The Diary of a Dad aka Ben Anderson on Happy Mum Happy Baby
Ben Anderson aka Diary of a Dad is a father of five and co-founder and managing director of Musicalize. When he joined Gi to chat on Happy Mum Happy Baby, his youngest, Ziah, was just 12 days old, his oldest seven. He was right in the trenches of those early days of parenthood again. Eat, sleep, poop (when there was no constipation causing problems), repeat.
Ben’s first baby with his partner Sophie was very much their business Musicalize. For the first couple of years of their relationship, that was their focus. While Ben considered whether he wanted to have kids after they got married, he agreed Sophie could have a chihuahua. But one chihuahua turned into two when there was an extra one that nobody else wanted and she couldn’t resist.
Range of emotions
Not long after their chihuahua adoption, Sophie fell pregnant with Arlo, their oldest. Ben admits that when he found out he was going to be a Dad, it “it brought in this whole other range of emotions and feelings that I didn’t even know existed.”
Describing meeting Arlo for the first time, Ben said: “I knew from the first time I held him that it was a different type of love I was feeling and and just a real responsibility as well. He was so peaceful. I remember a few little cries and then he just went silent and he just stared at me and yeah it was just amazing.”
Ben spoke frankly too about the fact childbirth doesn’t end when the baby is put on Mum’s chest – something that often isn’t talked about.
He said: “Delivering the placenta for example. Arlo’s here and Sophie’s still over on the bed and that stage is happening and then even after that you know there’s just the recovery time that the Mum needs. We see on the tv programs where it’s that dramatic entrance into the world where baby goes onto Mum’s chest and it all sort of starts from there. But having been through this process a number of times now it’s not always the way. The timing of everything, you know the precision behind the way everything works, it’s fascinating really.”
I wish there was CCTV
After having Arlo, Ben and Sophie knew that they wanted more kids, but they never planned to have a huge family. They had Myla and Esme in fairly quick succession after Arlo. Ben told Gi after Esme’s birth, it became ‘like a science experiment’ to figure out how big their family could get, working out how many children they could fit in their house. Soon they learned they were pregnant with twins: “I really wish I could go back and just capture that moment, I wish there was like CCTV that I could see of our faces because we were in shock that there were two.”
Shortly after her 20 week scan where there had been no red flags, Sophie called Ben to say she had a “weird pain down below”. After rushing to the hospital, they were told Sophie was experiencing labour pains and she was probably going to go into labour. Suddenly, they faced a very different conversation to those during previous pregnancies.
“Every other time that we’ve been in the childbirth situation there’s lots of love, there’s lots of care. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that they were mean to us, it was just a very different type of conversation.”
A lot more love to give
Ben spoke openly about the experience of losing Cairo and Chloe who were born at 22 weeks, how he found support from the online community and about the decision to try to have more children after the grief of their loss.
He explains: “Sophie knew that we had a lot more love to give. That was her, I thought such a nice description of it. We had more love to give. But I remember personally struggling to connect with that pregnancy and the reason for that is I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I’m thinking well there’s nothing’s guaranteed and I still say this to this day nothing is guaranteed until you’ve got a mum walking out of the hospital with the baby in her arms. If i’m honest it became a thing of just getting through the weeks.”
But eventually, Ben found a turning point and decided he needed to get ready for Otis’ arrival and describes the two of them as now being “joined at the hip”. Since then, Ziah has arrived too and the Anderson’s are a gorgeous brood.
Hear Ben talk more about his experiences of fatherhood and everything it has entailed wherever you get your podcasts, or watch Ben chat with Gi about his beautiful family below. Missed an episode of Series 9 of Happy Mum Happy Baby? Catch up here.