Wednesday, October 15, 2014

autumn walks

Well, our summer is over.
This has been the longest, most beautiful summer I've experienced since living here (my 5th! Can you believe it?), and we got at least two months extra sunshine and warmth out of it this year, so I am grateful.

It also means when autumn rolls around, you're ready for it, as summer hasn't been a complete wash out.
I've cracked out the cashmere, tried desperately to try and fit into more of my pre-pregnancy trousers (still too tight. Aargh! My hips are staying stubbornly widened and seem to have no intention of shrinking again. Why?)
I am in the boots and my hats. I love hats. They hide all sorts of hair afflictions (mine is falling out, so a hat is especially handy), and they keep your pip nice and warm.

I have another first cousin who has moved to the country. That makes two now!
This one is on my dad's side of the family, from Cape Town, but has been living in Straylia for the last four years. They've come over here as her husband is studying a phD at Oxford. Bright couple of folks they are.

So Sebastian and I headed up there yesterday - in hats and boots of course - to visit.

We went for a walk in the afternoon with our babies, and as we shut the gate behind us and turned a corner, I had a crazy feeling of deja vu. I had definitely been here before.


From this angle, I never would've recognised that I'd been here before (especially as it was snowing at the time).

I realised it was the church a friend of mine had got married in, in December 2012. The church looked so different from the back angle, but on turning the corner I couldn't believe it. Out of all the places or churches in Oxford, my cousin lived right next to one I'd actually been to.

We walked along Iffley lock, it was so quaint and autumnal. I often think about moving out of London, especially if our family grows, and while five years ago I wouldn't consider living somewhere rural, now it really appeals to me.

Bring on the country vibe, I say. Cow crap and everything.
Sebasticle met his second cousins.

Last week, we walked around Hyde Park with a friend, and even in London, autumn is breathtaking.
(Royal horses and guards galloping past, ever so nonchalantly.)

Tonight, I head out with Irish for a hot German sausage and some beer, at Herman Ze Germans. Goodie!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

a tinder picture is a 1000 words

In a parallel universe, the planets keep spinning.
While I am looking after my baby and sporadically thinking about sadder things, I have discovered the art of compartmentalising. And its rather handy.

In truth, I discovered how to stuff things into a box in my brain and park them, if you will, for later, years ago. I have just managed to fine tune it now with everything that has happened.

In other words, thanks to my Favourite Irish Gay Friend, I sometimes even manage to have conversations like the one below, even if I'm having a particularly bad (or busy with baby) day.

(Back story in five seconds: He's on Tinder, and he sends me pictures on WhatsApp of men he needs a second opinion on before he swipes.)

Irish: Check out this picture.

Peas: What a strapping man.
He is DEFINITELY Canadian.
His parents were lumberjacks.
He eats Quaker Oats and maple syrup in the mornings.
Takes his coffee black.
Owns an impressive axe (from his lumberjack dad)
His British relatives come from...Clitheroe.
But he doesn't talk about that. Ever.

Irish: I found out his name. It's Zane.
He is probably from Murica.

Peas: Zane?
Now I am sure as ever he is from Canada.

Irish: His name rhymes with my surname.

Peas: I'll bet he catches wild salmon in the rivers of the Yukon Territory and eats them raw.

Irish: He's probably building a house with his bare hands.

Peas: Using 100% organic volcanic clay from Yellowstone.

Irish: He wrote back.
'Hey' he said.
Jesus. He had better have better chat than that.

Peas: He's Canadian. I wouldn't expect too much by way of chat.
He is beautiful to look at, will be very friendly and have a kind, quiet soul.  But sadly, euphemistically dull.

Irish: My children will be dull but have shiny hair?

Peas: Yes.

Irish: Well done. He says he is from Calgary.

Peas: Shut. The. Door.
Are you serious?
I should do this for a living.

Irish: He works for National Geographic.

Peas: Course he does.
Once he did an inuit pilgrimage to Labrador and ate pemmican - pure whale fat - out of a raw salmon carcass.

Irish:...He's an accountant. For National Geographic.

