Introducing my husband, Charlie – an expat in Amsterdam and first-time Dad -to-be …
We got together some 7 years ago, thanks to my close friendship with his sister. To describe Charlie is to describe someone who is enthusiastic for life.
Having spent several weeks blogging about me – how I’m finding the pregnancy, what I recommend, it felt time to move the spotlight. I sat Charlie down to discover how, 25 weeks in, pregnancy has been for him, how he feels about being an expat Dad and his hopes and fears for our growing family.
Tell me about the moment I told you I was pregnant. How did you feel?
Shocked. Shaky. Overwhelmingly happy. Scared.
It was Christmas Eve. We’d bought the pregnancy kit earlier that day, but you said it was unlikely we’d know so soon. I thought it might be another week before you took the test. Then, you came downstairs at my parent’s house with a look of fear on your face. You brought me upstairs and you were shaking. You showed me the positive result. I couldn’t believe it – I had to ask you what it meant! Then, I had an explosion of emotions.
I wanted to tell the world straight away. I thought, Christ, it’s time to get real. I prayed everything would work out. I knew we were starting a journey and I didn’t want anything to go wrong. In the first 24 hours every thought went through my mind. How will I support a baby? And, I better start looking after myself. Plus joy – feeling like we were going to complete our family set. I could have sung it from the rooftops.
What have been the highs of the pregnancy so far?
The scans and hearing the baby’s heartbeat. The most emotional time was the second time we heard the heartbeat with the midwife. I don’t think I was expecting to hear anything but there it was, strong and loud.
Buying the first baby outfit and going buggy shopping – but that one’s more of a gadget high.
Being able to tell friends and family. Living in a different country it wasn’t so hard to keep it secret, as we weren’t seeing them. But I couldn’t wait to tell everyone.
Feeling her kick for the first time. The first time I felt the kick, I wasn’t 100% sure if it was a kick of if I was making it up. The next day we went to the midwife and she showed me how to feel her moving. I realised it was the same thing I’d felt before. And, a few nights ago when I actually saw your stomach moving was a high.
"In the first 24 hours (after finding out you were pregnant) every thought went through my mind ... I could have sung it from the rooftops."
And what have been the lows?
There genuinely hasn’t been any yet. You’ve been healthy and happy, so there’s been no stress at home. We’ve been very lucky. I think it’s all by chance how the pregnancy goes, and we’ve been lucky that you’ve felt well.
Has anything come as a complete surprise?
The cost of childcare in Amsterdam! – although I was warned about that already.
Otherwise, it’s gone as I hoped it would. I’m sure there will be lots of unpredictable things when she arrives and as we reach the end of the pregnancy. That will be the time when you’ll need a strong supportive husband!
We don’t have anything to compare it against as first-time parents, but what’s it like to be expecting a baby in a different country?
The challenge is not 100% knowing the literature and processes. I have to trust your research when it comes to hospitals etc, because a lot of it is in Dutch.
Thinking about nurseries, I’m worried that our baby will only be spoken to in a different language. I’d like her language development to be in English.
Also, our family isn’t close by. (Tongue-in-cheek) I’m yet to work out if that’s a challenge or a blessing!
If it were a physical possibility, would you like to experience pregnancy?
In all seriousness, I don’t want to experience birth but I’m curious what it would be like to have a baby kicking inside you. I get lovingly jealous when you talk about it, and having her with you all the time. But I don’t envy the birth. I hope it’s not tough for you. But if it’s a choice of either one of us having it … let’s just say I wouldn’t need to put my hand up.
What are your hopes and fears when our baby arrives?
My hopes and fears are connected.
My biggest hope is that she’s healthy and my fear is that she’s not.
I hope that it goes well for you. I hope we can look back on the experience of pregnancy and birth with fondness.
I hope I’ll be the Father I think I can be – someone loving, firm but fair, a bit of a joker but who shows unconditional love.
I hope she enjoys life. I hope we instil the right values so she’s a happy baby, child and teenager. I hope any inevitable Father-Daughter fights are always resolved with a hug. I hope we will always be very proud of her.
Finally, based on 25 weeks of experience as an expectant Dad, what words of wisdom would you pass to other Father-to-be?
Without sounding too patronising as we’ve still a way to go, enjoy every moment. If you can, go to every midwife appointment, as each one’s a new experience. You’ll never get bored of hearing your baby’s heartbeat.
And most importantly, look after your partner, however strange her requests may be.