peas on toast
Perhaps it's other things manifesting as this thing, but even so I am not feeling good at all.
I had a dream last night that we had Sebastian cloned. So there were two little Sebastian's running around, both little boy twins. I still missed Molly deeply in my dream, but also felt joyously happy that we could somehow just 'recreate' another Seb. And they were at walking stage, running around together in their identical little outfits.
"You lost a twin? No problemo, just bring the one twin into the shop and we will clone him for you for a hefty sum."
Then I woke up. Gah.
I also bumped into one of the twins club ladies at a weaning class. While the rest of the world takes yoga and craft classes; I went to a session to teach me how to introduce solid foods to my baby.
Fuck, he is growing up too fast.
Anyway. She was there, her twins the same age as Seb. It was awkward as she was so lovely, but also aware I suppose, that I had said, "Sure, let's meet up in say 2020 when I feel like spending time near twins again."
Her twins were gorgeous, and she looked like she was glowing and handling everything in her stride.
I am REALLY MISSING HAVING MY TWINS NOW.
There's a piece of me that also realises that everyone has forgotten Molly mostly, and that by now they think I should have moved on. I've been told this will happen, family members and even close friends will tell me to stop dwelling on it.
So I just feel a little alone. In my feelings and with whom I can express them.
Now that Sebastian is pretty much starting to sleep through the night (long may it last, God help me), that he is in a routine and that his little personality is starting to shine through - basically, now that I have a little more of a handle on being a parent, I think I could've coped with two now. At the same time. Easily.
Anyway, before I drag down everyone with me, I've seen that lots of people are doing this (frankly, a little twee) "Three positives in my status bar a day" thing.
So. I shall end this post, before the weekend with not 3, but 10! Yes 10! positives to compensate for the sadness I feel right now.
1) It's summer. The days are long and hot, I'm getting my basic quota of Vitamin D. And there's a storm on the way - hooray!
2) I'm getting out more now. But out out. Visiting parts of London I haven't been to since before I was pregnant with them. Like Kensington Palace and Hyde Park with a friend, and another cheeky visit to the baby spa so that Sebby could swim.
3) Sebby loves to swim so far. I was always scared of water as a child, so this has got to be a good thing.
4) Getting a pedicure with She Who Also Loves Tweed, tomorrow.
5) For having such a lovely network of friends and fellow mums around me
6) For my wonderfully supportive mother - even from afar. We Skype everyday
7) For not getting stretch marks on my tummy. I got everything else, but amazingly no stretch marks even though I was the size of a Volkswagen Sharan.
8) For losing 1 kilo. One little kilo. On WeightWatchers. Am back on a diet plan.
High protein, no carb.
9) For coffee. My one cup a day is my new cigarette. It's my vice and it keeps me awake.
10) Last, never least: my beautiful son. Who is my everything. He is 4 months old today.
Either by shooting down full planes of people in aeroplanes, or going to full-out war - once again, in its 4 000 year history of conflict - in the Middle East.
And these are just the headline grabbers.
But the thing that really got to me, and made me almost vomit (I haven't been able to read beyond the headline and only know the basic details otherwise I fear I will go mad), is the story about the little boy and the hijackers in South Africa.
It makes me so sick to my core, I want to scream.
Why is the world so fucked up?
When there's a heat wave in Britain, everything breaks. Much like when there is snow in Britain. Extreme weather turns this place upside down - newspapers create double page spreads showing natural disasters occurring across the country in the form of skyscraper high waves or buckling train tracks from scorching, or an avalanche heading towards London.
"Broken Britain!" the headlines cry. All because it is 31 degrees today. So drastic and melodramatic when it comes to weather here.
Make no mistake, anything over 28 degrees in London is uncomfortable. It's sticky as fuck, and there's no escaping it. (No backyard swimming pools), and the moment you go outside you turn into a lobster. Just like how people here are inclined to do.
Taking a tube on a day like this feels like what I imagine the fiery depths of Hell must feel like, and I have to take one this evening to go to a birthday party. (Yay!)
Having a child in this weather gives the scenario a nice panicky edge - cot death and overheating warnings mean I am paranoid and constantly going to check on him.
But, even so - a British summer, and a lovely sunny one like we've been having so far is the best time to be here.
