Originally posted on Liquorstore Bear:

My parents think I don’t understand them (at least I think they think that). So today I’m making an effort to get into their brains. [Full disclosure: MY PARENTS ARE TOTALLY BORING. FEEL FREE TO SKIP TODAY’S POST.]

 ♦  ♦  ♦

After seven years of parenting, my mum and dad aren’t doing so well in the social department. While they were never so outgoing that they had to fend off friends, prior to this millennium they at least hung out with people, phoned people, and found themselves in mingling situations more than once every two years.

Simultaneous nap. As rare as a blue moon. (I think they’re faking.)

Parenthood changes the way you make friends—profoundly. No longer do you make connections casually, gradually, or naturally. The intense first year with a newborn, during which you get an immediate burst of attention and then withdraw into diapers and mush, effectively destroys whatever spontaneity…

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You know you are a new dad when…

What is it like being a new dad?

Well, this is the million dollar question. The question that is asked by most Dads-to-be, or those just contemplating the thought.

But it is one of the hardest feelings to describe. One sentence cannot do it justice.

So for the purposes of trying to encompass all my thoughts and feelings about becoming a new dad I have complied a list.

Here we go.

You know you are new dad when…

…every waking second of every day you think about your child.

…you can’t imagine life without your baby, even after only a few hours of their birth.

…you are overwhelmed by a sense of responsibility and protectiveness for your little one. It’s a primal urge that tickles every last nerve in your body. You know you will die for your child. That goes without question.

…all of a sudden you become a one-handed expert at most household tasks.

…you stare at your child in awesome wonder at their perfection and the miracle of life.

…you start crying at the beauty of your new born.

…you no longer need to set an alarm, because you are already awake at rediculous o’clock.

…your child falls asleep on your chest. You know you should put her down to sleep but can’t bring yourself to because she looks so darn cute!

…you feel entirely inadequate at not being able to breast feed and yearn for the day when you can hit the bottle (of milk, that is) to feed your baby.

…your eyes fill with water because your child has just smiled at you.

…you see teenagers in the street and think, “I hope my daughter won’t mix with that crowd!”

…trips to Legoland and Disneyland no longer require an ‘excuse’ or the adoption of a friend’s child. ;-)

 

Ok, so there is my starter for ten (well, it is eleven actually).

Feel free to add your own in the comments below.

3 absolutely essential gadgets for the new father

Ok, my tongue is firmly in cheek whilst writing this post, because we all know that all a new father needs to provide for his child is:

  • Somewhere to sleep
  • Something to eat (technically that is mum if breast feeding)
  • Something to wear
  • And a whole lotta love

But I am taking that as given. And given that there are tonnes of baby-related products out there on the market, I thought I’d share with you my absolutely essential gadgets for the new father. These all qualify because I’ve used them lots during the first days of having a new child. One is wonderfully practical. One gives you peace of mind. And one is just plain indulgent.

With that in mind, here’s the list:

1. Night light

We went for the Babytec Autofade Bedside Lamp that retails at about £15.99 on Amazon. It’s amazingly useful for night time feeding, nappy changing and entertaining baby. It has adjustable fade, timer and touch button operation. It’s a doddle to use and if you live in a house that has limited dimmer lights, it’s a God send. So much so, we bought our second one three days into baby being at home.

2. Digital Ear thermometer

The stresses and strains of being a new father come with bucket-loads of anxiety. “Is my baby too hot?” is one of the FAQs in our household that add to this anxiety. Knowing for sure whether or not your little cherub has a temperature goes a long way to appease the new father’s anxious mind. Introducing the Braun Thermoscan 5! It is dead easy to use and takes a couple of seconds to read your baby’s temperature via the ear. Awesome!

3. iPad with subscription to Netflix or Love Film

Ok, admittedly I am pushing the realms of necessity to the outer boundaries of the envelope. But hey ho, if ever there was an excuse for buying an iPad, then having a baby is one. I mean how else are you meant to entertain yourself whist being awake at all hours of the night? Precisely. Time to catch up on the entire back catalogue of CSI Vegas, Miami and New York.

Awesome.

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Wow – I am a dad

So, at 1043 this morning my world changed. Our world changed.

Natasha Amelia Jane entered the world.

And I am smitten. First nappy changed. First feeds done expertly by mum.

Next stop: the rest of our lives.

What an amazing day!

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It’s the final countdown…to fatherhood

Da-da daa daaaaa…da-da-d-d-daaa…. the final countdown!

