This week Sarah's stepped aside to let Mr Up the Duff Without a Paddle have his say.
I've been enjoying these Up The Duff posts for a few weeks now, and I'm not the only one – I know from the comments that these experiences are ringing true for many of you. I am in the unique position of being in the eye of the storm (quite literally sometimes) as the proud and happy father to be.
So, when I was asked if I'd like to write a guest post as part of this series I jumped at the chance.
We're half way through our pregnancy now, and to say it's been a learning experience is an understatement and a half. It's been a huge shock, we are both up the duff without a paddle for certain, but it has also been the most exhilarating experience of my life so far.
Now, I'd consider myself more of a new man than most, I've always been in touch with my feelings, a bit on the sensitive side perhaps, so how has becoming an expectant father affected me and what have I learnt?
1. Your partner will get frustrated with you, and not just when you do stupid things, but especially when you do stupid things, so no change there. But that's fair enough, I'd be a bit on edge if I had a cocktail of hormones surging around my body which made me nauseous, anxious, tired and change shape – change shape for goodness' sake. I should never have watched Alien so many times as a kid.
2. Prams are brilliant! Imagine something that combines the fun of Lego, the performance of a sports car and the aesthetics of Scandinavian modernism in one package. I'm a self-confessed pram-spotter now and loving it; the local trends (three wheelers in Clapham, Bugaboo in Dulwich, what's hot in your neighbourhood?), the accessories and usefully, choosing the pram is an opportunity to claim a part of this pregnancy for myself.
3. Pregnancy books by men and for men tend to be hopeless, unless you're a football-loving insensitive bore who's chained to the pub and is only happy to interact with your partner if you get sexual favours as a reward. Note to idiot book publishers – most men aren't like this, don't assume we're happy to be stereotyped in this way!
4. Names are a complex business. Being slightly anal, I've got a spreadsheet on my desktop at work and I'm happily logging appealing names on a daily basis. We're firmly in the 'traditional enough it's not so weird it'll scare the grandparents but it's not in the top 10 kids' names camp. The best piece of advice I've heard so far is the handshake test – pick a name, stride purposefully across the room to your partner with hand outstretched saying "hello [insert potential name here], pleased to meet you". If it sounds stupid, drop it.
5. Your friends will wind you up constantly. I told my closest friends early on, one night in the pub, hoping for some support, hoping they'd tell me it would all be ok. Here's a selection of their comments: it's the hardest job you'll ever do; you'll never have any sex / money again; you're not allowed any hobbies; all you can do is sleep or clean up vomit and poo.
I pushed on these proclamations and after a while they admitted that, yes, it's hard but it's the most rewarding job ever, and yes it's expensive but manageable, and yes you can still do your hobbies but need to be prepared for a bit of give and take. It seems you can't escape the vomit and poo though.
6. Dad dancing isn't just for dads. I went to a wedding recently and am happy to report that even expectant fathers immediately loose all rhythm and any sense of shame. I used to be a reluctant dancer, only coerced into throwing some subtle moves when some too cool for school indie classics were played. Now I can shake my booty like a man possessed. If doing star jumps to MC Hammer makes you a real man, thank you unborn child!
7. No matter how ready you are, you're never ready. I'm happy this one caught us unaware and happy to be sharing this journey with my partner who is also my best friend.
I think a lot of expectant dads feel somewhat redundant until the actual birth but that shouldn't be the case. Rejoice in the change it brings to your life, even if it's all a bit scary sometimes.
We're only half way through and I've already had so many mind-boggling and incredible experiences; finding out we're pregnant, seeing the joy on my parents' faces when we told them they'll be grandparents for the first time, the adorable feeling of goodwill that radiates towards us from seemingly every direction, the scan and seeing our baby for the first time, feeling the baby move, my brothers learning they'll be uncles, feeling an overwhelming sense of love and protection towards my partner, finding a little babygro that says AB/CD in writing just like the AC/DC logo, overcoming the myriad practical trials involving money, cars, prams and the like, knowing this will be the biggest and most amazing life challenge I'll ever face, that this is what it is to be a man.
And, that, chaps, has got to beat sitting on the sofa in my underpants.