Column: Secrets, drunkenness, nerves

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Becoming a first-time dad is a momentous occasion for any man, filled with a whole new world of women’s body parts, assembling tiny furniture and the meaning of “trimester”. nelsonlive.co.nz editor Andrew Board is learning all this and more as he prepares to become a father for the first time. He will chronicle his journey to fatherhood in this regular column exclusively on nelsonlive.co.nz

 

Right, we’re pregnant. Now what?

For me the five weeks after our seven week scan were a combination of secrets, drunkenness, nerves and making excuses as to why my wife was throwing up her dinner.

We had decided to wait until the 12 week scan before we told anyone. This is the time when most women have their first scan and when the risk of miscarriage is greatly reduced. But waiting those five weeks was bloody tough work. Not only that, but we were still pinching ourselves that it was even happening.

We had three miscarriages before so there was a real sense of unease during that time. Despite this, the urge to tell someone was strong. All I wanted to do was believe it was real and start spreading our good news. But I had agreed to wait.

There were several tests of my blabbermouth, one was at a cricket game at Saxton Oval when a mate came over and joined our group and gave us the great news that his partner was pregnant. I was screaming inside, it took every ounce of strength not to blurt out “us too”.

But I wasn’t the only one struggling to keep my mouth shut.

Sarah’s morning sickness was mild compared to stories I’ve heard from others, but she still had her moments. One Sunday afternoon we enjoyed a lunch out at Wakefield Quay. We had finished our meal, paid the bill and were walking back to the car when Sarah began to bring up what she had just eaten all over the car park and garden.

I scrambled to grab an old towel from the car and she filled that up as well. Because it was early in the pregnancy, she didn’t have a bump so people must have wondered what on earth was going on. I was thinking what else I could have spent that lunch money on.

As strange as it sounds, Sarah loved being sick. It was a reminder that she was indeed pregnant. For us there was still a very real sense of nerves and never really feeling at ease.

It was during this time that I often joined Sarah with morning sickness, but mine was self-inflicted. Because it was over the Christmas period there were plenty of parties and barbecues to attend. Often these parties started with a drink being shoved in your hand and because we didn’t want to let on that Sarah was pregnant I was downing her drinks as well as mine.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, the five weeks passed and we headed in for scan number two. If you read my first column, you’ll understand that this was still a moment filled with emotion and a chronic case of the butterflies – more like the insides of a wasp-nest that had been taken to with a cricket bat. The feelings of worry were still very real and were hard to control.

Telling everyone that our first attempt at IVF had ended in miscarriage was pretty tough, so we decided to keep our second attempt between us, creating a tight-knit duo that headed in for that 12 week scan.

We held our breath, tried to think only positive thoughts and were rewarded with the brilliant news that our fetus was still very much alive and kicking.

It was a thrilling moment. Quite unbelievable. We went out for dinner that night to celebrate. We were both on a massive high, dreaming up names and wondering whether it would be a boy or girl.

Because the scan came just before Christmas we decided to share our news on Christmas Day. First up was my nana, who had paid for our IVF treatment. We bought her a digital photo frame and the first slide read: “Thanks for everything you’ve done for us”. The second slide was a photo of the seven week scan image with the words “Merry Christmas. We’re pregnant”.

As soon as my nana figured out what it meant, word spread throughout the house and there were plenty of hugs and kisses from everyone there.

Nanachristmas2
The photo that appeared on a digital photo frame as a Christmas present to my nana who paid for our IVF treatment.

The second big announcement that day was for Sarah’s parents. She put the scan photo in a Christmas cracker and got her parents to pull it. Her dad ended up with the photo in his hands and his immediate reaction was “is this you? Ohhh Sar-ah”, before more hugs and kisses.

I enjoyed those moments because we were able to finally share our excitement with our family. I was hoping the news would put smiles on their faces, instead they all had tears in their eyes!

With that out of the way we began to tell workmates and close friends. I was fine with all of this until Sarah said “now can we put it on Facebook?”

I hate putting photos of myself on Facebook and tried to argue reasons why it wasn’t necessary. It didn’t work. Sarah bought a sign that read “baby on board” – geddit? Our surname is Board… I know, hilarious.

The dog had to be included, as did the scan print out.

So we set up the camera, grabbed the mutt, I smiled, and flash – photo taken. Good, let’s go do something else. “Wait”, I hear. “Charlie [the dog] isn’t smiling”.

Humpf. Dogs don’t smile, I mutter.

We go again. Still not right.

Third time was – fortunately – a charm. The photo was done. I got out of there before her mind changed again and went for a run.

pregnacy pic
Sarah, Charlie and I in the photo we posted on Facebook announcing that Sarah was pregnant. Fortunately Charlie the dog was smiling in this one.

When I got back from my run I read the comments that were posted. They were unbelievably kind and after a thrilling few weeks it felt good for both of us to be sharing some good news on the subject.