Tuesday, March 24, 2015

the first birthday

To think I was in full blown labour this time last year. Cheese and [egg fried] rice.

I was induced, and was told that labour might come on, oh, within a few hours, maybe it will maybe it won't, so just hang out on the beaching ball until I start to feel something.

I was terrified. Genuinely fucking terrified. I'm such a wuss when it comes to pain anyway, but now I was physically balking at the thought of contractions coming on, and having to literally squeeze out two babies.

I just kept thinking, "And once I've had my live baby, it isn't over. I have to do this all again. And for a baby that's not even living."

I went into labour almost immediately after being induced, (surprise! No time to even have a soothing bath and just let nature take it's course,  hell no) so while the Brit went home to grab a coffee and have a shower, I was suddenly having a contraction every minute, and lemmetellyou: period pains had nothing on this. By the time he returned, I was being propped up on the side of my bed by 10 people and having the epidural I was begging to be administered, and the last thing I recall is him opening the door to my room and almost dropping his coffee.

"Yeah. Things are going a bit fast around here. We have to slow the contractions down, so we are going to thrust this injection into you quicksticks."

And then I lay on my back in labour for another 17 hours until they were born [via emergency c section because Sebastian's palms were covering his face and blocking the exit door.]

His cries were immediate; there was a silence the three minutes she followed. With a shock of black hair, strong lungs and the sweetest face. We couldn't believe he was ours.

We got to hold Molly and Sebastian together, as was intended. I was catatonic, but I remember this like crystal.

So here we are, the arrival of my babies' birthday. My little Sebastian is a year old today, it's insane.

The Brit and I and Sebastian have survived a year with each other. We've survived the pooh, the vomit, the colic, the crawling, the new teeth, the hundreds of hours of sleep deprivation, the sadness and the joy, the breastfeeding, the weaning, the separation anxiety, the intense cuteness only a baby could be. And I couldn't imagine it any other way.

Happy birthday my most precious, darling child. And happy birthday twins of mine, one on Earth and one divine.

The love I have for this little boy is indescribable - he is my light, my joy, and pretty much the reason I do anything these days. Anything I do, indirectly relates back to him, even to my looking after my health better for the longterm - also I am paranoid that I am going to die of cancer one day - but I want to be the healthiest I am simply so that I can be with him in this life as long as I can.

Being pregnant and a mother to my children has given me some new perspectives I never thought I'd have or care about. Just being pregnant with Molly and Sebastian and having them kick me, grow inside me and seek comfort in my womb made me fall in love with them both the moment I knew they even existed. There is no doubt about it - the maternal 'thing' kicked in for me pretty much straightaway. The thought of being apart from them, someone hurting them, or getting anything but my love, even before they were born, was inconceivable to me. And yet I also realise there are mums out there that do the unthinkable, and I just can't comprehend it.
My children, dead or alive, have enriched me so much.  I've learnt new things about life and people, picked up new skills, and an appreciation for living every day, and my little family.

I get excited when I think of the things to come - walking soon, talking and seeing him everyday as I rush home from work.

He is such a happy little boy. Now finally settled - almost 3 months later - in nursery, to the point where he waves me goodbye with a giant smile and goes in for a hug with his key worker.

His teeth have finally surfaced, and all at once, so party party party. Over the course of ten days he has four teeth pushing through - and the nights are sleepless once again. They're like little razorblades, and more than ever he comes in for cuddles and hugs.

We are so proud of this little chap, who is such an affectionate soul. He has always loved to be close to us than not, from the day he was born. He holds his hands out for hugs now, and he buries his head in my shoulder. It's absolute heaven.

He is also such a smiley baby. He just beams and giggles at me and at anyone. He is not discerning in the slightest, he is a social butterfly, and just loves to smile.
My heart explodes when I hear his laugh and he looks up at me to check I'm watching him when he plays with his toys. When he scootches around on his bottom - he's a bum shuffler - or when he gets excited and pounces on the floor and commando crawls everywhere.

He is such a character. So funny sometimes, he makes us cry with laughter. 

Then there's the moment I walked into the sitting room and found him standing next to the coffee table, swinging his baby monitor around by the aerial. His first haircut the other day that's made him suddenly look a lot older than he is.

