peas on toast
Always with me. Both of my twins. Someone pointed out a brilliant little blog to me yesterday, which covers everything pregnancy and birth-wise, as well as stillbirth.
A word that makes me want to be ill, much like most expectant mums.
Anyway, the post goes on to suggest some of the things people can do when their child dies in utero. We are doing most of the things they suggest, give or take.
One thing they suggested is recording your personal birth story. As everything is such a haze, everything is so intense and frankly, shit - labour and birth is not cool, seriously - that the mind easily forgets.
So without getting into too much graphic detail, I'll give you a rundown of what happened to me. Some people have easy labours - a couple of hours, two paracetamol and the baby just falls out.
The exact opposite happened to me - oh obviously - nothing is ever straightforward or easy when it comes to my reproductive system, and I can say (proudly?) that I have done it all when it comes to ways to give birth.
Yes I can. Here is why.
Very weirdly, I had almost exactly the same birth and labour my mother had with me. Down to the failed forceps and emergency c-section.
I was pretty set on having an elective c-section, which I eventually got and booked in for my twins to be delivered at 37 weeks and 5 days.
When everything changed, I then opted to be induced and have a natural birth. Sebastian was head down and the first twin, which meant it was the least risky way to get him out.
In the back of my mind, I still was conscious that I had to squeeze out two babies. But having him out and safe was my top priority - screw everything else.
I was in labour for 18 hours.
It was fucking exhausting. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
I was induced, which first involved a sweep (obstetrician reaches up to touch baby's head, and try to figure out how large my cervix is - it hurts), and by this stage I was already sucking on the air and gas they give you to make you a little light headed.
Air and gas does fuck all for pain, but it does allow you to focus on your breathing and giggle every now and then.
As I was having tons of Braxton Hicks contractions, they thought this would be enough for labour to just start, but it wasn't. So I had the gel put in. Being induced means more painful contractions, BTW.
The gel worked too well. I was having contractions within the hour it was put up there (ouch), that they had to slow them down with a further injection. I was having one contraction every minute.
At this stage it felt like a wave of white hot pain - nothing for 30 seconds, you could almost continue your last conversation while sipping on a mug of tea - and then a surge of pressure as a contraction came. I had a few paracetamols given to me, which only really takes the edge off, and I was lying draped over a birthing ball in the middle of my room - beknickered - sucking on gas and air.
One has to find one's sense of humour when you're a pregnant, heaving cow draped over a fucking pilates ball with your ass sticking out.
It is literally, literally, the most undignified thing ever. The midwife I had was amazing in that she didn't bat an eyelid. Lucy was her name. She made me feel normal and at ease as I lay around in different positions, making pretty much the most unladylike noises one could ever hope to make.
Seriously. It hurts.
My mum was with me at this stage, she was tag-teaming with the Brit who would come in once I had my epidural.
"WHERE'S MY EPIDURAL? CAN I HAVE MY BLOODY EPIDURAL YET? WE SPOKE ABOUT THIS, YOU SAID I COULD HAVE IT PRETTY MUCH NOW, LUCY. NOW."
Once they'd established that I had accelerated, no pole-vaulted into labour, they hoisted me into the side of my bed to put the epidural into my back.
Epidurals are put in via tube into your spine. You have to keep really, really still so that your spinal fluid isn't punctured.
Being still during a contraction is nigh impossible when the pain makes you scream to the point where the paint starts to peel off the walls - seriously, how women do this without pain relief is one of life's greatest mysteries - so they wait until you are finished.
Epidurals are wonderful things. You know it's all happening, like when my waters were broken, and the monitor shows big waves, but you feel nothing. Just a tightening. You can even doze off.
You can't eat anything big though. And the fact is, you need to eat - you need the strength. And all I had were a few sweets or a bite of an energy or cereal bar every so often. Lots of water, as your temperature rises.
My temperature went a bit high, so at one point they were putting cold flannels all over my face and body, and giving me paracetamol through a drip to bring it down. Having my face sprayed with cold water.
Fast forward to about midnight, 16 hours later. When shit started happening. I cold feel the pressure of Sebastian's head moving down and engaging. I was so tired, but was told I'd need to start pushing.
Jesus. Obsterician, midwives, husband and mother all shouting push at the same time while I tried to seismically shift my son's head with nothing but my pelvic muscles.
"Twin 1 isn't moving as fast as we need it to," said the (seriously lovely female) obstetrician. It needs to get past a u-bend. I can see his head.
In my sweaty, exhausted state I said "Does it have hair?"
"Yes it does. A lot of it."
"Oh that's nice."
More pushing. More sweating. Nothing much happening.
"IS IT PAST THE FUCKING U-BEND YET?"
"Jesus. This baby is really starting to PISS ME OFF."
By this stage I was starting to think about Twin 2 again. I wasn't done when this one was out. I had to push out another. And it wasn't even alive. How was I even going to do this? I was so frightened.
The obstetrician then reached for the forceps.
"We are going to have to pull this baby out."
"Fine. Do whatever you have to do."
Still pushing and she having to wrestle with the two steel forceps, I dreaded to think what was actually happening to my undercarriage. I didn't care much, I just wanted the baby out of me, but I still wondered what kind of damage was being done down there. (For the record, a fair bit, but nothing that hasn't healed. In case you wanted to know.)
Then Sebastian's heartbeat started to change. That monitoring machine again. I was wheeled into theatre, the Brit was told to put his scrubs and suddenly there were lots of people, doctors, nurses, anetheatists around. All frentic and shouting things at each other.
"Dude, what's going on?"
Obstetrician: Don't worry. Just because you're going to theatre doesn't mean you're having surgery, OK? I just need better light to see with these forceps.
By this stage, after all the pushing, shoving, pain and sweating, I did not want a c-section. It felt like all this would've been in vain.
Well, it was. Mostly.
He still wasn't budging. The obstetrician looked at me really sadly and said, "I'm so sorry. We are going to have to operate. I'm really sorry."
"Fuck. Well this is annoying. But more annoying is that it won't come out, so let's just get on with it then."
It was frenetic in there. There must've been about 14 hospital staff in the theatre, and at one point I screamed, "Where's my husband? I can't see him."
There was the Brit in his blues and a cap on his head, looking quite dashing if I recall, waving from behind the group of chaotic doctors.
There was so much noise. And talking.
"Oh my God, it's crazy in here. What is going on, can everyone just CALM DOWN?"
No one heard me though. They were too busy focused on cutting open my abdomen.
The screen was up right in front of my face, and now I just waited for the first sounds of life from Twin 1.
"Oh THAT'S why he was stuck!" cried the obstetrician from behind the screen.
"...and why is that? I panicked about the chord being around his neck.
"It's hands. It's hands are plastered to his cheeks. It's called 'compound presentation.'"
"What's the sex?"
"It's a boy." And I heard his cries. That's my child. It's a boy! That's my kid. Get me off this table, I want him here with me, where is he?
