Wednesday, 29 April 2015

A year on the couch

Before I got pregnant with twins, I used to think about how amazing twin babies would be. Doesn't everyone, at some point? But while the fantasy sounded lovely, the daydreams were swiftly followed by a reality check: ‘Wait, so as well as feeding and changing two babies...several times a day - I’d have to get them both to sleep?'

Cue: brain explosion.

And that was always where I signed out of the fantasy. You see, I'm no good with babies and sleep. I don't mind saying it. I'm good at lots of other baby-related things. I'm patient. Attentive. Warm. But when it comes to babies and their sleep, I don't have the goods. I've got evidence to back this up. There's been months of anguish, tears and frustration from when my first two children were babies. I've got all the sleep books, done the research, and have made the desperate enquiries with over-priced baby whisperers. I've been to sleep school. Patted babies to sleep until my hand nearly fell off.  Shushed until my tongue went numb.
So when our twins arrived, I had a pretty good idea of what lay ahead of me. To begin with, all went well. The babies were sleepy newborns. Sleepy and premmie newborns, to be precise. So they slept all hours in the day. Easy peasy. In their moses baskets, they slept. Next to each other, and apart. They slept.
Then, at around three months, they ‘woke’ up. No longer sleepy babies, they wanted to be rocked and fed to sleep. I obliged for as long as I could. But eventually this took too long and became too big a task, especially with my older two children still being so dependent. Miss P was not quite 2 and Mr B was 4.5 when the babies arrived. It was clear that the best thing would be to start using hands-on settling techniques that encouraged good sleeping habits in the babies early on.
So I summoned up all the confidence I had. And took lots of deep breaths.
Firstly, I started working on their day sleeps. I tried to settle the babies in their cots, in the same room by patting and shushing them simultaneously. Using every ounce of gentle determination I had, this would occasionally work after 10-15 minutes. But the problem was, how often does someone with two other small children have 10-15 minutes to spend in a room with crying babies?

In any case, this wasn't such an issue most of the time. Because most of the time, the babies would scream in protest so loudly that I couldn’t even hear my own shushing. Within minutes, the futility of the process would create a well of panic inside me. I'd end up racing from the room in distress, frustrated tears flowing down my face. To say we all got off to a bad start very early on would be pretty accurate.
Then we discovered the rocking cradles. Cosy and comfortable, these machines lulled the babies to sleep with ease. For a tired and overwhelmed mum, they were a gift from heaven. Suddenly, it was like having two extra pairs of arms to take care of the babies. So instead of struggling with day sleeps, I’d let the swings take care of it. I knew this was a huge crutch to be leaning on but I was exhausted, and needed all the help I could get. I must have spent hundreds of dollars on batteries to keep these swings going. When the babies came down with a virus that kept them up all night, we used the swings to rock them back to sleep after a dose of panadol and a feed. To keep an eye on them, I slept on the couch. After weeks of not sleeping, the couch offered comfort and a place to lay my weary head.
Eventually one of the swings broke. The dream was over. It was time to move the babies back to their cots. The memories here are all very hazy, but somehow, I was able to get Baby J to transition to his cot without too much fuss. However, Baby A was having none of it. Try as I might, I just couldn’t settle him in the same room as his brother. There was no point keeping him in there, given the risk of disrupting the other baby’s sleep. So we moved him and his cot into our bedroom, which made things a tight squeeze.

It took weeks of patting and shushing to get Baby A used to his cot again, in the new environment. But I persevered because I had no other choice. Once he was finally sleeping, I became paranoid about the noise we made in there. The bed was squeaky. The light from the landing shined brightly into the room when the door was opened. I worried about the sounds of snoring, and tossing and turning waking him up. After weeks of working on his sleep, I couldn’t stand the thought of him being disturbed.  
So we stopped going into the bedroom, and started camping out in the living room. I didn't mind. I was used to the couch. And given that the babies were each sleeping for a decent stretch at night, I saw it as a worthwhile sacrifice.
But it's been a year now. Baby A still sleeps in our room. His brother sleeps in the original babies' room. Our big kids share the third bedroom. That’s it. There’s no more bedrooms. My husband and I sleep in the living room. Every night, once we've finished our dinner, catch-up conversation and TV-watching, my husband routinely drags in the single bed mattress and makes up his bed. I rotate the cushions on the couch so I'm not sleeping on the flat bit. We snuggle down and go to sleep, listening to the whirring  and clunking of the dishwasher. Sometimes we laugh about the situation we're in, and other times, we wonder what the hell we're doing.
Every now and then, I get a flash of determination and tell  my husband that we’re putting the babies back in their room together. But the resolve doesn’t last long. I start making a plan and stop halfway through, already seeing how pear-shaped things could go. The babies sleep ok mostly, but at least once a week, one of them will refuse to settle for his bedtime, or wake several times during the night, for no apparent reason. Just thinking about the implications for the sleeping twin in his room makes me shudder, let alone the effects this could have on the other kids, who sleep right next door. Bigger and stronger now, these babies can make one heck of a racket. I just don’t think I can go there. Not yet. I'm too tired.

