Mr Cath and I loved planning our wedding. Spreadsheets, action plans, decisions, budgets and just the right amount of creative input: it was the perfect combination for a slightly obsessive-compulsive (when we want to be) pair. We organised it all way in advance, ticking things off and holding daily summits. Our videographer nicknamed us Mr and Mrs Zilla – I think it was meant to be affectionate. It was only when we presented our wedding party with colour coded sheaves of instructions and they responded with mockery that we began to think this behaviour was not entirely normal!
Meet Bridezilla, Groomzilla and the original and best Godzilla
I was reminded of all this recently as I finally got round to sorting through our wedding box, preparing to shift most of it to the loft. Reminiscing about wedding planning got me thinking about how we are preparing for the next major event in our lives: the arrival of our baby.
Three months before our wedding, everything was meticulously recorded on the multi-tabbed spreadsheet of wonder, and what could be done in advance was already done – TICK! Three months before our baby is due, it is a different story. A few weeks ago I tentatively started a new spreadsheet with various tabs including what we need to buy, things for my hospital bag and baby names. For weeks the document was only populated by the names I liked – although an interesting diversion, not particularly practical when preparing for the imminent arrival of a little person! After the Baby Show and our first few purchases, I began to add things on the “what to buy” worksheet, together with a draft budget of what everything might cost. However, the document is definitely still on the sparse side, and I look at it perhaps once a week in contrast to the daily obsessive updating of our wedding spreadsheet.
A wedding is a finite event; the date is known months and usually years ahead of time, and if you are so inclined, you can be as organised as it is possible to be. No photographer, band or florist would laugh at you for booking them a year in advance. In fact, these days that is what they expect. On the other hand, by the time a pregnancy is confirmed there is only a maximum of 8 months to go. More perplexing than the shorter time frame is the general unpredictability and uncertainty that surrounds a pregnancy. The 12-week scan (6 months to go!) is the first milestone, but then there is the 20-week scan. I know we are not the only ones who wanted to wait until the 20-week scan results before we bought anything or even started thinking it all through properly… therefore, in reality, there are really only 4.5 months to plan, prepare and buy. Which in our world is not very long!
The weird thing is, we’re not feeling concerned about time ticking away. If this had been our wedding, I expect we would have been feeling an intense panic; as it is, we’re just looking forward to meeting our baby. I have not morphed into the dreaded Pregzilla! That doesn’t mean we’re not doing anything – we have already acquired quite a bit, and together with hand me downs from our families we should be very well set up by the time summer finally comes around. I’ve even started filling in the NHS birth plan template online. But our priorities have changed, and there is the sense that a healthy baby is so much more important than any beautifully decked out nursery or intricately detailed plan.
Ultimately I feel that even the most glorious of spreadsheets cannot possibly encapsulate everything we’re feeling about having a baby. The to do list should really read something like the following:
- Come to terms with approaching parenthood
- Think about how we will cope with becoming three
- Raise maturity and responsibility levels x10
How many parents to be can honestly say they have been able to TICK! those off? I don’t think anyone can ever feel truly ready to be first-time parents. Unlike our wedding day, which we ensured was a known quantity, until the baby actually arrives we cannot possibly predict how it will go. All we can really do at the moment is enjoy the anticipation while attempting to stay as calm and non-Zilla-like as possible!