Tuesday, July 22, 2014

the world

Seems like all people want to do around the world at the moment, is kill each other.

Either by shooting down full planes of people in aeroplanes, or going to full-out war - once again, in its 4 000 year history of conflict - in the Middle East.

And these are just the headline grabbers.

But the thing that really got to me, and made me almost vomit (I haven't been able to read beyond the headline and only know the basic details otherwise I fear I will go mad), is the story about the little boy and the hijackers in South Africa.

It makes me so sick to my core, I want to scream.

Why is the world so fucked up?

Hashtag depressed.

Friday, July 18, 2014

so in other news

So in other news, we are having a heat wave.

When there's a heat wave in Britain, everything breaks. Much like when there is snow in Britain. Extreme weather turns this place upside down - newspapers create double page spreads showing natural disasters occurring across the country in the form of skyscraper high waves or buckling train tracks from scorching, or an avalanche heading towards London.

"Broken Britain!" the headlines cry.  All because it is 31 degrees today. So drastic and melodramatic when it comes to weather here.

Make no mistake, anything over 28 degrees in London is uncomfortable. It's sticky as fuck, and there's no escaping it. (No backyard swimming pools), and the moment you go outside you turn into a lobster. Just like how people here are inclined to do.

Taking a tube on a day like this feels like what I imagine the fiery depths of Hell must feel like, and I have to take one this evening to go to a birthday party. (Yay!)

Having a child in this weather gives the scenario a nice panicky edge - cot death and overheating warnings mean I am paranoid and constantly going to check on him.

But, even so - a British summer, and a lovely sunny one like we've been having so far is the best time to be here.
I went on a picnic with my mum's group this week to Battersea Park. I used to cycle through this park daily to get to work when my office was closer by than it is now. I haven't been there in ages, and it's only a over mile from our house.
It's still arguably London's best park. Right on the river, overlooking Chelsea, beautiful manicured gardens, a boating lake, and once I saw Rowan Atkinson there.
 Swapped my bike for a buggy...

I miss my bike. But it was brilliant to push Sebastian around in the pram, find a patch of grass and talk babies and pooh with the ladies. The babies lay together on the blanket kind of staring and drooling at each other. 

We had Sebastian christened on Sunday. A formality that actually turned into a lovely day. He was dressed up like a little girl though, which he may never forgive me for. (In which case I'll blame his granny, because the outfit was her family heirloom.)
Herewith my decidedly Amish-looking son:
I just want to EAT him.

He looks peeved. Does he look peeved?

E, a great friend of mine from South Africa, was in town this week too. She hung out with Seb and I, and we went for lunch on the King's Road.
Having a two year old son herself, she let me in on what I can expect.

Apparently, "You now own a hurricane. Boys Do. Not. Stop. Ever."

I am so lucky to have a little boy. They sound like a fuckload of hard work, but also so much fun. Apparently he won't stop grabbing his willy from about now until the end of time, he will pee everywhere but in the toilet,  he will jump, pounce, climb on everything (read: wreck my home), he will play everywhere you are, and he will be an endless bundle of squirming energy. While girls can busy themselves for 40 minutes at a time, boys will do the same for 2 minutes.

But the best part? He will love his mum forever. At least that's what I have read.

I also met a friend who lives close by and works with me, also on maternity leave. Her little boy is 8 months, so is crawling, standing and grabbing things. As fast as a flash, he would disappear past us and into the cafe kitchen.

"He ate a handful of coal right out of the fireplace," she said.

It looks very very exhausting. But I'm still excited he's a little BOY.

It's been four years since I immigrated to the UK from South Africa.

A lifetime has been squeezed into that time, it's difficult to even remember what I was like back then, but I do remember the excitement and sadness of leaving a place I may never return to permanently.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

an open letter to the NHS

It’s been about a month since I got the post mortem results explaining {somewhat} why Molly died.

In that time I’ve felt sadness, gratitude that Sebastian didn’t suffer the same fate. I’ve also felt anger and extreme frustration. It’s taken some time to grow the balls to write this, but here goes.

To Whom This May Concern at the NHS

In time, I might be able to find out who to direct this to, but for now, consider this an open letter to the chief executive, all heads of sonography, high risk birthing unit, the board.