Are we crazy to live like this? Some would say 'Yes'. But I would say two things: 'Have you ever had twin babies?' and 'The couch is surprisingly comfortable.' 

What have you done to get some sleep in your house? Ever been kicked out of your bed? Ever got yourself into some bad sleeping habits that took ages to undo?

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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

7 mum super powers you might not know you have

When you become a mum, you develop a set of super powers that could rival the greatest of super heroes. These super powers help us defeat everyday obstacles that come with wrangling kids, and also help keep a lid on our sanity. How else would we manage to spend day after day with this crazy, noisy and demanding bunch?
Have you ever stopped to realise just how super you really are?

1. Super hearing

You can hear your child's cries in the middle of a crowded indoor play centre, full of other noisy children. You might be deep in conversation, or getting a coffee from the cafĂ©. Or in the loo. But the minute that pitch and tone rings out, you know it's your child, singing out for you like a little siren. Alternatively, your hearing abilities are so advanced that you can also choose to NOT hear your kids - for example, when they are whinging incessantly or carrying on about using the iPad. Or when you've just had enough. It's like putting ear plugs in. 

2. Super strength

You carry your children from the car to their bed when they're asleep. You scoop them up when they're tantrumming in the supermarket, effortlessly tucking them under one arm while steering the trolley with the other. Sometimes you carry more than one child at once. To avoid multiple trips to and from the car, you load up your arms with 15 bags of heavy groceries, 3 school bags and a variety of toys and shoes, carrying everything into the house in one journey. You even check the letterbox on the way in. You are made of iron, woman.

3. Super constitution

Being a mum means you need a strong stomach. There are lots of disgusting things we face, from baby vomit (which we are prepared to catch, if not wear) to explosive poos (which we are happy to discuss in detail). Ever used your bare hands to pick or wipe your sprog's nose? Talked to your pharmacist about wart removal or lice-killing potions? This is what I'm talking about. Don't even get me started on worms. *shudders*

4. Super kisses

Your three year old's woeful tears over a banged knee or bumped toe can be magically erased with one simple kiss from you onto the offending area. Instantly, your child is recovered. If that's not super power, I don't know what is.

5. Super in the face of exhaustion

Mums are tired. We can suffer through night after night of broken sleep yet still turn up for duty every day, dedicated to our cause. We still make the lunches, still get the washing in, and can still hold it together at the end of a long day to go over sight words, albeit with sore, red eyes and a banging headache. I don't want to be bitchy, but I seriously doubt Spider-Man or any member of the Marvel clan could go about their super-hero business on 2-3 hours of broken sleep for nights on end.

6. Super safety assessor

When you're a mum, you become super efficient at gauging potential danger to your child in every environment you enter. From sharp edges to unguarded power points to wild swings at the park -  you're onto it. You know where danger lurks, but more importantly, you know what your kids are likely to become embroiled in.

7. Super sixth sense

You just know when things aren't quite right. The kids have been quiet for too long. You realise they're in the shed, where the paint is kept. Or they're up in the bathroom, where your make-up is. Luckily, because of #6, you can often carry out a risk assessment from the comfort of your couch, swiftly determining that whatever they're likely to be doing is worth the 15 minutes it takes for you to finish your cup of tea. 

How about you? Any super powers revealed to you since you began motherhood? Or are there any you really wish you had?!