*does air guitar*

Yep, I am as excited as an excited thing on excited day in Excitedville. Tomorrow is D-day. D standing for ‘delivery’!

Waaaaaa – I am going to be a father and our (me and my wife’s) lives are going to change – forever.

If I was on a roller coaster right now, we’d just coming to the top of the first rise, the chain chink-chink-chinking away as the car is winched to the top. Ready for that point of no return. Ready to throw my hands in the air and feel the cold hard adrenalin rush of the first drop.

The first drop is tomorrow. My wife goes into surgery for a planned c-section due to medical reasons at Frimley Park Hospital.

Wish us luck and I will post on the other side.

Waaaaaaaaaaaas!

6 important lessons from my NTC antenatal classes

If you’re like me and your post code means that you don’t get the free NHS antenatal classes, then the National Childcare Trust (NCT) might offer an alternative. We went for it. 6 classes spread over 3 weeks totalling about 14 hours of class time.

Here’s are my 6 most important lessons from participating:

1. You don’t spend that much time on ‘how to breathe during labour’

Almost every TV programme that features a pregnant couple going to antenatal classes focusses on the ‘how to breathe during labour’ activity. You’ve seen the clip: room full of couples, woman on bean bag, man in backgroud, both are panting like maniacs. In reality, we spent about 5 minutes on this topic. Why? There isn’t that much to know, and quite frankly there is tonnes more interesting stuff to learn about.

2. Most blokes try the gas and air, too

During one class we discussed the merits and demerits of different drugs. It transpires that most birthing partners try the gas and air at some point during labour. Rock on!

3. Breast feeding is more complicated than it looks

After a “how to breast feed” demonstration by the men to the women (I kid you not) with knitted breasts (I kid you not), I have a new found respect for any woman who tries and / or succeeds with this most amazing of activities. It is no mean feet. Congrats to Matt who actually put said knitted breasts up his t-shirt for extra realism. Bravo!

4. It’s the conversations during the break that are the most revealing

During one such coffee break, one of our tribe said he heard a friend of his describing being at the business end during labour (from a man’s perspective) as “watching your favourite pub burning down!” Now that is comedy gold.

Talking of comedy gold, watch this…

5. There are at least 21 ways to sooth a crying baby

Handing the fake baby around the group we managed to conjour up 21 ways to sooth a crying baby. I know, we were obviously a gifted group. Then our NCT teacher pointed out that our ‘passing’ of the baby from one person to the next was less than desirable…possibly fatal in some cases. Oh dear.

6. Sharing stories, fears, anxieties and questions with a group of people in a similar situation to you is very reassuring and supporting in itself

Just being in the class has developed our support group. It’s going to be really cool meeting up again when we are all new parents. That’s where the real value lies in choosing to do an NCT antenatal class.

On a lighter note here’s a funny song about antenatal classes:

World’s worst advice for parents-to-be

It’s out there in bucket loads.

As useful as a chocolate fire-guard.

Yep, you’ve guessed it, advice for parents-to-be that is in fact entirely useless.

There are some corkers. And they are all real. Heard by my own and my wife’s ears.

1. You’d better make sure you get some sleep…

I’ve only heard this bit of advice 23 times in the past 3 days. The problem is, last time I checked, humans aren’t capable of storing sleep for later? It would be good though, sleeping extra hours so you could stay awake longer without ill effects. Sadly, not physiologically possible.

2. Shop assistant to wife: “Oh, so when are you due?” Wife replies: “in two weeks.” Shop assistant: “Get out. Get out of the shop!”

This actually happened. Granted, it was said jokingly but many a true word…

3. Don’t lift your arms above your head!

This one was uttered by a parent who shall remain nameless.

4. Ooooo, you’re life is going to change dramatically.

Yes, yes. I get the concept. Problem is, you can’t quite understand how it is going to change without adopting a new born.

Ok, rant over.

11 incredibly tenuous signs that labour has started

“It’s a sign”

Are the words we say to each other pretty much every hour these days. Usually preceeded by my question, “how are you feeling” and then “the sign” is discussed with a high degree of concern….a short pause of silence, then hysterical laughter.

With delivery day looming, we are both hyper sensitive to any changes in the mum-to-be. This includes calling the midwife every five seconds and packing bags for hospital in readiness.

This is even after a detailed session in our NCT antenatal class (sorry Nicola!) about what is deemed an actual sign that labour has started.

