One Born Every Minute liveblog 20/2/2013

Boom! After seven weeks of singleton babies finally…FINALLY…we have a twin birth to look forward to tonight. Woo and, indeed, hoo.

Half-term here and we’re tag-teaming it. One works, one does R and G stuff. Tag, swap and repeat. So far the girls have been to a birthday party (of course!), the funfair, a playdate, the zoo, the park and a museum. Plans for the rest of the week are likely to involve a ride in the cable car, lunch out somewhere and another birthday party. Honestly, they do more in a week than most people do in an entire year.

Between all of this they’re drawing, making, writing, reading and demanding to play the Yes-No game at every opportunity. They have no concept of downtime or chilling. They’re go go go go sleep. Go go go go sleep. They do everything at 100 miles an hour at ear-splitting volume. It’s knackering. Wonderful, but knackering.

Still, I’d rather have that than two clingy, drippy, wet children with no personality or oomph. You know, the type that cry at birthday parties or if their parents leave their sight for a second, hate social occasions, freak out at children’s entertainers and wouldn’t say boo to a goose.

I’m still convinced there was a mix-up at the hospital five and a bit years ago.

With that in mind, I’ll be back at 9pm wittering on to myself as usual. Funz.

 

21.01 With my coursework (speech perception this week) and Candy Crush, it’s amazing I’m here at all. BRING ON THE TWINS!

21.04 Oh the swelling. I had feet like a hobbit. Slightly less hairy. They aren’t old parents around here. 39 and 41 is entirely normal. We’re the abnormal, young parents.

21.06 Ruth used to smack the pads. made a heck of a racket.

21.08 Sex education videos are meant to put you off having babies, not the other way round. Fail.

21.10 Twin pregnancy is not sexy at all. Some women really blossom and glow when they’re pregnant. I looked like a sack of shit. Well, slightly more than usual.

21.12 I liked knowing it was all planned and happening on a certain date. Took some of the pressure off, weirdly.

22.16 He’d get on with Ralph from series 2. They could have a three-way stat-off with Richard Osman from Pointless.

21.20. I hear ya, sista. C-section isn’t the easy option. Weirdly, I miss being monitored. It’s been more than five years. I should be over it by now.

21.23 ALL dads are embarrassing. It’s the law. Dad law.

21.35 I think her approach is extremely sensible. I intend to vet all of the girls’ dates. With a 50 page questionnaire.

21.37 I had blocked the memory of the tights out. Until now.

21.38 I have just wailed I MISS THEM BEING SMALL and had to mentally slap myself.

21.40 Or you bleed for ten weeks if you’re me. Urgh.

21.43 Oh, I’m finding this quite hard to watch. The operating theatre. The long walk to theatre wearing a hospital gown and a pair of tights. Making jokes and smiling whilst wishing you could run away. Oof.

21.51 Just realised that most dads go over and see the babies in theatre. Dh didn’t leave my side and the girls were brought over to him, one by one, Ruth first.

21.53 The girls would be brilliant big sisters. In a way it’s a shame they won’t get to experience it, but what’s done is done.

21.59 Having a baby is a decision you make with your heart and your gut. It’s not a rational decision. I don’t think it is, (or should be) anyway.

22.04 Anyway….back to cognitive psychology and singleton babies next week. See? Twin c-sections can be lovely. Told you.

Fin. Presque.

Here’s the thing. I actually wrote this post about a month ago and sat on it while I decided what to do. All of the stuff below still stands – I won’t be writing about R and G and our life in the House of Twins any more – but I have really enjoyed liveblogging One Born Every minute over the last couple of years and the new series is starting tonight and…well, I’ll certainly do a couple of episodes and see how I feel.

Anyway. Here’s why I’m ending the House of Twins blog:

House of Twins began life on the Babycentre website shortly after they developed their social networking platform and allowed users to create their own journals. It was a wet Sunday morning, Dh was working and the month-old R and G were snoozing peacefully. I created my Babycentre social networking profile, wrote my first journal entry ‘A little about me’ and said that I wanted to write a journal to satisfy a creative itch (and privately, to prevent my brain from dissolving into a puddle of sleep-deprived mush.)

