a miscarriage. My relief and gratitude were off the charts when I woke up and realised it was only a dream.
I daren’t tell Mummy. I spare a thought for all the other parents out there who don’t get to wake up from the dream; because it’s not a dream, it’s a reality. The thought is tragic.
Again, this boils down to a serious lack of control. Other than ensuring Mummy eats well and tries to avoid any stress, there is nothing we can do. You’re in the hands of science now.
Dory, you may not have developed your hearing yet, but I need you to find a way to listen to me. Listen to your Daddy. Please be OK. Remember the motto – just keep swimming. You’ve swum so much already to get to this point. Your life began as the ultimate swimming race: one where fifty per cent of your genetic makeup competed against and beat tens of millions of rivals, so I know you can do it. But I need you to keep doing it, and Mummy needs you to keep doing it as well.
In six days’ time, it will be Mother’s Day, and we’re going to tell your grandparents the news, so just keep swimming.
In fifteen days, we have our first appointment with the midwife, so please, please, please, just keep swimming.
Soon after that, it will be the twelve-week scan.
Then we’ll be in the second trimester and then the third, and finally we’ll be together – and then you can stop swimming.
But in reality, the swimming won’t stop. It will never stop. You will always need to keep swimming, but you won’t have to swim alone. Mummy and Daddy will be there. When you’re tired, we’ll cheer you on; when you can’t see clearly and lose your way, we’ll help steer you back into your swim lane; and if you feel like you can’t do it any more, then we’ll be there for you with a life jacket and a cuddle until you’re ready to continue.
Please find a way to listen to Daddy. Just keep swimming.
Tuesday, 26 March 2019 – I’m Already Carrying Something!
We’re at the hardware store, and Mummy states that she can’t possibly carry anything as she’s already carrying my child. How the fuckety, fuck, fuck do I disagree with that one? God damn it, Mummy will be dining out on that for the rest of the pregnancy.
Mummy is supposed to be on a hen do this weekend, but she’s had to drop out. That’s because there is no scenario on the planet that involves Mummy not drinking, other than that she is pregnant. Even if she turned up with a tear to one of her major arteries and it was spouting freshly oxygenated blood twelve feet in the air – she’d still smash a couple of ciders. She’s such a sociable creature; it’s one of the many reasons she’s so likeable.
Giving up alcohol for Lent won’t wash either, not on a hen do. Mummy has a reputation for being the life and soul of the party, and everyone knows it. If she didn’t drink, the assumption would be that she was pregnant, and she wouldn’t be able to hide it. Once again, she calls on her trusty Crohn’s alibi as an excuse not to go.
I guess this must be common for expecting couples in the early stages. We don’t want anyone knowing, so that means a few social sacrifices on Mummy’s part. She’s gutted, she was looking forward to it – plus she’s already paid for the weekend.
Wednesday, 27 March 2019 – Writing Mother’s Day Cards
Today I write three Mother’s Day cards. The first is to Granny Feeder, who has done a sterling job of looking after me while I’ve been living in her house for the last eight months. She hasn’t even charged me rent. You can relate to that, Dory, can’t you – being fed and sheltered and not having to pay rent?
Thank you, Granny Feeder, for providing me with warmth, shelter, food and a comfortable breeding ground for your second grandchild.
The second card is to Granny Smurf and with it come strict instructions not to open it until Mother’s Day.
The last one is for your Mummy, and it’s my favourite; it’s the first of many Mother’s Day cards that I’ll write from you to her. I’m not sure how many exactly, as I don’t know at what age you’ll be able to write them yourself. For now, though, I’ve got your back. This has been the absolute highlight of my day. By the way, you owe me £1.75 for the card.
Thursday, 28 March 2019 – Wowzers, Where Did They Come From?
I think Mummy’s taking localised steroids on the sly. Why localised and why on the sly, you ask? I’ll tell you, Dory. I suspect they’re localised because I’ve only noticed one part of her body that’s grown – seemingly overnight. It’s just above where you live, in between her shoulders and below her neck. I imagine you might view this place one day as a branch of McDonald’s. The reason she’s doing this on the sly is because she absolutely will not let me near her for a closer inspection. I don’t know, Dory; something’s not quite right.
Truth be told, Dory, the situation is horseshit. Imagine owning a PlayStation 5 (which you love) and then coming home to find it’s morphed into a PlayStation 10 (WOWZERS). But it sits behind an impenetrable, see-through barrier, in sight but out of reach. I’m not blaming you; Daddy would never do that. It just sucks a bit, you know? You understand, Dory, don’t you? When life sucks?
Friday, 29 March 2019 – Hate Is Such A Strong Word
I’ve been reading one of the pregnancy books for dads, and I’ve stumbled upon an enchanting little story where one dad said that he struggled with his partner’s mood through the first trimester, and had to remind himself that she didn’t hate him …
Does this mean this poor chap’s partner told him how much she hated him while carrying his child? Is this what I can expect?
Mummy assures me this will not happen, but in case it does, she’s recorded a little voice note that I’m to play to her whenever she feels a bout of hatred invading her emotional control console. Her voice note says this: ‘If I am ever mean to you, I don’t mean to be; I still love you, but you may be annoying me at one moment in time. But I always love you, and it’s probably Dory’s fault, anyway.’
