Let her sleep for when she wakes, she will move mountains…

I love this.  I’m going to hang it next to my bed. You can buy it here for $20. http://goo.gl/0UrQl.

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Twins – A Birth Story

My first foray writing about these Smalls was at the end of September 2009, when I posted my birth announcement and birth story onto babycentre.co.uk. I’d been an active member of their ‘Pregnant with Twins or More’ Group throughout my pregnancy and so that’s where I initially shared this. I thought I’d like to save it for posterity here too. This is me then, [this is me now.] Please excuse the writing. Total baby brain.

The twins were born at 39 weeks and 2 days by planned C-Section.

They’ve arrived! Arthur Alexander and Dolores Rose (Dolly) were born on Thursday 17 September at 11.32 and 11.34 weighing 6.1lb and 6.9lb respectively. Sorry for the late BA but it’s taken me a week to get anywhere near the internet! [WTF was I thinking?!]

My worst fears were realised when I was told I would have to have a planned c-section as Dolly was breech (foot first) and not for turning. Having absolutely *dreaded* the op I have to say it really was an extraordinary experience. Absolutely nothing to be worried about. Mind-blowing and surreal but amazing and joyous and all that I hoped the birth would be.

We were asked to arrive at the hospital at 7am on Thursday 17th having fasted from midnight the previous evening and had last sip of water at 6am that morning. I’d been given antacid medication to take the night before and again at 6am and they’d warned be that that would be it for water/food until after they delivered. We were told that the planned c-sections began at 9am and on arrival told we were due in theatre at 11am. We were shown to a private room (we didn’t ask for it and weren’t charged for it) that was lovely with nice views of fields and cows all around. I was given a gown and some special DVT socks to put on and then we were made comfortable and left to wait. I was really anxious but by this time I just wanted to get on with it. Too much time to think about it.

At 10.30 our lovely midwife Alison came in to say we’d been called in early and would be heading to theatre right away. I was shaking like a leaf as we walked down to theatre and waited for the anaesthetist to be ready. [In retrospect this really doesn’t convey the utter terror I was feeling. I could hardly walk for shaking.]

We were shown into the ‘recovery room’ where they fitted a canula in my hand and loaded up a drip… then it was time for the spinal block. They gave me a small local anaesthetic and then went in with the spinal. It was a bit[!] uncomfortable whilst they made sure they’d hit all the right nerves but nothing compared to what I’d expected. They then tested it was working with a freezing water spray. It was a strange but not unpleasant sensation not to be able to feel anything below my boobs. Everywhere just felt really warm. They fitted a catheter (didn’t notice) and then said we were ready to go in. At this point I got something called spinal shakes which is an effect of the block and I think, combined with nerves, meant I was really shaking very badly. They gave me some blankets and showed Chris in who looked overwhelmed but calmed me down immediately by stroking my hair and just holding my gaze and talking quietly to me. Then we were off…

The surgeon was amazing. Didn’t have any sense of an ‘incision’ which I’d expected and felt sick about so that was good, and then the rummaging began. Again really not an unpleasant sensation, it felt odd but once I realised he had got hold of Dolly and she was about to be delivered my focus was just totally on the babies and that they were ok. It was a massive relief when he pulled her out and thrust her into the air above our heads. She looked huge and perfect! The best bit was being able to breathe! Such an enormous weight was literally lifted out of me! Straight to the recussataire whilst they delivered Arthur, who needed a bit of help from some forceps weirdly (still not sure why). Both were whisked away briefly to check all ok and then they were back and on top of me. They were totally and utterly beautiful. Chris and I were mesmerised and I don’t remember anything about being stitched up other than it took about 20 minutes. We were back in the recovery room within the hour and both were feeding at the same time immediately. No problems latching on for these two monkeys. They wheeled me back up to the maternity ward with a baby on each breast which in retrospect seems a bit embarassing but at the time made me feel like a queen! I felt like the cat who’d got the cream.

