“Mate… Annabelle’s pregnant”.
The above conversation broke the silence between classrooms one Monday morning at work, as I told the other Year Four teacher the news. Picking his jaw up off the floor, my colleague dashed in. I then explained when we had found out when the baby was due and how I was feeling. But the truth was, I didn’t really know how I was feeling.
I had always wanted children and a family but hadn’t quite envisaged it being so soon. Annabelle and I had often casually discussed having children and thought in a couple of years we’d probably be ready.
On the day we found out, we were due to have a second viewing of a house we were hoping to buy, to get the all important seal of approval from our fathers. With their approval granted, we put in a bid on the house, which was accepted after some negotiation. In just 48 hours, I had gone from a fairly carefree 23-year-old, to an expectant father and homeowner!
I remember being terrified to tell my parents. I didn’t say a word to my dad as we viewed the house. My sister was the first person I told and she then told my parents who then zoomed down the M5 to come and see Annabelle and me. I had nothing to worry about, they were great. They explained they were a similar age when they had my sister and that because we had our own house, had two stable jobs and that we had supportive families very close by, it was going to be absolutely fine. While this helped calm me down, I still felt I would be missing out. When people asked what, I couldn’t put my finger on it exactly, but I just had a feeling that life would change so much that I wouldn’t see my friends or we’d rarely be alone together. I had never held a baby before Emilia and had rarely come in to contact with one, whereas Annabelle had worked in a nursery. When I imagined having children I would always imagine them at an age where they would be running around, talking or playing sport. I never imagined them as a baby or having to look after a baby. My inexperience was the thing that got to me the most, I felt so unprepared for something where preparation is crucial.
To this day I still feel guilty about my reaction, especially when considering a family was something Annabelle so desperately wanted, and that there are a large number of people who are not able to have one. I had Annabelle walk out the room and come back with a previously used positive pregnancy test one day, and when she returned I cheered and set off some party poppers. I wanted her to know that I was absolutely fine and starting to look forward to being a father. She probably (definitely) knew inside I was still petrified but I hope it helped her stop worrying so much about how I was feeling.
Two years on since Annabelle found out she was pregnant I have learnt so much and I now feel extremely fortunate to have Emilia in my life. Below is a carefully compiled shortlist explaining just some of the things I’ve learned so far, some serious, others not quite so serious:
- Childbirth looks far more painful than I ever imagined – Huge respect to Annabelle for lasting as long as she did without any major medication. She never usually seems phased if she hurt herself or felt ill, she’s tough. To see someone as tough and as strong as she is in such pain certainly made me realise how tough it actually is.
- Most people love babies – This was most notable when Emilia was a new born. I remember walking into a shop and within 30 seconds I had been asked how old she was. My answer of “seven days” was met with gasps from fellow shoppers and I noticed several others shuffle over to look at her. The same day I saw two women smile and point at me in a different shop, my head quickly stopped inflating when I remembered I was carrying Emilia. I have lost count of the times me or Annabelle have got chatting to a member of the public about Emilia.
- Annabelle has a ridiculous knowledge of nursery rhymes.
- You can still do stuff with a baby – We got home late on her fifth day and the next day we strode into town and went for a meal. We sat there smugly as Emilia soundly slept. Since then, we have been determined to make sure we try to get out as much as we can. Whilst having a child reduces how spontaneous we can be, we have still been out lots together or as a family. We have been to weddings, parties, nights out, for drinks with friends, as we would have done if we didn’t have Emilia. This was one of my biggest concerns pre-Mimi but now realise these particular concerns were not significant.
- Swings aren’t as fun as they used to be. I actually felt sick once, at least Emilia likes them.
- Babies are genuinely quite different – Before Emilia I naively thought most babies were similar – cried a lot, went to the toilet a lot, and slept even more. Whilst they do all three, from seeing and interacting with other babies I’ve realised that from quite a young age they quickly develop their own personality and all reach different milestones at different times.
- Baby shopping can be quite exciting – Emphasis on the word ‘can’. I actually had to ask for breast pads once! Despite that, shopping for Emilia usually isn’t too monotonous. Obviously buying the less exciting things isn’t terribly fun but clothes and toy shopping can be. Shoes and sweatshirts are my current weakness and the impending autumnal weather combined with Emilia being on the brink of being able to walk means this obsession will only become worse!
- I didn’t need to worry about my friends – I was pretty nervous to tell my friends and was worried I would rarely see them once Emilia was born. For a (very) brief moment the boys Whatsapp was filled with baby excitement and since then they’ve been very supportive. Annabelle and I couldn’t believe it when a surprise baby shower was thrown. The generosity and support shown has been incredible! I’ve tried my hardest to make them feel broody and join us in the parenthood world, so if any of you are reading this…
- Other parents like to moan – The amount of times somebody said something along the lines of “ooh get your sleep in now”, “you won’t do that when you’re a dad”, or “ah that’s all going to change when she’s here” followed by a chuckle. I’ve ranted about this many times, why be negative? When something exciting was on the horizon, it baffled to hear such a large number of people being negative.
- Some shops are terribly laid out – The designers of Cheltenham’s Tiger, House of Fraser and Waterstone’s have obviously never ventured into store with a pram.
- We weren’t unlucky, we were in fact the opposite – It fills me with pride to see Emilia happy. I’m intensely proud of Annabelle as she has been consistently hardworking, caring and generally awesome. But also of Emilia, as she continues to progress, and also slightly of myself, for adapting!
Thank you for reading, please leave a comment letting me know what you thought and find me on Instagram @fatherofmimi!