In order to save you the long story, attached is my NHS number so you can delve through my now massive medical file you own. One of my twins died in utero at 34-35 weeks.

‘Oh here we go,’ you say. ‘A letter from a grieving mother with an axe to grind.’ Perhaps let me start by saying this: the expert staff who looked after me, my baby, and who guided us through our tragic circumstances at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital were wonderful. I saw so many midwives, consultants, neonatologists and doctors during my two week stay there, it’s difficult to call out specific names. They know who they are, and while it was the most difficult life-changing two weeks of my life, I wouldn’t have got through it without the expertise, kindness and help of these people. The obstetrician who I counted on to deliver my twins, give me the post mortem results and advise me the best way in which to give birth, was nothing short of phenomenal.

This is not a letter about how awful I think the state health system is, far from it given the assistance my husband, myself and my living child received. What I’d like to address specifically is the frequency of sonographs/ultra sounds, specifically with reference to multiple pregnancies. From the moment I found out I was carrying twins (7 weeks) I was told that twins are high risk. Higher risk of everything from pre-eclampsia, to miscarriage and stillbirth.

Mothers of singletons and twins are flooded with warnings from the get go, especially about the first trimester. Usually most mothers sigh with relief at the initial 12 weeks come to an end - no more nausea and suddenly risk of miscarriage falls dramatically. But twin mothers are still plied with warnings: basically lots of shit can go wrong when you carry more than one child.

As a result, twin mothers are offered more scans. Specifically, three more scans. I carried dichorionic diamniotic (DCDA) twins, which is supposedly the least risky situation when it comes to multiples. This essentially meant that they each had their own ‘rooms’ and placentas, while the seriously risky twins who share amniotic chorionic sacs, who share placentas are given scans from 16 weeks, every two weeks. This is because of risk of twin-to-twin transfusion, cords wrapping around necks, etc etc - this I know.

I got an additional three scans every five weeks from 20 weeks. Now, before you throw a load of data towards me about how many DCDA twins don’t die in utero, please hear me out. I’ve been told that it’s not a money issue, it’s a need issue. Do mothers of DCDA twins need to be scanned as frequently as those carrying monochorionic/monoamniotic twins? According to your data, no.
Because perhaps only one mother out of 500 has a stillbirth, so unless there’s reason for concern, additional scans don’t need to be offered.

My last routine scan was at 30 weeks. All the data pointed towards healthy growth for both my twins. While Twin 1 (Sebastian) had always been the larger twin, there was no reason for concern for Twin 2 (Molly.) She was smaller, but all her growth trajectories were within the normal range. I even asked the sonographer whether there was reason to be concerned as she was noticeably smaller. “No, she is within the healthy range,” after measuring her heart, head, abdomen. Why question the professional OR the data?

My next routine scan was 35 weeks. Five long weeks passed, and during that time, Twin 2 stopped growing. The post mortem estimated this to happen at 32 weeks. By the time 34-35 weeks rolled around, Twin 2 had died. Had they been MCMA twins, I would've had a scan at 32 weeks. The scan would’ve picked up that something was wrong and she was not growing. So while having them at 32 weeks is not ideal, such is the case with twins. They come early, and many have been delivered at 32 weeks before, in order to save their lives. Yes, they would’ve been in special care for a while. It would’ve been harsh and difficult. But perhaps I’d have two healthy twins here today. Who knows.

Nothing you do will bring Molly back. And this isn’t the intention of the letter. But I need to ask why you do not give all twin mother’s the right to to receive more scans in the latter half of pregnancy. Had I been given that option, even asked to pay for that option, I would’ve taken it. I would’ve had a choice, and because I mostly had no idea what was going on with my body during my first and first twin pregnancy, well it would’ve been nice to have had the choice.

While 1 in 500 mothers losing a twin to stillbirth just two weeks before they were due means nothing in the grand scheme of things, I am writing as that one mother whose child did die. And for any future mother of twins whose child may die because they didn’t receive enough scans. ‘Count the kicks,’ people told me throughout pregnancy. Unless you’ve actually been pregnant with two children at once, you will know then how difficult it is to tell whose foot or hand is which. Your stomach never stops moving, and you cannot tell who is who pretty much 50% of the time.

