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The Birth Story

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Well, quite a bit’s happened since I put my last blog post out. We’ve been getting prepared for our first family Christmas in the new house, I’m back at training, and there’s the small matter of my first child making his appearance into the world. So to say the last few weeks have been a whirlwind would be like saying my hair’s a little bit ginger… it’s been the adventure of all adventures. But before I get all gushy, I want to go through how our new favourite human, Milo, made his way into our lives (and by that I mean the labour, not how we *made* him. No-one wants to hear those details) (Aside from a very niche section of society).

After a particularly long dog walk nearly eight weeks ago, Suz waddled over to me saying she felt as though she was leaking. Now, leaking’s not a word you tend to attribute to your missus unless you’re dating polyethylene pipe, and even then it’s probably not a great sign. So knowing the midwife was due a visit, I sent Suz to go chill on the sofa and panicked internally that my mate Manny was on his way to our house for a weekend of biking while my baby may be making his appearance before I even had the chance to say ‘muddy spoke’.

The midwife checked Suz over and assured us all was fine, to keep an eye on things and rest up over the next few days. I breathed a mini sigh of relief and Manny turned up ready for a weekend of getting muddy.

The next day Leaky Linda woke up feeling exceptionally tired so I wrapped her up in bed like a burrito, laid assorted snacks and drinks on the duvet and put the remotes in reach. Manny and I went out on the bikes and aside from popping back every few hours to check Suz hadn’t fully punctured, we got a whole day’s riding in. Later that night, an ordinarily very hungry Suz didn’t fancy eating anything (well, she said she didn’t, then scoffed the entirety of my chicken chow mein; “oh no, I really don’t want anything to ea… oh is that chow mein?”) so we presumed, teamed with the lack of energy, this meant labour time might be along in the next few days.

While Manny and I chilled downstairs watching MOTD, Suz waddled off to shower and sleep, thinking it was probably one of the last few times she’d be able to without a crying baby within earshot (plus I don’t think she was overly fussed about catching up on that day’s goals. Crazy). And then, an hour later after I myself had gone upstairs, I walked in to our bedroom to find a newly fake tanned, freshly nail-painted Suz, watching (ironically) a programme about the Boxing Day Tsunami, casually muttering ‘Ummm, hi babe. I think my waters might have broken’.

“REALLY?! Whydoyouthinkthat?” I squeaked, in a spectacular display of calm.

“Well, I heard an elastic band sound along with a snapping feeling in my tummy.”

“Riiiight. And do you have loads of water gushing out?!”

“Not sure yet. I haven’t got out of bed because I’ve only just painted my nails and I don’t want to smudge them. I’ll just foof on them a bit to get them to dry quicker”.

So, while Suz foofed on her nails I quietly shat myself and glanced over the hospital bags, desperately trying to weigh up if we were ready to go if need be.

“Oh. Yep. They’ve definitely broken”

Suz was now out of bed, knickers round her knees, with water cascading out of her not drastically unlike the scenes playing out on the tsunami programme on screen. We got all excited (I probably squeaked a bit more) and then calmed ourselves down, ready to ride out the next 24 hours as prepared.

Only, that didn’t happen.

Suz had only just managed to phone the hospital and plug in her hypnobirthing CD before the first contraction came along. And it was intense. And then seven minutes later, another one came along. And then another one, four minutes later.

“I can’t get a grip on them. Seriously, this is so much more painful than I thought. Am I being a sap? AM I GREG? Why do they hurt so much already? Why aren’t I getting a break in between them? Greg?! WHY ARE THEY COMING SO FAST?”

I suggested, seeing as I had about zero answers, that Suz called her mum. And after having two contractions over the phone in a four minute conversation, Big Sue suggested it might be time to get on the way to the hospital.

When we got there, Suz was coping by humping a hot water on all fours while I performed shaky apples on her lower back (see hypnobirthing blog post if you’re wondering what on EARTH that is).

“Any specific ideas on what sort of birth you’d like sweetheart?” asked the midwife.

“A water birth, she wants to go in the pool” I responded immediately, while Suz continued to be all energetic porn star on the hot water bottle.

“Ah, I’m afraid that won’t be possible. The thermostats aren’t working”.

Uh huh.

After a few mini cries from Suz and being informed she was four centimetres dilated already, an hour into the process things were already moving along very quickly and an epidural was asked for to try and calm things down; ‘Kourtney had one on Keeping Up With The Kardashians and it looked so much less painful than this shit’. The anesthetist rocked up looking more than a little tired and gave us the lowdown on what would be happening next. The epidural should numb the lower half and make the contractions, if not disappear altogether, much less intense than they currently were.

Only, that didn’t happen.