[Pause]

But he likes the outdoors.

Peas: He's a CANADIAN ACCOUNTANT.

Get out now. Otherwise you will end up having a soliloquy with yourself for your first date, because that's the amount of chat he is bringing to the table.

New day, new dude:

Irish: New guy. He's posh.

Peas: Send me a photo.

[Pause]

Right. His name is Roger. Or Arnold or Rafferty or Barnaby or Rufus.
Grew up in the home counties, my guess is Berkshire.
Has a horsey mum, but never really got into foals himself.
Preferred shooting hares and drinking whiskey.
Gets his tweed suits tailored in Vietnam, but don't tell anyone.
Is confident with a rifle, but often fires it too soon.
...Much like his bedroom rifle, unfortunately.

Irish: I see.
Done?
3 out of 6 so far.

Peas: Really?
FUCK I need to change careers.

Irish: Dude you're good.

Peas: Which did I get right?

Irish: Berkshire. Not horsey. Prefers whiskey and shooting.

Peas: What's his name?

Irish: Ben.

Peas: Benjamin. That's what his parents call him.

Irish: He's a 'landscape architect.'

Peas: This man has stories. Architects are mad. Half the members of my family are architects and they're all mad as a bag of frogs.

Put it this way, your first date with this one will be the EXACT opposite of the Canadian one.
He will entertain and shock you.

Irish: He also likes polo.

Peas: Yeah, he is a raving lunatic and votes conservative.
Boozes himself bolshy; while being strongly opposed to the new high speed rail plans. Prepare your liver.

Irish: Bitch please, I'm Irish, I'll take him on.

Peas: Oh and. He definitely doesn't call it a 'lounge.' Or a * shudder* 'settee.'

Irish: Dude. Ew.
Never say those words.

Peas: 'Settee' is worse than - and I never thought I'd say this .....'innit.'

Irish: Chraaaaast.
Dude.
Benjamin is a Catholic. It's all going a bit Brideshead.

Peas: I love this conversation so much. I'm putting it on the blog this week.



Thanks for keeping me sane, Irish. I love you.

Monday, October 06, 2014

a guide: what to say

(Somewhat consolidated)


The Brit and one of his friends had a little joint birthday do, in Hampshire this last weekend.

Most people who came along had babies or small children, but I have yet to attend a small gathering where a couple walks in to join us, proudly carrying a pair of twins. Until now.

I see twins all the time, and while it hurts - it shouldn't, and I wish it wouldn't - mostly these twins are in passing. On the street, in one of my playgroups, but mostly they are gone, in the blink of an eye, and I don't know them.
There are a lot of twins here. In southwest London anyway; a day doesn't go by when I don't see a set of twins passing me on the street in a double buggy.

But this was the first time twins came to join our party. And I have to admit, my heart leapt right up into my throat, and I caught my breath, not being able to tear my eyes away from the two sleeping angels in their Maxi Cosi car seats. The same car seats Sebastian and Molly had ready to go.

I got emotional, and so did the Brit. It wasn't easy.

And then I felt angry. Those parents, so happy, smug and oblivious, it's not their fault. They don't know. Just like everyone else, they have no idea. No, I wasn't angry at them. I was upset that the people that invited them didn't say anything to me or the Brit beforehand.

Obviously they didn't think to, and obviously they didn't intend for us to get sad, and clearly I am asking for too much, but it would've been great to get a head's up. In a perfect world, our friends would think about this.
In a normal world, people are busy, have other stuff to think about, and if they do think about this, don't want to rock the boat by saying something.

But it makes me realise more than ever that there isn't a manual out there for people, on what to say or what to do, or what to consider, when someone you know has lost a child or someone they love.
Mostly people don't say anything for fear of saying the wrong thing. The safest thing is to say nothing at all - and I have been guilty of doing this in the past to others who have lost, too.

So. If there was one, a manual I mean, this is what it should say:

If there's just one thing you can do to someone who has lost a child or baby,  it's acknowledge it.

