Archive for Parenting

It Must Be About Time For an Update…?

I haven’t updated in ages, I know.  I will attempt to summarise the last 9 months or so as well as I can and then treat you to a couple of videos.  Some of this post was written around November time and some today.  Like I said, 9 or so months!

November 2014

The girls are growing and changing so much and I really want to document it, so here is my latest attempt – hopefully a bit more successful and polished than my last unfinished, forgotten about, scheduled post!

They are really talking now and constantly surprising us with the phrases and concepts they come out with.  Over the summer, Imogen stopped referring to Claudia as “Daudia”.  They had both been able to pronounce the cl sound, as in clap, for a while, but both persisted in starting Claudie’s name with a d sound.  When we first heard Immie called out “Claudieeee!” we knew it was the end of an era.  Claudia herself, of course, still refers to herself as Daudie, which is super cute.

Claudie has the sweetest baby-lisp, similar to one I had as a child.  In her voice, the grand old duke of York “marthes” up the hill.  Imogen doesn’t have the lisp, but she does have an amazing accent.  “Ooh, that’s noice!” She said, looking at a clean pillowcase I had just put on the bed.  She likes “toiny little” things and sings about a star “loike a doimond in the skoiy.”  I don’t know where it has come from, but it is just so sweet.  She also – when she isn’t saying, “NO!” – says “oh-kay” to just about everything.

From Then to Now

They started to use words to generalise a situation: I always, I normally etc.  This was usually an attempt to get us to let them do something.  “But I normally draw on the walls.”  Yeah, right.

They started using temporal words: earlier, yesterday, etc.  They would talk about “a moment” as in “at the moment”.  “I doing PlayDoh a moment.”

In expressing affection we went from: I love Mama, to I love you, to I love you sooooo much!

They started using more connectives: actually and but.  But would usually be part of a long convoluted telling of a story on Immie’s part.  “Fireman Sam rescue Norman and but Penny helped James and but Elvis fell over…”

Immie also figured out that “soaking wet” meant very wet, which meant for quite a while we have the joy of her using “soaking” instead of “very”: soaking cuddly, soaking tangled, soaking dry…  She also pronounces “huge” as “fuge”.  It’s so cute.

Before Christmas they started talking about how “important” things were.  Sometimes they would ask for an item because “I need it for work”.

They play imaginative games and bring us “pertend” food and tell us to be quiet because their babies are sleeping.  Immie loves to run and jump and climb.  She loves the mud.  Two weeks ago she started using the potty.  She can only do it when she is naked from the waist down (so only at home!), but she is pretty much spot on with it when she is.

Claudia has discovered jigsaw puzzles in the last couple of weeks.  Before they had those wooden ones with the shapes you put in the holes and a handful of three piece jigsaws, but I bought them a set of Frozen jigsaws (oh how they love Frozen!  Although we don’t have to watch it daily any more.) and she can do the 12 piece in literally a couple of minutes.  The 24 piece takes longer.  Less than 5 though.  Immie isn’t interested in them at all.  At least, she expresses interest, moves the pieces around a bit and then goes to climb all over the sofa cushions again.

They are just more and more amazing and I can’t wait to see what more there is to come as they creep close and closer to three years old!  (I know, right, tempus fucking fugit!)

Dancing (in a tutu) from Becoming Mums on Vimeo.

Let's talk about it from Becoming Mums on Vimeo.

Hospitals, Holidays and Happy Families (And Everything in Between!)

So much has happened in the last few months I’ve barely had time to draw breath, let alone blog about it.

After Claudia had the cast off her Poorly Arm, she only lasted 10 days before she broke it again. I was devastated for her, not least because we were only three weeks away from our first holiday abroad as a family – the four of us were headed to Mallorca in the Balearics – and we were so excited about it, but of course we now were travelling with a 20 month old who had her arm in a cast.

She broke it in an absolutely tiny tumble off her Scuttle Bug (a small scooter/trike contraption we bought them for Christmas). It broke in the exact same place as last time so although the hospital insisted on testing for vitamin deficiencies and brittle bones it was clear the first cast had just come off much too soon. Getting it set was an absolute fiasco this time because there wasn’t a qualified (enough) anaesthetist on duty so we were transferred to another hospital and her arm was eventually set three days after she broke it. Immie found the separation quite hard but enjoyed going to visit her sister and exploring the playrooms on the children’s wards.