Having not given birth at any point in her life before, Suz wasn’t entirely sure how she should be feeling. And in her usual I-didnt-want-to-cause-a-fuss style decided not to mention that aside from a numb leg, the epidural hadn’t worked and the pain was still horrific. By now, she’d got to eight centimetres dilated in five hours and no amount of mooing (while me and the midwife had a good chat about Ed Sheeran and Las Vegas) was getting her through. Along with some gas and air induced vomiting, Suz was getting to the point where she was starting to cry she couldn’t do it and despite forewarning from our hypnobirthing teacher Maggie, I wasn’t quite as prepared as I’d have liked to have been.

I honestly don’t know that anything can prepare you. It’s a cliche, and often muttered by glazed-eyed husbands and boyfriends post labour, but seeing the one you love in so much pain is horrible. Suz told me afterwards that throughout the whole process she felt as though she was trapped. In her own mind she had concise thoughts but couldn’t vocalise them. Saw that there was no ‘good’ way out. She was riding out so much pain and felt as though no-one was listening to her or helping. Hearing this, I was suddenly very aware me and the midwife endlessly telling her to ‘breaaaathe and big push’ was probably more annoying than listening to Peter Andre’s Greatest Hits but there was nothing else we could do. Plus, aside from the occasional moo, she made absolutely no noise so it was often hard to gauge how she was feeling. Three hours of pushing later and the midwife gently suggested using other methods. The sucky cone-y thing or forceps. Milo’s heartbeat was still really strong so he wasn’t in distress but he’d turned himself so he was back to back with Suz and face up. Essentially, wedged.

This was about the time I lost my cool.

Prior to giving birth, Suz had been very, very strong in telling me under no circumstances did she want forceps. Absolutely not. They weren’t happening. And she repeatedly made me promise on her life that I’d agree to have my balls cut off before letting anyone go near her with forceps. I sent everyone out the room and sat down beside her as she drifted in and out of consciousness. By this point, I was exhausted and not embarrassed to admit I started crying. I could hear Suz wearily telling me to let them do it, but knew forceps terrified her and after hearing the list of possible complications, I was pretty scared too. It seemed like there was no way out and all I wanted was Suz back to normal and our baby out and healthy. “They said it will take seconds. Please, this has been so long and there’s no other option. Just agree to it” said Suz. Probably while chewing on the gas and air pipe. A flurry of nurses and doctors came in, stirrups were slotted under Suz’s one wang leg and one normal leg and we were ready to go. Then, after three tugs on Milo’s head, he was here in the same time it took to make him (Jokes. I’ve got the stamina of Lee Evans on a caffeine high) (I haven’t).

And I can’t explain the relief.

Total relief. To see him laying on Suz’s chest, all covered in gunk and wielding the biggest balls I’ve ever seen in my LIFE was beyond anything I can describe and I just stood there crying (not because of the balls, because of the happiness). I was so proud and suddenly the whole nightmare just melted into a story we’ll regale with at dinner parties; ‘Oh remember when you gave birth to Milo darling? That was hell, wasn’t it!’ It was all finally over, I had a son and a very happy looking girlfriend, (albeit covered in quite a lot of blood) and if someone could recreate and bottle the feeling up, they’d make millions. We’re now nearly eight weeks into our adventure and just about settling into our groove. I reckon we’ve adjusted really well and now Suz’s gooch stitches have gone and Milo isn’t feeding every twenty minutes, we’re enjoying ourselves as a new little family. We’ve taken him out to dinner (although he stuck to boob, nothing on the menu tickled his fancy), to a friend’s wedding and numerous walks in the woods with the dogs and we’re having a blast. It transpires the reason for the quick labour was the fact Suz’s waters were indeed leaking for 48 hours, so by the time they fully broke, everything was ready to go. We’re not entirely sure what happened with the epidural failure, apparently they just don’t work on some women. So although Suz really enjoyed having a wonky leg for the entirety of labour, she’ll probably opt for alternative pain relief with any other children we might go on to have.

At the moment, we are struggling a bit with a dose of silent reflux but hopefully that’s something which will sort itself out soon and I’ll be keeping you all updated with the fun side of baby-related life in later posts. Right now I’m just surprised I’ve managed to get this post typed out without stopping to stare at him 27 times. He’s become my new favourite thing to watch, even ahead of Jessica Alba films, and seeing his wind face greet me every morning after a particularly hefty feed is better than anything in the world. So, here’s to fatherhood!

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Due Dates, Man Boobs & SnuzPods

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Huh, so due date came and went. It was highly uneventful. I think Suz maybe had some twinges (which was possibly just wind) and we scared a woman while out on our dog walk who, once told baby was ready to appear, looked panicked in case it fell out there and then. We’ve tested quite a few of the old wives’ tales to try and get things moving along… although being someone who opts for PLAIN chicken at Nando’s (I know, it’s embarrassing, and I probably should have dumped her a long time ago), Suz isn’t massively up for getting involved with a spicy curry.

