Tag Archive for babies

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.)

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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.

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42 Days of Summer

The six week summer holiday is at an end. L goes back to work tomorrow and our time as a family of four goes back to being only evenings and weekends – at least until the end of October.

I started the summer holidays with two just-turned-one-year-olds and finish it with two toddlers heading towards 14 months old. Well, I say toddlers. Maybe one toddler and one cruiser-who-still-refuses-to-let-go-of-the-furniture-or-someone’s-hands (although she did stand unsupported and take two small steps on Wednesday – go Claudie!) is more accurate.

We have really enjoyed our weeks together and – unlike last summer holidays, when we were just grateful to survive – we have been out and about and had lots of fun together.

Let Claudia and Imogen be your guides…

We went to the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill and checked out the aquarium:

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We went on holiday to Swanage with our mummies and our Grandma and Grandad.  We played on the beach and went on a real steam train!

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Our mummies had a date for their second anniversary (we weren’t invited!):

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We went to Godstone Farm and played in the sandpit:

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We had our jabs and spent some of our birthday money to make us feel better.  We had fun playing in the garden:

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 We visited our friends and had some playdates here too:

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We visited our Great Nana in Deal and tried out the Walmer paddling pool:

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We visited our Great Granny in Trowbridge and saw lots of family we haven’t seen in ages – including our cousins!

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We have had a wonderful 6 weeks with our beautiful, amazing babies.  They have come on leaps and bounds and can do so much.  They are a constant source of amusement and entertainment.  It’s just so much fun being together.

Roll on half term!

In and Out

Today Claudia and Imogen are thirty-eight weeks and two days old.  This means that, as I gave birth at thirty-eight weeks and one day pregnant, they have officially been “out” longer than they were “in” (if you discount the fact that they are IVF babies and so technically spent 5 days “out” and sitting in a petri dish, during the time I was pregnant – even though technically they hadn’t implanted yet, so at the time we didn’t know whether or not I would be pregnant) (pregnancy is weird).

Imogen is properly on the move.  She commando crawls all over the place.  Nothing is safe.  Our lives have become a chorus of “Imogen! Don’t touch that!”

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Claudie can sort of commando crawl, but she mostly goes backwards.  She is happy to just sit and play, whereas Immie cannot stay in one place no matter what happens.

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They have really enjoyed having their other mummy home for the Easter holidays.  None of us are looking forward to Monday, when L has to go back to work.

They are starting to really notice when we are there and when we aren’t.  Nine months is prime time for the first phase of separation anxiety (when a baby doesn’t like to be separated from their parent/primary caregiver) and we are already noticing how they are getting more cautious around other people and don’t like it if we leave the room.

Their personalities are becoming more and more apparent, and we like to talk about what they will be like when they are older.

I don’t really know how to finish this post.  Because some things can’t remain unsaid – no matter how much you would like them to.  But the cloud that has been hovering over my head for the last three or four weeks – the one I haven’t mentioned up until now – really doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.  And I went to see my GP this week.

I think I might be depressed.

Her Day

I could wax lyrical for paragraph after paragraph about how wonderful it is to be spending my first Mothers’ Day as a mummy.

But I don’t want to do that.

Instead, I want to take a moment to appreciate the best mummy I know: my wonderful wife.

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She (half) jokingly tells me all the time how lucky I am to have her and she doesn’t mean just as a wife, although obviously I am incredibly lucky to be married to her, but instead she means as half of our parenting team. And she’s right. I don’t know if it is because she is a woman or if it is just by virtue of being, wonderfully, her, but I know how fortunate I am when I hear my other friends with small babies talk about their own husbands and boyfriends.IMG_2505

I guess there is an element of the fact that we have two babies to look after instead of one, but she has never considered not getting up in the night and leaving it all to me. Whereas other “dads” have resumed their weekend golf days and nights out, my wonderful wife would never dream of missing out on time spent with the babies unless it was a break we were both being given together. My friends talk about how their partners can’t settle their babies and just seem to make them scream louder, whereas L seems to often have a more calming effect than I do – although of course the one area I do still trump her is that I have the “magic boobs”.