Oh wait. Now the hard part. I started to cry.
Suddenly the room was silent, save for Sebastian's crying and my weeping.
He was being weighed and the Brit was with him. They then bought him to me, bundled up in a blanket, with ectoplasm still in his hair. His shock of brown hair.
He was beautiful. I cried more.
Silence behind the screen as they pulled out my lifeless second twin.
"What's the sex? I managed to ask, wincing as they said "girl" as I knew this already.
The Brit and I both cried. I felt impatient and tired. They still had to sew me up, which took another 40 minutes. Meaning I couldn't hold my children until I was done.
I fell asleep. I had never been so exhausted in all my life. So much so, my speech was slurred, I fell asleep mid-sentence and my brain had ceased to function.
I was given Sebastian, who we named straightaway. We also named Molly straightaway, only having chosen her new name a few days before.
I held my son skin-to-skin as his tiny little body squirmed against my chest. He was quite large for a twin, weighing in at 2.9 kilos. Molly was much smaller, having died sometime during week 34.
They wheeled her in, also in a see-through tub crib, except already bundled in a blanket and on a cold mattress.
It was torture. I don't think I stopped crying for an entire day. We held her. We spoke to her, gave her her teddy. Took pictures. Spoke to a grievance counsellor who had been with us the week leading up to this.
It was all a blur, I was so tired. I wish I could've been less tired so that the details were sharper.
Even so, this is my birth story. Of having my twins. The memories although dulled by lack of sleep, are fresh and intense.
And to conclude? I'd still opt for a c-section. But given Sebastian didn't need to go to special care (he was born at 36 weeks), then for this birth, I wouldn't have changed a thing.
This might've put you off having children, I realise this. But it probably won't.
I find it best to write it down. While I continually ask the big empty space in the sky these questions, perhaps if I write them down, there is a degree of accountability. Or maybe someone with universal power will read these. ("Are you there God? It's me, Margaret.")
I probably think about Molly 40% of any given day. I'm not in tears all day, everyday. I couldn't possibly be when I am bowled over by my little boy, deeply entrenched in dedicating the offering of my udders to him every three hours.
But when I do think about her, it's a fleeting pang of white hot pain, a big gaping hole that I can only fill with thoughts and anger.
This is where I am at:
I had a boy and I had a girl.
Had I had two boys or two girls would I have felt differently about the loss? Perhaps. But the fact was I had a perfect pigeon pair, and I only had one of each. I lost my daughter, and I may never have a daughter again.
I also knew deep down that I was having a boy and a girl. I knew it wasn't two boys (we never had a second boys name confirmed, mainly because I knew we wouldn't need it).
I knew he was my feisty bigger boy, and she was my smaller, little girl.
So when I was wheeled into theatre and they finally pulled him out, when I asked them "What is the sex?" and they said boy, I knew. And when she was pulled out, and I asked the same thing, I knew they would say "girl."
There are three me's
There was the me before I got pregnant. The me that had no idea about twins, what it would mean to have them, how chaotic, scary and exciting our lives would be for 8 months once we found out.
This me is someone I can't relate to at all anymore.
Then there was the pregnant me. The me who didn't enjoy being so heavily huge, while grappling with the reality that I'd have two babies, and learning. Learning so much about ourselves, gearing up for the biggest event of our lives, fixing a house, joining twins clubs, buying two of everything, getting ready. Being so scared, but so excited. Smug even. "There are two in here, have you know."
Then there's post-18 March me. The one who looks at a family photo of me, the Brit and Seb, and I still see a massive hole where Molly should be. Where I hold and kiss my son and wonder what it would be like to shower her with love too.
Losing a child is something that happens to other people, and yet here I am.
I see twins everywhere
There are lot of twins around. With IVF being very popular here, the UK has a lot of twins. And it seems they've all decided to move into our area. I see twins on the streets, in movies, on ads, I can't escape it. It hurts to see twins. I feel resentful and it makes me imagine how our life was meant to be.
Twins were so special
I had twins naturally. My mother's cousins had twins, so it runs in my family somewhat. As I only later discovered. At first we were overwhelmed. But by the time 35 weeks rolled around, I realised having twins was the BEST thing. So many perks with having twins. Get it over and done with in one swoop. Could go back to work and salvage my career. They'd look after each other. They would protect each other. Learn to share. Entertain each other.
To the point where I preferred the concept. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. The benefits far outweighed everything else.
My 'just me' time in my day is when I have a bath. For twenty minutes, I light a candle, sit in total darkness, and just cry. It's when I can think and grieve. I have a cry everyday. I wonder whether it'll ever not be the case again.
Molly's post mortem is finished and we will get the results (or non-results) in a few weeks. For now, we are organising her cremation and memorial service. Having to choose caskets, flowers, the minister - is all so intense. Again, how is this happening?
Hopefully we will have some closure. Her memorial is due to take place on 23 May.
Two things that touched me more than they would've before
You can't help but commiserate and feel for those who have also lost children. I also seem to be noticing more stories like this.
Help Me Find Isobel's Hat - here.
Lily Allen opens up about losing a child before birth - here.
And my everything.....Sebastian in his bouncer chair. It's true. You just cannot possibly love anything more than your own child.
...is something I've never had until now.
A big night where I only got 6 hours? Not sleep deprivation.
Restless insomnia tossing and turning? Not sleep deprivation.
8 months pregnant and needing to pee every hour? Not sleep deprivation.
Straight up four days living it up at a festival. Not sleep deprivation.
Raving. With glow sticks. Without stopping. Not sleep deprivation.
Working late? Waking early?
No. Sleep deprivation is feeding a 2 week old every three hours around the clock.
Newfound respect for all mother's, ever, in the world, ever.
Was told it was going to be bad.
But nothing quite prepares you for the endless cycle where you fall asleep mid-sentence/standing up/sitting down/while trying to eat and sleeping mid-forklift.
Sweet Baby Jesus.
I thought it was an amazing gesture. And if anyone else wants to light a candle for her in other parts of the world, please do be my guest - I would love that. I don't want her to ever be forgotton.
She sent me the pictures from a deserted beach, where they raised a glass for her. I can't help staring at the pictures.
These pictures are the only tangible things I have of Molly. that and the few things I have in her memory box, like her foot and hand prints, and other small tokens. But that's all it is, just tokens.
These candle pictures are haunting, and I could stare at them all day as it makes me feel just that tiny bit closer to her. And anything that makes me feel closer to her, helps my heart. Even if it hurts like hell.
Thank you Poen and Niallo. They are beautiful. Molly;s spirit lives on in Africa.
They were scheduled to be born today.
The heartache and baby blues have hit me like a train, but in the spirit of celebrating my son, here are a few pics taken over the last few days.
The lime green babygrow is definitely not my fave, but I do love his hair.
After his bath.
Being winded. And obviously having an amazing time.
A week old foot.
Leaving hospital in his car seat.
