peas on toast

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Updated: 13 hours 40 min ago

the three fluids

Tue, 2014-10-28 20:32

They say having a child(ren) helps to chill you out.

Is it.

Boet, I don't know about that.

In some respects, yes. Like, at the moment I am wearing a pom pom beanie when I go outside because I can't be fussed with actual hair brushing. How I don't have dreadlocks, I dunno, (washing regularly maybe?), but yes, I have become completely chilled out about my barnet.

I also, like most mums, exit the house with baby detritus on my being. So yes, in a manner of speaking, I have chilled out about what my trousers manage to pick up over the course of a day.

Two things I haven't chilled out about at all, and may cause foreseeable issues, are:
1) Mess.
2) Snot.

Everything else that slides towards unkept anarchy, is mostly fine with me. The two things above - well, I feel nauseas just thinking about both.

Let's start with Mess. When I refer to Mess, I mean in general. I have been blessed with a little boy, and this means that from now on, he will try to trash my house. In fact, just last week a woman at a playgroup (with a boy on her lap) turned to me, winked, and said, "Girls wreck your head; boys wreck your house."

Whichever you determine is worse, at the moment my baby is already wrecking mine. House, that is. I'm giving him finger foods, which if he doesn't put in his mouth and then spit directly onto the floor in a salivary ball, he will just smoosh them around his plate and then push it onto the floor.

I dress him like he's going paintballing, because he will smear foodstuffs all over his clothes, often things like blueberries and bread.

There's shit everywhere. I am forever with dustpan and cloth, and while it's exhausting cleaning up after him and his destructive trail, I am aware of two things. One, it's only going to get worse as he ascends into toddlerdom. Two, if I don't have a clean house, I have a panic embolism.

I'm ridiculously houseproud. My house has to be in order - from having an immaculate basin and toilet to clean surfaces and gleaming dishes.
Obviously most of the time these days, these things aren't to be. But I'll be damned, that if I have guests over, my house had better be spotless.

I'm in a lot of trouble aren't I? I mean, when he learns to pee standing up, he is going to decorate the bathroom floor all over, all the time.
He will smear mud and all sorts on the floor and couch. But still, I have to control it; I will control it. I cannot function otherwise.

Now. Snot.

When you have a kid, there are three bodily fluids you'll be exposed to (explosed to?) multiple times a day. The fluids will explode from all orifices, everywhere, and two times out of three, your conversations will revolve around them: their colour, how big, frequency and with what force they exited the body.

I don't mind this chat, never have.

Pooh, vomit and snot. I have become accustomed to and have mastered - I'd like to think - the first two. I can wipe Sebastian's ass with one hand, while using the other to stop him wriggling; I have dealt with three consecutive Man Chunders that he projectiled over me in quick succession, so I've earned my stripes, so to speak, there.

Now that he is on a full array of foods, this new menu has done wonders for the smell. The Brit and I need gas masks when we change him, and yet, it still - still - doesn't repulse me as much as much as snot.

When I was an au pair about a hundred years ago, the family introduced me to this utterly unforgivable snot-clearing device to extract snot in the event the baby got a cold.

It was a tube that you suck on to help pull it out.

Dude. I am about to vomit over this keyboard, (as am sure you are too), but for the love of Christ, what the fuck. 

I find it difficult to clean Sebastian's nose of the nasal offerings that he presents to me most days. Tissues, earbuds, I really only go there if I really have to. If it's right there, I'll immediately wipe it away but I'll throw up a little in my mouth when I do so.
If it's up his nose and takes some wrestling to get at it, no thanks, I don't even try. He is going to be one of those children that learns to wipe and blow his own nose at a very young age.

I'm honestly considering doing this as a priority before potty training.

I love my son more than anything conceivable. But I cannot handle this snot.

Or mess. But snot more.


Mon, 2014-10-27 09:45
Peas: A large box, enscrawled with 'Asos' has just arrived at our house.

Dove: Nice machaan, you doing some shopping?

Peas: Yes, but shit shopping. I have had to buy myself some clothes.

Dove: Why isn't that nice?

Peas: Because it reminds me that in about 8 weeks, I'll be back at work. And I can't fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes, so I've basically had to buy myself a new wardrobe.

Dove: Hashtag first world problems.

Peas: It's three pairs of enormous trousers, a few smart tops and a coat.

Dove: What is the size of your new pants?

Peas: I was a 10 when I got married. Fast forward almost two years later, and I am sitting in a tight 12, comfortable 14. FUCK.