I went on a picnic with my mum's group this week to Battersea Park. I used to cycle through this park daily to get to work when my office was closer by than it is now. I haven't been there in ages, and it's only a over mile from our house.
It's still arguably London's best park. Right on the river, overlooking Chelsea, beautiful manicured gardens, a boating lake, and once I saw Rowan Atkinson there.
Swapped my bike for a buggy...
I miss my bike. But it was brilliant to push Sebastian around in the pram, find a patch of grass and talk babies and pooh with the ladies. The babies lay together on the blanket kind of staring and drooling at each other.
We had Sebastian christened on Sunday. A formality that actually turned into a lovely day. He was dressed up like a little girl though, which he may never forgive me for. (In which case I'll blame his granny, because the outfit was her family heirloom.)
Herewith my decidedly Amish-looking son:
I just want to EAT him.
He looks peeved. Does he look peeved?
E, a great friend of mine from South Africa, was in town this week too. She hung out with Seb and I, and we went for lunch on the King's Road.
Having a two year old son herself, she let me in on what I can expect.
Apparently, "You now own a hurricane. Boys Do. Not. Stop. Ever."
I am so lucky to have a little boy. They sound like a fuckload of hard work, but also so much fun. Apparently he won't stop grabbing his willy from about now until the end of time, he will pee everywhere but in the toilet, he will jump, pounce, climb on everything (read: wreck my home), he will play everywhere you are, and he will be an endless bundle of squirming energy. While girls can busy themselves for 40 minutes at a time, boys will do the same for 2 minutes.
But the best part? He will love his mum forever. At least that's what I have read.
I also met a friend who lives close by and works with me, also on maternity leave. Her little boy is 8 months, so is crawling, standing and grabbing things. As fast as a flash, he would disappear past us and into the cafe kitchen.
"He ate a handful of coal right out of the fireplace," she said.
It looks very very exhausting. But I'm still excited he's a little BOY.
It's been four years since I immigrated to the UK from South Africa.
A lifetime has been squeezed into that time, it's difficult to even remember what I was like back then, but I do remember the excitement and sadness of leaving a place I may never return to permanently.
In that time I’ve felt sadness, gratitude that Sebastian didn’t suffer the same fate. I’ve also felt anger and extreme frustration. It’s taken some time to grow the balls to write this, but here goes.
To Whom This May Concern at the NHS
In time, I might be able to find out who to direct this to, but for now, consider this an open letter to the chief executive, all heads of sonography, high risk birthing unit, the board.
In order to save you the long story, attached is my NHS number so you can delve through my now massive medical file you own. One of my twins died in utero at 34-35 weeks.
‘Oh here we go,’ you say. ‘A letter from a grieving mother with an axe to grind.’ Perhaps let me start by saying this: the expert staff who looked after me, my baby, and who guided us through our tragic circumstances at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital were wonderful. I saw so many midwives, consultants, neonatologists and doctors during my two week stay there, it’s difficult to call out specific names. They know who they are, and while it was the most difficult life-changing two weeks of my life, I wouldn’t have got through it without the expertise, kindness and help of these people. The obstetrician who I counted on to deliver my twins, give me the post mortem results and advise me the best way in which to give birth, was nothing short of phenomenal.
This is not a letter about how awful I think the state health system is, far from it given the assistance my husband, myself and my living child received. What I’d like to address specifically is the frequency of sonographs/ultra sounds, specifically with reference to multiple pregnancies. From the moment I found out I was carrying twins (7 weeks) I was told that twins are high risk. Higher risk of everything from pre-eclampsia, to miscarriage and stillbirth.
Mothers of singletons and twins are flooded with warnings from the get go, especially about the first trimester. Usually most mothers sigh with relief at the initial 12 weeks come to an end - no more nausea and suddenly risk of miscarriage falls dramatically. But twin mothers are still plied with warnings: basically lots of shit can go wrong when you carry more than one child.
As a result, twin mothers are offered more scans. Specifically, three more scans. I carried dichorionic diamniotic (DCDA) twins, which is supposedly the least risky situation when it comes to multiples. This essentially meant that they each had their own ‘rooms’ and placentas, while the seriously risky twins who share amniotic chorionic sacs, who share placentas are given scans from 16 weeks, every two weeks. This is because of risk of twin-to-twin transfusion, cords wrapping around necks, etc etc - this I know.