What is a scan really? It’s someone’s time, it’s money, but it’s a relatively short and painless procedure that could save a life. There’s a good chance it could’ve saved my daughter’s.

So, in short, I have a simple appeal: why not offer mothers the choice to pay for more scans. Offer them, give them the choice. To me it’s a short cut; an oversight not to offer more scans to women who carry multiple babies, whether there is cause for concern or not.

Laurian Dormer

Friday, July 11, 2014

dear diary

Dear Diary

New record in poonami stakes. My baby managed to emit a pooh all the way up his back to his neck.

Yes, his headstem; his neck actual neck. Boys will be boys, and my boy has officially broken his own pooh record - what a proud mummy I am. Excitement and jubilation in our household!

(Spent morning washing him and his clothes, went through half a jar of Vanish).
 For those wondering, the shade is almost exactly the same colour as the cardigan I'm wearing today. Coincidence?

Also, Dear Diary:

I've joined WeightWatchers [again.] I get more points as I'm breastfeeding, but I am officially going to get my pre-pregnancy body back!

(I carried twins for 8 months, so my stomach and hips will never look the same. I was a heavy mama, and I have a lot of work to do. I don't think it'll ever look like it was...)
But before shit gets totally out of control, and I start to look like LaShonda Shaniqua Devine above, I'm planning to lose about 10 kilograms.

Dear Diary, related: doing some serious pelvic floor exercises! Squeeze and breathe squeeze and breathe.

Lovely Lulu Jay of Berrydairies who so kindly came to visit Sebastian and I to check up on our progress told me that something called 'prolapse' can happen if you don't do your Kegels.
Just the word sounds diabolical, so I have invested some serious time to tightening up my undercarriage.
(Prolapse means your uterus falla down into your vaginal passage. I think. Basically gravity takes hold and everything goes into a big black hole never to return to the right place unless surgically.)


Also she noticed something with one of Seb's hands and foot. As a result of a small placenta. She has done her best to put me at ease, and has mostly succeeded, but I am still worried. His foot curls slightly and he fists his left hand a lot - more than what he should be.

Dear Diary, thank goodness for wonderful physios like Lulu Jay, I now do daily exercises with him.

Dear Diary, my best Irish Gay friend has taken it upon himself to internationalise my son. Teach him about diversity and, well, the EU. The uncle that makes him a European mascot.
He has bought him a strapping pair of lederhosen and a vest with leprechauns all over it. Next up are clogs and a kilt.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

london mums

You know you're a London mum when:

1) You travel on a bus with lettuce leaves in your bra.

True story. Having milk flow issues in one of my milk jugs.

God forbid they fall out. So am sitting tight.

2) You force your baby buggy into the tiniest of crevices/shop doors/aisles/buses

It's wedged between something more often than not.

3) You call it a baby buggy.

No prams here, guv.

4) You spend at least one portion of your summer's day wandering on some sort of green space.

The Common knows me and my buggy well. I go there everyday, to the point where the geo-location on my phone thinks its 'work' and keeps on wanting to update my settings.

5) You start looking at whether your child can get Received Pronunciation elocution lessons when he is old enough to talk.

True story part deux. I would like Sebastian to speak BBC English. Call it posh, call it whatever you like, but he might even thank me one day.

(The Queen speaks Heightened RP, I just want him not to talk in any sort of London accent. At all. Cockney, Estuary or other. Cannot stand it. Yes I'm a snob.)

Off on a night out for tapas in Maida Vale with two great friends of mine.

Again, hope the old boobies don't explode.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

my eccentric burqa child

Over the last few weeks I have settled in. I am officially loving being a mum.

It may be because he is doing something new almost every day. Or he is now in a little routine where I can read his signals, and he is sleeping. My God my child is sleeping when he needs to sleep!

You have no idea what a difference this makes. Even if he still wakes up at 4am for a feed, I don't care. I even enjoy it it to some extent.

That's right. I even enjoy the 4am feed.
I know. Seriously.

He smiles all the time, and he has started picking up little foibles unique to him. Perhaps it's because I spend 24/7 with him, but I feel like I know my son now. Inside and out.

