One Born Every Minute liveblog 22/2/2012

Evening All! HoT Just checked the preview for this week’s episode and it’s going to be a bit of a tear-jerker, with (hopefully) happy endings all round. We’re back to single babies this week and I have given up being annoyed with people for Lent. I am also trying to give up sarcasm but suspect I may need to go on a 12-step programme to cleanse myself of that particular affliction.

Anyway, the new, improved, nicer version of me will be back here at 9pm!

20.54 Daddy Daycare. I know the point of this to demonstrate that the most useless of men can find their inner hands-on father but I wouldn’t have procreated with a man that told me that he didn’t want to change nappies or read stories. Maybe it’s just me.

21.01 Eyes down for a full house of BAY-BEHs!

21.04 Elective sections are really relaxed. It’s like checking into a hotel, except there’s a cabinet full of drugs instead of a minibar. Maybe it depends on the hotels you’re used to.

21.06 If Dh had started taking photos of me pre-section I would have punched him in the knackers

21.08 Dh has just said ‘Hope it’s ginger’. I can write that as I didn’t say it. Or think it.

21.09 Northern rugby. That’s tainting the child already. Hope it’s a girl and she supports Harlequins.

21.11 I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to lose a child. Moreover, I don’t want to imagine it.

21.16 PrAline. PrAline. Just go to Hotel Chocolat and buy a job lot of Billionaire Shortbread chocs and have done with it.

21.20 I love the banter between the midwives. So typical of any workplace. Little intimacies about total bollocks.

21.21 I do wonder if I would have had my Mum at the birth (as well as Dh) if I’d had a vaginal delivery. I suspect I would have done. She’s probably very grateful that I had a section!

21.24 R, my transverse baby lost a highly competitive round of the Flowerpot Game against Dh and G this afternoon. She was so furious that she’d lost that she chucked one of the game pieces at G’s head. She reguarly throws the Guess Who board across the room when she loses to G. Transverse babies = awkward children.

21.27 Oh no! All that build up and the baby has engaged so she gets sent home, still pregnant. All that anticipation and excitement for nothing.

21.29 How do the Mums in labour manage to get any sleep when they’re fully dilated? I’d be like PUSH! PUSH! COME ON! GET ON WITH IT! I’d be totally wired and ready for action. I don’t really do relaxation.

21.38 The more birthing programmes I see, the more convinced I become that it’s not fair to put a mother and baby through a traumatic birth experience if they are already having problems. Why keep pushing (I know) for a vaginal birth when a section would be quicker? I know this isn’t a popular or PC view, but the main objective is to get a healthy baby and mum, surely?

21.42 I still can’t believe I went through that. I remember the ‘rummaging’ sensation so well.

21.43 A GIRL! *airpunch* You’ll learn, son. You’ll learn. I can’t believe he announced the baby had a cracking pair of bollocks and looked gutted when the midwife gently told him it was a girl.

21.49 FAAAAAITH. F-A-I-T-H. FAAAAITH. It’s a lovely name, actually.

21.51 He suits his sleeve tattoos. They really work on some men and on others…they don’t.

21.55 JESUS CHRIST! THOSE FORCEPS ARE HUGE! COME ON NATALIE!

21.57 *Breathes again*

22.00 Quite traumatic viewing tonight, but with a happy ending thankfully. Dear Channel 4, can we have a couple of nice straightforward births next week please? Ta!

One Born Every Minute liveblog 8/2/2012

Do I really have to do an intro bit now? Really? <scuffles foot on stony floor, sighs heavily> Oh. Ok then. You know the drill. We’re up to Episode 6 now and for once I’ve actually looked at the preview. I know! I was shocked as well. It’s a blip, I promise.

After last week’s Jeremy Kyle-style shenanigans we’re back to…oh! 17 years old you say? Father of child in jail you say? *Flexes typing fingers with anticipation*. The other couple are older and already have children from previous relationships/marriages. Third time’s the charm, as they say…

See you back here at 9pm for some serious judgy-pants hoicking and baby-cooing.

20.54pm the ruffly-haired uber-posh Baker Brothers are visiting some Master Bakers. I misheard that first time. If some of the prospective parents on One Born had visited the Master Bakers they wouldn’t be in the labour ward. Ka-boom-tish. I’m here all week. Really.

