Telling those that matter

It’s back to work today after the Christmas period. Jenny is sick. She’s at home probably back in bed now. I wish I was too. I’m tired, neither of us have been very well and it’s meant lots of rough nights. Lack of sleep as been the primary feature of the holiday period. I guess it’s good training for the next three years of our lives though, so I mustn’t grumble too much. Having Jenny suffering with a cold over Christmas highlighted another feature of pregnancy. Every time I went to the chemist to get some cold relief medicine I had to ask if it was suitable for women in the early stages of pregnancy. We didn’t even know if she could take paracetemol until I looked on the NHS Direct website. Thankfully she can but must follow the recommended daily allowances. It’s strange to see her being so conscious of what passes her lips. On Christmas Eve we went out with friends of ours, Terry and Heidi. Thankfully there is one pub in town where smoking is not allowed on the premises. Jenny stuck to Lemonade, not wanting any alcohol. She normally drinks more than I do (okay, maybe the same as I do) so it was strange to have her sober all night long. We were home by ten and ordering a pizza. What strange behaviour! But, I didn’t mind. Heidi tried to coerce me into coming out but it wasn’t working. Jenny wanted to go home and I wanted to go home with her.

Christmas Day was the day of reckoning. We had decided to tell our parents our news on Christmas Day. First, my parents then to her parents house for lunch and to tell them. I mentioned previously that the one problem I thought we would have would be the issue of marriage, so I was thankful I was a coward and was letting Jenny tell her parents whilst I took the easier option of mine. As it was I spent an hour sat on the sofa with Jenny across from my parents and two young brothers trying to pluck up the courage to tell them the news. How do you break something like that to someone? I have never had to do it before and my parents have never had to be told that before. I was dumbstruck. What the hell was I going to say? Do I build up to it? Just blurt it? By cryptic? I was conscious that time was running out. We had to be at Jenny’s parents house by one-thirty for lunch – then I got a stay of execution when Jen got a call to put lunch back to two o’ clock. But still the seconds ticked away and we made small talk about what was on the television or about Christmas presents. We chatted amongst ourselves, my parents unaware of the news about to be dumped on them. In the end, during a lull in the wise cracks, the jokes and the endless cups of tea I opted for the ‘blurt it out’ method:

“So, er, you’re going to be grandparents”

It was done.

My Mum put her hands to her face and began to cry. Tears of joy. The tears were of joy, I promise. Byron* burst out laughing – as only Byron would do – clapping his hands and suggesting I could have been a little more subtle that that. The kids, Eton and Ellis, barely moved from their watching TV positions. I think Eton, the eldest, shot a cheeky grin my way, he may have clapped me on the back too, then they went back to the television and whatever movie was being shown. My Mum hugged Jenny tight through her tears. Jenny looked like she would cry too. Byron stood and offered me his hand in congratulations. I hugged him to me like I have not done in over a decade. This is real family stuff. This was something we could all focus on and it would be good for us.

My Mum has wanted to be a Gran ever since my Gran died which was just over a year ago. It would have been her birthday too, the week before Christmas. I think she sees this pregnancy as the continuation of life. Up until now she was focusing, perhaps, on the past on what was lost. Now she has something to look forward too. She called me later on Christmas Day singing ‘I’m gonna be a Granny’ down the phone. She’s excited. She has probably planned every aspect of what she will do for this baby. It is good to know that I have good people behind me, supporting me. Supporting us.

Having ‘relieved myself’ of the big news it was time to move on to Jenny’s parents house. She was a little nervous about what would be say. The marriage issue again. We have discussed it between ourselves and I’ll go into some detail on that another time, or maybe later, but soon. We got to Jenny’s childhood home, it’s just a few minutes drive from my parents house, and exchanged Seasons Greetings. Mike was watching TV and Sandra was busy in the Kitchen. She came into the lounge upon our arrival and mention was made of King Prawns in the Prawn Salad. Shell fish are not recommended whilst pregnant so to spare her Mum any more unnecessary work Jenny was forced to come clean right away:

“I might as well get this over with. You’re going to be grandparents again.”

It was done, again.

This will be Mike and Sandra’s third grandchild. Jenny’s sister, Lyndsey has two boys already. It was still big news though and Mike was very pleased. He shook my hand and offered congratulations. He later told us that he had a premonition that there would be another baby next year (2007). I never took him for a psychic. Sandra said that yes, she was pleased, but, ‘you know what I’m going to say, don’t you? You know what I’m going to say, don’t you?’ Yes, I know what you’re going to say.