The whole thing took about 1.5 hours in total. I spent the day in a bit of a diamorphine haze (yum) so there was little discomfort and just these amazing bundles of deliciousness to stare at and snuggle and introduce to their grandparents.

Twins - The early days

I spent 4 nights in hospital in total where they helped me enormously overnight by taking the babies to a nursery so I could get some rest before we came home. We also topped up with one formula feed overnight as they weren’t getting enough to settle from me before my milk came in. I would highly recommend this although at the time I wept buckets about them not being next to me and ‘failing them’.

I delivered at Airedale hospital in Yorkshire (where my parents live) and I just wanted to say how brilliant everyone was, the surgical team, midwives everyone made me feel totally comfortable and absolutely understood the impossibility of being in hospital on your own with two tiny mewling babies to look after. If anyone in west yorkshire is looking for the perfect place to deliver, Airedale is it.

We’ve been home a week and it’s bloody hard work but they’re breastfeeding brilliantly every three hours in tandem and sleeping for almost all of the rest of the time. I feel v lucky.

So that’s what I wrote then, and this is what I think now. Writing your birth story is an exercise every new mother should go through. It’s incredible to read back and compare what you thought then to what you know now.

What I will say though is that these days I hold no truck with C-Section ‘failure’. I did then. I felt like I’d totally failed my babies at the last hurdle by not delivering them naturally. Now I realise it was best for the babies and best for me. In the beginning, and still now to be honest, I struggled to use the words ‘give birth’ because I don’t feel like I did really. They were plucked from me by a very kind and efficient surgeon and in retrospect I’m very grateful for that. I was fortunate enough to have planned c-section, rather than the emergency one which most of my friends seem to have gone through, and the whole thing was calm, safe and efficient.

And I’ve managed to get two babies out without ever knowing what a contraction feels like. A result, surely?

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The Daily Struggle – An Update

It’s been a while since my last post, and over a month since my post about Dolly’s witholding and our early success with potty training. I’m thrilled to say that our success has continued.

On Valentine’s Day we had our 2-monthly visit to the paediatrician. When I told Dolly we were visiting Dr Wilkinson she hid her face behind her hands and ran out of the room. It was a funny reaction from her. Unusual. Vulnerable. And it made me realise how much she’d understood about these appointments and the underlying anxiety of her witholding condition.

The check-up began with Dr W re-reading his notes to us from the previous visit, his instructions for the last two months:

  • Talk about being ‘kind to poo’
  • Make our conversation animalistic, i.e. give the poos feelings
  • Stick to the horrible Dulcolax

Dr W had hardly started before I burst in with our news! That we’d said ‘adios’ to Dulcolax and nappies and ‘hello!’ to potties and Movicol. I didn’t want him talking about the old problems. I could tell from Dolly’s face that she didn’t like it and I didn’t want her reminded of the past.

Good old Dr W was really surprised and pleased with our news. I explained I’d realised we’d reached a natural break and thought it was worth a try at something new. And that it was working well for us. We agreed to have our next appointment in 6-months time and that we could cancel if we felt we didn’t need it. HURRAY.

We agreed that we’d stick to one Movicol sachet a day. Dr W explained that it’s just a molecule that collects and holds water and takes it down into Dolly’s intestine. It keeps the poo nice and moist and means it won’t ever be painful to pass. Which means we should be able to keep beating the psychological side of the withholding. Apparently, Movicol isn’t a medicine (it never reaches Dolly’s bloodstream) so I shouldn’t be thinking I need to wean her off it. Instead he suggested that we lower the dose to half a sachet every day in a month’s time.

My little love continues to use her potty beautifully and there’s little or no sign of her history of witholding. Long may this continue.

The medical advice we were given was not to attempt potty training whilst Dolly was withholding and we were taking medication. My advice would be to ditch the strong medication and the medical advice and see how your little one responds to the next big stage of development. You never know what will happen.

