Has It Finally Got Easier?

Back when the twiglets were babies, whenever I met a mum with older twins, one of the main questions I’d end up asking was β€˜when will it get easier?’ Always spoken with a slight undertone of crazed desperation, meaning β€˜please tell me it gets f**king easier, please, PLEASE!” 🀣 The other day, as I got the twiglets out of the car and they walked, both sensibly holding my hands, into their playgroup, it suddenly struck me that maybe we were actually there – has it finally got easier?!
Now don’t get me wrong – it’s not easy, not by any means. We have plenty of sh*t days. H still has the most monumentally epic meltdowns, usually over very little, and has been super emotional recently. C is an absolute diva – knows what she wants, is extremely impatient to get it, will trample on anyone in her way (sometimes literally) and god help us all if she doesn’t get what she wants (which she frequently doesn’t because I’m a mean, horrible mummy 🀣) Strong-willed to the extreme. Both can be soooooo naughty – H in a bit of a silly-hyperactive-annoying-little-puppy kind of way, C often in a more calculating push-all-mummys-buttons-until-she-completely-loses-her-sh*t kind of way πŸ˜– And the times when both are at their naughtiest together… well let’s just say you’ll find me mainlining wine of an evening (erm, that’ll be every evening then πŸ™ˆπŸ€ͺ🀣) Since they turned three a couple of weeks ago, C has taken on her threenager role willingly, and seems to have a newly acquired attitude problem. She’s started answering back, defiantly refusing to do what she’s asked, telling me to go away etc. So that’s all thoroughly joyous. And don’t even get me started on potty-training H πŸ™ˆ
And yet… When I think back, to the hazy fog of the newborn days – the tears (them and me), the rollercoaster of emotions, the struggle to breastfeed and then to pump, the guilt, the endless pooey nappies, the extreme sleep deprivation, the crying, just the sheer overwhelmingness (?πŸ€”) of it all… And then a few weeks and months in – the reflux, the wind, the screaming when feeding, still the endless nappies – the relentless conveyor belt of feeding, burping, changing, rocking to sleep, sterilising bottles, washing clothes – over and over. As they got older, the challenges changed. Suddenly they were on the move so I needed eyes in the back of my head 🀣 I’ve said this before but for me, nothing was quite as tough as the newborn period, yet still I’ve always found parenting twins hard. That’s probably an obvious thing to say, and I’m also aware I’m probably sounding very negative here, and I don’t mean to – I love being a mum, even more so being a twin mum and I wouldn’t change a thing (although children who sleep might have been nice 😁) But it’s ok to admit it’s bloody hard, right? Even a few months ago, every outing was so stressful and anxiety-ridden because of H having no sense of danger and just wanting to bolt at every opportunity.
So being able to walk calmly across that car park holding the twiglets’ hands and chatting to them, without stressing, really did make me stop and think. No more lugging two heavy car seats at once, or wearing one baby in a carrier and carrying the other on my hip, or having to get the tank (aka buggy) out just for a 30-second walk from the car as it was the only way to do it safely, or trying to walk them both and instantly regretting it as they tried to do a runner in separate directions in a busy car park… In a way I miss all those times as it signifies how much they’ve now grown up and matured, but I can’t help but appreciate the ease of things like a simple car transfer now.
So yes I still have sh*t days where I feel lonely and down and like I can’t cope, yes I still need to have a rant sometimes when they’ve driven me to the edge, yes the tantrums are something else and the challenges have just changed as they’ve got older… But even still, I think I can finally say that overall, parenting twins has got that little bit easier at age 3 😊
(*Disclaimer: I reserve the right to fully revoke all of this if they’re being absolute turdmonkeys tomorrow πŸ˜‰)

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How Do You Know If What You’re Feeling Is Normal?

