20 Things I’ve learnt about pregnancy

I am an educated man and my friends tell me I’m intelligent, yet pregnancy and children have thrown up so many unexpected twists and turns I’m left wondering a) all why people go through this, and b) why aren’t we taught what will happen during and after gestation?

So, to educate and warn you, I present just some of my observations so far. Let’s start with pregnancy.

  1. It’s quite common for a pregnant woman to have a blocked nostril. Which can mean chainsaw-level snoring. However, it must be at a certain pitch that only men can hear because the woman will deny that she snores.
  2. When they’re ‘older’ the babies don’t just kick – they move from side to side. This creates bizarre effect on the stomach that inevitably invokes images from the movie Aliens.
  3. When experiencing kicking you can very easily delude yourself into thinking they’re having a strange conversation with you.
  4. The statistics on problems with pregnancy is the stuff of truly horrific nightmares and will make you paranoid. Do not every read them or do any research, ignorance is sometimes bliss.
  5. Everyone will offer advice. Don’t follow blindly – some will be good, some will be bad, some will be from the Dark Ages. Take what you need.
  6. “Tummy time” (something I’d never heard of) is NOT the same as “Hammer Time”.
  7. You will be sucked into conversations about your children’s education years and years before they’ll ever set foot in a school. Or are even born.
  8. Women really do glow during early pregnancy. They also go through a stage of near-bliss for a few weeks. Enjoy this period while you can. Later hormones will reduce this ecstatic period to a distant and unlikely memory.
  9. Nearly everyone will want to know the names before they’re born.
  10. Absolutely everyone will ask about the gender before birth. Some people will actually get upset if you tell them you’ve decided you’d rather be surprised. they will justify this aggressive position with talk of presents and clothes needing to be pink or blue. You can either a) point out that yellow, green and black are gender neutral, or b) tell them that reinforcing the stereotypes of pink and blue is a stupid tradition that helps no-one. Neither of these options will make any difference to the crazy people.
  11. People are genuinely happy when they discover you’re expecting. We’re talking huge smile, dispelling of any anger, rainbows and fairy-dust happy. It’s very heart-warming and further proof most people are good deep down.
  12. In weeks 24-30 or so the tummy will start to harden like a turtle shell.
  13. Comments about Mutant Ninja Turtles do not go down well in weeks 24-30.
  14. Not only do feet and ankles swell up but hands and fingers as well. You have to remove rings before too long or they may need to be cut off.
  15. Pregnancy cravings are real. Not all of them are weird. but a lot of them are…
  16. The first time you hear your babies’ heartbeats during scans you will feel tears well up in your eyes.
  17. Ask two doctors the same question and you will get two different answers. It seems baby doctors don’t talk to each other much.
  18. You will start talking funny ‘baby talk’ voices at her stomach even before they’re born. I think this must be a genetic imperative.
  19. You hear stories of pregnancy affecting memory. They are all understated. The pregnant woman is like a goldfish or a Queensland schoolkid. Sometimes they will even forget halfway through a sentence that they were talking and begin repeating the very same sentence. Having them say the same thing five times in half an hour will be entertaining – at first.
  20. Similarly, women are supposed to be prone to mood swings during pregnancy. Something I’ve not experienced. At all. Ever. Please don’t kill me if you read this honey.

And if you dare think you’ve learnt something, then the kids come along and your levels of bewilderment and amazement go through the roof!

TO BE CONTINUED IN “Things I’ve learned about having kids” aka “What the hell?!? Why didn’t someone tell me…?

In Search of a Group to Belong To

Early on in my stay-at-home dad experience, I was a bit overwhelmed and barely left the house. This was partially out of fear, partially out of paranoia, mostly out of exhaustion. But that’s a story for another day.

The point is that when it came time for me to finally leave the baby cave and attempt adult conversation once more, I just assumed I would simply find a parenting group to join and all my problems would be solved. I didn’t hold much hope of finding a father’s group, but I figured there would be any number of ‘mother’s groups’ I would be welcomed into.

Though I didn’t know what to expect from a mother’s group, I assumed they involved support, networking, nurturing, interaction and, of course, delicious snacks.

Apparently I was wrong about both what these groups are, and how easy they are to find.

The first group I tried was a riot of colour and chaos featuring screaming blurs, twitching mothers, fire and brimstone… I came home more stressed than when I left.

The second group were nice, but treated me like a scientific oddity. Apparently a male voluntarily looking after the kids isn’t as common throughout society as I thought. They figuratively poked and prodded me to the point where I felt like an experiment.

Time to try another playgroup.

Group number three consisted of seven women bitching about their husbands. The babies were almost forgotten as a seemingly endless tirade against men and their laziness was the only point of discussion.

After 45 minutes I decided to finally chime in and lighten the mood with, “I know! And then they come home and just expect sex! It’s as if they have no idea what we have to do during the day.”

Stone silence.

Oooookay. Cross the Bitchy Bee group off the list.

The fourth attempt brought me to what I think of as the Olympic Trials playgroup. Here everything as a competition. “Your baby look their first steps? Oh, well mine did that last month.” Mine, is running already.” And so on.

Seriously, I was waiting for one of them to scream, “Well, mine was walking in the womb!”¬†Incidentally, they were obsessed with brand name labels too, And apparently not even pronouncing it “tah-jhay” makes Target acceptable to some.

My next attempt found me in a large warehouse with very nice people, but my kids were the youngest by about 12 months. So I got brief polite conversation before they went off to talk to people they knew, leaving the girls and I somewhat isolated.

I enjoyed it, but as I didn’t like feeling like my babies were holding interaction back, I marked this group “for later exploration”.

At the end of my tether I was just about ready to abandon my search for a sympathetic voice. Support and understanding are overrated anyway, right?

Then, just like that, Queensland Health introduced me to a group of women who were in the same boat – not only from search perspective, but they had twins as well. So I’m now a regular in a gathering that puts the “group” in “playgroup”. And they’re wonderful.

We understand, emphathise, help each out, answer questions, share experiences and genuinely like each other. We share laughter. We care about each other’s kids and, in fact, are just excited their milestones as our own children’s.

And, of course, the snacks are delicious.

To find a playgroup near you visit www.plagroupaustralia.com.au

Daddy’s Swear Jar

My Twins are at an age where they pick things up very quickly. In fact, their learning skills are both extremely surprising and a little scary.

From Rhapsody fetching and trying to fit keys into locks, to Gypsy constructing a ladder to overcome her inability to reach doorknobs, the girls are a constant source of amazement given their age.

But there are times when their observational ability isn’t smiles and roses.

Take the other day. It had been a wonderful day with the girls, but they had hit that witching hour full-on and were impersonating terrorists just as their mummy got home.

Tired and frustrated, I pleaded with them to behave, “Come on girls -you’ve been so good today. Don’t ruin it now by being little ships right at the end”.

But, of course, it wasn’t “ships”. My word was naughty, rather than nautical.

And guess which single word, out of those twenty, Gypsy chose to repeat.

Loudly.

Her Mummy didn’t know whether to yell at me, or laugh at her.

Yes, now I know not to make a big deal out of it, otherwise this guarantees that my child will make it her favourite word. Of course, I know this from experience as the only other time a gem slipped past my lips, the word was forgotten as soon as it was uttered.

Not this time. She randomly blurted it out for the rest of the evening and despite our affected obliviousness it continued the next day.

My favourite part was in aisle 7 of Coles as little old lady was cooing over what a pretty girl she is.

So it appears I have to accept that having curious and intelligent children means having to be very aware of my every action and word.

But as for my baby girl’s ears remaining pure? It seems that ship has sailed.