He is also getting naughty. I think we are going to have a spirited naughty little bugger on our hands. He now gets this look when he doesn't like something, and he has started to very gallantly throw his food off his plate while looking at me as he does it. He gets this infuriatingly cute but cross expression on his face, and then will throw his book to the side if I plonk him down somewhere he doesn't want to sit. he throws things to the side he doesn't like, and he is going to have to start learning how to deal with not getting his own way soon. It's the gateway to his tantrum years, I can see it. And while I say 'No' a lot, it's difficult to know how much he understands still.

He is my joy and while he looks like Daddy (mostly), everyone knows he has my eyes. Big, brown eyes - which mirror mine exactly.

He is my little survivor. He could've died, just like his twin. He could've suffered a similar fate, but he survived. He was always the stronger, bigger one, and so to me he is my ultimate little fighter.

I am so lucky to have him. I love you with all my heart my Sebastian George. I cannot believe you are 1 today. I love you with every cell that I am made of.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

one year ago today

My heart aches so much. In two hours I would've been leaving the house to go for my 35 week scan; tired and ready to slog my massive body across town. Ready to have my babies now.  It would be the last scan before they were due to be born at 37 weeks.

I was told that they couldn't find Molly's heartbeat  - Twin 2 at that stage - and I cannot describe for you what happened in that time. All I remember is the world caving in on itself and I was battling to breathe.

Today marks the death of not only my daughter, but the death of a dream. A life we had envisaged and had, over the course of the last almost 8 months, planned for.
This pic below was taken a year ago last night. My Brit used to hold my tummy and talk to the 'boompties', as we called them.

My boompties, together, a life that they were destined to share, in every conceivable way.

I didn't know she had died when the Brit took this picture. Life really can change in a second.

Here I am at work, at my desk, and it's all very civilised and everyone  - the world - just carries on around me. What would I do without Sebastian, I wonder. He is my light, my joy, my everything. I am so lucky to have him beyond everything that has happened. I live for this little boy.

But, I can't help but feel that society (and even some of my friends and family) prefers that I not talk about my deceased child, and sometimes I feel judged a lot of the time I do speak about it. But I refuse to not not speak about Molly. I choose to talk about her because it acknowledges her existence, and that is my duty as a mother. To ensure her memory lives on. And to ensure that she knows, wherever she is, that I, as her mother, will never, ever, forget her. Or stop loving her.

Another poem I loved by Dr Elizabeth Pector, who lost one of her boy twins, and dedicated a website of poetry to her sons. They resonate completely with me, and have adapted it for Molly and Sebastian.

I miss you my girl. Everyday.

Twin Maths

2 separates into 1+1,
One life lost while another's begun.
Is this why even now I hate
To see in print my twins' birthdate?

Registering for a toddler class
Recalls that day of sorrow past.
"What's your son's birthdate?" they ask on the phone,
Unaware the same date's on his twin's tombstone.

That fateful day, on 18-3
One born to earth, one born to heaven
My twins after months of waiting arrived.
We always thought they'd both survive.

My greatest fear: not a broken heart,
But how I'd tell my twins apart.
"Paint one's toenail," people would say,
But nature found another way.

Sebastian emerged, his small cry our thrill.
Molly came after, silent and still.
Distinguishing my twins became quite plain:
1 alive, 1 dead, twin joy and pain.

1+1 for most is 2,
But I've been given a different view.
1+1 is not a sum,
But rather, a paradox begun

On one cold Monday in March
"2's day," twin motherhood not as customary
But with loving, rejoicing and grieving combined,
The day my twins became untwined.

My 1+1 can never be 2
They're separate forever.  Now all I can do
When I see 2 followed by 1 and 1
Is feel pride and pain for my dear twin daughter and son.

Molly's teddy sits next to my bed. From the moment she was born up until she was cremated, this little teddy stayed with her the entire time. It's the closest 'thing' I have to her, other than her footprints.

Friday, March 13, 2015

battle of the birthdays

And it is the season of baby birthday parties.

As we (well, I, mostly, let's be honest) have primarily made friends with new parents whose babies were born pretty much the same time as mine were, we have a string (6!) of birthday parties coming up over the next few weekends.

I am not even joking when I say that I am tremendously excited. Mainly because the babies don't really know it's their birthday yet and it's more of a get together for big people with babies; to have a few drinks and a meal. Sebastian and Molly's day is at the end of all of them, which is a good for a few reasons.

1) I can check out what other people are doing for their 1 year old's first. Not that I am competitive or comparing or whatever, just curious and checking on the standards I have to adhere to here.