This is a question I’ve been asking myself basically since the day the twiglets were born. I felt utterly and completely overwhelmed in those first few weeks, even months, and constantly found myself wondering β€˜is this normal?’ In the very early days, when we first brought our tiny bundles home, the midwives and health visitor were keeping a very close eye on me as they were concerned about my emotional state. I talked in previous blog posts about how I was pretty traumatised by their birth, and the problem with this is that you have no time whatsoever to make sense of it and come to terms with it – you’re immediately thrust into the toughest job of your life, with more responsibility than you’ve ever dealt with before. Not to mention the fact that my undercarriage was in tatters, I was desperately and futilely attempting to produce milk and get even one baby to stay on a tit for longer than five seconds, and I was a ball of raging hormones. When you put it like that, then maybe the fact that I could barely get a sentence out without bursting into tears was normal – I still don’t know and I don’t think I ever will…
Recently I have found myself asking this same question again… Is what I’m feeling normal? And yet again, I just don’t know. I know that I’ve not been feeling quite like myself, which is about the vaguest way of putting it, but it’s a feeling that’s so hard to describe… just feeling β€˜not quite right’ but when you can’t put your finger on exactly what’s wrong. I do know that I feel very very tired and I wonder if that’s the whole crux of it. I’m not sure if the exhaustion has got worse or if I’ve just begun to notice it more because I’ve actually been getting more decent nights lately so would expect to be feeling more awake and alert! As it is, sometimes I get overcome by a wave of exhaustion which makes me feel achy all over and, if we’re out walking or something, almost dizzy. If we’re at home, I sometimes can’t help but to just go to sleep for a bit – obviously knowing the twigs are safely contained in the living room, watching tv or something. But it’s not exactly ideal to say the least and just seems more extreme than ever, especially considering there was a time when I used to be up about 20 times in the night with them and don’t remember feeling quite like this then. I wonder if there may be a physical reason such as low iron or B12, as I’ve had problems with these in the past… πŸ€”
As well as having these waves of exhaustion, I’ve been feeling like my patience is at an all-time low and I’m on such a short fuse. Again, is this just normal? Two-year old twins would test anyone’s patience and can be incredibly frustrating. Now that they don’t always nap, it definitely feels very relentless which I know I’m struggling with, despite them being at nursery for two days a week. I feel like I’m just not being anything like the parent I want to be. I believe in gentle parenting and talking to children at their level etc, yet I find myself constantly snapping and shouting and even losing my temper so much more than I feel I should, and I just can’t seem to control it. It scares me how angry I sometimes feel – like I know in my heart of hearts I would never do anything to hurt them but nevertheless it does genuinely scare me when I feel that loss of control over my emotions. And it seems so ridiculous – like, they’re two for Christ’s sake, I mean what can they really be doing that’s so bad?? But, as I’m sure any parent of a toddler or two will know, these tiny humans can be unbelievably astute at knowing which buttons to press and will do so tirelessly just for sh*ts and gigs 😭 Getting angry is inevitably followed by massive guilt, often tears and just feeling really low and crap. But then there are times when the twiglets are behaving nicely, or being sweet to each other or to me, or they say something really lovely, and I just feel overwhelmed by love for them, really happy and so aware of how lucky I am. It just feels a bit at the moment that there’s no real middle ground – it’s like one extreme or the other. I know that it’s pretty normal for parenting to feel up and down but to what extent?
Anyway, I keep wondering whether I should maybe talk to someone, you know, professional and shiz, like a GP. But I’m torn. On one hand I worry they’ll just laugh me out the room and call me a timewaster for whinging that I’m tired when I have two-year old twins πŸ™ˆ (I do know that’s not quuuite what would happen πŸ™ŠπŸ€£) And on the other, I worry that if I start admitting I’m struggling, someone will see through me and realise I’m a fraud and not actually capable of looking after my bubbas and, like, take them away or something (I’m fully aware of how silly that also sounds πŸ™ˆ) So I think I will start by taking some vitamin supplements and see if that makes any difference – hopefully there’s a simple explanation like a vitamin deficiency, or maybe it’s just a random period of feeling down, or maybe it’s just a normal way to feel when you have two little ones going through a challenging stage of development and you’ve been sleep-deprived for nearly three years… Who the hell knows? I guess only time will tell. As always when I start opening up about any struggles or problems I might have, I feel horrendously guilty for moaning when there are so so many people out there, other mums I follow on Instagram etc, who are going through real shitty shit stuff in their lives right now. So it feels ridiculous and quite self-indulgent for me to be whinging that I feel tired and a bit weird πŸ™ˆ But I always remind myself that if everyone thought like that, no-one would ever talk about their feelings and therefore be able to deal with them, as there’s always going to be someone going through something worse. Whatever the reasons, our feelings are all important and valid (that’s what I tell myself when I’m being a whiny cow anyway πŸ™ˆπŸ€£) So, do let me know if you’ve had a similar experience and what, if anything, helped – I’d love to hear from you 😊

