Tuesday, 1 September 2015

End of an era

I am sitting here thinking about how I should really be in bed but instead I feel the need to put something down in writing to mark the eve of a new era. My big girls start school tomorrow and I am not sure how I feel.

On the one hand it has been a long six and a half weeks refereeing my four little bundles or joy! I am looking forward to some me time, sitting in complete silence, peeing in private and not having to repeat myself six thousand times and ending the day hoarse after twelve hours of trying to make myself heard. But this isn't just the bigs at nursery and the littlies at playgroup this is SCHOOL! They are entering the real world outside of our chaotic family and donning their outsize school pinafores and knee socks and putting their best feet forward all on their own without me to hold their hands.

I was dreading the summer holidays laying awake at night wondering how I would fill all those days but actually it has been pretty good, albeit very knackering. There has been some sisterly bonding, in between punch ups, and some massive milestones have come and gone. I no longer have nappies on my online shopping order and we are now a household with no cots or stair gates. And now we have all got used to each other all being around each other every day and daring to stray from the routine it is time to start the school run...

How will I feel tomorrow when I wave them off into school? Will I do a little jig or will I shed a tear? I will keep you posted x

Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Big Work Dilemma

A New Year and time to start blogging again especially as I am now a lady of leisure! Urgh yeah right!
After taking six months unpaid leave from my job at the University library I should have been returning this week but after much soul searching I decided before Christmas that it was time to realise that I can’t do everything and I handed in my notice.
It was a relief when I finally made the decision. When I went back last year I enjoyed working once I was there. It gave me the freedom of just being me and being able to read a book on the metro and go to the toilet on my own and enjoy some adult conversation. Not to mention lunch breaks browsing in Cath Kidston. It was a breath of fresh air. But I couldn’t switch off when I left the house I was trying to juggle work commitments and constantly checking my phone to make sure that everyone was ok. There was so much guilt involved, guilt that I was leaving them all and guilt at feeling so unreliable at work. I took six months unpaid leave to try and work out a plan of action and hoped that once the girls were all that little bit older that it may be easier to arrange childcare but in the end I knew that it just made more sense for me to be at home with them.
It is hard giving up a good job in this day and age when they are so hard to come by and I miss my lovely work friends who saw me through IVF treatments and two twin pregnancies. I also feel a little out of touch with reality too as I don’t get time to read and rarely switch on the news. I tend to learn things through facebook and my world revolves around Disney, Ben and Holly and Peppa Pig. My days are challenging, having two very strong willed two year olds fighting with each other and their big sisters can wear you down. But in between there are some wonderful moments that I wouldn’t want to miss for the world and I feel very lucky that I have four such happy, healthy and ‘spirited’ girls.

2015 is going to be a year of change with my babies all growing up so fast and my big girls starting school in September! I am hoping I might even find a bit of me time in there somewhere too.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Our five minutes of fame

So Roger Federer and his wife have had their 2nd set of twins and all of a sudden the media is interested in us less glamorous normal folk who have also produced a couple of sets of multiples. So much so that in the last few weeks I have featured in the Daily Telegraph and been interviewed on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. All very exciting indeed. I am very good at saying yes to things before I have had chance to think these things through…
I have now had a few experiences of being interviewed for the papers and magazines which is fine, I quite like talking and I know my subject matter very well. But the home visit from the photographers is a whole different kettle of fish. My children hate being photographed especially when it involves sitting together and all looking at the camera and smiling! Personally if I was writing an article on a family with two sets of twins I would want to see the chaos of everyday life reflected in the accompanying photographs. But it seems that the media disagree and the photographer’s brief is always to capture our happy family of six beautifully presented and all looking at the camera in unison. The result is tantrums, tears, dummies and thumbs in mouths. One of the most painful afternoons of my entire life was when a photographer, an assistant and a stylist arrived an hour late and then took over my living room turning it into a mock Christmas scene. Then whisked me away from all my children for an hour and half plastered me in makeup and squeezed my post two twin pregnancy body in some god awful clothes, after asking my Mum, who was looking after 4 children, to iron them. Then asked me to dress my bored, tired, hungry and very grumpy children in an array of different outfits, only for the photographer to turn round and announce she was going out for a sandwich. Three hours later I had to ask them to leave my house after my husband went out for a walk to avoid a nervous breakdown and one of my wee twins had thrown up all over me and her outfit through stress and upset only to be told she would have to phone her editor to make sure they had got enough photos.

