Two year old heartbreakers and troublemakers

Two year old heartbreakers and troublemakers

My babies have gone. Vanished overnight, to be replaced by two little boys. In one moment, they melt my heart with their hugs and the way they say, ‘mama’….the next I could run out the door and not look back! They have voices now, along with attitudes and opinions. Two months ago when you asked them something, you were just making pretend conversation. Now you get a firm yes or more than likely – no!!!

The past few months have been very challenging for my family and I. For too many reasons to go into, this summer has had it’s fair share of ups and downs. And in all honesty, I’ve struggled, and not just with the heat. I’ve not been myself and it’s only in the past month that I’ve realised this. Stress has taken it’s toll and I’ve been anxious, tired, grumpy and so on edge. Instead of trying to go with the flow, the slightest change to my normal routine was causing me a lot of anxiety.

Add to the mix two toddlers who are growing and changing all the time and it’s no wonder my wine intake has increased dramatically!!!!!! One day you could all sit down for breakfast and everything would be fine, the next day, they have decided they don’t like highchairs, bibs, or cereal, or you and you would end up wearing breakfast. A nappy change would involve full on combat training and forget trying to put a raincoat on them!!!

I began to get so fed up with all of this. Nothing I did seemed right and if I tried to intervene, a tantrum was sure to follow. It was exhausting. And depressing. It didn’t help that I knew they didn’t behave this way with their dad. They liked to save the crazy for me. Routines had gone out of the window. I put it down to the hot summer, but slowly realised that part of it was just them getting older and more independent. Pushing their boundaries. The more I tried to resist this, the harder it became. So, I started to try and give them the opportunity to show me what they wanted. I discovered that if I let them put their own shoes on with me to hold on to for balance, there was no screaming! If I gave them bowls that didn’t stick to the table, they didn’t try and throw them at me. When bedtime came along, I asked them where they wanted to sit to drink their milk and they took themselves upstairs (with me!!). Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all plain sailing now, but the days have gotten a tiny bit easier. No, easier isn’t the right word. More tolerable perhaps?! And more importantly, I am getting through this transition a lot better now (I think!).

My little boys are full of fun and every day is an adventure. They are becoming the best of friends which is wonderful to see. They create games to play together and you can hear them giggling and screaming from one end of the house to the other.

My best friends’ eldest son went off to university this week and I can still remember the day he was born. I can only begin to imagine the mixed bag of emotions she is feeling.

So, when I’m feeling worn out at the end of the day, I lie down, with a snuggly toddler on either side of me, and cherish the cuddles. As they guzzle their milk, pull my hair, stick their fingers in my eyes and up my nose, I can feel their bodies relax and their breathing slow down. And so do I. I think about our day and the fun we’ve had, the things they’ve learned (and me too!). Every day they seem to learn a new word, or thing to make me laugh. Archie likes to shout ‘Go!’ at everything and Harry has learnt the actions for the cricket scoring!!!!! I heard a little girl tell him she was 4 and Harry started waving his arm from side to side (4 runs in cricket terms!!!!!!).

I know it won’t be long before they are talking properly and asking me questions. We will be having conversations instead of guessing what they are trying to say.

So I am trying not to wish this difficult and frustrating time away. With the help of my family, friends and my awesome twin mum’s, we’ll come out of this alive and kicking, ready for the next stage (aaarrrggghhh!!!).

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What have I learned in a year?

What have I learned in a year?

Facebook reminded me that it has been a year since I did my first blog post. I can’t believe it! The boys are now 17 months old, no longer babies but little toddlers. After reading my post it made me think of what I’ve learned and discovered over the past year, so I thought I would share this knowledge with you all!!

First of all, never look them in the eye. No matter what they’re doing, if they are not actually harassing you at the time, avoid eye contact. This is especially important at bedtime. If you do, you’re screwed.

Never wake a sleeping baby. If they are old enough to sleep on their front but you don’t think it looks comfy….walk away. Fallen asleep in the playpen….leave them be. As a friend of mine recently found out to her own demise – four hours later whilst still trying to placate a screaming baby!!!!

Telly Addicts

The television is your best friend. If you’ve read my post from February 2017 you will know my previous thoughts on this. I think the boys were about 10 months old when I discovered my husband placed them in front of the tv to settle them down at times. Initially horrified, I soon jumped on that bandwagon. Now, if I’m not careful, Baby TV is on all day. They climb up on the couch next to me and we take five to watch Tricky Tracks or Charlie’s Magic Numbers. I think we may be ready to ascend to the dizzy heights of Cbeebies soon. Very excited.