I got an additional three scans every five weeks from 20 weeks. Now, before you throw a load of data towards me about how many DCDA twins don’t die in utero, please hear me out. I’ve been told that it’s not a money issue, it’s a need issue. Do mothers of DCDA twins need to be scanned as frequently as those carrying monochorionic/monoamniotic twins? According to your data, no.
Because perhaps only one mother out of 500 has a stillbirth, so unless there’s reason for concern, additional scans don’t need to be offered.
My last routine scan was at 30 weeks. All the data pointed towards healthy growth for both my twins. While Twin 1 (Sebastian) had always been the larger twin, there was no reason for concern for Twin 2 (Molly.) She was smaller, but all her growth trajectories were within the normal range. I even asked the sonographer whether there was reason to be concerned as she was noticeably smaller. “No, she is within the healthy range,” after measuring her heart, head, abdomen. Why question the professional OR the data?
My next routine scan was 35 weeks. Five long weeks passed, and during that time, Twin 2 stopped growing. The post mortem estimated this to happen at 32 weeks. By the time 34-35 weeks rolled around, Twin 2 had died. Had they been MCMA twins, I would've had a scan at 32 weeks. The scan would’ve picked up that something was wrong and she was not growing. So while having them at 32 weeks is not ideal, such is the case with twins. They come early, and many have been delivered at 32 weeks before, in order to save their lives. Yes, they would’ve been in special care for a while. It would’ve been harsh and difficult. But perhaps I’d have two healthy twins here today. Who knows.
Nothing you do will bring Molly back. And this isn’t the intention of the letter. But I need to ask why you do not give all twin mother’s the right to to receive more scans in the latter half of pregnancy. Had I been given that option, even asked to pay for that option, I would’ve taken it. I would’ve had a choice, and because I mostly had no idea what was going on with my body during my first and first twin pregnancy, well it would’ve been nice to have had the choice.
While 1 in 500 mothers losing a twin to stillbirth just two weeks before they were due means nothing in the grand scheme of things, I am writing as that one mother whose child did die. And for any future mother of twins whose child may die because they didn’t receive enough scans. ‘Count the kicks,’ people told me throughout pregnancy. Unless you’ve actually been pregnant with two children at once, you will know then how difficult it is to tell whose foot or hand is which. Your stomach never stops moving, and you cannot tell who is who pretty much 50% of the time.
What is a scan really? It’s someone’s time, it’s money, but it’s a relatively short and painless procedure that could save a life. There’s a good chance it could’ve saved my daughter’s.
So, in short, I have a simple appeal: why not offer mothers the choice to pay for more scans. Offer them, give them the choice. To me it’s a short cut; an oversight not to offer more scans to women who carry multiple babies, whether there is cause for concern or not.
New record in poonami stakes. My baby managed to emit a pooh all the way up his back to his neck.
Yes, his headstem; his neck actual neck. Boys will be boys, and my boy has officially broken his own pooh record - what a proud mummy I am. Excitement and jubilation in our household!
(Spent morning washing him and his clothes, went through half a jar of Vanish).
For those wondering, the shade is almost exactly the same colour as the cardigan I'm wearing today. Coincidence?
Also, Dear Diary:
I've joined WeightWatchers [again.] I get more points as I'm breastfeeding, but I am officially going to get my pre-pregnancy body back!
(I carried twins for 8 months, so my stomach and hips will never look the same. I was a heavy mama, and I have a lot of work to do. I don't think it'll ever look like it was...)
But before shit gets totally out of control, and I start to look like LaShonda Shaniqua Devine above, I'm planning to lose about 10 kilograms.
Dear Diary, related: doing some serious pelvic floor exercises! Squeeze and breathe squeeze and breathe.
Lovely Lulu Jay of Berrydairies who so kindly came to visit Sebastian and I to check up on our progress told me that something called 'prolapse' can happen if you don't do your Kegels.
Just the word sounds diabolical, so I have invested some serious time to tightening up my undercarriage.
(Prolapse means your uterus falla down into your vaginal passage. I think. Basically gravity takes hold and everything goes into a big black hole never to return to the right place unless surgically.)
Also she noticed something with one of Seb's hands and foot. As a result of a small placenta. She has done her best to put me at ease, and has mostly succeeded, but I am still worried. His foot curls slightly and he fists his left hand a lot - more than what he should be.
