Monday, 23 July 2012

When I exposed myself to strangers and why I blame the kids

Read my first guest blog for WrigglyRascals.com

Tell me your funny baby brain stories.  Always want to laugh, and to know I'm not alone.

http://www.wrigglyrascals.com/blog/2012/07/does-baby-brain-exist/

Saturday, 21 July 2012

How positive thoughts helped create my family

Besides losing my Dad to cancer, trying for kids was the most stressful experience of my life – and my Dad died in the middle of it - which made it much harder.  For 5 long years we went through that awful cycle of; planning when I’d be ovulating, having sex at the right time (whilst trying to remain positive), then waiting for 2 weeks seeing if I felt different, convincing myself that it could BE THE MONTH!, then being proved wrong and falling into a pit of depression...before pulling myself out of it to start all over again the following month.
We started to see an infertility specialist after a year of trying and due to a very extensive list of health problems (which could fill a book) we weren’t ready for IVF until almost 4 years later. 
IVF has the reputation of being difficult and heartbreaking, and we certainly felt beaten and bruised as we embarked on it.  But I must report hand on heart, that IVF for us was a positive and wonderful experience...and the easiest part of the previous 5 years.  The specialist care and work of the clinic obviously had a huge part to play, but so too did my conscious effort to remain positive and relaxed.
Here’s my story.
Looking back, the details of the injections and clinic visits are hazy, what I remember more is my state of mind.  I believe in positive thinking and the power of the mind.  My favourite quote is “All that you are is a result of what you have thought” Buddha.  So with this in mind I booked myself in for 2 months of hypnotherapy just before the IVF to help convince myself (consciously and sub-consciously) that it would work.  The other thing I did throughout IVF (and still do) is meditate on a daily basis – it did wonders to reduce my stress levels.  These and my constant vigilance to negative thoughts, were my saving graces.
I remember the injections were easy once I’d gotten the hang of letting my leg go floppy on the sofa.  I made sure that they were done at the same time every night and I managed to get through without any signs of being hormonal (Just double checked that with Anonoman, and he agrees).  I remember being nervous that the egg collection would hurt – but I didn’t feel a thing.  I produced 22 eggs, which apparently is a lot (and it certainly felt like I was carrying round extra bags of shopping in my groin).  They perform a tester implantation to check how easy it is, and that was uncomfortable, but over in seconds.  Anonoman and I had many moments of fall out and stress over the years, but going through this brought us close together again.
The funniest memory that stands out for me was Anonoman making his...donation.  The time came for him to go into the room and get in the mood which is difficult with a sample container and 20 strangers waiting outside.  He told me how there were different aids, but that it made it worse for him.  Apart from the obvious magazines, there was a stereo and he couldn’t resist looking at what the last person listen to - Now That’s What I Call Music 45 and I just have to share a few of the tracks with you.
Gabrielle – Rise
Tom Jones – Mamma Told Me Not To Come
Geri Halliwell – Bag it up.
You can’t make this stuff up.
My eggs and Richard’s sperm were left over the weekend in a Petri dish with candle light, low lighting and Barry White on the stereo.  On Monday, 8 had fertilised – all being good quality, but 3 being excellent.  We had one egg implanted (paid for my MR NHS), two put on ice and then had the agonising 3 week wait for the test.
Through it all, whenever a negative thought popped into my mind, I replaced it with a positive one and made myself believe in it.  I also visualise for 10 minutes every day having a positive result and how I’d feel.  It felt fake for the first few weeks, but I started to get into it and really believed it would all be fine.  And (thank God) we got our positive result.
Even when 8 weeks later I was very ill in hospital with a blocked intestine and at risk of losing the baby, I remained calm and positive and all was fine.  It was then, during a scan to check on the baby, that I found out we were having twins. 
An amazing result to an amazing experience.

Monday, 16 July 2012

My twins, 1 day after conception, and before they split.

