Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Nesting - What's that all about?

Hi all,

As you may or may not know, Albert has finally been born and I am now the proudest daddy ever! It has already changed my life, and it really is amazing beyond all belief. I dont want to say too much here as I will write a whole load of other posts on that! So I had written this before the birth and thought I would post it now, and then write a post later about the birth of my awesome baby boy! 

So onto the post!:

I thought this time I would do a post on Nesting (and the associated DIY).

So what is Nesting? Wikipedia tells me it’s building or having a nest, or if you are Human like most of my readers are (you know who you are), then Nesting means basically getting towards the end of the pregnancy, and forgive the swearing here, realising you have to get your shit together. It normally goes along the lines of "Argh! The baby is coming and there are still a million things I need to do!" But more sort of worrying rather than singing:

I was a bit dubious of the whole Nesting thing a while back, I sort of figured it was a bit of an Old Wive's Tale. A few people have told me that they had Nesting instincts when they were in their pregnancy, but I just kind of thought well that would be a bit normal anyway, was it actually a THING though? Could it be defined? Was there an actual physical urge to do things? So I did a quick google (very scientific) and realised yes it was a thing, people seem to have documented it and yes it does happen. It’s on the internet HERE at and you know what they say about things being on the internet! So I wondered when I would start feeling this, and what it would be like.

So later on, it had been a while And I wasn’t sure if I would ever have any Nesting instincts or not, I thought it might turn out to be more of a female thing what with all their hormones campaigning and raging and generally being up and down more than a yo-yo. Now we are at the end stages of the pregnancy, I’ve stepped back and taken a look at myself (not literally, that doesnt help) and I noticed that I seem to have created a list of things to do (or Lucy has created one for me, same difference), and all of a sudden I seem to be desperately trying to get them all done! I realised I have been Nesting, I’ve been doing it! I’m Nesting! I’m a Nester! I love Nestlé! Feels good to be normal.

I feel like I have a lot more energy for these things now whereas generally I can be a bit of a lazy arse sometimes. It’s like a race and the finish line is the birth, and I’m getting closer and closer, but I can’t finish the race until I have done these things, that’s the cut-off and they need to get done, I need to finish the race, I NEED TO PAINT THE GARDEN FENCE BEFORE I FINISH THE RACE!!

Before I knew it I had worked through the list, added more things to the list, and generally kept the list as my bible. I feel pretty happy that I have managed to get most of the things done on the list, and below are some of the things I have been working on. I know everyone talks about cleaning when Nesting, and to be fair there has been some of that, but cleaning is boring, I am only interested in things that involve hammers and power tools and paint. Nothing that involves bleach and sponges and Windolene (although again to be fair, Windolene is my favourite cleaning product, it’s bloody magical!)

I’ll start off with the biggest area of Nesting. The Nursery! As I’ve already written about that in depth (that was a whole heap of Nesting in one go), you can read it HERE.

Previously in my post about baby stuff HERE, I mentioned a High Chair. I Nested hard on this bad boy. A few months ago, Lucy’s mum found this vintage High Chair for us, and as Lucy is a lover of all things vintage, we decided that we would do it up ready for Albump’s dinner time. Here is the chair before we started.

It’s a pretty neat chair, lots of history. How many little people had their tea here? Maybe a Tiger came one day? So first of all, I dismantled it a bit to make it easier to sand, and glued/nailed back together a few wobbly bits to sturdy it up. I then sanded down the whole thing from top to bottom. First with sandpaper on the little bits, then just like Tim the Tool Man Taylor (remember him?), it was TOOL TIME! I used a power sander and did the whole thing in no time at all, here we are:

Next we brought some gloss paint in a bright red colour, Cardinal Red, by Rust-oleum, and covered the whole thing in 2 coats and let that dry. Finally I screwed it back together, added in a harness and some restraints we brought from Mothercare (one of which has since broke, thanks Mothercare!). Lucy cut out some oilcloth (wipe down things are good for kids, apparently they are messy eaters?) to fit onto the tray. And that’s it! Pretty much all done! It’s pretty neat in the way that it unclips and folds over and makes a little seat and tray so he can do drawings and art work and other stuff on as well. What do you think? I asked Gruffalo to kindly model the chair for you, what a gent, it's not true what they say about him you know.