One good thing that has come from a little extra time (because nine months just really isn’t long enough) is the fact we’ve now got everything sorted. While Suz watched some sort of awareness programme on people involved in business who manage to function on zero braincells (The Apprentice or something) I got to work on a Moses basket stand, a nursing chair and Snuzpod. Together, we’ve also now made sure every item of clothing/bedding etc has been hand washed and hung up and the hospital bags are now ready and sat by our bedroom door. Which on reflection is actually a bit silly because Suz manages to fall arse over tit on them every time she goes for her 2am, 3am, 4.30am, 6:15am wees.

It’s still really alien trying to get my head around the fact a) a human’s got to come out of my girlfriend’s body, b) I’m about to become someone’s dad, c) one of the biggest moments in my life is about to happen. Suz and I talk about it all the time… how you’re constantly trying to prepare for something you have no idea how to prepare for. And the enormity of it all. I mentioned taking in one of our nice champagnes to the hospital to celebrate on the big day and Suz responded ‘we could, but didn’t we want to save it for something special?’ before quickly realising unless she gives birth to the reincarnation of Jesus, nothing much will top the birth of her own children. We’ve packed the champagne.

The other much less exciting news is that I’ve gone back to training. I’m resembling Fat Bastard post carb binge at the moment so it’s not a great deal of fun and I even turned down a topless magazine shoot this week on the basis I didn’t want to cause lots of spontaneous puking from readers. All exaggerations aside, I’ve had a few weeks off to enjoy myself, eat what I want and not panic about having that second (thirteenth) slice of red velvet cake and it’s definitely taken it’s toll. I feel like I’m at the heaviest I’ve ever been along with the most unfit, and now I’m excited to get back to my usual routine and see everything fall back into place. It was important I took some time out to rest though and I’m glad I did… this year went better than I could have expected and I wanted to make sure I crammed in some time together with Suz, dining out and relaxing with culinary treats at home, before our lives become that little more hectic and we’re grabbing meals in between bum changes and naps. It’ll be exciting to see how quick I can get back into shape and even better once Suz can join in. We spent a good few hours shopping for new gym kit the other day and after a few months of chilling out, we’re already feeling really inspired to get moving.

The Snuzpod might actually be the world’s best inventions by the way. Loads of mums and dads had recommended it to us and after reading up on the benefits, we can see why. It’s a lovely, safe way to have baby sleeping close at night and, as Suz intends to breastfeed, it’s a great way to get feeding done from the comfort of your own bed without worrying you might fall asleep before getting baby back to a cot. The transparent side comes down so your baby can see you in all your dribbly, open mouth sleeping glory, and you can settle them with a mere stretch of the arm if need be (or at least that’s what we like to tell ourselves. Cue fast forwarding to nights of pacing round the room doing lots of rocking). If you’ve used one yourself and got any feedback then send it on over, I’m always keen to hear what products worked for other parents.

Secondly… how comfy are nursing chairs? It’s a revelation! I may in fact attempt to grow a pair of breasts and insist in the taking over of feeding just so I get to rock in it more than I’ll currently be allowed. Ours is from Kub and comes with a handy footstool which again, yes, I’ll be trying to use at every possible moment. Suz can sit on a bean bag or something. She likes bean bags. We’ve chosen to have it in our room rather than the nursery, just so we can plonk ourselves in it in the middle of the night if baby’s a bit restless, and it fits in perfectly with the rest of the decor. Anything baby-related that doesn’t look too ‘baby’ is a big plus with us, and something a lot of brands seem to be picking up on. We’d much rather stock up on products with longevity or that just slot in the home, and this ticks both these boxes.

It’s The Final Countdown BAHDADADAAAAA

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So we’ve touched down at week 39 of the great pregnancy journey! We’ve managed to get a bit of sleep-deprivation practise in already because Suz is now practically breakdancing in bed every night trying to get comfy. And in turn, keeps us both awake.

Poor me.

We’ve met the last stretch in very different ways. Suz is still Mr. Muscle with boobs, ploughing through every grain of non-existent dirt with thousands of antiseptic wipes and spending hours folding, re-folding and re-re-folding all the miniature outfits… and I’ve spent a fortune on my new hobby; mountain biking. In the past few weeks I’ve snapped up a couple of bikes for me and my dad, researched every gadget going and sorted permits so we can burn off some energy on the tracks behind my garden. The two approaches do, in a way, go together quite nicely. I get to triumphantly wheel my bike into the kitchen, covered in mud, while talking about breaking my speed PB (handily recorded by an app) and Suz gets to wheel the bike back out to somewhere more appropriate and then steam clean everywhere. She doesn’t always thank me but I know secretly she’s really quite chirpy about the whole arrangement.

In all seriousness though, it’s been really nice to find something I can do with my dad and enjoy while I’m on my break period from competing. Plus Suz has assured me she likes the fact I’m out the house (probably because she can mop the floors without me traipsing all over them three minutes later) and I’m almost certain she likes the daily visits to the bike shop with me because Starbucks is next door and I *always* buy her something tasty. What a lucky woman.

