Had Sunday lunch with my great friends, the Millers. in Sitges, a smallish coastal down just south of Barcelona. I was slightly anxious since this was the first time I had been out of Barcelona on my own wearing my pregnancy suit.

Sitges, for those that don’t know, has a substantial gay community and the thought of staggering down the promenade with a swollen belly and swinging breasts made me sweat more profusely than normal.

I need not have worried. No-one battered an eyelid. I was not receiving the horrified glares nor gasps of despair that I have become accustomed to.

Perhaps the community in Sitges judge less and let people be people.

It was reassuring and I felt accepted. I strolled on with confidence to the restaurant.

Once I was in the restaurant the children of my friends asked why I was wearing the suit and said that I looked silly but almost immediately behaved as if I was no different to any one else. Again, there was no judgement what so ever.

What a great day.

Just been on BBC World service radio where we were talking about our experience in pregnancy suits and the motives behind it.

The presenter and two other guests were in London whilst we were in a studio in Barcelona. It is International Women’s Day so that was really the focus of the programme.

One of the female guests thought the sentiment was nice but explained that it hardly represented real pregnancy she said that she had oused liquid from every orifice and suffered terrible morning sickness. I suddenly started to feel morning sickness at the very thought of it.

We have never pretended that we were going to experience the real thing, far from it. Our intention has always been to play our part in understanding ‘ a smidgen’ (as Steve puts it) of pregnancy and some of its trials. This is and always has been about honouring our mothers and wife’s who have had to go through this. We need not have done so but we have and feel slightly better informed and have opened up a debate.

To mothers, all over the world, we give you our respect.

Well, I’ve been doing a little research and here are the top cravings – ice (cools you down and is great if you have anaemia), chocolate (of course), spicy foods (hot foods make you sweat which cools the body off – nice), pickles (some like the crunch some like the vinegar – I like the crunch), potato chips or as I call them crisps (loaded with salt), fruit (for a happy health baby), lemon (yes I know, it’s fruit but worth pointing out that lemon especially shocks your taste buds back into life), ice cream (yum), soda (or fizzy pop – love it), coffee (always), sugary sweets (nice), beans and greens (if I must), red meat (I can do that), juice (easy), salt (on its own, yuk), vinegar (like pickles aren’t enough, I’m going to try unfiltered apple cider vinegar) then there’s the old faithful milk, yogurt and cheese, but not necessarily in that order.

But it’s the odd combos where it gets interesting, dunking pickles into peanut butter or putting olives into ice cream? I’m up for that, again suggestions please.

Then apparently there is a whole deeper darker level, craving chalk, dirt and many other non-food items. I do however, draw the line at putting wood in my mouth.

Today was a gorgeous day of blue skies and sunshine in Barcelona. Mafer was working so we made a picnic, packed the bucket,  spade and football and headed to the  beach. The promenade was  bustling with happy people: the strollers, the sun-soakers and the volleyballers to a soundscape of waves lapping on the beach and the clackety-clack of the old men playing dominoes.  I noticed that we were gathering more smiles, laughs and nods of approval than looks of confusion, worry or revulsion. Something was amiss. Then I turned to Enzo who had stuffed his football up his t-shirt and was mimicking my waddle and proudly sticking his belly out besides me. It was brilliant. Here was I  empathizing with my wife’s pregnancy and at my side was the result of her pregnancy empathizing with me. We’d completed the empathy pregnancy circle. Later that day I was with Jason and a young Italian woman came up to us and  explained that she’d heard us on the radio in Italy last week and that we were doing an amazing thing and she please have a picture with us.  If 10 years ago someone had said ‘Jonny, your 15 minutes of fame will be wearing a 15kg pregnancy and generally making a right tit of yourself in front of the world’, I would have changed my life’s trajectory there and then. Today, I’m having second thoughts.

“Lunch” someone said in the office, “nope, I’ve brought in sandwiches” was my reply. The truth is I don’t want to see people; I don’t want to face the open pointing and the unveiled laughter. I avoid people I don’t know, as much as I can. I’m tired of explaining why I have boobs and why I’m dressed like I’m an extra in a homemade sadomasochistic movie. I’m doing it in honour of my wife and mum seems to translate into, I’m a bit of an attention-seeking dick that likes to look silly. It really couldn’t be further from the truth, well the bit about attention seeking anyways. I don’t particularly like social gatherings, can’t stand crowded places and I must have spoken to my neighbors about twice in my life. But I’ve never before felt quite so reclusive. I have become a Steve Hanson plus Bump shaped prison of my own making. Saying that, I am enjoying it a little too, I’m catching up on films, reading books that have sat on my shelves for years but sadly I’ve not been contemplating my navel. I don’t have one anymore. I have my Bump.

It is my son’s 1st birthday on the 16th March so I have decided to put on a little party for him and in preparation will be heading to the party shop to buy balloons and daft decorations. This means walking down the Ramblas in Barcelona. As many of you will know, this is full of tourists not necessarily rambling but charging so I am preparing myself for battle.

