Remarkably, we were on time this week which was a first and also meant that I could make myself a mug of green tea. That’s right, green tea. Not builders tea…green. That’s what I’m paying for.
The session started with a nice ice breaker, as always, where we had to say how we were feeling about the imminent arrival; everyone was feeling excited. I want to pause there for a moment and mention how good it is to be in a group of excited dads. Whether that excitement has a long life ahead of it or whether it dwindles as sleepless nights and a crying babies creeps in, is another question.
Water birth was the topic on the agenda to start us off and we had a discussion around the pros and cons. Which was a short, one sided discussion because there don’t seem to be any cons. Considerations but no cons like many of the other options that face you in birth. It seems to me that using water during labour only has advantages. It can help with pain relief, it can help you feel relaxed, it keeps you mobile because getting in and out requires a fair amount of leg lifting and it stops you from lying down on your back. The baby’s arrival is more often than not a lot calmer as well; primarily because they are moving from water to water rather than water to the cold air. The baby’s gag reflex is fascinating and stops the baby from actually breathing in any water. It starts breathing once out the water. I’m a fan and we’re going to try it out and see. The only consideration is whether your wife is like mine or not and if the water is a degree too hot or a degree too cold, all hell will break loose!
I don’t think I’ve been as excited coming home from an NCT session as I did from this one. The easing being, that it was about moving from expectant father to father. From pregnancy to motherhood. From carrying a baby in the womb to carrying a baby in your arms.
Really, that’s why we’ve done this isn’t it? We didn’t decide to have a baby because we wanted to be pregnant and give birth. We decided to have a baby because we wanted to be parents. And that’s the exciting bit.
It started off by asking the question, what do you do with the baby when you get home? I’ve got this image in my mind of the wife and I sitting on the floor just staring at Rex. What do we do? Carry on as normal? We did an activity where we plotted out a typical weekend day, which was more a competition of who stays in bed the longest, then added in the extra bits as a result of having a baby: feeding times, nap times, changing the nappy times, family members coming round, phone calls. Suddenly the normal day started to look very different. When will the washing get done? The cooking? The cleaning? The vacuuming? Watching tv? Eating?
The initial excitement started to look a little bleaker…
We then looked at a typical day for a mum with a baby and a typical day with for a dad with a baby. Both lacked sleep. But, a little stereotypically, the dad went out to work, had a long and bad day at work and came home to a messy house, no dinner and the wife sat on the sofa with a glass of wine in her hand watching tv. During the same day, the mum had a hectic day of feeding, crying, nappy changing, unwanted visitors and had put the baby to sleep, poured a glass of wine and sat down moments before dad had arrived home. The point here was not to assume what kind of day the other has had. The question was, how would you act if you were mum or dad?
This led nicely on to discussing how important it is to nurture your relationship with your partner when the baby arrives. Time suddenly disappears, housework gets pushed down the priority list, differences in parenting style, finances can start to strain and sleep deprivation kicks in. This is a list of potential catalysts for arguments and disputes and how a couple deals with these things is crucial. We spoke about using each moment wisely. Even if you only have a few minutes with your partner, how would you use that time to nurture your relationship? Here’s a good exercise to try out.
How would you use the following amounts of time to nurture your relationship with your partner once the baby has arrived:
1 – 2 hours:
We’ve already booked in nanny and grandma once a week to baby sit. Date night is sacred and I will be protecting it like it’s the holy grail.
It was a really good opportunity to talk about parenting styles as well. Routine VS baby led? There’s definitely pros and cons to both of these methods but we’ve come to our conclusion. Forgive me Gina Ford, but we think that a strict fluid routine will work for us. This can be summarised by this: we want to try and encourage our baby to sleep at set times. But this doesn’t have to be in the same cot in the same room in the same place. A fluid routine!
2 fantastic points I took from the session:
#1 I’m going to be a parent and life is going to be very different.
#2 I must nurture my relationship with the wife.