I’ve stuck a garden fork through my foot, broke my arm in 7 places and had my heart broken. In each case I wept openly. So, I’m really looking forward to the birth simulator. I’ve heard the operator is ex-Guantanamo Bay and in his words is ‘out to fry us’. So I think this is an appropriate moment to say a few words to my wife: I love you very much and I’m so very grateful for the 2 amazing children you’ve given us. You are a natural mother and I know you find it hard juggling work and the children but when you’re with them you smother them so much love and happiness that you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Thank you also for putting up with the madness of the last month. Finally, to all you folk who liked The Book of Everyone Facebook page to get us to 6000, thanks. Thanks a lot.

It is my sons 1st birthday on Monday, I think I am more excited than anyone. I haven’t seen him for a whole month and I miss him terribly.

He and my wife have missed out on this whole fiasco much to their relief. Thinking about it, I am not sure I want my son to remember me as a gender bender anyway.

My great friend Bruce told me that he had left a birthday present for him in the London office and that I should take it back to Barcelona.

I have just picked it up and it is a giant teddy bear, the size of a small truck.

I have difficulty lugging myself across London, now I have two of us to transport.

I am convinced Bruce had pre planned this, knowing fine well that it was going to be a nightmare. Whilst Bruce is one of the kindest men in the world and a fine friend, he is one of the most annoying. I will get my revenge Bruce.

I have been looking forward to this day for some time now. A day being gently massaged and my body being manipulated back into its original shape. I have almost forgotten how I used to appear.

I wake up most mornings feeling like an old man with a clumsy, hobbling gait.

I am pretty sure I look much the same.

I make my way down to the Chiropractic clinic and am greeted by a tall, well presented Belgium man who I am informed used to be a climber. He himself had had a lot of realignment of the vertebrae, apparently he had fallen from a great height and broke apart like Lego. You wouldn’t have known.

I am instructed to lie on the bed and before I knew it I am being pulled and stretched into inconceivable positions.

The gentle massage turned into a grapple with every bone cracking like popcorn.

I left feeling high and disorientated but no doubt better off for it.

 

So I very sensibly turned to the internet for a few tips:

1.Everything is harder on your body so celebrate the small victories – and ask for help. Paid a visit to the chiropractor and had seven vertebrae realigned. Celebrated with a beer.

2.Savor the time your baby is in your belly… it’s almost over! Love you but the minute this is over it’s back in your suitcase and onto ebay to find you a new home.

3.Keep yourself occupied. Went to the Barcelona government to apply for a tech grant for The Book of Everyone. Gave a gaggle of  middle-aged female clerks a free feel of my belly and grope of my breasts. I hope I did enough.

4.Start nesting. Took the rubbish out. Stocked the fridge for the big day.

5. Put a waterproof pad underneath your fitted sheet. It’s already there.

I’m just on my way from Barcelona to London (it’s retail week), traveling with Bump is a bit of a pain. I have a busy couple of days ahead of me. But this is not a week for complaining; this is a week for reflection and for squeezing whatever fun I can find out of wearing this bloody Bump. I’m travelling with Jason and Jonny so there is sure to be a few laughs along the way. This is one of the upsides of wearing Bump, the three of us have spent a great deal more time in each others company this month. Not just working and sorting out the chapters for the new books but socially. Mainly because there is safety in numbers, when three men walk into a restaurant wearing the suits, it becomes a uniform, and something of a talking piece for the rest of the patrons. Walk in alone and you are a weirdo to be pointed at and sniggered at behind menus. Sometimes it’s been fun, sometimes it’s been less than fun and sometimes it’s been dreadful, but we have been through it together, and helped each other along the way. It’s been great seeing the extended families at the weekends too, and I’m sure we will make much more time for this in the future. But for right now we can see the end of the tunnel and we are running, charging, (Jason is giggling) towards it.

 

This goes out to my mum, Pat Hanson who has given everything into raising me, my brother Peter and my sister Ann. My earliest memory of my mother is seeing her with wellington boots on, covered in mud. She had just finished a shift picking potatoes at a farm about 2 miles from our home. Tough work, even tougher when you consider that my mum was holding down another two jobs to help keep our family’s head above water.

When I was around the age of 13 my mother permanently damaged her back while lifting boxes in a factory. About a year after this her own mother started to suffer with Alzheimer’s disease, grandma and granddad moved in and lived with us for years, mum helped nurse her with love and affection everyday. Sadly her mother died after a few years, and a few years after this granddad became ill. Mum gave herself over to looking after granddad. She did this with the grace and love that only a dedicated daughter can. When I reached the age of about 27 my granddad died of cancer. Mum was crushed.