Some of my friends, acquaintances, colleagues, long lost friends, relatives, have yet to say anything to me about Molly.
It astounds me, especially the family members, and I yearn for them to just say one thing. Just one sentence.

What they have said is "Congratulations on your little boy, he is beautiful!" This in itself is obviously very sweet, and they are focusing on the joy, the miracle, the wonderful shiny thing over here, mainly to avoid the sad, empty bad thing over there.
All know I had twins. All know, or realise, or have seen, that only one survived. But they can't, or don't know what to say.

I've even gone on to say to some I haven't seen since I was about to pop, "A lot has happened since I last saw you, and as you might've seen, I lost one of my twins just before they were due."

I don't blame them for not knowing what to say, and I am not angry. I do get frustrated though. Because no matter how hard they avoid it, there is a massive big pink elephant in the room. I had two babies, and only one of them was alive.

So if there's one thing you can do, if you ever find yourself in this situation (or God forbid, meet me!) is simply acknowledge it. Acknowledge her.  I carried her my entire pregnancy, I expected her to be here with us.

Acknowledgement can come in various forms. It can short, sweet and we don't need to dwell on it:

"I'm sorry about what happened."
"I'm sure you miss your daughter, I'm sorry."
"How are you feeling these days?"
"I'm sure you still miss Molly very much."
"Just to give you a heads up, there is someone with twins coming to the party today, I hope that's not going to be too sad."
"I'm sorry about Molly."

Using her name is also like music to my ears. Just hearing 'Molly' means you are respecting that she was a little person too. Actually using her name carries so much more weight than "I'm sorry you lost a baby."

I have to talk about her, and the fact I had twins, because I did.  When someone asks if I knew I was having a boy, I am honest.
"I had twins. And yes, I always knew deep down one was a boy and one was girl."
So if you don't acknowledge it, I'm going to. Simply because it is a part of me. Talking about it also hopefully makes others realise that I am happy to talk about my loss, and Molly. It's not forbidden territory. Not only am I happy to talk about it, I want to. I need to. I simply cannot ignore it if conversations turn to children, or twins, or pregnancies.

I have a lovely friend who I hadn't seen since I was 7 months pregnant, and although we had chatted throughout it all, I saw her again a few months ago with Sebastian for the first time since the birth. The first thing she did was take my hand and say, "I just want to acknowledge this. I am so sorry about everything. Just know that I think of you and Molly all the time."
(Clearly, she had read a manual somewhere, because it was the best thing I have heard since!)

Another way of acknowledgement is asking questions. Maybe you don't know what happened, but you can ask. People think asking questions will open up wounds and be hard to talk about it, but more often than not, it's better than saying nothing at all.

"What was your pregnancy like carrying two?"
"What happened with Molly, do you know why she died?"
"How do you cope when you feel sad?"
"Did you get to hold her or take pictures?"

Questions show interest. Questions are good.

Don't try to make it better by offering solutions

This is where I find people say the wrong thing, and it can be very easily avoided. Often people try to make it better, or make the other person feel better by making them see the positive.
It comes from a good place, and they are trying - it is better than saying nothing at all - but these don't work:
"You're lucky. At least you have one. Some people lose their only child."
"Just focus on the fact you have a beautiful boy."
(This is all very well, and trust me, I do. But I lost another entire person. A daughter, not a handful of oranges.)

"It's a blessing. Twins are so much work." (My hairdresser said that to me.)

I can see why people say these things, but they just make me feel worse, and often guilty. It makes me feel as though I am not a good mother to Sebastian because I miss and grieve for his sister. Then I feel guilty that I don't acknowledge Molly enough. I just end up feeling sad and guilty.

"Are you feeling like you're getting over it?"
(Yes. I have good days and bad. But this isn't something I just "get over", and you are making the assumption that I should.)

"Things happen for a reason." (I don't believe things happen for a reason anymore. Why would I get pregnant with twins only to have it taken away? This just happened. Why does there need to be a reason attached to it?)