Next up we had a little chair to sit on. He probably won’t need this for a while but what the hell, I’m Nesting so TOOL TIME! I sanded this down as well and OH HELLO MR RED PAINT! That got 2 coats as well, I’m slapping red paint around like it’s going out of fashion. If I can’t paint the town red much anymore I’m at least going to do a chair. There is a story behind this, Lucy had this chair in her lower school when she was little, and it had to shut down (nothing to do with Lucy). The school said to all the kids that they could take their chairs with them, and she has kept it ever since and grown up with it. Family heirloom! So now Albert will use it as well! (then we'll go on Antiques Roadshow with it) Here is the chair below. Could also be used for some fort building or climbing frame for Batman.

The other tasks on the list were not quite as fun. We have some garden furniture which was looking a little worn after 2 years outside, so why not, TOOL TIME! I sanded these down (Man that took longer than expected) and whacked on a coat of some outdoor Willow paint by Cuprinol. It’s for sheds so we are hoping it will weather well, and we got a huge cover for it (which is cool as when it's on it looks like we have a Hot-tub). Now we can enjoy outside time a bit more IN STYLE. While I was sanding this I noticed that turned on its side, it makes an excellent shield defence barrier. Will be useful when Albert and I are playing water pistol soldiers in the garden (as modelled by me, with NERF and in my pyjamas).

While I was outside I also painted the fence round the garden, cleaned out the shed, took some bits to the dump, basically revamped everything I could see and get my paint-covered hands on. Lucy and I made some wooden bunting for the shed (again with Cuprinol, you can read about it HERE on Lucy's blog). The front garden needed completely weeding and new plants set up which took a fair few trips to Homebase. While there we also found this little chap, seems our dragon was pregnant as well!

Back indoors, TOOL TIME! Lucy had split some nail varnish remover on some drawers. That stuff removes more than nail varnish I can tell you. If you happen to spill it then it removes time and space from the universe itself! So I sanded down the top of the drawers and painted that as well with some old brown fence paint I found. Hmm, sort of a good match? Better than a big white stain on it (Ahem). I might do the drawer fronts as well to make it match in an odd way, what do you think?

Anyway, as previously mentioned HERE, I needed to Nest a bit for myself as well, so TOOL TIME!, I drilled some holes in the wall and banged up this bad boy. Purely for adults although we might have Ribena in one when the Bombay runs out.

I think that’s about it for my Man-Nesting. There were loads of other little jobs, but unfortunately not many of them involved hammers. Anyone else found themselves Nesting like mad and starting any projects?

Monday, 19 August 2013

The Birth and Expectations

Howdy all,

So this may well be my last post before the birth, the due date was YESTERDAY! (still calm, still calm). No sign of the baby yet, even after a Jalfrezi and raspberry tea. So I thought I would write this time about the expectations of the birth, then afterwards I can sort of match them up and see if it happened like I thought it would! A bit like a game of bingo. So let's play... BIRTH BINGO!

Throughout the whole pregnancy, I think the birth has always been less on my mind than on Lucy’s. After all, I’m not the one who actually has to do it at the end. I have always said to Lucy that we will do it as a team, and I would be with her the whole time. But that doesn’t change the fact that the most pain I will be in will be her squashing my hand, whereas she will be the one going through the process that just this past week someone described to me as feeling like... LUCY SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH NOW... like your hips are literally ripping apart. Ouch.