Baby groups have saved me. A year ago I was apprehensive about starting to attend baby groups. I didn’t think I would fit in etc. Well I can truly say that I now love my baby groups and without them I would be a snivelling wreck of a woman. They are my saviour during the darkest and lightest of times. My twin mums especially. We try to meet up every Monday morning and I really look forward to it. My twin mums don’t hold back on how they are feeling and what they are going through. It’s a good chance for the babies to play and for us to have the all important (and life saving) coffee, cake and chat. I know it’s not for everyone, but if you can find a group of like minded ladies with babies, then it can really help you cope with life.

If all of a sudden it’s gone quiet – then they’re up to no good. My two have proven my point whilst I’m writing this. I’m not going into any details, but let’s just say that the thing that’s supposed to stop the television from being pushed over by exuberant toddlers doesn’t work. Fortunately, the tv is made of stronger stuff!!!!

Ask for help. As I have to keep reminding myself, my husband isn’t psychic, and while I’m silently cursing him in the middle of the night for not coming to my aid when one of them is crying, it’s because he is also lying there thinking I’ve got everything under control.

Advice. You’ll get lots of it. Many mentions of ‘back in my day, we never had baby monitors, bath thermometers, baby classes, post natal depression’…..etc. etc. Some of it may be helpful, some of it will not. Things change. Back in the day they thought smoking wouldn’t kill you. Back in the day infant mortality rates were higher. Take what you want and ignore the rest. My tolerance for advice equates with how much sleep I’ve had.

Carrying on from advice – learn to ignore the ‘do they sleep through the night yet?’ question. Whatever anyone says will make you feel like crap. You’ll feel judged if they do sleep through the night and if they don’t. Babies sleep through the night when they are good and ready so just accept that. And just when you are celebrating that night of sleep you enjoyed, they will get a cold, a cough, vaccinations, teething or general grumpiness that will bring you back down to earth with a big, fat, screw you.

Baby crap you need and crap you don’t. Society, health professionals, friends and family will tell you that you need all sorts of baby crap. Again, you will find out what works for you. These are my personal favourites.

Fisher Price baby to toddler chairs (other brands are available). My two suffered from awful reflux so two baby chairs were essential. Get the ones with the chair vibration button – sends them right off to sleep (when they are little)!! These chairs are great for post feeding, during feeding and napping in.

A formula machine. I got the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep machine after attending a twins antenatal class. Everybody was talking about it!!!! It has been amazing. Although by the second day of use you are already thinking that two minutes to make a bottle of milk is far too long. In the middle of the night you will find yourself screaming at it to hurry the f*#k up!!!!

500 muslin cloths and bibs. I kid you not. We got loads as gifts and I couldn’t think why. Didn’t take long to find out.

Baby in a bucket

You don’t need a fancy bath. I bought a tummy tub as it was recommended for premature babies. My husband called it an overpriced bucket. After defending it vehemently for several months I eventually conceded. It was a bucket that was impossible to effectively wash a baby in. As my mum kept reminding me, I was bathed in the kitchen sink.

You don’t need expensive clothes. Babies will throw up several times a day. They will poop several times a day and generally get themselves into a gooey mess. Then they start teething and weaning. Whoever said to dress them in different clothes to differentiate between night and day was talking shite. They will go through 4 sets of clothes in an hour sometimes!!!!! Stock up on vests and sleepsuits. Cheap ones. From Tesco. (Other supermarkets are available).

Toys. You don’t need many. They will play with the same one all day every day if they like it. Babies find fun in all sorts of crap that isn’t made by Vtech. Like toilet paper. Or that free magazine that gets delivered every month. A spoon. Their socks. The remote control. Last week Archie managed to change the screen size on the tv and it took me four hours to change it back!!

So there you have it. My pearls of wisdom. Of course as I said above, my advice is only that. One thing I do know for sure is this: time is flying by. My babies have gone and been replaced by mischievous toddlers. I can’t remember the last time I breastfed them. I know it was a year ago, but I can’t remember that last feed. When I hold my friend’s babies who are six months old, I am surprised by how light and small they are as I’ve already forgotten that’s what mine were like. I remember enduring tummy time to help them develop muscle control, and now they climb up on the couch next to me. I’m scared I’m going to miss something as I’ve already experienced and forgotten so much. The nights are long and the days can be hard, but the months are going far too fast.