A bit of thoughtfulness goes a very long way

It's hard to please everyone, but things that I might appreciate might be:

Acknowledgement of Molly on their birthday
(It'll always be Sebastian's celebration, and he'll have parties, but I'll be thinking about both of them on the day, believe you me)
Letting me know if someone is coming to a party with twins
Putting me in touch with others you know, or sharing similar stories if you hear of them - it helps to know I'm not alone

That's really it.

Must say, I looked up at the sky the other day and thought of how coincidentally twisted life can be. Or maybe there is a reason, but either way, I had a moment at a playgroup last week that I could only observe sadly and shake my head and laugh (in a bitter, sort of way. The worst way.)

Out of the twenty people sitting in a circle, Seb and I managed to be the coupling that found themselves squeezed between a set of twins.

Two little identical-looking boys, on either side of us, held by granny and grandad. A few moments later, one crawled over to the other and the granny asked if we could please move up so that they could sit together as they 'hated to be apart.'
Seb and I moved over, so that the twins were now both to the one side of us.

The little girl we were now next to had the name that Molly would've had if she had been alive. Isn't that ironic? We wanted Molly to have her name as it meant something to us, and Molly was a name we loved for a little girl. A little girl who would always be a little girl.

It's only something me and my husband would notice, but nevertheless it sticks out and slaps me in the face when these little things happen.
Someone pointed out that it could be Molly reminding me that she is with us. A sign that she is looking over us, and is here.

I'd like to think she is. Especially over her (little) big brother.




Friday, October 03, 2014

lurgies

I've been waiting for this moment, with hovering dread, since he was born.

I knew it was going to happen at some point, and I knew that when it did, it was going to be most foul.

Sebastian and I have been half lucky, half very very vigilant, not to be sick yet. This is why I give myself a veggie smoothie every morning, take all my pills and watch myself.

I also hoped, as he was being breastfed (now he is still getting a very small amount of my milk, just enough, I hope, to top up his antibodies to avoid getting really ill, like 'flu and whatnot), that he would avoid all the baby AIDS and lurgies around.

We have managed to, up until two nights ago.

I started to feel like Captain Vomitbucket in the afternoon, but like most things, tried to ignore it as I just don't have time to feel sick.
I was also having a friend over for dinner, and the Brit was still on his way back from working in Germany.

Put Sebby to bed, and around 8:30pm I started to feel the Thing. That unmistakable feeling whereby a cork being is being dislodged at the base of your oesophagus, and you're going to blow.

Then Sebby started screaming. So I went to his room, and immediately saw him literally lying in a massive, horrible puddle of vomit - the largest I'd ever seen. Was this little baby even capable of expelling so much?
Him and I were in shock - as myself, my friend and I stripped his bed, showered him down and sorted him out.
After putting him back down, I started to lose my lunch, breakfast, dinner, head over the bath.
And therein for 24 hours, that's how it was.
The Brit came back from Germany and was thrown into Daddy Daycare and doing five loads of laundry.

I could hear him running around, not being able to sit for very long, while he got on with everything. Coming into the room sweating, every now and then with a piece of dry toast:

"What time is his bottle again? What food do I give him for lunch? How long does he sleep again? Where is the Calpol?"

You just can't indluge in your own sickness when you have a child. You want someone to mop your brow, bring you chicken soup, basically be your mum, but you can't when you have boobs that need to feed a baby, and all the other stuff that goes on.

The Brit admitted how much hard work it is looking after a baby (and wife, especially when both aren't well), and the poor guy even managed to make dinner at the end of the day, and ensure nothing fell apart.

It's a very special birthday for him next week, and I can't wait to spoil him.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

five surprising things i have discovered about motherhood

Five surprising things that have happened to me since I've become a mother.

(Things I never would've expected....)

I became more social 

It's true. One thinks when you have a baby that your social life just stops. The complete opposite happened to me, and it's been so good.

I tend to hermit a little bit. The older I get, the more I enjoy my own space. In fact, before I had my children, I started to cosy up to Sartre and his (frankly, brilliant) mantra of 'Hell is other people.' Hell is other people, still. I am incredibly picky as to who I spend my time with, and most of my friends here were my colleagues at work. As a result, I'm a horrible person.