Dear Diary, thank goodness for wonderful physios like Lulu Jay, I now do daily exercises with him.
Dear Diary, my best Irish Gay friend has taken it upon himself to internationalise my son. Teach him about diversity and, well, the EU. The uncle that makes him a European mascot.
He has bought him a strapping pair of lederhosen and a vest with leprechauns all over it. Next up are clogs and a kilt.
You know you're a London mum when:
1) You travel on a bus with lettuce leaves in your bra.
True story. Having milk flow issues in one of my milk jugs.
God forbid they fall out. So am sitting tight.
2) You force your baby buggy into the tiniest of crevices/shop doors/aisles/buses
It's wedged between something more often than not.
3) You call it a baby buggy.
No prams here, guv.
4) You spend at least one portion of your summer's day wandering on some sort of green space.
The Common knows me and my buggy well. I go there everyday, to the point where the geo-location on my phone thinks its 'work' and keeps on wanting to update my settings.
5) You start looking at whether your child can get Received Pronunciation elocution lessons when he is old enough to talk.
True story part deux. I would like Sebastian to speak BBC English. Call it posh, call it whatever you like, but he might even thank me one day.
(The Queen speaks Heightened RP, I just want him not to talk in any sort of London accent. At all. Cockney, Estuary or other. Cannot stand it. Yes I'm a snob.)
Off on a night out for tapas in Maida Vale with two great friends of mine.
Again, hope the old boobies don't explode.
It may be because he is doing something new almost every day. Or he is now in a little routine where I can read his signals, and he is sleeping. My God my child is sleeping when he needs to sleep!
You have no idea what a difference this makes. Even if he still wakes up at 4am for a feed, I don't care. I even enjoy it it to some extent.
That's right. I even enjoy the 4am feed.
I know. Seriously.
He smiles all the time, and he has started picking up little foibles unique to him. Perhaps it's because I spend 24/7 with him, but I feel like I know my son now. Inside and out.
Speaking to friends in South Africa who also have babies has been interesting. Mainly because most - no all - get help. Domestic help is cheap and easy there. Here? I dread the day I have to go back to work and watch most of my salary disappear into the nanny fund. I still have a few months to go - thank goodness - I am really not ready to give up this Full Time Mummy thing up yet - until we have to start being very careful with our spending. Right up until he starts school.
It's a hard concept. Those overseas holidays and OMG Waitrose foods are going to be few and far between from January.
Fuck. OK backpeddle. Where was I.
One of my friends asked how I do it. "How do you manage to look after Sebastian every hour of the day?"
Well, when you don't have a choice you just do. You get used to it. And the pros are I don't miss a thing. If he starts sitting up or rolling over, guaranteed I'll be the first to see it. The cons are I that I never get an afternoon nap or a regular night out with the husband like you do.
I've gathered already that I have a bit of an eccentric child. (Yay? I think?).
He likes to sleep with his doudou over his head.
He has little security blanket with a head sewn onto it, made of muslin. It's breathable and safe, but to other people when I am walking him around in the pram, it looks as though I am either slightly neglectful or am trying to rear a child who is really into burqas.
I mean, look at him. This is all his own doing.
He pulls it over his face and that's how he settles himself to sleep. Cute or what? Scary or what?
I have to go and check on him all the time, as you might just imagine.
He's also found himself. Discovery via mirror. And stares and smiles at his reflection while I massage his back.
Gosh, I just love him. *
*Trying to swear less. Mummy might say a few fucks behind his back, but is making a concerted effort not to say fuck anywhere within ear range. And [mostly] winning.
There were some readings, and we got to light a candle and place a Gerbera daisy in a ring.
It was tremendously sad. Seeing a room full of weeping parents who had lost babies. Another reminder that we are not alone.
There was a couple next to us who had lost both their twins. My heart just aches for them. There was a tea session after the service, but I noticed that they didn't come to that.
I desperately wanted to approach them. But then I thought, "But why?" Here I was, standing with Sebastian who was gurgling away, and say, what, "Hello, I lost a twin?" Surely they would immediately look at Sebastian and say "Well lucky you, you have one at least."
Best not approach them at all. It would only hurt them.
Sebastian reminds me of Molly a lot. I'm not sure if that would happen if someone loses both their twins. I always wonder if she would look similar to him, or be loving my milk and turning into a little fattie like he is. Would she be trying to roll now like he is?