Surely a trip to BBC Radio Newcastle to talk to Dame Jenni Murray would be stress free, simply a morning out from the children and not a photographer in sight. I arrived and all was well and I was shown into what looked like a broom cupboard and given a cup of coffee. I put my headphones on and was told someone would talk to me through them when it was time for me to talk to the nation. I was then left alone and I started to get a bit nervous. I had no idea what time it was or when my slot was on and I started wondering whether I should have gone to the loo before entering the broom cupboard. The more I thought about it the more I needed the toilet and I started to come out in a cold sweat. Eventually panic stricken thinking I was going to have an accident whilst talking to Dame Jenni I opened the door and shouted ‘HELLO’ and luckily a nice woman stuck her head round the door. I explained I was going to be on air in a matter of minutes but I was desperate for the loo. We ran through endless corridors until eventually we found the ladies. I was in such a hurry and a fluster, what if they had cut to me in the studio and Dame Jenni was met with stony silence, that the button pinged off my jeans when I tried to fasten them and I had to run back to the store cupboard holding my trousers up ! Luckily I had a good five minutes before I was on air to compose myself and all went well, although it seems I did conduct the entire interview in my best posh accent, but I will never know as I can’t bear to listen to it as I hate the sound of my own voice. Maybe next time there is a media request I will say no...

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

A Multiple Mum’s Guilt

Today seems like a very poignant day for me. It isn’t a birthday or an anniversary but it is exactly five days since wee twins turned eighteen months old. The exact age that big twins were when wee twins were born. It was a planned c section so I knew the date in advance and had everything organised to the nth degree for their arrival. I can remember the evening before like it was yesterday. I don’t think I have ever felt so nervous in all my life. 

There is always guilt attached to being a Mum of multiples. From the moment they are born they have to share your attention. One is left to cry whilst the other is fed, when both cry at the same time in the night who do you soothe first? It takes longer to bond because I never felt like I could lie on the bed or the sofa and let one sleep on me because one would always be left out and then they would want to sleep like that all the time. Guilt, guilt and more guilt.

The morning I left for hospital to have my wee twins I not only felt nervous but a massive burden of guilt on my shoulders. My twins Lily and Daisy, who were still my little babies, had always had to share my love and attention and now they were going to have share me with two more little people. How on earth was I going to give everyone the love they needed? The short answer to that is I couldn’t!  I am lucky to have my Mum and my Sister close by and they helped us, my child-minder helped us and my child-minder’s best friend is a maternity nurse and four weeks in we needed her help too. I tried to so hard to be everything for everyone and sleep deprived and emotional me and hubster were close to killing each other. Karyn helped to save our sanity and our marriage and brought some much needed laughter back into the house. At the time I felt like a failure I thought after already having twins I should be able to do it all again and asking for help made me weak. But Karyn made it possible for me to spend some time with big twins and wee twins and she eased some of my guilt. 

So in this blog I would like to thank all those people who have helped us and kept our children’s lives relatively normal. I have to confess wee twins have yet to experience a trip to the park or a dip in the swimming pool but as everyone gets older I hope this will become possible. Me and hubster aren’t perfect and we do have blazing rows but for the most part the fab four are surrounded by love and laughter and a circle of extended family and friends to shower them with attention. 

Do I still feel guilty? Yes every day for some reason or another and I don’t think that will ever change. But when I see the big twins laughing and giggling and playing with their little sisters and see the close bond all four are going to have I think that will make up for all the times when one of them was left to cry.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Big Girls Beds!

It has been a while since my last blog. The expression not enough time in the day really does describe my life. We have been dealing with illness, my return to work, illness, birthdays, illness and the biggy, big girl’s beds!!

Big twins turned three on 31st March and they were promised big girls beds. We have probably left this longer than most but the big girls sleep like a dream and have never climbed out of their cots so I was very reluctant to change anything. But now they are three I felt I could put it off no longer and the big girls beds were put together by Daddy on Saturday. The levels of excitement were off the scale and bless them they have now slept two nights without incident. They did fall out a couple of times but there was a crash mat or three and they didn’t wake up! However this does signal the end to afternoon naps! I am not risking them going to bed wide awake.

The ground rules have been set and repeated at regular intervals during the days prior to the big event.

·         Once you are in bed you must not get out!

·         Don’t leave your bed when it is dark or you may fall over something, call for Mummy

·         Do not get in each other’s beds once lights are out

On Sunday morning I listened to them talking on the baby monitor and heard them discussing “the rules”.

 Lily “Is it morning?”

Daisy “I don’t know. Don’t get out of bed Lily!”

Lily: “I am going to get out!”

 Daisy “Lily no! Mummy says it’s not allowed! Lily get back in!”

 Lily “Daisy you shout Mummy”

Daisy “No you shout Mummy!”