These however are 11 incredibly tenuous signs…mostly derived from acute levels of excitement and nervousness:

  1. Unusual movements / body position of the baby
  2. And come to think of it, any unusual bowel movements
  3. Mood changes
  4. Tiredness / lower energy levels
  5. Alertness / raised energy levels
  6. Pains in the abdomen, lower back, groin
  7. Braxton Hicks contractions
  8. Feeling hungry
  9. Lack of appetite
  10. Seeing an unusual bird in the garden, on a walk or anywhere
  11. A stalk flying over head…

Basically, anything short of waters breaking is deemed fit to be one of our tenuous ‘signs’ that labour has begun.

Most of them are rubbish, but we find them amusing.

5 days to go! Waaaaa

Mr. Charlie Reeve (né Leake)

What’s in a name?

Quite a lot, come to think of it. You spend a lifetime forging your identity through your name. Others associate good or bad things with your name or make associations with people of similar names. Tell me about it, it’s difficult enough choosing a baby’s name.

The cultural norm in the UK is for women to take the husband’s family name. It’s tradition. And I am breaking the mould. I am a bit of a rebel like that.

I am a man who has decided to take my wife’s family name.

Thankfully, those I’ve told already have taken an open-minded view on my name change. There are a few who might not say it directly to me, but I can read in their expressions;

“How could you? That is ridiculous!”

“Seriously, you’ve given up your name for a woman’s surname? ”

For a minority, it generates quite an unexpectedly furious response. I get the look. It’s the same kind of look you get when you mention ‘sprouts’ to a sprout-hater.

So, to all you sprout-haters out there, or if you are simply interested to find out why I changed my surname, please read on.

Reasons for the change

When I got married back in 2006, we agreed to keep our respective surnames on the basis that if we ever had children we would then go with one family name. With a child on the way now is the time to have a single family name. The decision is practical. After all we share everything together: our house, our money, the housework, everything. A family name for our child is a natural progression of our sharing and it avoids confusion with two different surnames. Together we will face the world.

So why not use my family name?

My wife and I both agree that Reeve sounds nicer than Leake. Especially with my first name. Charlie Reeve sounds quite dignified. And it is so much easier to match other first names.

So there you have it. The reasons for the change are about having a family name and about a preference for elegant phonetics.

It helps that I don’t have an emotional attachment to my name. Neither did my father.  He was supportive of my name change when I eventually plucked up the courage to talk to him about it. Thankfully, just before he passed away.

My mother? She has re-married and now uses her maiden name so there’s no qualms there.

I hadn’t considered just how archaic the term ‘maiden name’ was until I wrote this post. Surely modern society has progressed since the macho society of old when this term was coined?

This got me thinking…

Why do women take men’s family names in the first place?

Taking the man’s family name is a cultural norm deemed socially correct in the UK and other societies around the world. But this does not make it right or correct. That is a matter of opinion based on your personal and social biases. It gets really interesting when you uncover the historical reasons behind this cultural norm:

“Although surnames didn’t even exist in Britain until the 13th century, the biblical story of Eve being formed from one of Adam’s ribs cemented the idea of a woman as an “appendage” to her companion. That surnames came to follow this pattern is no surprise. Until the mid-20th century, marriage was a complex patriarchal exchange of money, status and property – of which women were a vital part; marriage signalling [sic] the woman’s assimilation from her father’s to her husband’s estate. But things have moved on since then.” The Independent newspaper

And just to be clear, I’m not talking about being on the side of bra-burning feminist ideals nor am I an advocate of the metrosexual. It is that I would like to think that life in 20th century Britain has moved on since the middle ages. The act of man taking the woman’s family name really shouldn’t be such a huge issue.

I mean, why should women take the man’s surname?

Discuss…

What about double-barreling or mashing your surnames?

Well, we could have. And we’ve given it serious thought.

One of my brothers has double-barrelled already and it sounds good. But putting Leake-Reeve or Reeve-Leake together just doesn’t sound good. Especially when you swap the first initial of each name around and you get…

Reake-Leeve.

Now that had us both rolling with laughter. You can tell that toilet humour features highly in our lives.

And as for mashing our surnames? Just count the number of times the letter ‘e’ appears in both names and I challenge you to figure out a sensible mash-up. 

How I changed my name

£37 and a few deed poll copies posted and it’s all done. Once I received my passport with my new name, it is officially changed. Done and dusted.

And if you don’t agree, that’s fine…

…I’ll just keep on being me.

Charlie Reeve.