diary of a dad - part 1
Dadzclub follows one guys story of fatherhood - part 1 uncovers a tale of anticipation and emotion pre birth!
My name is Paul Greenep, I'm 32, my wife Jo and now the bump or matchbox as we have come to call it, as well as myself recently moved to Farnham from Brixton (London...just in case). I work for a management consultancy based out of London Bridge which means I am one of those lucky commuters...thermos mug and all!
What do you remember of your dad parenting you? What influence has it had on your involvement during the pregnancy?
My dad runs his own company and this was in it's early days when I was a wee nipper so I remember that he was away a lot, the holidays we went on, the presents he used to bring back from business trips and our time playing conkers in the evenings after he came back from work in late summer. I am only appreciating now what both my mum and dad must have been going through with a new company, new baby etc. Later on my parents divorced and my brother and I ended up living with my dad. My dad worked incredibly hard to look after us he bore the brunt of my teenage years and as per the script they were fraught with disagreements and teenage angst towards my dad and later my step mum. All in all though it felt like he was probably as hands on as he could be with the time he had. This is something I have been keen to emulate. Another period of my childhood that has influenced me in my thoughts about being a dad was when my dad remarried and had two more children. I was 16 when the first, Thomas was born (the same age as Thomas is now when our little one is due to be born). Despite being at the peak of the teenage angry years I loved seeing Thomas grow from being the wee blob of pink flesh he was then to the tall strapping 15 year old he is today. I got all the pleasures of seeing a baby grow without any of the more testing parts to making it happen! Not long now and Jo and I will have our own little one to look after...outside of the bump! All this has meant I am massively excited about the mini Greenep that is due to enter the world anytime now and can't wait to get involved (might not be saying that in a couple of weeks from what everyone tells me!)
How did you feel when you found out Jo was pregnant. What's good about it? What's not so good - any worries/concerns?
Jo and I have been going out since we were 18, we met at school. We were friends for a couple of years before getting together. It’s cheesy as you like but it was a love at first sight thing (for me anyway!), unfortunately one of my mates at the time was going out with her at the time but I persevered and managed to persuade her I was worth going out with. So when I got home that fateful evening at the beginning of October 2010, and Jo had left out the pregnancy test, and once I'd managed to decipher what it was telling me, Jo walked into the room and suddenly everything felt like it made sense and in a weird way life just seemed to slot into place. I don't think we said anything for about an hour we just hugged and stared at each others teary eyes contemplating our future as a family….
What was good about it?
Happy; that everything worked and we were able to get pregnant and our own little Greenep was starting to brew in Jo’s belly. Relief; as Jo had had some history of polycystic ovaries so there was a thought that we might have some difficulties. Realisation; that it will no longer just be the 2 of us. Nostalgia; I would be lying to say we didn’t talk about it, it evoked fond memories of times alone as the two of us, carefree and all that. Amazement & wonder; that something that is half (ish) of both of us was now cooking and that it was starting to exist inside my wife's body....that has taken some getting used to if I'm honest. Suppose I better learn to share her pretty swiftly! Anticipation; that the birth is only 9 months away and bewilderment that it changes everything and that we have to get our heads round that. We had planned for this pregnancy but nothing prepares you for the moment when it all becomes a distinct reality. All these things and especially the amazement, wonder and anticipation all grow continuously throughout the pregnancy accentuated by the big milestones, the 12 week scan, the moment the bump becomes visible (it feels much more real at this point), the moment Jo can no longer fit into normal clothes and moves into maternity territory, the 35 week scan…..all amazing times. At the same time these moments present you with worry as you hope everything will be alright with both mother and baby. Luckily touch wood all are in good nick at the moment.
Money, job security, house and where we lived…..anything that could affect the environment you are bringing the child into really! All the classics I suppose. We had already been thinking of moving but decided that this was the final straw. Brixton is an awesome place, it's on the doorstep of London and there's never nothing to do. However we were keen to get some greenery in our lives and a veg patch had been a long time item on the wish list! Now that we also had the additional Greenep to think about it was a no brainer. Moving out of London felt like the right thing to do. We had tried several times before but could never decide where to go. Eventually it was a matter of just putting the type of house we wanted and searching all around London (due to work). Randomly we then ended up about 10 miles from both my mum and my dad....this could turn out to be a blessing in the weeks to come....we'll see.
What do you think can be done to help guys feel more supported, if needed? Is there a need for a portal like dadzclub.com?
Aside from the inevitable and ever increasing volume of baby chat with friends and family that has slowly been taking over from the 'sex, drugs and rock'n'roll' banter from our pre-pregnancy life(!?). As dad to be I have been reading motherhood and baby books which are focussed (from some of the titles you would expect nothing less) on the mother and baby. This by the way is fine because they do do most of the work and need the most looking after. However it is for exactly that reason that dads information is crucial; you want to know what you're doing is the right thing and be as much help as you can be in the windows of time you get with your new family! It is difficult to find information on fatherhood and if you do it is dribs and drabs. Also it's theoretical with very little content on how, in real life, it actually all fits together, what it is like to experience fatherhood; the pleasures and of course the pains. I think something like Dadzclub will help bring it all to life for those fathers who are either expecting or who are expectantly watching their child grow wondering what is coming next and how they might feel or deal with it.
