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.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Magical Moments and a bit of gushing

Weekends are often tough in the Multi-tastic household. No playgroup or help from family and four children to entertain in the middle of winter. But yesterday was a beautiful sunny day and it was filled with magical moments that literally made me want to cry as all four sisters showed spontaneous genuine acts of love and kindness to one another properly for the first time.

Wee twins learnt how to kiss and were showering their big sisters with kisses on the lips. We tried to get a photo but failed! Lily turned to Daisy at the dinner table and told her she loved her and then Daisy told Lily she loved her and they shared a hug and none of it resulted in tears. They said please and thank you all day and Daddy was inundated with cuddles from all his girls.

It was a day to treasure and I wanted to record it in my blog as other days can be so tough. I sometimes end up wondering why having children seemed like such a good idea and spend all day being referee rather than Mummy collapsing in a heap on the sofa with a glass of wine fit for nothing at the end of the day!

Yesterday I got a glimpse of the future and what good friends the fabulous foursome will be and it made me feel so happy and proud to be Mummy to four such funny and spirited little girls.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Fab 4 Take Over Soft Play

This week has felt like a week of mini milestones. Today wee twins turned 16 months, hard to believe that when big twins were this age I was only 8 weeks away from giving birth to twins again! This is also my last full week of being a stay at home Mum, as on Monday I will be entering the outside world and returning to work, albeit part time, but more of that in another blog post. And then thirdly today all 4 were let loose in soft play together for the first time and even with my wonderful helper, soon to be Nanny, I am flipping shattered!

I have been waiting for both wee twins to be properly walking before I took them to soft play and today I was having some work done in the house so it felt like a good time to try it. I think I had a vision in my head that big twins would be happy to amuse themselves and wee twins would happily stay in the under 5’s area. But that isn’t how it went at all. I had, of course, forgotten to add toilet trips in the equation for big twins, meltdowns as socks were taken off and ‘accidentally’ lost on the top floor and of course I was sent in to retrieve. You always realise quite how much weight you need to lose too when you try and squeeze yourself through child size openings! And I should have known better than to think wee twins would be happily contained anywhere! Wee twins mainly wanted to explore everything especially toilets, staff kitchen and over 5’s area and wailed if I took big twins to the loo. It also cost a fortune to gain entry and feed 4 children. I need to remember to ask for childminder discount next time!


All that being said, I am now supping a glass of Sauvignon feeling proud of myself for taking all 4 out on an adventure where they could play together. This doesn’t happen very often which I always think is a bit sad.  I am hoping by the summer beach trips for all 4 will be doable and a happy occasion. I am ever the optimist.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Art of Potty Training Twins

I wish I knew what it was then I could write a book on the subject and get rich! I have been dreading potty training since the big twins were babies and that was before the next 2 arrived. It is right up there with moving them into big girls beds and that hasn’t happened yet either. Big girls pants is the big deal in our house right now and big girls beds will follow when potty training has been mastered, HELP!

To be honest I have been putting it off but one day I bribed them in to having an afternoon nap by saying they could wear Peppa Pig big girls pants when they woke up if they went to sleep. They went to sleep and have been wearing Peppa Pig pants ever since! That will teach me. But I have learnt that some things are best not planned to the nth degree.

Potty training two at a time is really hard. When we are out and about, usually soft play, going to the toilet is part of the entertainment and they fight over who goes on the toilet first and then they choose different toilets but I can’t leave one perched on the loo whilst I go next door to help the other etc etc There really is a gap in the market for a double toddler toilet, maybe my next venture!? At home it is even harder as I have the wee twins to consider. I have two potties in every room but then once they have been filled I have to move them quick before wee twins try to put them on their head. The other day I plonked them over the stair gate to take up to the bathroom once things were a little calmer, then forgot. Later all four were racing up the stairs when one of the wee twins found the potty and threw it over the banister, I can only thank my lucky stars there was just wee wee in it. Then there is potty preference, we own six potty’s but only two are Peppa Pig, Two are deemed “too cold to sit on” by Daisy and the other two are never where they should be anyway. Tomorrow I have a plumber coming round to give us a quote for a downstairs loo. ANYTHING to make this process easier.

They are doing really well and I am very proud of them. There have been accidents but not as many as I thought there would be. Occasionally Lily wets herself for the sheer fun of it but Daisy is horrified at the thought. My biggest headache is the “ I need the toilet” card that is brought out at bedtimes, naptimes and going to playgroup when I have my coat and shoes on and the wee twins are aleady in the pushchair times.

Hopefully Mr Plumber will give us a good quote tomorrow…

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Health and Safety at Home!

When wee twins were born big twins had just turned 18 months and still babies themselves. I was a nervous wreck. I literally thought big twins might kill wee twins with ‘love’. Cuddles consisted of literally lying on top of them and when they were bored of them they used to try and bop them on the head and poke them etc etc. In the end I bought a playpen, which could be turned in to a room divider and set up a baby jail with 2 moses baskets and a changing station inside. Big twins used to stand at the bars gazing in and trying to think of ways to climb over. All wooden building blocks and the like were put in the loft so they couldn’t be used as missiles. Bedtime and baths were a logistical nightmare. Bedtime started at around 6pm and I could still be trying to settle wee twins at 9 30pm only to then feed them again at 11pm. There was LOTS of crying.

1 year on and things are a lot easier in many ways with a military routine firmly in place. However with wee twins now on the move and wanting to do everything their big sisters do I often think it is even harder. This morning wee twins were crawling up the stairs at break neck speed with big twins leading the way all clambering over one another to get to the top first. Once at the top Daisy (1 half of big twin set) ran to shut the bathroom door to stop the wee twins from trying to climb in the loo but she got her fingers caught in the door whilst her twin sister tried to push it shut from the other side. Meanwhile wee twins were trying to climb back down the stairs headfirst… Thank the lord my other half was downstairs to rescue a baby or 2.

So now I write this sipping my large glass of wine with a few more white hairs than I had yesterday and am thankful for getting through another day without any major incident.  We are potty training at the moment so who knows what tomorrow will bring. But potty training is a subject that deserves at least 2 or 3 blog entries all to itself…

Friday, 24 January 2014

Going to attempt to start blogging....

Hello I am Julie Mum to 4 beautiful girls. 2 sets of twins born 18 months apart. My world is chaotic and filled with mayhem and tears. I never have any time to do anything and my house permanently looks like we have  been burgled... so what I do decide to start a blog!!

Excuse my lack of spell check and forgive my terrible grammar at times. I think the process will be therapeutic...

Right off to make lunch before the big girls return home from playgroup.

Julie xxx