It's my life, but not as I knew it!

Archive for January, 2014

TAMBA Twin Seminar Talk

Sorry for being a little quiet on here recently. I needed to adjust to my new life as a full-time university student as well as mama to Biscuit and Cracker (yes, we all survived our first day at the childminders- only a few tissues required for me!)! I have also been privileged enough to be asked to do a short speech at a TAMBA (Twin and Multiple Birth Association) seminar for expectant parents of multiples. It is always good to share your knowledge and experience as a MOM (mama of multiples) to those who are just starting their journey, just as it’s always great to meet someone further along the journey and think “yes, people do cope and survive”!!
I had to talk, briefly, about their birth, feeding and help, plus any top tips. I wanted to include it on the blog for any other MOM-to-be’s to be able to find.

My name is Charlii. I am a mum of 18 month old boy/girl twins. I am also in the slightly unique position of having worked as a neonatal nurse for the last five and a half years.
I had my twins five weeks early by emergency c-sections as I was poorly with pre-eclampsia. We had experienced good antenatal care for the multiple pregnancy team at our local hospital and felt as prepared and ready as we’d ever be!
My little boy had to go to be neonatal unit for two days as he needed a little breathing support. This was the weirdest experience for me as I had only experienced that environment from the other side, I was usually the one in the blue uniform, not the hospital night gown. My little girl didn’t require and neonatal care and came straight to me.
They were born on the Friday morning and we all got discharged home together on the Sunday afternoon. That, to me, was when the learning curve of looking after twins really began.
I know there are many ways to feed your babies. I made the decision to exclusively express my milk for them. My little boy had taken to the breast as soon as he was out of NICU but my little girl who was tiny as well as early did not suckle well and I did not want to feed one via the breast and one via the bottle. With exclusive expressing they both got my breast milk and, an important issue with multiples, I got people to help me. My husband and I got into a good routine when he was at home and I also had visiting friends and family to help feed them. Expressing any milk is not an easy option and exclusive expressing is not fun but I managed to keep it up for about 35 weeks- the same amount of time they’d been in my tummy for!
My husband is Italian, so all his family is over there. My family are outside of London, so we had no-one local to help us out a lot. One thing I will say is take help where it is offered. When my twins were little my husband worked mostly nights, I had a friend who came over once a week after she finished work to help me out with bathtime. I cannot tell you how much of a Godsend that was to me.
My top tips for getting through the first year with twins are:
ROUTINE: if you can get them both into a good routine regarding feeding, sleeping, bath-story-and-bedtime then your life will be so much easier. They will then respond to cues. It will also be easier to break their routine for holidays etc and then get, quickly back into it.
ACCEPT OFFERS OF HELP: even if it’s someone to watch your children while you have a shower, or put out the washing or even hold one whilst you wash/change/feed the other. If any saintly person cooks a meal then take it so gratefully.
SLEEP: as much as you can, where you can, whenever you can! The age-old adage of sleeping when the baby sleeps might not apply if you have two babies who like to sleep opposite each other. If you ever get the chance, put down the laundry and step away from the washing up and lie down!
RECOGNISE YOUR BLESSINGS, BUT CELEBRATE THEIR INDIVIDUALITY: you have twins, or triplets, or quads! This is amazing and you are lucky people but, especially if you have identicals or same sex twins, it is important as they grow to see them and treat them as individuals.
DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF: whether this be the fact that your once immaculate house now resembles a cross between Mothercare and the Early Learning Centre with the unmistakeable aroma of vomit or poop, or you’ve just heard the hundredth inappropriate comment from a stranger on your quick trip to the shops then you should learn that it really doesn’t matter. There is always something to smile about with multiples- this is what’s important.
Your little ones will only be little for such a short amount of time. It is not always a fun or easy journey with them but you will get through it. Enjoy them!

I hope this is helpful to someone out there. Let me know!

Silent Sunday (26/01/2014)

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More Silent Sunday can be found at Cosmic Girlie.

SatCap: Saturday is Caption Day (25/01/2014)

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What should the caption be on today’s picture?

Mammasaurus - Saturday is Caption Day!

Head on over to Mammasaurus’ Blog for more SatCap fun.

Silent Sunday (19/01/2014)

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More Silent Sunday can be found at Cosmic Girlie.