Speaking to friends in South Africa who also have babies has been interesting. Mainly because most - no all - get help. Domestic help is cheap and easy there. Here? I dread the day I have to go back to work and watch most of my salary disappear into the nanny fund. I still have a few months to go - thank goodness - I am really not ready to give up this Full Time Mummy thing up yet - until we have to start being very careful with our spending. Right up until he starts school.

It's a hard concept. Those overseas holidays and OMG Waitrose foods are going to be few and far between from January.

Fuck. OK backpeddle. Where was I.

One of my friends asked how I do it. "How do you manage to look after Sebastian every hour of the day?"

Well, when you don't have a choice you just do. You get used to it. And the pros are I don't miss a thing. If he starts sitting up or rolling over, guaranteed I'll be the first to see it. The cons are I that I never get an afternoon nap or a regular night out with the husband like you do.

I've gathered already that I have a bit of an eccentric child. (Yay? I think?).
He likes to sleep with his doudou over his head.

He has little security blanket with a head sewn onto it, made of muslin. It's breathable and safe, but to other people when I am walking him around in the pram, it looks as though I am either slightly neglectful or am trying to rear a child who is really into burqas.

I mean, look at him. This is all his own doing.

 He pulls it over his face and that's how he settles himself to sleep. Cute or what? Scary or what?

I have to go and check on him all the time, as you might just imagine.

He's also found himself. Discovery via mirror. And stares and smiles at his reflection while I massage his back.

Gosh, I just love him. *

*Trying to swear less. Mummy might say a few fucks behind his back, but is making a concerted effort not to say fuck anywhere within ear range. And [mostly] winning.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

to love a child

It came at a good time. The hospital held a service for all those parents who have lost babies there on Sunday.

There were some readings, and we got to light a candle and place a Gerbera daisy in a ring.
It was tremendously sad. Seeing a room full of weeping parents who had lost babies. Another reminder that we are not alone.
There was a couple next to us who had lost both their twins. My heart just aches for them. There was a tea session after the service, but I noticed that they didn't come to that.

I desperately wanted to approach them. But then I thought, "But why?" Here I was, standing with Sebastian who was gurgling away, and say, what, "Hello, I lost a twin?" Surely they would immediately look at Sebastian and say "Well lucky you, you have one at least."
Best not approach them at all. It would only hurt them.

Sebastian reminds me of Molly a lot. I'm not sure if that would happen if someone loses both their twins. I always wonder if she would look similar to him, or be loving my milk and turning into a little fattie like he is. Would she be trying to roll now like he is?


This week we are taking him to his first wedding. I'll be wearing a giant maxi dress to hide the staunchness of my heaving hips. I'll put him in a white romper with sailboats across the front.
(Dressing boys can be fun. He has shirts and things with dirt diggers, tractors racing cars and boats on them. It's fucking cute.)

The Brit is one of the groomsmen, so I'll drive up to Buckinghamshire with him separately, and then after the ceremony I'll tuck him in and leave him with his first babysitter.

Eeek! I know it's normal to be scared and anxious - right? Mummy is going to need a few glasses of champagne just for the nerves.

Then on the weekend, we travel south to the Brit's hometown to see his family in Hampshire. Taking him out of his little London routine and bubble is freaking me out.

The joy I feel when he smiles though.
It's really hard to describe how much you love your own child. It goes beyond anything you have experienced in your life; you live for this tiny little thing. You'd do anything, literally anything for your child. 
(Like register him for two private prep schools that we can't currently afford, but plan to win the lottery before he attends. Or loot something.)

The love you feel for your child runs deep within you, and just when you think you couldn't love it anymore - you're too full - you love it more than you did the day before.
To the point when you think if anything happened to you child, you'd die. You'd break in half. I am completely paranoid something will happen to Sebastian. I check on him every 10 minutes when he sleeps during the day.
If anyone were to try and harm him? This Mother Ship would destroy them. 

I love my little boy more than anything in this world; my life is no longer my own.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sometimes the pain is still so fresh.

I can't escape it. I try by pacing the house, or distracting myself by buying too many baby clothes, ending up buying jewellery with twins symbols. Or just staring at pictures of twins.