Thankfully, one of the mums at the Twins’ Club we go to had a rubber cover for an arm cast as her daughter had fractured her wrist a few months before. It was an absolute godsend as it meant that she could still have a bath every day (their favourite time of day) as well as getting just as up close and personal with the Mediterranean as Imogen did when we were away.

Our holiday was brilliant. The girls loved the beach and the children’s splash pool at our hotel was fab. They paddled and splashed and dug in the sand and went down the slides and we even got a moment or two to sit on a sun lounger. (But it literally was only a moment or two – thankfully we went with the expectations of not sitting down for a moment, so anything more than that felt like a real bonus.)

mallorca

It was an amazing ten days and we were sad to come home, but these things must always come to an end.

While we were away we discovered that Claudia could sing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ and in fact they both now sing a number of different songs and are even confident enough to often do it on demand for various friends and family. They love holding the phone to their ear – especially if we are actually trying to have a conversation with the person at the other end – but rarely say hello. Mostly they just sing Twinkle Twinkle! Although the other day Claudia was shouting “Happy birthday!” down the phone to L’s cousin.

Their language is just incredible these days. I get so excited each time I hear them expressing a new concept or stringing a new sentence together. Their favourite things to say at the moment are pretty much: “Immie do it”; “Daudie hold it”.

Yep, we’re in that fiercely independent stage, which means a lot of frustration as they try to do things their motor skills can’t quite manage.

They even made up a game together the other morning, where they both lay down in Claudie’s cot, pulled the covers over themselves and then one of them would shout, “Wakey up!” And they both jumped up. So cute.

We are definitely finding it so much easier these days, although of course every age brings its own challenges, but it’s great now they can communicate a little more easily and can, for example, tell us if something hurts.

They are really starting to build on their sentence structures now and are saying things like: “Immie’s turn next”; “A bit more”; “Singing now?” (Are these prepositions? As a teacher I am sure I should know the grammatical names but I’m really not sure in this instance.)

Claudia has also occasionally started using ‘me’ instead of ‘Daudie’, which seems like an incredible leap forward. She will say things like, “Me climb in [to the buggy]”, which they love to do now. We have finally taken the bars off the front of the buggy (which Immie liked to rest her feet on when they were smaller) and now they can both climb up and sit down. They also love to walk though and we are able to use the buggy less and less. The main problem is that they do still need to nap in the day so we often do need to take the buggy to facilitate that, but wherever and whenever possible we let them walk.

Just before we went away, Immie started saying “Mama” (l and I have always both referred to ourselves as Mummy and so have both girls). She would stand there repeating it over and over like a question until I would say, “Yes, Immie.” And then she’d just give me a really cheeky grin. As she kept this up, Claudie soon cottoned on and started using Mama to refer to me too. We always said the girls would figure out what to call us and it seems they already have. It’s totally stuck now and I like being Mama.

Since my brother’s birthday in late April, they like to walk round the house saying, “Happy birthday, Colin!” Of course, we couldn’t get them to actually say that to him on his birthday. They are really enjoying exploring the sensation of different words in their mouths. Some of their favourite words to say include guacamole and ukulele! Every time we open the front door they say, “That’s our car!” As if the fact that it’s sat there on the drive is a total shocker. The cutest thing is that they also say goodbye to it when we go out and hello when we come back, but they haven’t quite understood the entire sentence, so they say: “Bye bye that’s our car!”

22 months from Becoming Mums on Vimeo.

In other news, a lovely journalist interviewed me a while back for a feature in Mother & Baby magazine.  We were in the May issue as part of their ‘Modern Families’ spread, representing the LGBT family.

IMG_7706

 

 

Blue Moon

It’s been a while.  Far too long.  In January I started a post explaining how I planned to write at least one post a month in 2014.

Yeah.  That didn’t happen.  I mean, it’s already the end of February March!

And now it’s been so long that there is almost too much to say.  But I have to grab this moment because I am just overflowing with the amazing changes that the girls are going through and I can’t bear not to document it somewhere.