First of all when we found out we were pregnant, our thoughts were about the baby and the future and above all the excitement. The birth never really comes in to it as it’s such a far away time (9 months if you didn’t know), that’s almost a whole Formula 1 season. For me, I couldn’t see the bump yet and Lucy still looked the same, so it was hard to fully believe and get my head round, so I never really considered in depth what would happen. I just brushed it off as ‘the baby would be born somehow’. Lucy didn’t feel any changes at first, so again the birth seemed a distant though, something that would happen to our future selves. We discussed it, but more along the lines of “Oh yeah, and then there is the birth – eek!” And that was about it, why worry about something 9 months away?

As the pregnancy went on, we started discussing the birth more and what it would involve. We decided we would give birth naturally (aka via the vagina) rather than a caesarean (first time I wrote that down, needed a spell-check). I have nothing against caesareans, and if Lucy wanted one, then I would happily go along with it, again it’s not my bits being put through it all. But I think we felt we would do it the old fashioned way, as that’s been good enough for a few years now, so we’ll stick with that. We wanted an authentic an experience as possible (without giving birth onto some leaves in a cave like in old times).

So now he is almost here, looking back I think we both have thought about it more and more as time has gone on. As the bump has grown bigger, and we have got closer and closer to the due date, realisation has hit us. Shit the bed, we actually have to have a birth if we want a baby. The closer we get, the more real this seems. A stork isn’t going to deliver it by air mail like in Dumbo. Especially now we have gotten to the last month, Lucy is on maternity and I am quieter at work, so we don’t have much to do APART from think about the last hurdle to go until we meet the little man. We have done everything else we wanted to around the house (getting ready the Nursery HERE and getting all the other baby stuff HERE), so now it’s just waiting in anticipation. They say he will come when he comes, but as we haven’t received a schedule from him, I feel almost on tenterhooks about when it could be!

Probably not gonna happen this way:

So when it finally begins I think it will be a relief, just to finally crack on with it and get Albump on his way in the world! A fellow blogger Lewis over at nodded me towards a column he had written HERE for the very handy website the other day, with some good advice for parenting. 4 letters -  J.F.D.I. Just Fucking Do It. I think I will remember them when the birth starts. I know we can’t stop it, and it has to be done, so let’s get on with it! Just fucking do it!

So what will happen when labour starts? I initially based my expectations on TV. On TV the birth begins when the waters break and dramatic music starts, normally during the course of an announcement of an affair, or an explosion (the shockwaves shake the water up), or a zombie apocalypse begins. I’m not expecting any of these anytime soon (zombie apocalypse predicted 2019), so I am not sure how this will happen, I really don’t. I have found out that the waters don’t even always break! So I really don’t know how it will begin, all I can think of at the moment is just receiving a call from Lucy and then the rollercoaster starts! I can't envisage where or when it will begin, just that bum-clenching phone call in the middle of the day. Really I think half of me is still expecting the pregnancy to go on forever (will there EVER be a birth?) and the other half is expecting him to be 2 weeks overdue and then we’ll have some sort of induction/inducement (I wasn’t sure of the right term – induction sounds like the first day of an new job, which I suppose fatherhood is really!)

Then I imagine us going to hospital, coming home, going back again and so on. Everyone has said pregnancies are always different, but I am expecting it to be a long process, that seems a constant. One of the things you see on TV is that births always seem to be over quite quickly, the water break, there's some shouting and swearing, a pinch of crying, the father's car breaks down in the way, he just makes it in time, nearly faints and then WHAM BAM AND MEET YOUR MAM. So just like that it happens and your'e not waiting around for 3 days breathing deeply and bouncing on a ball. I am expecting lots of waiting and to be honest, a bit of boredom. We will have our kindles to keep us occupied. I'll bring an iPod with speakers to play the dramatic music. (Probably Beethoven's Fifth)

So the birth begins, what then? Eventually we'll probably get to pushing. I think I will feel like a bit of a third wheel and a bit redundant. I want to be able to help Lucy and I know I can’t with the pushing. All I can do is be there for support by her side the whole time. There will be excitement and boredom, but I will also be pretty scared that something will happen and loads of people will rush in and whisk Lucy away, and I’ll just be there with nobody explaining it to me. I know it’s a possibility, and I would rather a doctor be with Lucy than spending time explaining stuff to me, but I also have a lot of hope that Lucy and the baby will be fine through it all and it goes smoothly.

