Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Waiting Game

Exactly two years ago, I was approaching 36 weeks pregnant and nearly into my forth week of maternity leave. After consulting various websites and forums, and disregarding my doctor's frankly laughable suggestion that I finish work at 28 weeks, I'd decided that 32 weeks was about right to call it a day, work-wise. Although at the time it seemed really early, looking back I probably made the right decision. My commute to work was 45 minutes each way and my feet and ankles were permanently swollen. I wasn't sleeping and found myself watching the clock all day until I could go home and go to bed (yes, I used to go to bed at 5:30pm). More importantly, I'd grown out of all my maternity work clothes and there are very few professions in which an exposed, stretch-marked midriff is an acceptable look. Mine is not one of those professions.

So, I packed up my mug, accepted my colleagues good luck messages, activated my out-of-office and off I went.

And I waited....

... and waited....

...and waited...

My theory (based on no medical facts whatsoever) was that as soon as I'd finished work I'd probably have a couple of weeks getting the last few things sorted out for the twins' arrival and then they'd be here. Not so much.

As both my babies were head-down (cephalic), and as I'd had no problems during my pregnancy, my consultant was keen to wait it out for as long as possible so that I would go into labour naturally and avoid an induction/ possible c-section (those of you who have read my birth story post will know that I avoided neither of these in the end!). The earliest she wanted to discuss induction was 38 weeks, so I just had to wait.

Looking back on this time now, I really wish I'd have been better prepared for the waiting bit of maternity leave. I suppose I thought I'd be busy getting ready for the babies, sorting stuff out, buying things, and generally "nesting". Well, maybe I'm missing this particular gene, because once I'd folded and re-folded each tiny babygro 40 times there didn't seem to be an awful lot of romance in it. Of course there were tons of things that needed doing: painting the lounge, cleaning the windows, scrubbing the grout in the bathroom, putting things in the loft - all tasks I was completely unable to undertake due to the sheer size of me + full-term twins.

After some outings in the first few weeks of maternity leave I didn't even feel comfortable going out on my own. I could still drive (just about, and only an automatic), and I certainly didn't feel like I was going to launch into labour at any minute, but I was very aware of falling over, or worse getting stuck somewhere. On one memorable solo trip to the supermarket I arrived back at my car to find a van packed very close to the driver's side. Not only could I not fit through the gap, but I couldn't even get in the passenger's side and climb over because I couldn't bloody climb over! Instead I had to stand next to my car, embarrassed and fuming, waiting for the van driver's return.

The stares I got when I was nearing the end of my pregnancy were the main reason I stopped going out on my own. I was clearly enormous, and any fool could see that I was having more than one baby, but the general public are a great deal thicker than the average fool, so people would actually recoil in horror as I approached, presumably on the assumption that I'd swallowed an elephant and was just about to eat them too.

So I was huge, uncomfortable, bored to tears, frustrated, exhausted (although I soon learnt the true meaning of exhaustion when my babies were born). Here's how I should have spent my time:

  • Watching films/boxsets that I've always wanted to see (whilst lounging on the sofa eating chocolates)
  • Reading books that I've always wanted to read (the trashy and the "important")
  • Cooking for the freezer
  • Mastering a handicraft (I've since learnt to crochet which would have been a brilliant way of whiling away the hours)
  • Having long phone/Skype conversations with family and friends
  • Inviting people to visit
  • Booking in helpers for after the babies' arrival
  • Looking at useful/interesting things on the internet, rather than reading about twin birth horror stories and getting scared
  • Putting all my photos in albums
  • Packing a useful hospital bag (FYI: 3 pairs of knickers is not enough)
  • Practicing with the pushchair and carseats (when we were finally discharged from hospital, we couldn't get the carseats out of the car)
All of the above would have diverted my energies from obsessing about the birth into much more healthy pursuits. I might also have seen all of Mad Men. Oh well....

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


Hi, Twin-Dad here.  I thought I'd say a few words on Wednesdays.  Wednesday is a day when a lot of things generally go wrong.  And not by coincidence either.  You see, every week, Wednesday is the day when I have the twins on my own. It is the day when the standard of service to which the children are accustomed to receiving falls considerably, when laughter and squeals quickly turn to screaming and writhing around on the floor, and when the little terrors' anarchic tendencies appear at their strongest.

