‘Walnuts are one of the richest sources of plant-based omega-3s. A handful of walnuts is a great choice for an on-the-run snack for a pregnant woman like you.’ Wise words from the wholesome foods for pregnant women newsletter that spammed my inbox this morning. The internet used to spam me kitesurfing holidays in faraway places, Torque wrenches for carbon fibre handlebars and err, other stuff. Now it’s pregnancy supplements, pampers offers and err, other stuff. Anyway, I just happen to quite like walnuts so I took their advice and went out and bought a bag of walnuts. However, when it came to cracking them I couldn’t find the nutcracker. Leo’s favorite pastime is to empty the kitchen drawers and then hide stuff around the house. I found an egg whisk in the toilet yesterday. Scrambled eggs anyone? So, I found myself with a bag of nuts and no cracker. It was at that point that it occurred to me that I had carried around a 33lb nutcracker for the last 19 days. Talk about ah-ha! moment. I find it hard to describe in words the pleasure and satisfaction of cracking walnuts with my prosthetic belly. I never thought I say this, but you’ve got try one of these things; if for no other reason, to crack a walnut.
Running, biking and kitesurfing, my life sped along at speed and I loved it. Wearing this suit is like driving the handbrake on; it forces you to slow down against your will. Eventually you’re forced to accept it. I now find myself in the house more (socialising and being in public takes a certain frame of mind), so when I’m not working I spend more time with the kids. Leo has started to toddle which according to Mafer is similar to my pregnant waddle. He also utters an incomprehensible babble that resembles what emerges from the bathroom when I suit-up after the shower, but a whole lot sweeter. And he loves to be thrown in the air (apparently it’s good for the development of balance) and you’re instantly rewarded with a burst of mid-flight giggles. It’s very addictive. Meanwhile Enzo demands a daily dose of ‘Big Bad Belly’. This involves a few frantic circuits of the house with me chasing him. So, I’m still getting my cardio fix but it’s different. My beautiful titanium-and-carbon-fibre racebike hangs sadly on the wall in the study, slowly gathering dust. I’ve stopped looking longingly at it. Well, almost.
Last week a dear friend of mine, who had been suffering the debilitating effects of MS for many years passed away. Even though he had been wheelchair-bound and finally bed-bound for a good part of his life, it was still a shock. He was an unforgettable character with a laugh that would reverberate from the rooftops and such an irrepressible spirit that despite his ever-weakening body there seemed to just be too much life in him for any illness to stop him living. It’s hard to imagine the strength that he, his amazing wife and 2 young children have shown over the years living with MS. Not once did I hear them ever complaining about the hand they were so unfairly dealt. Chris will be really missed. My love goes out his family.
Woke up at 4am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I’m a light sleeper at the best of times and wearing this suit is like going to bed in a straightjacket packed with a boulder and two stones. Mafer was out the house at 6am to work which meant I had to get both Leo and Enzo up, clothed, fed, out the house and to the playgroup and school on time. I had a few obstacles thrown at me this morning just for good measure. Enzo wet the bed, Leo was sick down my back and my haemorrhoids were in a furious mood. I also had to take Mafer’s bike complete with wicker basket. Humiliating, I know. As I cycle shifting uncomfortably on the seat through town, my verve waivers for the first time, I’m not cut out for this pregnancy business – I’ll take the rubbish out without being asked, I’ll put up the shelves and bleed the radiators, but not this. I arrive sweating at the playgroup. ‘Oh, look’ commented one of the mothers ‘you’ve got breasts and everything. Did you have them last week?”. ‘No’ I replied as straight as possible ‘they grew in week two’.
I once read an article on happiness and how our level of happiness is pre-programmed genetically so that even if our circumstances changed wildly – you ended up behind bars for life or at the other end of the spectrum you won the lottery – your level of happiness would eventually return to its preset levels. If you were a grumpy old fart before winning millions you’d still be a grumpy old fart lying back on your yacht sipping margaritas. If you were a cheerful chap before prison, a few years into your sentence you’d be joyfully spooning down some tasteless slop in the prison dining hall . So, after two psychologically and physically draining weeks in this suit I ask myself am I as happy as I was before this ordeal began? No. Maybe the levels need more time to stabilise. Respect to you pregnant mothers out whose levels are all over the shop today.