My baby has changed that. I joined clubs, groups, made an effort with people I see, got back in touch with people I had lost touch with from years ago. The one thing we all have in common? Children.
Even if we had nothing to talk about before, now the subject matter is infinite. Pooh colour, sleep tactics, which brand of nappies we use, Annabel Karmel's chicken casserole recipe, how tired we are, nursery preferences, catchment areas for schools, Freddie the Firefly, what is that rash?, how long were you in labour for?, oh you had forceps too? -  the list is fucking endless.

And it's wonderful. I have made (and remade) a bunch of new friends I see regularly now. Being on maternity leave is obviously extremely helpful because I actually get to see them on a regular basis, during the week.

It's taken me away from being a travelling, working, loner, to a much more socially balanced human being. And I have Sebastian to thank for that.




 I like other babies now

Before I had mine, I could take or leave other people's babies to be honest. I didn't know what the big fuss was about, I just knew that you loved it a lot if you were it's parent.

There were very few babies I found cute. Some people get all broody and their ovaries start shaking when they hold a baby. I wasn't repulsed by babies, not at all. I just wasn't besotted with them. Every now and then I'd see a cute little tyker and think 'Hmmm. I might want one of those actually.'

Other times, I felt like I really had to Fake Coo. (Oooh....he's....so...pretty...)

Until now. I LOVE babies now. I appreciate what they are, their smell, their chubby little cheeks and flawless skins, their beautifully oozy fat rolls that I could just squeeze all day long. Their giggles and smiles.
I watch all babies now. I don't just look, I observe. I love them all. Even the slightly ugly ones.*


I am more maternal than I ever thought possible

Perhaps it's because I have not spent more than five hours away from my son since he was born. We are attached by the hip boob, but it's way more than that. I literally want the best for him, and I am seeking to give this to him  - whatever it takes -  and whatever cost, if I can.

I always knew I'd be heavily invested in my child, but I really am having trouble imagining being away from him for so long [during a work day.]

I just want nurture my little lad.

I didn't imagine that I would take to being a mum like this, and yet here I am, dreaming of raising him on goji berries and hand-reared free-frolicking Welsh lamb, while siphoning my salary - if I must work - into private schooling.**


I question - and ignore - child 'experts'

In the beginning, I would try and absorb every bit of advice hurled my way by health visitors, midwives, Gina Ford's, mother's who seem like they have it all under control.

Now, I deflect 99.9% of it.

Most of the time, baby advice only leads to one thing: paranoia and stress.
("Why isn't my baby sleeping like that then?" "You say my baby should have three naps a day, but you say my baby should have four?" "You say I shouldn't wean my baby before 6 months, while you say I should because he was premature?")

Almost all the advice I got in the early days was conflicting. (Still is.)

This is what my brain was filled with.

There is no manual for this job. There is no right way to do ANYTHING. The only predictable thing about a baby is that they are completely unpredictable.

No baby is the same. And that's why I wear a tin hat when an all-knowing midwife gives me her opinion on why my baby isn't sleeping through the night.


I really - no really - don't give a shit what anybody thinks anymore

When my brain is half-fried, my reactions are slow, my sharp-tongued wit is non-existent***, and I have nothing to offer strangers/friends/anyone anything accept a smile and ZERO chat? Before having a child, I'd care.

My fear is this: never be dull. Until now. I don't care if I'm fucking dull, my brain isn't firing on all cylinders, I have vomit in my hair, pureed butternut squash down my front, and I haven't put makeup on all week.

That's not to say I've let standards slip. I just choose when to up my game and when I can't.
When I go out without my child, I dress up. When I go back to work, I'll do the same.

I also have yet to keep giving a shit about the state of my stomach and my thighs. Ideally I'd like them to slim the hell down, but if someone thinks I'm fat, well, so be it.

* They're never ugly for long. 
** Wish list
*** Like now


Monday, September 29, 2014

foody outings

A few things really. I feel like I'm doing normal things again. Getting out more, to places where people don't have babies. Blatantly.