 Lily “Daisy you shout Mummy”

 Daisy “Why do you want Mummy?”

 Lily “Because I want to get out of bed!”

This conversation went on for around half an hour with a few songs in between and they finally decided to shout Mummy together.  I wonder if they will always abide by the rules so well?

So Saturday saw my big twins in big girl’s beds and my wee twins turned eighteen months. The exact age that big twins were when wee twins were born.  This seems unbelievable to me as my wee girls are growing up fast too but they are still my babies. I am not sure I could do it again….

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Bye Bye to the Amazing Quadmobile

Ahh today has been the end of era. I sold my amazing piece of multitastic kit. The quad buggy. This was the buggy that, when I found out I was expecting twins again, I researched and obsessed about for months. I had to have it. It was my solution to staying independent being able to leave the house by myself with all four children. However, in reality that didn’t happen very often.
I soon realised that leaving the house with two newborns and two eighteen month olds (including one who couldn’t walk) on my own was just a wee bit optimistic. I remember posting on Facebook when my first set of twins were born that it had taken me nearly two hours to leave the house when they were around five weeks old. So add a couple of stroppy toddlers in to the mix and you can imagine trying to get out in between feeds, naps and tantrums was a bit tricky. On some days it would have been getting dark by the time I stepped foot outside the front door. In the end what would normally happen is I would use the quad as a double buggy for the wee twins and then someone would come with me and take the big twins in their double buggy. This also attracted a lot less attention.
Now don’t get me wrong I am very very proud to have two sets of twin girls. However, there are days when you just need to leave the house to maintain that last ounce of sanity you have left and don’t want to engage in small talk with anyone. Some days by the time I had shut the front door I was practically in tears all I wanted was a bracing walk along the sea front to clear my head. If you are pushing a quad double decker buggy that is never going to happen. Every other person stops you and wants to ask ‘is it two sets of twins?’ or ‘are they all yours?’ and on a couple of occasions when I had my husband with me someone would stop us and ask if he had had the snip yet!! I mean really?? Isthat acceptable??
So my wonderful quadmobile started to sit for much longer periods in our hall and soon became the coat stand. When big twins started attending playgroup regularly then the quad would come out but the final nail in it’s coffin was when one of my front wheels broke halfway to playgroup and I had to try and support four children on three wheels all the rest of the way to School. Two replacement wheels had to be purchased and shipped out from Australia at great expense and I am afraid to say it has only been used a handful of times since. Big twins love to walk and scoot and run and yes we still draw lots of attention but I don’t mind.
The quad has gone to a local childminder and the space in the hall has now been taken up with my much loved mountain buggy duet and the money is going towards a much-needed downstairs loo. Happy days.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

A Household Where Everything Must be Equal

One of the questions I come across again and again with twins and multiples is whether you should dress your same sex twins the same or in different clothes. People seem to have some quite strong opinions on this, many of whom don’t have twins. It comes down to whether you will scar them mentally by dressing them the same and not letting them have their individuality. I can understand this but from my own personal experience I tend to do whatever makes my life easier!
Let me explain.
In a house with twins and twins all things must be fair and equal. If you buy a pack of t shirts they often come in a pack of three, much to my annoyance, and you usually find there is one very pretty top, one slightly less pretty and then one which is just plain and boring. When you get your twins dressed in the morning how do you choose who gets the prettiest top? Surely by giving one the pretty top with sequins on you are showing favouritism? The easiest solution to this is to buy two packs of t shirts and dress them in the same tops so no one gets preferential treatment. When they are old enough I will let them choose what they wear and if they happen to choose the same then so be it. They aren’t quite old enough to do that yet… I do let them choose to a certain degree but they often argue over a pair of stripy tights, socks with spots on or knickers with Peppa Pig on. I try and wash everything in pairs so that I can always give them a choice with two of the same things in the pile. At the moment they both fight over a tatty pair of faded black leggings which I only have one of.  I hear them discussing the black leggings over the baby monitor when they wake up; they have been the cause of some of the most ferocious arguments!
When my identical twins were born I applied the same rule. However I soon realised by dressing them the same I couldn’t actually tell them apart! Luckily one had a strawberry birth mark on her back so I could always check if very tired and confused! So even now when I can (mostly) tell them apart I do tend to dress them a little differently. That way I can also tell their big sisters that Molly has hearts on her tights and Nell has stripes etc. Big twins often ask “which one is that?”

So in conclusion to the big ‘should you dress same sex twins the same or differently?’ debate my opinion is it should be down to the Mum. She has gone through a twin pregnancy, given birth to 2 babies, given up sleep and sanity for good. Let her decide and do whatever she thinks is best for her twins.