11:15am – Saturday, May 9th

Nothing has happened. I woke up about ten times during the night to feel on Heidi’s side of the bed in case the tide had come in………but the only thing that has broken so far is my nights sleep and the kettle which decided to blow up when I was making my morning cup of monkey tea.

Heidi seems to be patient and not worried and is as we speak sorting out her old clothes and putting the ones she doesn’t want in the charity bag. If I find one pair of my underpants has been put in the bag there will be hell to pay.
Me……….well I am a nervous wreck and for any father to be I want to say this:

Life as a pregnant father is bloody scary. On one hand, what’s going on seems totally out of your control. On the other hand, there is such joy in knowing that you helped make a baby and that your Thingy doesn’t just work when you are thinking about a naked Catherine Zeta Jones! And, as a man, people expect you to be strong and macho, but there’s so much to worry about and so many feelings that you’d like to share. There’s just so many emotions to go through – not too stereotypically manly, I guess.

In the middle of Heidi’s pregnancy I was worried about things like, “Is it okay to have rumpy pumpy with Heidi, or is it going to hurt the Thingy? If I wasn’t careful, would the Thingy be born with a dent in the top of its head and……..thinking of myself a bit……does he or she have teeth yet?” Sounds mad……. but it went through my head it truly did.

I should have spent more time visiting pregnancy sites on the internet but every time I sat down to do so I ended up on www.amazon.com ordering Entourage season 5 or The Shield and then when I really forced myself to visit the help sites for expectant fathers my computer started malfunctioning and brought up www.latvianwomeninstockings.com. I feel guilty that I was on the ship and missed most of the classes Heidi attended which means that during the birth I have as much chance of helping Heidi through it as Judge Judy has of winning a beauty contest.

I don’t know about other men, but I spent entirely too much time worrying about everything. I became obsessed with Heidi’s diet and she did not appreciate my input, one thing to avoid if you can. It is a fine line between trying to remind her that she really should be eating raw yak and being told to mind your own business and you’re not the one who’s pregnant.

In the final months of my Heidi’s pregnancy, people would corner me on the ship and with happy gleeful looks say things like, “So, are you enjoying your last few days?” as if I was on death row.

I realized that there are lot of people who fear parenthood as the end to their ambitions. Sure enough privately, I started compiling a mental list of activities that I’d never done and now would never get round to doing. Walk to the North Pole, shark fishing, taking an RCI cruise and telling the maitre d to bugger off when he charges me for a steak or going to a lap dancing club in Latvia! I quickly realized that all these things actually sounded crap, if I had wanted to do them I would have and there are no rules about what you can and can‘t do when you are a Dad…………are there?
Lets take a pregnancy break and welcome back the one and only Jaime……..has she found a man yet?……….let’s find out.

May 8, 2009

Dear John,

We began with our new Baltimore itinerary about a week and a half ago and our first cruise ran nearly seamlessly, which rarely happens… itinerary changes and perfect cruises, rarely go hand in hand, so the entire crew was waiting for some sort of imperfection to ruin this excellent combination of awesome weather, lack of technical issues and very few guest complaints.

Working with cruise director Kirk Benning has been nothing short of wonderful. He trusts his team, empowers us, and is a great leader. He has been with the company for almost as many years as I have been alive. He took a short ten-year hiatus and now is back in action and possibly better than before… although I can’t be sure since I was barely living last time he was sharing his cruise directoring talents with the world .. on the Mardi Gras. Plus, now it’s a different world, they didn’t have the technological advances that we have now like shipboard e-mail, cell phones and electricity.

After cruise number one went so smoothly, we were absolutely right to expect some sort of technical issue to break our good luck streak. A few days ago for the Welcome Aboard Show, our in-house sound system decided to pop within the first 3 minutes of the dancers introduction. Many of the dancers were not even aware of the lack of sound in the house, since the stage monitors were still on full blast. Once Kirk came out to do his introduction, he had to think fast and he decided that rather than canceling the Welcome Aboard Show, he decided to do the entire thing…. Without a microphone (although, looking back, he was probably used to that because the last time he was cruise director was sooo long ago.) He truly did a great job and surprisingly, no one left. Even the people in the back of the house which I imagine heard no more than a slight whisper, still were entertained enough.. or possibly sympathetic enough to stick it out through Kirk’s entire 25 or so minute schpiel. By the time the show was over Kirk was very appreciative to the technicians for trying to get the issue fixed as soon as possible. At the same time he was moderately frustrated, but fortunately, none of us could tell because he had no voice. The rest of the team praised him for his ability to work under such pressure and stick to the theatrical motto “the show must go on.” Personally, I would have used a bullhorn.