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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

A bit more about when my babies arrived early

babies in the NICU

The first time I visited the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), I cried.
We knew from early on in our twins pregnancy that I’d be having them at 32 weeks. So, about a week before they were due to arrive, I was sent on a tour of the NICU so I’d know what to expect, and more importantly, what a 32 week old baby looked like. I arrived for my tour along with another lady who was also going to be having her twins delivered at 32 weeks.
It was pretty overwhelming. As I was shown into the unit and asked to wash my hands, I was overcome by nervous emotion, and this was before I’d even seen a tiny baby. It was the thought of these tiny little creatures wired up to machines, so small and fragile in their huge plastic boxes. It all seemed so…clinical and the opposite of what I imagined the cosy, warm environment of the womb to be like. So as my tears spilled over, a nurse handed over a box of tissues and said they were used to crying mothers, and offered me a chair to sit on, probably nervous that I was on the verge of collapse.  (As an aside, they offered a tissue to the other pregnant lady, but she said she was ok! Some people are made of steel, I guess.)
I felt sorry for the babies in the unit, born too early and kept away from their mums. And I guess I felt sorry for mine too, who were soon to be in the same situation. I knew why mine needed to come out early, but it didn't stop me wishing that they could stay in there for longer. I loved carrying them around, knowing my body was nourishing them.
We were pointed in the direction of a 32 week old baby, and to my relief, he didn't look that fragile or sickly. He just looked like a small baby. I felt better, and more prepared about the impending arrival of ours the following week.
About a week later, I visited our own babies in the NICU. The nurses showed me how to touch each of them through the little door into their humidicribs and encouraged me to read, sing and talk to them. I learned how to do their ‘cares’ – changing their nappies, checking their temperatures, and moving the little monitor thing that was taped around their big toes from one foot to the other. The next day, they let me cuddle them. I sat on a chair and the nurse placed each baby on my bare chest, being careful not to get their monitoring cords tangled or pulled. The feeling of their warm little bodies being placed on mine was out of this world. I’d pull the hospital gown around us and snuggle with them for hours, or at least until their next feed was due. They were being tube fed at this stage, which was via a little tube in their nose that went down to their stomach. To feed them, we'd attach a syringe full of expressed milk that I would slowly release into the tube.
I expressed milk for them as much as I could, using a super-duper double-whammy expressing machine. After having a cuddle with them, I would trudge into the expressing room with heavy, hard breasts, to attach myself to the machine and pump out as much as I could for them. It was very satisfying, being able to provide for them, even if it was in a clinical setting. The nurses made everything as easy as possible for us mums, sterilising all the expressing equipment and giving us our own personal attachments for the machines. All we had to do was hand wash the attachments and leave them in a big container with the other bits, ready to be sterilised. To this day, whenever I use Morning Fresh detergent, it brings me back to the NICU washing area.

babies in the NICU
We met amazing people who were looking after their babies in the NICU too. One mum and dad travelled for over an hour to see their baby girl everyday. Her name was Olivia. I'll never forget her mum for her cheery, friendly attitude. Most of the time, she stayed in a nearby hotel. Their baby was born at just 23 weeks, so they had been doing this long-term by the time we met them. I was so happy for them when they finally moved to their local hospital, which meant that baby Olivia  was doing all the right things. She was actually one of a twin pair. Sadly, her sister arrived far too early and didn't make it. So little Olivia was a proper miracle.

We were recently invited to the NICU graduation party. Man, if I was teary going into the NICU that time, I was a complete mess rocking up to this one! The place was filled to the brim with proud families and their magic, miracle babies, who had all had such a rough start in life. Even Olivia was there, having travelled down with her mum for the occasion.
I give other mums doing time in the NICU huge props. A lot of babies weigh less than a kilo when they arrive early, so parents often have a long stint of going to and from the hospital to be with their babies. It can be a tough road. In comparison, we were so lucky. Our babies were healthy weights for their age and progressed like textbook once out. They spent a total of 4 weeks and 6 days in hospital before being discharged.
There's a lot in the first year of having our twins that I don't remember. It's a big, blurry haze.
But I remember our time in the NICU. 

Have you ever been to a NICU? Maybe you had a baby there yourself, or perhaps you were visiting a friend's baby. What was your experience like? 

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Friday, 17 April 2015

How not to be mummy savvy

how not to be mummy savvy

It turns out, that in the mummy savvy department, I am sorely lacking.

Yesterday, I took my 4 kids out to meet a friend at the local park for a picnic and play. It was a fairly big deal - the first time I'd ever taken all of them out for the park experience. I spent all morning packing up the picnic lunch, filling the water bottles and locating suncream and hats for everyone. I also packed lots of wipes, nappies and a ball to play with.  I gave myself lots of time so I wouldn't run late or stress out, and right on time, we were on our way.

Because the park was surrounded by metered 1 hour parking, I parked the car a couple of streets away. Maybe my savvy sense should have pricked up at this point. Navigate a 10 minute walk with children, that included crossing busy roads? Really?