Marriage. It comes back to that. I can understand where she is coming from but as Mike pointed out (THANK YOU!!) it’s a different time, a different age. We said we’d consider it, and we have, it just is not a viable option right now.

Breaking the News and the consequences of.

We made an agreement on Friday last to keep this news to ourselves for a little while. Our parents have yet to find out and we’re thinking that Christmas Day would be the ideal time to tell them. Jen says, ‘but my mum doesn’t know yet’ but she’s the first one to tell her friends about our news. I don’t blame her. Something like this is not something you want to keep to yourself. It is news you want to share with everyone you know. ‘Guess what? We’re having a baby’. Then the reactions and the smiles and the congratulations. I know that people will be pleased for us. Working in an environment like this people develop a natural interest in each other’s well being. News spreads quickly; good or bad. Gossip and rumour are staples of the daily office social diet.

Christmas Day will be interesting. It will be interesting to gauge the reactions of our parents. I’m sure that my parents will welcome the news. It will be a great Christmas present for my Mum and for Byron, also for the boys who will be uncles for the first time. Jen’s Father will be pleased with the news too, as will her Mother, but I know the issue of marriage will come up soon after the ‘we’re having a baby’ announcement.

I have always, always, for as long as I can remember, never understood the appeal of marriage. I don’t need a piece of paper or expensive party or foreign holiday to show to someone that I love them and I am committed to them. Having a baby with someone, actually agreeing and entering into a decision to be responsible for another person for the next 18 years is a bigger commitment than any legal contract. It is an agreement of such magnitude that it should only be entered into by two people who are 100% behind their decision. It is life changing. I know that emotionally, mentally, financially, my life will never be the same again. I am under no illusions to the contrary. I accept this change. I welcome it with open arms. It is going to make me into the person I have always wanted to be. Having a child with Jenny is a commitment beyond marriage. It is physical and emotional. Through the existence of another human being, Jenny and I will always be linked.

So, it’s going to be interesting. I have my beliefs, and I hope that reading this you can understand what they are. Other people believe differently. It is not going to be a battle, because inevitably we’ll do what we want to do regardless of what other people might think or want or expect, but I will take into consideration the feelings of others. When the question comes up of marriage the answer will be, ‘soon, but not yet’.

The Announcement

It was on the 15th December at ten minutes to two in the afternoon that I heard the news that changed my life. My girlfriend, Jenny, announced that she was pregnant with our child after performing a home pregnancy test at her sister’s house. My memory of that conversation is a little sketchy. I remember feelings more than words. I remember the anticipation when she came on the phone as I knew she was taking the test. I remember the outright horror that I felt when told the test was positive. I remember wanting to grab her down the telephone line and hold her close to me. I remember the feeling of overwhelming joy and excitement as the news sunk in. I remember not being able to sit down whilst having this conversation. People always say, when they are going to give you news, god or bad, ‘are you sitting down’. I was sat down but I remember standing up and pacing the length of the house whilst having this discussion. I could hear the emotion in her voice. I could feel the emotion in mine. I was shocked, stunned, bewildered, excited, anxious, happy, terrified. I felt like I would burst. I felt like I needed to run outside a proclaim, ‘we’re having a baby!’ to the world!

But instead I put the kettle on and made a cup of tea. It’s funny to think of the things we do when we have been given such news. People can tell you where they were when man walked on the Moon, John Lennon was killed, when the World Trade Centre was attacked. I will always remember that when I was told that I was going to be a Father, the most momentous news a man could possibly hear. When I was told this, my reaction was to go put the kettle on and have a cup of tea.

What was I going to do? How could we afford it? Is the house big enough? What will our parents say? Will it be healthy? Will I be a good Father? Will our relationship suffer? Will our sex life suffer? On that first day every conceivable question, concern and worry ran through my head, but it all came back to that one important all-encompassing question. ‘What the hell am I going to do?’

I’m going to do my best to be the best Father, Parent, Friend, Confidant, Teacher, Entertainer, Companion, Provider, Supporter and Advisor that I can. I’m going to change my life, my goals, my focus for another human being. I am going to do my all to ensure that my child has the best possible start in life and is loved and cherished and protected to the utmost of my ability. I am going to be as supportive as I can be for Jenny as she copes with the physical, emotional and mental changes that this experience will inflict upon her. I want to experience it all as much as I can. The miracle of life. Creation. Two people coming together in love and creating something so special. So perfect. I want to immerse myself in this adventure and feel all the emotions that she does. I will be there for check ups, for scans, for mid-wife visits, for everything. I want to be as close to the events as they unfold as is humanly possible.

I’m going to be a Dad. We’re going to be parents. I will do my very best to share these experiences, the good and the bad, with you, on these pages.