The pain sometimes follows me. Forcing me to think about it.
What would my little girl look like now? Would she look like Sebastian? Would she have his same cheeky grin and big, soft brown eyes?

I still cannot believe my twins and my baby girl aren't here sometimes. Its still unbelievable.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

the baby spa

I gathered my skirts yesterday and got on a bus headed to Kensignton, with Sebastian bundled in his pram.

He was 3 months old yesterday, so to celebrate I met up with a friend and her baby who is roughly the same age as Sebastian.
I noticed she'd been frequenting this baby spa whereby babies get to swim around in a pool, get massaged and generally pampered.

While my vice is buying too many baby clothes, hers was visiting this delightful place every week.
I wanted a piece of that.

It's amazing. Owned by a South African couple from Cape Town, natch. They patented the 'Bubby', this foam floatation device that the baby's head rests on while they swim freely around this warm, jacuzzi bath. Classical music in the background.

Only in London would you get such a thing: a spa just for babies. 

Well, it was just the most heartwarming thing. Watching my little boy and his baby buddy swim, while their heads floated above water.

Such a clever piece of equipment, well didn't I bloody think of this? Could be a hashtag millionaire by now.

Then they get massaged. By the time it was all over, both babies were lying conko in their buggies, passed out from all the action. Seb's never done so much exercise in his little life.

Definitely going to go again. Will ditch buying any baby clothes for a while to replace expenditure.

 Look  at those chubby legs. He's a sumo wrestler.
 Chilling in the tub with his buddy.
 My sweet baby child.
 Fascinated by the toys.

How cool is this business?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

boy versus man


The back story goes like this: the Brit has always been keen on getting some new kitchen knives. The ones we currently own are blunt and crap, so I thought since I fucked up with the gift scenario on our first wedding anniversary, I thought I'd  - on behalf of Sebastian of course - make up for it on Father's Day.

I bought a bunch of really really sharp Jamie Oliver knives and a bamboo chopping board to go with it, purely for his kitchenic bliss.

You can probably see where this is going.

Third World Ant and her hubby are in London this week (yay!), and so the Brit decided to embark on some culinary grandeur for their arrival yesterday. A fancy Italian dish that I can't pronounce.

Well, he went and chopped the tip of his thumb off didn't he.

He chopped off the tip and it landed somewhere in the salad. Just as we had put Sebastian down to bed in his room, (which involves a lot of to and froing, crying, settling, etc etc).

The blood was gushing, the Brit was slumped on the floor feeling faint and sweating, while I was digging around for the first aid kit wondering if I should try to bundle him in the car and whisk him off to the emergency room. But wait, fuck! We have a baby, what do I do with the baby?

We sealed off the gaping hole in his finger with tape and plasters, while he kind of moaned on the floor, and then Sebastian kicked off. Started screaming blue murder in his room.

So for about half an hour, I was running to and from the kitchen where my husband was basically dying, and my baby who was basically screaming his head off.

Which boy to settle first, who to attend to longest? This must be what parenting and being the matriarch of the house must feel like. Put Rescue Remedy on the Brit's tongue, fed him water, dashed to Seb's room and put his dummy back in his mouth and patted his chest reassuringly. Dashed back to kitchen, mopped Brit's brow with an ice pack so that he didn't completely pass out. Mopped up the blood. Ran back to Seb's room and jiggled his cot and shoved dummy back in.

"I think I'm just going to lie down," gasps the Brit.

No no. Don't do that. Lying down means sleeping which means I wouldn't be able to drag him unconscious out of the house and into the car.

Seb is wailing in the background.

"Two secs. STAY UPRIGHT."

Eventually, the bleeding stopped and Seb fell asleep.

Then yesterday while our guests were here, a wine galss dropped off the table and punctured a full on gaping hole in the Brit's foot.

I'm serious. He is either trying to amputate himself or nature is trying to kill him off.
Blood everywhere, out came the first aid kit not 24 hours later, bandages, plasters, tape.

Mopping up of blood, wondering if we should get him to the emergency room for some stitches. Luckily this time Sebby was fast asleep.

Not letting my husband near knives, glasses or sharp objects for a few days. Not that he wants to chop anything again anyway.