But no. There was no such sense at this point. I unloaded the four of them, applied suncream and hats to the big kids as they climbed out of the car and buckled the twins into their pram. Then I loaded the nappy and picnic bags on and we were ready. So far, I thought, I was all over mummy savvy.

The Picnic Food

So I forgot to pack the picnic food. It was at home, keeping cool in the fridge. While Mr B cried in disappointment, I thought about the options. There was no local shop nearby, and no way was I reloading the car and heading home. Instead I rang the local superhero - Mr Laney, who saved the day by agreeing to collect the food from home and drop it to the park. Crisis averted.

Toilet Fiasco #1

With that fire put out, we carried on. A mere 2 minutes into our walk, Miss P needed a wee. I begged her to hold on until we got to the park, which I knew had public toilets. But this child had form for wetting herself in public. My anxiety reached new heights as I glanced around the busy main road, that offered no shelter for us to discretely go about our business. Then I had visions of us crossing the busy road with Miss P wetting herself thank you. After trying to convince her to wear one of the babies' nappies (which she understandably refused), I parked the pram, and we chanced it behind a tree.

Road Crossing Behaviour

We continued on our way, but my anxiety at this point hadn't really settled. It turns out that commandeering two small children and a huge pram next to a busy intersection containing multi-lane traffic is pretty unnerving. I already wanted to go home. But then came my next doozy. As we crossed, with Mr B and Miss P holding onto each side of the pram, the ball popped out of the picnic bag and onto the road. Then I made a really bad decision. You'll judge me for this one - and I don't blame you. As the ball bounced beside me, I made the split second decision to take both my hands off the pram to grab for it, leaving my two big kids holding onto the pram, in the middle of the crossing. In the kerfuffle, a lady that was crossing with us grabbed hold of the handle bar, probably wondering what the f@*k I was doing, taking my hands and eyes off a moving pram with two small children attached. Right beside a major intersection. I tried to laugh it off. Inside I gave myself a hammering. Mummy savvy? Not here, my friends.

Kid Watching

After a big play and picnic lunch, it was time for the now-restless twins to have a wonder around. Now, I've been to the park with the twins before, and found it quite easy to watch them both toddle about, exploring their surroundings. But trying to do this while manning two other kids and having a conversation with my friend was really difficult. Both babies were fast and curious, and with both of them heading in different directions, it was really hard to keep track of them. I wish I was one of those cool, relaxed mums who could just chill and let the kids do their thang. But it turns out I'm not. Anxiety: dizzying heights.

how not to be mummy savvy

Toilet Fiasco #2

Then Miss P announced to the playground that she needed a poo. Gah!! Everytime we're out, this child wants a poo! So I packed the twins back up into their pram and left them and Mr B with my friend. I took Miss P to the skankiest hellhole set of toilets I've ever seen public toilets, and let her get on with it. I stood outside the only working cubicle, brushing at little shit-flies buzzing around. Please get me home, I prayed to the rotting ceiling of the toilet block.  How long does your child take to do a number 2? Mine takes ages. We were there for 15 minutes. In the end, I was begging her to hurry up. Then the blasted thing wouldn't flush away. A fairly respectable-looking lady was waiting to use the loo, and I had to let her use the toilet that still had Miss P's log in the bottom of it. 'At least you know it came from someone cute!' I said, trying to be all charming.

Packing-up Time Relief. Oh, the Relief

Thankfully, by the time we got back to the playground, it was time to pack up. I couldn't get us out of there fast enough. And by that I mean, I really couldn't get us out of there fast at all. The twins were safely contained in the pram, but the big kids were tired and hot, which meant the walk (and road crossing) back to the car was long, tiresome and just really chuffing painful. When the car finally came into view, it was like an oasis in the desert. Only I couldn't run to it because of the snail-paced children I was with.
A few minutes later, we were home. I got the tired twins into their beds which rendered them contained and quiet, and put the big kids in the bath - contained and clean. I made a coffee and felt like I'd just been in a marathon.
Here are the activities we will be doing as a family for the next  6 to 9 months:
Watching DVDs
Reading books
Playing indoor hide and seek
Colouring in
Making cubby houses
Playing board games
Building Lego
Family outings = highly overrated.

Please tell me you've had some crap mummy moments too!?! Ever had one of those days where it was all just ridiculously hard? Being to any disgusting toilets recently?