With the countdown to the big day fast approaching, we’ve been getting excited every time Suz has a twinge. She’s berated me for asking what’s wrong every time she winces because apparently ‘look, you’ll know when I go into bloody labour’, but it’s hard not to want to spring into action and start speed-packing. We’ve decided to put all essentials aside (including a very fetching newborn hat complete with Dumbo ears) and wait to shove everything in a holdall for when the pains are kicking in and we need to set off for hospital. Suz reckons this will give her something to focus on. I think it will cause me to have a mini nervous breakdown.

As you may have read in last week’s post (on the brilliance of Natal Hypnotherapy), we’ve had quite an eventful two weeks. Far from sitting back and relaxing, we’ve had two pretty large get togethers at our house and spent what feels like 14 days of buying food/drink, entertaining, cleaning, tidying and BBQing. It’s been great fun seeing everyone before baby arrives and we can’t thank our friends and family enough for how generous they’ve been in celebrating and bringing gifts, this is going to be one very lucky human.

My eyeballs still haven’t quite recovered from beer pong and all the sicks but you can’t win them all.

And at least I didn’t spend the last few hours of my baby shower like Suz did: sat on the floor of our utility room with three dogs at 2am, hoping all the drunk people would just go the hell to bed.

As these nine long months come to a close, we’re astronomically excited about what lies ahead. Obviously a lot’s going to change and we still can’t quite get our heads around the fact the two of us will soon be three, but we can’t wait. I know, especially for Suz, this year has been LONG and she’s very, very ready to move onto the next stage. It’s crazy to think in as little as a week’s time she’ll be walking round without a big ol’ bump plonked on the front of her… something I might have trouble adjusting too actually, I have to say I’ve become quite attached to her resembling a Teletubby. We’ve stocked up on boxsets, onesies, blankets and are prepared to hibernate our little lives away for the next few months… and aside from a few events and weddings, we’ll be spending lots of time quietly adjusting to life with a grouchy little rugrat. It’s been great (for me anyway) documenting ‘the journey’ into parenthood and how we’ve been preparing, plus it’s lovely hearing from all the rest of you and how you did/are doing the same. There’s plenty of forums and websites that bleat on about certain aspects of becoming parents but Suz and I find them terrifying so starting up this blog has been far more beneficial. So, lastly, and for what may be the last time ’til the little one breaks through Suz’s undercarriage, here’s what we’re loving this week. Hasta la vista!

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These guys are all over the moses basket, bedding bundle, nursery shizzmatizz and we stocked up a treat! The moses basket we opted for looks nice and cosy (although hopefully baby won’t get too comfy or it’ll never want to move to the cot) and once I’ve stopped biking around Woburn woods for two minutes I promise I’ll get the stand erected so it can take pride of place in our bedroom. The bedding bale includes a couple of sheets, a blanket, a quilt and a bumper (and Suz got all excited and shrieky because it comes in a huge wicker basket and ribbon), so that’s nice. And, in general, they cater for all new baby requirements. Take a peek at their site if you’re on the hunt for a top notch nursery that won’t bankrupt you to decorate.

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Mamas & Papas Passport/Luggage Tag

One of our lovely friends bought us this as a baby shower gift and we think it’s bloomin’ ace. We’ll be heading over to the US as a threesome early next year where I’ll begin my warm weather training and now the baby will look cooler than cool at the airport. I’m almost jealous… I used to holiday in Rhyl, Suz in Yorkshire… our baby will be travelling half way across the world before it’s 6 months old.

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Calm Down Boris by Sam Lloyd

One of the things we’re most excited about is getting baby book obsessed. This was another present from the baby shower and we’re not even the slightest bit embarrassed to admit we’ve been reading (and puppeteering) to each other already. The friend who gave us this as a gift has exactly the same for her 4 month old and apparently he can’t get enough. Cosy nights in the nursery with an array of books and a sleepy baby is something we’re very much hoping will happen (although we’ll have to report back on if this actually happens).

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Can You Do Shaky Apples On Me?

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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

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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.

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Hands Up If You Know Bernard

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First and foremost, apologies for not updating the blog much recently. I’ve been a bit all over the show doing my jumping thing and it appears that doesn’t allow much time to chat on about impending fatherhood. I’m back home now though and ready and raring to continue stressing about the fact we still need to decorate the nursery.

I could really do with Bernard’s watch come to think of it. If anyone knows him and would be up for asking if he’s in a position to lend that’d be great. I’ve got a pretty cool Lego Darth Vader alarm clock I’m more than happy to offer up as a swapsie. It just needs a bit of a dust.

Speaking of doing my jumping, as some of you probably know, it went as brilliantly as I could have hoped last week. The crowd were amazingly supportive, the atmosphere in the stadium was crazy and I really enjoyed the whole competition. I’m aware me side-stepping the steward created a bit of a media buzz and while that’s great, us athletes getting round to supporters and fans is a huge part of our job and something which gives me a real boost. I feel very strongly that in the future should I take my own children along to sporting events, knowing there’s an opportunity for them to interact with those competing will always be a huge pull and I’m sure that’s the same for every other parent. Granted, the little lady who bawled her eyes out the second I gave her a cuddle was probably wishing she was anywhere in the world other than in my arms… but at least her mum now has a photo she can roll out every time a new boyfriend comes round.