New Year’s Revelations

New Year’s Revelations

Happy New Year to you all! 2018. When the hell did that happen? Remember when you were a kid and your parents used to tell you to stop wishing time away? They were right. I’ve just turned 41. No going back now. 41!!!!!

My cousin gave me a 5 year diary for my Christmas where there are 5 years on each page, and you write a few lines about each day so you can see what you were doing the previous year. What a marvellous idea which got me thinking about the previous year and about making some new year’s resolutions. I found an old notebook with resolutions from 2014/2015 and not surprisingly, I hadn’t achieved half of them. So this year I thought I’d do it differently and make a list of things I’m NOT going to do.

I’m not going to lose weight – get fit – tone up – eat better – not drink so much. Fuck it. I am on the go all of the time. (I can feel my husband about to object so let’s say 99% of the time!!). I may put my feet up and watch some tv when the babies are napping but generally, I’m always doing something. Cleaning, cooking, tidying up, soft play, meeting friends and family or at my actual place of work. So when I do get a blessed ten minutes to drink a cup of coffee then I’m bloody well having a cake with it.

I’m not going to follow people on Instagram who make me feel fat and lazy. You know the ones I mean. The mum’s (or mom’s) who post pictures of themselves bench-pressing their twins before breakfast like they’re dumbbells, then sit down to a bowl of granola and acacia berries. You can all sod off. They call themselves inspirational. They’re not. They’ve had six kids and got a six pack so there’s no excuse for me not to be flashing my abs? I bet those aren’t even their kids. I live in the real world. I choose 30 minutes in bed in the morning over exercising strenuously. I choose weetabix and a walk with the babies. I choose cheese and wine. So thinspirational mum’s – consider yourself Unfollowed. I feel lighter already.
I’m not going to get so stressed about the little things. Now this I may struggle with. I know that last year I used to get stressed about going out with the babies, being late, that sort of thing. Then I broke it down to what’s the worst that can happen? You’re late. So what? Babies start screaming? Just go home. I hate a messy house, it’s true. But after us all being so ill for the past two months, I realised that it just doesn’t matter. If things don’t get done for a few days, it’s not the end of the world. If you’re tired, have a nap. Your mental and physical well being are far too important to ignore. I hadn’t thought about what it would be like to be ill looking after two ill babies. Oh my god. It’s just soul destroying. However, I took a little comfort in knowing that my other twin mums were all going through the same thing so at least we could message each other at 3 in the morning and moan at how tired we were.

I am going to be grateful for what I’ve got though. It’s too easy to start thinking about all the things I may not have achieved yet, or material things I wish I had (my hints at a new Kindle were obviously too subtle). We are living in a time where a Loneliness Minister has been appointed. I wish that wasn’t a real thing. It got me thinking about how happy my babies are and wouldn’t it be lovely if that happiness could be shared to all the isolated and lonely people out there? I feel a letter to my MP coming on. Anyway, I am grateful for my family, friends, colleagues and all those who read my blog and continue to share my journey. Happy new year to you all. I hope it brings you all of your desires.

 

Dear Santa….

Dear Santa….

Dear Santa….what do I want for Christmas? Well obviously I want health and happiness for my family, but for me? I would really like to be Katie for a day. Not mummy, or nurse, just Katie.  Don’t judge me Santa but that’s what I want. And hey, if we’re asking for a day, throw in the night too!!!!

A whole day just for me. Maybe I’d take the train to Edinburgh. An hour to drink a coffee and read my book (or hopefully the new Kindle that’s on my Christmas list too 😉). I’d mooch around the shops looking at clothes and stuff just for me. I’d visit the Chamber Street museum (you can call it the Museum of Scotland but I’ll always call it the Chamber Street museum). I love the dinosaur and science bit. Then I’d have lunch somewhere. By myself. A proper lunch without food being thrown back at me. And I wouldn’t have to scrub the chair and floor when I’m finished!!!!

After that, I’d have a manicure, or a massage. Oh yes. To have oil rubbed into that mass of knots that has replaced my neck and shoulders. Yes please. Afterwards I could sit in a bar, sipping a Mojito and people watch. Then I’d get the train home on which I’d have a nap. Aaahhhh. When I get home, I’d sit in the bath with a glass of wine (or two). Then I’d spend the evening watching Grey’s Anatomy on box sets (the old one’s with McDreamy and McSteamy). Then I’d go to bed and sleep for eight uninterrupted hours (perhaps with the odd McDreamy and McSteamy dream 😂).

