Month: September 2014

Can You Do Shaky Apples On Me?


Is she going to arrive on a cloud?”

Is she going to be clanging hand bells and talkiiiing liiiiiike thiiiiiiis?”

“So she’s teaching you how to BREATHE?”

All the questions my dad asked when I mentioned Susie and I were about to embark on a day long Natal Hypnotherapy session.

Since we first discovered she was up the duffers, my good lady was 100% set on trying out what some people call hypnotherapy. For most people, that sets alarm bells ringing (or hand bells, if you’re my dad) and you can practically see images of swinging watches and umming and ahhing whirring past people’s eyes as they weigh up how much of a hippie you are. And in fairness, when Suz first mentioned it, I had no bloody idea what she was going on about. I just wanted her to stop doing sicks and crying so let her keep talking about it.

It turns out Natal Hypnotherapy (founded by the amazing Maggie Howell, who we were lucky enough to be visited by) is purely a way for a woman to tap into her subconscious during labour and work with her body to eliminate any fear or pain during the process. Obviously it doesn’t mean you’d be able to get through birthing a baby rhino while watching Corrie… it’s just a brilliant way to aid with relaxation. And Suz was really keen to get practising.

Firstly, there are some CD’s and a book you can get off the internet. My girlfriend has spent many an evening listening to her portable CD player (almost to the point she resembles the brother from There’s Something About Mary) while nibbling on sponges, and she’s ready to delve into the book for some last minute revision. It is something you have to keep practising at home; slowing your breathing down and learning how to switch off doesn’t always come terribly easily, but Suz almost seems excited for the big day to arrive so that’s something.

The biggest thing for me, and I have to be honest… was that although I was up for getting involved in the session, it was mainly because I wanted my girlfriend to feel supported right before she pushes a mound of human out from her box. I wasn’t against Natal Hypnotherapy, but I hadn’t read up on it and didn’t think it would be particularly beneficial to me at all.

Well, how wrong I was.

Now I feel ready. Now I feel like a superhuman midwife man hero. I am here! I am equipped with relaxation techniques! And I am ready to conquer the bejesus out of my girlfriend’s womb! I’ve been taught ways in which I can help slow breathing, encourage without making Suz want to kill me (she will probably still want to kill me) and work with the midwives to make sure everything goes smoothly and suits our birth plan. All silliness aside, I’d presumed I’d just *be* there when the day came… I’d make sure Suz got what she wanted and try not to vomm all over my baby’s head when it comes to cutting the chord. Now I feel like I’ve got a purpose and can actually help. And along with discovering I have a ‘very good relaxing voice’ which doesn’t sound eerily pervy, it was hugely useful to both of us. As mentioned earlier, Maggie visited us at home and went through the sort of birth we’re aiming for, and gave us advice on how to get it. She also filled us in on things we had no idea about like delayed cord clamping and when oxytocin will be kicking in, plus I got a little business card with tonnes of pointers just in case I get to the hospital and have a complete flipping meltdown for a few minutes. Hopefully I can just wave that about and regain some composure.

I really wanted to make sure I wrote a blog post about this because birth needs to be something the men are fully prepared and involved in. And actually, I think a lot of guys want to be, we just don’t know how. It’s really easy to feel helpless. If you think your wife/girlfriend might be keen on giving the whole Natal Hypnotherapy a whirl then as a couple, we couldn’t recommend it more. Get on the net, grab the CDs, books, DVDs, the lot and get practising. Suz is yet to give birth, we’re a matter of weeks away, so I can’t say whether or not the methods will work. However… even if they don’t, it certainly won’t be detrimental. And if we’re this calm going in to it, then it can only be a positive thing.

Side note: we were taught a technique called ‘Shaky Apples’ which I won’t go in to, but which I did drunkenly beg beg Suz to do while I was being violently sick following beer pong at our end of summer BBQ on the weekend. So, if anything, Maggie and her team are worth getting round just to be given a whole new host of ways to get through that sort of hell.


No-one Likes A Chinese Burn

photo 1

My season’s nearly finished for the year and this weekend marks my last competition of 2014 (up in Newcastle if you’re interested). I have to say, seeing as I started competing in April, I’m very much looking forward to just watching box sets in my pants and not stressing about eating that second bowl of chilli for the next couple of months. And treating myself to cupcakes. And growing moobs bigger than Suz’s pregnancy mammaries (maybe not). Seriously though, as the nights draw in and baby makes its appearance, we’re fully prepared to hibernate like a couple of dozy tortoises and only venture as far as the Apple TV remote to see what’s new on Netflix.