Is this not the most incredible picture ever. It blows my mind to think that this is my twins 1 day after conception. Ok so you can't see their massive blue eyes or their dimple chins, but still cute in a cell-division-type-way

Sunday, 15 July 2012

How babies can bring a relationship to its knees

After 5 long years of trying for kids and IVF.  After more heartache and stress than I ever want to feel again, we found out that for us babies are like buses; you hang around for ages and then two turn up at once...thank God.
It’s an age old adage that “nothing prepares you for kids”, which is true.  And I had a lot of time to think about how our lives would change in those 5 years.   How would I cope with less sleep?  Would I love my babies?  Would I be able to tell them apart? (My biggest fear).  I received oodles of wanted and unwanted advice; “leave them to cry for a while”, The more they sleep, the more they want to sleep” and “a baby wipe warmer is a must” – I shit you not.
But what I didn’t see hurtling towards me was how babies have the power to bring your relationship to its knees.  They have an inbuilt ability to divide and conquer. 
My Story
So this is my honest story of the first year – keep with it, it’s gets better.
Like all new families we floated round on a cloud for the first few months.  Partly down to the whole falling-in-love-with-you-baby thing, but partly due to existing on as much sleep as a torture victim.  We were happy to get up to them at night, to indulge their every whim.  But the honeymoon ended about 3-4 months in, and the cracks started to show.
Sleep
Lack of sleep was the instigator.  I’d be existing on 4-5 hours of sleep a day, which after 4 months would make anyone cranky.  We started to get very competitive about sleep, trying to convince each other that we’d had the least sleep so the other should do the night feeds.  It became each man for himself.   We’d exaggerate, lie and bicker for hours about it, sometimes in the middle of the night.  When the crying would start we’d both lay there motionless,  pretending to sleep, seeing who’d cave in first .  I had totally perfected the asleep breath – slow and deep, still fools Anonoman now.  I started to go to bed as soon as Anonoman was home, just to catch up...and before I knew it months had gone by without a loving or friendly conversation.  Then I started to wonder what the hell I was getting out of this marriage?  Lack of sleep prevented me from seeing past crumbs left on the bread board and tops left off the toothpaste.  Getting increasingly angry and depressed.
Sex life
Then there’s the sex life.  It was like a visiting the creepy uncle - You do it once in a blue moon because you have to, but other wise you avoid it like the plague.  Tiredness is a major factor but to be honest I felt as though I gave my all to the girls and I didn’t have anything else to give.  I had nothing else left.  I called myself Mother Husk, just a shell.  I started to wear PJ’s as a sex-barrier, it was the clothing equivalent of a “Do not Enter” sign.  (Works a treat by the way).
Power Shift
The other issue that I didn’t see coming was how Anonoman would react to being the sole provider.  It felt like he’d regressed into a man living in the 1920’s.  He had to work, my job was the kids, and where was his dinner when he got home?  Because he was bringing the money home, It felt like he owned me in a way.  Something I was very uncomfortable with as I’ve always paid my own way.  I wouldn’t tell him if I’d treated myself to something, I felt guilty. 
My understanding, sharing husband seemed to disappear and I was left with an alpha male.  I started to feel undervalued and taken for granted.  I felt like my job as a mum was extremely important, but he couldn’t see it.  He just saw earning money and keeping us going as important.  We argued a lot, and grew apart.  I resented him being home at the weekends and messing up my routine.  I wanted him to take on 50% of the responsibility at the weekends but he wanted to relax, watch the football or mow the lawn...so I was left doing the usual stuff with the kids.  I didn’t get any time to kick back.  It got quite depressing and I’m ashamed to say I did fantasise a few times about divorce.
Grass is greener mirage
He started putting a lot of pressure on me to return to work from around 6 months, which I refused to do.  In one talk he confirmed my suspicions that he was jealous of me at home with the kids and seeing my friends for coffee.  Even though it was mostly hell and we’d hardly manage a conversation amongst the cries, demands and nappy changes.  So I started to lie a lot.  I’d either make my day was much worse than it was, or I just wouldn’t tell him if I’d done something nice.
We tried to go out once a month, just the two of us to reconnect, but all we did was talk about the kids, our future (which we differed one), or argue.  Since having the kids I’ve also dramatically reduced the amount I drink, whilst Anonoman has stayed the same.  Something else we used to enjoy together had disappeared.
Resolution
But luckily there is a positive ending to my story.  Around 2 months ago Itchy (18mth) started to sleep through the night (Scratchy – her twin, has on and off since 6 months), and its made such a difference.  I can happily get out of bed at 7am and I have lots more energy.   Also, the girls go to nursery one day a week which gives me a much needed break and some time to be myself.  Anonoman also understands now that because of the childcare fees (£2,000-£2500 p/m) it doesn’t make financial sense for me to work, and so accepts that I’m home with the kids for a while longer.   But lastly, I’ve started to do things for myself.  I went on a photography course and a jewellery making course, I’ve done a night class in Photoshop and now I’m writing this blog.  These things have helped me to remember who I was before kids.  I’m feeling more interesting, useful and confident.  Being a mum is great, but for me being just a mum was depressing, and having other interests has pressed my reboot button.  I finally feel like I did before we started trying for kids 7 years ago, and it’s a huge relief.
And as a result, I’m happier, more relaxed.  Our relationship has improved no end.  We haven’t argued in months, and we are making each other laugh again.  We’re staying up late just to chat like we used to.  It’s only coming out the other side that I can fully appreciate how hard that first year (or so) is.  Would we do it all over again?  Most definitely not, but there’s no account for Mother-Nature-Amnesia.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Reasons to appreciate having young twins.