 

McDreamy & McSteamy

 

In my absence, the house will have been cleaned. The laundry washed, folded and put away. The babies will have been entertained all day. They will be bathed and fast asleep in their cots. Sounds like a fairy tale, right? So, if you can do that Santa, I promise to keep your secret safe for years and years.

But, wait a minute. Can I keep the gorgeous, little baby cuddles? The way they wrap their arms around my neck and snuggle in. Can I keep the giggling? Listening to them laugh at each other when they play silly games together is the sweetest sound on this earth. Can I keep the first smile of the day? The way they look at me when they wake up is so adorable. It’s like they can’t wait to spend the day with me. And although it’s frustrating and exhausting, can I keep the midnight snuggles? When they’ve woken up coughing and full of snot, and just want to be with me until they fall back to sleep?

Peek-a-boo

Hhhmmm. Well Santa. You know what? I think I’d like to stay as mummy and Katie, and I’ll ask for slippers and pyjamas instead please. Chuck in a bottle of Merlot to sweeten the deal.

(And another photo of these two 😁)

Twinspiracy

Twinspiracy

So I reckon this is what happened in my house yesterday. I was feeling pretty chuffed as one of the twins had gone almost 8 hours between feeds overnight, affording me some much needed sleep. Albeit sleep interrupted by the other twin, but sleep all the same.

As late evening approached, I was looking forward to the same thing happening. Stupid mummy. I think it happened when I was making my own dinner. They were sat next to each other in their bouncy chairs, looking all sweet, sleeping soundly. Or so I thought. What they were really doing was hatching a plan. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent until proven guilty).

Bert: Hey, Ernie! You know how mummy got to sleep last night and now she thinks it’s going to happen again?

Ernie: Yes.

Bert: Well, let’s mess with her.

Ernie: I’m intrigued. What’s your plan?

Bert: Well, drink your milk like normal at bedtime, look all sleepy, bla bla, go to sleep straight away when she puts us in the wooden cell. Then wait 3 hours and start kicking off. No….make it 2 hours. Start making that grunting noise you do but don’t open your eyes. It always confuses her. Then after half an hour, I’ll do the same.

Ernie: Sounds great. Oooh, I know. When she goes out to make our milk, scream really loudly, then when she comes back in the room, close your eyes and go quiet again!!!

Bert: You’re an evil genius Ernie.

Ernie: Great. So that’s the plan. Every 3 hours, we take it in turns. Then, in the morning, when it looks like she’s going to lose it, wait for her to pick you up, then give her a big, cheesy smile. She falls for it every time!

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“Bert”
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“Ernie”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bert: Nailed it.

Labour Day

Labour Day

Monday 5 September 2016, 4.45am. I wake up because my waters have broken. I’m 27 weeks and 3 days pregnant with monochorionic diamniotic (MCDA) twins.
Looking back I was calm about it all. I packed my bag, had a shower, and then woke my husband. We phoned our local hospital who told us to come in straight away. They confirmed my waters had indeed broken, administered a steroid injection, and informed me it was likely the twins would be born within the next 24 hours. They phoned for an ambulance to take me up to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, 36 miles away. Although anxious, we weren’t panicking. Much.

You see, two weeks before, we were really scared. A routine scan picked up an abnormal blood flow in the umbilical cord to twin 2. The hospital in Edinburgh had no beds, so we had to drive to Dundee, 92 miles away. I was 25 weeks pregnant at this point. The obstetrician gave me my steroid injection; we rushed home to pack, and then headed up the road. Neither of us knew what to say. What to think. It took all our effort not to google ‘baby born at 25 weeks’. When we arrived, we were told that they would not be able to do a repeat scan until the next day. I naturally assumed that there could be no great urgency then. Neither of us slept that night. My husband later told me that he did go on google. I didn’t want to know what it said. The next day we had the scan and the results were fine. We had another three scans over the next two weeks; all showing that twin 2 was a bit smaller than twin 1, but otherwise okay.
So, when I went into labour at 27 weeks and 3 days, we felt lucky. Kind of.

