One Born Every Minute Liveblog – multiple births special part 1

You think I’d pass up the opportunity to liveblog on a whole episode of OBEM on multiple births? You were wrong my friend. So wrong. From the preview, it looks like they aren’t going to profile any straightforward twin and triplet pregnancies. Get the tissues and gin ready and I’ll see you back here just before 9pm…

20.59pm. Hugely distracted by Great British Bake Off. Now turned over to C4 and poised ready for One Born…

21.02  ‘A wonderful surprise’. I’m sure I quite thought that when we found out I was having twins at my 12 week scan.

21.03 Sigh. Programmes like this make it sound like every multiple pregnancy is going to end in NICU, SCBU or death 😦 actually that’s far from the case.

21.06 I can’t believe the dad is peeking over the curtain. There’s no way Dh would have done that. He just stared at me, clutching my hand, white as a sheet.

21.07. Oh no. Poor Freddie 😦

21.12 Twin To Twin Transfusion Syndrome can happen, but is relatively rare. It depends on when the egg splits. R and G were in separate sacs – a ‘Di-Di’ pregnancy, which made us ‘High risk low risk’ – high risk because it was a twin pregnancy, but low risk because they were in separate sacs, etc.

21.22 Just said in a FB discussion that i wish the programme would provide stats on complicated v straightforward twin pregnancies. If I’d watched this programme 5 years ago when I was 6 months pregnant with twins I would have convinced myself that R and G were going to die at any moment, when in actual fact they were perfectly fine.

21.34 This programme reinforces how lucky we were with R and G. We conceived naturally very quickly and didn’t need the intervention that we had expected as a result of my medical ‘ishoos’. I had a (mostly) straightforward pregnancy (all the crap stuff happened to me, not them) and they went to term for a singleton baby, two weeks beyond a ‘typical’ twin birth. They were both of good singleton baby size and we got to take them home two days after I gave birth. We were bloody lucky.

21.44 I don’t have even the remotest hint of broody feelings these days but the twin girls in the buggy, wrapped in blankets, arms thrown above their heads in tiny, perfect sleep poses reminded me so much of R and G.

21.46 There’s so much of this that I can’t comment on because I have no experience. You know what? I’m glad and grateful I don’t know what it’s like.

21.48 In other news, the Magic advert that contains the mashup of Queen and Bruno Mars makes we want to put my foot through the TV.

21.56 I love it when a newborn baby freshly yanked from the womb cries. R and G were bloody FURIOUS about their enforced evacuation.

22.00 Mostly happy endings there, aside from one. It was very hard for me to comment on any of that because it’s so removed from our experience.

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Class separation – the saga continues

I have been putting off posting this for a couple of days, but I have to do it.

Dh went into the girls’ school on Monday and they had already juggled the classes around so that G is staying put and R is moving to the other Reception class. This means that we have got what we wanted and they will be in separate classes from September.

Over the weekend, and indeed, on this very blog, a lot of people (including close family and friends) commented that it was perhaps best that the girls were in the same class. I have to confess, I started to waver too.  R and G have been together forever. Should we really interfere and socially engineer a separation?

Dh phoned me to let me know and I felt quite wobbly for a moment or two. We’d got what we wanted (and the school listened to us and acted, which bodes well) but were we deliberately being obtuse and defying everyone else just because we could?

As we chatted, my resolve hardened. They’ve put R into the class with the other children from nursery. She is the less confident and more sensitive of the two. She needs G around to give her confidence, but the familiar faces from nursery will give her security. Being apart from G for a few hours a day will – hopefully – give her more confidence and allow her to develop academically in a way that she may not have done had she been in the same class as her sister. G has a tendency to boss R around mother R and act as her mouthpiece. We know that R is bright but she tends to internalise things and will only demonstrate that she can do something when she can do it perfectly. Otherwise she relies on G to do it for her.

G is a Monica. She is the child that will sit at the front of the class, hand shooting up in the air shouting I KNOW! I KNOW! to every single question. She is extremely confident and nothing phases her. She would treat the Pope and a passing tramp in exactly the same manner. She has absolutely no fear of getting something wrong. She doesn’t care what other people think of her. In short, she’s extremely resilient and I’m confident that she will make new friends very quickly.

In any case, it’s not like they’ll be apart for 6-7 hours a day. The two Reception classes share a playground (separated from the older children) and they’ll spend plenty of time together at break and lunch time. If it isn’t working after a term or a year, we’ll work with the school to review the separation.

Hopefully the therapy bills won’t be too large when they grow up.

I hate it when I’m wrong

Reader, I am an enormous arse. I also HATE being wrong.

It is not the end of the world that the girls are going to be in the same class. In fact, it may turn out to be a blessing in disguise:

1. Their Reception class teacher is, apparently, amazing and the parents in the other class would kill for their children to be in her class
2. The other children from nursery are in the other class. If we insisted on a split now, we would upset whichever twin was in the other class, by leaving them on their own.