21.01 Oh heck ‘A dramatic struggle to survive’ *reaches for tissues*

21.05 He is NOT 47. I’d put him at mid-late 30s.

21.07 and at the other end of the spectrum… THAT’S NOT A REAL NAME!! HOW MANY VOWELS???

21.08 Lot of Croydon facelifts there *adopts snob face, pulls judgy pants out of arse crack*

21.12 ‘He’s a good lad but he can’t stay out of jail’. What a catch eh? Well, they’ve clearly spend more than a few minutes together to get her into this mess. I’m back to Too Much Too Young again. Haven’t you heard of contraception? TRY WEARING A CAP!

21.18 I really like Dawn’s glasses – but if I wore them I’d look like Velma from Scooby Doo.

21.20 ‘He were dead happy to be a dad…but not happy enough to stay out of jail’. Sigh.

21.22 The trouble with 8 year olds is that their pain threshold is non-existent.

21.24 Do midwives become immune to the screaming after a while? It’s like Resident Evil set in a labour ward.

21.32 BIGGER. FATTER. GYPSYER. Pineapple. Palm tree. Yeeeeeeees!

21.33 Hold hands everyone….Dh is wincing and gripping his phone just a little bit tighter next to me on the sofa.

21.34 A cut. I’m clenching. Front and back.Ow.

21.42 Couldn’t type during that. I clutched Dh’s hand. It was the bit when the head was out but the shoulders were stuck and the baby was floppy and silent. Horrible. Wonderful to hear the little baby cry. I held my breath throughout. Can I breathe out now?

21.48 Meanwhile….GIRRIT SOME WELLEH! Go on go on go on do yeh want a cup o’tea?

21.53 TWANG.

21.55 That wasn’t the sound of my womb twanging.

21.56 10lb5oz!!! Wow. No wonder the poor thing got stuck. Looks like they had to break her arm to get her out. The medical team did an amazing job there.

21.59 I hope Jack grows up and realises what he’s missing out on withhis daughter.

22.00 TWINS! TWINS ALERT! NEXT WEEK! TWINS!

Hairy hormones

Hormones don’t half sock you round the head. I really thought I was fine with the whole not having any more babies thing but I’ve noticed that at the most <ahem> productive time of my monthly cycle* I get the ‘ImusthaveanotherbabyI’mnotdoneyet’ urge. Earlier this week I was relaxing with a bit of light cross-stitching and watching an old episode of One Born Every Minute on 4OD when the ‘Imusthaveanotherbaby…’ thing smacked me in the face again**.

If I look at it objectively, I can see where all of this is coming from. I didn’t have a ‘normal’ pregnancy as I was having twins that sucked the life and soul out of me. I didn’t have a ‘normal’ birth because I had to have a caesarean. I didn’t enjoy the early days – first two years, since you ask – with the girls because I was convinced I was going to break them. I still feel bad that I didn’t invite my Mum and my sister to at least one of my (many) ultrasound scans. During my pregnancy I was terrified that I would lose one or both of the girls and became incredibly insular. Dh and I lived in a protective bubble and it didn’t even occur to me to involve people in our journey. I’m also still a bit cross that I wasn’t allowed to name one of the girls Freya. I happened to mention to the girls that I didn’t have a middle name today and Dh (rather waspishly) said that I should change mine to Freya…

I had always thought that I would like to experience a singleton pregnancy, a vaginal birth and looking after one baby rather than inexpertly juggling the needs of two babies simultaneously. However, I read an article today that also (figuratively) smacked me around the head. I realise now that I have been mis-diagnosing myself. I don’t think I actually want to have more babies. I’d like to wind the clock back and do a better job with R and G than I think I did first time round. I’m four years older and wiser. I have a few years of coal-face parenting experience in pretty tough conditions to fall back on and I reckon I’d be much better at dealing with everything that was thrown at me now.

Unfortunately, I can’t go Back to the Future and do that so I need to take on board the lesson of the article: I should enjoy R and G more because we’re really not having any more children. I can’t rectify any of the mistakes I made first time round so I need to move on from them.

My life is pretty great right now and I need to get on with enjoying it.

*I’m not actually tracking my cycle for fertility reasons – my periods are stupidly erratic (the consultant that told me they would settle down after I’d sprogged was LYING) – so I have an app on my phone (how modern) that tracks the start and end of things and happens to flag up my fertile week as well, should I wish to know.