This week we are taking him to his first wedding. I'll be wearing a giant maxi dress to hide the staunchness of my heaving hips. I'll put him in a white romper with sailboats across the front.
(Dressing boys can be fun. He has shirts and things with dirt diggers, tractors racing cars and boats on them. It's fucking cute.)
The Brit is one of the groomsmen, so I'll drive up to Buckinghamshire with him separately, and then after the ceremony I'll tuck him in and leave him with his first babysitter.
Eeek! I know it's normal to be scared and anxious - right? Mummy is going to need a few glasses of champagne just for the nerves.
Then on the weekend, we travel south to the Brit's hometown to see his family in Hampshire. Taking him out of his little London routine and bubble is freaking me out.
The joy I feel when he smiles though.
It's really hard to describe how much you love your own child. It goes beyond anything you have experienced in your life; you live for this tiny little thing. You'd do anything, literally anything for your child. (Like register him for two private prep schools that we can't currently afford, but plan to win the lottery before he attends. Or loot something.)
The love you feel for your child runs deep within you, and just when you think you couldn't love it anymore - you're too full - you love it more than you did the day before. To the point when you think if anything happened to you child, you'd die. You'd break in half. I am completely paranoid something will happen to Sebastian. I check on him every 10 minutes when he sleeps during the day.If anyone were to try and harm him? This Mother Ship would destroy them.
I love my little boy more than anything in this world; my life is no longer my own.
He was 3 months old yesterday, so to celebrate I met up with a friend and her baby who is roughly the same age as Sebastian.
I noticed she'd been frequenting this baby spa whereby babies get to swim around in a pool, get massaged and generally pampered.
While my vice is buying too many baby clothes, hers was visiting this delightful place every week.
I wanted a piece of that.
It's amazing. Owned by a South African couple from Cape Town, natch. They patented the 'Bubby', this foam floatation device that the baby's head rests on while they swim freely around this warm, jacuzzi bath. Classical music in the background.
Only in London would you get such a thing: a spa just for babies.
Well, it was just the most heartwarming thing. Watching my little boy and his baby buddy swim, while their heads floated above water.
Such a clever piece of equipment, well didn't I bloody think of this? Could be a hashtag millionaire by now.
Then they get massaged. By the time it was all over, both babies were lying conko in their buggies, passed out from all the action. Seb's never done so much exercise in his little life.
Definitely going to go again. Will ditch buying any baby clothes for a while to replace expenditure.
Look at those chubby legs. He's a sumo wrestler.
Chilling in the tub with his buddy.
My sweet baby child.
Fascinated by the toys.
How cool is this business?
The back story goes like this: the Brit has always been keen on getting some new kitchen knives. The ones we currently own are blunt and crap, so I thought since I fucked up with the gift scenario on our first wedding anniversary, I thought I'd - on behalf of Sebastian of course - make up for it on Father's Day.
I bought a bunch of really really sharp Jamie Oliver knives and a bamboo chopping board to go with it, purely for his kitchenic bliss.
You can probably see where this is going.
Third World Ant and her hubby are in London this week (yay!), and so the Brit decided to embark on some culinary grandeur for their arrival yesterday. A fancy Italian dish that I can't pronounce.
Well, he went and chopped the tip of his thumb off didn't he.
He chopped off the tip and it landed somewhere in the salad. Just as we had put Sebastian down to bed in his room, (which involves a lot of to and froing, crying, settling, etc etc).
The blood was gushing, the Brit was slumped on the floor feeling faint and sweating, while I was digging around for the first aid kit wondering if I should try to bundle him in the car and whisk him off to the emergency room. But wait, fuck! We have a baby, what do I do with the baby?
We sealed off the gaping hole in his finger with tape and plasters, while he kind of moaned on the floor, and then Sebastian kicked off. Started screaming blue murder in his room.
So for about half an hour, I was running to and from the kitchen where my husband was basically dying, and my baby who was basically screaming his head off.
Which boy to settle first, who to attend to longest? This must be what parenting and being the matriarch of the house must feel like. Put Rescue Remedy on the Brit's tongue, fed him water, dashed to Seb's room and put his dummy back in his mouth and patted his chest reassuringly. Dashed back to kitchen, mopped Brit's brow with an ice pack so that he didn't completely pass out. Mopped up the blood. Ran back to Seb's room and jiggled his cot and shoved dummy back in.