P1030425P1030466

Christmas was amazing.  It was so much fun with two 17 month olds.  But it’s since then that the girls have really blossomed.

Since Christmas their language has just exploded.  It started with them beginning to use words in other ways than just to name things. They learned opposites like hot and cold, up and down, light and dark.  They learned that by calling someone’s name they could summon them or get their attention and Claudia in particular learned that she could denote possession with somebody’s name – pointing at an object and saying, “Immie’s” or “Mummy’s”.

From that she started putting two words together.  No longer just “Immie’s”, it became “Immie’s cup”, “Mummy’s tea”, “Claudie’s shoes”.  And she understood how to say hello and goodbye to specific people by using their names.  She started saying things like “Thank you”, “Excuse me” and “Bless you” in their correct contexts.  She started using subjects and verbs and now she can be heard to say pretty much full sentences like the one she uttered this morning in the garden: “Claudie and Immie are swinging.”

Immie isn’t quite putting words together in this way, but her confidence is increasing.  Interestingly, when they were learning to walk, Imogen threw herself into it wholeheartedly whilst Claudia hung back and waited until she was really confident she could do it before letting go of the furniture.  Conversely with language, Claudia is steaming ahead, acting like a human echo machine and repeating everything she hears, constantly trying to communicate, whilst Imogen has fewer words and uses them more sparingly, but actually has clearer diction.  Their vocabulary is massive.  I have no idea how big it actually is, but they amaze me every day with the words and concepts they understand.

They recognise and name their toys and know the names of favourite books, even starting to “read”.  It is the cutest thing ever to watch them leaf through a book and give some indication of the understanding they have of what happens on each page.  Their capacity for memory astounds me.

Claudia likes to narrate everything she sees and does and every word or phrase ends with an exclamation mark. She can sort of count to ten if I say one first. She tends to skip five and seven but loves saying, “Eight, nine, TEN!” Immie can recognise pretty much every colour and enjoys pointing out the colours of everything she sees.

It’s weird being a parent, because on the one hand you know that the steps your child is making are something every single human since the dawn of time has been through, but it is still so fascinating to watch their language and understanding develop and grow.  The concepts they can now grasp are incredible and their memories continue to astound me.

Chatterboxes from Becoming Mums on Vimeo.

Of course this video just doesn’t do justice to the array of things they can say and do now, or how incredible it has been to witness each new skill, but it’s still pretty cute.

As you can see for the video (and may have seen on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook), Claudia broke her arm.  She fell off the sofa (Imogen may or may not have been involved) and we had a very long day at A&E, but she was so brave and barely cried at all.  Immie was almost more traumatised from being left at home with first a friend, then L, then Grandad, then Grandma as people rallied together to help us out.  She definitely missed her twin.  The cast should be coming off tomorrow and hopefully that will be our last trip to A&E for a very long time!

IMG_3528

 

The Breastfeeding Chronicles – Part the Third

(In case you missed them – part one; part two)

Before I had my babies I had very definite ideas about breastfeeding. I believed that breast was unquestionably best, but that breastfeeding was something I would have to try and potentially fail at, as I knew many people who had started off breastfeeding and had turned to bottles after a few weeks, despite being wracked by guilt. They just hadn’t managed to make it work, so I knew that it was quite possible it wouldn’t work for me either. (Quite what I thought happened to babies before formula existed I’m not sure; maybe I just thought a lot more babies must have died with so many mothers unable to breastfeed.) I expected I would breastfeed (if it worked in the first place) for around 6 months to a year. I thought that breastfeeding any longer than that was “weird” and that breastfeeding once a baby had teeth or was old enough to “ask for it” was even weirder. (I’m not quite sure when I thought babies got teeth!)

So I started breastfeeding when the girls were born, without having taken a class or really with any idea of the potential pitfalls. Luckily, Claudia took to it so well that I built up a good supply, which meant that Imogen was able to feed too, despite not seeming to latch as easily. I know now how lucky I was that Claudia took to the boob the way she did, understanding with 20:20 hindsight that all my friends who tore themselves up with guilt over having to stop through supply issues or agonising pain were in fact failed by the system and could have probably had very successful breastfeeding relationships if helped out by a qualified lactation consultant.