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She hates having to spend so much time away from us all. She calls herself the Strange Lady, saying how she only appears in the mornings and the evenings; she says the girls wonder who this strange lady is who only shows up twice a day. She jokes, but she worries that they don’t know her. She is reassured when a grandparent hands her back a squalling baby and she manages to settle them. Because of course they know her – they love her, it’s obvious.

I love the way the girls’ faces light up when she walks through the door. Whether she’s been out at work all day or is just coming back from the toilet, their little faces break out into wide grins and their eyes go straight to her.

I send her pictures and updates throughout the day. I tell her what we’re up to and send her messages from Claudia or Imogen explaining how the day is going and I know she checks her phone constantly – even sometimes when she shouldn’t – because she’s so eager to find out what we are doing or see another beautiful photo of her daughters.IMG_2559

She likes to remind me that I didn’t change a nappy for the first two weeks of the girls’ life. This is an outrageous lie! It was about four days and it was because after the birth I couldn’t get out of bed without it taking about five minutes or without help.

The birth was traumatic – probably more for her than for me – but she was amazing. As the midwife told the doctor she couldn’t stop the bleed, as I went pale and started throwing up, as the doctor called out for code red and the room flooded with people, as she thought she might lose the person in her life she loved the most (besides the two brand new babies who lay in a cot across the room), she just gripped my hand and told me to stay awake.

And then after, when I couldn’t get out of bed or walk across the room to pick up my crying babies, she was so attentive. Day and night she was there to hand me my daughters so that I could feed them. She changed their nappies and dressed them and swayed back and forth with them. All the things I couldn’t do. All I could do in those early days was feed them and everything else fell to her. Even once we were home, I was still on crutches and she still made sure I had everything I needed. She would hold a glass of water under my nose, with a straw sticking out, so I could have a drink whilst I fed the babies. She made sure I had enough to eat and prepared bottles and fed them when I was too exhausted.IMG_2600

So whilst I might argue that it certainly wasn’t two whole weeks that she changed every nappy for, I can’t fault the wonderful care she took of me and our daughters in those early days. And it’s never really stopped.

She misses us all so much when she’s at work and we miss her. When we worked out our finances and realised it made no sense for me to return to work permanently, she didn’t get annoyed that she has to work whilst I get to stay at home. Instead, she was pleased, happy that the girls would have a parent at home with them, instead of a childcare provider.

In the morning, she gets Immie up and changes her nappy. These days Immie often sleeps on her tummy and when her mummy goes in to see her, she lifts herself up on her arms and flaps her little legs inside her sleeping bag like a baby seal, giving her mummy a big beaming grin that says good morning. Some mornings at the weekend, I will go in to Immie instead, and L will snatch a couple of precious minutes with Claudia, who is sleeping in our bed pretty much full time at the moment. As she wakes she does the biggest stretches.IMG_1640

In the evening, L gives Claudie her bath. Now they are bigger we bath them together, but we still always bath the same baby. She splashes and shrieks with delight. She doesn’t mind getting water in her face, she just splashes away, soaking her mummies and her twin too.

If Immie wakes in the night, L goes in to her. IMG_3024 She gives her a bottle and they have a cuddle. Sometimes she sleeps right through and the next day L tells her that it’s okay to wake up, that she likes seeing her in the night for cuddles. She likes having Claudia in our bed too. She likes being able to look over at the two of us curled up together. She likes to kiss her bald head, which is rapidly becoming less and less bald.

She sings to the girls. Silly songs about poos and wees but they love it. She shakes her hair at them and they giggle and reach out and grab it.

She is so good to all three of us. We all light up when she walks in through the door in the evenings. I don’t know if my wife knows how truly amazing she really is and how much I really truly love her and what a totally brilliant mummy she is.

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I hope she knows now.