Dove: [Sad face]

Peas: So I've had to get a bunch of new trousers, as I've been told my child bearing hips will never fit into my old pants again.

Dove: What?

Peas: My hips are like the opening of the gates of Troy.


And apparently they'll never go back.

Which is GREAT news.

Dove: I'm sure they must. Look at the celebrities.

Peas: The celebs must have some kind of vice grip surgery.

Dove: Um, what's a vice grip?

Peas: The jaws of life. That thing that opens and closes car wreckages. Giant, hydraulic, steel calipers.



Dove: Oh. Those.

eyelashes, tp and gay bars

Mon, 2014-10-20 20:09
A few casual observations from the week gone by...

My baby has the longest eyelashes
 Nirvana? Oh, nevermind.He also came home with his first certificate ever, today.
Dude. I'm so proud. I've stuck it on a wall in his room.

He gets his lashes from his father. But the eyes? They're all me. 

I heard the best acknowledgement and compliment last week

Last week I wrote a post giving those willing to listen some suggested ways in which to acknowledge my loss/my daughter.

Well, add this to the list: "Aw come on, don't be so hard on yourself about your weight, you're fine. You're a mother of two for godssake!'

Best. One. Ever. Nicely rolled together. Was music to my ears, and was said to me on a night in a gay bar in Soho.
Jeez, it's been a long time since I went to a gay bar in Soho. Years.

But on my night off, I went with my Favourite Gay Irish Friend to help him pick up some man meat over a few drinks.
(After we'd polished off some German sausages at Herman Ze German).

I had a few glasses of wine, which was enough encouragement for me to wave guys over who I thought would suit my Irish pal's tastes, and pinch their bottom if need be, to get their attention.

I've always been super aggressive confident like that.

Look, as a straight mother of two, I'm invisible in a gay bar ok. One needs to resort to drastic measures if one is to be a successful wingman for one's friend.

He got lucky, once I departed after my third glass of wine (and God did I feel rough the following day), but goes to show: if you want to come right in a gay bar, get a straight, married, motherly female to be your wingman.

Oh, and pay her the best compliment(s) ever and she'll eat out of your hand. Or just about.
Thank you, Irish.

Twin Peaks just gets better and better the more you watch it

That's why cult series' are cult series. I'm a Peakie. Yes, even that word and everything.

We've bought the newly HD'ed version of the series, now that winter is upon us, we cracked it open, from it's new box.
It's just marvellous. The music, the eeriness, how every character is completely fucked up and eccentric, the scenery and setting, you can almost smell the Douglas fir trees.

I'm absolutely dying to go to Washington state (where it was filmed) one day and drive around, eating cherry pie and visiting some of the places it was filmed. Yes, again, I'm one of those people. It's embarrassing; but I honestly have zero fucks to give.

Once again, absorbed into the freaky world of TP.

autumn walks

Wed, 2014-10-15 11:10
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!

a tinder picture is a 1000 words

Sat, 2014-10-11 20:13
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.


But he likes the outdoors.


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.


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.
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.
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.

a guide: what to say

Mon, 2014-10-06 20:49
(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.


Fri, 2014-10-03 12:16
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.

five surprising things i have discovered about motherhood

Tue, 2014-09-30 20:57
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'

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

foody outings

Mon, 2014-09-29 19:18
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.

six months

Thu, 2014-09-25 15:20
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.

my twin story page

Tue, 2014-09-23 18:47
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).

swimming and ranting

Mon, 2014-09-22 19:18
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.

sciatica and chateaubriand

Fri, 2014-09-19 15:22
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.


Tue, 2014-09-16 13:30

I went to Cornwall aged 33, and came back aged 70 34. (Sebastian didn't sleep in Cornwall. He decided sleep just wouldn't do.)

What a wonderful 5 days though. We went there with two other couples, also with babies, so it was our first foray into full on family vacay affairs.
 You know, with little things around. Little wellies.
 Little people's stuff.
 And little feet.

It was great. I didn't need to profusely apologise if Sebby decided to kick off in the middle of the night (which he did), and we understood when any other the other children had a meltdown. My boobs were out, we went out en masse as a big old buggy brigade, and there were toys strewn all over the floor. We'd all talk about our babies bowel movements (and our own by the end).

It was fantastic.

And we ate ourselves rampant. As did my son.

Cornwall is beautiful. Well, St Ives at least. We spent days roaming the streets, eating pasties (everyday. It was Pasty O' Clock every single day), devouring Cornish ice cream, soaking up the salty sea air. It was warmer down there too, so we were wondering around in shirts and sandals.