2) Ours is a slightly different party, of course, and always will be. There will be an element of sadness to it, especially as we release balloons for Molly. She will also have her own cupcakes, as will Sebastian.

But some people go big. I mean, I'm talking cakes made out of mile-high fondant shapes, piles of decorations, themes, dress-up, little mason jars filled with gluten-sugar-egg-free puddings, goodie bags. Actual craft. Where mums (stay at home mums, I would haste to add, come on), spend days tying ribbons around things, getting their child to pose for a professional photographer wearing a crocheted dinosaur suit sent in from a shop in Whichita. Or something.

I am all for this when Sebastian actually knows it's his birthday. I'm in, and I'm going to throw my euphemistic balls to the wall and endeavour - like all good Clapham mummies - to make his the most funnest coolest excitingest birthday on the frigging block. Minus the e-numbers where possible, and instead of hiring a pet zoo or a maypole for the garden, instead get one of the Brit's friends to dress up as a clown or do magic tricks. Or something.

There's an entire industry here. And just wait until I bust it open when he is 3. Apparently I can get away with two relatively normal and chilled birthdays, and then they turn 3 and it's like "Right. How do we differentiate here, people? All our babies are born in March and we are all doing the same fucking thing. Taking two Xanax and throwing a party."

I jest of course. Mostly. Because I don't want to be throwing huge, extravagant parties and going completely over-the-top. For one we don't have the space, and for two, I have now witnessed a handful to see how crazily exhausting they can be for the mothers. One of my friends had a Frozen party for her 4 year old a few weeks ago, and the whole class at school came.

It was like throwing an event for 25 gerbils. All running around in different directions.
She did helluva well, and the cake was the only really sugary thing she served, so none of them were vomiting on the furniture or climbing up the walls.

But I am also kind of excited for one day, when I see Sebby's little face when he has some friends over for a party. Where he blows out his candles, dressed up like Superman or Thomas The Tank Engine, and watch the delight on his face during the whole thing.
I also imagine how he will sagely, or maybe even nonchalantly, explain to anyone who doesn't know why there is a cake in the corner with the name 'Molly' written on it, by saying, "Molly is my twin sister in heaven."
Or "the pink balloons are for Molly in heaven, as it's her birthday today too."

Monday, March 09, 2015

letting go of both my babies

It's a funny thing as you lead up to the first birthday of your child.

A few things are happening to me at the moment. And I am fraught with nostalgia. The TimeHop app - both a blessing and a curse - is throwing up pictures of the nursery we had just completed this last weekend a year ago. With two little moses baskets, two mobiles, and 80 muslins ready for two little vomiting machines.
There are pictures of the daffodils starting to break through the soil after a long winter, covering the parks in patches of brilliant yellow; much like they're doing now. It's daffodil season. I was waddling through the parks being stared at for my sheer size, taking pictures of daffodils. I wasn't aware that this was the week that my second baby would've given up her fight. And her fluttering would've stopped. And I wouldn't have thought there was anything wrong, because she had turned from her breech position and we were all ready to go.

I was scared. So scared of what was about to be - two little babies, the birth, what lay ahead, but we were now ready to show off our twins to the world.

That's one thing that's happening. The breakdown of day-to-day. Leading up to the 18 March when I would've nonchalantly waddled into the hospital for my final scan, this day next week. I nearly didn't turn the radio or lights off when I left the house as I thought I would be back within the hour, back to being propped up on my bed.

Everyone was talking about MH307. And I never did go back home.

But there's another thing happening too. And every mother I've spoken to is going through this, just as their child reaches their first birthday - regardless of the individual circumstances.
We are all mourning the loss of our baby. To toddlerdom.

"Where did the last year go?" everyone says it. but what does it really mean? I was looking through all the thousands and thousands of folders of pictures I have taken of Sebastian. I want to put together a collage of the first twelve months of his life, and I am poring through all the pictures with complete sadness. Where has my baby gone?

He started out as a skinny, furry little yellow, clinging bush baby. So perfect, and so small, this thing that had just ejected himself in our lives under the most difficult and traumatic occasions of my life. Our time in hospital felt like eternity, even though it was just a week. They'd prick his foot thrice a day to check his blood sugars and jaundice levels and he would scream; a cry that would physically pull me from a place, it would haunt me, I wanted no one to hurt my child like that.