As he was prem, he was born with a fine downy hair all over his arms and back. Not unlike a little baboon. He's my monkey baby, and I love the fur.
To think I left home one afternoon to go for a scan. And two weeks later, here we are.
Coming home and being out of that stifling hospital was like leaving prison. It really felt like that.
Coming home with one baby was the harshest of realities.
It's the milestones that hurt. We can function fine, and then something will set us off - like the two mobiles that are hanging above the cot. Or the fact Seb was one week old yesterday. Or the fact that Molly had the same hair and mouth and nose as Seb, and I wonder how she would've looked this week.
And while we find ourselves in the around-the-clock feeding cycle (sheesh it's brutal - I am both awed and astounded at how new mum's actually do this. The sleep deprivation is something else), I still wonder what it would've been like with my two. My pair. The twins I carried for over 8 months.
After That Scan, I was admitted into hospital to monitor the other twin.
We still decided not to find out the sex of the babies. This would mean more emotional attachment.
For a week I was hooked up to a monitoring machine, one that shows his heartbeat. This machine was both my best friend and my nemesis - I'd watch it like a hawk for reassurance that Twin 1 was OK, and I'd prod and poke my stomach all day and night to ensure it was kicking me. If it's heartbeat dropped, I'd panic and call the midwives.
The advice I got from the group of obstetricians was to strike a careful balance. Hold on until 36 weeks to have the twins, so that Twin 1 had better chance of survival and had the healthiest start.
Of course, as we had no idea why Twin 2 had died, they didn't want me to wait for longer than that in case the same happened to Twin 1.
It was nervewracking.
I also opted for a natural birth. Suddenly all my priorities had changed. I wanted what was best for the baby, not me anymore. Natural birth meant the fluid in its lungs would be squeezed out, meaning less chance of it going to special care as a premature baby.
In the end I almost did give natural birth. Until Seb got stuck and I had to have an emergency c-section. I can say I've done it all now. And it sucked; going through 18 hours of labour only to have surgery anyway.
But during the week preceding the birth, we had to deal with the fact that I'd be giving birth to two babies, and taking only one home.
It was the darkest time of our lives. I wanted to give birth, but at the same time I didn't want to let go. Molly was still with me; and I could still talk to her. I could still be with her.
Here are some of my thoughts I wrote down, summed up, during that week. For anyone that has gone through a similar experience, perhaps you can identify.
Why give it to us only to take it away?There are meant to be two. We were chosen to embark on a unique parental experience. They are meant to be together, to look after each other, to always have one another.Now its on its own, and we have an empty space. My heart is so heavy. I don't want to let go. Having it here is both comforting and hindering. I imagine what it must look like or where it is. Or if there's an afterlife and we will ever meet it one day. If it knows how much I love it and no matter what they are as important to me as the alive twin. My little fighter; my alive feisty twin. It must never stop kicking me. It can hurt and punish me I don't care.
How will it know how special it is, and how special its life would've been with a twin at its rightful side? That its been robbed not only from us but from him/her. How will we ever fill the gap, how will we ensure that it is part of our family and is acknowledged and never forgotten - not by us but by its sibling and the world. I carried twins for 35+ weeks. No one will know. Now we are just like everyone else, no one knows our story or our excitement. I want to turn back the clock. When did its heart stop and when did its soul move? Was I awake? Was I shouting at the time, crying, happy, aware?Was it when I cried and didn't know why? What will become of all of us? How will we move on. I don't believe I'll ever stop thinking about what was to be, or who it was. The dread of the days to come when its taken from me finally. And how we will say goodbye and have a few memories or tokens, just tokens to prove it was part of us. It was a twin. I had towns. I have twins.
The sadness just moves and I need to feel it, to feel the tears. Being distracted by visitors just irritates me. It means less time thinking about and connecting with the twin that will soon go forever. Giving it the time it deserves as its time was so short. Names. Significance. Does it know. Does anyone know. Or do they think just focusing on one twin will make this all better. They make me angry. Will I meet it someday. Can I talk to it?
- - - - - -
My child,If it was me, or anything that I did to make this happen, then I am endlessly sorry. I may never know. I may never grasp. I love you and your twin more than life itself and am sorry you'll never get to experience life. I'm sorry its been stolen from you before it began.
My angel, it won't be long until you have to leave me. But you're in my heart. And will remain there for as long as I live and beyond. I will never forget you. You'll never be forgotten, it will be my life's pledge to ensure that. While nurturing and loving your twin with all our hearts.
I'm scared. I'm the worst kind of scared for the pain of this birth and I feel guilty because I really should be more fearful of seeing you and having to let you go. I am. The thought kills me.I will wonder if you know that. And if you know what a hole you're leaving in my life, in our lives. I'm your mum. We were ready for you. We were excited, scared but excited. You were with us for 8 months. You were meant to be like me and your sibling like your dad. I don't know where we got that from, but you were my little small one.Now your sibling is what we are trying to focus on, so we can heal and fill its life with love.
The deathly silence, void, ghostly nothingness that I can't feel you is difficult. That your sibling is so active and you never were - or at least I didn't feel you much - makes the contrast even stronger.Thank God your sibling moves and squirms so much. Thank goodness.
I love you always and endlessly, my precious daughter.
There are two chapters to my life. One that existed before 18 March 2014 and one that existed after.
I cannot write a blog post right now that adequately describes anything, but what I can do is show you how we have told our friends, family and acquaintances.
It goes like this. On 18 March I left home to go and have my final scan. 35 weeks. I left home and haven't been back since.
While thinking we were on the home stretch of pregnancy with only two weeks to go, we found out that Twin 2's heart had stopped beating. Sometime in the last week it had died.
Our hearts literally broke into millions of fragments. I don't quite have the strength yet to elaborate, so I'll share what I have already.
Yesterday morning, at 2:00am, 25 March I gave birth to my twins. One healthy little boy who we named Sebastian George. And one stillborn little girl, who we named Molly Therese.
It is with an overwhelming joy and sorrow we announce the birth of our twins today. Last week was the most harrowing of our lives, as we learnt that our little girl, Molly, hadn't lived to see the world. So, with endless gratitude and relief, we embrace our feisty survivor, Sebastian, who is already helping us to heal our hearts.
Rest in peace my little Molly. We draw all our strength from the joy your precious twin brother is already giving us.
Thank you everyone for your messages, texts and thoughts in this bittersweet time.
Nothing can aptly describe the sheer spectrum of emotion we feel by the death and birth of our two children who were meant to be a pair. But this adaptation by Elizabeth Lector comes close:
Bittersweet, the grieving joy,
The death and birth of our twin girl
One this world will never know,
One alone will live and grow.
Conceived and carried as a pair,
In birth alone one breathed the air.
His cry assured us he'd be fine;
His sister silent came behind.
Molly now in heaven will dwell.
Sebastian will play and laugh and yell
As all strong boys are wont to do.
He'll learn in time he's one of two
And wonder at what might have been,
What life would be like with his twin.