The one reassuring thing is that there will be street artists lining the street and I might be passed off as one of these guys. Might even earn a bit of cash!
It is a beautiful Spring morning and am having difficulty knowing what to wear with my pregnancy suit. Overheating and perspiration is a given so I think I will go minimalistic and sport a pair of shorts. I hope they are ready for this.

Ever since I first put on the pregnancy suit my family have been brilliant. Over the last 3 weeks Enzo (5) has just made the most of it – punching, headbutting, playing big-bad-belly and generally accepting it into our life. Perhaps he’s too young to feel embarrassed or awkward when we’re together in front of his school friends or at football practice. I prefer to go out in public with him than alone as it’s more fun and you don’t feel quite so weird – it’s better to be a pregnant dad than a pregnant loner I guess. I’m not sure if there’s any lesson to be learnt here; if anything it could be that challenging the norm is a good thing even if you look like a dafty. If you can do this you can do anything. It’s a bit too early to say this will have a purely positive effect on my family in the long run as the disruption has been difficult, especially on my wife. With 2 young kids and our jobs, life is hectic at the best of times and the belly hasn’t made things any easier. However, even she admitted last night that she had got used to it and that we’ve adapted. Each evening she enjoys hearing the stories from my day. I’ve also noticed she no longer walks just behind me when we’re out together. Is there a little pride creeping in?

Despite the common claim of ‘eating for two’, women need very few extra calories during pregnancy. Mothers-to-be don’t need to change their diet at all for the first six months, and even in the last three they need just 200 extra calories a day, the equivalent of a small sandwich.

I, on the other hand, seem to be eating for many more than two despite not really being pregnant.
Only last night I ordered a curry and managed to polish off a Lamb Rogan Josh, Chicken Tikka Masala, Saag Aloo, Piloa rice and 2 Garlic Naan.
And it would be stupid to think that I am having cravings since wearing this pregnancy suit. It is simply not the case I have always craved a proper curry and usually on a Friday night.

Just for the record, I have not been wanting to eat coal or clay or anything ridiculous like that.

So there I was cooking tea, cutting up some chicken to have in a little pasta, lovely. The buzzer on our door goes, and as is my Pregnant dad want these days, I shouted “Kate, someone’s at the door” I’m sure I heard her sigh as she passed the kitchen. I continued with the cutting of the chicken, opening the fridge door then forgetting what I wanted. I have become incredibly forgetful while wearing Bump. Cheese, that’s what I needed cheese. So I get the cheese and start chopping some fresh basil. Back to the fridge, nope no idea what I wanted in there, I stand there so long bemused that the fridge starts beeping. Close the fridge door. Kate has been gone a while. So I go to investigate, Kate is standing near the front door talking to an old lady. The old lady sees me, lets out some primal shriek and turns to run. She bangs her face on the doorframe and collapses in a heap. I just stood there stunned, while Kate helped the poor woman up. Someone from the street has stopped to help, and it’s only when they looked up and whimpered that I realized. I’m a grown man standing at the top of the stairs with a straightjacket pregnancy suit on, holding a big carving knife. It turns out the old lady was fine, and wanted to get away as soon as possible. On a happy note the pasta was lovely.

 

Over the last 20 days what I’ve missed most is at night, and it’s not what you think. It’s sleep. Every day I wake up feeling physically ill from lack of the stuff. They say 80% of pregnant women suffer from insomnia so I’m in good company. I’ve now tried all the pregnancy sleep tricks in the book: the yoga left nostril inhale, the squeeze the toes and relax, the eye roll, pressing between the little indentation between the eyebrows. I’ve tried sleeping pills – before you start tutting remember I’m not actually pregnant – but they only get me to 4am. Having two young children; one of whom has a tendency to wet the bed and the other who possesses a cry that would shatter a breezeblock don’t exactly contribute to the nocturnal peace of the house. Last night was different though. There was something in the air; a drop in pressure, a changing moon, a soporific quality that had me in the land of nod past 3am, 4am, 5am and heading towards the soft lights of dawn and a glorious sleep-in. But at 6am my wife’s alarm went off and I woke up. She’s one of these people who go to bed with the best intentions of an early start and then sleep them away during the night. Then she didn’t just hit the snooze button once (legal), or twice (a civil offence) but 3 times (a criminal offence) and then turned it off and went back to sleep (death penalty). I looked at the fluffy white pillow and then at my wife inhaling and exhaling softly in the deepest most beautiful sleep. Yes, I love you very much but I have to kill you: the law of the alarm clock is the law. I slowly leaned over to pick up the pillow and then Enzo walked in clutching a sodden pair of pyjamas and looking all miserable and distressed. I quickly pretended to be asleep. Mafer got up, calmed him down as only a mother can, washed him and put him back in his bed. I decided that murder was unnecessary this morning and let my wife off with a warning and a big hug.