On Saturday, I’ll be speaking at Mumsnet Bumpfest. I’ll be part of a panel in a session called ‘Dads-to-be: what to expect’. It pretty much does what it says on the tin. We’ll be sharing the benefit of our experience with those who are about to become fathers. I’m really pleased that Mumsnet is including a session for expectant dads as it’s something I could really have benefited from when we were expecting Dylan. Without putting too fine a point on it, I was woefully unprepared!
I was very excited at the prospect of becoming a dad – as I am again this time with number three on the way – and had made an effort to swot up on the things I thought I’d need to know. I read a few books and went to an antenatal class – the only one we were offered by the hospital where we used to live, as we couldn’t afford to pay for one – but none of this was enough.
The books were useful to a point – I took in a lot about breastfeeding and how to generally look after the baby. But the class was hopeless. They spent 20 minutes further reinforcing my hatred of Marmite by discussing the consistency of meconium and another 20 on what were appropriate gifts to take to hospital.
Decidedly odd as the only people there were expectant parents. Unless, of course, that final part was a coded message telling the dads to know their supposed place. There was next to nothing about labour and childbirth so, although I knew that the first few nappies were going to be rank and that I shouldn’t give Kate a yukka plant as a push present, I didn’t know much about the life-changing bit that comes before.
Cut to six weeks later in another hospital – we moved home just before Dylan arrived – and I was at a loss for what to do. I remember being amazingly calm and also giving Kate plenty of encouragement and support, but that was all intuitive. I didn’t really know whether I was being as useful as I could have been. I didn’t know whether she was controlling her breathing in the right way or how often she should be pushing.
How things have changed since then! Having been there, seen it, done it and got vernix on the proverbial T-shirt twice, I now know what to expect and am in the nosebleed-inducing territory of the event’s experts page. While I’m not sure I’d refer to myself as such, I’m confident that I’ll play an important part when our daughter arrives. I also hope that whatever I come out with in the session will be of use to the next wave of new dads.
There’s still time to grab a ticket and it would be great to see plenty of male faces in the audience. Take it from someone who really could have done with this event five years ago – it’ll be well worth your while attending!