All that aside, it’s really nice to finally be home. I head off to Europeans in Zurich in about a week’s time so I’ve still got plenty of training to pack in, but at least being back here means I can chat to Suz’s belly and remind baby of my existence. I especially like to do this when Suz is juuuuust on the cusp of nodding off and when baby’s finally stopped using her bladder as a Boppit. Because then the kicking starts all over again and she gets to enjoy another hour of playing ‘How Quick Can You Get To The Toilet’.

(Although I sometimes get the impression it’s not totally fun for her from this weird, withering look she gives me, but it’s probably just something in her eye).

Interestingly, Suz has informed me the one time baby did stay Madam Tussaud’s still was while I was jumping in the Commonwealths so apparently there’s just nothing I’ll be able to do to win it’s appreciation. It’ll be all “Oh you did what? Meh, great. Mum pushed me out of her BODY. Me. A HUMAN! Sooo… come back when your achievements aren’t LAME and jumpy”.

Being back at home has also timed itself very well with Suz’s first proper craving. I’ve been all excited at the prospect of dashing out at 11pm to grab ingredients for custard and frankfurter sandwiches or gherkins like the bloke off the advert, and it seems that time has finally arrived!

Only, she wants to munch bath sponges.

And gets really excited about smelling them.

And they stink.

Like chemicals.

I do like the way she casually sniffs it for a few minutes and then cunningly pops a chunk into her mouth like some sort of bathroom ninja though, she’s admirably cloak and dagger about it. And actually, it’s quite endearing when she looks at me all wide-eyed and hopeful whispering “just smell how nice it is!” when really, it honks like a toxic jellyfish.

I just hope she doesn’t start trying to connect herself up to a Cif drip because that’s the latest thing she’s been ‘needing’ to use a lot.

“Suz, the sink’s clean”

“Oh, it’s just I ran the tap so I’d probably better Cif it quickly”

In fairness, the tap water of Milton Keynes does pose a serious threat to sinks.

The fact we’ve very soon got this tiny new human arriving on our doorstep (I think that’s how it works) was reinforced by the delivery of a few bundles of treats from Stokke this week. Since we met them at The Baby Show a few months ago they’ve been ridiculously helpful in helping us find a pram we can trundle through the woods with (our house is in the back end of nowhere), along with a high chair SO modern and cool even Shoreditch House feels behind the times, and a spare bath for when baby visits the grandparents. They weren’t a brand we were familiar with (being a couple who were more Selfridges and less Mamas & Papas up until February) but now we can’t rave about them more. Plus, their brochure makes you hopeful once baby arrives you won’t be bleary-eyed and grabbing for a milk-stained t-shirt out the dirties basket, but instead resemble their cool, Scandinavian model who wears lots of nice sweaters in their brochure.

A dad-to-be can dream.

All joking aside, we’ve plumped for the Stokke Crusi and it’s currently pride of place in our kitchen until we have something we can put in it. I had a wander round the garden with it (as you can see from the photo) but Suz told me off for getting the wheels dirty. A totally valid and in no way insane reason to get narked seeing as we’ll never be using it outside again…

It appears choosing the right pram can be a minefield (you don’t realise how fussy you get ’til you’re involved. I’m just grateful I never have to pick a wedding dress) and it was so nice to finally find one we were 100% happy with. We’ve heard loads of great reviews regarding other brands, and obviously people’s choices can be hugely dependent on where they live (city, countryside etc) but we just want to express our gratitude to Stokke for being on hand with lots of advice and suggestions. Now we won’t have to carry our baby around in a Paperchase carrier bag (yay!).

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What’s He Eaten NOW?

 

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26 weeks down, lots more to go! And the majority appears to take place over the sticky British summertime so Suz should really enjoy that. Luckily I’ll be away competing quite a bit for the next few months so I won’t have to listen to her moaning about it.

Pssssh. Just kidding.

She’ll ring me.

Despite still being relatively compact bump-size, Suz has been enjoying the wonders of an ever-changing body this week. Last night she traipsed into the living room muttering ‘do you think my feet look a bit weird?’ only to plonk hooves that’d look chunky on a high school Monica Gellar on my lap. Yes. Yes they look weird because they are MASSIVE. She’s also informed me she can no longer snooze on her back thanks to her breasts using her lungs as an accordion so it’s time to bring out the L shaped pillow! (Or get her to compose me something melodic)

Recently, we snapped up the massage chair to beat all other massage chairs for preggo body (Suz) and post-training session body (me) and had been thoroughly enjoying it. Rather than vibrating like a big old rampant rabbit  (not that I have experience in that field) it houses tiny balls in the lining (ooh-er) which go round and round and up and down and it’s AMAZING. It’s SO amazing in fact that our parcel-munching puppy Gus picked it for his midnight mini snackette the other evening and chomped the remote to death. So essentially what we have now is just a chair. And a puppy who spent five hours being glared at through French doors.

