On October 2, 2013 by Kunle Barker

We are now at week eighteen, which seems like a milestone in itself as soon we will have our twenty-week scan, although the thought of this is a bit scary for us both. It seems as though since we found out about Kidney Bean we have just been worrying about the result of one test or the other. I know things can go wrong at any time but there is a distinct feeling that once we get through the twenty-week scan we can finally settle down and start thinking about actually having a baby and enjoying the pregnancy.

It’s now the end of August and to be fair it’s been a pretty good summer, especially considering the wretched wet start we’ve had. I’m training for the London to Brighton bike ride so I’m riding everywhere and really enjoying myself. Anyway, Mummy Bean has been out with friends for lunch and we arrange to meet that evening in a local park. I arrive on my bike as is my new custom. I can see Mummy Bean seems a bit quiet but I put it down to the fact that I’ve spent the day at the golf club, which she hates.

We sit on an outside bench, order two coffees before discussing the week ahead and generally catching up. It doesn’t take long for the source of Mummy Bean’s quietness to surface as she looks at me and says that she is really worried that she might have done something to hurt the baby. I’m confused, she doesn’t look drunk, isn’t smoking and I don’t think she is about to ‘chase the dragon’, so what does she mean? Surely not the tiger balm?



I should probably explain about the tiger balm. Two days earlier Mummy Bean had used tiger balm as relief for some aches and pains in her legs following a pregnancy yoga class. As we both sit on the sofa trying to watch Have I got News For You, through teary tiger balm eyes, she comments that it’s amazing how tiger balm makes you feel so warm. A few minutes later, Mummy Bean hands me her iPhone and tells me to read a web article claiming that tiger balm can cause spontaneous miscarriage. I’m a little dismissive as I remember using it in my rugby days, and from memory, isn’t it all natural? Basically, it’s just herbs and oil. Not exactly the most poisonous elements known to man but despite this we both decide its best to wash it off immediately.

So as we sit on the park bench, I ask: “Are you upset about the tiger balm?” “No, not really, I’m just really worried that I’ve not taken this pregnancy seriously and should have done more research on what I should or should not be doing,” replies Mummy Bean. There is a real sense of sorrow in her voice and I immediately realise that she is feeling guilty, about what I’m not quite sure, but I can see it in her eyes she is feeling bad. “You have taken this seriously, why do think you haven’t?” I say. “Well I just don’t think I’ve done enough research, I’ve not even read any books,” says Mummy Bean.


Now this may be a male thing but I hate the idea of having to read a book in order to have a baby. I understand that there is a lot of important information that we as expectant parents must ingest, but I just don’t think you need to read thousands of books to get it. So I’m a little dismissive and reply, “I don’t think we need to read a book to have a baby or for that matter to be parents, these books are a modern phenomenon, people have had babies for thousands of years without having to read a book first.” “Jesus, you always say that,” replies Mummy Bean now a little irritated. “Of course you don’t need to read a book to have a baby, but I just wish I had done a bit more research.” “About what?” I ask. And that’s when it comes out. Apparently, over lunch one of the pregnant coven had told Mummy Bean how she had been careful not to sunbathe on a recent holiday as sunbathing could cause brain damage in a fetus. Unfortunately, this information was delivered to Mummy Bean just days after our own holiday In Fuertraventura. Now Mummy Bean is no sun worshipper, far from it, but she did take advantage of the island’s desert climate and so was now somewhat disturbed at hearing this information.

My first reaction is to laugh, “She said what? How can that possibly be true, what about all of those people in India, Africa, Barbados? Are you sure that’s what she said?” “Yes,” says Mummy Bean. “Where on earth did she hear that?” I ask. “From someone at work,” explains Mummy Bean. At this point, I’m a little flummoxed, and reply, “What? Well that person is an idiot. That just can’t be true.” Although resolute in my denunciation, I secretly begin to worry that there may be an element of truth to this and perhaps we have inadvertently hurt Kidney Bean. Obviously, I know this is nonsense, unless you are a pregnant vampire, sensible sunbathing is fine? Isn’t it? Jesus, it’s really difficult not to be affected by this kind of disinformation.

I try to convince Mummy Bean that there is absolutely nothing to worry about but my lack of any formal medical training or indeed knowledge is holding me back. At this point Mummy Bean explains that two days earlier at lunch a different pregnant member of the coven told her that she should not cross her legs as that cuts off the blood supply to the baby. I thought the sunbathing thing was ridiculous, but crossing your legs? You don’t have to be Dr Quinn Medicine Woman, to know that that is bullshit.

I try to explain to Mummy Bean that if crossing your legs were that dangerous to a fetus, Darwinism would suggest that we have evolved to make it impossible to cross your legs during pregnancy. Also, if it cuts blood supply to the baby then doesn’t it also cut blood supply to you? So if that were true there would be hundreds of people every day having to tell their bosses, “Sorry for being late, I must have left my legs crossed too long and passed out on the bus.”


My attempts at levity are not really helping matters and just as I think we are getting somewhere the tiger balm incident is brought up again. Individually, I don’t think any one of these issues would have been a problem, it’s just that they have happened at the same time. And just like George Clooney in The Perfect Storm , I’m trying to navigate my way to safety.

Mummy Bean is naturally concerned about things that could have a negative effect on Kidney Bean and I get the sense that the enormity of the responsibility of having a baby has just hit home and these three incidents are just badly timed. I continue to try and reassure Mummy Bean, explaining that if these three things were true there would be no need for abortion clinics. If you wanted an abortion your GP would simply say, “Apply this tiger balm to your body, go lie in the sun, oh, and don’t forget to cross your legs.”

It’s been a tough evening for both of us but Mummy Bean seems a little more relaxed. However, as we get ready for bed I can see that she is still very worried, but there is nothing I can do and I feel awful. The fact that I don’t seem to be able to shoulder some of the worry makes me feel that I have let Mummy Bean and Kidney Bean down. I want to help, I have to help, but for some reason I can’t. I’ve done my best, but get the distinct impression that it hasn’t been good enough. On top of it all, I’m now beginning to worry, what if there is an element of truth to these stories? As we settle down for the night, I know that this issue is far from settled.



  • So funny and so true! We all struggle with these things. It’s lovely to see pregnancy from a Dad’s perspective. I’m new to your blog but will definitely be back! I’m sure that Kidney Bean is just fine. Mummy Bean hasn’t done anything wrong and the way she’s feeling is completely normal. “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” nearly drove me nuts with my first pregnancy. I was convinced I would contract some kind of weird rash that would cause my baby to have three noses from a bug they only find in the Arctic because that book! lol Never happened, btw! Hang in there!

  • Christoph

    This is both hysterical and relatable! I don’t know how many times I said ‘billions of women over millions of years have given birth without a fucking book!”. And some of the things people have said to us have drove me insane. We had to basically force what I will refer to as mother-in-law-bean to buy us the pram she said she’d buy as she refused to buy it until my own wife-bean went into the last week of pregnancy, as it’s ‘bad luck to have the pram in the house’ and the same went for obtaining the family Moses basket! I think we have the same cavalier attitude, or ‘go with the flow’ as I call it. Man, your blog is making me feel better and better! LONG LIVE FATHER BEANS EVERYWHERE.

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