It was my birthday, and the Brit had booked an amazing seafood restaurant for lunch, where I had a few champagne cocktails to celebrate being completely middle-aged.
On our last day, we visited Hayle, a village not far from St Ives, where all my English ancestors come from.

My great grandmother and other family members got married in the local church (above), and apparently she made a mean pasty.
We also larked about in the old cemetery trying to find some Clemence headstones, but turned out we were in the wrong one.

My Dad's second name is St Elwyn, named after this very church.

Either way, Cornwall is fabulous - definitely worth a trip back there sometime soon. Perhaps when my child can walk and appreciate the sand between his toes.

 One of our friend's with us took these beautiful black and white photos of Sebby, playing on the carpet. Just ten days shy of being 6 months old.

sam & finn

Tue, 2014-09-09 09:39
I am battling a bit today and last night.

I don't cry everyday anymore, but a cry does build up. I can feel it. Then one little thing will set it off - a conversation, seeing twins, or something I read.

I saw a set of boy/girl twins on Sunday, hugging and playing with each other. They were so close and shared such a special bond. Then I go to the Dark Place and start thinking about the days leading up to her death. How she was breech, how I fell, where I fell, the scan following, how she then turned and then that fateful day. 18 March.

I am sitting here, tears streaming down my cheeks as I saw the most beautiful little book created by a twin mum as a tribute to one of her twin boys that died.
She lives in Cape Town, and posted on the Twinless Twins forum.

It's so touching, and so apt. Finn, her survivor, was always active and kicking, while her other boy, Sam, was more restful.
It was exactly like that with Sebby and Molly. Sebby was constantly kicking me and moving, while Molly kicked softly and at different times.

Here it is.

We are going to Cornwall for a few days on Thursday. This break has been planned for a while, as we are going with other couples and their babies. Our first baby holiday.

I can't wait to see Cornwall. It's where my English ancestors come from, and my dad says there is a cemetery in one of the towns near to where we are staying, filled with Clemence's.

super juice

Mon, 2014-09-08 13:37
Wanted to share my Super Juice recipe with y'all. Someone asked for it the other day, so thought I'd share.

It's actually a smoothie, but for the purposes of looking trendy, let's called it a juice. Everyone's juicing. Even poor old Joan Rivers is juicing still.

Every morning, I make this juice, by hook or by crook. It's more a smoothie, to be fair. It has the skins and piths and all other bits in it.
It keeps me:
1) awake
2) regular
3) not ill ever.

I can't afford to be sick, er, constipated or sleep walking at the moment, so I drink one first thing every morning. It also conveniently packs in my 5 a day in one fell swoop. I eat a lot of vegetables and fruit ordinarily, but this ensures no matter what, I get it all.

You can mix and match the fruits to your liking, but I tend to mostly use this combination - it's not too sweet and not too tart.
It's best taken first thing before any cereal or breakfast so that it blasts your system awake and all the nutrients are absorbed on impact.

I also tend to choose fruit and veg that are alkaline and high in anti-oxidants, to stave off things like cancer and ageing.
Fruits are high in sugar, but pear is great for fibre and banana is brilliant for energy.

I also use organic produce - especially the ones without hard skins, so that less pesticides and rubbish are absorbed.

To make one pint glass:

1) To start, grab a fistful of fresh baby spinach leaves; grab a fistful of curly kale leaves.
2) Cut up a ripe pear.

3) Chop up a banana
4) Grab a fistful of fresh blueberries

5) Chop up three slices of ginger (very important! Also helps for milk production if you're breastfeeding...)

Your concoction should look something like this now:

This will make about a pint of smoothie.

6) Add about 100-150 mls of filtered water
7) Whack a hand blender in there. (Or stick it in the blender/food processor). Hand blenders are the business, FYI.

You will want to put soft fruit at the top if you're hand blending, and the leaves at the bottom with the harder stuff in the middle.

Give it a sippable consistency.
You should end up with something looking like this:
Doesn't look helluva appetising, sure - sort of looks like dish water, but it tastes yummy. The ginger gives it a bit of a kick too.
If you have any, add ground up flax/linseeds, in the oil form. Good for the old brain, they say.

Otherwise like me, use the smoothie as a chaser for all the supplements you take.
(Viz fenugreek for breastmilk, vitamin d, flaxseed, multi-vitamin.)

You should be ready to do cartwheels after this.
Or just about.

borrowed time

Fri, 2014-09-05 11:55
My child has started to not sleep at all at night.