I’m pretty sure he’s on a one dog mission to turn our home into a scrapyard and I must say he’s doing impeccably well so far. Bravo to him.

It’s becoming increasingly evident this week that it’s IMPOSSIBLE not to want to buy clothes for baby every time we leave the house. As anyone who knows me will be aware, I love shopping and would treat myself to new shoes or coats pretty willy nilly. Suz is worryingly exactly the same. Nowadays, we either have to be struck by lightning just before we enter Mamas and Papas or we come out laden with mini boots and outfits that’d be ‘just perrrrfect’ for Christmas Day. We’re very aware that after three hours’ sleep it’ll be a miracle if we muster enough brain capacity to cover baby in one of those manky yellow dusters you keep under the sink, let alone a dungarees and matching hat set but we like to hope it could happen. Or that we’ll at least get one photo of baby wearing something nice for Instagram. Which I’ll title ‘Just off out rocking my new threads!’, followed by putting it back in a plain babygrow and handing it over to mother-in-law so I can get 40 winks while Suz washes her hair for the first time in a week.

As stated before, each of my blog posts from now on will feature a few reviews on products me and Suz are looking forward to using once we become parents. A couple of people moaned via Twitter last week that they didn’t want to be reading promotion or brand gumph, which I appreciate, but I’d like to make it very clear that anything I champion here is a) because I believe it’s handy for other soon to be parents to check out and b) I appreciate the feedback from readers being able to tweet ‘Oooh yes, they’re a great company!’ or ‘EUGH, no… run for the hills. That product was a waste of moolah’.

Now that’s covered, check out what I’m loving this week below:

First up, BabyBjorn and their Baby Carrier One, I cannot WAIT to start using this! Me and Suz spend a lot of time in the countryside, either for training or walking the dogs, so it’s really important that we’re able to include baby and have the outdoors play a large part of it’s childhood. We’ve tried it on already and not only does it go with pretty much every outfit (not hugely important I know), it’s super comfortable and snug. Plus, yes… I have very, very briefly thought about having my baby strapped to my chest while casually strolling through town as women adoringly gaze in my direction. Thor did it so SURELY I can too? The Carrier One’s suitable from birth right up to three years of age, so this is beyond a solid investment.

Next up is Thrupenny Bits and their breast feeding pillow. Obviously I’m modelling it in the photo but rest assured it’ll be Suz who’ll be getting most use out of it. What with her having the breasts. I know she’d been struggling to find a nursing pillow she found strong enough to be able to take the weight of baby while not being too bulky, so when this arrived on our doorstep it spelt the end of our nearly two month stint hunting around. They come in some lovely materials, lots of great colours and are all home made so we couldn’t praise them more.

Lastly, from the brilliant Gro Company is the Gro-Egg Room Thermometer. Nice and self explanatory, this stops baby from being in an environment that’s too hot or cold (because obviously they can’t just tap you muttering ‘Er, Dad. Heads up… I’m sweating LAVA here’) and acts as a glowy nifty night light too. Safe AND keeps monsters at bay. Ideal.

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Eunuchs, Less Than 40 Winks & A Very Naughty Puppy

We’ve reached six months! Onwards and upwards (or rather outwards) to the third and final trimester!

So we’re getting some A* practise in with the whole no sleeping malarky at the moment. Baby likes to donk Suz on the bladder every few minutes just to check she’s still around and Bio-Oil combined with sticky summer nights are, so I’ve been told, as much fun as clapping with poo in your hands. I seem to have developed a heightened need to protect so most of my nights are spent balancing a chess board against our bedroom door as a booby-trap just in case I don’t hear an axe-murderer traipsing up the stairs. They appear to be alarmingly quiet in all the films and I’m determined not to be fooled.

I also got cracking with the nursery last week, which basically involved me hacking one of the built-in wardrobes out and stripping wallpaper… we’ve chosen quite a bright theme and lots of colourful wall stickers so it’s a case of getting the room back to basics before we can do any of the fun decorating stuff. Extra bonus, now we’ve spent so long thinking up nursery designs and seen all on offer, we’re starting to think adults are missing out when it comes to bedroom decor and have decided we’ll probably just turn our own bedroom into an intergalactic medieval safari-themed submarine. Complete with fireman’s pole down to the kitchen. Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen would probably agree with me as long as I agreed to some decadent curtain sashes and a cow-hide chaise longue.