"I think I'm just going to lie down," gasps the Brit.
No no. Don't do that. Lying down means sleeping which means I wouldn't be able to drag him unconscious out of the house and into the car.
Seb is wailing in the background.
"Two secs. STAY UPRIGHT."
Eventually, the bleeding stopped and Seb fell asleep.
Then yesterday while our guests were here, a wine galss dropped off the table and punctured a full on gaping hole in the Brit's foot.
I'm serious. He is either trying to amputate himself or nature is trying to kill him off.
Blood everywhere, out came the first aid kit not 24 hours later, bandages, plasters, tape.
Mopping up of blood, wondering if we should get him to the emergency room for some stitches. Luckily this time Sebby was fast asleep.
Not letting my husband near knives, glasses or sharp objects for a few days. Not that he wants to chop anything again anyway.
First quasi-hangover since mid 2013
I had three glasses of wine the other night. I didn't wear a maxi dress, my boobs didn't explode, but I did do a dance-a-thon shimmy sandwich between two gay workmates of mine on the dancefloor. Pictorial evidence suggests I had a good time.
Stonking headache the next day; Sauvignon's fault.
But hell it felt good to let my hair down on a sunny terrace in Mayfair with a bunch of work friends, catch up on the gossip and be a normal sort of person for a while. Only one asked "How're the twins?" and to be fair he didn't get the memo in Belgium.
First major poonami
It was so bad I had to Whatsapp a photo to the Brit at work so he could see for himself (labeled "Warning: sensitive content."
Sebastian decided to have a massive massive pooh, right as the postman rung the doorbell, and I had to answer it carrying him upside down, shit everywhere, and sign for a package. (Baby clothes, as per usual.)
It was literally everywhere. I have never in my life. I needed about 23 wet wipes to clean the mess, and his changing mat will never look the same. Poor little bastard looked shocked for about half an hour, and also decided to vomit while I was hanging him upside down (my fault.)
It's a worthwhile milestone. I am smug.
First realisation that I couldn't be a full-time mum forever
Last night, 10:10pm, haggled. "Babe. I think I'm going to go back to work in October."
Brit: You're only due back in January?
Peas: I know. I can't take this anymore. I can't do this. I'm a bad mother. I can't get him to sleep. A nanny can do this, not me.
Obviously I won't be going back in October. It was a bad night last night.
First picnic of the summer
That was today. I organised it with my antenatal class.
Major. Achievement. Unlocked.
FUCK I'm tired.
I'm going to a work do tonight. An actual do, in Mayfair with work colleagues who have come in from all over Europe for the event.
I have a monthly call with my manager to kind of 'stay in touch' while I go about the business of being an around -the-clock mother, and he suggested I come along.
If anything, for the free champagne.
This means I will need to do things like brush my hair and put some lipstick on. Crikey.
My primary concerns are as follows:
1) My boobs will explode.
I will miss two whole feeds. Consecutively. Where's the problem? You may ask. Well, my laden udders are used to expelling themselves of milk every three hours. There will be build up. And while making conversation with a group of Swedes - or worse, the Germans - they might just overfloweth in a resounding lactose avalanche over everyone.
Or be very leaky.
2) More than two glasses of champagne
...might just kill me. Must. Pace. Myself.
Or be that person who got too drunk at the office party. ('Who let her out?')
3) Try not to talk about my child too much
My world is very small at the moment. My world is a Groundhog Day of feeding, cuddling, holding and nappy changing my 12 week old. He is the centre of my universe, and I am obsessed with him.
I also have an addiction to buying baby clothes on eBay of bipolar proportions that I probably shouldn't tell anyone about.
In ordinary terms: I don't have much chat.
My only hope of conversational survival is the news. I watch or listen to the news most hours of the day. Which is handy considering our jobs all revolve around the news. (I'm in PR.....)
4) I still have childbearing hips
And a stomach that not so long ago carried twins. My wardobe is limiting and limited. What will I wear?
5) Others feeling awkward about what has happened
And avoiding talking to me about anything birth or child related for fear of upsetting me or reminding me of Molly.
Hopefully we can all get through this topical minefield with the help of champagne.
('So...how is life...?..'). So fucking awkward. Best if they just straight up ask. Then I can touch on it and move the conversation on.
So. At worst?