The sharpest sting of grief will pass
And Sebastian will grow up too fast
As happens with most every child.
I know at times we'll see him smile
And recall our daughter
Who was so like this living one.
So pain won't end, can't go away,
But joy grows stronger every day
As we experience life anew,
Seeing the world as children do.
We're grateful that we'll have a chance
To see our new son sing and dance.
To help him learn, to watch him grow,
These all are pleasures we will know.
Yet through the joy and love and care
We'll remember Molly is not there.
Melts my heart. Especially when he talks to them and pokes them for a response (they kick back). One thing that will make me cry is when I first see him bonding with them when they're born. When I imagine him holding one of them, I just well up.
Other things that are literally making me cry at the moment are:
1) Well, this picture above
2) Hero by Mariah Carey in the traffic the other day. Not even joking.
3) Phil Collins on our "calibrated speakers" (geek speak the Brit likes to throw out there when it concerns the sound system). "You..called...me from..the room...of your hotel....." WAAAAAAAAAAH.
4) One tiny excerpt of Titanic shown on TV last night. Crisis. The scene where Leo dies in the icy water and Rose is balancing precariously on the floating door. I cried so hard I couldn't see for 5 minutes.
And it was just a clip, not even the whole movie.
5) The other day, when I burst into tears and I literally, literally, do not have any idea why I was crying. No idea whatsoever. No rhyme, no reason.
The crying is one hundred percent hormones. God it's amazing.
This is me, yesterday, having a waddle outside, in the sun, at 35 weeks. Looking large.
("No shit. I haven't seen the arss-end of the sun for like 6 months, guy.")
So as part of my prescription he's told me to sit in the sun for at least half an hour every day. You don't need to tell me twice.
But since it's Friday, I wanted to do a before and after of our lounge. I've showed you the nursery, bits of the kitchen, and now I figure the room that has undergone the most change is up.
Our main living area.
The lady that lived here before obviously liked things a bit more dark. The room was painted in Radicchio, a very red red. The only saving grace is that she did it in Farrow & Ball. I found a half finished tin of it downstairs.
The floors were stained dark brown, and everything needed to be modernised and opened up.
It's taken carpenters to come in and install cupboards and some book shelves, had sanders in to strip and varnish the floor boards, put in new radiators, paint it a light grey, add plantation shutters (my favourite!) and get to work on the general furnishings and decor.
So. In the beginning, there was:
The purchasing of much paint.
I started peeling off some of it, as it was all...plasticky.
The sash windows were also painted shut and broken. We had those fixed and removed the curtains.
For weeks, this place was filled with dust sheets, paint rollers, paint trays and just general shit.
I also eBayed most of our more contemporary furniture. I've just grown out of it, and wanted something more neutral now.
Note old book shelves.
For weeks I didn't go in here. It was also the main room to store our unpacked boxes from moving, and the builders were always in here anyway.
We'd do a bit at a time:
...while our stuff accumulated dust...
...and the builders made cupboards....note colour of floorboards.
...this was our living space for months.
Then things started to improve. And up until yesterday, there was just one more thing to do:
...Get these bad boys installed. How rad are the shutters? You can flick them up and down, spy on batty French women walking past, let some light in, some light out, suddenly the windows have a life of their own!
With new book shelves and cupboards we have more storage for things like...nappies. And Sony Playstations.
I only kept the 'good' books. Our classics, travel books or books that mean a lot to us. The rest went in the charity bin.
The mantlepiece is made up of nostalgic treasures. A crystal vase from my grandmother, a gold leaf buddha from Burma from mum, and other bits and bobs I've collected from travelling and vintage stores.
I got some new scatter cushions (probably the cheapest, easiest way to completely give a couch a new facelift) and framed some new pictures. Added some African vibes with the beaded buck's head, and repainted the lamp completely. It used to be red, with an orange shade. I got a new shade on Etsy and voila!
Wow that was hard work. I need to go for my nap.
Despite itchy skin (everywhere now - I'm just one big itchball), being so breathless that finishing a sentence is hard work, and with an enormous belly, I have been told that my bump is very 'compact' by a few women.
Which is always nice to hear when you're literally feeling your worst. I'll take a compact bump.
So looking at the positives:
Our house is pretty much finished! I just need to sort out my mum's/the guest/future play room in our basement, and paint one or two other things and we should be done.
It feels like we are in a new house. Which I suppose we are in some ways. We've spent enough money on it, Jesus. Having twins and setting that up is nothing in comparison to the endless building, plumbing, carpentry costs this flat has leeched from us.
Either way, we love our home now. My cousin from New Zealand - sorry: New Zaylin - has moved to London for two years. She last saw the place when it was relatively a-shambles with boxes everywhere, appalling paint job in the lounge, that sort of thing. And yesterday we proudly showed her around every square inch of the place.
"What do you think of these drawers?"
"Remember the carpet?"
For someone with a 13 hour jetlag, that must've been trying. *
It's nice to have an actual cuz living here. Some family. The last bit of family I had in the UK was my aunt, who died two years ago. Having a younger, hipper cousin here is going to be fabulous.
Plus if she doesn't find a job soon, I'll hit her up for babysitting. I'll only break this to her once she has settled in.
It is spring! The daffodils are out, the sun is shining and the temperatures are starting to rise. This could be our entire summer. One must never presume this kind of weather
1) may continue uninterupted
2) will get warmer
This is England after all. But thus far, it's promising to be a lovely spring.
You just need to break the seasons into their correct chunks, truest to their form. You really get the four seasons here, and it's something you have to learn to embrace and love. Autumn and spring in England are beautiful.
We are looking at getting a top of the range braai for the garden. It's my patriotic duty to own at least a decent Weber or such, especially now that we have a little garden.
The Brit was scrolling through a Bible-sized website of choices and we were getting VERY excited about slapping some boerie on the braai multiple times this summer, have some friends over, while our very good little sleeping angels will blissfully slumber in their nursery. And Mummy can enjoy a glass of wine....
*Thirteen hour time difference. New Zaylin is Pluto. Seriously.
This week has been absolute never ending misery. I cannot begin to describe it. Just when I thought I had a reign on my various infections - wielding creams, home remedies, anything, that could help an itch so insatiable I thought at one stage I might just throw myself off a balcony - it would return. I haven't slept for about 6 nights now. The nights are the worst. For some reason It (the thing, the cruel thing that overtakes my crack, basically) strikes at night the most. Which means I do not sleep at all.
One night I finally managed to stop squirming at 4:30am. After trying to retire at 11pm.
I have to sit upright like I'm on a plane as this slightly makes the itch less itchy.
I've cried, scratched, meditated, had vinegar baths, consulted the deepest recesses of the Internet, been to the chemist a few times and now gone back to the doctor today. He told me I don't actually have piles and the thrush has been cured. What this is is a full on fungal infection that now descends down my legs and into my sensitive crevasses. Lovely.
I have a new cream. Maybe this one will give me a few hours just to sleep? This is MADNESS.