**I also get quite lusty watching the X-Men films at this point in my cycle. It’s the manly hairiness <sigh>

Urges

Something strange has happened (yes, stranger than usual) to me recently. After being adamant I was happy that R and G would be our first and last children I’ve found myself feeling overwhelmingly sad that I won’t have another child. Ever.

It’s completely and utterly irrational. It’s also anatomically impossible because Dh has been turned off at the mains. Yes, vasectomies can be reversed but, as Dh has (firmly) reminded me, they take a whole section of tubing out these days AND they don’t do reversals on the NHS so he’d have to pay and go private. Hmm, wonder if he’s trying to tell me something…

My sadness was triggered by a few little things. Lots of people we know have babies now and the girls have already asked me (why me? Why not Dh?) if they can have a baby brother or sister. R and G are growing up so quickly – they’ll be starting school this time next year – and I can already feel them growing away from me. This is no reflection on them. They’re simply wonderful (99.9% of the time) but I know that the years are passing incredibly quickly.

There are so many things that I feel I got wrong with R and G (don’t start me off) and I think, with the experience I now have, I’d do a much better job with a subsequent child. I’m also curious to see what having a single child is like. All of my pregnancy, birth and child-rearing experiences are framed around twins and I’d like to see how different it really is with one baby.

R and G are absolutely Dh’s children. They look like him. They have quite a lot of my personality, but they are the image of their father. I always said that if I had girls I wouldn’t want them to look like me but I thought they might have my wavy hair or colouring or….something.

We were in the park a couple of weeks ago and a (I guess) two year old girl ran in front of me as I supervised R and G on the swings. She had long dark ringlets (just like I had when I was little) and was wearing pink Birkinstocks. Her Dad called after her and her name was Freya. I really wanted one of the girls to be called Freya but Dh absolutely hated the name so we had R and G instead. When I thought of the name, all those years ago, she was the image of the child I had in my head.

After feeling down for a month or so I feel I’ve made my peace with it now. I spoke to my Mum about it and she said that the urge doesn’t go away until it’s physically impossible for you to produce a child. I also know, through speaking to friends with children that what I’m going through is absolutely normal.

My head knows that R and G are my first and last children and is content with the decision. My heart knows that I couldn’t mentally cope with any more. I’ll scratch my itch by enjoying everyone else’s children from now on.

Interview with dh – deleted scenes

This is the very final part of my Interview with Dh series. When I transcribed the original interviews I noticed that I’d forgotten to ask him a few questions and that other things came up as a result of the first interview. I sat him down with a gin and tonic and recorded the conversation… (p.s. the stuff about boys is his opinion, not mine so you can shoot him if you want to…)

This is the deleted scenes – the extras – the out-takes, if you will. I’m hoping to put the interviews on the blog as an audio file at some point but for now a written transcript will have to do:

Me: Do you ever wish we’d had a boy?

Dh: No. Initially I would’ve liked boys but now I’m really pleased we’ve got girls. Boys are more naughty aren’t they? At this stage at least. More mischievous, especially twin boys. The girls are quite naughty… We’d thought of boys names and didn’t have boys names when we found out. We didn’t get a Tom and a Lewis.

I didn’t get my Freya either.

I really didn’t like Freya.

How do you feel about your wife writing a blog?

I quite like it. I always read it. It often makes me laugh. I know it helps you to talk about things as well. You don’t talk about me very much. It’s always based around the children.

It’s one of my rules. I don’t discuss you with my friends in ‘real life’ so I’m not going to do that on the Internet either. I really like our relationship and I think it should be kept as private as we can keep it. I hope everyone knows how much we love each other but it’s between us. I’ll happily discuss how weird I am but I won’t talk about you and I.

It’s your blog so you talk about what you want. I’m happy with what you write.  I know other people like reading it as well, so it obviously strikes a chord with them.

It’s always going to have quite a niche appeal I think.

I don’t know how many random people that don’t know us read it. Don’t you check your pageviews? It’s quite a lot isn’t it?

The other thing I wanted to talk about was our YouTube sensation. How many views are we up to now?

I checked today actually and it was 320,000 views. It’s just the girls in their playpen [about 8 months old] laughing and making noises at each other. It’s like they’re talking to each other but they aren’t. It’s made £18 in adverts this month so far [on the 16th of the month]. It’s made us £12-15 per month in ad revenue over the last few months.