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Fragility

Before the twins were born I knew they were safe and snug in my belly. I loved feeling them wriggle and kick (although I preferred it when they weren’t aiming for my ribs or bladder). I was prepared once they were born to feel a bit bereft to no longer have them inside me, and to feel anxious that my body was no longer protecting them, as I had heard others say. However, I felt neither of those things. I was overjoyed to meet them and be able to hold them in my arms and I knew that L and I would do everything in our power to keep them safe.

Occasionally I would allow myself a glimpse of what it might feel like if tragedy struck and I knew I would be absolutely destroyed if something were to happen to either of them. But I wasn’t scared.

I was pretty sniffy about the SIDS advice. I didn’t think we would want them in our room until they were 6 months and I was happy for them to nap in their cots rather than in the same room as me as soon as I felt I was reading the tired cues correctly. I put Claudia to sleep on her tummy for a while because she seemed to hate being on her back, screamed if we swaddled her and had a strong Moro reflex that made lowering her into her bassinet on her back a real challenge.

I always felt that the two of them seemed just so robust and strong – even at the beginning when they were weighing barely 5lb – and it just seemed impossible that anything could happen to them. When Immie first started sleeping in her own room (Claudie was still in with me), L made me check her when we came up to bed, and we used to debate whether it was worth the risk of disturbing her. She was always fine, as I always said she would be.

I never felt anxious; I took everything in my stride. My babies were strong and tough; SIDS was what happened to other people. L says she would have abandoned BLW weeks ago because the babies’ gag reflex freaks her out so much and she worries they are choking, but my calm and confident attitude to it reassures her, and they do always manage to either swallow or spit out whatever they are struggling with. I’ve never (yet) had to deal with an actual choking situation, but have always trusted the babies to move the food around their own mouths – and it’s worked. Claudia would sometimes look so still sleeping in her buggy that I would have to poke her to check she was still breathing, but I never really worried and would send L jokey picture messages saying Claudie was playing dead again.

In early February, however, I heard news of two babies dying in their bed, within a week of one another. These weren’t tiny, helpless newborns, but strong and robust babies of 9 and 15 months. Their parents didn’t smoke, hadn’t been neglectful, just suffered from awful, terrible luck. Both babies were still being breastfed. Both babies spent a lot of time in their parents’ beds or being carried in a sling…

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I have to keep checking the girls now when they sleep. They’ve been taking longer naps, which I’m not complaining about, but it has made me anxious and I’ve had to check on them several times. Immie has also started sleeping on her side or tummy, which is less desirable than her sleeping on her back.  One morning Immie fell asleep on her side diagonally across the top of her cot, with her forehead pressed against the cot bumper and I checked her every twenty minutes or so for the whole two hours she was asleep because I was just so afraid. I have felt the need to check on her on my way to bed again, which we haven’t done in ages.

The other night the babies were with L’s parents and we were walking back from a really lovely curry when a car sped past us doing way over the speed limit. We both glanced at one another, shocked that someone would drive so recklessly through a residential area. My stomach lurched and I had a horrible vision of the car careening across the pavement and taking us both out. Obviously I have no desire to be killed by a speeding car anyway, but the realisation that such an event would leave the girls as orphans sent shivers down my spine and my stomach churning.

There is nothing like parenthood to make you appreciate the fragility of life; to feel so terrifyingly out of control and unable to guarantee the safety of your progeny. The thought that something might happen to us and leave the girls without their mums is unbelievably gut-wrenching, and the concept of something happening to one of them is almost unthinkable. It’s like having your skin peeled back, exposing nothing but nerve-endings, each one screaming in agony as another fearful thought brushes roughly past.

But these things happen. God, tragedy happens every day and not because people were neglectful or careless, but because sometimes bad shit happens.

And all I can do is hug my girls a little closer and try to be a little more vigilant and hope and pray that tragedy won’t strike us. And as I sit here, writing this, with Claudia’s slightly clammy head tucked under my chin and her arms draped sleepily over my body and her little heart beating over mine, I know that I’m one of the luckiest people alive and I cling on to every precious moment I get with my beautiful family – my three wonderful girls.

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And that, Mr Jones, is a warm and safe environment.

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