How will you and Jo work the parenting thing out in the house?
Now that makes me feel like a bad parent already, we haven't discussed too much about the longer term views on parenting too much. We have talked a bit about things like education, opinions on computer games, religion etc. I think we'll be cooking up some good cop, bad cop combo when the time comes. In the mean time I think we will be focusing on sharing duties where we can. I'm keen to be involved in the feeding as much as I am able. Bath time sounds like it'll be a lot of fun and is something I want to get into the habit of being around for.
Jo is going to try to breast feed and we are going to try eating things into some kind of routine as soon as we can. We're not keen on strict routines and don't think the strict Gena Ford methods are for us. Saying that we will know more about how we're going to deal with all that once we know what our baby will be like and also how we take to being parents! Jo has printed a few charts out from a book called 'the Baby Whisperer' and put them on the walls of the nursery as a kind of quick reference guide. With project management being part of my day to day work I had a pretty bad initial reaction to getting our baby into routines and having charts on the wall but having read a bit more about it I'm sure they will prove invaluable.
What effect has the pregnancy had on your relationships with Jo, mates, and family?
Quite a few mates are having babies this year so in that way it has been like our own little baby boom! My mum is climbing the walls with excitement. My dad was a little unhinged in his reaction to the news. When we first told him Jo was pregnant he hugged Jo, completely forgot that I had anything to do with it and then ran off to feed his pigs! I have a feeling emotion might have got the better of him.
Jo's parents are thrilled at the prospect, although Jo's dad has been making reluctant noises about having to postpone the plasterer on his building project because of the birth! I think it'll be difficult for them, on the one hand Jo is their only child and this is their 1st grandchild, on the other they live in France, and although not a million miles away, it is not on the doorstep. I think Jo's mum will find this set-up especially hard. Saying that we've booked our first trip away with the baby to see them in August and they have their bags packed ready to get over here as soon as things start moving
Mates wise, we are lucky that a few good friends have already brought kids into the world so in terms of our friendship group adapting to this massive change in life’s priorities, the wheels have already started turning. Also the not drinking thing feels like it is definitely easing you into the prospect that your social life isn't going to be quite the same ever again. Yep I'd say our mates are pretty excited about the fact a new little Greenep will be entering the world and are looking forward to meeting it....but that thought alone is still boiling everyone's minds!
My brother, David, was also incredibly excited, he was the first person we told about pregnancy and we told him on his birthday. He got very emotional and is pretty excited at the prospect of being the 'cool' uncle....unlikely as it is, the 'cool' bit I mean.
Jo has, touch wood, had a great pregnancy and despite the inevitable hormone attacks and asking me to stop making so much noise when I breathe (!) and suggesting that I stop...everything has been pretty good so far. Jo has always been very independent and a keen and extremely capable career woman keen on travel, keeping fit and both of us love getting out with mates, whether that be holidays or nights out. The pregnancy has seen her (and me) slowly change our way of thinking and the biggest thing, and I suppose hardest thing for her to come to terms with has actually been when work stopped and maternity leave started. She is a couple of weeks into it now but not having to go to work and it not being a holiday really did mess with her head. But the realisation and excitement of what is about to happen is really building now, the nesting instincts have kicked in and now the house suddenly has a lot more cushions, trinkets and rugs! We can't wait and family and friends are on tender hooks waiting for the call.
Any general comments on resources, help and what you feel you will need once the baby arrives?
One area that we feel we would like to be more prepared for is what to do with our wee bundle once it actually arrives. We went to NCT classes and the majority of time is spent on the birth and decisions you need to make, things you need to look out for and how as a dad you can make things as easy as possible for your wife or partner during that time. Actually how to look after and care for your little one was restricted to breast feeding (although that is probably more than half the battle) and one two hour session on nappy changing, car seat set up and wrapping a baby for bed time, how to set up a papoose and a quick step through of various burping positions. Now although this may well be covering a lot of the bases it is the part that once the birth is done that is pretty daunting, what happens when you get out of the hospital? So this is the area I think we could do with more info on. Other than that I think we are a little scared but really and incredibly excited about welcoming our baby into the world, shouldn't be too long now! Everything is ready to go, the nursery has all the basics, all in neutral colours as we are waiting until the birth to find out the sex, the hospital bag has started being packed and I am constantly checking our notoriously unreliable campervan to make sure it is ready for the biggest and most important drives it will need to do, to and from the hospital!
Tune in next time for part 2 where we will be finding out how Paul is taking to being a new dad!
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