In April 2008 I duplicated the journal on a separate blogging platform and plucked the name House of Twins from the air because I couldn’t think of anything better. By then the blog had become my public soapbox, on which I railed, ranted and tried to reason with myself about parenthood and, more specifically, All The Things About Other People That Drove Me Mad. Also, I felt that lots of other Mummy blogs were painting a rather rosy picture of parenthood whereas I was determined to be truthful. Parenting is both great and horrible, often at the same time and I wanted to portray that honestly.

Occasionally I was too honest for my own good. I certainly pissed a few people off with things I wrote. People questioned the wisdom of me writing about my mental health so honestly and publicly. I wrote about it because I am a crap liar. I couldn’t present a happy-clappy front whilst privately wishing I could run away. It’s part of the HoT story.

A side-note on me. The dark days of September 2008-March 2012 are – hopefully – firmly behind me and I came off my anxiety tablets in July, with no ill-effects and no November crisis. I now feel more like the early 2007 version of me than the terribly sad, frightened and bewildered creature that I became when the girls were small. I have kept my (current) good mental health quiet deliberately because I didn’t want to jinx it, but I feel really good at the moment (apart from my early mid-life crisis, but that’s not for here.)

I knew at some point I really ought to stop writing about R and G and earlier this year I decided that I would keep HoT going until the end of 2012 and bring it to a graceful end.

Why now? Well, the girls are now at school and they will soon be fluent readers and internet searchers. They don’t know that I write about them and I don’t want to get bullied at school because of HoT, or for them to read it and feel that I don’t love them or to feel exposed. I simply have no time to write HoT now and do it justice. I spent a lot of time writing about teeth and we’re now at the point where the girls are going to start losing the gnashers I waited so long for them to get. Real life has well and truly taken over and things like HoT have been squeezed to the margins. Finally, I’m simply not that cross about it all anymore. The things that mattered to me in 2008 and 2009 no longer seem that important. I can happily read or hear something now and think no more of it whereas 3-4 years ago I was a total keyboard warrior. I’m not totally reformed – occasionally I read something on Facebook or Twitter that is SO MIND-NUMBINGLY STUPID that I actually have to sit on my hands to prevent myself from replying but I’m mostly very well-behaved these days.

I think I have acquired a modicum of wisdom over the last five years and I suppose I ought to share it before signing off:

  1. Whatever you write you’re going to annoy someone, even something seemingly innocuous and that’s not something you can control.
  2. This too shall pass. I bloody hated this phrase when the girls were smaller, but it is annoyingly true. See also: it’s just a phase.
  3. Whatever you’re going through, someone else is going through something much worse. They may enjoy constantly reminding you of this in order to make you feel guilty.
  4. Every household, even a child-free household, should have a plentiful supply of baby wipes. They are useful for EVERYTHING.
  5. Some people, no matter how generous you’re feeling, will get on your tits for no apparent reason.
  6. Just because your children are friends, you don’t have to be friends with their parents
  7. If people vaguely promise you ‘help’ with your baby/ies, make them sign a contract. In blood.
  8. You can cope with a lot more than you think, especially if you get a decent amount of sleep.
  9. Just when you think you’ve cracked it, something happens and you realise you’re still a hopeless hack
  10. Having a baby won’t magically heal a relationship that’s already going wrong. It will make a bad situation much MUCH worse. Dh and I are lucky and we really liked each other before we had the girls. Thankfully, five years down the line we still do. That said, you also have to work at a relationship and you both have to want to do so.

Finally, I say this to Dh a lot (probably to convince myself as much as him) but I am firmly convinced that we will look back on this time at some point in the future and feel ridiculously proud at what we achieved with the girls. That or we’ll be insane. One of the two.

We’ve got five on it

Tomorrow I become the joint owner of two five year old girls, which is weird because last time I looked R and G were toddlers and I was wondering if they would ever actually reach school age and if I would be sane enough to appreciate it when they did.

Prior to the girls’ fourth birthday I was wondering whether they would ever actually night train (G managed it in the spring/summer and R in the autumn) and wondering what we’d do in the nine months before they started school. I was determined to just let them be children for a bit before they went on to the full-time education treadmill, with all that entails. I think we managed that and had a fairly amazing summer with a family holiday, the Jubilee celebrations and the whole London 2012 thing.