The next morning, about an hour before the Travel and Adventure Talk, Kirk called me and informed me that I would be doing the Shore Excursion discussion that morning. At this point, I am used to getting thrown into things, but of all the cruise director responsibilities, I believe that the travel talk is by far the most challenging… for this talk the person not only has to share important information, but also be personable and funny enough to captivate the audience’s attention for a good 30 minutes. I did this by sharing my some special skills, bringing a kid to the stage which always helps, and of course giving away a couple free shore excursions and discount coupons – thanks to our wonderful South African Shore Excursion Manager- Dirk. Who prefers to be referred to as All Star Crime Fighting Champion of the Pride, Dirkie.

For these few cruises, I am thankful that our ship is not scheduled to go to Mexico. As much as I do miss the Mexican ports like Cozumel and Playa Del Carmen, having to do all of these new capers, and then having to change them just may cause my ulcer to burst, regardless of how many doses of AcipHex I take at 2 am.

While docked in Nassau this past week, I had the incredible pleasure of meeting the cruise director from the Fascination – Trevor Block. His assistant at the present time was my very first friend on Carnival Cruise Lines, all the way from Australia – Dan Govier. Years ago, Dan worked in the spa, then he was a host for many years. I was fortunate enough to work with him over a year and a half ago during my first contract on the Imagination. Since then we have both been promoted to assistant cruise director. And unlike me, he has fallen in love with a lovely English Dancer who he follows around like a lost hungry puppy in search of a steak. Sick.

Speaking of illness, on board we have been taking every precaution necessary on board with regard to swine flu. There are still no reported cases on any Carnival ships. But our karaoke host Donna requested some TheraFlu Cold Medicine the other day because she started getting a little sniffly, and she ended up getting signed off of work. Meaning she was quarantined to her cabin for 24 hours, only allowed to eat room service and someone else got to host karaoke, just in case of the possibility she may possibly have some miniscule germ that could resemble any sort of hazardous health issue. Needless to say, no problems on board the Pride and we are going to keep it that way. Better to be safe than sorry.

It has been great to see so many guests who sailed in the inaugural season of the Splendor here on board the Pride. They are always sporting their Splendor wardrobe so I can be sure to identify them and talk to them about how much they enjoyed their cruise.

In closing, I want to wish everyone, including my mom and HEIDI a Happy Mother’s Day. Thanks for bringing us into this world, and all of the challenges of raising us kids, who may have the possibility of being brats at times, not me of course, but OTHER people’s children. Of course mothers can never be frustrating ever. Like my mother, who recently sailed with me on the Carnival Splendor would never scream out in her extremely loud Brooklyn accent, in front of the entire buffet line, while I was wearing my blues “Jaime, you really should get that rash taken care of before your leave the ship.” She would never even consider doing that; of course if she had she would be referring to the little red mark on my wrist where my hair tie rubs against it. But she definitely would never embarrass her only daughter, and that is why I love her and I would like nothing more than to wish her the happiest of mother’s days.

More from me soon!

Miss you all!

The Carnival Pride docked with the Carnival Fascination in Nassau.. The Imagination was there too but it is a secret!

Kirk and Jaime in from of their new ship!!!

Cruise Director Reunion – Trevor Block and Kirk Benning… Trevor used to be Kirk’s host years ago!!

The Pride docked in Freeport.

Jaime Deitsch
Assistant Cruise Director
Carnival Pride

Great Dear John letter……and its so terrific that you and Kirk are getting on so well……..really well in fact….actually thinking about it…..Jaime Benning ….sounds good.

Thanks Jaime and congratulations on the great job you continue to do and please write when you can.

Here’s some great news

I just wanted to say a quick hello and thank you for the shoutout on the blog and thank all the bloggers for their well wishes and kind messages.