After competing in the Birmingham Diamond League last weekend, me and Suz headed to Bath for a few days of sightseeing, tasty food and relaxing. We had an amazing time staying at The Royal Crescent (I just needed a burgundy smoking jacket and exquisite moustache to feel right at home) and let our hair down as much as a heavily pregnant woman and professional athlete still in training mode could. If you haven’t already been to Bath, go NOW. And eat at Sotto Sotto, and Hudsons and The Circus and then don’t care even one bit that you can no longer see past your pronounced gut to your manhood.

While we’ve been away, my dad’s got cracking on the nursery (which is great because I probably don’t hate anything more than decorating). He’s re-plastered within an inch of his life, is minutes away cracking the paint/wall stickers out and has already made some awesome shelves with all different shapes cut out. He’s an amazing builder and it’ll be so nice for his first grandchild to reap the rewards when it comes to having one of the best rooms around. Once we’ve actually filled it it with some furniture, books etc I’ll pop a photo up.

Everything seems to be speeding up now and with the season coming to an end our full attention’s focused on getting the last few bits and bobs ready for the new arrival. We had a walk round the hospital last week and took a peek at the birthing pools (which is the intended plan, providing everything goes OK). We’ve chosen to have the baby delivered round the corner at Milton Keynes hospital where my mum works, as it happens, on the maternity unit. We’ve got a lot of faith in the NHS (Suz’s stepdad is also a retired paramedic) and they’ve been wonderful the whole way through the pregnancy. Suz is very much of the opinion it’s going to ‘hurt like a Chinese burn to the box wherever I do it’ so we decided to stay local to home and felt no real need to go private. We’ve also been offered some hypnotherapy sessions (to work alongside the CDs Suz has been religiously practising with) so hopefully with some good breathing techniques and a nice calm environment it’ll be less of a Chinese burn outcome and more of a gentle punch… I’ll report back with findings.

In other news, we’ve got our baby shower/summer BBQ coming up in a couple of week’s time. We were keen not to have a ‘women only’ gathering in order that everyone could be involved, and… organised fun + high oestrogen levels = Suz’s hell, so we thought it best to throw some meat and testosterone in to the mix. It’s taking quite a bit of energy to make sure she doesn’t keep visiting Hobby Craft for yet more pointless jam jars and tissue paper baubles to decorate the marquees with, but so far I’ve only had to tie her down twice. I’ve also now been made aware that bunting is absolutely vital to any proceeding nowadays so thank goodness that’s been brought to my attention. I’d almost gone through life without the the urge to buy it even once.

When it comes to what we’re loving this week, it’s aaaalllllllllll about automobiles and fine dining. Well, car seats and high chairs. We’re obviously hot on making sure baby’s nice and safe while heading to all important social events (the doctors and swimming club), so we’ve stocked up on a couple of top notch seats. We opted for the Cybex (in Sirona) as it not only looks ridiculously cool (we’re a bit obsessed with orange), but provides a safer than safe journey until your child’s three and a half years of age. Well worth investing in. It’s super sturdy and chunky so looks as though it’ll be our ‘stay in the car’ option. Our still-uber-safe, yet ‘in and out’ version (and the one Suz will be using for her car) is the Joie I-Anchor. Again, this seat sees your child through to the grand old age of four and offers ultimate protection. Newborns can get nice and cosy in it with the removable layers and it’s light enough to carry around (and no doubt get guns of steel) if your child’s asleep. When we first started attempting to shop for our little one, it seemed like every parent & baby department was just wall to wall car seat displays, each one of them screaming to be bought because they’re SO SAFE SNAP ME UP QUICK! It can be a bit daunting so thanks to other parents for the heads up and recommendations, we’re really happy with our choices.

When it comes to feeding time (once boob’s off the menu anyway), we’ve chosen the Tripp Trapp from Stokke as our high chair. It comes in a whole host of colours (we’ve gone for orange… again) and is cool enough to blend in with all other kitchen furniture. It’s actually a really nice bit of kit (it’s not covered in cartoon giraffes for starters). There’s a lovely set you can snap up to make the high chair suitable for newborns, which we think’s a fab idea. Pop baby in the seat and they can join you at the table while you try not to fall asleep into whatever you’ve managed to rustle up that night. It seems most highchairs are only suitable from about 4 months up so it’s great that these guys offer an alternative.