A few weeks ago, he was sleeping through. The Brit and I were waking up somewhat refreshed.
Slowly but surely the little scamp has started to wake at 3am. Then it was 1am and 3am.
When he didn't wake up at those unforgivable times, I fucking started waking up then, expecting  him to wake up.

Fast forward to three days ago, when the Brit went to Germany for work. That's when Sebastian decided to open a can of I'm About To Ruin Your Shit and now he wakes up every hour on the hour.

Other mums are all, 'It's teething!' 'It's a growth spurt! 'It's the famous Four Month Regression!'(Famous? How come I don't know about that? And my son is 5.5 months, so does that still make it the Four Month Regression?)

Either way, I'm beyond catatonic. Beyond, because I've almost done a 360. I'm so tired, I'm hyperactive.
I know if I sit down and chill for one second, I'm going to fall asleep for eight months.

So I got up, put on my granny jersey woollen dressing gown (it's a phase), and sleepwalked my way around Clapham. I was proud of myself for managing to dress, brush my teeth and feed myself and him in a somnambulistic state.

I did, however, spread Marmite over my peanut-butter sandwich thinking it was jam.

I took Seb to the library for Rhyme & Story Time. While he listened intently to the songs, stories and general child chaos around him, I sat sleeping with my eyes open. Like all the other mummies in there.

I started to feel panicked and very sad last night. Even amongst the sleep deprivation, there's a blip that's surfaced on my horizon.

January. The cold, dark, hands-down worst month of the year is on my radar. It's coming. It's when I go back to work, and it's when I leave Seb.

It means I'll see my son from then on out maybe two or three hours, if I'm lucky, a day. It means I won't be able to go to Story Time or swimming with him anymore. I won't be able to take him for walks in the middle of the day, except on weekends. I'm hiring someone else to do this for me.

And already my heart is starting to break.

(Also, will I even be able to do my job anymore?)

I have little time left with him. Three and a half months. So even though he is perpetually driving me insane by keeping me awake, I am trying to savour every, single minute I have with him.

I will drag my body to every class or walk or appointment I have with him, despite how much we slept the night before, and I will enjoy it. Because I have only one chance to do these things with him. And I am now running on limited time.

PS: This time last year I was riddled with morning sickness. I was smashing fish fingers every supper time for seven weeks. It's the only thing I could stomach. It was also around this time that I found out that I was carrying twins....

24 hours

Tue, 2014-09-02 20:52
One thing new mother's find simply infuriating (besides the constant swathe of unsolicited advice), is the fact that people think that they basically sit around all day.

Hell, maybe they do. Maybe if they have maids/nannies/au pairs/grannies/siblings on hand, they do get a few hours a day, just to themselves.
Certainly in South Africa, this is more the case. Some of my motherly friends might as well live in a completely different world to me, nevermind country. Hired help and proximity of family members is easy to come by there, and don't think for a second that I don't think about this all the time.

I'm fully aware that my life would be a lot easier if I was living in South Africa now. It would be sunnier, I'd have more support emotionally and otherwise, and my son would probably have a large garden to crawl around in.

But that's not the purpose of this post, actually. I live in the UK (and to remind myself why: it's safe, the politics are somewhat orderly, it's cosmopolitan, it has real seasons, first world, close to the continent and therefore travel, beautiful, cultured, and we live in a lovely period Victorian conversion on the foot of one of London's best commons.)

The intention here is to describe exactly, in excruciating detail - as much as my sleep-deprived brain may allow - what an average day is like. As a mum, on maternity leave, in London. Today was an average day, perhaps Sebastian was grumpier then usual- now crescendoing his usual cry to a further louder rasping effect, which I believe is teething.

So without further ado.

6:15am - The first mewlings, fast escalating to yelling. He wants milk this very second.
Leap out of bed, stumble around bashing things on the way to his room.

Feeds for half an hour.
Gulp a pint of water to wake up and help my milk flow.

7:00am - The Brit wakes up, Sebastian turns to him and plays with his face. By 'play' I mean grab his nose and try to rip it off his face.

Play with him.
Leave them there to go and pump the remainder of milk into a bottle.

7:30am - Brit showers and gets ready for work, I make a super juice.

Put Seb in his bouncer.
Seb is moaning. His toy fell off the bouncer.
Hand it back to him.
Attend to juice and vitamin supplements.
Prepare his breakfast, by mixing pear, cereal and some of my milk in a bowl.
Shit. He's seen the bowl. Starts to moan for breakfast.

8:15am - Feed him breakfast.