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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Getting to know....Michaela Fox from Not Another Slippery Dip

I often wonder who the brilliant people are behind my favourite blogs. So I was lucky enough recently to steal some time from the writer of a blog I just love, which was really the first one I started reading avidly as I made my foray into the blogging world last year.

Michaela Fox is the talented blogger behind Not Another Slippery Dip. She writes passionately about motherhood and her beautiful daughters. My favourite thing about Michaela is her 'play more, stress less' philosophy of parenting, which is so inspiring. She is also pretty handy with a camera and extols the value of capturing those precious moments in motherhood. Even better, she is funny and knows the value of parenting down-time.

Read on to get to know Michaela!

Michaela Fox

You mention on your blog that pre-children, you lived in Vancouver and have travelled to 30 different countries. This sounds so interesting! What else can you tell us about this time in your life?

Yes, I lived in Vancouver in my early 20’s when I was footloose and fancy free! It seems like a lifetime ago now. I can honestly say that my year in Canada was one of the best years of my life. There’s something that’s both confronting and liberating to arrive in a foreign city in which you know no one. My time in Vancouver was amazing. There’s really nothing not to like about that place. It’s a STUNNING city, has a relaxed culture and the people are super friendly. And boy did I have fun. Bucket loads of fun. A friend of mine met me at the end of my year in Vancouver and we backpacked our way around Canada, the US and Europe. There are too many adventures from that trip to relay, and, as everyone knows, “what happens overseas, stays overseas!” Now that I am “encumbered” with a hubby, mortgage, house in the ‘burbs and three kids, I often reflect on that time in my life and couldn’t be happier I did it.
P.S If there are any single women who might be reading this blog, go to Montreal, the scenery is spectacular (read: the hottest and most stylish guys I have ever seen in my life!)

Your blog contains amazing photos that you've taken yourself. Have you always been an avid photographer?

I’ve always loved photography. In year 10 I did work experience at a photographer’s studio and then during my degree (professional writing & literature) I took a few photography subjects, so I’ve always “dabbled” in it. I love telling stories and I think a great way to convey emotion and context is through visual storytelling. I take a ridiculous amount of photos of my kids and I can easily shoot 100 photos of pencils (I just love pencils) in one sitting. But I need to get better at editing. And culling! In fact, thanks for the reminder. My hard drive is struggling with all those images!

Michaela Fox

Wow, three kids in three years - no wait, three labours in three years! That is impressive! Your parenting learning curve must have been strong and steep! What do you consider the biggest parenting lesson/realisation you've had since becoming a mum?

When I see it written that way I almost get heart palpitations!! What was I thinking?! You know, it’s a question I get regularly asked: “Were your short age gaps planned?” And the answer is yes.  Which leads into my answer. My biggest parenting lesson is not to have three kids in three years! LOL. I joke, a little, but honestly those years were intense. I really wanted to have my children close in age and I see so many benefits in doing so, but the early times were tough. I am one of five girls close in age and I think I wanted to replicate that in my own family (the short spacing that is, NOT the five kids part!).
I have learned that perfection and parenting don’t sit well together. Trying to do it all and expecting it can be done exactly right is a recipe for disappointment. Similarly, trying to maintain a perfect home is just inviting unnecessary stress into your life. We are all doing our best and perhaps my biggest realisation is not to buy into the guilt trap. I don’t accept that guilt is part and parcel of being a mother. Occasional guilt is fine but I do not allow myself to be consumed by it, and neither should anyone here.

Miss A started school this year - how's that going?

Brilliantly! She skipped through those school gates back in January and she hasn’t looked back. She’s a natural learner and the school environment suits her personality well. We made the decision a few years back to give her a “bonus” year of kinder as we felt she needed to develop greater social confidence before starting school. BEST decision of my parenting tenure so far. She’s thriving. Her teacher is now her idol. I think I have been surpassed, but Mrs P does know a whole lot more than me! I am really enjoying this new stage in our family’s journey. It’s definitely a shared experience and the day she started school was a family celebration.

Michaela Fox


Your blog has come a long way since its beginnings. Where do you see yourself and Not Another Slippery Dip a year from now?