My boobs explode in a resounding lactine crescendo over a bunch of continental Europeans, and/or I stumble out of there wearing a maxi dress, drunkenly apologising for making everything really awkward.
At best, it's a night out.
We got lost in the hospital, and by the time we found my obstetrician's office, I was an hysterical mess.
Nerves and fear we would miss our appointment. First time I've thought about wanting to smoke a cigarette after more than a year.
We arrive, she has a giant folder of paper on her desk with my married name on it.
My obstetrician was amazing. Having her tell us the news and explain possibly how Molly died was a small comfort. She couldn't believe how Sebastian had grown and how beautifully chubby he was. The last time she saw him he was a skinny little yellow boy.
So. Did they find anything?
Her placenta was small. Hers was in the tenth percentile, meaning 10% of the population they've tested on has survived this.
Placenta size isn't indicative of the quality of placenta, however, but it could mean she wasn't getting what she had to to survive. She was the size of a 32 week baby when she was born.
She also had a small vulnerability with her umbilical cord, which was positioned entering the placenta at the side (there's a term for this, I can't remember it). It means the cord veins are exposed.
Did my fall therefore rupture these or compromise anything?
She checked for me, knowing I'd ask this. Apparently there was no sign of rupturing.
There were no genetic, blood or other problems. She was otherwise perfect and stopped growing as she should at roughly 32 weeks, dying at 34.
Sebastian's placenta was also small. But less so, on the case that 50% of those tested survive. And he did. So today I fell in love with my boy child all over again, realising how achingly special he is.
If we had waited another week for him to be delivered he might not have made it. This is what they feared. So having him at 36 weeks luckily meant he was alright.
Did this happen because its a twin thing or a Peas thing?
She said twins actually have big placentas. So mine being small suggests that perhaps I need to be monitored if I ever get pregnant again.
She said I'll get scanned every two weeks and I would need to have my child early. At 34 weeks to be precise.
Another prem baby. Probably in special care. Something I'll need to think about and prepare for if and when that time comes.
The last full scan I had when Molly was alive was 30 weeks. She was small but still in the range of a healthy child.
She wouldve started to fall behind at 32 weeks. But of course I wouldn't have known this. With twins being such a high risk pregnancy, and one twin always being weaker/smaller than the other, my one question is this - surely, surely, twin mum's should be scanned more regularly than even we are no? Every two weeks at least. With a 32 week scan they might've picked up things weren't right and I could've maybe given birth shortly after that. Perhaps her life could've been saved.
Maybe not. I just don't get why we aren't scanned more often.
Her small placenta doesn't necessarily mean that's what killed her. Her placenta was still considered 'quality' by its consistency and non-granular appearance. But the evidence points towards that being small wasn't enough for her. That's why the evidence is considered presumptive.
But knowing the same fate could've happened to Seb made me feel something today that I didnt expect to feel: appreciative.
I feel sad and awful for Molly. But today I also felt a renewed sense of gratitude that my precious little boy survived a similar synopsis.
I have squeezed him tighter today as a result.
So that's that. My small placentas.
Molly's memory tree. From the Brit's parents, complete with an angel.
Today is the day I'm meant to feel total closure and let it go. We will see how that goes.
I might get a tattoo next. First time I ever, ever considered one. In the meantime I'll just get never ending pieces of jewellery made with their names...I'm going a bit insane aren't I.
After three weeks delay, tomorrow I finally get to hear Molly's post mortem report.
I don't think there will be a conclusive answer. This means I will question everything I did in my pregnancy and whether it was something I did to have killed her. I don't see a way around this.
If there is a reason, as in they did find something, closure will be easier.
I'm really nervous.
Sebastian is 11 weeks old now.
Everyone tells you the time will fly, but it's only really once your child starts to settle into himself that you notice.
I've been told by two people now - both professionals in their own right - that my boy's colic, clinginess, general grizzlyness is down to the fact that he misses his twin.
I never really thought it would be an issue for him. I know most babies miss being in the womb - I mean it's warm in there and they get food on tap - but I thought that was what he missed most.
The osteopath and a mother who also lost one twin during pregnancy told me that given Molly was alive for most of the time they were together, he was used to sharing a womb with someone else. He would also have heard her heartbeat.
Realising this breaks my heart. They did used to tussle in there, kicking each other.
My little boy hates being apart from me for more than two minutes, and cries like he is being abandoned.