My Birth Story – Part 2 – Delivery

So… My waters had broken (I think just those of Twin 1 – Henry πŸ€”) There was meconium in the waters so they monitored his heart rate closely. I had two big bands across my bump connected to a machine which was constantly churning out a printout of their heart rates. A lot of that morning is a bit of a blur really but I remember walking up and down the corridor a lot and having an internal examination to check my cervix which was about the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. I was transferred down the corridor to a delivery room where I met my midwife Susan – the most beautiful, amazing gem of a woman, who was 33 weeks pregnant herself but hopped about like a sprightly gazelle, speaking in soft, lilting Irish tones. I was hooked up to an internal heart monitor – I think to ensure they were getting an accurate reading of each twin’s heartbeat – this involved an electrode being inserted and placed on Twin 1’s scalp. I really can’t remember the timings of everything at all but I also had an epidural at some point. I’d always known I would be having an epidural as the consultant strongly advised it when we discussed having a natural delivery. I was on the gas and air but I think I must be about the only person who hated it! I really disliked the lightheaded feeling it gave me so I didn’t use it properly. It was so difficult to stay still while they administered the epidural, especially during contractions. Anyway that was fine and I think at some point in the afternoon I slept for a while but again, I can’t remember when. I wasn’t allowed any food due to the high risk of needing a C-section but I ended up pleading (I am not a nice person when I get hangry!) and was eventually given a tiny, slightly manky banana to keep me going πŸ˜‚

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Eventually the lovely midwife said it was time to start pushing. It is the weirdest feeling ever trying to push when you have no idea what it should feel like as you’ve never done it before, but then you can’t feel anything anyway because everything’s numb. I remember I kept asking over and over β€˜Is this ok? Am I doing it?’ as I literally had no idea. I couldn’t feel the contractions so it was a case of watching the machine and pushing as hard as I could every time the spiky things went crazy. I had no idea (and still don’t) whether I pooed myself or not – if I did it was obviously handled very discreetly πŸ˜‚ Before the pushing started, I was so anxious that it might happen but once I was β€˜in the zone’ I couldn’t have cared less. It was almost like the start of the maternal instincts kicking in – at that point, the babies were more important than anything else and I just wanted to do everything possible to push them out. I also didn’t give a crap about the fact that I had my legs up in stirrups with everything out for all to see – and I had a lot of visitors popping in and out to check on my progress (not like family and friends – I mean medical people! Ha can you imagine?! πŸ˜‚)
Unfortunately it became apparent that it wasn’t really happening. I pushed with all my might for two solid hours. I didn’t register feeling tired or anything (despite being fuelled solely by that one manky banana) – some kind of crazed determination had taken hold I think. It wasn’t having twins that was the problem – it was the fact that Twin 1 (Henry), although only on the 50th centile for weight, was on the 98th for head circumference (obviously we only knew the specifics after he was born – however, at one of our growth scans previously, they had called in a consultant as they were concerned that his head was measuring so big. They decided it was fine but it was quite amusing when the sonographer looked Rob up and down then said β€˜yeah I think it’s probably inherited’ πŸ˜‚). Anyway that kid has a lot to answer for as he’s basically singleheadedly responsible for the destruction of my undercarriage 😭 But more on that later (ooh I bet you can’t wait πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚)
Back to it… As soon as a consultant became available, I was transferred to theatre to have some assistance with pushing, in the form of a ventouse. The theatre was in stark contrast to the delivery room, which was almost friendly by comparison. Everything was glaringly white and clinical, and instead of my one lovely midwife, I suddenly had about 15 people around me. They gave me some sort of f**k-off super-strength epidural which made me extremely woozy (my memories are very hazy too) – I remember the guy spraying cold water on me to check that I couldn’t feel it. The pushing began again and I was vaguely aware that the consultant lady was doing stuff down there (otherwise known as an episiotomy). I’m sure I remember seeing Rob’s face at one point and his expression was pretty much pure horror πŸ˜‚ Birth for us was certainly pretty far from the beautiful, magical moment you dream of πŸ™ˆ Rob later informed me it looked like a car crash scene πŸ™ˆ Eventually Henry Arthur was born/yanked out at 7.20pm (Friday 3rd July 2015) weighing 7lb7oz. They held him up to show me but all I remember is feeling quite horrified at the amount of blood and just feeling really out of it. It makes me so sad to think about it now. I didn’t even get to hold him as he was whisked off and I had to focus my attention on getting my next bubba out. I do remember breathing a big sigh of relief when I heard him cry from the other side of the room.
So I was lying there on a table in the middle of this theatre with basically a crowd of people around me. My amazing midwife was still there – she stayed by my side encouraging me through the whole thing. Someone was holding tight around my stomach to ensure that Twin 2 didn’t start having a party because of all the space she suddenly had and turn the wrong way. Anyway I started to push again and at 7.33 pm Cora Ann was born, weighing 5lb9oz. I did get to hold her briefly but then she was also taken off so that I could get stitched up. I think it was around then, once the babies had been cleaned, weighed and wrapped up, that they were put into a clear plastic cot and wheeled out with Rob. My midwife also said goodbye and told me that her shift had actually ended quite a while ago but that she couldn’t leave without knowing the babies were born safe and seeing them, which even in my semi-conscious state, I remember feeling so so touched by 😭😭 I felt properly out of it by this point – a mixture of exhaustion, relief and being absolutely off my tits on all the drugs. I remember feeling very sick while the consultant was doing the stitching and actually having to puke but having nothing in my stomach so it was just gross bile stuff 🀒 Anyway, after what seemed like forever, she was done and left the room and I think I probably fell asleep or something, presumably not for long. All I remember is coming round and being aware of all the people in the room starting to flap (probably an unfortunate choice of word!πŸ˜‚) and hearing the word ‘haemorrhage ‘ and feeling really quite scared. It turned out that my stitches had suddenly come apart and I was losing a lot of blood. Another consultant came in and restitched me and I was eventually reunited with Rob and the babies and moved into the High Dependency Unit.