On Saturday morning after another sleepless night and the clenching of butt cheeks when I walk, I revved myself up to shuffle off to the chemist to beg for more creams or anything they'd give me.
Maybe its because I am waddling/shuffling, maybe it is lack of sleep, but I took a horrible fall.
When you're pregnant you're prone to falling anyway, as your centre of gravity changes and your joints loosen. I tripped over a bit of pavement on our road and went flying. I wiped out after flying through the air, crashing down on my kneecaps and hands, and my bump. My bump hit the tarmac, and I was splayed out with bags of fucking fungal creams and a smashed mobile phone all around me. What a sight that must've been.
I couldn't get up, was winded and was bleeding, and the panic of my bump hitting the pavement put me into immediate frenzy, and I couldn't get up. I don't remember much, just that I was crying, no weeping loudly, and looking up to anyone who could help. Luckily two ladies saw me and helped me get up and escort me home.
Once back, the Brit attended to my bruised knees and palms of my hands, which are fairly mangled from the glass on my phone.
That moment was literally the worst I have felt. The only good thing was that I forgot about the itch for at least an hour. The bump was OK. The babies were both moving and there was no cramping or blood. Thank God.
In fact, I found out today that one of my babies have turned around from the breech position to face head down. I wonder if the lurch of the fall did that. Either way, when it did turn it looked like something out of Alien. I was in the bath a few hours later, and my stomach was convoluting and rippling like crazy - it made for some mesmerising viewing. I was just happy they were moving.
While it's been a really shoddy week, (did my French neighbour make a voodoo doll of me? In the most desperate of times I have convinced myself this is so), I've been largely housebound. Going out in public has been few and far between - as obviously publicly scratching one's nethers isn't something I want to be seen doing.
So I finally set to work on the nursery. And it's almost done. Just waiting on some woodland theme mobiles for above the cot (they'll share a cot for a few months first) otherwise the animal theme seems to work I think?
I've had to be very creative with space. It's a tiny room. So making the most of storage and other bits is essential.
I got the prints off Etsy and ordered pre-mounted frames on eBay. I figured animals were cute and neutral for boys and girls.
I got the bunting from Etsy as well, which I cut up to go on two walls.
I put hooks behind the door to hold things like their laundry bags and other things that could be hung.I got some white baskets off Amazon for the book shelf which I am keeping all their muslins, toys, blankets, bibs and other bits in.Their clothes are hanging in the cupboard of the nappy changer and on the freestanding rail. Their clothes are so cute so having them outside is quite cool really.
Then these are their Moses baskets. What they'll most likely sleep in their first weeks home, and probably in our room. What do you think?
Amongst the fungal fury, I actually somehow through the grace of all that's good and true, manage to study for and pass my Life In The UK Test.
I drove to Hammersmith to do it, and the sense of sheer achievement when I got it - in a week of debilitating afflictions, I can't tell you. Something I don't need to worry about ever again. Jesus I am relieved.
Finally, I have a due date.
Sort of! I saw my obstetrician today ( who also turns out to have been Kate Middleton's obstetrician. This man helped to deliver England's future king. And he will be delivering my twins!)
How's that for tremendously exciting?
Anyway, anyway, we are booked in for a c section on ....4 April. I'll be 37 weeks and 5 days. That's another 3.5 weeks. If I can make that date, amazing. But given everyone was staring at me when I walked through the common with the Brit on Sunday, I am literally, mahoosive. I've just suddenly popped.
People openly stared, then turned to their partner or friend and you could see them saying, 'Look at the size of that...'
Yes people. All this AND and a fungal infection. Now move along before I squash you.
We thought April Fool's Day would be a fun and apt birthday, ('It's actually triplets. They found another one, it didn't show up on any of the scans.') and would've been fun, but it was fully booked.
Soon we will meet our babies.....we can't help wondering what they will look like.
Just a pity it's because of my recent afflictions and nothing else.
I just ask for two things today. Just two. If there's a God, Universe, please for today, PLEASE:
1) May I pass the Life In The UK Test
2) May my pile stop itching
That's all I ask. Oh, and also that I don't go into labour or anything. That wouldn't be good either.
I thought I had a reign on the whole pile thing. Turns out I don't. Aarrrrrragghhggggh.
The pregnancy niggles I've only read about that mostly affect those in their final weeks, have decided - all at once - to come a-knocking on my door.
So to speak.
I won't go into candid detail, but I'll rate my comfort level a sterling 1 out of 10 at the moment.
It might be because I suddenly find myself with (in no particular order):
Thrush, piles, leg rash, acute indigestion, pinched nerve in the foot. I can't walk more than from the bedroom to the kitchen.
It's all going wrong and my nether regions are experiencing what can only be described as the second Crimean War right now.
Mate, it's not pretty.
These final weeks are going to be heavy going.
Tonight we are going to see Book Of Mormon, the apparently hilarious and crudely controversial West End production that we've been dying to see forever - and now squeezing it in while we can.
This means I need to go into central London tonight. Oh my goodness. I have been away just over a week and already this is a seemingly huge adventure. What will I be like in a few months time? Or when I have to start commuting there again?
In the meantime, like most South Africans and court oglers today, I am [making a chicken stew] while I watch the Oscar Pistorius trial unravel as it streams from my computer.
Our kitchen is pretty much done! It just needs a paint and a shelf put up, otherwise we are the proud new owners of:
1) an oven so hot that it almost steamed by eyeballs blind while I cooked a roast over the weekend and I opened the oven door;
2) a microwave. Haven't had one of these since I left Johannesburg. I didn't miss it either, truth be told. But now with bottles and sterilisers and convenience being our new best friend, it was time to get one.
3) a DISHWASHER.
Now. I've never owned a dishwasher. Nor did I grow up with one or live in a digs with one. The brief foray into the dishwasher world was when I had to stack and unstack one as an au pair in France.
But hell. What a revolution. Oh my fat, bulging sack. The dishes are so fucking clean. Stacking takes so much less time and effort than actual washing! Now that we have this luxury, I'm not quite sure how we ever lived without one. And herein obviously lies the problem - for without one, we might now surely die from the overspill of a detritus-filled sink.
It is amazing. It makes everything, the building and the waiting and the dust and constant flux of living in a tip, actually worth it.
Check it out. After our kitchen had been ripped out, and while it was being assembled:
It's a small kitchen. That's pretty much most of it. But it's so new and shiny and it's making me even cook during the days now.
Finally, I am 33 weeks this week. If I was carrying triplets, I would be considered ripe for production. Full term. Thank goodness I'm not carrying triplets. (See? It's all about relativity), but I am now in the sort of red alert stage.
Where I am getting up to pee about 8 times now in the night, and shifting in bed entails moving my carefully placed pillows with maximum effort.
I still don't know what - if any - structure my birth will take. I have to wait for my appointment with the obstetrician in 10 days, where he will basically assess whether I try to do this naturally (please may this not be the case - I'm flipping terrified), or whether I can have a c-section.