Clean his face, hands and surrounding area where splat-a-thon has occurred.
Finish my juice.
Put All Bran in a bowl.
See that he has done a pooh.
Take him to changing mat and wipe his bottom, affix new nappy.
Change him out of pyjamas, wipe his face, brush his hair.
Find dreadlocks in his hair.
Appears he is picking up lint and getting it entangled in hair.
Cut the dreads out. Leave gaping holes in his hair.
Starts crying.
Is overtired, was already meant to be down for his nap, like half an hour ago.

9:00am - Rock him to sleep, put on white noise app.
9:10am - Exit room on tippee-toes, trip over the belt of my dressing gown that is trailing behind me.

It's now a race against the clock. I have about 40 minutes, maybe an hour if I'm lucky.

Attend to All Bran.
Add up WeightWatchers points.
Finish breakfast.
Go back to kitchen, can't put dirty bowl in dishwasher as it's full.
Unload dishwasher.
Make cup of tea.
He cries.
Go to his room to put his dummy back in.
Make mental note of figuring out how to lose dummy for good.
Forget about tea, is now cold.
Reboil kettle.
Answer three emails that have been needing a reply for four days.
Reply to a text.
Forget about tea, is now cold.
Go and wash face.
Put on clothes.

10:00am - He wakes up
Check nappy.
He's done another pooh.
Oh look, the consistency and colour of this one reflects the avocado he had, how interesting.
Answer Skype call from mother
Chat to mother
Put him on blanket on floor on his stomach so he gets Tummy Time
He cries because he has managed to push all his toys away from his body
Rearrange toys close to his hands and face
Go back to couch to continue conversation
He cries because he has vomited on himself
Get up to wipe his face
Where's the fucking muslin?
Who took the last muslin out of the fucking lounge?
Oh. It was me.
Go to his room to get a new muslin.
Wipe his face.

10:45am  - set about breastfeeding.
Start on the boob he prefers (the left, which is therefore a much larger breast as it stands, now that's embarrassing. Especially for those who see both of them at once and can actually compare.)
Move him to the right breast while he is half asleep, hoping he won't notice.
He doesn't notice. For three minutes.
He notices. Puts his head back and screams in disapproval.
Move him back to the right breast.
He is distracted by the Bauhaus print behind us on the wall. He is always distracted by it.
Gets upset and starts to roar.
Sit him up to burp him.
Burp him.
Try the left breast again.
Screams and thrashes, legs go round like a bicycle.
Give up. Hope that 13 minutes of breastfeeding will be enough.
Fetch milk pump spout from kitchen.
Arrange Seb on couch in sitting position, using cushions.
Put toys around him.
With one eye on him, attach boob to breast pump.
Watch him. While pumping.

11:30am - Starts to niggle.
Go to his room to prepare him for his long lunchtime nap.

Race against the clock. An hour and a half (always interrupted). If lucky, two hours. But this has only happened twice.

The tablet on which the white noise app sits, has low battery.
As I turn on the soothing sound of waves, the only thing that helps him get to sleep, it stops.
He gets annoyed.
Take tablet and place it on charge.
Find the Brit's tablet and turn on white noise app. Battery is also low.
Go to kitchen to prepare some food
Switch on baby monitor
Peel three sweet potatoes and two courgettes
He starts crying.
Head to his room.
Give him a jiggle.
Go back to kitchen.
Put peeled vegetables in the steamer.
Prepare to make a sandwich.
Butter bread.
He's mewling.
Go to his room.
Give him a jiggle.
Return to kitchen, put ham on sandwich.
Starts crying.
Grit teeth and try to ignore for an additional 2 minutes while I chop a tomato.
I WILL finish making this fucking sandwich.
Crying gets too loud.
Head to his room, give him a jiggle.
Head back to kitchen. Place the chopped tomato on the sandwich.
Cut it up. Finish making sandwich.
Eat sandwich.
Mash up courgettes and potatoes, dispense into ice cube tray and put in freezer
He's finally asleep.
Make a cup of tea.
Realise I have to pay for his swimming lessons.
Head to computer and log onto internet banking.
Forget about tea, is now cold.

12:45pm - The Brit phones. Pick up call.
End call abruptly, as realise I haven't brushed my teeth yet.
Head to bathroom.
Brush my teeth.
Start to prepare to put some makeup on
Start brushing on some foundation.
He wakes up.
Is talking to himself, not crying, so continue
Do I have time to put on some blush, or should I skip that and brush my hair?
Fuck the blush.
Brush my hair.
He's chortling to himself.
I have time therefore to do a wee.
I do a wee.
He's starting to get impatient.
I wash hands
Apply hand cream
Put on wedding rings. Been forgetting to put those on when I leave house, which isn't good.

