I’m writing this sitting on the precipice, staring into the abyss, of fatherhood. In just a few days, parenthood is going to hit me like a freight train. Two freight trains actually, because within the week our lives will be turned upside down by the arrival, bang on time much like the Swiss because we are booked in for an elective C-section, of twins.
It started, like so many pregnancies, with just me on my own in a dimly lit room, pot in one hand and the remote for a hard drive full of ancient porn hooked up to a TV screen in the other. Also in the room was a reclining chair resplendent in its wipe-clean vinyl, covered with extra width paper towel on a roll draped over it, and a bin full of crusty tissues in the corner. It’s a romantic setting.
This was our second attempt at IVF, the first one failing for whatever reasons these things fail for, so the pressure to perform was immense. Now wasn’t time to be fussy about the artistic merits of such classics as Blackballin’ and Bangin’ Bitches 1-6. Seeing as you ask though, Blackballin’ was a story of inter-racial love that Pocahontas would have been proud of, and as for Bangin’ Bitches, well I only sat down to watch a couple of minutes of one episode, more out of fascination than any need for inspiration or erectional assistance, but it was set in a dentist’s surgery and featured a chair not dissimilar to the one I was perched on the end of at that very moment. I didn’t even get to the line “Open wide”, before realising I wouldn’t want to open wide when I was sat in that particular dentist’s chair. If I was a bitch, that is. Time to get on with the job in hand, as it were…
There is nothing quite as embarrassing as handing over a jar of freshly squeezed warm gentleman juice over to a pretty nurse. It’s not like you are there to pull or anything, but the inner bachelor always thinks “Hey, if I was here under different circumstances and single…” However, I wasn’t; I was there for a specific purpose, the ultimate end goal is that of impregnation of my other half, the pretty girl I was actually there with. Of course, the pretty nurse will be consummately professional about it, every time. But you know that she knows exactly what you were doing just a few minutes earlier. And at that moment, you also begin to wonder what is going through her mind. Well I did anyway. Lots of things go through my mind at inopportune moments. Did she think I was thinking about her, seeing as she was the last female I saw before entering the performance cell when she handed me the pot? Did she wonder if I used the video? Was she pondering which one it was? And then you wonder whether you switched the screen off or whether Bangin’ Bitches 4 is still playing on the TV in the room you have just left.
And the pots… I hate the pots. They are way too small to get the end of your old man into, which makes aiming difficult when all hell breaks loose at a critical part during Blackballin’, but they are far too large to fill. Imagine tipping a cup of tea into an empty bucket and you’ll get the picture, if you’ve never been in that situation yourself, sir. And the look the nurse gives the pot when she holds it up to the light seems like one of “Is that really all you could manage?” before she labels it up and sends it down to the lab. She could have at least said “Well done!”
To say I have felt detached to the whole pregnancy thing is a bit of an understatement. You do the wild thing with the pot in a room on your own, which is then whisked away with some eggs (not literally I hasten to add), painfully extracted from your other half under sedations, to create embryos in a laboratory, which are then implanted some days later once they have developed sufficiently. It is all very scientific and clinical. The only physical contact with my other half in all of this process was a bit of handholding and random occasional hugging for reassurance and comforting before, during and after procedures, not the usual baby-making physical contact. People, throughout the pregnancy, have congratulated me on a job well done but, really, all I have done is wank into a pot.
The first round of IVF failed, sadly. To increase the chances of this, the second and final round available to us on the NHS, my better half sold the idea to me that if we, well, she, had two embryos put back in her. There was, apparently, only a 30% chance that both would implant, but it greatly increased the chance of one of them taking hold. We are part of the 30%. The reaction at the IVF clinic when we went for our first scan as one of “Oh shit. Good shit, but oh shit.” And that was from my partner, not me!
I, on the other hand, have remained blissfully upbeat and annoyingly optimistic about the whole thing throughout. But then, other than increasingly helping out as the bump has grown and mobility has decreased, nothing has really affected me, physically speaking. It is only now, as the final days to the birth close in, that it is starting to become a little more real. My standard reaction to what am I going to do when the twins arrive is “wing it”. To my mind, the fact that we have brought up two cats from the age of twelve weeks and are now nearly five years old is proof that we are going to be the best parents in the world. I have even joked about having the babies microchipped so they can crawl out of the catflap when the time comes. And now I am finally there, about to meet my offspring for the first time, the realisation has dawned on me that, in a matter of days, I am actually going to have to wing it for real! And that microchipping babies might not be the soundest of ideas.
The thing that has pissed me off most during the last eight months, and in particular in the last few weeks as we prepare and get ready for our impending arrivals, are the naysayers. By that I don’t mean people saying it isn’t going to happen; it is definitely going to happen, but the people who tell us how difficult it is going to be. The people who say we won’t get a single minute to ourselves. The people who, when presented with our beautifully stocked fridge, full of meals that we had lovingly prepared and packaged up to make life during the first couple of weeks a little easier, said things like “Well you will never be able to cook like that again – you won’t have time!” Really? Or are you just shit parents? Because I am fairly certain that at some point in the very near future I am going to have to go back to work. I am pretty sure that one of us is going to have to be alone with the twins while the other one is busy doing something else. And that something else might as well be cooking a few more meals to stick in the freezer for use at a later date. I am under no illusion that there is going to be some serious parenting work to be done, but for people to say we will never do such and such again, or that we won’t have any time at all, ever ever ever, to do things for ourselves is disingenuous, misleading and, frankly, I don’t want to hear it. You can tell me that you told me so in due course, but for now, please don’t disabuse me of the notion that I have adopted of “How hard can it be?”