All the children had flown the nest, which just left mum and dad (who is also pretty awesome) at home. This is where most people would begin to get old and tired, God knows she was entitled to. But not my mum, my mum started to bloom. She got busy. Taking up a role on the local board of education, helping the local government win elections, and becoming a major player in the village community centre. You will find my mum writing for the press on gardening tips, or sewing clothes at the school for children’s plays or holding a raffle for the elderly, my mum is almost an octogenarian herself. Mum and Dad have made a marriage that is an example to all of their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. My mum cares about people, she keeps herself busy looking out for others, she has principles, honesty, and the grit to stick to them. If I could be half the person my mum is I would be pretty proud of myself. Mum you are a marvel and I love you so much.

So there’s been a few suggestions, insinuations and casual remarks by members of the public, the odd member of family (Alex N), friends (Sophie C) and the French lady on The World Service Woman’s Day debate (I forget her name), that even after a month of lugging around these bellies day and night, the 3 pregnant dads haven’t suffered enough and that we should be subjected to the full horrors of a labour pain simulator as a fitting finale and to squeeze out a an extra squirt of empathy for the pregnant woman. For those unacquainted with this frankly medieval machine, it involves attaching a set of electrodes to the abdominal muscles and then discharging a bolt of electricity to cause sudden contractions, massive widespread pain and the occasional involuntary discharge. Nothing that millions of mothers haven’t endured since time began. Before you get too excited though, we’d need to gauge whether there is a general consensus for this finale or a just few isolated (and wholly sadistic) cases. So vote with your like button on The Book of Everyone Facebook page. If the total likes is more than 6000 by Friday then it’s labour pain for the 3 pregnant dads. If there’s less than 6000 likes on Friday we’ll settle for a natural birth in a jacuzzi with bottle of Champagne. You decide.

We have now been wearing this Pregnancy suit day and night for the best part of a month. It has become a burden, rather like a stubborn boil. I don’t grow attached to boils and I feel the same about this lump. I am sure that I will experience similar relief when it is finally removed.

We went into this whole project somewhat naively, the whole idea was to show some empathy to our wife’s and mothers. The pregnancy suits have certainly been informative in terms of giving us an idea of the discomforts they may have experienced.

The respect and gratitude I now have to my wife, Mondrey, for being so strong during her pregnancy with my son is now unmeasurable. I feel like I had my head in the clouds during the whole process. Excited and giddy about what would be, rather than what was actually going on.

3 weeks trapped in this suit has given me plenty of time to reflect. I’ve never celebrated mother’s day in the past. My parents raised us with a good wholesome and uncommercialised existence and void of most of the trappings of modern life such as television. Ironically this led me straight into a career in advertising.  My mother told me recently that we once cleaned the kitchen for her on Mother’s Day. What sweet little boys we were.  She then added that the motivation was not appreciation for her selflessly toiling away for us, but one of hunger: the sooner the kitchen was clean the faster we’d be fed. My mother was pregnant for 2.5 years as she popped out 3 boys one after the other.  She juggled being a mother, working as a teacher and her passions (horses, farming and acting) with joy. It was life – no doubt exhausting but colourful like life should be. As children our lives were spent outdoors, independent and free. Muddy but happy. And for that I’m very grateful.

Well we’ve reached the third trimester of wearing our third trimester pregnancy suit. We’ve moaned, groaned and ached our way through this experience so far. It continues to be an interesting journey. We’re learning quite a bit, mostly about the people around us, and about other people’s attitudes to pregnancy. Our partners and families continue to be great and very supportive. But it has created quite a stir, and gathered much wider interest than anything we had ever anticipated. Yesterday we were in TIME magazine, Sunday morning we were interviewed by the BBC World Service.

It’s great that we’ve got people talking. It’s great that we’ve struck a note somewhere along the way. It’s slightly surprising to see the same attitudes popping up again and again. Quite a few men are somehow threatened by the whole idea. Any man that is threatened by this is basically an idiot. I wont even go into the hows and whys.

Quite a few women see this as a challenge, and immediately go on the defensive.

‘What about the hormones, and the leaking from every orifice?’ Yikes.

Well, we’re not really pregnant. We are not challenging anyone nor are we in any way attempting to demean what you wonderful people do. You are awesome.

Any Suggestion that because we have put on this pregnancy suit we now understand what it’s like to be pregnant is similar to us putting on a pair of platform shoes and saying we now understand what it’s like to be part of the Amazonian Panará tribe.

We really can’t experience every aspect of being pregnant, and quite frankly I’m glad we can’t. We are simply sampling a smidgeon of the discomfort that the body mass and the weight of pregnancy brings with it. We know a great deal more in week three than we did the week before we started this.

But what strikes me as really odd, given all the interviews that we’ve conducted over the last three weeks, no one has asked about my mother, the sole reason that I donned Bump in the first place. This whole thing is to celebrate mums and for me in particular to celebrate my mum. So tomorrows post will be dedicated to my mum, she really is quite an exceptional human being. Most mums are.