Good question. When I started my blog, more than two years ago, I really didn’t think past my first blog post. I had no plan. I just wanted to write. I had two loyal followers (my sister and Mr NASD) and when my audience grew to triple digits I was astounded, and delighted. It became less a form of self-therapy and more about connecting with my readers. I am intensely passionate about supporting mums (particularly new mums) and to this end, I have bigger plans for my blog. I am tossing around a few ideas of how I can connect more closely with mums, particularly those having a tough time. I can’t reveal anything yet but I’d like this to be my primary focus. I still daydream about becoming a midwife, but I think One Born Every Minute is largely responsible for that fantasy. I ADORE newborn babies. Can’t get enough of those teeny toes. I will always swoon for babies. Maybe I could become a doula? LOL. I have lots of ideas….the hard part is choosing just one. Until then, I’ll continue writing, blogging, photographing and creating.

What's your favourite thing to do as a family?

Hands down my favourite place in the world is where my parents have a holiday house (lucky us!). It is where I got married and it is where a lot of our extended family time happens. I refer to it as my “sweet spot.” It’s where I recharge from the fast pace of life. It’s where we slow down as a family and do simple things like collect shells from the beach, stroll through the pine forests and the girls enjoy time with their many cousins. Oh, it also happens to be in a wine district, so yeah, there’s the wine attraction too.

You have so many amazing posts, many of which have been published in other places. Do you have a personal favourite, or one that is particularly meaningful for you?

I write for a number of parenting and lifestyle publications like Essential Baby, Practical Parenting and Mamamia. There’s nothing better than when a post is read and shared by a wide audience. It means it’s relatable and that’s always my motivation for writing anything. It’s very hard to pick just one favourite, so I am going to cheat and pick two. My first is an open letter to a new mum. I like this one as it sums up what my blog and I hope it is offers reassurance and comfort to new mums adjusting to motherhood.

Dear new mum: A letter of advice
And this is my second favourite as it describes how my own journey of motherhood began. I always love the personal stories I write. Often these are written more for me (and to show my girls later in life) but interestingly these are of the ones that strike a chord with readers too.

A story about conception

What was the best advice you got when you first started out with NASD?

Just write.
My sister encouraged me to pen my first post. I wasn’t sure anyone would be terribly interested in what I had to say but she told me to write from the heart. And that’s the best advice I have received as it is timeless. There are a lot of distractions as a blogger. People get caught up in the stats/marketing/social media side of things and they can forget to write about what is meaningful to them. When a reader strongly identifies with one of my blog posts, it makes me so happy. A lot of my interaction happens on Facebook and I love getting to know my readers. It’s my little virtual village and I’ve got plenty of room for more villagers, so I hope you’ll check it out.

Michaela Fox

Thank you, Michaela!
See, I was right, wasn't I? She IS fabulous. Ok, so you have my blessing to leave my blog this instant to go check out more of Michaela's work!

You can find her at Not Another Slippery Dip, on Facebook and on Twitter

Friday, 10 April 2015

How do you know when you're finished having babies?

We're very grateful for our four children. Not many people have asked, but in case you're wondering, no, we won't be having another. We'd be crazy to, right? We are pushed to our limits with what we have, in a tired and skint sort of way. Most people I know don't plan to have four children (but then, neither did we). I get it. Four kids is a lot. Another one would be hard for us, maybe too hard.

But still, the thought of holding another newborn makes me swoon. I can imagine it so clearly: I can picture the face of my newborn, even feel its soft weight in my arms and smell that amazing scent that babies have. In fact, I've been telling people that I'd happily have another baby if Mr Laney wanted us to. In a year or two. What can I say? I'm baby crazy. It's addictive.

Up until recently, the thought of never carrying a baby to term again, never meeting my new baby for the first time, never watching my newborn sleep and never carrying a precious little bundle in a baby carrier made me want to weep. Honestly, the thought of heading into the non-fertile years and having to let go of the idea of ever having another baby again has made me worried about the grieving process that awaits me. The biological pull towards babies is a crazy and powerful thing.

But recently I've started to get flashes of....sanity? Realism?

I've been getting sudden insights of what adding a new baby to our mix would really be like. Because of course, it's not all about watching a newborn sleep. That bit lasts for about 5 minutes. What comes after the newborn bit is the intense part. The bit when you really meet your baby for the first time. My babies have all stopped sleeping after three months. After which I've spent weeks trying to figure out what sleep technique to use to get them back on track. By the time I get somewhere with that, it's vaccination time. Then it's teething. Then it's more vaccinations. Not to mention all the other stuff that comes along, like first colds, developmental milestones and those blasted wonder weeks.

All things that make that first year so hard and unpredictable. And exhausting.