It was a terrible accident that fortunately did not turn tragic. My boyfriend, Scott, escaped with only aches and pains, a testament to front passenger airbags and seat belts and my brother’s driving. My brother Chris and I were both broken, but I’m happy to say we are both on the mend. Chris left the hospital today for a rehab center and I will head to one tomorrow.

I’m blessed to have a large group of family here locally working to help me heal. That I knew. What stunned me was the sheer number of emails notes and well wishes from my blogging family, cruising family and yes, piano bar family. And how quickly they arrived. So thank you all again, I’m truly blessed.

We all wish you a continuing recovery and hope to hear from you soon

So ………..we wait. Mock-tightenings of Heidi’s bump, laughed off as Braxton Hicks a few weeks ago, have taken an altogether more sinister turn in the last few days.
“Oooh, that feels strange….” prompts a flurry of activity from yours truly, sprinting up the stairs to grab the hospital bag, her “birthing book” and the digital camera before I realize she’s simply rubbing the hard skin on the bottom of her feet with a pumice stone.

A similar panic arose while we were driving to the shops yesterday as she mumbled that she’d had a big movement. “Don’t worry, darling,” I said reassuringly. “There is a McDonald’s just round the corner and we can pull over and clean you up.” The look of confusion on her face underlined which end of the stick I’d grabbed. “Not me, you stupid idiot,” she bellowed. “I said the baby’s just had a big movement”……….and that was me in the doghouse for the next hour.

I breathed a sigh of relief. Not only do I hate McMeals, but the seats in my Range Rover are a devil to keep clean.

My wife doesn’t panic.

She’s Dutch, which should explain everything. The Dutch are notoriously laid back about most things and Heidi has been so brilliant and organized and healthy and………well thank God for her is all I can say.

Bizarrely, Heidi is actually looking forward to the ‘birth’ part; the physical push, the getting to meet our new Thingy of joy/noise for the first time. But that’s probably because her pregnancy has been almost entirely trouble-free: no early morning sickness, no heartburn, no lack of sleep, no stretch marks. Indeed, although she was Frodo-footed for a couple of days when her ankles swelled, they soon returned from Middle Earth to take their rightful place in Middle England. 

Perhaps there will be some payback during labour, in which the misery of a million mothers dogged with all manner of ailments during their pregnancy come to haunt her, but I doubt it – she’s the type who will probably sneeze it out with not so much as a huff or a puff.

Heidi has some very close friends ….Nadia, Alison and Mrs. Bentley. She also has a bunch of new mates that she met at her pregnancy classes and they have become very close. It got me thinking: do women really want a “new man” around when a baby arrives? Maybe the maternal bond is so strong, having carried the baby for nine months, that while they want their man to be a dab hand in the kitchen, a stallion in the bedroom and a demon with a mop and bucket, the last thing women want is their partner to muscle in on the baby and their friends.

Over the last eight months I’ve seen my wife change wonderfully, both physically and mentally, as she prepares for the arrival of her first child. I’ve enjoyed massaging her feet, plumping up her cushions, making her peanut butter and banana sandwiches……and paying the cleaner. But at 35 she’s waited long enough for this moment and I just hope and pray everything will be OK.

Finally……..and after much heated discussion we have decided on two names. I can’t tell you what they are but I have been seriously thinking about getting my Thingy’s name tattooed on me. It’s all the fashion. I have never had a tattoo but if I am going to have one it makes sense to have my Thingy’s name on my arm rather than naked Latvian women doing naughty things with a snake.

So, I have come up with a few options.

Option 1 – The Angelina Jolie – she has the longitude and latitude of where each of her four children was born. Thing is, it’s quite glamorous if it’s Cambodia, but I’m not sure if I want the precise geographical co-ordinates of an Essex hospital permanently etched on me …

Option 2 – The foot/ hand print – Have you seen this one? You take a foot/ hand print of your newborn baby and have that done with the date of birth. A bit soppy for my liking.

Option 3 – The classic name on a ribbon wrapped around a heart – perhaps if I was in prison.

In the end I have decided to go with option 4……..Do it the other way around and tattoo MY name on the Thingy

I will write as soon as there is any news

Your friends
John, Heidi and the Thingy

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.