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I don’t remember a lot about that first night at all – I was out of it and so were the babies. I do remember a male nurse milking me like a cow during the night as I struggled to hand express – what a picture πŸ™ˆ Anyway I was in hospital for five days (lucky enough to be in a private room which was fab) and during that time I ended up having a blood transfusion due to the amount of blood I lost during the birth. This made me feel a lot stronger, as for the first couple of days I was gradually turning greyer (my skin not my hair – that came later! 🀣) Being so weak didn’t help with the difficulties I had trying to breastfeed (I’ve already written a post about that so won’t go off on one again πŸ™ˆπŸ˜‚) Anyway as I said it’s all rather blurry in my memory but I know I was extremely emotional and overwhelmed and relieved and terrified and guilty and overjoyed and probably a whole host of other things too. I definitely remember being gripped by a feeling of utter terror when we were finally discharged to go home – how were we going to cope looking after two tiny creatures who were entirely dependent on us yet we had no clue what we were doing? How would I manage without having a midwife come running at the touch of a button? The weight of responsibility was huge but looking at those tiny, innocent little faces, I knew we had everything we’d always wanted and somehow we’d make it work.

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(Me and Cora 😍 I don’t have a photo of me with both of them 😭)

IMG_0672.JPG(My beautiful babies 😍)

Breastfeeding – when it all goes t*ts up

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So last week I had a lady imply to me that the reason my twins got chicken pox was because I didn’t breastfeed them… I’ll be honest, it hurt. I don’t really believe it but it still hurt.