If you ask me, I don’t think that would hold up in court.
Saturday, 30 March 2019 – Really?
We’re at a 1-year-old’s birthday party and the parents, Sean and Rebecca, are close friends of mine and Mummy’s, as are fifty per cent of the guests. The entire party cannot get over the fact that Mummy isn’t drinking. They’re suspicious – a bit like the world was when Harvey Weinstein declared he was innocent. They respond to the news with raised eyebrows and comments such as ‘Have you hit your head or something?’ or ‘That’s something I never thought I’d live to see.’
They remember a time not that long ago when we were all at Sean and Rebecca’s wedding. By 11.00 a.m. on the day after the wedding Mummy was tucking into her fifth pint of cider for breakfast. She was most disappointed when the chap in charge of the wakeboarding activity wouldn’t allow her to join in. Your mother did promise him that she was as sober as a rock, but she said this while staggering towards him with pint number five in her hand – ergo, he didn’t believe her.
How are we getting away with it today? To be honest with you, Dory, I’m not sure we are getting away with it, but they’ve either accepted, or are pretending to accept, that Mummy has given up alcohol for Lent. She reinforces the idea that she’s descended from an Irish Catholic family – you know, to make it a more plausible excuse …
Sunday, 31 March 2019 – Mother’s Day
Today we tell the parents. First port of call – Granny Smurf. I’ve already sent her a card in preparation. Remember she was told not to open it. Let’s hope she listened. I faff around for ten minutes trying to solve the enigma of recording a video call (I figured this would be a moment worth saving) and then I make the call.
She answers and promises that my instructions have been followed.
‘Right, Mum, open your card.’
Here’s what you wrote:
To my Nan, Nanny, Gran, Granny, Grandma or something else???
I’m not sure what you want to be known as. Can you let me know when I arrive in November?
I don’t want to come across as a spoilt little embryo, but I require the following items created from wool (suitable alternatives acceptable): a unicorn, something offensive, a blanket, some little shoe thingies – and maybe matching jumpers for when I get a bit bigger?
I’m looking forward to catching up over a cuppa/bottle around mid-November. See you soon.
P.S. Happy Mother’s Day :)
Her response is shock and then joy. She follows up with her title preference. She’s opted for ‘Granny’. An excellent choice (especially as I’ve been referring to her as that).
Granny Smurf also knew we were having difficulty creating life, so this has come as a wonderful surprise for her too. You will be spoilt – mostly with knitted unicorns.
The plan is to hold off from telling Granny Feeder and Grandad Tools until later on today. We’re all going out for lunch together and then we’re going to take them back to our house and show them how our renovation project is going. When they get to your room, there will be a sign that says ‘Baby Dory’s Room – reserved from November 2019’.
We’re all in the kitchen making a cup of tea, and I hand Granny Feeder a Mother’s Day card from me. She opens the card and I immediately realise that your Daddy, the silly sausage that he is, has made a critical error in our baby-reveal plans. I’ve only gone and addressed the card to ‘The grandmother of my unborn child’.
Shit – I forgot I wrote that; I obviously meant to give her the card after the reveal.
Now Mummy, Granny Feeder and I are standing in the kitchen and Granny Feeder’s face is an absolute picture. She asks if it’s true. We smile and nod, and at that point she loses her shit and emits a scream that sounds like a pterodactyl raping a banshee. Seriously, this moment is to blame if you’re born with brain damage.
Grandad Tools is in the other room and hears the screams (along with half the inhabitants of continental Europe), so Mummy and I shrug and tell him the good news as well. Not the way we planned, but still another long-lasting memory to add to the collection.
You’re six weeks into your development and you’ve already brought untold amounts of joy to five people. For someone who doesn’t even know what gender they’re going to be, you’re knocking it out the park.
The atmosphere this evening is identical to that of the morning – plus the eighteen bottles of Prosecco that have been eliminated.
I can hear Auntie Lisa (who now knows as well) and Grandad Tools conducting an alcohol-fuelled heart-to-heart. They’re expressing joy at having another grandchild in the family. It’s a drunkenly sweet moment, and now she’s asking him how it feels to have you conceived under his roof—
I enact an emergency escape plan: I bypass Grandad Tools entirely without him seeing me and I make it upstairs to my temporary bedroom to watch a Marvel film.
Mummy arrives shortly after, in time for her to receive her first-ever Mother’s Day card. This is what you wrote:
To my Mummy,
We don’t know each other very well yet, but I already think you’re wonderful. I know that growing me inside you isn’t easy, and I am very appreciative of your efforts. So is my Daddy. He thinks you are doing a great job, even if you do feel tired and crappy all the time, and you can’t remember what colour you decided to paint the downstairs toilet.
I’m still very small, but every day I get the tiniest bit bigger, the smallest bit stronger. This is all down to you. Every day you give me enough energy to keep growing, and I know that won’t stop – even when you serve me a Section 21 eviction notice, and I have to relocate from your tummy at some point in November. You have committed a lifetime of love and energy to me.
This is why you absolutely deserve a Mother’s Day card.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mummy. See you in November :)
Lots of love,