Mostly, I just bring Sebastian with me. He's old enough now to sit up and be mildly entertaining, and he eats normal food. (By eats, I mean he swallows it, but it also goes up his nose and he paints interesting abstract artworks of spinach waterfalls, for example, down his front.)

My aunt from New Zealand, I mean, New Zaylin, was in town over the last week to visit my cousin, and she stayed with us a few nights.
We went to high tea at The Orangery. (Recommended. But better if you don't have a baby who is two hours late for his nap and is cranky as fuck, so screams the Victorian cornices down with his lungs. Better still, don't bring a baby at all.)
A collar at high tea is very fetching. 

Now, The Orangery is a grand sort of building that sits in the Kensington Palace gardens. No one would know it's there unless they were told about it, or explored beyond the Palace itself. I had no idea, and I've been visiting the Palace for years.

It sits about 14 metres from William and Kate's private garden and wing of the Palace. Which doesn't matter in the slightest, only I mention it as it looks almost quite accessible.
The thing that's strangely and pleasantly odd about this such Palace, is that it doesn't really have high fences and ostentatious security everywhere. Buckingham Palace has more than enough of that to go around, with it's mile high golden gates, actual guards and so forth. Pomp and ceremony for all our American friends.

I suppose The Queen is quite security aware. And not really into Trellidors, so the high fences have to do.

Kensington is more low key. You have the gates (standard), for show, and then you have this piddly little green fence circling around the front of it.

Not even electrified. There's a camera every few yards or so, I mean, I nearly hurdled over it just to see what would happen.

Anyway, that's the vibe there and somehow it's all cool.

So we had a glorious high tea (after Sebby fell asleep....much to the relief of all the patrons there, trying to enjoy their cucumber sandwiches and Battenburgs. Excruciating.)

We also got a sitter one night and headed to Jamie's Fifteen  in Islington for cocktails and good food.
I haven't mixed my wine and cocktails in a while - it hurt the next day.
I had the pork chops, that parted like butter when my knife went through it - I mean, the last time I remember my knife doing that was when I was in Argentina, attacking a beef fillet - usually pork chops are kind of tough.
Not this guy. It was superb.

The next day I felt nauseas, the entire day. It wasn't the chop. It was a drink called 'Veshper' that did that.
And with a child, the Brit and I remembered why we only do this one in a blue moon now.
Luckily the chop - and evening in general -  was worth it.

I went to go and get my hair cut.
All my hair is falling out. I suspect I'll be bald by October (er, tomorrow...) , so I went to my hairdressers, who are open late into the night - because it's the sort of establishment that turns into a pub.
Where people cut hair and get drunk. An interesting and edgy combination.
Anyway, they were serving cake and wine when I went over, which is very nice.

The lady who cut my hair this time had three bullrings in her nose, was Italian and spoke very little English, and had dreadlocks.

Now, call me old-fashioned, but ordinarily, this would've made me nervous. Luckily, these days my nerves are dulled by lack of sleep and a general nonchalance towards giving a shit, so I let her have it.

"My hair is falling out. Please take off at least three inches off the bottom."
I knew my hair might fall out after pregnancy, but why the delay? It's suddenly happening, and in clumps. 

I told the Brit I was thinking about going 'mumsy the whole way' and getting an 'shoulder-length bob.'

He just about had a cadenza. Now whose old fashioned? He told me I must never cut my hair. Ever.
I knew he liked long hair, but forever's quite a long time to have the same hairstyle isn't it?

It was vaguely enjoyable, because the Italian lady was very nice in fact, and didn't try to talk to me too much, and I had a glass of wine in hand.
It never ends well when hairdressers talk too much and ask too many questions. Last time I had an awkward and shitty twins conversation with one, so when they ask me nothing and focus on the blowdrying, I'm much happier.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

six months

My little miracle is 6 months today.

It's been an emotional day, but as I was saying to the Brit, I just cannot believe how much I love this little soul. Everyday I love him more, but I can't grasp how. I don't know how I can love him more each day when each day I love him so much it's impossible to quantify. How do I squeeze out more love from my bursting heart? It's one of life's greatest and most beautiful mysteries.