If my one baby stays breech, that is my only case.
Last week was no different, especially as I turned to enter our communal door into the hallway, I saw more detritus than usual on the doorstep.
Fucking builders leaving their beers on the doorstep?
I picked them up and put them to one side, intending to deal with it once I had caught my breath, while also noticing the bins overflowing with the neighbour's cleaning products.
I was particularly exhausted this day - I remember as standing for more than two minutes proved impossible, but tonight the Brit and I had to unpack our kitchen. The usual shunting of boxes from one room to the next, like every night.
Then, like Miley's wrecking ball, I heard it.
A completely hysterical French banshee burst through the communal door screaming and shouting like someone had killed her cat.
The Brit and I cowered in the kitchen while she proceeded to go MENTAL right outside our front door.
The Brit, in the meantime, assured me the beers weren't any of our workers - he had asked them - and said NOT to leave anything outside because we knew there would be hell to pay. For all we knew, they could've been hers?
The only words I could make out coming from her shrieking cake hole - her cul de gateau if you will - was the "THIS IS WAR!" and "revolting" and "beers" and "who do they think they are" as she roared past our door, stomped up the stairs and then continued to berate her husband for another twenty minutes about us downstairs.
We knew, that either in a matter of seconds, we'd be having her at our door shaking her fists and/or an email.
At this point, I've had enough of Madame Flare Up. And how she thinks because she lives above us that she owns the whole fucking building.
Being pregnant, sore, tired and breathless means my patience for irrational, crazy-eyed creatures is as at an all time low.
I've never been good with crazy people. Fun crazy is fine; mental crazy just pisses me off. I have dealt with a few Crazies over the last few years.
The immediate example that springs to mind is one such person who texts me under the guise of a another person/number in the hope to get information from me. And repeatedly did so. Makes my blood run as cold as ice.
Often, there are the drunk Crazies (who you don't know very well, and call not to tell you how much they love you, but rather in fits of tears/a rage to rant about something) and like now, the French Crazies.
Usually you can forget about most Crazies after a few days, unfortunately the latter lives above us. This is what went down. And it is far from over:
Email to all in the building - ourselves, them and a tenant living on the top floor:
"Can I ask that the downstairs premises stays clean,
We came home today and found can of beer in Asda bag outside of our front door, which is revolting, you wouldn't do this in your own home so I expect same amount of respect for outside space and communal areas as we all responsible
The inside is always messy since the work in your flat has started & dusty so it will be good out of respect to the other neighbours to leave the communal areas cleans please
We never had this issue before and we would like to remain the same,
This is not acceptable, further more, the door hasn't been locked properly few times We have been very clear that we need to lock the bottom door regardless how many times workers are coming in out."
Oh, there she is. The Brit responded cordially, as he is 8000% more diplomatic than I am, while I seethed. And seethed.
She wrote this after screaming and shouting outside our door for half an hour.
And the 'beer can' has FUCK ALL to do with us. It's also the snarky, I Am Queen Of The Fucking Universe attitude that made me particularly annoyed.
The Brit responded:
"Before you accuse us, we have no idea where the beers came from, they're nothing to do with us or our workers I assure you as I checked with the two that fitted our kitchen.
You should also note that I regularly take the bulky items to the tip for the benefit of everyone in the building even on occasion if it's our waste. We will clean the communal area since all of the heavy duty work is now pretty much done as of yesterday as I suggested in my mail to your husband yesterday. We were waiting for it to be done before a deep clean.
We will also likely clean the carpet since we're going to clean our carpets anyway - this was always our intention, we're well aware of the mess but there's little point in cleaning it if it's going to be made dusty the next day. The builders vacuumed the communal areas before they left for the day on most days, and we intend to make it clean once all the work is done.
If this is to be a slinging match maybe when you open your post you could actually put the empty envelope in the bin? We feel like the postmen, always sorting all three flat's post! I've also taken upon myself to re-post mail for people that no longer live here so that our junk mail is reduced - something that should've been done years ago.
It's not always the workers who don't lock the door, I've witnessed it not being locked under other circumstances. Plus I have reminded the workers on several occasions to lock it because I know how you feel about it.
May I please ask that if you have an issue or query than rather than coming home and shouting/screaming in the corridor and in your flat that you politely knock on our door either when you've calmed down or at a more convenient time. We were made to feel like prisoners in our own home last night."
This email obviously made something in her brain go 'ping.' For after a considerable 8 minutes, this arrived. Be aware that the spelling is as is. The downward spiral begins:
"Great if you had no idea so maybe a bit of common sense, just pick it up and put it in the bin like I did yesterday,
This is our communal area and respect it as well as your neighbours, you don't live on your own
We are always picking up post from the floors and cleaning downstairs so again for you don't accuse, we Hoover every area, my husband does all of the DIY work in communal area to keep it clean but don't ask anything in return, it's normal for us to leave in a clean environment
Respect goes both way, I have no time or care for such rude and nasty behaviour
We never had this issue before with any of the neighbour
Maybe you should ask yourself why during the day and Saturday morning we never complained to you about noise or dust as we didn't want to annoy you and respected that you are doing work However just take the feedback, I do whatever in my own home,
Don't start with the screaming topic as lot more can to be said
Don't send me any more rude email or I will take this further, just be polite & clean the mess maybe something you not familiar with,we don't need to speak, just clean and respect your neighbours that's all we ask, and yes we were both unhappy about it!"
Something went 'ping' in my brain. I don't like being shouted at, especially by someone who takes on the persona of a head mistress. So I responded:
"I'm afraid i'm going to step in here. Take this email from me, not my husband.
I don't know who you think you are, but saying we are rude and nasty after we have only EVER complied with what you have asked, given you head's up of all of the work we are doing, and tried to do this as quickly as possible for ALL parties involved (including ourselves - I am 8 months pregnant with twins - you are picking a fight with the wrong woman right now, believe you me) and you call us rude?
I am utterly gobsmacked. The Brit told you the work would be finished Wednesday/yesterday and would thoroughly clean the area once this was finished - which he has done this morning, including your rubbish/cleaning products in the bins that you have left there. We had plans to deep clean the area once it was finished.
Beers left on the step has nothing to do with us, so calling us "revolting" is completely off sides. Is this the kind of environment you want here, for all of us to hate coming home in case there's a screaming match outside the doors? I'm sure you can agree that everyone here just wants a "quiet and peaceful life" as you've mentioned before.
We want a clean communal area as much as you do, and that was the plan once our work was finished. Saying "we are not polite or not cleaning the mess is something we are familiar with" is completely offensive and rude!
I am shocked - and will not leave this be - and right now, trust me you do not want that. You choose to scream outside our door, what kind of adult behaviour is that, or environment for anyone in the building? How will that resolve anything?
