Tonight’s starter for ten: is there a good time to have a baby? By my reckoning, any new arrival in your family is a hugely exciting prospect – but would it be wrong to suggest that having a newborn in the summer is an easier option for all concerned?
Our two kids were born in July and August respectively. On both occasions, the conditions weren’t exactly Mediterranean but there certainly wasn’t any need to de-ice the car before driving to the hospital. Now, though, as my wife approaches the 38-weeks-and-counting stage of her third pregnancy, we face the prospect of navigating that journey in positively Arctic conditions. The other day, I rang her and shouted “The Daily Mirror’s got a headline that says THREE WEEKS OF SNOW!” It probably wasn’t the most caring way of flagging up the impending weather conditions but, to be honest, I think her main concern at that moment was that I’d become a Daily Mirror reader. Since then, the reality of the situation has hit home. This morning, we woke to a blanket of the white stuff in our little part of Hampshire. To say that my wife looked fairly unimpressed at the idea of doing the school run in the snow with two kids under five, both of whom wanted to travel there via the universally-loathed mode of transport known as the scooter, would be putting it mildly – especially when Child Number One suggested building a snowman on the way.
Anyway, if its daily somersaults and kickboxing in the womb are anything to go by, our baby is itching to make its presence known as soon as it can, even if its official estimated time of arrival isn’t for a fortnight yet. So, I think I need to be a bit more prepared, not just for the journey but for the fact that I’m about to become a dad again. But so far, all I have is an old cassette box to scrape the ice off the car windscreen and a packet of Minstrels in case my wife is hungry on the journey to the hospital. She, meanwhile, has packed her hospital bag and washed about five loads of baby sleepsuits that were already clean anyway (I didn’t question her logic, honest). I know there’s a mountain of books about how to prepare for the arrival of a baby – but they remain on the shelf, untouched (except for the chapter about what sex is like during pregnancy which, without a shadow of a doubt, is the one every man turns to first when picking up a parenting book. And if your husband says otherwise, he’s LYING).
I’m not going to panic too much, though. You see, I might not quite be there yet with the car maintenance, but the experience of having had a couple of kids already has taught me a few basic dos and don’ts when it comes to how to behave when your partner is pregnant. The first is to never, ever tell her that she’s massive. The line “Wow! You basically resemble Mr Greedy from the Mr Men now!” is never, ever advisable. No, really. Equally, if you’re ever tempted to suggest that, at the late stages of pregnancy, you give her…lady garden…a trim, don’t do it. Obviously, you’re trying to be caring, considerate and very 21st Century Man, but it’ll only end in tears. Believe me, I’m never going to attempt to pursue a career in horticulture after that particular experience. And finally, as I may have mentioned before, when you finally make it to the hospital, try to avoid walking into the wrong delivery room. Having to deal with your own wife’s labour is challenging enough, without having to inadvertently witness someone else’s.
Anyway, those are my little tips. Yours are very gratefully received – and if you know anywhere in rural Hampshire that’s open 24 hours a day and has plenty of de-icer in stock, do let me know. It might come in handy sooner than expected.