We celebrated in our own little way, that my boy is half a year. I can't believe it.

We went to a final baby spa session this morning (nothing like getting pampered, is it, boy?)

He had the whole pool to himself this morning, so someone was a very happy chappy indeed. Kicking and twirling and following the floating toys.

 We stopped for a large cuppa and an even larger pastry (oh dear), so that Mummy could people-watch as commuters came out of the tube station.

It's been a while since I've been out and about with him during rush hour. It's so lovely to watch on the sidelines while taking in a tea. Everyone is very serious and look slightly haggled and tormented as they slog their way to work.

Sigh. I don't even want to think about it, but I do. The crushing reality is starting to weigh me down....


 Sebastian's little personality is starting to shine through. He can be incredibly smiley and very sociable (doesn't mind being handled, at least at this point, by anyone.). But he can also be incredibly serious. It melts our hearts.
 He eats anything that fits in his mouth.
I cannot possibly quantify or love anything as much as I love this little boy right now.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

my twin story page

I've put it all in one place.

Was therapeutic putting it together, despite the shed tears while rereading and wading through all of it.

It really felt like a dream, an expectation, the future was torn away from us.

Anyway, I have put it all in one place. How it feels to be pregnant with twins, having them, Molly, Sebastian, right through the journey to where I am now. It's been six months today, that I was going into labour to have my babies.

My story. Why I am like I am these days. And other support material for anyone else who has lost a child or a twin.

My Twin Story.

(Or if it's too heavy for today, you can find it linked on the right hand side bar).


Monday, September 22, 2014

swimming and ranting

I've been taking Sebastian to swimming lessons on Mondays.
This is us. Obviously we're not swimming, so this picture has nothing to do with anything, apart from the fact it's us. At a tea party on Sunday.

So. I had to buy myself a ...[gasp] one piece.
Now one pieces are all the rage,  except most have holes evocatively cut into the cloth and plunging necklines.

Except,  are usually encasing a giraffe in the latest issue of British Vogue.*

I've bought one with special panels and shit, in the hope it holds me altogether.
It's stupid really. All the other people I'm currently swimming with couldn't care less about the state of my stomach. They're babies. And mothers. Also with childbearing hips and stretched tummies.

Anyway, the lessons are pretty sweet. We all float around in an indoor heated pool with our babies, encouraging them to kick and love water.
I had a bad experience with water when I was a kid; my swimming teacher pushed my head under and held it there when I was about 6. I'll never forget it. I was the last in the group to put my head under (Always been a bit scared of water. Terrified, in fact), so she thought shoving my head into the depths of the pool would fix that.

How 80s is that? Health & Safety, Jesus Christ, hello?

I got a stamp on my hand saying "I went under water today!" I found the whole experience horrific.
I want Sebastian to have positive water experiences, at least as much as I can help him, and this little course teaches them to put their heads under and enjoy it.

Or so the lady says. "Don't worry. I've been doing this for 16 years and we haven't lost one yet."

So we submerge them, by using voice recognition. First by splashing their face after saying "Sebastian, Ready? OK" and he takes a gulp. Then gradually they go under. More and more. Their epiglottis closes over apparently, when they're babies. So they naturally don't allow water down any of their pipes, per se.

He seems to love it. And I do too.

I am feeling somewhat flat at the moment though. I have a very low tolerance for other people's bullshit. Have you ever noticed that bullshit en masse comes in waves? You'll find most people around you - family members, friends, acquaintances, whoever - behave and be normal together.
Then simultaneously they all go through a fervent and epic bout of being a dick. All at once.

The father won't talk sense again. The mother refuses to listen. The spouse neglects you. There are more chavs behaving like fools in the street than per usual. A Jehovah's Witness rings your doorbell. (Happened last week) The neighbour is hoovering at fucking midnight. One of the twins mums from the twins group you used to belong to has befriended you on Facebook and you should've declined, (and she should've had the sensitivity not to ask), but out of curiosity and sadness you accepted even though it means you now see her twins in your newsfeed and it's a constant reminder of what you don't have. And her twins are the same age as my twins/Sebastian would be, almost to the day.
How some people are fairweather friends - around when they need you or need something, then disappear once they find someone or something else.