The girls have been at school since September and as a family we are still adjusting to the changing rhythms of our days and weeks. We were settling into a pattern when they both (separately) had chicken pox and everything got thrown up in the air again. Things will settle down. They generally do.

We attended their first parents’ evening prior to half-term and came out from the meetings with their respective teachers feeling extremely proud and impressed at how well R and G had adapted to school. There have been some teething problems: G’s determination to learn everything and be best friends with everyone at once has impacted on her behaviour at home because she is constantly exhausted (having her at home for the last few days with The Pox has reminded me how sweet she actually is) and R is slowly emerging from her sister’s shadow and learning to tell people how good she actually is at things, instead of hiding her talents and only revealing them when she’s absolutely ready to do so.

They are both fiercely competitive in different ways. G seems quite fluffy and airheaded but she’s got a well-hidden ruthless streak. They both have kindness charts in their respective classrooms and G was very proud when her name went on to the ‘Kindness kite’. R, slightly affronted, asked what she’d done to achieve the accolade. G’s sage reply was ‘Well, you do something REALLY NICE for someone and when you’ve done it, TELL A TEACHER’. R followed her sister’s advice and her name went on to the ‘Kindness tree’ a few days later.  R’s competitiveness is probably summed up best by her reaction to watching GB cyclists ‘only’ winning silver at the Paralympics (even now, when reminded about it, she will berate me for being fair and cheering all of the competitors, not just the ones I wanted to win) and the fact that she finally got the ten achievement stickers she needed to get a prize (a notebook), and promptly giving said prize away to her sister.

I was concerned that the school transition would lead to a rapid loss of innocence, but oddly that hasn’t quite happened yet. They have learned some interesting lessons though. R takes what people tell her extremely literally and was terribly upset when one of her friends said that a party the girls had been invited to had already happened and they’d missed it, when they hadn’t. I had to explain that her friend was joking (not lying – definitely not lying) and that sometimes people did that. We were walking to school one day when one of R’s classmates leapt up to them and said ‘I STOOD ON AN ANT AND IT WAS FARTING’. R and G both giggled uncertainly and R whispered ‘Mummy, what’s farting?’. G lives on her own Lola-like world so I wonder if she’ll ever lose that innocent quality. I think R will become more cynical and less innocent through experience.

I don’t quite know what to expect next. By their sixth birthday they’ll be in Year 1 and Reception will be a distant memory. They might have learnt to swim (every week I watch them at swimming lessons and pray that one day they might actually take their feet off the bottom of the pool) and they may no longer have stabilisers on their bikes. They are already making good headway with learning to read, so I reckon (hope?) they’ll be reasonably fluent by then (there’s only so much phonics one can cope with.)

This will be the last annual update I write on HoT though, as I’m going to end this blog at the end of 2012. There will be a separate post on this so I won’t go into it here but I think R and G’s sixth year is going to be great (although slightly less exciting than 2012.)

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.

First day at school

R and G started primary school today

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(R on the left, G on the right)

Their start time was 9.25am. Dh was on a rest day today and I am on annual leave at the moment so we were able to take them in together. I took G into her classroom and she looked really frightened as she doesn’t know anyone in her class. I gave her a quick kiss and hug. G’s teacher took her hand and I left. I waited for Dh to finish dropping R off (who leapt into the classroom shouting the name of her nursery BFF at the top of her voice) and we walked away from the school together.

Dh asked if I was ok. I broke down in big, heaving sobby tears and he gave me a hug. We walked past our friends’ house and she popped her head out of her bedroom window. I think she had been keeping an eye out for us! She invited us in for a quick coffee/water and I calmed down pretty quickly. It was G’s face as I left her…

The children are only doing mornings to start with so we picked up the girls up at 12pm. G told us very proudly that she had already made a ‘school friend’ whereas R had ‘only played with her old friends’ (the Reception classes are separate but they share an outdoor space). They also told us a long and involved tale about someone who punched someone else and had to sit on the ‘thinking chair’…

Basically, they loved it. R was a little bit quiet this afternoon. G was her usual self. They didn’t want to take their uniforms off and they are excited about going back to school tomorrow.

I think we can call their first day at school a success.

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!