Once you’ve had that first scan, you get excited, you start thinking about how amazing it will be once your baby is born…and then you start thinking about how ill-prepared you are. Where will the baby sleep? Where will you put all of their stuff? What stuff do you even need (a question you will ask Google and immediately regret)?! There’s a lot to consider and a very hard deadline in which to get it all ready by, and this blog captures my experience of what is commonly known as The Nesting Period.
What is the nesting period? For women this is normally associated to the period several weeks before the baby’s arrival when their maternal instincts and a healthy dose of adrenaline kick in and tell them that everything needs cleaning and organising in time for the baby’s birth. Michelle is quite house proud anyway, but won’t mind me noting that it certainly ramped up a notch during those weeks, and ate away at what was vital relaxation time in my mind! And while I am on that topic, everyone tells you to make the most of all the freedom and lack of responsibility that you have before the baby is born…rest like you will never rest again. It’s very similar to the advice you get as children, and your response is the same – you ignore this advice, or rather you cannot contemplate how it could possibly be such a huge change.
Anyway, went off-piste there – nesting period – in more recent times men have begun displaying nesting traits of their own. Certainly in my relationship we don’t see certain roles as just for men or women, we are both working, both paying the bills and we are both parents. I want to be involved in all aspects of parenthood as a Dad, and so I feel that in this day and age it is quite normal that men go through their own nesting period also.
Aside from the above, I hate feeling disorganised and unprepared, and so for me the nesting period was also about being or feeling in control of the situation – and this started with the nursery. Now, you don’t actually need the nursery ready for the baby’s birth as the baby will likely stay in your room for a number of weeks/months, but I wanted it out the way as early as possible, mainly as it was one less thing to worry about, and it would also create some additional storage. One tip I’d picked up from friends with kids is that very quickly your house becomes a giant baby storage facility for toys and clothes. I thought that having more space for this would be quite helpful. We were converting our second bedroom into the nursery, which of course meant shifting out all of the old furniture, redecorating and then setting up all of the baby furniture.
I quite enjoy a bit of painting and decorating (by which I mean I enjoy getting my Dad and mates to help out as much as possible), and it was lovely to pick out the various colours and themes with Michelle for Ella’s room. What I do not love is flat pack furniture. We got our furniture (cot, wardrobe, chest of drawers/changing table) from Mothercare as there was a sale on at the time, and Michelle’s Dad actually made a lovely toy box too.
Many days, numerous beers and several hundred swear words later (I mean, who actually makes those stupid instruction manuals?!) and our nursery was complete. We also had a huge clear out of the loft, again to make space for all the stuff we’d accumulate for Ella.
Nursery, check. Baby, check….now what else did we need? For this task I needed a spreadsheet. I love a spreadsheet, in fact I excel in them (thanks Dean!). I have my income and expenditure excel, I used another for our wedding budgeting, another for our honeymoon trip, and so it only seemed natural that I needed a new one to list out and budget for all of the things we’d need to buy.
It would be simple…I’d list everything we needed, how much it cost and then go and buy/save for it. So I asked Google what needed to be in my checklist, I read a few books and asked every parent I knew. The list grew big, and there’s so much information out there you just continuously felt as though you were missing something.
Nappies, dummies, bottles, first aid kits, nail clippers, feed, prep-machine/pump, bibs, muslin cloths, wipes, onesies, nappy bags, moses basket, going out clothes, car-seat, pushchair, mattress, sheets, changing mat, baby monitor, creams, towels, bottle brush…the list is endless.
My only advice for any new parents reading this is hold back on some of the some of the smaller purchases and clothes as your friends/family will get some of this as baby shower gifts. Also, don’t worry, you will forget something, and as long as it is not nappy or food related it’s fine. The first few weeks/months of a baby’s life is basically sleep, milk, poo, repeat. You won’t care about dressing them up in cute outfits around the house every day once you realise what you really need is a practical onesie you can very easily get them out of for the tenth time that day!
The purchases I really spent some time researching were things like car seats and pushchairs. We got a Silvercross travel system that came with a car seat, moses basket and push-chair, and although it was a bit bulky, it covered all scenarios and the car seat was compatible with our car (there’s no universal car seat adopter so check this!). There were so many options and you read all of these reviews thinking you must find the best one for your baby, but in reality they all have to meet the same safety standards so it’s more about cost, style and comfort. The Silvercross’ main downfall in my opinion is that it is quite heavy, so a bit of a pain getting it in and out of the car for trips.
Car trips, that’s another thing that always tickles me. Why does it feel like you are packing for a holiday every time you leave the house? (“I thought you packed the snacks?”…)
What was my favourite purchase? I was a big fan of the Tommee Tippee prep machine, but for me the standout purchase was Ewan the Dream Sheep. A little fluffy sheep that emits a soft night light as well replicate the sounds from the mother’s womb…it used to send Ella to sleep in an instant. Also, batteries…loads of batteries…if your kid’s favourite toy stops working you are in for a world of pain.
Worst buy? We very nearly bought a nursing chair…in hindsight it would’ve been a huge waste of money for us as we just sit on the sofa and give Ella her milk.
The other purchase that felt necessary, but that I regret is a camera for her room. We’d already bought a baby monitor, but subsequently decided that we wanted a camera too. The problem we have is that you look at the monitor all bloody night, petrified that she will turn on her front or something….then you look up, and her head is face down on the mattress….you zoom in on the camera to check for breathing…you’re not sure…you rush in the room only to find that her head is to the side, breathing fine and sound asleep…or she was until you came charging in. If I had my time again I’d ditch the camera and stick with the monitor, no question.
Having all of this in place made me feel super organised and prepared for Ella’s arrival. I also read up on how to change a nappy, how to feed a baby, how to hold them, how to do everything. Obviously all of this was a complete waste of time as it all comes naturally. After week one you are an expert nappy changer (although Michelle still has to do the really bad ones) and know which weird position to cradle your baby to sleep in. You will know if she is unwell or not herself, trust your instinct. Like most men, I am comforted with the sight of an instruction manual, but whilst some of the books out there are a mixture of funny and informative, there isn’t an instruction manual for being a parent, you have it inside of you already.
That being said, once Ella was born, I quickly realised that the nesting period had brought about a false sense of security. I can only describe it as booking onto an expedition to climb Everest and turning up at base camp with thick socks, a sleeping bag and a flask of coffee, thinking I’d cracked it. All the gear and no idea…no idea at all!
Nothing prepares you for those first few weeks as new parents…nothing. The highs and lows are both mentally and physically challenging. In my next blog I will recall my experience of this, including Michelle’s post-op recovery, mat/pat leave, night feeds, sleep, changing my first dirty nappy and more!
I hope you enjoyed this blog, and as ever any feedback you have will be warmly received.