The love I felt for this thing, even though it kept me awake, caused me sleepless nights of worry, turned my life upside down, was immeasurable. He could do anything he wanted, anything, and I'd only love him more. After the initial baby phase, he turned into a new baby. He would smile, look into my eyes, bob his little head, lose all his body hair.
Then he transformed yet again, into a child who would sit, gurgle, laugh...he would know who I was and wrap his arms around my neck.

Now he bum shuffles, climbs, stands up, is starting to copy some of my words, claps, laughs, comes in for massive cuddles, has a full head of flowing, thick hair, and he has transformed again. He is now a little boy, but I can't help but mourn the loss of my baby.

I spend my day smothering him with kisses, smelling his hair, breathing in his soft, perfect skin. I want to hold onto him and scream "Stop, stop, the clocks, stop the time, freeze!" For there will be a day when he won't want his mummy kissing him and showing him affection, and I am scared my days are numbered already.

I look at the pictures and I just want my little baby back. All the night feeds and colic and screaming and sleep deprivation and "has he had enough milk?" endless Groundhog Day questions, and expressing - oh my God the expressing of milk four times a day - is all but forgotten. Life is easier now, without a shadow of a doubt. Now that he eats and can move around. But I miss my baby. He is growing up and transforming too quickly.

So if I'm crying on their first birthday, it's not just because I miss his sister. It's because I am letting my baby go.

Friday, March 06, 2015

meet jack

Crisis it's been a busy week.

Between conferences with our colleagues from other countries, it just feels like my work has suddenly ramped up to robust levels, and that I have to account for and squeeze everything I can into any spare half hour or ten minutes I have.

I get now why people say that being a working mum is one helluva juggle, they're not fucking lying lemmetellya.
I'm spinning about a thousand plates right now, and in between the noise of china crashing against the floor and walls, I also managed to injure myself while bowling.

I know. When giant balls mix with glasses of prosecco and a sleep-deprived person who has only ever bowled twice in her life, shit goes down.

Two very heavy balls clunked together at some point in the evening, and my finger happened to be, at that exact moment in time, sandwiched between the two balls. I even have a bruise.
It was mummy's wild night out with a large group of wily foreigners, and I came back with an obliterated finger.

Anyway, whatever. What I am really most excited about is tomorrow. Yes, yes it's the weekend and it's the first weekend we are having at home in what feels like months having spent the last two in Hampshire with the Brit's family, but that's not why I am excited.

You may recall - pretty much this time last year - the ongoing and highly volatile feud we had with our upstairs neighbour.

Well, they're not moving out. (Yet.) But wait. After this weekend, they might just.

Since their, frankly, terrible behaviour last year while we were trying to fix up our house before the arrival of our twins, we've had a frosty relationship. She hates us with every moving cell in her body, and we harbour a resentment of her most foul my eyes twitch involuntarily when I think about her.
If you want the running commentary, grab a cup of tea/jug of wine, and read all about these such delights.

For those interested in the short version only: She's French, screams a lot, loves causing a scene, and is about as rational as a dingbat. She's been nothing but rude and petulant to us, and seems like what rules are in place for us don't apply to her (noise, neighbourliness, the list goes on.)

Now that you have that firmly in your mind, I'll draw you to what is going down this weekend. Our garden is currently a mostly-unused concrete courtyard as it stands.
Having a garden in London, even if it is 5mx5m, is a highly sought-after commodity, and it's abysmal - criminal - that we've only used ours a handful of times last summer [to braai.]

In winter, gardens go mostly unused in this country and are about as inviting as a being enclothed in a cold, wet rag. But come summer - you ache for the poignant and delicious smells of meat being tanned on a Weber, of fresh green grass, music blaring out of the double doors, the baby crawling happily outside in the sunshine, the herb garden waving in the soft breeze and the detergent commercial thus springs to life. Sure, we'll only use it two months a year, but that really isn't the point.

All while our neighbour above looks down on us from their bedroom and says something like, "Putain et merde..." under her breath as I turn and wave.

So that's the long-term, two month goal. We want to lay down some lawn (unfurl it, slowly, from left to right) so that we can put down a blanket whenever we like and so Sebastian can crawl around happily. Redo the flower beds and herb garden and make the place COMPLETELY FUCKING TIT.

So in order to exchange our Eastern Bloc concrete slab out there with fresh grass, we have to dig it up.
Cue tomorrow morning at around 8:00am when the Brit and his friend bring in our little friend Mr Jack Hammer in from B&Q that they've hired.

