Strange world

When my two new children are born at some point within the next nine days, they will emerge into a world that is similar, yet strangely different from the one I have inhabited for the past 33 years. It just occurred to me this morning, while watching the typical Saturday morning scene in my dining room (TV tuned to Cartoon Network, Jacob playing on his computer, Max playing on my iPod) that there are a few things that they will never know by dint of being born in 2009.

  • CRT TVs – every screen in our house is an LCD, and not just the TVs. Computers, iPods/iPhones, portable DVD players, Satnav. It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago, none of these devices were possible. But the idea that TVs used to take up so much space will be particularly weird to the children.
  • Analogue TV – when my parents told me they didn’t have TV when they were kids, it didn’t seem possible. And similarly concepts like only having 3 channels, having to wiggle the aerial to get a good picture, not being able to pause what’s on, won’t make sense to my kids. Children’s TV used to be an hour and a half in the afternoon. If you didn’t like what was on, tough. Now they have a choice of 30 or 40 channels dedicated to the stuff they want to watch, many of them for 24 hours a day.
  • Cassettes – video cassettes were always an awful idea. Massive great clunking things where the tape kept getting chewed up, the picture quality was awful, and it took hours to reach the bit of the tape you wanted to reach. I have a much softer spot for audio cassettes, because my various Walkmans (or should that be Walkmen?) were such an important part of my youth, and because I spent so many hours on my dad’s tape-to-tape deck making mix tapes. But music and video of anything other than perfect fidelity will be alien to the children. Even the modern replacements to cassettes are fasting fading into history. CDs and DVDs are still an important part of my existing children’s lives, but I suspect they will be significantly less so for the new arrivals. Everything is hard drives and downloads now. By the time my kids are teenagers, the idea of music and video being distributed on physical media will be anachronistic.
  • Dial-up – even I find it hard to believe that there was no Internet for the first 19 years of my life, so I can’t imagine what trying to explain that to my children will be like. But think back just a few years, and remember the lengths we used to go to the get on the Internet. That interminable screeching of modems communicating is indelibly etched on the brains of my generation, and if you were lucky enough to establish a connection that didn’t drop out, you’d then spend most of the night waiting, watching the snail-like creep of a progress bar, as you downloaded a few kilobytes of data.
  • Corded telephones – sounds odd doesn’t it? We still use regular, old-fashioned phones in our places of work. But in their day-to-day lives, the children wouldn’t recognise one if it hit them in the face. A phone is something you carry around with you, not put on a table and plug into a wall. Speaking of landline phones, the kids are unlikely to ever use a phone box, and one vital element from my youth they’ll never know about is the Phonecard. Remember those?
  • One non-technological idea that springs to mind is that they will have never lived in a world governed by Bush and Blair. Lucky buggers.

Anything else I’ve missed?


False alarm

All signs of vim, vigour and sprightliness have retreated, to be replaced with knackeredness and grumpiness. Situation normal. There’s nothing to see here. Move along.

THUMP THUMP THUMP (that’s the sound of my heart)

Ursula has just phoned me to say she’s feeling full of energy, the babies aren’t moving, and she’s having regular twinges in the tummy area. She sounded more sprightly on the phone than she has since, well, actually since before the babies were conceived! I am now desperately trying to plough through my workload, in the fear that I might have to rush off at any minute. Granted, updating this blog may not be the best use of my time, but I’m so on edge, I can’t really concentrate on work anyway.

I will keep you posted…

All systems go!

T minus 11 days, and counting…

We are officially booked in for a C-section at the Portland on Monday 9th February. It was an incredibly nerve-racking morning, made all the more nailbiting by a rather stressful moment with Bupa. The consultant’s assistant called them to get authorisation for the treatment, and was told that we’d have to wait 48 hours for a decision. Cue mass panic, thoughts racing round our heads that they were going to find some reason not to pay, what were we going to do, oh my god oh my god. So I suggested to Ursula that she call Bupa herself and explain to them that it wasn’t the best idea ever to really stress out a 36-week pregnant hypertensive woman. It turned out that whoever the obstetrician’s assistant had spoken to had been talking out of their backside. There was no problem at all, and they gave us our authorisation number then and there. So we can now rest easy in the knowledge that it’s all actually going ahead as planned. The only thing that might stop us from resting easy is the knowledge that in no more than a week and a half’s time, we will have two newborn babies to cope with. Oh yeah, that.

We’re going back in for another check-up on Monday. If anything’s changed they may move the C-section forward to the end of next week. But assuming all goes to plan, we now have 10 and a half days until lift off.

Anxiety dreams

We both slept really badly last night. I was having peculiar anxiety dreams about drawing pictures (no, I don’t understand either) and Ursula says she was awake most of the night.

Our appointment with the obstetrician is in about 2 hours time. We are expecting to set a date for some time within the next week to whip the little buggers out. Of course there’s always the possibility that he’ll take a look and say that they’re quite happy in there and don’t need to come out for ages yet. I hope not!


Ursula was feeling worryingly energetic this morning. And it wasn’t just my imagination – she even admitted it herself. And the fact that she didn’t just want to go straight back to bed the second the kids were off to school speaks volumes when you compare it with how she’s been for the last couple of weeks. Being this energetic in the latter stages of pregnancy generally means only one thing…

She also reports that the babies have been very quiet this morning – not getting up for a dance with the alarm clock as they usually do. Another possible sign.

If I was already feeling jumpy, today I’m going to be banging my head on the ceiling every time the phone rings.


I’m not sure whether these pregnancy hormones are funny or just scary. Picture the scene – tears streaming down her cheeks, and between the sobs you can just about make out the words “But I thought you liked Masterchef”. I’m sure it wasn’t the act of a gallant husband to burst out laughing at this point, but it was just so absurd.

Anyway, once I’d conceded that I do, in fact, like Masterchef, although perhaps not quite as much as she does, order was restored to the universe.

On a more serious note, poor Ursula has now reached the totally desperate stage of pregnancy – i.e. desperate to get the little buggers out. She is almost totally immobile, requires approximately 19 hours of sleep a day and yet is still always completely exhausted when conscious. Two delightful side effects of this situation are total boredom and utter frustration. It’s no wonder she’s moody, but that doesn’t make it any easier when you’re on the receiving end. She called the obstetrician’s secretary today to see if there was any way of bringing the whole process forward a few days, but sadly to no avail. So unless Trouble A and Trouble B decide to make an appearance of their own accord, something which they are showing no sign whatsoever of doing, we won’t know any more until Thursday. Tick tick tick…