In 1982 social scientists James Wilson and George Kelling introduced the ‘Broken Window Theory’. The theory states that maintaining cities to prevent small crimes such as broken windows helps to prevent more serious crimes such as rioting, robbery and looting from happening. It worked for New York. What’s this got to do Steve’s shoelaces you may wonder? Well, it’s not the shoelaces, it’s what happens next. Yes it’s hard to do your shoelaces up when you can’t even see your feet, I get it. Being pregnant is bloody hard work. But there’s an apathy creeping in here and as we all know idle hands are the devil’s workshop. Tomorrow, it’ll be not putting the shoes on at all. Then not washing. Not wiping. Not dressing. Not caring. Hitting the juice. Before we know it they’ll be a naked pregnant dad waving a bottle of gin around and directing traffic. No one wants that. Steve, please do the laces up.
The media circus in the UK was fun but utterly exhausting. The British public were generally wonderful and full of curiosity to know what on earth we were doing. This is probably because the UK has a long tradition of people making plonkers of themselves (occasionally for a good reason) and society is more forgiving than perhaps a latin country such as Spain. Everywhere we waddled we were approached by some inquisitive person with camera in hand and smile across their face. Still, we can’t let it go to our heads, gotta keep the feet firmly on the ground and focus on getting through the next couple weeks up the birth on Mother’s Day. Whilst we were in London Madonna ‘fell’ off the stage at the Brits. I mean really, the extent some people will go to grab a bit of attention
Member of the public comment of the day came from a mother laden with bags of shopping and 4 children: “If only!”
Good: smuggled a 15kg of prosthetic baby through both Barcelona and gatwick customs without raising an eyelid or a cavity search. Our first investor presentation as pregnant dads went surprisingly well, all things considered. Best member of the public remark of the day: ‘It’s a miracle’.
Bad: You know when you enter an airline and hope you’re not sitting next to the big fella who takes up two seats? Imagine the panicked passenger faces as we appeared. I sat for 2.5 hours wedged between two pregnant dads in an airline seat clearly not engineered for any pregnancy beyond the first trimester.
Ugly: Me. Tired, angry and over it. I need to sleep. And you can’t in this thing.
There’s really nothing better than putting on a nicely ironed pair of pants when you’re hosting a 33lb pregnancy suit. It’s the little things in life that I’ve come to appreciate. Tumbling into bed and taking the weight off your feet. Foam padding. Pillows. A bath. Balancing the laptop on the belly and watching rubbish tv. An infectious giggle from a passing mum as she catches you patting your belly. Pregnancy yoga in the office. A journalist from a newspaper in Chile asking you how long it takes to have a pee. And wanting the answer to the nearest minute. A hug from your wife even if her arms don’t quite reach around you. Your 5-year old son saying what we’re doing is quite cool actually. And then whacking you on the belly.
It’s one of those things that has always annoyed me. Odd socks. If the sock drawer if not continually managed, chaos infiltrates the ranks, the pairs vanish and and odd socks rule the drawer. Every morning I spend a frustrating few minutes fishing around blindly hoping to land a surviving pair from the depths. Add a 33lb pregnancy suit into the equation and a week of sleepless nights and this frustration escalates into full blown sock rage where I want to put my fist through the wardrobe and strangle ever last one of them. Until this morning that is. Today I saw those little fellas differently, literally. Why should there be just one partner for every sock? What if pairing wasn’t discriminated by colour, pattern or size? Every sock would have endless possibilities of pairing. Society may implode into rioting and mayhem, but there would be happier sock drawers across the world. Today it was a risk I was willing to take. As I waddle out-of-breath and sweating to work with a black and grey Burlington on my left foot and a blue and yellowed toed M&S on the right, I find myself pondering whether I’ve just lost all sense of vanity. Or dignity.