Tomorrow they'll be jackhammering their way into the Earth's crust. Below her window. Before lunch time.*

*Not that I know anything about this of course, and because I'm actually fucking terrified of her reaction, I'll probably have left the house to push Sebastian around the common. Or need to go and buy lunch. Or something.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

some numbers

Two. Courgettes. I spiralised two courgettes in my new spirilizer last night.
What is it? It is a kitchen appliance that, with a few twists, turns a simple root vegetable into perfectly formed noodles.

Not owning a spirilizer in this country right now is like not owning air. It is the item du jour, gotta have it, everybody has it, nobody eats carbs anymore.

So I made courgetti bolognaise for us last night, and just last week I made flower-shaped zoodles with a tuna sauce.

The pasta industry is dead.Next week I'm going to try and make noodles out of a celeriac. I don't even know what a celeriac is, but I suspect it's some kind of bland, boring turnip that tastes great when topped with a creamy carbonara sauce. (Still no carbs baby, still no carbs.)

Eleven. Months. Today Sebastian is 11 months old. It's one month until his first birthday.

Sixty three. Kilogrammes. That is what I seem to [mostly] weigh right now. If I could just shift the final 4, I would be "my ideal weight" again. I'm going to have to eat a LOT of celeriac noodles with lashings of air and water in order to shift the last remaining kilos. Because hell, even after working out thrice a week, running up all the escalators I can, eating very sensibly; it's a long, hard race.

That said. Thirty six. The number of cupcakes I have ordered for Sebastian and Molly's birthday party. To be fair, we are also going to include Sebastian's little friend, who is one day younger than him, in the party too. So it's a party for three little souls.

Thirty two. Weeks pregnant. This time last year I was on my first week of maternity leave, propped up in bed by millions of pillows, battling to breathe, heartburn of marathonic proportions, piles - yes those - and skin so itchy I thought I would pass out. What's significant with this week was not that it was my first week off. Twofold, it's because I had a big fall. Which doctors insist had nothing to do with Molly's death. It was also the week that her body stopped growing. And I didn't have a clue. Had they been identical twins, I would've got that extra scan and it probably would've been picked up. But because they were non-identical and in "good health," there was no "cause for concern."

One. Skiing trip. Last week, me and my team from work headed off to Milton Keynes [sidenote: never go there unless you're paid/sponsored/don't have to get out of the cab] where there is a massive thing called the Snow Dome. It does pretty much what it says on the box. There are two ski slopes and a button lift, and lots of artificially-made snow.
We skiied up and down this thing all afternoon. It was actually pretty fun. But I did yearn for the open Alpine air and apres-ski charm of Val d'Isere, if I'm honest.

Zero. Sebastian still doesn't have any teeth. He's my little toothless wonder.

Two. Nights until I have a night out with the girls. Fellow mamas and keen aficionados of champagne. And good times. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

how to do coffee outings with a baby

I think I have the Mums Who Coffee With Their Babies dialled.

Been meaning to impart this wisdom survival tactic now that I know what I'm doing my baby has started crawling and I can't actually visit coffee shops with him anymore because it's uncharted chaos.

For mothers-to-be, or those simply venturing out to buy a hot drink while carrying a child, this is how it is done. (It mustn't be crawling yet. I don't [yet] know how to do a [dignified] coffee visit if the child is moving. Sorry.)

Put a bib on the child

I've tried to do the whole "oh I'm just giving him five raisins, so he doesn't need a bib" thing before. I've also tried to just casually let him gnaw on an Organix Carrot Finger, thinking the whole rigmarole of pulling out the bibs, wipes, etc negates the relaxed atmosphere of grabbing a quick coffee.

There is always mess, and there is always aftermath.
I've given Sebastian his tea ("supper") while I've tried to casually sip on a flat white. This is so he is distracted for at least 45 seconds and I can then savour the taste of the Ethiopian beans.

If you like it, you shoulda put a bib on it.

Pick your coffee shop according to these three very important things
1) Your buggy must fit through the door without any heaving;
2) Notwithstanding, the cafe should ideally have a spot for you to park your buggy so that it doesn't take up space next to your table;
3)  Most importantly - it must have big tables that are not clustered close to one another.

I've been to coffee shops where there are lots of little tables all packed in together and I have had a bad time.

For one, Sebastian will turn around and try to pick the toast off a stranger's plate. Or knock over their teapot. And the whole session quickly becomes about trying to stop a cascading crescendo of destruction before it starts.

Secondly, other mummy friends have the same problem, so you end up throwing your coffee everywhere, apologising profusely to everyone around you, and not finishing a sentence with the person with whom you're trying to have a conversation with.