We posted it up in August 2008 and no-one looked at it really. In the last 3-4 months it’s shot up from 20 views to over 300,000 views. It’s linked to a video that’s had millions of views, of the twin boys wearing nappies in the kitchen.

You can click on the stats for our video and most people discover our video through that one. It’s all through over twin videos. It’s amazing how quickly it’s gone up. I tried adding another video but no-one’s looked at it!

You say that the girls’ generation is the most videoed and photographed generation ever. Their legacy [of content] is going to be enormous.

My Mum sent me some photos to print out for My Dad’s 65th birthday and he’s got 10-20 photos of himself as a kid in total. We take 100 photos of the girls a month, often more. I love all the little videos of them doing stuff as well, especially now they’re chatting and you can hear their voices. It’s amazing…not just how much you record but the fact that it’s online so our parents can look at it and it’s updated pretty often, at least once a month.

How do you think the children will feel when they’re old enough to realise that I wrote about them?

It’s hard to know how they’ll react.

I have thought that maybe I should stop writing it when the hit their fifth birthday but I don’t know…

You were saying that you quite like reading blogs and form posts about teenagers but I guess that’s in secret and they probably don’t know. You don’t have to stop. There’s no need to.

I go through phases of wanting to stop. Especially if I’ve written something and someone has got really hacked off with me.

If you don’t like it, don’t read it! Equally there are people out there that love it.

I have my cheerleaders – two of them! Do you feel that you can offer advice to people now?

I don’t like to. If people ask I will but equally I don’t want to say too much. I’ll give my opinion but every baby is different so I can’t say ‘Oh you should do this…’ Instead I say ‘We did this and it worked..’. There are people that don’t necessarily agree with what we did…

…but they’re wrong!!

How did you feel when I was really involved with that parenting website?

I quite liked the website. It was really useful but there are some strange people on the forums.

I even met some of them!

Yes. Some were fine and some…weren’t…

Some I thought were fine and turned out not to be, which was quite painful. I don’t need it now.

It must be interesting to talk to other twin mums and see what they’re doing.

There are two sides. It connected me to other twin mums when I felt incredibly isolated. The flip side is that I beat myself up about silly things that didn’t matter, especially when I first went back to work, we were all weaning and they were producing beautiful home-cooked meals and purees and I tried to keep up. I judged myself against standards that were almost impossible to live up to. It also pushed me to be a better parent, or to try harder at least. Someone would post that they were deep-cleaning their cupboards and I would think ‘Oh my God! I must go and do that now! I’m a complete slob! It’s terrible and I’m disgusting’! There is more to life than deep-cleaning cupboards

I did find those websites useful to look up stuff, especially the paranoid stuff. The forums could be interesting but they were more haphazard. You had to filter through a lot of crap. I didn’t write anything or contact anyone.

You did once. You got set upon by several million hormonal women!

You get to the stage where you call someone a Nazi and it ends there! Are you still friends with any of them?

Yes. There are 3 or 4 I would regard as friends and the rest as good acquaintances and I’m not going to say who!

That’s fine though. If you meet 10 or 20 random people you will filter it down to the people you really like. It’s useful to know a few people in the same position as you.

I do find myself comparing though, and worrying if their children are doing something that mine aren’t. That’s probably just my competitive nature

Competitive parenting is such a big thing ‘Ooh they can write their name…they can write a sonnet…’

You’re very laid back about it all and I fret, especially in relation to the education stuff.

They’re 3!! There’s nothing they have to be doing at the moment. They should just be playing.

What do you think they’ll do when they grow up?

Ruth’s very serious. I think they’ll both go to university. I can see Grace doing drama classes, although I think she’s fairly typical of kids her age. I think Ruth’s more unusual in that she’s so aware of what people might think of her. She gets so embarrassed about things and worries about other people. I don’t know what Ruth’s going to do.

She’ll either channel all of this and be brilliant, or she’ll be incredibly frustrating and muck about at the back of the class.

She’s quite boisterous and likes being with older kids. She puts a lot less effort into doing things, but is good if she actually tries. She’s a bit of a Ronnie O’Sullivan character. Naturally clever, but can’t be arsed! I read an article where it said that you should praise the effort rather than the achievement and we try to do that, but it’s easy to praise something and say ‘Oh that’s good’. Especially when they’re small. They don’t really understand effort. I keep trying to explain to her that you have to practice to be good at things.

