Thursday, 26 January 2012

Silly things said by silly people

There are some very silly people out there. Here's a small selection of the silly things they have said to twin mums (and yes; these are all genuine. Some said to me and some from

"When I’m having a bad day I’m just going to think of you" WOW thanks, I’m honoured!

"Do you think you’ll try for twins next time?" If you could let me know how one would go about this seemingly impossible feat

"Are they the same age? … Which one is older?" Weren’t you listening? They’re TWIIIIIIIIIIIINS!

"What do you do in your spare time?" I go to the toilet

"Did you know you were having twins?" Yes, because I had a scan. And looked like a hippo.

"Did you have IVF?" No. But while we’re on the subject of very personal and private health conditions, anything that you would like to discuss?

"Awww *pity face* Is it hard work?" No, because I built a baby pit where they sit in their own poo all day and we chuck in meat twice a week. YES!

‘"Are they twins?" Nope, different fathers

"Have they always been non identical? Even at birth?" Yeah - weird huh?

"If they're supposed to be twins why is one asleep and one awake" Because they're two different babies

“Are they both yours?” Nope, I stole the other one who happens to look just like mine.

 "You’re brave!!!!" Erm, yeah very. I decided to have twins cos I felt brave. Today I don’t feel brave so I'll not bother to look after them

"Are they twins?" No - triplets, I just left the ugly/noisy/grumpy one at home today.

"Are you SURE they're twins" Quite sure thanks

From a mum with a son and daughter 10 months apart - “Mine are practically twins!” – I pointed out she hadn’t carried them at the same time, to which she replied that she “practically had” – I replied that she actually hadn’t

"Must be hard work" Then open door for me and don't tut at me if my pushchair is in the way

“Better you than me” Yes it is better that I had them - could you imagine them having to grow up with you as their parent?

Woman – “are they boy and girl?”
Me – “Yes”
Woman – “are they identical?”
Me –  "Errr no, not really. Because one is a GIRL, and one is a BOY"

Woman – “Did you have IVF?”
Me – “Actually we did”
Woman – “Oh so they not natural children”
Me – “Nope - totally unnatural. Actually they’re robots”

"You look very young to have had twins" Older than puberty though, aren't I?

"Did you have IVF?" No, I had S.E.X

"Are they identical?"
"Oh, but they used to be right?” NO, MORON!

"My girl twin is six minutes older than her brother"
“Oh, so I suppose you have to feed her first?” WHAT??

"Are they both yours?" No, one’s mine and the other’s my husband’s

“Double Trouble!” Shut up

“Is it hard work?” Of course it’s flippin’ hard work! One baby must be an f-ing breeze

“Are they identical?”
"Oh.... so they're not quite twins" Yes they are, because they came from one uterus and were born at the same friggin time

“Twins always skip a generation” Skips a generation? Always? Odd because I'm a twin and my Mum's a twin... but OK, well you’re the genetic expert…

Worry, anxiety and feeling like a bad mum

Gosh, what a depressing title for a post! I suppose what I mean to write about is stress, which of course is part and parcel of being a mum, but which is a totally different animal to anything else I had ever experienced.

I was reasonably chilled out during my pregnancy. Once I'd had an early scan to make sure there was actually something in there (two things!), and we'd all survived the following (longest ever) 5 weeks to the 12 week scan, I felt nicely knocked up and fairly relaxed about things. There were the usual worries: how will I cope with two babies? (still no idea), what if I'm a complete wuss in labour? (I was), what if my house is too small (it was - we moved), what if they NEVER come out (they did), how am I going to sleep towards the end? (with difficulty). Generally though I was quite philosophical about the challenges ahead and I was determined to enjoy my pregnancy as it could be my first and last.

I'm not sure what the science is, but some sort of chemical explosion happens when you give birth. As if a tidal wave of hormones isn't enough to deal with, you also become a raging worry-wart (technical term) and start stressing about the most minute and ridiculous things. The first time we went for a walk as a family is a vivid memory for me, not because we ambled through the winter countryside looking like a page in the Boden catalogue, but because I spent the entire time in tears worrying about the pram tipping over and scattering my brood all over the path. Devastating - yes. Likely? Not so much.

