The New Dad Blog - Week -4: Chatting With Mum and Dad

Life

ByTheMinLife

In just 4 short weeks time, there is going to be a brand new addition to the Graham household. This is the latest in a weekly blog series looking at the highs and lows of being a new dad. Welcome to The New Dad Blog: Week -4 where this week I talk ro my very own mum and dad! To catch up on previous editions of The New Dad Blog, check out my profile here: https://www.bytheminute.co/users/19-roddy-graham

I thought it might be quite interesting to ask my own mum and dad some questions about when they became parents 30 years to see how they felt when they found out they were going to have a baby, see what changes in the system there were back in the 80s and to see how those first few days of being parents were for them. For those of you who don't know me personally, you may not be aware that my eldest sister, Gemma, has Down Syndrome. I've written about her before on this website - link here if you care to read: https://www.bytheminute.co/events/3505-tv-a-world-without-down-s-syndrome-we-look-at-the-bbc2-documentary-and-the-ethics-of-pregnancy-screening-join-the-debate-with-us-here-live-05-oct-2016 As you'll find out in the following interview, my mum and dad didn't know about this until Gemma had entered the world. I hope you find the following blog engaging - I certainly enjoyed doing it!

"So Mum and Dad, how did it feel when you found out you were pregnant?" DAD: Pass! Only joking. I was really happy and fair chuffed (for those of you not from Scotland - this is another way for saying delighted!) MUM: Well it was that long ago I can't fully remember! But I was delighted to be a parent for the first time. "I'm assuming that it was planned?!" MUM: Oh aye...very much so!

"Obviously you gave birth a wee while ago so what was the health care process like back then? Were there scans, antenatal classes and plenty midwife appointments like now or was it a bit different?" MUM: I'd say they were geared more to the female than the male. Your dad went along to one... DAD: I think it was the one called 'Parent Craft' which was essentially your guide to being a parent. MUM: At the other class I was taught about breathing exercises, nutrition, hospital visits, changes in the body. I had one scan I think but there were no photos back then. I saw the baby on the screen and that was about it. In terms of the midwife appointments, they went from one every couple of months, to monthly, to weekly.

"During your pregnancy did you have any complications? Or what about cravings?" MUM: Didn't have any difficulties at all. Found it rather easy to be honest. No cravings either at all. "Around the house did you make any major changes or renovations? Or did you wait until after for that?" DAD: Didn't really make too many changes at all. Papered the spare room but that was about it to be honest. MUM: Yeah we decorated the spare room. We papered the wall with ABC paper and didn’t paint until baby was born so we knew which colours to use. Paper was white with confetti. Initially used an old cot that was mine when I was wee which we repainted. Our pram was new. It was a Silver Cross Continental Chassis - rounded hood, beautiful light grey with inside white grey and blue flowers. I absolutely loved it! It was bought by your nana and papa. Also did some knitting in the build-up but your nana knitted more than me.

"So coming to the birth, I take it you had the baby in Hawick as there was a maternity hospital in the town back then?" MUM: Oh no. You weren’t allowed to have first born in Hawick, despite that being there back then. I don't really know why this was the case other than some safety reason or possibly that GPs didn’t want to be there! Instead we had to use the Elsie Inglis in Edinburgh which is a good hour and a half away. "That seems bizarre. Anyways, obviously we know now about Gemma, but at what stage did you find out? What was your initial reaction to the news?" MUM: We only found out after she was born. I went up to the hospital on the Tuesday night but there wasn't much happening as the night went on so your dad went back home. He came back early doors (as I waited for him the midwife told me to "just cross your legs and your husband will be here soon!") and she was born at 6am. initially, there was nothing out of the ordinary at all. It was only around lunchtime, about 1pm that a doctor told us that was was a possibility that Gemma had DS. The staff asked me if I noticed anything about her and I honestly didn't! DAD: I wasn't there at this time as I needed to get back to work. There was none of this paternity leave back then so I went back down to the mill. I got a phone call about lunchtime to tell me the news so I was straight back up the road again with your nana. MUM: We had to have a blood test to confirm the results. Think this took about a week to confirm the results. Initially, the feelings I had were devastation and shock. Unlike now, there was no way to Google it so we had to rely on the experts, books and leaflets to get any information. There was more of a stigma to DS back in the 80s than there is now. We had a number of visits from the health visitors to help us through. DAD: Think my reaction was very similar to your mum's. I asked a lot of questions as we really didn't know an awful lot about it. The only experience I had of people with Down Syndrome back then was from a couple of boys who had it on a farm nearby where I used to live. They were kept inside the house most of their lives. Think the only time they came out was to get their hair cut! So we were left to find out the information for ourselves. We were given a contact number of DS Scotland and got in touch with them soon after. Apart from that, it was just about getting through those initial first few days and weeks.

I'll continue the conversation in next week's edition where I'll speak to my mum and dad about how they got through those first few days and weeks, what they enjoyed (and didn't enjoy) about being first time parents and what advice they have for Mrs G and me as we enter the world of parenthood. If you have any questions you'd like me to put to them, please get in touch and I'll pass them on. Until then, keep calm and daddy on!