The realities of what another baby would mean for us occurs to me whenever I see another baby that's over three months old. And it's a turn-off. Is this what stops women having more babies? The realisation that they're just too tired to cope with anymore baby-work?  I mean, apart from the sensible things, like financial and logistical considerations.

Maybe it's because I'm so very tired at the moment, but the thought of adding another baby to the mix - a real baby, not the sleepy, curly newborn that will adapt to anything - makes me shudder. Maybe it's because I'm still so fresh out of the baby zone, having just done it all with twins.

So having another baby is a no from me.

But just between you and me, I'm so glad I still have a few years to fantasise about it all. I'm not ready to admit it conclusively yet. And I'm definitely not ready to palm off my secret stash of newborn clothes....

What about you? How did you know you were done with babies? Or are you still grappling with that thought now? Or maybe you're nowhere near done?

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Tuesday, 7 April 2015

5 things mums should never feel guilty about. Ever.

As mums, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to guilt. We can feel guilty about how we feed our children, how we get them to sleep, how much TV they watch and how much quality time we spend with them. I don't think guilt is always such a bad thing. It has its place in reminding us about our own values, and if we're staying true to them.

But when it comes to taking time out for ourselves, I don't think guilt has a useful place at all. I'm a big believer in the importance of us mums getting the space to breathe and take stock. Getting some time away from the kids does wonders for the soul as well as our perspective. It is also good for the kids to have some time with another carer besides us.

So, if you ever catch yourself thinking the following things, congratulations! You're completely normal.

Here's 5 things you shouldn't waste time feeling guilty about:

1. Wanting a break from it all

The thing with parenting is that can be so relentless. Kids by their nature are needy and aren't too interested in how busy your head is. Mine just keep asking me more questions, despite my harassed look: 'Mum can I have a drink?', 'Mum, can you draw a monster?', 'Mum, where's the iPad?', 'Mum, I need a wee!'. When I tuck Mr B up in bed at night, I feel really envious, watching him snuggle down into his blankets and cuddling his teddies. I would love to disappear into a big cuddly bed full of teddies. At 7.30pm. Maybe I should look into it. In any case, it's completely normal to feel like escaping now and then. Motherhood is full-on. If you feel like a break, see what you can do about taking one. You're not alone on this one.

2. Looking forward to bedtimes

Speaking of bedtimes, do you start watching the clock come late afternoon, counting down the minutes until your kids are sound asleep in bed? From what I hear, most of us mums do this. It doesn't mean you don't love them or want to spend time with them, it just means you value your re-charge time. You give your family the best of you all day. You will hit the wall at some point - I call it wine o' clock. Enjoy your downtime in the evening. The next morning, you'll feel refreshed enough to greet your little ones with a big 'I missed you!' smile. Well, you will after a coffee, anyway.

3. Wanting to do some things without the kids

For me, this is grocery shopping. There is a huge difference between going to the shops for milk and bread alone, and going when you've got children with you. One is easy and the other is really shit. To start with, adding a child to the mix will easily add half an hour to the expedition. It will also double the spending on groceries. It may or may not include an emergency hunt for a toilet, the loss of one toy that I should never have let them convince me to bring out of the car in the first place, and the replacement of shoes on feet at least twice. Sometimes I just want to get milk and bread.

4. Being a working mum

Whether you have to work to bring in the money or you choose to work because you love it, there's a good chance you enjoy the adult time you get when you go there. If you're like me, you even enjoy the bus ride to work, because a) it's full of other adults, and b) none of them want anything from you. At the end of the day, working means you're providing for your kids, which isn't such a bad thing. And if you love what you do, the kids will benefit from your positive energy, as well as learn along the way that work can be very satisfying. Also, it's very likely that people at your work will call you by your actual name, not 'Mummy'. Bonus.

5. Relishing in friendship dates

I know myself enough to know that I need time out with friends. It might not happen very often these days, but when a friendship date gets booked, I am very unlikely to break it. I encourage my husband to go out with his friends because I know it keeps his happy bank full and rejuvenates him enough to come home with a smile on his face. It's the same for me. Getting out with a close friend gives me much needed space to vent and laugh and experience the real world for a bit. The best thing is that as well as touching base with a  good friend, I miss my kids like mad, which is a welcome change if they've been driving me up the wall.

Tell me about you - does time away from your kids do wonders for you as a mum? Or does the guilt make it hard to enjoy? 