But whilst it seems that a lot of things go wrong on a Wednesday, I guess the purpose of this post is to remind and reassure myself that it's never really that bad.  That Dads might not be as utterly incompetent as they sometimes feel. In a year of 'doing Wednesdays', I've only had to dash to A&E once (I'll come onto that later), never had a visit from social services, and almost always ensured that the children are dressed, fed and watered before my wife comes home from a day's 'real work'.

My top tips for a Wednesday:
  • Going out is better than staying in.  The time goes quicker and there is more distraction (and dare I say it, fun) to be had
  • Stick to the same childcare routine as your wife.  (No I'm not under the thumb... much.  It's just a case of not messing with the body clocks of people so prone to complaining!)
  • The more energy you put into playing with them, the less moaning they will do
  • If you go out with them whilst wearing something comfortable (e.g. tracksuit bottoms and a hoodie), be prepared for people to give you looks which say 'get a job, and stop scrounging benefits off your kids'.  In this instance, just smile back. It's probably not worth mentioning that you work very hard at a job which includes weekends (hence why you are off today) and that you don't even watch Jeremy Kyle let alone intend to be on his show.
  • (Linked to the above point) Don't be offended if people ask if you are a stay at home Dad - they often mean it in an admiring way
  • Don't think of it as being a day off
And now some anecdotes:

The A&E story.  It wasn't that bad, and it was actually the minor injuries unit at our GP, so not 'proper hospital'.  Basically I had temporarily left the room for a few minutes.  The girl had been generally very upset at my wife leaving that morning, and I had finally got her calmed down in front of Timmy Time, so I took the opportunity of nipping upstairs to brush my teeth and get properly dressed (you know, those little luxuries).  I then heard a lot of crying again from the girl, so reluctantly trooped downstairs fully expecting there to be nothing really wrong, only to find her with a face full of blood, streaming out of both mouth and nose and splattered around the lounge.  After cleaning her up and getting to the aforementioned minor injuries unit, the receptionist asked me 'how did she do this?'  Now I felt that saying 'I don't know, I wasn't paying any attention' didn't quite sound right so I said that she fell into a glass table.  Anyhow, it must've sounded plausible enough because the social have never been in touch.  And the girl was fine.

I have many stories of leaving the house without the proper supplies (and on some occasions, no supplies whatsoever - getting the terrors into a car is sometimes so tricky that remembering anything else becomes impossible), but no blog post would be complete without a talking about child poo.  The most challenging situations I have encountered have been during the phase where the boy takes his nappy off before he's about to do a poo and, once again, I've not been paying enough attention.  On more than one occasion, by the time I've noticed, there are several surfaces to clean in addition to the boy himself - which is made more tricky by the fact that I don't seem to have a free arm to steer the girl away from the poo - and usually the result is that a lot of things go into the washing machine 'just in case'.

But if scrubbing a whole heap of poo from a fabric sofa cushion is the worst thing to do during my 'day off', bizarrely I find myself thinking 'I'll take that'.

Things I never thought I'd say

Here's a list of ridiculous things myself and my husband have said over the last 2 years, or heard others say to their children, or things I imagine have been said by a mum at some point. Please do add your own gems in the comments box!

  • (Me to my twins) "Stop working as a team!"
  • (Overheard in a supermarket) "If you don't stop it, it's chicken and pesto!"
  • "No thank you, I don't need any help... but could you just tuck that teddy/changing mat/dirty nappy under my chin?"
  • "What is it? A bogey? Just wipe it on mummy's skirt, darling"
  • (Me to my son) "If you headbutt me again you're going on the step". Like one headbutt is acceptable??!
  • (Me to my husband) "What do you mean 'is it clean?', I have no idea! Sniff it!"
  • "Is that chocolate, or poo?"
  • (Me to my son, again) "Stop headbutting the floor"
  • "Oh look: you're naked!"
  • "Oh good: you've both got your socks on your hands now"
  • (A mum in a playground to her child on top of the climbing frame) "If you don't get down right now, Christmas is cancelled!"
  • (My husband to our son) "How clever; you've taken your nappy off. Again."
  • (My husband to me at 6am) "We've had a lie-in!"
  • (Me to a total stranger in Starbucks) "Excuse me, could you just hold this for me?" *hands stranger a baby*
  • (Fellow twin mum after hers had both sat in a puddle) "Right, well you're going home naked then"
  • (My husband through sleep-deprived bleary eyes) "I just can't imagine them being awake and not crying"
  • (Me whilst changing a dirty nappy and trying to hold the other twin back from crawling into it) "Your brother's poo is not a toy"