1:15pm  - Pick him up
Put him on changing table
Change his nappy
Put a cardigan on him
And his shoes
Realise I haven't drunk enough water
Fill up water bottle
Down a pint
Refill bottle
Set about breastfeeding.
Start on the left boob
Move him to the right breast while he is half asleep, hoping he won't notice.
He doesn't notice. For three minutes.
He notices. Puts his head back and screams in disapproval.
Move him back to the right breast.
He is distracted by the Bauhaus print behind us on the wall.
Gets upset and starts to roar.
Sit him up to burp him.
Burp him.
Try the left breast again.
Screams and thrashes, legs go round like a bicycle.
Give up. Hope that 13 minutes of breastfeeding will be enough.
Fetch milk pump spout from kitchen.
Arrange him on couch in sitting position, using cushions.
Put toys around him.
With one eye on him, attach boob to breast pump.
Watch him. While pumping.

1:48pm  - Realise him I'm super late
Bring buggy from his room to the door
Load him in the buggy
Find keys. mobile phone
Exit door
See postman has delivered package
Reopen door
Drop package
Realise I've left water bottle
Swear loudly
Apologise for being such a bad example
Race down the street
Stop to put his dummy in
Stop to find sunglasses floating around the depths of his nappy bag
Cross main street
Enter building where a class is being held (we sing and do baby activities in a big circle)
See other mums, make some polite small talk about Bugaboo buggies and weaning
Wipe drool from his face
Realise the class instructor is still on fucking holiday
Leave building exasperated

2:15pm - find a coffee shop after walking to the high street
Order a massive Americano with milk
Find a table where there is  space to slide a buggy in next to it
He starts to whinge, it's nap time
Coffee shop is quiet, save two important-looking novelists tapping away on laptops

2:30pm - He starts roaring
Panicked, I shush and jiggle him to sleep
Finally he drops off
Drink coffee
Order a slice of cake. Fuck it.
Read a few blogs, message a friend who thinks I'm dead, respond to a WhatsApp
Take a picture of my coffee
Put a filter on it
Add some hashtags
Upload it to Instagram
Pay for coffee

3:30pm - Exit coffee shop
Walk home
Find keys

4:00pm - Enter house
Lie him on his activity play gym
He lies there and swats the toys
Down a pint of water
Give him a breastfeed, this time just one breast

4:30pm - Entertain him. It's now officially Witching Hour, anything can set him off
Stand him up, swing him around, wave toys in front of him, sing to him, get out the nursery rhyme book
Realise haven't checked nappy in a while
Change nappy

5:00pm - Get potato cube and carrot cube out of freezer
Put in bowl
Heat in microwave.
Add some breast milk.
Put him in bouncer chair, put bib on
Feed him his supper
Clean his hands and face
Put dummy in, as hates having hands and face wiped
Put him back under play gym

5:30pm - Prepare his bath
Run the water, check it's the right temperature
Fetch bath support seat, put it in the bath
Get towel and sponge, baby shampoo out and ready

5:45pm - Put him bath
Wash his hair, extremities, play with him

6:00pm - Get him out of bath, dry him, take him to his room
Get out baby oil and give him a baby massage
Brit is home early, comes in to give him a kiss and cuddle
Dress him in his pyjamas

6:15pm - Draw the curtains
Take tablet off charge, get his bed ready
Take him to our bed, open up a book
Read him a short story
Short, as he is properly niggly now
Attach him to preferred breast
Change him to other breast when he is half asleep. He stays there.
Breathe a sigh of relief.

6:45pm - Take his comatose little body through to his room
Tuck him in
Switch on white noise app

Eat supper with the Brit.
Hope he doesn't wake up, but if he does, it will be just as we are about to tuck into a giant bowl of something delicious.
The Brit will go and attend to him.

7:30pm - Have a bath.
Close the door
Put on a candle
Put on my iPod and speaker
Sit and think. Often about Molly.

8:00pm - Write a blog post.
Watch something on TV with Brit.
Drink a cup of [warm] tea.

9:15pm - Pump milk into his bottle

9:30pm - Brit gives him his dreamfeed, either the bottle if its full or as recently, formula.

10:00pm - Go to bed.

Somewhere around 3:00am
He might wake up. Often he does. Brit or myself puts him back to sleep.

This took me three hours to do. It's pretty much taken up all my spare time, so I do hope you read every. single. word.