You need a big table, not one of those piddly Parisian cafe things. I live in London, and sadly restaurant tables the size of a dinner plate are commonplace. People are stuffed into small corners and are all but sitting on someone else's lap. So if you find a coffee shop or restaurant with wide[r] tables, stick with it.

You see, when you bring a kid to a public area, you bring a lot of crap with you. Wipes, hats, bottles, bibs, spoons, teething toys.
Then you forget that most tables at have a vase on it, salt and pepper shakers, a menu holder. Knives and forks.
You want something big. You need a dumping ground. So go to a place with big tables and lots of space between each one.
Chains are [sadly] usually more 'buggy friendly' than independent coffee shops, at least around Clapham anyway.

Some of the more buggy friendly chains in the UK are All Bar One, Byron Burger, Bill's, Costa Coffee, Nero.

Pay while the going is good

This is really important. It's the difference between being an amateur Mum Who Coffees and a professional. Some places do table service - a delight when the waiter thinks ahead and puts the coffee out of reach of little hands, but is a disaster when they plonk it down in front of the child - but this means you usually only pay right at the end.

Nine times out of ten I leave a coffee shop, my baby has declared he has had enough sitting around and starts to scream a little.
A panic starts to happen, and there's furious hunting through handbags for the right change or waiting for the card to be fucking approved and it's mayhem and disorder as the baby basically has a meltdown on your face.

Or, like one of my mummy friends, the child projectile vomits up her salmon risotto over everything and instead of being able to pick up her bag and run the fuck away, she has sit in her child's vomit waiting for the bill.

So. The moment they serve the coffee and cake, get the bill. Pay it.
If you have to leave in a hurry - which is pretty much always the case -  at least with my baby - you can.

Bring more snacks than is necessary

Ply little hands, and friend's baby's hands, with snacks. Do what you can to get your cuppa Joe. Out in a public place. With another adult human. Snacks are more distracting than toys.

(Even if, like mine, they eat their toys).

Do it in the afternoon

For some reason, there is more time. As your baby starts to drop naps and becomes more active, and then starts to eat and basically become a mini person, you'll find the day stretches out and starts to really lag between their afternoon nap and their bath time.

There are a good few hours there where you'll need to get out of the house and need a change of scene. This usually happens around 3pm, which collides pretty nicely with your dire need for a coffee because you haven't slept the night before and you're completely catatonic.

Morning coffees work well when the child is still sleeping four times a day.

After six months, it's afternoon coffees all the way.

People without children will stare at you

When you're a mum, you get judged. Especially by those who don't have babies. Yours will cry for no reason, or you'll wipe up its vomit with the arm of your coat instead of a muslin, or something will happen in public whereby other mums will look at you knowingly and give you an encouraging, exhausted smile, but others will just passively-aggressively frown at you. Because they somehow think you WANT your child to kick off. 

Learn to ignore and don't even look at these people. Sometimes your baby will start crying for no reason and you won't be able to stop it. It will feel like the whole world is looking at you, and you'll desperately start to sweat and beg your baby to calm down.

Just keep doing what you're doing. Don't even look around you. Your baby is going to drop stuff on the floor, smear stuff all over the high chair, scream loudly because they think it's fun, and cry. And it's going to be loud and messy.

If you care what others think, it'll debilitate you. So just keep on keepin' on.

Your coffee will never be hot

Just a final note. It's a common known fact that mothers never manage to finish (or sometimes even start) a cup of coffee. Because you'll have to attend to five other things the moment you sit down to take that first sip, and sometimes you forget you even made yourself a cup.

Don't worry, you'll get used to cold, or at best, luke warm, coffee. You might even start to not notice.

When I do finish a cup and it's still actually hot, I silently high five myself and get a real feeling of complete and utter satisfaction because I have managed to bust through my last best score.

It's like a little game of Tetris I play with myself to see how far I can get in my cup of coffee.

Try to pwn that shit.

Monday, February 16, 2015

the best gift ever (besides diamonds. everyone loves diamonds)

Wow, I have to say, this last weekend gone was one of the best I've had in a while.

When you are a mum - or a Stay At Home Mum (SAHM), your weeks merge into your weekends. You still have to get up to make bottles, you still have to change nappies, and you're still living your life according to your baby's nap and eating times.