Before I go on, I am not disputing that breastfeeding gives babies antibodies etc etc and I genuinely take my hat off to anyone who breastfeeds their babies, particularly mums of multiples – actually don’t know how you do it, just amazing! Equally I have no problem with anyone who bottlefeeds – it’s what I did. This post is NOT a breastfeeding vs bottlefeeding debate in any way – I am very much of the ‘each to their own’ mindset and think everyone should just be allowed to get on with doing things their way for their own children.
BUT… I did object to the insensitivity of the comment and I genuinely think it was borne out of ignorance. I am always seeing phrases like ‘if you choose to bottle-feed’ or ‘it’s your choice how you feed your baby’ etc. Plenty of women choose not to breastfeed and that’s fine – having experienced it now I can totally understand it. For me though, I don’t really feel I had a choice. In a nutshell, I really really wanted to breastfeed but just couldn’t f**king do it. And I was devastated. I’ve spoken to a lot of mums of both singletons and twins who felt the same. Yet somehow it still seems to be divided into the two camps – those who breastfeed and those who choose not to. And no-one seems to really realise about the third camp who feel they had no choice.
I’m going to tell the story of my breastfeeding journey (it was a short journey, barely left the bastard station πŸ™ˆ) When I was pregnant, I always knew I wanted to breastfeed. I went to an NHS antenatal class run by militant breastfeeding Nazi midwives who basically said your child would die if you didn’t breastfeed them (ok not quite πŸ™Š) But they also said a lot of things like ‘your body knows what to do’, ‘your body is capable of producing enough milk, even for twins,’ ‘the baby’s instincts will tell it what to do’ etc. I left thinking yes it was going to be easy and I’d perfect the rugby ball hold with a twin on each boob in no time. Oh how naive. WHY can’t they be bloody realistic and warn you that actually sometimes your body doesn’t know what the f**k to do, it doesn’t produce enough milk, it BLOODY HURTS, some babies don’t/can’t/won’t latch properly and you’ll more than likely end up with bleeding nipples on at least one occasion, never mind the fact that you’ll probably be in a sh*t load of pain from the traumatic birth which was also supposed to be beautiful and easy, overwhelmed by the fear and responsibility of having a small life or two suddenly depending on you and crying hormonally every two minutes when you don’t even know why. But they don’t tell you any of that! I honestly wish I had been better prepared mentally for just how hard it could be. I know it’s not the same for everyone and some are lucky in that it does come naturally and quite easily, but for me and probably many others, there just seemed to be so many factors working against me. I was a wreck after the birth – my episiotomy was buggered, I had a blood transfusion a few days after having the twins, I was in total shock and utterly overwhelmed. Feeding didn’t feel natural – if I’m honest I was such a mess I definitely don’t think I bonded with them straightaway. Cora didn’t seem able/willing to latch at all so we concentrated on trying to get Henry feeding – I had just about every midwife/breastfeeding person in the hospital try to help me but he still kept coming on and off and I didn’t feel like he was really getting anything from me. I kept trying and was also painstakingly hand-expressing drops of colostrum to feed them in syringes but eventually there was blood in H’s nappy from dehydration so I was forced into giving them bottles (we’d been cup or syringe feeding up to this point). I was so upset and already felt like I’d failed. To be quite honest, for me, trying to breastfeed was one huge trauma – I never expected I would be quite as emotional about it as I was. Looking back I kind of wish I’d just accepted then that it wasn’t going to happen and moved on but I didn’t. I decided to pump and keep trying with the feeding. When we went home, I was absolutely terrified and there was so so much to think about – I had been so naive thinking that I’d be bfing them both that I had nothing ready for bottle-feeding so we had to buy bottles, a steriliser, formula etc and learn how to use it all. It all felt so overwhelming that I didn’t really realise that I needed to start expressing straightaway. Although I didn’t have a feeling of my milk ‘coming in’ I guess maybe it did because I got engorged which was sooo painful – my boobs were like actual rocks and just agony, I didn’t know how to use the pump, I didn’t know if I should when they were like that. In desperation I spoke to a ‘La Leche League’ woman on the phone at like 2am and she basically said ‘why are you pumping, just feed them’ which was really unhelpful at that point and did not make me feel any better. Anyway with cabbage leaves and hand expressing in a hot shower I eventually sorted it out but I never got on with pumping – don’t know if I wasn’t doing it right or what but I barely made any milk and my nips were sore and bleeding. Plus it was HARD. The babies were feeding every three hours through the day and night (formula with a tiny top-up of my milk at some feeds), with each feed taking about an hour. I was trying to express every three hours as well which took ages, so I would snatch maybe twenty minutes sleep in between before the cycle started again. Not to mention my stitches had come apart again and they couldn’t stitch me back up this time so I was in a lot of pain and healing very slowly. I was barely even finding time to try either of them on the boob and once my OH went back to work, I could barely find the time to express either. I saw a breastfeeding support worker who advised me to try nipple shields but my nipples were so sore that I screamed in pain when Cora latched on. That was the point where I thought ‘enough’s enough’ – I couldn’t cope with any more. I’d expressed for three weeks but was barely making any milk and just making myself miserable – it was all too much. So the pump was banished and we bottle-fed them fully from then on. I’d like to say I was much happier after but then the guilt was unbearable. I was so upset and felt like a total failure. Looking back, I probably should have sought more help really – I was still very traumatised from the birth as well. I’m aware this is sounding so so negative πŸ™ˆ But it’s genuinely how I remember the very beginning – I don’t really look back on that time very positively, which again makes me feel even more guilty about it all (motherhood is one neverending guilt trip right? 😏) Of course there were so many lovely and amazing moments in amongst all the crap which I haven’t mentioned in this post because I just really wanted to be honest in talking about my feeding experience and how I felt about it all which for me unfortunately wasn’t the most positive πŸ™Š
But anyway getting back to my original point – that is why I don’t really feel I had much of a choice when it came to not breastfeeding. Even now I feel a pang of jealousy/guilt/sadness when I see a woman breastfeeding, and I know I should really have got over it by now – they’re nearly two! πŸ™ˆ But I think more people need to understand that it can be such a sensitive subject and just think before they make offhand comments about women who haven’t breastfed – whether they chose not to or just simply couldn’t do it for whatever reason, you never know what feelings they might be hiding.