SatCap: Saturday is Caption Day (18/01/2014)

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Mammasaurus - Saturday is Caption Day!

Normally you ca head on over to Mammasaurus’ Blog for more SatCap fun, today check out Mummy Alarm’s Blog for everyone’s entries. X

Just Keep Swimming….

My mum had a head teacher who said that whatever else children in his school learnt, they must all learn to swim. My mum passed the same philosophy onto my brother and me- I may not particularly like going underwater but I am safe in the water and that’s the important bit. Rob, having been a lifeguard on the small Italian island where he grew up, is a fish. We both wanted the twins to be confident and competent in water.
When they were six weeks old (and baring in mind they were five weeks early, they were teeny tiny) we took them on their first course of swimming lessons with London Baby Swim in Osterley. They also have a location in Wandsworth. They are purpose-built swimming pool, maintained at a toasty 33oC with low chlorine levels and specially trained instructors. They had trouble staying awake throughout the first few lessons, but always seemed to enjoy them. Cracker had mild talipes and the swimming got him to strengthen his leg and foot muscles and now it’s not noticeable at all. We did two courses with them, one of the major benefits of maternity leave was being off for that time and being able to sign up for certain days. Osterley is very far away from us, over an hour on the tube each way, but it was a sad day when we had our last session there.
We then did a course with Water Babies at the Bridge School in Islington. Because this one was held at a school the water was still nice and warm for them and they were bigger so they could do more.
After these courses, and a trip to visit Rob’s family in Italy, we started taking them swimming in our own. We searched for a family friendly swimming pool (not that easy in London). We had a bad experience at our local pool, Oasis, where the manager told us we shouldn’t be bringing young children swimming and we left after five minutes and a refund. We had a better experience at Marshall Street Leisure Centre with lovely, helpful staff but it was absolutely freezing!! We then went a few times to Archway Leisure Centre which was nice, but with a wave pool, slide and other fun things it is probably best for older children who can already swim. We have now been lucky enough to find out that our local LA Fitness has family swim times every day, and the option to add your children to your membership. If we go at least three times a month, it works out a very good deal too. The pool is warm, not too busy and the changing rooms are clean and spacious.
I know I have talked about specific pools and businesses here, but what I wanted to get across to you is that there are many options out there for baby and toddler swimming , it is just a case of googling, searching and asking other parents for recommendations. There are a great many articles out there that show the positive aspects of baby swimming on both babies and parents, which shows how beneficial that hour a week can be for you and your family. Combine that with a life-long confidence in water, the gentle exercise you’ll all get and I’m glad we made the decision to take Biscuit and Cracker swimming from when they were young. They are happy in the water and enjoy going, I couldn’t ask for more.

It’s The Little Things In Life

We all have those days where worries and stresses seem to enter our heads and take hold.

Whether these thoughts are about money, work, body image or anything else that concerns you it is really hard to keep perspective on what you have in life.

When the new year came in, there were many ideas on social media about how to remind yourself what you have. There are bloggers who are doing 365 days of photos of things that make them happy, people on Facebook and Twitter are uploading their #100DaysHappy snaps and there were links on Pinterest to people getting a jar and filling it with reminders of all the things that made them happy and smile during the year so that when they open it on New Years’ Eve it shows them what a good year it has been for them.

Biscuit and Cracker make this job easier for me. They make me smile and giggle so much that even on bad days I feel happy. This may be little things like when they toddle over to me give me a cuddle, or when they play peek-a-boo with each other. It is the little mannerisms that they do and the funny faces they pull. It is the way they can take the most boring item and be happy about playing with it for ages. Yesterday they spent about half an hour playing with my new clothes pegs, putting them in a box and taking them out again. Then the other day they spent a good 15 minutes in the bath laughing out loud at filling up an empty bubble bath bottle with water and then squirting it out. Rob and I went to bed with the biggest grins on our faces that night!

There are many things that can make us unhappy. January is a long month with six weeks between pay packets. After Christmas, many of us may be feeling slightly heavier than normal. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with things, but it never seems so easy to use positive thinking to banish stress.

However you do it, whether you use one of the ideas I told you about or if you simply take five minutes during your day to look at your friends and family and smile at the little things, remember what you have and how brilliant you are.

Good luck today!

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