Now that I'm back at work, I see my weekends differently. They're precious as fuck. I get to do the nappies and meals and bottles all day, but because I haven't done that all week, suddenly it's all very precious and fun and I get to spend time with my boys.

But. Being a working mum does mean you never get me time. Or it's seldom. I consider my me time to be my bath at the end of every day. I love a good bath, it's how I unwind. Some people smoke a doobie, some people have a bottle of wine. I have a long, hot bath to relax, be by myself, and warm my cold bones.

Other than that, every other bit of time I have is dedicated to other people (husband, child, boss).

So when the Brit told me he had a surprise for me on Saturday, and dropped me off outside a beautiful townhouse in Chelsea with a, "see you in three hours!" I couldn't believe my luck.

Possibly the best Valentine's Day gift a man can give a woman [with child,] is three hours, all to herself. Not only that, three hours in a luxurious day spa set in a house down a quiet street.

It was a small 'hidden gem' of a place,which meant it wasn't crowded with millions of other relaxation finders. Instead, it was just me, in a one piece, hanging out in the plunge pool and in the steam room, drinking things like hibiscus tea in the relaxation room, in a thick robe, smelling of coconut oil and other Asian fruits. Just me. No need to talk to anyone, no need to think of anything in particular, just me. By myself. Until I was called to have a 90 minute facial by a woman who had a low, very calm, very soothing voice, which kind of puts you in a trance before you even set your head down on the treatment bed.

Fuck, it was absolutely devaan.

I couldn't help but think how lucky I am, and how good my life is right now. I have a gorgeous child who is starting to develop so beautifully - moving and crawling, smiling, coming in for hugs, laughing and copying the things we do. We are so lucky to have him. I have such a lovely, kind husband who gave me the gift of Alone Time while being pampered.
I have such a lovely job, doing things I love to do, and at a brilliant company. I live in a world class city. I have lovely friends. I am so fucking lucky.

"We use only natural, organic ingredients, picked by the hands of Buddhist monks in the free-trade forests of south East Malaysia," my facial lady said, purring.
"I will gently massage your face, hands, head and feet, and then rub oils over your skin that will both moisturise and flush out the toxins. At the same time."
The low hum of her entrancing voice had already made me quite sleepy, and I was starting to drool from the right corner of my mouth as she described the delectably relaxing things she was about to do to my skin.

"Is there anything specific you'd like me to focus on during our 90 minutes?"

"Yes....I suppose you can."


[silent pause. Panpipes music in the background]

..."Sorry.  Let me just bring this down a notch. I have a child. He is waking up in the middle of the night a lot at the moment because he gets stuck? Between the slats of his cot? Like, his arm hangs out? And we have to move him back into the lying down position, because he doesn't know how to do this by himself yet?  Sometimes it's three, four times a night. So we don't get much sleep. And I'm just so excited, I could literally pooh. just die!"

It was amazing. It was just amazing. I think it may have been the best facial I have ever had. I stumbled out into the stark greyness of Sloane Street where people like Victoria Beckham walk past, with oils and stuff all over my face, but I didn't care. I had a nap, my face had basically been remodeled, and I was excited to see my son and husband again.

I also drank lots of champagne this weekend. Which is always pretty exciting.
Not only did the Brit and I go out for supper, I went to one of my new mummy friend's houses and drank champagne with her too.

On top of this, I have realised that my incessant gym workouts are finally - finally - because it's taken a due amount of time - starting to pay off.
I am not dying in the middle of my workout, but instead getting that lovely feeling of increased energy in the middle of my run, so I know I can push myself harder and my fitness is at a good level.

I have also now lost about 4 kilos since our very meaty and wine-saturated holiday in South Africa.
To the point where I'm going to have to buy some more intermediate pants.

I have a wardrobe full of trousers. On the one side, there are my maternity trousers. These I haven't worn for about 6 months.
Then on the other, there are my "intermediate trousers." A few pairs I have bought to tide me through to the point where I can fit into my pre-pregnancy pants.

These are starting to look like my pyjama bottoms, I've realised. I am sitting here at work, in a, what I thought were, fetching pair of aubergine checked trousers (very ON TREND). Except that they are now too baggy and I look like I'm trying to be Kanye/just rolled out of bed.

I have grown out of my intermediate fat pants! Hooray! Except. That I still don't quite fit into my normal OLD Peas On Toast ones. They're still way snug.

So I'm going to need some intermediate- intermediate pants.

Fuck. This really does take it's jolly old time doesn't it?