If you follow my blog then you’ll know I’m in that special “Oh for crying out loud” stage of Toddlerhood - 18th months.  They’ve just learnt how to walk, are learning how to use cutlery and have dropped a nap.  It’s basically hell but without the interesting company.  We took them to a restaurant for lunch today and spent the whole time picking up food, trying to discipline them, removing  dangerous items from their wildly waving arms.  So as I sat there watching Anonoman apologise to a fellow dinner for the cauliflower cheese on her shows, I zoned out and thought I must focus on the good to get through the next 6 months.  So here is what I came up with. 
·         When your peers are thinking of, or having their second baby - you don’t have to worry about it.  Look on with your secret smug grin, and know you don’t have to do it again if you don’t want.  And if you do, GO AND GET SOME COUNCELLING.   Twins are an instant family if you want it to be, just add a vasectomy.
·         You can play them off against each other.  If one is eating nicely and the other is lobbing food out of the window, praise the good one and the other will copy. 
·         People always want to talk to you and are interested in your kids.  Great if you just fancy a natter with a stranger, or if you’re happy to talk about your kiddiewinks until the cows come home.  If you’re not so friendly, you’re just TOO BUSY to talk.
·         People always say nice things.  They can’t get their heads round how you do it with two at the same age, so they only ever have nice things to say.  They kind of look at you with awe and amazement...just how I look at mums of triplets.
·         You may not expect this but they very rarely cry at the same time.  They cotton on quickly that it takes energy so, let the other one do it for them.  Or take turns.  This makes life bearable.
·         When they are very young they assume you are praising them, even if it’s their twin you’re talking too.  This is great because they are getting double the confidence boost.
·         No room for extras.  If someone asks for a lift and it’s out of your way, you can legitimately turn them down, there’s no room in the car.
·         You have a direct comparison.  Comes in handy if they’re ill or you’re worried about development etc...just look at the other one to see if it’s out of the ordinary. 
·         The no pram rule doesn’t apply to you.  Take it where ever you like.  How can you leave one in the pram whilst you carry the other, and then get the other one while that one is unsupervised?  You can’t...so beep beep coming through.
·         You’ll get lots of help from friends, family and strangers.  My friends and family can see I’ve got a lot to do so they just get stuck in and feed a toddler here, change a nappy there.  In public people will often lend a hand.  (Please note, this doesn’t translate to lots of babysitting offers...people don’t mind helping you but they don’t want to be in charge of twins).
·         You can have a ball dressing them up like famous duo’s.  Batman and Robin, Thelma & Louise, Knightrider and Kit.
·         They entertain each other.  I’m yet to fully appreciate this as mine are only 18mths.  But I’m starting to get the odd 15 minutes to myself where they’ll wrap each other up in the curtains, or play the slowest chase game you’ve ever seen.   I can see that not before long they’ll run off together in play areas and I can collapse on the nearest chair and just breath...in peace...listening to my own thoughts.  Bliss.
·         They are so frigging cute!  Not only are they beautiful babies, but there’s two of them and they look alike.  It just ramps the cute factor up by 100.
There’s bound to be tons I’ve missed, and I’d love to hear more you have any.