As we all know (at least I hope so), giving birth can be painful. We aren’t natural enough to say NO to drugs (a la Grange Hill). Crack in the playground, well yes, that’s bad, definitely say no. But epidurals, sure why not! If you have a headache then you take paracetemol, so why not if you know giving birth will hurt? Again, I don’t have anything against a natural birth with no drugs, but for me, if you can make it a bit easier then why wouldn’t you? I am NOT looking forward to seeing the woman I love in so much pain, so any pain relief is a good thing for me as well.

Which brings me onto Gas and Air (what I will refer to as G&A) They have it on tap at the hospital! The midwife said the fathers aren’t supposed to have any, but they all know we do anyway. Which to my mind is basically them just secretly letting us know that we can, as long as nobody is in the room. Fair game. I'll have a G&A please barman!

So at the birth I am expecting to be emotional. Everyone says how much this affects you and they can’t describe the emotions, so I am not sure what to expect here really, apart from it being bloody emotional. They have said I can cut the cord, which first of all I wasn’t sure I wanted to do. Sounds a bit squidgy, and I thought it might put me off using scissors for the rest of my life, but now I think I will as I would like to start off that bond with Albert straight away. It’s a bit like a grand opening, cutting the red ribbon and opening the rest of your life. Anyway, wielding scissors through a mist of tears in such an emotional state may not be wise. Good job we will be in the hospital.

Lucy said as well that she wanted her mum at the birth, so she will be the second birth partner. I said ‘Good, we need to have an adult present in case we need to make decisions’, so I am glad someone else is there who has been through it before and can describe things in layman’s terms to me. I am also really really glad my mum will be there as well, I am hoping she will wait in the corridor outside the whole time so I can nip out and see her for support as and when I need it.  At the biggest event of my life I am glad I can have the 2 most important people to me, my wife and my mum. Everyone needs their mum sometimes! I am glad Albert will have Lucy there to guide him through the process.

So to sum up, what am I expecting?

-          Emotions. Love, Excitement, Fear, Hope, Relief.
-          Not to be like anything on TV.
-          It be a long process.
-          Epidural (just for Lucy)
-          Free gas and air.
-          A normal 'push and plop' delivery.
-          To cut the cord.
-          A life changing moment

After the birth, when I have some free time I will write another post about what it is actually like and see how many points I scored.

So... 1 day overdue and still no sign of Albump (still calm, still calm). When will he make his appearance??

Friday, 9 August 2013

How much stuff??

Hi all,

I thought I would write a post this time, about some of the stuff that babies need. I’m sure you have heard rumours, and I can tell you they are all true - babies need more stuff than adults. I have yet to fully experience the whole range of baby actions, but I know to start with they pretty much poo, cry, sleep and look cute. How much stuff do you need for that? A lot as it turns out. So I thought I would do a list of some stuff we have for Albert (or Albump as I have started calling him while he is still womb-based).

I will say that Lucy and I have been really lucky that we have such a supporting group of family and friends, and Albump is already much loved and spoiled! A year ago Lucy’s cousin Michelle and her husband Paris gave birth to a lovely little chap, who is also called Paris, and they have been so generous with hand-me-downs of clothes and baby equipment. We really appreciate everything they have given us, and everything our family and friends have as well. (PS, look out in the next few years for posts about The Adventures of Paris and Albert, I have already sold the TV rights)

So, I would start with clothes and a nursery, but I will do a separate post on these next time as I have to lot to say on them!