I’d still like to understand the rationale behind the school’s decision keep the girls together when they had been specifically told that they were to be split up. If they’d contacted us beforehand to say that they appreciated our views but wanted to put the girls in the same class for X, Y and Z reasons, I would have understood. It was a shock to find out that our views had been completely ignored, with no explanation.

As it turns out, I’m one of the few people that thought splitting the girls was an absolute necessity. So many people have commented that it would be a shame to split them, that it wouldn’t feel right, that they work well as a team, that they both rely on each in different ways, that they are individuals with different personalities and approaches to life and won’t get mixed up after the inevitable initial confusion.

I sat the girls down individually on Friday and asked them what they thought. They both said, without prompting from the other, that they would rather be in the same class as each other than be with their friends. I can’t argue with that.

Dh is going to speak to the school tomorrow. I wasn’t exactly rational when I spoke to them on Friday so hopefully he’ll make more sense than I did!

Eye of the Tiger part 2

**Heavily edited 22/6/2012 & 27/6/2012 due to the author being horrid**

Did I ever mention that I HATE not being listened to? I have a few recurring nightmares. One of them is me standing in a room with lots of people, shouting at the top of my voice and no-one even notices me, let alone listens to what I have to say.

Just opened the letters from the girls’ school informing us of the fact that they’re going to be in the same class.

This is NOT what I wanted.

AT ALL.

I have been adamant for….well, as long as I can remember that the girls should be in separate classes. G is incredibly bossy and takes over, whereas R is more sensitive and will let G do things for her. They need to be separate so that G stops mothering R and R learns not to be as reliant on her sister.

I told the school this. I mentioned it on the look-round last September. I specifically told them when they phoned up to arrange to visit the girls at nursery in April.

Have they listened? NO! I mean, why would they? A liaison person that has spent 5 minutes with them clearly knows them infinitely better than I do and I have been overruled.

I have just phoned the school. A receptionist from the ‘Foboff’ school of receptioning (yes, I know it’s not a word) said that someone would call me back. Do I think that will actually happen? No I don’t. Why would it?

Meanwhile, Dh thinks it will all be fine and they’ll be moved into different classes in the end. No they won’t. The school has sent out 60 letters today. They’re hardly going to accommodate our request and start shifting other children about are they? That’s not fair on the other kids.

I’m aware that I’m overreacting about this. I KNOW there are worse things that could be happening. Its just…I have a really strong idea of what is best for the girls and to have it completely ignored is hard to take.

4th Birthday Party

Every year, just before the girls’ birthday, I get Party Fear. I fret that no-one will turn up, our car will break down, everyone will be ill and it will just be horrid. It’s utterly ridiculous. You think I would have learnt my lesson by now. Every year I have Party Fear. I’m wrong. I’m always wrong.

R and G had their party today and I can safely say that it was BRILLIANT. Everyone turned up that had RSVPd (apart from one family of four and we got a late RSVP from someone else so it kind-of worked out ok) and there were no dramas on the day.

The venue was perfect – heck, we’ve been there enough for other parties this year so we knew it was a winner –  the children are old enough to chuck themselves around soft play with minimal help* so the parents can chat and everyone goes home fed, watered, tired and happy.

My attempts to induct everyone into The Ways of Twins this year by turning up at each party with a card and present from R and a card and present from G worked and everyone very kindly came along with separate cards and presents from the girls. This hasn’t always been the case…

The girls had a cake each – R had Hello Kitty and G Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – and everyone sang twice, because I’m mean like that. It’s another of my The Ways of Twins things. Everyone’s used to me now.

Once again we are totally bowled over by the generosity of the girls’ friends (and their parents), who gave their time to come to the party and clearly made tremendous efforts to buy incredibly lovely presents. Every present the girls opened (we were going to try and get them to open a couple a day over the next week or so, but once they’d opened a couple they didn’t want to stop) was fantastic and amazingly there were no duplicates, aside from a game that they already had. I have made a note of everything that everyone bought so that I can make thank-you cards…

The really nice thing is that this is only (ONLY!) part 1 of 3 for the girls’ 4th birthday celebrations. Next Sunday we’re all out for a meal with my family and all four of us have the day off next Monday (their actual birthday) so that we can enjoy it as a family.

They’re only going to be 4 once (and this is the only year that Dh can use his Fork ‘Andles jokes, which aren’t getting old AT ALL) and next year they’ll be at school (argh)….

*I chucked myself around it as well. It was GREAT.

Interview with dh – now and next

For the first time, I’m really enjoying them at this point. I’m not racing towards the next milestone and I want to enjoy them as they are for a bit, before they go to school.

We always really looked forward to them being old enough to take out and do trips to the zoo. Last Summer was the first time we took them out a lot and enjoyed doing stuff with them.

It’s daft things, like them suddenly shooting up recently and growing out of lots of their [3-4 years] clothes. They’re more aware now too. I said to Ruth this morning that she was growing up really fast and she said ‘Don’t worry Mummy. I have to grow up to be big and strong’ and she gave me a hug. I was like WAAAAAH!

We don’t need the next year to go by quickly, because they’re nice as they are. They’re very sheltered at the moment. It’s nice that they’re going to school when they’re older…they’ll be nearly 5 when they start.