Upon leaving hospital after the birth, we were given a whole load of bumph by the midwives. It covered a whole range of things from safe sleeping to feeding and contained the fact that the World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. It took me a while to actually understand this. It means that for the first six months of life, infants should have breast milk and only breast milk – no formula, no baby rice, no purees. I initially thought it meant that you could stop breastfeeding after 6 months and couldn’t work out what you were supposed to do between 6 months and a year as babies are not allowed cow’s milk as a main drink until 12 months. It didn’t seem right that the only option was to put them on formula until they were old enough for cow’s milk.

So I looked into it a bit more and realised that the recommendation was for exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months, discovering that the WHO also recommends sustained breastfeeding until two years as part of a mixed diet.

TWO YEARS! How many people do you know who still breastfeed their two year old? And how many people do you know who would think it was weird (and maybe even a little bit wrong) to breastfeed a two year old? A lot, right? Most of them? Yeah, I was one of them.

So the girls turned one a couple of weeks ago and, with no clear plan in place for how long we will continue, I am currently still breastfeeding. Since about ten or eleven months they have been very aware of me feeding the other one. If I am in a room with both of them and pick one up to feed, the other one will make it very clear they do not want to be left out. Having retired my tandem feeding cushion months ago, when they were old enough to have a feed in five minutes or so and I realised I could do so quickly without needing to feed both at the same time, we are now back to tandem feeding more often than not. I lift them both up onto the sofa (or sit on the floor with them), place one either side of me and, basically, let them at it. They sit or squat or kneel beside me and have their milk, often trying to poke the other one in the eye at the time. Most of my energy is spent trying to stop them from poking their sister in the eye.

20130806-173124.jpg

Immie’s favourite trick is to wait until Claudie comes up for air or to change position and then clap her hand across my other nipple – the one Claudia was feeding from.

They are both now capable of “asking” for their milk. Immie will stand in front of me making a high pitched “eh-uh” noise. If she is in my arms she will pull my top down and reach inside my bra because waiting for me to get my boob out obviously just isn’t quick enough. Claudia has learned the sign for milk and I know when she wants it as she will be opening and closing both fists with some urgency. (The sign for milk is starting with an open palm and then making a fist as you bring your hand down, as if you were milking an imaginary cow.)

When they turned one, we decided that although we had no plans to actually try and force weaning, we would introduce a policy of “never offer, never refuse”. Whilst I had been back at work – and having to reintroduce the use of breast pads as I realised on the first day that I couldn’t last all day without becoming engorged and leaking (luckily I had a cardigan I could use to conceal this from children and colleagues!) – the girls had gone all day from their morning feed until I got back from work around 6pm without any milk. They were eleven months and eating a varied and healthy diet of solids so I figured they would be okay without milk during the day (I have never managed to get much from pumping and a school isn’t really the ideal environment for regular pumping either). I thought that this would then mean that, once I was home with them again, they probably wouldn’t want or need much milk during the day and that my “never offer, never refuse” policy would mean they were pretty much weaned other than maybe mornings and evenings, with a feed or two for Claudia in the night. Ironically, it feels like they are asking for milk more often than they were having it before I instigated NONR, but I’m not bothered by it (I might be a little bothered by Immie trying to get my boobs out in public) and plan to just see how it all pans out. I hope they will both self-wean before we decide that we want them to, because I feel like the act of forced weaning is not going to be much fun for anyone.

I am certainly more cautious about feeding them in public now they are older (and looking more like toddlers than babies), because I don’t particularly want to attract any remarks, but I do also feel like I have a bit of a duty to normalise breastfeeding of toddlers in the eyes of our Western society who think it is more appropriate to have a topless model on page three of a national newspaper than to see a toddler being fed milk specifically designed for them direct from the source.

Imogen was (and is) still having a bottle of formula in the evening. We were giving both girls formula before bed, but at probably around 9 months, Claudia started refusing the bottle, so I went back to breastfeeding her to sleep in the evenings. We decided to stop formula altogether at 12 months, because it’s not “needed”. Immie can have cow’s milk or – even better – breast milk and it’s not good for babies’ teeth to either drink milk out of a bottle or drink it after brushing their teeth. The only reason we haven’t phased the formula out quite yet is because we knew it would mean a bit of a change of bedtime routine and we didn’t want to mess with that just before going on holiday. So the plan is to get rid of the post-bath bottle once we are back from Dorset and work on a bedtime routine that involves cuddles and stories rather than a bottle of milk.