So what other stuff does a baby need? (apart from obvious things like Love, and NERF guns)

I think to begin with a baby needs Nappies. A lot of them. My quick google-10-second-research shows in the first 2 years of a baby’s life, they use between 3000-5000 nappies, which has just shocked me. That’s a lot of poo! So nappies are important. We have some ready. I say some, it’s like The Leaning Tower of Pisa, but made out of nappies.  Going from what I read about all the poo, this should last us 24 hours at least. To go with nappies you have Wipes. Enough wipes to sanitize 15 sq miles.

The Leaning Tower of Nappies:

Next up we have a Changing Mat. You’ve got to change a nappy somewhere, and you can’t hold the baby over the sink while you do it. So you need a changing mat. Luckily, we have some red soft plastic ones (2, one for each floor of the house) for this. We will keep them because they are soft, and so can be used in the future (after several anti-septic wipe downs) for excellent fort building (along with the Anaconda Pillow, see blog post HERE) Lucy has also made one that we can roll up to take out with us to change Albump on the go (or in Costa coffee on the table when the changing room is locked). She has cut out some oilcloth and some fabric that we used for the nursery, and expertly stitched them together, check it out!

Excellent home-made changing mat, made by Lucy:

So once they have pooed and been changed, they need somewhere to sleep. If it’s not in a cot in the nursery, then there is a Moses Basket. A quick google shows me they are normally called Bassinets, a word I have never heard of and which sounds like an instrument in the wind section of an orchestra (not to be confused with a Bascinet, which Wikipedia tells me is a medieval helmet – which is  definitely not something babies need). So a Moses basket is bit like a smaller portable cot, so the baby can sleep safely outside the nursery cot. It also has a folding wooden stand, which is sturdier than it looks. This also doubles up as a clothes airer for your wet washing to dry on, which is handy. A lot of baby things have alternative uses.

Clothes airer:

While they are sleeping, you can use a Baby Monitor to keep an eye on them. We were lucky enough to have one brought for us for our baby shower. It’s a Motorola MBP36 Digital Video Baby Monitor. Let me be clear, this is the best piece of baby equipment so far. It’s like equipment out of a spy movie! I feel like James Bond using this. It has a camera we have hung from the wall in the nursery, and a second unit which has a screen you can see through the camera on. You use the screen (which is a bit like a big iPhone), and can REMOTELY CONTROL THE CAMERA. It can see in the dark! It has a microphone on it so you can hear the baby snoring (or crying if you’re unlucky) through the screen, but the camera has a speaker on it as well so you can talk to the baby if he wakes up. So this is a remote control spy camera with 2 way walkie-talkie and night vision. It will be used in future fort making I can assure you.

Spy Camera:

While the baby is sleeping, you can check the temperature of the room by using a Gro-Egg. Not as tasty as a real egg, but handier as you can tell the temperature on it, and sturdier because it’s made of plastic, and not eggshell. It also lights up! It’s been so hot recently though so I think ours has melted inside and is broken as it always shines red. Cool as a nightlight though. I just double checked the name on this, and it is indeed called a Gro-Egg, and not a Glo-Egg. Which surprised me as the egg doesn’t Grow, but it does Glow. I think they misnamed it?

The Gro-Egg / Glo-Egg:

Then the baby wakes up, you see him on the spy monitor, go to the moses basket, and he needs entertaining! So we have some Books for him. We have lots of baby books already, but he won’t be able to read for a few years (unless he is like Stewie from Family Guy), and can’t even hold a book to begin with. So I am planning to read to him, but to be honest I will probably just read my own kindle to him to begin with as I am sure he won’t understand much! I’ll do voices and actions though, make it entertaining for him.
Once he has done reading (or listening), he can play with Toys. Again, we have a whole lot of toys for him to play with. And by play, I mean try to eat. If he didn’t have a toy he would try to eat his own hand. Or some car keys. So soft toys are best. We think Lamaze make some excellent toys, so we are going to get some more of these. They do a pirate octopus, dragon, knight on horseback, so all my kind of toys! My favourite soft toy at the moment is The Gruffalo (based on the book), but he is a lot bigger than a newborn baby so may not be suitable at first! (I think seeing Albert with a big soft toy will remind me of Where The Wild Things Are) But don’t you know, there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo, so just ignore that bit.