It’s a dreadful cliché but they’ll always have each other

It’s nice that they have someone to play with all the time. After breakfast they’ll just go off together and play. If I look busy in the kitchen they’ll leave me alone! If I go and sit on the sofa they come over!

What are you looking forward to? Don’t say ‘Leaving home’!

I’ve always looked forward to them being a bit older because it’d be nicer but not so much now. They’re at the right age. I’m looking forward to teaching them to read, and reading with them. At the moment they don’t seem terribly interested in words.

Grace recognises lines of text and asks me what they say

Reading with the properly seems a long way off. I’m looking forward to helping them with the school stuff as well – homework.

Lots of their friends are off to private school in September – and the girls aren’t. Do tell me your views on fee paying schools…

We can’t afford it and it seems like a waste of money. They biggest difference in how well they do [at school] is how much the parents are involved, rather than having a slightly nicer school. It can be detrimental to be so sheltered for so long [at private school] as well. You’re likely to be very naïve when you leave school. If you look at kids that don’t do well at school, it’s generally down to the parents. They get far more out of you reading with then and doing things with them.

We’re both very lucky because we come from very ordinary backgrounds but our parents read to us and helped us with schoolwork.

We’re also lucky because we live near two nice [primary] schools. I’m not worried about them having to go to a really horrible school. It’s also down to individual teachers rather than how well-funded it is. There are good and bad teachers in all schools. It’s not just about doing exams. You have to learn about different people as well.

Their [the girls’] thing with babies at the moment is hilarious.

All of their friends have brothers and sisters. They are both quite fascinated by babies…

Grace in an abstract way and Ruth in a ‘I like stroking them’ way! We’re not doing that again are we – why is that?

I’ve been cut off!

Do you ever regret that decision?

No!!

I don’t either. It’s a big thing to do. Lots of blokes wouldn’t do it.

People do ask if we’re going to have more babies and when I say no they ask me why…I just say ‘Cos I can’t’. Then they say ‘oh you might change your mind…’ No. Really no!

It’s weird, the process you have to go through. You first went to ask about it when the girls were really small and they said no…

They want to make sure you’re really sure about it. There seems to be a cut-off. If you’re less than 30, they won’t do it. When I went back second time and I was over 30, they were fine. They ask you what you’d do if something happened to one of the girls or if you died and…they have to make sure you’ve thought it through.

How would you describe your parenting style, if you could sum it up in a sentence?

I’m very involved. I find it strange that that’s unusual, but I know that it is. That’s what I wanted.

I’m very grateful for that. I’d find it odd if the balance was unequal, in the sense of me doing the majority of the childcare and you weren’t showing any interest. I think the girls have benefitted hugely from the involvement you’ve had in their lives.

I hope so.

Interview with dh – coping

I struggled for a while [with anxiety and mild depression] before going on anti-depressants when the girls were 15 months old. What was that period like for you?

I don’t think I saw it really. I knew you found it hard but I didn’t really realise what was going on. It’s hard to explain isn’t it?

I didn’t want to tell you because I didn’t want to let you down. Everyone kept saying how well we were doing and how well we coped and I knew that I wasn’t coping. It created an expectation and I had to keep pretending. I couldn’t tell anyone.

I found it really difficult to imagine, to understand. The harder you found it, the more stuff I did, but I think that made it worse. I thought I was helping you out but that made you feel less and less helpful yourself. I wanted to give you a rest.

It was self-perpetuating because the worse I felt the more you did and I felt that you weren’t letting me do anything because I couldn’t cope.

I should’ve just left you alone! I still went to work and left you with them. I didn’t think you couldn’t do it, I just wanted to help as much as I could. You never gave up – you always carried on.

What’s been the hardest time for you?

The first bit. The not sleeping. The first six months. Once you can get a proper night’s sleep you can cope.

My perception is –correct me if I’m wrong –that you went through a hard time about six months ago

They’re more frustrating now. They’re a lot cleverer and answer back now. I couldn’t go back to not sleeping…to sleeping in two hour segments every night. They’re a lot easier now, relatively…they can be exhausting, but they can be quite fun as well.

When do I need to buy you a shed to escape from all these mad, hormonal women?

They’ll just follow me into the shed!

Having escapes is a good piece of advice. That’s something we got from another dad of twins – plan your escapes.

I get quite a lot of time on my own during the day. I often have rest days when you’re at work and the girls are at nursery. I’m lucky that a lot of my friends live and/or work in London so I can meet up with them.

I remember sending you out once to have some ‘you’ time on a particularly fraught day and you went for a drive and came back with a bag of potatoes! You could’ve gone for a coffee, a drink but you did something useful!

We needed potatoes! I felt I should do something useful.

You don’t have to. Sitting in Starbucks with a coffee and F1 Racing for an hour is perfectly fine.

It’s just not being with the kids for a bit.

Do you think life was nicer before twins or after twins?

Before was easier! A couple of people have asked me if I can recommend having kids and I reply ‘I wouldn’t recommend having two at once!’.