This past weekend I travelled to compete in the European Team Champs in Germany where, while there, a popular past time amongst the GB athletes was to guess the sex of baby. The resounding prediction so far has been girl, although I’m willing to bet my bananas that’s just because they like teasing me about their future sons dating her. Which won’t be happening. Ever. Not unless they’d like their sons to become eunuchs. Speaking of which, my dogs very nearly found themselves living life without any trouser oranges when Suz and I returned home to find one of our kindly-sent parcels from JellyCat torn to shreds in the front garden (which some of you may remember I tweeted about once steam had finished spurting from my ears). Our youngest hound Gus has a tendency to make hamster bedding out of anything and it appears he’d had a whale of a time adding ‘ruining baby presents’ to his usual daily routine of barking at wasps, sniffing, weeing and bum-sliding across the grass. Luckily, he’d found the packaging itself bombastic enough not to care about the cuddly toys held in it and Mr Elephant and Mr Giraffe, aside from a dog-slobber shower, escaped unscathed. They looked a bit miffed following a hand wash but we’re pretty certain Mr Elephant’s perm will go back to normal any day now.

When it comes to all things baby we’re loving this week, check out some of the gadgets and gizmos we’re really excited to give a try once October arrives…

Firstly we’ve got the brilliant TotsBots and their bum-friendly reusable nappies. They come in cooler than cool designs and me and Suz have honestly felt nothing softer. Seriously, I’m considering just giving up pants from here on in. They’re like CLOUDS. We’re quite keen not to go down the disposable route if we can help it and these guys have got tonnes of great tips and advice if you fancy giving it a whirl yourself, so go check them out. Next up is Snugglbundl and their baby-lifting wrap. It’s essentially a fab bit of kit for helping mums lift their babies post birth and (hopefully) reduces the risk of them screaming blue murder should you need to get them from the car seat to the house smoothly. Anything that helps my eardrums gets a thumbs up from me and Suz is pretty keen not to blow too many stitches (should she need them) so we’re really, really happy to add this to our stash. Lastly, Totseat and their chair harnesses are welcomed with open arms in our home. They’re machine washable (I’ve heard a possible myth babies can be messy at mealtimes or something?), great for taking with you if eating out’s on the cards and, again, come in some awesome prints and designs. Suitable from 6 months up, the only way they could improve was if they went into the adult market for when Suz has had one too many vodka lemonades and can’t handle sitting upright…

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Claude or Claudia… Place Your Bets Now

 

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So last week, the big news in our world was that we spent Wednesday morning having our 21-week scan and finding out whether we’re growing a Claude or a Claudia! (Not the names we have in mind). Having been abroad for the first scan, it was also the first time I was getting to see baby and despite it’s absolute refusal to co-operate with the sonographer, I had an amazing hour being shown various limbs, a beating heart and a beautiful face-on view of a pout. The best moment came when, after nearly 45 minutes, they’d bum nudged baby to a point where they could do the checks, only to watch as it slow-motion army-rolled on to it’s tummy. (I’m pretty sure it stuck it’s fingers up while doing it too but the screen was fuzzy).

It was a particularly tense, X Factor finale-esque moment; not only because it seems to make everything that bit more real, but also because Suz and I didn’t agree on what we thought was in there. I was opting for girl while Suz had been saying ‘he’ rather than ‘it’ for about three months already and being the totally breezy, non-competitive couple we are, we were keen to see who’d earned gloating privileges.

We’re not ‘officially’ announcing the sex, but let’s just say everything’s in working order  and we’re expecting a child with just the one set of reproductive organs. So, top banana work to our sperm and eggs.

When it comes to unveiling the sex, quite a few friends and family were quick to say they’d ‘want a surprise’ if in our position. Alongside that, in the newspapers this week, author Ian McEwan bemoaned parents-to-be for finding out and ‘conferring a pink or blue fate’ on unborn children and when Suz mentioned having a scan on Twitter, people jumped at the chance of saying how much it ruins the fun.

In our minds, knowing what’s tucked up in there is really helping us to bond. Obviously we’ve been excited since we found out… but just being able to stop saying ‘it’ or ‘baby’ has already been really nice, as has buying outfits and putting together a list of names. We were always in agreement that whatever it was, it wouldn’t be a ‘pink or blue’ or ‘princess or pirate’ situation (we’re not huge fans of stereotypically ‘girlie’ or ‘boyish’ things), we just wanted to be able to tailor certain aspects a tiny bit. The thought people assume knowing if it’s a boy or a girl ‘ruins the surprise’ seems a bit ridiculous to us. You’re not waiting to see if your girlfriend gives birth to a wooden glockenspiel or a Man ‘O’ War jellyfish… it’s only ever going to go one of two ways, so I don’t really get the stress. We’ve said should we continue to have children, which we intend to, then we’ll possibly consider not finding out again but it’s really not a huge deal to us either way.

Following the scan and about eighteen wees from Suz (they make you drink a LOT of water before those things don’t they?) we headed off for a day with Kiddicare in Peterborough. They couldn’t have been more helpful in guiding us through pram options, nursery furniture and toys (my favourite area) through to car seats, swing chairs and play mats and they’re 100% the people to go see if you’re stuck on what’s worth buying/what’s not. Their Bump, Baby, You club is also brilliant at offering advice and tips through every stage of pregnancy along with tonnes of vouchers for all your little-one’s necessities (They also had really tasty cheesy broccoli bake available at the canteen, so if you need a pit stop around all the fun of nipple pads and post birth sanitary towels then that definitely works wonders).