The feeling that you're doing a bad job is the worst worry, and definitely something that everyone with children deals with (no matter what they say or how together they appear to be). The fact is that it's your responsibility to create brand new people and from time to time (OK, every single day) this can feel overwhelming. There are mothers who never let their children watch cbeebies, eat a sausage roll or stay up past 7pm but these are the women who avoided diet coke, microwaves and any egg that wasn't cooked for at least an hour whilst pregnant.

I worried about everything in those early days, and I still have to keep it under control now to stop myself from getting overwhelmed. I have to ask myself "what's the worst that could happen?" and to be honest "death of the twins" has, so far, never been the answer.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Diary of an insane mother

My diary entry for this day last year reads:

"Twin 1 - 02:30 3oz, 07:00 3oz, 10:15 4oz, 14:15 4.5oz, 18:30 4oz, 22:20 2oz. Total: 20.5oz
Twin 2 - 02:30 3.5oz, 06:45 5oz, 10:30 3.5oz, 14:15 6oz, 18:30 4.5oz, 22:20 4oz. Total: 26.5oz

Powercut 02:10-11:10"


I started writing down their feeds when they were about 7 weeks old and we had shipped them out of our room into their cots. I suppose I did it to track their milk consumption as I was obsessed with getting them to sleep through the night. The geek in me also really liked marking each feed down in a neat column; it felt a bit like I was doing something official! Like the health visitor was going to come round and ask to see my little diary!

Nowadays this diary is a relic of a life that once was. I enjoy looking at it and reading entries (I started adding a few more details eventually) as it reminds me how far we have come since the early days. I honestly don't remember writing half of it. Some entries make me howl with laughter, while others make me feel a bit sick. A selection is below:

Saturday 26th January
Both awake at 04:50 - girl just for dummy, boy wet and then weed all over his cot when I changed him - nightmare! Boy awake again at 06:15, girl slept until 07:50! Unbelieveable! Quite sniffly, coughing and very sleepy all day. Boy had been in 3 babygros by midday.

Tuesday 1st March
Babies awake 02:30, 04:30, then from 05:30. Fed boy 3.5oz, then fed girl, then tried to finish boy's feed but he only had a total of 4oz. Next feed was better. Went to Bluewater. Girl cut her mouth (how?!). Met a nice lady in John Lewis parents' room with a 10 week old boy. Crying more than mine - result! V. difficult 18:00 feed - all of us in tears. Went to bed at 20:30.

Sunday 3rd April
Not a peep all night until 06:30! Lovely night's sleep and lie-in. Out for a walk and lunch - both slept 2 hours at lunchtime. Played all afternoon, both responding to their names, had a go in the door bouncer. Bath, easy feed, bed.

Wednesday 27th April
Girl awake 03:30ish - went in 3 times, then she slept until 06:40. Boy awake at 05:00 - tucked him back in and he slept until 07:45. Boy wouldn't have breakfast feed, girl cried all morning. Went shopping for more vests. Horrible 14:30 feed, got very upset. Watched a programme about multiples and felt a lot better! At least I don't have quads! Boy giggled when I laughed. Bed and bath OK. Night feed seemed to take forever.

Tuesday 10th May
Awake from 05:20 to 06:00 but kept settling them down again. Went back to sleep until 07:45! Met friends for a walk around the lake. Their twins screamed the whole time. Apparently they are sleeping 7pm-5am. Good for them. Very hot and caught the sun. Babies munched on apricots.

Tuesday 7th June
Slept through from 7pm-7:40am! Made them chicken puree for lunch. Girl is rocking on hands and knees - looks ready to crawl. Boy dragging himself everwhere on his belly. Tea quite unsuccessful (pasta) but noone pooed in the bath! Boy was sick everywhere before bed so had to change him. Girl fast asleep.

I stopped keeping the diary when the twins were around 8 months old and I foolishly thought I had it all figured out. Maybe it's time to start writing it again...!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Sleep traps and getting in a pickle

I hear of quite a few stories of mums and dads doing (what I consider to be) extraordinary things with their children's sleep. When I say extraordinary I suppose I mean extraordinarily inconvenient things and I wonder how it all started.