In conclusion. If there's one thing I have realised it's this: No office job is as difficult as being a full-time mum.
Mark my words. NO OFFICE JOB.
There are lull periods in any given office day. You can drink a hot cup of coffee. You can stare out of a window for more than 12 seconds. You probably had at least 8 hours sleep.

* I had to dedicate time to write this. Once the Brit was home so that I could really concentrate. And not have to write it with my teeth whilst doing 109 other things with my fingers. And toes. At the same time. 
* Haven't included cuddle time in here. Assume I cuddle him pretty much every twenty minutes of the waking day.
* Make no mistake. I love being a mum. I wouldn't have it any other way.

slippery nipple

Tue, 2014-09-02 12:17
It's ironic really. A Slippery Nipple cocktail would've gone down nicely on our returning flight from Portugal.

Now, boarding a flight with an infant garners a number of things.
1) people who like babies and coo and point;
2) people who are scared of babies and look visibly relieved when you pass their seat; and in a mixture of horror and revulsion when you arrive at theirs because you're sitting right next to them.
3) the parent(s) walking on 8 million eggshells as they tentatively make sure their little bundle is going to not lose his shit.

We were the last to board the plane, now having mastered the art of colapsing and putting back together our 'tarvel system.' The Travel System is our buggy, which has been pimped especially for this trip. It consists of a basic buggy bracket, wheels and the car seat.

On the flight in, we kept an entire busload of passengers waiting while we tried to desperately put together the fucking Travel System on the runway. The car seat would not - so God help us - click onto the bracket. We pushed, we shoved, we sweated, we tried everything, only to throw everything, in pieces, one by one, onto the heaving, crowded bus because they were going to leave us there.

It was at that moment, I also remembered that I had forgotten to put on deodorant, perhaps as we had left at 4am, but by now, my odiferous pits were the last of my worries.

Anyway, where the fuck was I.

On the plane, leaving to fly back to the UK. Sebastian had been brilliant on the way here. Lying sprawled across our laps, sleeping with his doudou over his face like an Arab as usual (got more than a few raised eyebrows on the flight, let me tell you), I even managed to leaf through the Duty Free magazine with the Brit. No crying or loud baby noises to cause anyone any alarm.

Exhibit A:

We were particularly proud of the fact we managed to stick to basic airline standards as well. Via the channel between our seats, we cunningly (while he was asleep, mind), ran his seatbelt through and over. And there he lay, quite blissful and Syrian-like, for a good hour and a bit.

We tried the same tack for the return journey. Parents do this. If a method works once, you try it again and again - but most of the time you realise it just worked once, even though you keep banging away at the one method.

He was finicky and started wingeing and moaning. I was sitting, this time, next to a very hairy young woman. She had Amy Winehouse eye makeup and was sleeping sitting up. Which makes me believe she was just trying to sleep. I can sleep sitting up anywhere these days - seriously, try me - but that's because I am 8 years in lieu of real sleep and counting.

Planes make me tired too. It must be the cabin pressure or altitude or something, but all I deperately, desperately, wanted to do was get Sebastian to sleep so that I could sit back for even TEN MINUTES and catch some flies. My husband had already started, and was catching an assortment of flying objects with his wide open mouth rather nicely.

A ha! I put him on my boob. It wasn't feeding time, but the nipple worked as a lovely little plug and stopped his niggling and wingeing. And after about 3 minutes he was beautifully sound asleep. Latched onto my nipple.

Great. I was sleepy too. Ah look at the little bugger. All curled up against my bosom, just like when he was a newborn. Eyes closed, mouth on my nipple, snuggled into me.
I'm sure it's fine if I just leave him there.

A few minutes later, he slid off the nipple, just enough so that it now rested firmly in his eyeball hole.

The nipple fitted cosily and quite firmly in what was his eyeball socket, so I thought, the same.
I'm sure it's fine if I just leave him there.

Fast forward, I dunno, ten, twenty minutes?
 Husband and wife, now both with heads thrown back, mouths agape, possibly with a trickle of drool descending down the jowls.
Hang on, what is this?
Mother has infant in her arms. Infant's head has appeared to have slipped off nipple entirely, meaning mother's bear breast is just sort of hanging there. In mid-air, at 33 000 feet, while mother and child and husband slumber.

Make note that we were positioned near the back of the plane near the toilets, so the foot traffic in that area consisted of frequent loo-goers and air hostesses. And my boob, was exposed to all, throughout that time.

Now. Here's the thing. I couldn't give more of a fuck. 

