The first couple of months of pregnancy are a strange time. For the woman there is a whole host of almost imperceptible changes occurring in her body and clearly she is preparing herself for the time ahead: for the time when everything is bigger and everything is more difficult to do. For the man, it is a real state of limbo; a time when you are really surplus to requirements. It is at this point therefore, that as a man, you start thinking of what needs to be done, as a way of feeling necessary.
It is with this in mind that I become focussed on practical issues… practical; technical; manly things. Things that I can investigate and study, compare and make judgements on. Things that I can feel important about. I am talking about cars.
My issue being that we were a two car family, and we each had 3 door hatchbacks: cars not suited to the daily task of baby car seats and the constant in and out of a small sleeping person. Although it is doable, it is easier with 5 doors.
So I went in search of a car that would suit both me and Willy; that had to have 5 doors and a decent boot, and had ISOFIX fixings. It also had to cost no more than both our cars as part exchange.
I can’t tell you how having this project made me feel: looking at cars with a mature outlook, instead of purely on looks; looking at safety rather than acceleration; checking miles per gallon rather than top speed… it made me feel like my own dad; it made me feel I had responsibility – it made me feel that I had to consider others before myself. I started to feel like a grown up.
I checked a number of different garages and models and checked with Willy about whether she would be comfortable driving certain models. After looking at a handful and test driving a few, the decision was made. And on a snowy Sunday in February, we said a sorrowful farewell to our own cars and came home with one car: Our car. The family car.
It was interesting to remember our feelings at this stage because this was the thin end of a wedge of future changes. I recall thinking that this small change was nothing compared to what would happen in 7 months time, and the fact that we were dealing with it so easily was extremely reassuring for the real upheaval to follow.
With the transport sorted out, the next big job was changing the spare room into a nursery. This may sound like an easy transition, however, the room was being used at the time as a music studio. I had all my musical equipment in there and initially imagined that this would be relegated to the dark attic. After discussions with Willy, it was decided that a corner of our own bedroom would be set aside for a mini-studio for me. This meant compressing all that I had into a space a quarter of its original size: another project to keep me occupied.
The first thing to do was sort our own bedroom out and within a fortnight me and Willy decorated and moved the room around to free up the corner that would be my studio. It remained ready like this for a few weeks because I knew that to fit in all that I wanted, I would need to install a couple of big shelves. Not being particularly gifted in DIY, the thought of undertaking the job was more frightening than actually doing it. Plus, I needed to buy wood and before that, I needed to measure and plan out the structure of the shelves. I guess what was holding me back was the idea of the physical change of my world: very selfish I know, and although I was happy to do it, unconsciously I was probably delaying the actual move because it was a symbol of an era ending.
The weekend finally came when I got myself together and sawed, drilled, hammered, screwed and then stood back to admire a fine set of strong shelves. In addition, I also put up the spare TV on a wall bracket and wired the cable for the aerial. Months later, everything is still solid on that wall, so I can now say that I did a good job.
This demonstration of my DIY skills was followed by moving my musical equipment into place and storing away things that were not in constant use. Somehow I managed to do it and am still able to record my music with very little inconvenience.
With the spare room now reduced to just a chest of drawers and a small settee, we started decorating what would be our baby’s room. As Willy was still in the early stages of pregnancy this was not too much of a chore for us, but it was clear during the painting that Willy was beginning to suffer from what we would learn to be Pelvic Girdle Pain.
More on that next week.