We’re going to look back on the last four years, and probably the next 14/15 years, when we get old and grey I think we’re going to be incredibly proud of what we did.

I hope so.

Do you think that having children is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

I think it’s actually quite easy but because it’s every day for years and years it’s difficult. If you look at an average day it’s easy. You feed them, etc. It’s the pressure of doing it all the time…it’s strange to do such a simple thing but we have to do it permanently. It’s the fact that you don’t know what you’re doing. You have to make up your own rules and systems.

It’s like having a piece of flat-pack furniture and not having any instructions or any idea what it’s for.

There’s no way of changing that. People can tell you what it’s like but it doesn’t actually help. That’s why I don’t like to give advice. It’s going to be hard and you have to work it out for yourself.

The thing that struck me about the transcript of the interview we did was that you sounded quite down. There was a lot of stuff about your lack of quiet time, it was hard work, they had a lot of tantrums, you were shouting at them and a lot of it was really downbeat and I felt quite sad.

I’m not sad overall. It’s hard work. I’m happy with the way it’s worked out now. Maybe not initially. It should get easier as they get older. I think it’s the same for everyone.

We chose it. It’s not like we were forced to have them.

I wouldn’t change it, no matter how hard it is. I didn’t mean to sound so down about them. I don’t think many people enjoy having babies to look after. They’re much more fun now. I love taking them out now that they can understand things, like going to the zoo – asking and answering questions.

They love you in a very unconditional way and equally you love them unconditionally. If they were a partner you would have kicked them out years ago! That’s the paradox of parenting.

I watched an episode of Top Gear where they do a silly challenge with rubbish cars [that’s pretty much every episode then] and end up falling in love with them. Jeremy Clarkson said that it’s a bit like a toddler – most of the time they’re quite annoying but if someone tried to take it away you’d kill them. You can be really annoyed with them but if they ran into the road or hurt themselves you’d worry about them. I love them really.

The baby question

R and G are obsessed with babies at the moment. Several of their friends have little brothers and sisters and it was only a matter of time before they asked if they could have a younger sibling. They first asked the ‘Can I have a baby brother or sister?’ question when they were about two and a half and I can’t quite remember what I said (some flannel or other about loving R and G so much that I wanted to enjoy them and not have any more babies) but they accepted it readily enough and moved on.

In the bath tonight they took it in turns to list their friends and their younger siblings. “G has a little  brother called G, E has a little brother called A, D has a little brother called A, H has a little brother called S, A has a little sister called X…” [Just noticed that most of their friends have baby brothers. Maybe nature is attempting to even the score as there seemed to be a lot of girls in 2007]

As G was drying herself off she asked me if we could have a baby in our house. I started to explain that we couldn’t, but R stepped in and said (with a great deal of authority) that we had to buy one from the shop. I then had to explain that babies couldn’t be bought in shops and that they lived in Mummy’s tummy before they were born and became babies. They both grasped this and named children whose Mum’s are currently pregnant: ‘F’s Mummy has a baby in her tummy…’

[I was just grateful that they didn’t ask the ‘How does the baby get into Mummy’s tummy’ question because I’m not quite ready for that one yet]

R looked at me and said, in a tone that belied her tender years: ‘It’s ok Mummy, we’ll just pretend with our dollies’. I said that having pretend babies was a good idea as real babies cry lots and don’t give you much sleep. I also said that it was lots of fun to play with other people’s babies and give them back to their Mummy and Daddy and they both nodded gravely.

I think I handled it ok. I didn’t want to a. Speak vaguely about maybe having a little brother or sister at some indeterminate point in the future as this would be an outright lie, and b. I didn’t want to do lots of stork and special present rubbish as I don’t think it’s particularly helpful, neither did I want to start the ‘When two people love each other very much…’ conversation. The girls are good at handling pretty grown-up information so I felt it best to be honest whilst simultaneously giving them as much factual (yet simple) details as possible. The facts of life and the ins and outs of our decision not to have any more children can wait until they’re older.

I dodged that bullet but R always has to have the last word: “Mummy? What was my name when I was a baby?” Nonplussed, I replied. “Ruth”. “NO Mummy. I want a different baby name. I want to be Hello Kitty Ruth”. I said that wasn’t her name and as she applied talcum powder liberally she rolled her eyes, sighed and said “Mummy! It’s only a pretend name”. That’s me told, then.