I remember phoning my mum. She was on the way to the dentist. I told her not to worry but I was at the hospital and I’d keep her posted!! Soon after arriving at the RIE, the contractions started. Foetal monitors were attached and nothing much happened, but the contractions were getting stronger. I was given gas and air (wonderful stuff!) then the doctor came in to examine me. ‘You are ten centimetres dilated, I can feel the head’. What?!?! All of a sudden, the room filled up with people. I knew twin 2 was breech and had kind of expected a caesarean. Now I was being told that I was delivering my babies….immediately. No time for pain relief, or a caesarean.

I couldn’t breathe. This wasn’t happening. I’d not even written my birth plan. Where were the candles, my carefully chosen playlists? My husband gently rubbing my back and telling me to push? Me, perfectly tuned into my body, breathing through the pain and welcoming my babies into the world with a smile and open arms?

Instead, a team of doctors, midwives, nurses and anaesthetists were preparing for the arrival of two very premature babies. The midwife put a clear plastic bag and a tiny woollen hat at the bottom of the bed. ‘Don’t be alarmed. But we put the baby in the bag to prevent hypothermia’. Bloody hell. This was really happening.

I’ll spare you the details, but at 12.47 and 12.58, my two boys were born. Twin 1 made a noise when he entered the world. Just a small cry. It was the best noise ever. Twin 2 was quiet. Tiny, bruised and silent. It was the most horrific silence ever. Both babies were immediately taken away, resuscitated and ventilated. They were brought into my room for a brief hello, and then taken to the NICU.

I was overwhelmed and exhausted. As was my husband. We were both in shock and trying to get our heads around what had happened. The midwife and doctor delivered the placenta. I heard someone say something about it being ‘ragged’. Over the next hour we tried to make sense of the situation. Then I noticed that I was bleeding. A lot. The midwife took one look and pulled the emergency alarm. The doctor came back in and I was immediately taken to theatre. I remember thinking that I wanted to go to sleep and wake up and it would all be okay.

An hour later, I woke to see my husband standing next to me in green scrubs. Why? Where was I? Then I remembered. We went back to the labour ward and tried to let it all sink in. My husband later told me that after I was taken to theatre, he was left alone in the room. In the space of an hour, his two sons had been born and taken to intensive care, and his wife was taken into theatre for an emergency operation, and he had no idea if they would all survive. It sounds dramatic now but that’s what happened.

While I was in theatre, he was taken to the NICU to see the boys. He told me that the nurse that was looking after one of the babies was so calm and kind, it helped him to calm down too. This is what they do, 24 – 7. Our world had just been turned upside down but this is their job, to save tiny, premature babies.

I was taken round to the NICU in my hospital bed later that day. There are photos of me touching my babies through the incubator but I don’t remember it. They were so small, and bruised. Their skin too fragile to be exposed to the world. It was all so surreal.

Later that night, after my husband went home, I sat in my bed and just cried. I blamed myself, my useless body, for not being able to do its job. I was terrified my babies would die because of something I’d done. I was ashamed of how I reacted to being in labour. At one point I panicked and couldn’t breathe. The doctor told me to focus and I felt like I’d been told off for doing it wrong. I perceived myself to be a strong person, and I’d just fallen apart. Why was I so self-critical?!?! You could put it down to hormones, exhaustion and confusion I guess.

I was encouraged to express breast milk straight away. At last, I felt like I was doing something. Contributing to the care of my babies. I have a diary entry stating that I expressed 3ml at 9am the day after they were born. I remember at the time feeling amazed and in awe at what I had achieved! Little did I know I would go on to express on average 1000ml a day for the three months they were in hospital.

Our hospital stay continued for 12 weeks; 86 days in total. Six weeks in the NICU followed by six weeks in the SCBU at our local hospital, the Borders General.

It was filled with highs and lows. Please join me in discussing our journey and sharing your experiences too.

About me

About me

My name is Katie and I am a 40 year old mum to identical twin boys. They were born in 2016 at 27 weeks and 3 days. I have started this blog primarily as a way of dealing with the whole experience of being in hospital for 13 weeks after their birth, instead of getting to know them at home.

It was only after my babies came home that the full effect of what we’d been through as a family hit me. I’m still processing it, taking each day as it comes.

I feel so lucky to have my boys home and would like to encourage others to share their experiences and raise awareness of premature babies.

I hope that this blog will grow alongside me and my boys. It’s not just about their traumatic entry into the world. I’m excited about being a mother and all the wonderful adventures I’ll get to experience over the coming days, weeks and years. And that is what I’m going to write about.

Source: About