When you become a mother, your boobs are no longer objects of sexual and private nature. Your boobs are public property. They're feeding machines. Milk outlets. Udders.

From the moment he was born, I've had midwives, nurses, doulas, doctors, neonatologists, hospital staff squeeze, touch and see my boobs. Helping me to breastfeed.
I've whipped them out in front of my father-in-law, brother-in-law, his wife, the Brit's entire family. My step-dad, the Brit;s best friend, my friends.

Everyone I care even slightly about, has seen my tits. Performing the rudimentary function of procuring milk.

I remember my 28th birthday - surprisingly, rather vividly. I was in Johannesburg, at a Greek restaurant, and we were all dancing around, absolutely steaming.
At one point, my boob fell out of my dress, right in sight of Poen's [now] husband.

I was mortified. As I didn't realise it had fallen out, so I was happily continuing my conversation with my boob poking everyone's eye out.
("You might want to pop that back in, Peas.")

Now? So a bunch of people I don't know saw my boob. My naked, nipply breast.

If my vagine was out, then I'd have something to be embarrassed about. But having my boob out on a plane where a throng of strangers could look really doesn't bother me at all.

Must've looked pretty funny though.


Mon, 2014-09-01 12:22
It's been a long time since my dormant travel bug tickled my toes.

And Lisbon, what a lovely city! You don't hear much about Lisbon in the grand spectrum of European cities. Most people go to Barcelona or Rome or Paris for long weekend breaks. But the Portuguese capital started to make its way onto the pages of travel magazines a year or two ago.

It is the most underrated city I've been to. I think. It's not completely overrun with tourists, the avenues and streets are wide and walkable (all covered in white cobbles - not a street or pavement is without the smooth cobbles. I did trip and fall on face, sure, but whatever), and the people love children.

Women, men and children would swoop in and touch Sebastian wherever we went, and were so accommodating in restaurants and while we travelled. We walked with him everywhere, up and down streets, all over town basically. My little boy was a (mostly) lovely traveller - very relaxed, even stretching across our laps during the flight there,to sleep.
(Beginner's luck?)

The flight back deserves its own post.

Anyway. The weather was perfect. About 28 degrees, stark and sunny - about the average temperature I enjoy most. Sebby could wear his summer clothes a bit longer, while me and the Brit ran around scantily-cladded.

I managed to reverse all the work I have done on my diet, via the medium of 'pasteis de nata', those criminally-good custard tart thingies the Portuguese make so well. We went to the original cafe where the initial recipe was sown by nuns. Seriously.

We slotted them like biscuits, fresh and crispy from the oven. I can't really describe how tasty these were, so I won't.
But I will say this: never in my life has I tasted something so crispy and crunchy, and yet so buttery and smooth all at once. Dusted in cinnamon, warm from the oven's embrace..... No wonder Cafe de Belem sells 20 000 of those bad boys a day. (And at 1 euro a tart, they're dong OK....)

We ordered Portuguese food in, loitered by the pool on top of our apartment, meandered through gardens and tiny streets.

We took Seb on buses, on the metro, everywhere. The little lad's mind must have been blown a few times.

Anyway, enough talking, more pictures. Lisbon is hands down a wonderful city, well worth a visit. It's small enough to walk around over a few days, the weather is amazing, there are beaches nearby and I believe it has a cracking nightlife.
(One area we couldn't partake in, was the night vibe in Bairro Alto where I was told that the streets become awash with bucket-sized mojitos. Next time.)

 Many buildings are covered top to bottom in tiles.
 Arco de Augusta
 The secret-recipe pasteis de Belem in process.
 Look at this thing.

 Oh ja. I bought a new set of 'fun' shades. They're red velvet Ray Ban reflectors, cue right. I haven't been in a duty free for a while. It shows, doesn't it.
 The Cafe de Belem hall - filled with snacking tourists!
 My heart melts.
 No trip to Portugal would be complete without a dish of grilled sardines.

 Portuguese windows My sunglasses can reflect everything within a 20 mile radius.
 Standard pavement view.
Mother and boy child statue.
 Our pool with Lisbonic [sic] views
 Seb's bath time in the sink. Not overly impressed.
 Husband and views

 Ifound an old friend - at a 'museu de cerveja', a 'beer emporium' basically. Mozambique in a sip.

 Them tiles.
 It's not quite's more sort Atlanticanean.

 Bougainvillea eeverywhere....
 Dried fish. Not keen.
 Warm in Portugal. Keen.
Our first family trip.

It was lovely to spend four glorious days, just me and my little family. So good for all of us.

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