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Most excitingly this week, baby finally started kicking! After a couple of weeks of wondering whether the bubbly tummy Suz was experiencing was more brewing farts or baby feet, it’s nice to know the frequent and strong movements are indeed now baby booting away at my girlfriend’s innards. In a particularly heart felt moment the other night I gave bump a kiss… and it boxed me in the chops. Good to know I’ve been put in my place this early on.

Finally, as the weeks run away with us, I’m going to be including some of my favourite buys/baby necessities. Some of these products are things we’ve been lucky enough to have gifted, some are items we’ve bought and others stuff we’ve been treated to by friends/family. We’re far from organised as we’ve got a few months to go yet, but it’s nice to have a few things underway and please feel free to drop me a tweet with any recommendations on products, nursery decorations, clothes etc. We’re always up for some shopping! This week, we’ve been testing out Pacapod‘s amazing ‘Portland’ 3-in-1 pod system, but also their ‘Hastings’ knapsack from their new ‘lite’ range (both of which I’m modelling here). Even Mary Poppins would be jealous of these bags and we can’t wait to test them out once baby arrives. We were really keen to purchase a changing bag which was dad-friendly in the style stakes (i.e not covered in flowers and pictures of cupcakes) and these definitely hit the nail on the head, all while being beyond organised; there’s a compartment for everything. Not sure I’ve seen Suz this excited about a bag since every time we walk past a Mulberry counter…

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What, me? Nothing much, just building EVERYTHING

 

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I’m not quite sure what’s going on this week, but I like to think my brain’s shouting ‘nest Greg, NEST. You have a baby arriving!’ while my testosterone battles on valiantly, flexing it’s biceps bellowing ‘NO. Man want to build FIRE’ or at least something along those lines. Whatever the hell’s happening I ended up spending nearly an hour in B&Q a few days ago, playing with power tools (which Suz loved) and then another two sanding and re-painting an old chest of drawers (which is now pride of place in our bedroom, housing lots of lovely pants and socks). It’s all been very productive and successful. Which, when it comes to D.I.Y, just isn’t very me. 

Last year, on what was possibly the hottest day in the history of sun, I decided to build a couple of shelves from scratch. After an hour of sweating and not doing much else, I brought that down to just one, solitary shelf and then down even lower to one, solitary shelf which looked awful and sat like a depressed, wonky see-saw in our bedroom. A blind jellyfish could have done better and it was soul destroying. My dad’s a trained carpenter and can turn his hand to anything so being completely useless at making what’s essentially a piece of wood, I was quite disappointed.

Now a little human’s on the screaming horizon though, bam! I’m suddenly a flame-haired Handy Andy! Only I’ve never been on Big Brother and don’t have a Scouse accent. Along with the chest of drawers, I’ve built a bird box from scratch (I’m aware that sounds terribly uncool but we have a lot of birds in our garden and what with having wings I’ve heard it can be a struggle for them to fashion anything themselves) and have come up with designs for a workshop I want building at the bottom of the garden.

Also this week, I heard my baby’s heartbeat for the first time which was incredible. Thanks to being away training in America and missing the first scan I’d only been going on second hand information, so hearing lots of whooshing and ba-booms for myself was really, really amazing. And I definitely didn’t well-up despite what Suz says so if she tells you otherwise just ignore her because she likes to lie a lot. Next week we get to find out if we’re expecting a mini-willy or mini-minnie so it’s safe to say I’ll probably combust with excitement.

Seeing as Suz isn’t from around these here parts in Milton Keynes, her parents are moving up to stay in our annexe when we have the baby. It’ll be lovely, except it does mean we now can’t use it as the dumping ground for my endless amounts of clothes/kit/golf clubs/PVC knee-high boots (that last one’s a joke) and I should imagine the next few months are going to be taken up with us desperately sorting through everything. We’re giving a load of stuff away to numerous charities/events, so if you see anything up for auction then you know it’s a) because I do like to think I’m quite charitable but also b) so my mother in law doesn’t have to sleep on a mound of lycra leggings. We’ve also decided to sell a few bits and pieces and put the money aside for a trust fund for our new arrival so it’s got a little nest egg for university/travelling/quest for worldwide domination. I just already have a strange, all-consuming urge to make sure the next 18 years are covered and my future son or daughter is a tiny bit prepared for life away from me once the time comes.

(I would just like to add, for the record, should they wish to spend my hard-saved cash on anything I find unsuitable then I will probably just use it to buy myself a a really awesome motorbike thank you very much).

Other fun things to happen this week; endless moments of making sure no-one’s on the horizon when Suz has her mid-exercise wee in the bushes on our runs in the woods and tryyyying to work out what theme we’d like for the nursery (seaside or safari?).