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Thursday, 2 April 2015

Short but interesting. Maybe.

random observations about life
image via Instagram

A bit of a random collection this week. Because sometimes, as well as thinking about the kids and the logistics of getting to the shops for milk, or how I'm going to be late for the school run yet again, or how to convince Miss P that she needs to wear shoes that fit, or how I've completely forgotten to prepare Mr B's school lunch as we head out the door......sometimes other stuff goes on in my life. I'm well-rounded like that.
Stuff like:

Emma Wiggle

I've realised that it's possible that I have the tinsiest, ever-so-small, really, really tiny girl-crush on this lady. She's just ticks all the boxes! The girl is a great dancer, hardly cheesy at all, an excellent role model for little girls, and she plays the drums!! I don't even mind that she wears a wig these days, probably because they realised that dyeing her hair red all the time was just way too much trouble, and kind of ruining her locks. What's not to love?? They could have gone with someone way, way wrong for the Yellow skivvy gig, and the first female Wiggle,  but they got it right.Yes, we watch The Wiggles A LOT in our house. I think about them way too much. Sometimes I just sit back and make up stuff about what I'm watching. In between all my own singing and dancing of course. Best that I don't say what I really think about the Blue Wiggle though. I have made up loads about him.

Men and their ways

This week, I was lucky enough to see two men on different occasions have a wee in the street. Both in broad daylight.  It's that tell-tale sign of a male with his back to the street that draws me in. The first one was at the traffic lights, I was in my car. I watched him finish off, turn back towards the street while he pulled his zipper up and then he pressed the pedestrian button. Niiiice......I really enjoyed thinking about all the pedestrian crossing buttons I've pressed in my life and how I've never washed my hands afterwards. Two days later I saw another tell-tale sign. This one must have been quite desperate, because he'd stopped his taxi almost in the middle of the road. I actually had to wait behind him while he hurried back into his car and took off. Again, it was great to visualise those hands exchanging money and credit cards with passengers all night. And then I thought, what the hell?! If I need a wee in public and can't find a toilet, I have to HOLD IT IN. Sometimes for ages and ages. I have never decided just to have a piss in public because I'm desperate.

random obervations about life

The day I went right off Hoisin sauce 

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to get to the shops on my own for a few groceries. I picked up a bottle of Hoisin sauce and brought it in close to read the label. The next 3 seconds happened in very slow motion. First, I felt my feet get suddenly wet. Then, I heard sauce glooping out of the bottle. Then I realised, 'this sauce bottle doesn't have a bottom'. And then I realised the glooping was happening. All. Over. Me. And by the time I did all this processing (I'm very tired, remember), the bottle had emptied over me completely and I was covered in sticky, stinky Hoisin sauce. Which tastes and smells great when you're cooking, but not when you're wearing it. In the middle of the supermarket.
I stood there for a minute, wondering what to do. I was soaked. The stuff was in my shoes, squelching away. I found a staff member, who helpfully got me some paper towels, which didn't help me in the slightest. Then, seeing the mess I was in, she suggested I go see the Service Desk, because 'my clothes might be ruined'. I skulked off in my stinky mess to find someone who was ready to fall over themselves in apology. I won't lie, I was thinking, 'payout please.' Or at least a free bottle of Hoisin sauce. Long story short, I walked out of there with a couple of extra Dominoes. By the time the message had got to the manager about my situation, I was really embarrassed about causing such a fuss, and almost gratefully accepted that the best they could offer was a refund on any dry-cleaning I needed. I got out of there as fast as my stinking, squelching shoes could carry me. I couldn't help thinking that someone who was better with being assertive could have kicked off quite effectively. But I just didn't have it in me.

random observations about life

The Really Bad Coffee

The other day I was at a training event for work and decided to tempt fate by trying a coffee from somewhere I didn't know. I should have guessed from the sniff test that it was going to go horribly wrong. I took a whiff, and then, against all my judgement and knowledge about what a decent coffee should smell like, I took a sip. GAG. It was the worst thing I've ever tasted. Ever. In my mouth. You know when you use your coffee machine with a pod that's already been used, because you forgot to put the new one in? And it smells awful, so you quickly pour it down the sink and try to un-smell it?Well this coffee tasted like the smell of that. I pushed myself to take another sip, willing myself to get through it for the sake of the caffeine, but I was easily defeated. Two sips later and I pushed it aside, with the revolting aftertaste in my  mouth. It stayed in there for the next 8 hours. Never again. Never again.

So, the question is, what do you think about Emma Wiggle? And what would you have done about the Hoisin sauce incident if you were me??? Got any random stories of your own from this week?

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