Let's look at some examples;
  • a friend of mine has twins and her daughter will only have her afternoon nap lying on her mum's lap. This means that for two hours every afternoon mum is pinned to the sofa, unable to move. Crazy!
  • a colleague of my husband's has a 14 month old who goes to bed at 9:30pm in his parents' bed. Every night (even I go to bed earlier than this). And is still night-feeding. What?!
  • another friend has a 2 year old who has never had a nap or slept a night anywhere other than his own cot. This means the whole family is permanently tied to their house. Insane!
I've got a theory about getting into traps like this; firstly you do it because it's easier than the pain of trying to change the behaviour, secondly you do it for your benefit rather than the child's. The parents who are still feeding at night although the child doesn't need it are doing so because it gets the child back to sleep in the middle of the night (crucial if you are at work the next day) and because it feels nice to be snuggled up with your child having a feed. The lay-napping happens because it means the child has a sleep and the mum gets a nice 2 hour cuddle. Only having your child sleep at home means you get a reliable break every day and you never have to deal with a crying child at night in someone else's house.

You could ask; where's the harm? Well, I think your job as a parent is to enable your child to grow up. I don't think babies should be rushed into developing early (don't get me started on early weaning or buying shoes for children who can't yet walk!), but I do think that you need to get them to be independent little beings as soon as they are capable. Of course you also need to make your life as easy as possible, but for me this meant having the twins asleep upstairs for a couple of hours during the day (essential lunch, TV, facebook and housework time) and every night by 7pm (essential dinner, TV, husband and wife time).

Of course my twins aren't perfect little angels who just slept when I wanted them to sleep (I had friends whose twins did this. We're not friends anymore..) - I worked at it and trained them. If you want them to have a lunchtime nap upstairs in their cots then you have to put them there, close the door, walk away and try to ignore the screaming. The next day you'll have to do the same. And the next day, and the next until they get the idea and you can pop them in their cots and not hear a peep for a glorious 2 hours. The same is true for bedtime; put them down (in their own cot, not your bed) and walk away. It's amazing how many mums I've spoken to about bedtime who don't do this. They cuddle and chat away, fiddle with bedding, wind up the mobile, even sit on the floor watching them, waiting for the baby to fall asleep. It's no wonder they're wide awake!

I also took the training approach to weaning my babies off night-feeding. Of all the elements that make having twins tough, night-feeding was the worst. Being woken at 2am, stumbling around trying to get a feed ready, getting comfortable enough to feed without getting too comfortable so that you fall asleep, forcing as much milk as possible into a sleepy baby so that they're not screaming again half an hour later - the whole thing is hideous. And then repeat. Luckily the times I had to feed both babies at night were few and far between as me and my husband always got up together and fed one baby each.

I knew they didn't need feeding during the night anymore when they weren't that fussed about their breakfast feed (6:45am). That meant they were still full from the 2am one and might be waking out of habit rather than necessity. When we decided to wean the boy twin off the night feed we moved the girl twin into a travel cot in our room (she was small and still needed feeding so hubby dealt with her) and I slept on an airbed in the room next door to the nursery. Well, I say slept. In reality getting him to sleep through without a feed mean that for 3 or 4 nights I must have got up 30-40 times to settle him back to sleep. Painful, yes, but infinitely worth it when at 6 months we were able to put both babies in their cots at 7pm and not hear or see them again until 6:30am.

Sleep is a funny one and I was totally obsessed with it (mine and the twins') for the first 6 months. All I ask is that if by chance you get one of the angel babies who sleeps 13 hours from day one, please keep this information to yourself.

Before I had twins I had never...

  1. boiled a cauliflower before 7am
  2. microwaved a cup of tea
  3. asked myself "chocolate or poo?"
  4. been too tired to cry
  5. gone days without looking in a mirror
  6. appreciated how tricky it is for wheelchair users to get around
  7. noticed the voice in the lift (too loud!)
  8. used smell to assess cleanliness
  9. done so much washing
  10. viewed going to the supermarket as an outing
  11. considered a shower a treat
  12. been woken up at 6:30am and felt like I'd had a lie-in
  13. boiled so many kettles
  14. realised how little sleep you need for survival
  15. moved so quickly to answer a ringing phone/doorbell
  16. appreciated my freezer, microwave and husband
  17. felt like I was part of a club
  18. had so many conversations with random people
  19. walked into a room and had children come running for a hug
  20. realised the simple genuis of the baby wipe
...but now I have! Along with so many other things that I won't bore you with. I suppose it goes to show that having babies make changes to many aspects of your life; it's not just the childcare bit, it's the life stuff as well. Some of it is tough, some is so mundane it makes you want to cry from boredom, but some is bloody wonderful.