The Gruffalo and his Harem:

Once he is finished playing he will probably want a sit down (preparing already for teenage life), so we have something called a Bumpo. One of Lucy’s friends kindly gave this to us. Basically it’s a moulded seat for babies to sit in that they can’t get out of, it helps their posture or something. It’s definitely for babies, and not for cats like below.

Cat (Pickle) in the Bumpo:

After a long sit, what is better than having a bath? Yes babies have their own Baby Bath, they have their own versions of everything! It’s a smaller plastic bath, that fits in the main bath. All these things double up though, you can use it as a washing basket to carry all the tons of baby clothes around. You can even use it as a shell when dressing up as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle! Bath time talk has just reminded me that we also need a Rubber Duck, hopefully my wife will read this and remember to remind me to buy one next time we are shopping.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Baby Bath Shell:

By this point, you may be wanting to go outside, and the best way to do this is with the Pushchair Combo!. You can't leave the baby at home in the Bumpo with the cat so he will have to come as well. We have a brilliant pushchair combo thing made by Cosetto, or Cornetto, or Courgetto or Confetti or something like that. It has a foldable chassis, which we have managed to collapse and put up several times, without a degree in engineering, and without losing a finger, so a big well done to the designers for that. Then there is a pushchair bit that clips into the top, or a type of Moses Basket thing that clips in as well, so you can choose what you want on there. It's pretty sweet.

Pushchair combo:
If you want to go out driving, then you will need to be in the driving seat as the baby can't reach the pedals, this means the baby can go in the passenger seat. But no! As babies have their own version of everything, they have a Car Seat as well, and they sit in the back making you feel like a taxi driver. This is good bit of stuff, as you strap them in to it, can carry them in and out of the house and straight into the car, and it also clips into the pushchair chassis! Someone with foresight advised us to test strapping it into the car before the baby comes along, and I'm glad they did. I went out last week with a few minutes to spare to try it. As I went outside my neighbour was just getting home from work, we had a chat-chit and he said they are a lot easier than they used to be, and if I was still there in 10 minutes then give him a shout and he would bring me out a cup of tea. Oh how we laughed! My main thought afterwards was... how hard did they used to be? I had to get Lucy to come out and help, after about what seemed like 10 hours, between the 2 of us we had developed a well oiled process of fitting it in, like a Formula 1 pit stop. Now we can do it without swearing and without shaking the car seat like an earthquake!

Car Seat:
Anyway, after all that, the baby will be hungry. If the baby is sans nipple, then they will need Bottles, Sterilising Equipment, Milk Formula, Bowls, Spoons and Bibs. We have these cool Bibs that my brother said looks like a Bandana, so we call them Bibdanas.  We also have a high chair, but more about that in a future post.

I have asked the Gruffalo to model the Bibdana in the Bumpo for you:

There is another item I have just remembered, and I am not sure if we have one of these yet, but I am told they are brilliant. I am not sure of the name but it’s basically a Pump That Sucks Bogies And Snot Out Of Your Nose. So I will ask Lucy to make sure we have two of these, one for the baby and one for me.

Finally, once the baby is all washed and is settled down to sleep, you have the final and probably the most important baby items. The George Foreman Grill, Globe Drinks Cabinet/Optics, and PS3. Because after the day is finished you will need a nice steak, stiff drink and gaming session to relax. But we’ll keep an eye on the baby through the night vision spy monitor, just to make sure the leaning tower of nappies hasn’t collapsed and buried him.

The Holy Trinity of baby Items: