Dad's night out

HAMISH DENSTON
Last updated 09:02 13/06/2012

The more keen eyed amongst you may have noticed that I failed to get a blog up last week, and for that I apologise. You wouldn't think it would be that hard to pump out one 5-or-600 word piece over the course of a week, and ordinarily you'd be right. But last week was a bit full on. We took the opportunity of the long weekend to make a trip to Tauranga to see relatives, and Rotorua to see lion cubs. By the time we got home on Monday night, writing a coherent blog post was beyond my ability, as was seeing straight and standing  up without making a noise something like "unghhh". (Long drives do that to me these days)

lion cubs

The rest of the week was one of those rare (think Transit of Venus rare) weeks where I had something on every night. Tuesday night was quiz night, (as a side note, Wednesday night was an advanced screening of Prometheus, for which I had won tickets, and gave me a chance to see it before spoilers started infesting the interwebz. Amazing!)

So I didn't get a blog post up, but I did get to hang with a bunch of good blokes at the Tote on Tuesday night: the guys from my antenatal class. We all met nearly three years ago now, in a small room in the local YMCA. Most of us were starting our parenting journey for the first time, and we were from a  range of ages and backgrounds. One thing that I guess you could say we have in common was that we didn't have much of an idea what we were getting into for six weeks of antenatal class, let alone years of parenting.

belly

I've heard that it's pretty common for the mums in an antenatal group to continue to catch up for coffee afternoons well after the babies are born, but less common for the dads to keep in touch. Our group saw the mums catch up weekly, and the whole group come together as families around every other month for a weekend activity like a barbecue or outing. We dads get together much more sporadically, but we've recently found an enjoyable excuse to get together more regularly with quiz night at the Tote. We haven't made it a weekly thing - we're just not that organised - but it does look like something that will happen reasonably regularly.

Having other dads around that are at the same stage of parenting as you are can be invaluable. There's nothing quite so reassuring as hearing guys that you know relating stories about the things their kids are getting up to, and seeing it reflect your own experience. Besides, once you've seen a guy spending an evening wearing the "baby belly", there's nothing you can't share after that. We had no choice but to become mates really!

Antenatal classes were a big help in getting ready for life with a baby, and going through it with good people was a real blessing. We shared a really important time together and it would have been strange to have just parted ways with them once our babies arrived - especially since a couple of babies arrived while classes were still going!

Oh, and the name of our quiz team? Dad's Night Out.

Did you go through an antenatal class? Do you keep in touch with them?

8 comments
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Holly   #1   09:24 am Jun 13 2012

Great blog, my husband is navy so he didn't get to come to antenatal classes, he worked my entire pregnancy, we were lucky he was at home the night I gave birth. It's only because I rang his ship that morning and said that I was in labor and I refused to let him to come to work that he was. He does however, get plenty of guy night outs, the plus of being navy, I get incredibly jealous because not only do I solo parent 90% of the time I haven't had a night off since starting this fantastic adventure ten months ago. Every time I try hubby gets called to sea, or Baby gets sick.

Kate   #2   12:14 pm Jun 13 2012

Interesting blog topic! While I and the other Mums catch up reasonably regularly, I think that is all about to change as we all start drifting back to work (I'm the first at 7 months). It has been great to share the first few months with each other as we're all going through the same thing at much the same time. But yeah, the dads have not caught up at all.

But the actual classes themselves - useless. It felt to me like the educator had a real agenda of natural birth and anything other than that wasn't worth discussing. And guess what, lady? Out of our entire group one person had a natural birth with no pain relief. The rest of us, whatever our intentions may have been, varied from emergency caesars to very difficult natural births and about 3 of the bubs spent time in neonates. I just would have liked the classes to be a bit more honest about what can actually happen rather than just talk about the "cascade of intervention" like you are the worst mum ever.

Elle   #3   02:20 pm Jun 13 2012

Five years on from our antenatal class, us mums still get together regularly (it's actually easier now the first borns are at school), but the dads have yet to organise themselves, despite all agreeing that they should go out every time the families get together... so good on you Hamish for managing it!

benji m   #4   05:07 pm Jun 13 2012

I'm not a parent (just love reading these blogs!!!) but think that its great that the dads are still getting together. From what I've seen, there seems to be a lot of talk about support groups for mums, but I think its important for dad's to get together too.

On a different note, pub quiz nights are awesome! Me and my friends always make a point of going to one each week (have a couple of different options, go to whichever one best suit the needs of the week). They are a great, relaxing way to get together, and have some fun. For those on a budget, you can enjoy the night without spending a cent (most are free to participate), or you can enjoy a good meal and a few drinks if that's what you wanted.

claire   #5   05:24 pm Jun 13 2012

Great blog topic Hamish :)

BexD   #6   09:55 pm Jun 13 2012

2 years on, about 3 or 4 of us Mums catch up regularly from our antenatal group. We aim to meet up as a whole group about once a month, though it does tend to be more like every 2 months. The guys come along to this and seem to enjoy chatting together, but have never even considered an independent catch up (to the best of my knowledge). I didn't expect to make friends with people from my antenatal group really, it all seemed a bit forced, but actually there's one or two Mum's that I really click with & overall we all get on well together.

Kate, I'm sorry to hear of your experience of antenatal classes. We found ours really good; they were natural birth focussed (we knew that when we signed up) but they talked about complications etc very clearly and unprejudicedly. In the end I was the only person in our group to have an emergency C-section, though there were a few other inductions. Made sharing the birth story a bit stink! Am glad you've had others you can talk to who have shared similar birth experiences, I think that would have made things a bit easier for me.

Kylie   #7   01:52 am Jun 14 2012

We did antenatal classes here in the US and when everyone was asked the question "What do you want to get out of these classes?" and nobody laughed when my husband and I said we just wanted to get through labour without killing each other (which was the truth), we should have left. Oh my goodness, what a bunch of girly swats and prudes were in our class. No, we don't have anything to do with the rest of the class. I am envious of people who do have that relationship with their classmates. I would be truly surprised if anyone from our class kept in touch. And yes, they were sort of a waste of time - until things started to go wrong during childbirth - in hindsight, our emergency C section and all the intervention was THAT much easier because we had learned the process and what different instruments were etc etc during our antenatal class. For that they were invaluable.

Our baby is nearly 6 months old now - we haven't had a night off so far - we've had a couple of hours off here and there, thanks to our mothers who came to visit and family while we were recently in NZ - but yesterday I made a call to a friend about a babysitter. I think it's about time we got ourselves a high school student lined up so hubby and I can enjoy some "us" time once in a while. Good on you for getting out of the house Hamish ;-)

AKB   #8   11:13 am Jun 14 2012

It sounds like our experience is much like yours with the classes. All of the Mum's got together for coffees once a week after a Little Wrigglers class and it was great to have see that you aren't a bad parent since we were all in the same boat and were all trying to figure out our new family members. It was also great to get tips for anything from brands of nappies to colic remedies. The Dad's meet up after all the babies were born for a night out and went around the table telling the stories of the births - apparently mine was second to worst!!!! The whole group would meet for nights together (fish & chips or a BBQ) after the classes but these are becoming sparodic with the last one at Easter. We have now moved so being in a different town has made it difficult to meet up and I miss having advice and encouragement from other Mum's. I would recommend antenatal classes for all first time Mum's : not for the classes so much (which were pretty focused on just the birth - refer to Kate #2) but the relationships you make are worth their weight in gold.

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