Anyway. It is exciting to know that I'm getting some inkling of my old body back.

It's been a year to the week since I left work to go on maternity leave. I was the size of a rhino with an appetite to match, happily bouncing along with cards and presents from people at work for my twins. Twin sets, "double trouble" commentary, all those things, ready for the future. Little did I know that next week, Molly would stop growing. And the slide until her death would start. I just can't help but relive everything, week by week, and day by day.

Here's my little boy, uhb-sessed. He loves wheels. He is really is a boy's boy. Give him anything with a round, spinning thing and he will play for it for what seems like an endless nine minutes at least.

That's hummus smeared all over his face. 

Oh the love I have for this little urchin.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

birthday party invitation

My boy is going to be 1 next month.
One year old.

I have mixed feeling about this for so many reasons. He isn't going to be my baby-baby anymore, he will kind of officially be a toddler.  It's gone too fast, but yet, yay! at the same time. We've all survived the first year, all three of us.
The obvious sadness is that this was meant to be his first birthday as a twin. He came as a set. And now we are celebrating both his survival, while needing to commemorate his sister at the same time.

It's bought up so many feelings for me, and I have found myself having Molly Nights* frequently again. Maybe as I know it's coming. The big first birthday.

We thought of having a low-key thing to celebrate our Sebby while also remembering Molly. I can't explain how hard and weird this is for me.
If I were to just make an invitation saying "come to Sebastian's 1st birthday", I would feel like I am deliberately leaving out or forgetting his sister. I would also feel, again, that I was deliberately trying to not acknowledge her, and so it goes against every instinct within me to leave her out.

I'll feel guilty if I don't remember/mention her, and I'll feel guilty if I do. I just can't win this one.
(It's a good thing I'm starting therapy finally, isn't it?)

I also don't want this to overshadow his first birthday, something that we want to celebrate with joy. So there is such a fine line, and I want to try and balance it, but whatever I write or say doesn't seem to do either twin justice. I feel so alone  no one else I even remotely know has this problem - and I am not sure what truly the right thing to do is. Well, actually, I do know what the right thing to do is, but I have to choose my words and my thoughts so carefully.

We already decided months ago that the two dates we will remember Molly is Christmas and their birthday. At Christmas we put up her stocking with gifts for other children, and at birthdays we release balloons for Molly.

I'm also aware that this day is going to filled with laughter and tears. And will be for the rest of his life.

So. I made Sebastian's party invitations today. And this is what I went for in the end after multiple edits and thinking long and hard about how to include her:

We are just inviting a handful of folks we have met over the last year, all of them with a baby of their own. Our new 'parental' friends. As they know what it is like to reach the first year milestone!

It sounds all very grown up. And it is. For now. For the years to come, no doubt, all sorts of fun things will start to happen - like themes and too many e-numbers, and games and bouncing off the ceiling and blowing out candles.

But for now, the most important thing for me here is balance. I wanted two little birdies on the invitation, and I'll be getting some cupcakes made with their names on them.

What do you think?

*Nights where I end up reading through my old blog posts when I was pregnant with them both; or remembering in detail their birth; wandering what  she would be like and look like now; crying until I can't breathe and I feel totally empty and raw inside; or crying with the Brit and feeling white hot anger at the world and WHY is it that only people who have lost a twin really understand the complexity of our situation and in equal measure, the pain?

Thursday, February 05, 2015

write off

The week has been character-building thus far.

I'm now fine; and the Brit isn't hanging his head over a Turkish toilet.

Sebastian however, has gone from 'food poisoning' to a full-on bug. He's caught something from a little critter at nursery, and now they won't let him in.

This is what they do. They kick babies out until "their pooh is of reasonable consistency."

Which means I am off work for the rest of the week, feverishly playing mummy while navigating through a massive wad of stuff I have to get before the weekend workwise.

I can juggle this once a week on Fridays, as it's all planned and consistent. For three days? Fuck me. Let's put it this way, I didn't get out of my pyajamas yesterday, and I didn't wash my face. I took a video conference call wearing my PJs and hoped that the collar would make the person on the other end believe it was an actual shirt.

Gotta go. He's poohing/crying/my inbox is pinging me/Jesus please can my husband come back from Turkey in this lifetime/send cake.

PS: He's also decided to start crawling in the last 24 hours. I was getting worried, as most babies his age are all already doing it. This is a blessing, relief and curse. He's already attacked my low lying Kate Spade handbag and gnawed on my Mac cord.