Did you know it’s World Breastfeeding Week? Find out more here.

20130804-162134.jpg

Bad Habits Die Hard

I saw a tweet a while ago that summarised something that’s been on my mind for quite some time.

20130323-112637.jpg

One of the most important aspects of being a parent is being a good role model. God, I’m sure there will be a million times when I’ll want to tell the girls “Do as I say, not as I do”, but the bottom line is that the way we behave has a massive and direct influence on the way our children behave. They will copy our words, our actions and our opinions – at least until they are old enough to question these themselves, but it will take a big outside influence for them to do that.

So with that in mind, is the way I live my life the way I would like the girls to live theirs?

A bad habit is stupidly easy to pick up.

You’ve had a stressful day at work and you say to your wife that evening, “I know it’s only Wednesday, but shall we get a bottle of wine?”

It’s a slippery slope and before you know it, the two of you are polishing off a couple of glasses most nights of the week.

(This is pure conjecture, of course, it’s not like I’m writing from my own experience.)

Alcohol is probably our major vice. When either of us put on weight, it’s usually because we’re drinking more than usual. Other than that, we eat pretty healthily. Neither of us go out of our way to exercise these days, but we have in the past. I enjoy swimming, but it ends up being so costly. Running is free, but of course it’s either bloody cold or running the same route all the time gets boring. At the moment, I get out with the girls for a couple of hours most days and the act of pushing the buggy around has meant that I’m at the lowest weight I’ve been at in, well, years (if you discount the brief period at the beginning of my pregnancy when I pretty much threw up/couldn’t eat for about 6 weeks).

So it’s not like we lead particuarly unhealthy lives. But having said that, there are habits I (we) are trying to break so that we can be good role models for the girls.

As part of the concept of baby-led weaning, the girls are supposed to eat exactly what we eat. Firstly, this has affected what and how we cook to a greater degree than I thought it would considering I do think we are pretty healthy overall.

Babies aren’t supposed to have too much salt as their bodies aren’t equipped to process it. For that reason we have stopped putting salt in our cooking. Although we do usually cook most things from scratch, it does also mean we need to be careful with anything processed because of the often high salt content. When using stock pots (you know, those little jelly ones) I now use about half a pot in about twice as much water to minimise the salt content. (You can also get special baby stock cubes, which are pretty much flavourless, or low-salt stock pots, which we just haven’t tried yet.)

Like I said, we generally cook from scratch and eat pretty healthily, but whereas before we might have not bothered to cook any veg on the side of a shepherd’s pie, we now do every time. This was particularly important in the early days of BLW because the girls’ hands weren’t so great at getting the mince to their mouths, but a carrot baton or a floret of broccoli was something they could manage pretty easily.

So that’s mealtimes. We all eat better because of the girls.

But sweet things… Well, that’s certainly where I’m likely to come unstuck. I have a hugely sweet tooth and find it hard to end a meal without something sweet to finish it off. So far, the girls have (with one exception) only had natural sugar within fruit and veg.

(The exception was hot cross buns, which I thought would be a nice, one-off treat before Easter. And then L’s parents started bringing them round every time they came because it was a treat they were “allowed”. I was amazed how long Marks & Spencer’s continued to sell hot cross buns after Easter!)

I don’t want to ban any foods, because I think that attitude can end up having the opposite affect, but while the girls are so young they still have yet to try things like cake, chocolate and ice cream. We give them only water or milk to drink and don’t offer fruit as “dessert” after every meal in the hope that they won’t form the habit (like me) of needing something sweet.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped us from having sweet treats – chocolate, biscuits, cakes… I really am not good at going without my sugary goodness. But as the girls do get older, we’re going to have to knock that pretty much on the head. The girls are already curious when they see us eating something and sooner or later we will no longer be able to distract them with a different type of food. If we want them to only have sugary foods every now and again then we are going to have to do the same ourselves.

 

%d bloggers like this: