When You Can’t Protect Your Children From Other Influences

I remember vividly the first time the twiglets came home from nursery and started singing a song that I didn’t know. They were about 19/20 months and hadn’t been going there long – their speech was nothing like it is now, but they were clearly attempting to sing a song and I had no idea what it was. It was such a weird feeling hearing words come from their mouths that I knew for a fact had not been learned from us. That was the moment I realised that it was no longer just me and twin.papa.po (and our close family) who were responsible for shaping their little minds. Up to then, pretty much everything they’d experienced in their lives had been with one or both of us. We were trying to teach them right from wrong, trying to explain things in a way they could make sense of, trying to encourage them to be kind and caring towards others, above all trying to ensure they were happy. All obviously guided by our own views, opinions and experiences and how we wanted to parent our children. So that singing moment felt significant to me because it was when I had the realisation that other people, with different views, opinions and experiences to ours, were now really starting to influence our twiglets.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing. I actually think it’s good for children to have lots of different influences in their lives as it will hopefully help them to grow into well-rounded and tolerant individuals, understanding that everyone’s equal yet unique etc. The problem is, some of those influences are inevitably not going to be positive or desirable ones, and as much as we want to protect our kids from them, they need to experience these too. One example of a less than positive influence was something that happened when we were on holiday.
We were in a restaurant waiting for dinner and the twiglets were happily jumping on the bouncy castle there. We were sat very close by. A girl of about 4/5 and her older brother joined them and at first it looked very sweet – C and the girl seemed to be making friends and playing together. We soon realised however, that the girl was starting to be pretty bossy. We then heard her saying ‘I’m prettier than you’ to C 😱 Luckily C couldn’t have given a flying f**k but it made me so sad that she even experienced someone saying that to her – what a horrid thing to randomly say to another child! I did not want her internalising that and starting to believe it or even thinking it was ok and saying it to another child herself. We weren’t sure of the best thing to do – the girl was being a bit rough too, considering C was much smaller than her, although she is quite tough so wasn’t remotely bothered by that either 🤣 The brother did actually pick the girl up on her behaviour at one point and told her she was being too mean. The parents were on the next table and didn’t say anything – maybe they didn’t hear, maybe they didn’t care – I don’t know. Anyway the girl then ordered her brother and C to stand still by the edge while she ‘performed’ (H had come off for some juice because juice is life in his world 😂) C obliged and waited patiently but then when it was her ‘turn’ the girl gave her about 2 seconds to jump then told her to stop again. We were a bit p*ssed off by now so I was secretly quite proud of C, at two years old, for standing her ground against this much bigger girl and saying ‘no it’s my turn now, you need to stand there,’ pointing at the side 🙈🤣 The girl was not happy at being challenged 🤣 We stepped in at that point and told C it was time to come off for some juice and that her dinner would be ready soon. Being the non-confrontational buggers that we are, we didn’t say anything to the girl or her family, but we did explain quietly to C that the girl hadn’t been behaving very nicely or being very kind. And I guess that is what we as parents and carers can do. We may not be able to protect our kiddies from negative influences but what we can do is use those influences – to teach right and wrong and to reinforce our expectations of our children, in effect to show them what not to do I guess. (Back to the little holiday girl quickly… Interestingly, the next child to go on the bouncy castle was a bigger girl and the three of them were bouncing around quite boisterously together. Then the mum of the littler girl suddenly went storming up and shouted at the bigger girl for being too rough with her daughter! Twin.papa.po and I were looking incredulously at each other wanting to scream ‘POT, KETTLE!!’ The poor girl was basically hounded off and ran back over to her family in tears! In a way I wish I’d had the guts to say something but I know there would have been absolutely no point – the woman clearly would not have heard a word against her daughter and would probably have caused a huge scene 🙈 (Just a note here that although I’m being a bit flippant, I do try very hard not to ever judge others’ parenting as I know how damaging, unhelpful and often misguided that can be – in this instance it was hard not to but I’m mindful that I don’t know that family’s story – maybe there were reasons behind it, who knows ✌ )
Anyway that incident made me feel some trepidation at the thought of the twigs going to school next year and the fact that we won’t always be around to protect them from things like other kids being mean or even learning of things going on in the news when they get to that level of understanding. How on earth do you explain to young children some of the things happening in the world? I have no answers for that; I guess as with everything, we’ll wing it when the time comes. It’s just a bit sad that it’s already the end of that time in their early lives where we can keep them almost completely safe and protected in our own little family bubble, and maintain that lovely pure innocence they have. I suppose we just have to hope we can instil enough of a strong moral compass in them that they have the confidence to ignore negative influences and take their own path. And hopefully, we’ll get it kind of half right and that’s what they’ll do 😊

So What If You Don’t Stand Out?

One of the things that stops me blogging as often as I’d like (along with insufficient hours in the day, laziness and sleep deprivation to the point that I can’t actually formulate a coherent sentence – yes they’re 2 and a half, no they don’t sleep through 😬) is the fear that what I’m writing is nothing special. There are just so soooo many bloggers out there with something more interesting to say, or a better way of wording things or a cleverer writing style than me. I’m not saying that as one of those compliment-fishing things when you then want everyone to say ‘oh no you’re amazing’ etc etc – I just see it as a fact. The blogging market is positively saturated with talented writers, many of whom are charismatic or entertaining or hilarious or all three, or who lead a really interesting lifestyle, or who are experts in something they can dish out advice in – basically they have some sort of USP which makes them stand out and be unique. I, on the other hand, am a bit socially awkward (actually a lot but I’ve got better at hiding it 🤣). I’m not a trendy person – I don’t keep up with the latest fashions; in fact, most of my wardrobe is either threadbare crap that I’ve had since I was like sixteen or baggy shapeless entities bought post-babies to hide the mum tum. I certainly don’t have a glamorous, beautifully-styled Insta-friendly show-home – Instagram would recoil in horror at the sight of my spare room bursting with clutter or my poorly hoovered kitchen floor 🙈 I wouldn’t describe myself as especially funny or an amazing writer or an authority on any particular subject – at the moment, if I can name what day of the week it is, I’m impressed with myself 🙈 So on the face of it, I lead a pretty average sort of a life really 😊 Yes I have twins, but there are even squillions of amazing bloggers with those too! 😂 I would describe myself as normal. (I mean, with a bit of crazy thrown in, but everyone has that, deep down, right? 🤣)
So sometimes, when I go to write a blog post, I get caught up with feelings of not being good enough or interesting enough or funny enough etc… Most things I write, I feel like someone will either have already said it better or be about to say it better than me. So why am I bothering? To answer that, I have to remind myself why I started this blog in the first place. It wasn’t to stand out, or to get more followers, or to be the next big blogger (pahaha yeah right! 🤣) It was to give me an opportunity to express my feelings in a way that I enjoy and potentially to reach out to the odd mum who might possibly be able to relate, so that both of us would know we’re not alone in how we feel. And who cares if someone else has written about exactly the same topic or made exactly the same point? We’re all writing about parenting experiences so there’s bound to be overlap. And who even cares if they’ve made that point infinitely more eloquently and articulately than you could have done? Ultimately it doesn’t matter – we shouldn’t be in competition with anyone. Great if we agree; we can support each other. And who cares if you’re a normal (ish) person writing about a normal (ish) life? Other normal people leading normal lives will hopefully be able to relate, so surely it’s still worthwhile to write about. Every time I publish a post, I worry that it’s too boring or too rubbish, but then I get lovely comments from followers and readers expressing how much it resonated with them or how they could have written it themselves as it was so accurate. And considering I thought not even a single person would ever read my blog, even two or three comments like that are everything. So in conclusion, who cares if you don’t stand out? Write what you want to write, post what you want to post. Try not to compare to yourself to others or worry too much about what others are doing. Whatever you have to say is valuable because you’re saying it.
These are the things I’m going to keep reminding myself of every time that niggling self-doubt creeps in 😊

20171118_130112.jpg

My Birth Story – Part 1 – Labour

I had a traumatic birth. To many others, it probably won’t sound that bad and in truth I know it could have been a lot lot worse, but for me it was traumatic. I think afterwards, you’re so focused on the baby/babies (or in my case completely overwhelmed by them 🙈) that you just push the birth to the back of your mind and don’t really talk about it all that much. Also, when the outcome is basically amazing and you’ve been lucky enough to end up with healthy babies (especially for us, having twins who didn’t need time in the NICU or anything) you feel guilty and almost ashamed to admit just how much the birth affected you. I really do think that mine had a detrimental impact on how I bonded with the twiglets initially. I’m sharing this partly for my benefit as I want to write about it and think it will be helpful, but also to encourage anyone else to try not to feel guilty for admitting that their birth was traumatic and to also try to talk to someone properly about it if you can.
So anyway… my birth story (as much as I can remember – it’s all a bit hazy!) I was induced at 37+3 weeks pregnant. I… Was… Huge. I mean, a proper whale – could hardly move, pelvis was in agony, sharp pains down my leg from Henry resting on a nerve, feet so swollen they resembled Elephant Man – I could go on for probably a very long time. Don’t get me wrong, I loooved being pregnant (I might write a post about my pregnancy another time) but the last two weeks were pretty hellish. Twin 1 (Henry) had been engaged for a while and we were on for a natural birth as he was head down (the consultant said it didn’t matter if Twin 2 was head down as they’d ‘yank her out by a foot if need be’ 🤤)

IMG_0568

So I was admitted to a room on the antenatal ward on Thursday 2nd July 2015 and given a pessary to hopefully start things off. By the evening I was in early labour although I didn’t really realise it immediately- I just remember being really restless and uncomfortable and feeling the need to keep moving all the time – rocking around on a birth ball, swaying, getting onto all fours on the bed (not graceful when your bump is the size of China 😂)

PhotoGrid_1511975927789.jpg
Anyway fast forward a few hours and I was in quite a bit of pain – the worst part was the pain in my lower back which was constant and didn’t subside between contractions. I was allowed to have a bath on the birthing suite which was actually magical; I can totally see why people want to have water births – the pain-relieving power of warm water is mental. Having twins I’d accepted that things like that weren’t an option for me – I hadn’t even written a birth plan as I knew the likelihood was that it would be totally out of my control. I really wanted to experience labour and hopefully a natural delivery – however I was quite prepared that it might not be possible as most twins I think are born by C-section. I wouldn’t have had a problem with this but as it’s likely to be the only time I give birth, I just wanted to experience it if possible. Anyway, I stayed in that bath until I was a wrinkled prune and as soon as I eventually got out, the pain came flooding back. The one thing I’d been adamant about on my non-existent birth plan was that I didn’t want to have pethidine. So of course, I had pethidine 😂🙈 I think the reason for not wanting it was because it can cross over to the babies? I can’t quite remember but anyway the midwives/nurses assured me it would be far enough in advance to be out of my system so I had it to enable me to get some sleep as there was no way that was happening otherwise. I remember leaving it a bit late after I’d had it to go and brush my teeth, and feeling it kick in while I was still in the bathroom down the corridor. So I then staggered back down to my room feeling super dizzy and woozy which was kind of amusing.
Anyway I had a great sleep and woke up at 4.45am pissing myself 😂 Only it went on for a bit too long and didn’t seem to be stopping… I finally realised what was actually happening and got out of bed for it to continue on the floor 🙈

To be continued… 😊

Is it bad to need a break from your children sometimes?

So the other day I was reading a post on one of those Facebook parenting forums (jeez people don’t bite their tongues on those things do they?!) This particular one was written by a nursery worker who was bemoaning those ‘awful’ mums who choose to leave their children in a hellhole of snotty toddlers (aka nursery) even if they’re not working. It described how terrible it was that these mums would drop their poor kids off screaming and crying just so they could go off to Zumba or drink coffee or do the housework. I suddenly realised that I am one of those horrendous mothers they were talking about. I send my little twiglets off to nursery for two days a week and no I’m not working, yes I do go to a Zumba class and do the housework while they’re there and yes Cora does often cry when I drop her off in the mornings 💔 There were countless comments on the post from mothers who agreed, stating how much they love their children, or how wanted and longed for they were, maybe after a difficult journey to parenthood, infertility etc – so why on earth would they choose to be apart from them if they didn’t need to be? On the face of it, this made sense and I wondered if I must indeed be an awful mother for not choosing to spend every single possible minute with my, also much loved and long-awaited, babies?
The thing is, for me, when we made the decision back in January to put the twiglets in nursery for a couple of mornings a week, it was a turning point – mainly in terms of my mental state (without wanting to sound too dramatic!) As a side note, I feel I should just point out that I realise nursery isn’t a possibility for a lot of people so we are lucky to have the option to do it – this is actually only because my mum offered to cover the cost – we couldn’t really have afforded double childcare ourselves what with only one salary coming in. Anyway I digress… So we had a few reasons for sending the twigs to nursery. We felt that it would be really good for their development in a number of ways – social, language etc. Also, at that time they were going through a phase of major separation anxiety to the point that Cora would scream until she was sick if we tried to leave her with someone else. We don’t have a huge amount of family around so we felt it would be good for the twigs to become more familiar with being left with other people. Also, I could recognise my own shortcomings in terms of doing messy play/craft activities with them – or not as the case may be 🙈 Personally, I’m not hugely artistic or practical so the idea of painting with two toddlers was a bit of a source of stress for me – especially when one has the attention span of a gnat and would only be interested for 30 seconds then run around spreading paint everywhere, leaving you with 20 minutes worth of clearing up – like there wasn’t enough to do anyway 😭 At least sending them to nursery I know that they’ll do lots of messy sensory activities there which eases my guilt slightly. But probably the primary reason for them starting nursery was to give me a break. I know that sounds bad and don’t get me wrong, I love being at home with my bubbas and I do feel super lucky and privileged to be able to spend their early years with them – I know there are lots of mummies who would kill to give up their job and spend their time with their babies. If we hadn’t have had twins, making it not financially viable for me to go back to work, I’m quite sure I would have done without question. However, being at home with children all day every day is hard bloody work – harder than I could ever have imagined. I don’t think anything can quite prepare you for the sheer relentlessness of it – the fact that you’re always on duty and always in demand is both amazing and yet totally draining. Sometimes you just need some time to yourself – to be you, rather than ‘Mummy’ or ‘Daddy.’ I was certainly really feeling that it was too much and something had to give. It was also really starting to stress me out that I couldn’t keep on top of the housework – that sounds silly and unimportant I know. While I was on official maternity leave, I wasn’t too bothered about the state of the house as it all felt very temporary somehow – but once that time was over and I’d left my teaching job, it started to feel like the house was a complete shit-tip on a more long term basis. To be fair, it probably wasn’t that bad but you know when it’s just not really to your standards and it starts to get you down? It only seems to have got harder to keep up as they’ve got older, as I’ll be tidying something up somewhere but simultaneously the twiglets will be causing absolute carnage somewhere else! Not to mention that I’d feel guilty for just leaving them to play by themselves a lot so that I could get housework done.
So yes, I send my children to nursery when I don’t really ‘have’ to. It doesn’t mean I love or appreciate them any less – it means I find it hard sometimes and recognise that I need some time away – to do the housework, to run the errands that are a nightmare to do with twins in tow, and even to do something for myself, like an exercise class or a bath. I feel it helps me to be the best parent I can be to my twiglets – (slightly) more patient, more sane, happier and definitely more appreciative of the time I spend with them. Some people don’t feel they need that time apart and that’s great. We’re all different and we shouldn’t be judging others on their choices – the world would be very boring if we all raised our children in exactly the same way. I’ve spoken to other mums who feel judged for not sending their children to nursery so it seems you can’t really win whatever you do! Ultimately, the vast majority of us love our children to bits and are just trying to do what’s best for them in whatever way we can, and if anyone feels the need to voice their opinion on a Facebook group or otherwise, then f**k ‘em – ironically, they’re probably the ones with too much time on their hands! 🙊

  • DSC_6543

When every First is a Last

FB_IMG_1503699793762Ok so bear with me because I do have a point to make … (I think 😂) Previously, when the twiglets would wake from their nap, they would both desperately want to be carried downstairs as they were still a bit sleepy, wanted a bit of a cuddle etc. So rather than take one at a time and leave the other crying, I would carry them both down, one on each hip, and everyone was happy (for a whole five minutes anyway 🙊😂) The other day, I suddenly realised that I couldn’t remember the last time I’d carried them both down the stairs. One maybe, but not both. I’m not sure that I could safely do it now, given the weight and size of them. Just a silly little part of our daily routine but the fact that I hadn’t even realised that it had ended got me thinking about all those ‘lasts’ and how you just don’t always know when that last time will be. The thing is, for us, as we won’t be having any more children, (almost definitely not, at least), every last really is a last.
Recently I’ve seen a few posts in which people have talked about feeling sad as their last child achieves milestones as they know it will be the last time they see a child of theirs do these things. This has made me feel a bit more justified in how I feel about every milestone the twiglets reach; happy, excited and heart-achingly proud, but each one tinged with a hint of sadness. I think that when you have twins or multiples or one child but you know you’re not having any more, this ‘last-child syndrome’ is heightened because every first is a last as well. For example, both the twiglets hit three months (at the same time – funny that 😂) and bang! That was it – I’d never have a newborn again. When they turned into toddlers, that was it – no more babies. I remember a friend I used to teach with being an absolute sobbing wreck on her twins’ last day at primary school and at the time I couldn’t understand how it could be quite that upsetting. She tried to explain that it was because she didn’t have another child coming up through the school after, to soften the blow by allowing her to experience it again in a few years – that was it. This was pre-twiglets so at the time I just couldn’t relate at all – now however, I totally get where she was coming from and am quite sure that I will be exactly the same when the time comes.
The reason I mentioned feeling ‘justified’ in how I feel about these bittersweet first-lasts is that I worry I could come across as ungrateful, moaning about being sad when milestones are reached. This is so not the case. I feel so so lucky to have two beautiful, amazing children; I love being a twin mama and, despite the amount of whinging I do, I actually wouldn’t change it for the world – it’s so amazing and special to experience double of everything at once (though hard work of course!🙊) But I like to be honest and share my true deep-down feelings and I know that there are lots of other mamas who probably feel the same way. I think for me, it’s heightened at the moment because it seems everyone is popping out newborns left, right and centre and I’m SO broody at times (that is, until I actually think back to the reality of those early days 😂) But our little family unit feels pretty complete and pretty flipping perfect really 😊😍 So I will just deal with the extra bit of emotion at each birthday and each ‘first-last’ and try to just focus on celebrating all the fabulous new things the twiglets are learning to do (and get my newborn fix from cuddling other people’s babies 😊😂)

Camping with toddlers at a festival – what we learned…

IMG_5648If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that we spent last weekend at Camp Bestival in Dorset. You’ll know because I’ve been banging on endlessly about it and spamming non-stop with photos 🙊 Now, I’m quite aware that the photos I’ve posted make it look like we had THE most amazing experience… However, this is an example of one of those times when the reality is quite different to the carefully selected Instagram snapshots 🙈 Now before I continue, I’d just like to say that the actual festival really was absolutely amazing – well-organised, awesome line-up and totally aimed at families and children. And as I said on one of my posts, there were lots of fabulous, happy moments in which we really felt we were making special memories with our little twiglets. It’s just that I’ve read so many posts by other mums, bloggers etc saying ‘Oh it was so amazing – we loved every minute!’ I actually want to take them to one side and say ‘what, EVERY minute?! Really?!’ But they are the sort of mums who, unlike me, seem to totally have their sh*t together and everything firmly under control – you know the ones who can actually use the hashtag #parentingtheshitoutoflife in a non-sarcastic way. They can make me feel a bit inadequate if I’m quite honest 🙈 For example, I can’t imagine overhearing one of them losing their sh*t in a tent because they JUST WANT TO F**KING GET READY so they can go and have a desperately-needed wee in a disgusting Portaloo but their husband is fannying about outside with a tiny stove and their children are repeatedly grabbing hold of one thing after another that they’re not allowed while simultaneously beating the crap out of each other 😖 I can’t imagine seeing them struggling up a massive hill to their car which is parked about as far away as humanly possible while carrying a stupid number of heavy bags of camping equipment and attempting to push a buggy that’s wheels barely even turn because of all the mud caked on them. I can’t imagine their children being grumpy little turds for no reason whatsoever or having almighty public meltdowns to the extent that you actually start to wonder if there is something seriously wrong with them and if you’re going to have to end up taking an emergency trip to A and E, only to have them suddenly snap out of it two minutes later and act like nothing happened… 😡🤔🙄

Aaanyway, I’m writing this post for anyone who, like me, is an inexperienced camper who’s thinking of taking a toddler or two to a festival. I’ve compiled a list of things we wish we had known, in the hope that it might help others of you to behave more like those ‘got-their-shit-together’ parents than we did 😉

Disclaimer: Some of these things may just be common sense but if, also like me, you are somewhat lacking in that department, then hopefully they’ll be useful anyway 😂

1. Do the biggest, most dramatic mo fo of a sun dance before you go:☀️

The worst thing for us was the sheer amount of torrential rain and wind that occurred over the weekend – hours and hours of it. At first you think ‘oh it’s fine, all part of the festival atmosphere’ and try to be very British and make the best of it, but after a good few hours of it, when you’re all freezing and the toddlers are getting very grumpy at having to stay in the buggy with the raincovers on, it starts to wear rather thin. And there is nothing more soul-destroying than getting into nice clean clothes or even PJs after having been soaked through to your actual bones, then realising you need a wee and are going to have to go out and get drenched all over again trekking to a toilet 😖
2. Think about kiddy mode of transportation: 🛒 (yes I know that’s a supermarket trolley – closest I could find 😂)

I don’t know if this was our ‘inexperiencedness’ (pretty sure that’s not a real word), lack of common sense or what, but it seemed that almost everyone else had hired some sort of little trailer or cart to ferry their children around in. Some were impressively pimped up with fairy lights and all sorts too. We were not aware of such things and had brought along our trusty Bugaboo Donkey. To be fair, it fared pretty well for a while but it just could not cope with the sheer amount of mud and the front wheels were as good as useless by the end, which made it almost impossible to push 🙈 Also make sure if you do take a pushchair with inflatable tyres like ours, that you pump them up beforehand. We had not and they were pretty flat, making steering and pushing uphill even more difficult than it needed to be. Oh and don’t even think about taking an umbrella stroller – I saw one guy pushing a toddler in one; it got stuck in the mud and as he tried to push and pull it out, his flip flop then got stuck too and came off his foot 🙊 Amusing but I was quite glad to not be him 😂
3. Use a trailer to carry your stuff to and from your car: 🚙

Again, it seemed everyone knew this apart from us but you can use the trailer cart thingies to pull your stuff in too. We thought we’d just load the buggy up with most of it, carry a few bags and get the twiglets to walk on reins. It hadn’t occurred to us that we might have to park reeeally far from the campsite and walk across super bumpy terrain and up and down humungous hills to get there. So the twiglets ended up in the buggy and for some stupid reason we still did it all in one trip, with hubby carrying a gigantic six-man tent on his back while pushing two giant toddlers in a heavy buggy, and both of us carrying several big bags. It was crazy. I actually thought hubby was going to break his back 🙈 So yes, do multiple trips!
4. Arrive early: ⏰

If you can, arrive the night before. We had to go on the second day and ended up wandering around the hilly campsite carrying and pushing the aforementioned ridiculously heavy stuff, getting increasingly panicked that we weren’t actually going to find a space big enough for our massive tent. Eventually we did but we were on a hill, which wasn’t too much of an issue but did feel a bit weird for sleeping and poor H rolled out of his bed a few times in the night and just kept rolling all the way to the bottom of the tent 😂
5. Practise putting your tent up before you go: ⛺️

Now this probably is a very obvious one 🙊 We were really lucky that a lovely friend lent us tons of camping equipment as we would have had bugger-all otherwise! But unfortunately hubby was super busy with work in the weeks leading up to the festival and we just didn’t have a chance to try the new tent out. It seemed pretty straightforward though – one of those ones with an inflatable frame so no poles to mess about with. Word of warning though – if you have one of these and are putting it up in a frickin’ gale like we were, IGNORE the bit in the instructions that says for one person to get inside the tent to help push the frame up when there are only a few pegs securing it to the ground. You will be at risk of being swept halfway across a field inside a huge tent, falling flat on your back, screaming the place down, crying like a baby and generally attracting a lot of attention 🙈 Admittedly I’m a total wimp but it genuinely scared me sh*tless. Although the funniest thing was that as I sat myself up, trying not to have a panic attack, I could hear H absolutely roaring with laughter that Mummy had just flown away in a tent 😂🙈
6. To all women – GET A SHEWEE! 💦

For emergencies. ‘Nuff said.
7. Bring allllll the snacks: 🍎🍫

The snack bribery reached new heights on our camping weekend 🙈There were just so many times when it really was the ONLY way 😂 That or an iPad but we didn’t have one of those 🙊 Oh and don’t bother bringing toys – in a tent there’s no real way of keeping things out of toddlers’ reach so they will just want to play with eeeverything they shouldn’t 😫 I drove myself crazy repeating ‘Put that down!’ ‘No don’t touch that!’ ‘Leave Daddy’s camera alone!’ etc etc… Taking me back to the necessity for snack bribery 😁

There are probably many many more tips (no doubt more useful than these 😂) so feel free to add any below in the comments 😊 Would we do it again? I’ll admit there were several occasions over the weekend on which I could be heard muttering/shouting ‘NEVER AGAIN!’ (probably with a few expletives thrown in for good measure) but the reality is I think it’s quite likely I would do it again. Partly because I’m a glutton for punishment but mainly because I genuinely think (cheese alert! 🧀🧀🧀) that it’s made us stronger as a family – we know we can survive, the twiglets weren’t toooo horrendously behaved and if we did do it again, there’d be sooo many things we could do better now that we’ve experienced it 😁 Plus, now that we’re home and dry and comfy, the shitty, stressful parts are already fading away in my memory and I’m being left with those awesome happy moments I mentioned earlier 😊 If you’re hesitating about booking festival tickets, I say go for it! (But try and have your sh*t at least halfway together before you get there) 😂✌🏻

IMG_5567

Breastfeeding – when it all goes t*ts up

IMG_4048

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 🙈) 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 🙊) 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 🙈 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 🙊
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! 🙈 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.