Your accusatory email has only worsened things here, so if you want war - you have got it. My husband has only been polite and cordial to you, this email is coming from me, because I am appalled at what I am seeing here after all he is trying to do to get this done as quickly and as as quietly as possible.
Now it gets interesting.
She wrote back, obviously steam spurting from her ears, which obviously blinded her judgement as what she had to say next was - and the key line is the first one:
"I will forward this email to the police, best that you back off if you don't want to be arrested, this a proof of you treating us by using such word in email like war
[Woah! Allo? You Cannot. Actually Be. Serious.]
My first email was neither rude or nasty, I am asking you and the other neighbour to keep the area clean, is that too much for you to understand??
I don't think you understand very well here, you are not in war, being pregnant is not a sickness, you don't deserve a specials treatment because of it, and I personally don't care it's your personal life and it has nothing to do with the fact that we asked the communal area to be tidy as fas as I am concerned
As mentioned before don't send threatening emails or try to intimidate as this is a very childish behaviour, you are not in a playground and come to me face to face if you want to start a fight or have something to say, I am not scared but I will take legal action
[So when you were screaming outside our door, that's what you did, did you?]
You are rude and out of order, if you see in my first email was addressed to everyone living in the bundling so if you feel insecure it's your issue not mine of anyone in this email
Remember all we ask is to keep the area tidy, there is no need to threaten and on email so I will take legal action against it and get the police involved as we don't want to leave with people who think they can do own law, you don't live in the jungle!"
Mate. Just as we don't live in the jungle, we also do not live in France. Where you can strike or call the cops because someone wrote you an email putting you in your place.
I did check though. (I mean, COULD I get arrested or could she take 'legal action' because I told her where to go and stuff herself? Apparently the cops do have better things to do, I was told. Even in the quieter parts of England.)
I stepped away - mainly to stop hyperventilating - and The Brit took the helm once again:
"This is a joke. This is the second time that you've threatened legal action, firstly because we had our building planning approved to which we needed your consent.
You were the only neighbour out of 6 that dissented. I sought legal advice on the matter and my lawyers were adamant that we would've won any appeal due to you being out numbered and due to our circumstances, we chose not to because of time, stress and cost for both parties.
We carried on with our internal works because we're allowed to do as we wish in our own premises and want to make the most of our space now that we're not allowed to do the work.
Secondly you're threatening legal action about the cleanliness of a communal area? How is that rational?
If you want to talk legal action look at page 48 of the lease clause 2 schedule 4 where it prevents any business activity from home. Considering you have a work from home contract - we could also have used that as leverage against you but because we want an easy life and to at least try and be amenable toward you - we didn't.
[My clever husband. Turns out Frenchie over here is breaking ze rules...]
I'm done with this childish idiotic back and forth. If you're going to point fingers about who does what in the communal areas then perhaps we should employee a third party to clean the place and they can be paid from the kitty."
By now the other tenant living in the loft must've either been laughing really hard at the emails going back and forth between us, or horrified.
The Brit and I wrote to her to say sorry about all of this and she wrote back saying it was slightly hilarious, but also that "She's a bit of a over-reactor, isn't she?
Then her husband put in a call to my Brit to apologise. On behalf of his French wife. And that he would try and calm her down. And yet, a few hours later - without any prompting - she wrote to us AGAIN.
Bearing in mind her use of written English is such that I fail to understand most of what she is saying, however you get the gist:
"Legal action and police to be involved towards the threshing emails your wife sent below while I never accused I only asked to keep everything tidy, not massive request?!
Everyone copied in this email on purpose as all of us leave and share the communal areas, the inky time I directed to you [What's an inky, please?]
Please re- read and we can leave the police to decide, once again I welcome your wife to come to speak to direct & will indeed take legal action if necessary
Nothing to do with the request to keep as clean, the' war' as suggested is something that is out of context
Don't want to deal with violent neighbours who don't hesitate to threaten over a small issue and make their view clear! Once again not scared and speak to me direct, [Do you even know what violent is?]
When you asked permission to council and submitted your plan did we do a big issue out of this? No we just told you our view, something you seems obviously difficult to understand
This is not your house, you share I am afraid, you didn't buy the whole property so you have to respect the rule of freehold
Don't start as well with the fact we decline you outside building work. This is nothing to do with do with the 'cleaning issue' below but maybe it is after all hence why the whole 'hate' and rudeness since we declined
It took gigantic chunks of restraint for me to let her have the final word. I like to think that it was the adult, RATIONAL, high road thing to do.
Given the circumstances, and because fighting with an irrational person claiming to have you arrested due an email you sent, well, there's no point. You can't fight Crazy.
I did want to reply asking if she had got in touch with the police yet, as I think they'd be interested to hear she's working out of a residential property that states in the lease that she can't.
But I will save that for if there's a future verbal confrontation.
So. Do you have nice neighbours?
The only other time I've ever been at home and not in an office job was either when I was:
1) unemployed or part-time employed (both which meant I couldn't really do anything in my spare time as I had no money)
2) freelancing my writing (at a time after I was healing a broken heart, had been laid off work and had been in an attempted car hijacking, all in the space of a week.)
So any previous experiences of not working have been a bit shit, actually.
Now I am filling my time with antenatal classes; attending to house jobs while the sounds of a porcelain tile cutter dredge its way through my cranium. Moving one box and then sitting, gulping for breath. Or painting something and immediately needing a lie-down. Manual work punctuated by brief spells of sleep or breathlessness attacks.
It's actually rather nice.
I am wondering what's going on at work though. The gossip, what's on the lunch menu....
Don't feel like a lady of leisure. There's too much to be done around here - the building stuff still continues - and as I am so slow at the moment, doing anything takes mountains of motivation and energy.
I've just come back from finishing my official antenatal classes with the Brit. The classes that teach you how to breathe when your body feels like it's about to implode with pain, to how to change nappies and what kind of life you have in the first 8 weeks of parenthood.
For the record, this is how our lives will look for half of one 24 hour day when our sproglets have just been born, worst case scenario, give or take:
The time between feeds just stretches out as the weeks go on. But it doesn't look like I'll be able to leave the house for about 6 weeks.
The others in this group were really really nice. Just sound, lovely ladies. All having one child, but really supportive and interested in mine and the Brit's double plight ahead.
One is craving chocolate milkshakes just like me, and another is a South African. Hopefully we will all meet up regularly.
Right I need a nap.
PS: Stay tuned for tomorrow's "mad and ridiculous French women's unleashing." It's time to let the frog out of the bag.
For now - it's my last day of work. For ten whole months.
The time in which I've been given to successfully deliver and execute on the biggest project of my life.
The overall goal: Give birth to twins and thereafter keep yourself, your marriage and them alive.
Yup. Definitely the most challenging thing I've ever had to conceptualise.
But for now, I have one rush hour tube journey left. Just one. I lost my rag earlier in the week when a clutch of bankers hurled themselves through the closing doors and pummeled straight into my bump.