In a fit of rage, you wonder whether you can disappear into the night, with a suitcase under one arm and your child under the other and go to live in a little hut on top of a snowy mountain peak in the middle of Washington State (Twin Peak country. Yes. A thousand yesses), where no one can find or disturb you. Save for a delivery man who can bring you a gourmet cheeseburger once a month. Until you're fixed, and then you can rejoin society again.

Started out this post all sweetly didn't I? Explaining how lovely it is to swim with my baby boy. Only to end it with a rant.

I think it's time to face facts. This time 6 months ago, I was lying in hospital with a heart monitor wrapped around my belly hoping to God Sebastian would remain stable in the days following Molly's death. I was waiting for the day I would be induced to have my twins. I can't believe he is almost 6 months old (or 5 months corrected, as they say in prem circles. Urrgh.) It's a big milestone. It's the milestones that hurt.

I can't help but wonder what she would look like now. And how they'd be playing with each other.

Maybe it's also the wintry air.


* Actually, I haven't read British Vogue. For a fuck long time.

Friday, September 19, 2014

sciatica and chateaubriand

It really has been the best summer I've experienced since living here. I don't want to jinx it, but it seems to be going on and on. I distinctly remember September being a bit shit last year.

Oh, and we get to keep Scotland. Yay!

(Seriously. This place was on tenterhooks. Panic and disarray. No pressure Mr Cameron.)

It's been a hectically busy week since we got back from Cornwall.

So three things really.

I have sciatica.
I know, right? What is that even?
I have a pinched nerve in my spine, the doctor thinks I have a slipped disc. So my legs are in agony whenever I sit or lie down. Or bend over. Or bend down.
Which is what I do all day with a baby.

Having a kid is gruelling ok. Gruelling, on the old back. Physically laborious. So I am on the painkillers. And hoping it'll just sort itself out. Like, if a disc slips, surely it can slip right back in?

I am of the belief that if you leave a problem, it goes away [about 50% of the time.]

I had my twins feet cast in silver.

I've had a lot of jewellery made since my twins were born. I suppose it's a way of preserving them together; of preserving Molly.

This is a big thing though. We had her feet cast when she was born, and they have managed to put them in silver. Sebastian had his cast a month ago and they've also done his in silver.

I love that their prints look different, and yet there they are together.

We did date night

I dressed up, as the Brit had booked a nice, very Michelin-star-ry type restaurant for us. (La Chapelle in Shoreditch, if anyone's interested. It's inside an old chapel, quite literally.)

Food was glorious - all very cordon bleu (tiny portions, but made beautifully.) He loves that kind of vibe. The Brit can sit and watch chefs in a kitchen all day, and gets a serious kick out of beautifully presented, tiny little morsels that explode in your mouth, but similarly explode your wallet as they are fantastically overpriced.
I find it all a little pretentious, but he laps it up like fine naan bread.

Bless him. At least I can say my husband would never take me to a Nando's. The man researches his restaurants ad infinitum before going.

Anyway, I was tucking into my Roast Cumbrian fillet of Chateaubriand and slow cooked truffle and quail salad, when my fucking sciatica kicked in.

I couldn't sit up straight, and I sure as hell couldn't finish my delicious glass of especially paired Malbec.
I was in so much pain, we called an Uber while Brit finished up the Valrhona chocolate mousse.


Needless to say, I still got out the house.

On our arrival home, I could hear my baby screaming from the road. That's never a nice, calming thing to come back to. We have only had a handful of babysitters, so we are still very much Helicopter Parenting our way through handing over responsibility of our most precious thing in the world to a stranger.

Sebastian had woken up, seen the face of someone he didn't recognise, and threw a shit fit so loud, I heard it before I'd even pulled up outside our house.

He was hysterical. And it reminds me again of how heartbroken I am going to be leaving him with someone else in a few months time.