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On Motherhood…

“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – Winnie-the-Pooh

Let's go together, said Pooh

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All change please!

It’s funny how things change.

I seem to have spent almost half of the last two years sitting in an armchair in the dark, in my pyjamas, in varying states of wakefulness, with one or other of my children in my arms.

And now I’m not.

They sleep. Through the night. Every night. You never think you’ll get there. And yet, here we are.

Unlike my pals I never went in to check on them. The thought I might wake them unnecessarily was too much to bear. I knew I’d be in there with one of them at some point in the night, they were reliable like that. And I always felt very confident they were fine.

And now… I barge in there all the time. To tuck them in, rearrange blankets, make sure dummies are still to hand. I even get stuff out of the bloody cupboards. They won’t wake up. And if they stir I know they’ll doze right off again. They’d rather be asleep. It’s a bloody miracle. Who’d have thought it!

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A long walk, some massive Koi, some peacocks and a boy with a bobble

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Nippy and Scratchy

If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

So, the good news is we’re really motoring now on the old potties. So much so that I’m not really thinking about it so much, it’s just how things are now. It’s truly amazing how quickly they learn a new thing and you all collectively move on. New challenges are all-consuming in the moment, and then just as quickly as they arrive, they’re gone. And you’re on with the next… which for us is –

Miss Nippy Scratchy. (Oh, she is a cruel mistress.)

Arthur can rough and tumble and rumpus with the best of them. He’s a very active little boy and he really enjoys physical comedy and hooting with laughter. He can be quite rough with Dolly, but it never strikes me as intentional, just the result of his lively manner and like a puppy, he doesn’t seem to realise his own strength.

But Dolly. Oh boy! Over the last week or so she has turned into a tiny, unkind, vicious  little person. This coincides weirdly with sorting the potty-training, which can’t possibly be connected, can it?! Every time Arthur makes her cross or frustrated, with toys for instance and sharing, she lashes out at him and her tiny, gentle, frond-like fingers which I adore become nasty little weapons. She always goes for his face and neck, often his nose! Consequently, he looks like he’s done 10 rounds with Edward Scissorhands (just in time for Georgie’s naming ceremony in London this weekend, great!).

We've got our work cut out with this one...

Discipline

Initially I was so horrified to see her be so mean that I told her off harshly and removed her from the situation. She doesn’t seem at all sorry and often won’t apologise for hurting him. Removal didn’t seem to be getting me anywhere. So now I’m trying to focus my attention on Arthur (the ‘victim’) and just use the silent treatment on Dolly. This does seem to have more effect and fairly soon she’s trying to find reasons to talk to me sweetly, cupboard love as my Mum’s always called it. Eventually they’ll kiss and make up but it just happens again 15 minutes later.

Other children

Fortunately, so far she’s only really attacked Arthur (well, not for Arthur, but you know what I mean). Although last week, whilst at Tumble Town, another mother marched up to me with Dolly in tow and said in a big voice for all to hear –

‘Is she with you?’  *I thought, blimey, she’s two for goodness sake!*

I wasn’t sure whether to admit she was or not. My suspicions were aroused by the indignant look on the woman’s face.

Apparently, Dolly had been tearing strips* out of another poor little girl’s face. *aaggghh*

I marched her up to the little girl in question and made her apologise to the other toddler and her mother (not the indignant woman, notably). We were extremely contrite, me more so than Dolly. She didn’t do it again during the visit. Thank god.

So, dear readers, does anybody have any advice for me on the matter of violence, mainly between siblings, or more specifically twins? Could it just be a phase as I hope, rather than Dolly’s true character? Please say yes? They start Playschool in March and I couldn’t bear it to be an issue there. I want her to be as loved and liked there as she at home. How long might this go on?

(Also, if it lasts a while I might seriously have to buy Arthur a mexican wrestling mask.)

A mask for the boy...

*slight exaggeration

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