To which I swore at them really loudly and caused a scene of unBritish-like proportions, and it was all really awkward afterwards because there's nowhere to go/escape to and everyone kind of stares at the ceiling and shuffles their feet.
I think the ten months away from work will really start to take effect after two weeks at home. When I've finished the nursery, started sticking breast pads on my nipples because it looks funny, and watched two box sets while chugging Gaviscon and rubbing tummy butter on my mound.
Then the reality of how long I'll be away from adult conversation will start to sink in. I suspect.
I am going to miss work. I work at an insanely awesome company, with arguably the best perk being the free food. We get free meals, free snacks, free drinks - we basically never have to fend for ourselves foodwise, ever.
Well, we do eat dinner at home. But the rest? Breakfast, lunch and everything else in between is catered for. It's certainly not reality, but after almost 6 years at the company, it has, to my detriment, become norm.
The meals here are healthy, organic and prepared, and there's tons of choice. I will really miss being fed. It is therefore tentatively that I venture forth back into the real world and think about things like a full grocery shop, meal ideas and the concept of having to actually cook bags of food.
For myself and later on, additional mouths.
I had to ask the office this morning for reminders on how long you roast a chicken for again, and would they say this is a good meal to make for leftovers. And does anyone have additional meal ideas that only takes minimal effort.
I'm going to really miss the banter around here more than anything though. I'm surrounded by some pretty fucking funny individuals. And while our jobs can be stressful and manic, it's always infused with a ridiculous amount of childish banter. From the Welsh guy behind me to my Oxford-educated boss, to the snappy New Yorker in front of me. I work with a handful of very clever people who happen to also be very funny.
Christ I will miss it. And the people.
But I will be back! So actually, it's all fabulous.
To commemorate my last breakfast here, I had a slap up British fry-up this morning. Usually I have porridge or a bowl of fruit with nuts (can't eat fry ups everyday, even if it is on offer....):
The weather is sensational today. Apt for my last day, as I sit on the 9th floor of our building, this is the view from my window. (I have the window seat; may it still be mine when I'm back!)
When next will I be in central London? Seriously, getting here with a double buggy is going to take some careful planning.
Goodbye colleagues. Until next time.
More about that another time, but I am SEETHING. Never in my life have I experienced such a rude, screaming self-righteous French woman in my life.
I don't think she quite realises who she has picked a fight with. Not Peas On Toast. But rather a heavily pregnant persona of the latter, who can't even put on her own shoes without assistance anymore.
My fuse is henceforth ridiculously short for purposefully difficult stupid people right now.
Literally need to find a way to calm down.
It's a bit ridiculous really - I go on maternity next week to relax and put my swelling hooves up, and I have booked in a bunch of stuff that I simply have to do NOW.
The list goes as such:
1) Take advantage of 40% off deal for prenatal massage in local spa (possibly twice, thrice...)
2) Update driver's license (involves paperwork, fees, trip to Post Office...)
3) Write down all the important numbers I need to know in case I go into labour and pin on the fridge. Oh wait, we don't have a fridge. We don't even have a kitchen. At least not until next week.
Which will explain why there is a carton of milk sitting on the book shelf and why the juice is in the bathroom.
4) Take the Life In The UK test.
I should've done 4) months ago. Instead I've decided to embark on a bout of historical and cultural studying now, when I should really be reading Gina Ford's How To Create The Perfect Routine For Sleeping Babies or some such.
Next year I will apply for citizenship. The process to the passport is a long one, starting with a test you have to study for and pass. You can do the test at anytime, and I've chosen to do it on week 33 of my twin pregnancy; meaning I could have my waters break whilst filling in my answers in a room full of testing applicants.
Doing it now is just the sensible thing to do, while I have some peace and quiet to study before I have twins crawling around. You have to get 75% to pass, and it costs £50 to do it every time.
It proves you've at least made an effort to understand the local customs, laws, cultures and history of the UK over the last 4-5 years, and while many questions are a piece of piss ("What is the name of the UK British Flag? The Union Jim...or the Union Jack?"), there are whole sections that you need to study.
For example: "Which of of Henry the VIII's wives was executed for taking a string a lovers?" Or "When did William The Conqueror win the Battle of Hastings...and where is the famous tapestry commemorating this event hung?"
Most Brits - 99% of them - couldn't pass it.
It's like history back at school. So with a heavy sigh, heartburn burning and raging like a motherfucker, I set about propping my my study guide onto my enormous belly last night to begin reading.
To be fair, I thought it would be incredibly boring and throw me back to when I was 15 and sitting in a history lesson in a stuffy classroom forced to learn about the Voortrekkers for the fourth year in a row.
Actually, some of it is even slightly interesting. Like how the English language was formed (Norman French and Anglo-Saxon) to how Henry the VIII had six wives whom he divorced or had executed when he felt like it. And is the very reason he set up the Church of England, so he could in fact, divorce.
And how the Black Death wiped out a third of the population.
The very boring paragraph above is about the Vikings and how they came over from Denmark and Norway, raped and pillaged everything, settling mainly on the east coast near Scunthorpe.
My favourite shitty place in Britain.
Apparently "Scunthorpe" is a name that comes from the Viking language. Really?
Anyway. This is how I'll be filling any spare time for a couple of weeks.
I'm sitting at my desk literally huffing and puffing. Breathing is becoming more and more of an issue. It's less a voluntary reflex and more something I am conscious of not doing.
I am sitting here taking in giant gulps of air every now and then because I don't feel I am getting enough. Twins are flattening my airbags like pancakes.
The old lung capacity is at an old time low. Just cannot get enough air. Is this what asthma feels like? You take big giant gulps and then try and breathe without thinking about it, but it's just not enough?
With this being my final week at work and not being able to breathe like a normal person, I'm getting last minute panic attacks again.
Am I ready to be a parent? I'm not ready to be a parent, I can't be a parent, how will I do this, it's so soon, the birth, crisis what will become of me, am I capable of even having them, oh dear God we never thought this through, were we ever going to be ready, there's so much to consider, such a long road ahead of us, how will we feasibly do this, the bomb will drop and we will still have no idea what's going on, there are TWO. TWO. TWO. I'm not ready for this, I still have stuff I have to do like go to the Ukraine and have have one big night out.
I know the Brit feels like this, well he must do, but we are wary of setting each other off by having a panic attack in front of each other. At least, that's my strategy. I am terrified and feeling unprepared and not sure I am ready for this or I ever will be, but I am poker facing because I don't want to make it even worse for the Brit.
Then I think about the nursery and how I might even be able to sort it out in the next two weeks, if I could only breathe properly and not have to sit down every five minutes because my feet ache and my lungs burn.
And I think of them and their names and the nursery.
I dreamt about one of them over the weekend. She didn't look like our child at all, but she had our name. I don't know where the other twin was, but she was there and I loved her so much - I showed everyone pictures of her and I couldn't wait to get home to her after a day away.
I'm sure this is all very normal, the toing and froing of panic and excitement, but fuck it's a scary ride.