He has got a lot better over the last few weeks, but it's been hard to do anything like make a meal or brush my teeth when he needs constant holding.
At least we understand now. And as a result I feel much more sensitive to what he needs from me. Before having them, I was adamant that our lives would be Gina Forded in routine; I'd run my household and schedule with an iron fist.
What a load of shit that was.
My baby, and all babies, are different and have different needs. Mine needs reassurance that he isn't alone. He likes his routine, but it is flexible. If I've learnt anything in the last 11 weeks it's this: try everything out, it is all trial and error.
Then throw away the baby books. Fuck the baby books.
Fuck my neighbour as well, but mostly fuck the baby books.
And don't compare your baby with Susan Perfect's baby.
The lady who spoke to me last week about her twin dying. She found me through the UK twins association, Tamba.
When we found out we were having twins, we joined a bunch of 'support' groups, including Tamba.
We met up with a bunch of new twin - parents - to - be. We felt exclusive as fuck; we had joined a people with whom we could all share our journey, anxieties and excitement.
I found the grief arm of Tamba when I found out Molly had died, and asked to be put in touch with someone who had also lost a twin.
For me, talking to counselors is fine and well but really I want to talk to someone who has gone through the exact ordeal as I have. Someone who knows.
That person called me the other night. She lost one of her girl twins at 27 weeks. Her situation is slightly different to mine, she lost hers earlier on and within minutes of finding out she was having twins was told there were foreseeable problems with one of them.
One of the cruelest things with Molly was that everything looked fine and healthy right up until she died at 34-35 weeks.
Either way, she knew what I went through and she understood. She went on to have another set of twins the second time round!
Told her I was infinitely jealous and would love that to happen to us one day.
She wrote the above book, and I'm reading it.
Last week I also heard from my twins club wanting to meet up. I knew this day would come, but was secretly hoping if I ignored this problem long enough it would just go away by itself.
The email came through - 'Let's all meet with our double buggies, what are your twins names,etc etc.'
I had no idea what to say or if I'd even respond. Maybe I'd just disappear and no one would notice. I ended up replying and just telling the truth.
Also reminding them to mever forget how blessed they are, even though I'm sure having two babies must be challenging as all hell at times.
They've been lovely, all coming back with supportive responses. I do just feel empty and cheated inside though. They all have their twins, why couldn't I have mine? Why am I robbed of this and no one else seems to be?
So I've finally dealt with the twins club.
It was the last patch of people that might've thought up until last week that I was grappling with a bonny pair of twin babies.
But if I don't have something to read or watch, I'm fucked. I'll fall asleep or die of boredom.
Not that our generation needs any more excuses to stare at screens, but I am spending a lot of time on my phone.
With my phone I can blog. I'm blogging and feeding right now. I can shop. I can read shit. I can talk to people. Take endless pictures of his adorable little face.
Being cooped up a lot, my world has become my phone. It may be sad, but it's reality. It keeps me in touch with the normal outer world.
So, may I present the many screens of the breastfeeding mother:
The obligatory shit but mostly sensational news story by the Daily Mail.
The White Noise app. On all the time in the nursery to help him go to sleep. Mimics the womb they say. Why oh why won't he just sleep?!?
The obligatory Buzzfeed pop quiz. At 2am. This one was 'Could you pass finals biology still?'
Turns out I could. Me and the Krebs Cycle are tight.
The baby app. A piece of trivia and/or advice for each day your baby grows older.
The antenatal WhatsApp group chat. In this case asking the ladies what they think of dummies in the middle of the night. Topics range from dummies to the more enlightening spectrum of poo colours to routines and feeding schedules. My new mummy mates.
The WhatsApp with your best mate. In this case describing what sleep deprivation does to your brain.
The online photo albums. I go through the one entitled 'Labour' all the time to look at Sebby as a totally fresh little newborn. I have taken so many pictures of him it's actually a bit disturbing.
The artisanal, crafty shopping site where I can look at alllll sorts of crap I don't need for Seb's nursery.
Or peruse the jewellery and/or other amazing stuff on Etsy.
Similarly, eBay. Fuck fuck fuck. I've always loved eBay (even if some massive hacker has broken open the site recently) but now I'm completely unhinged about it.
I've discovered French baby clothes. Nice ones. And I'm obsessed. I may never buy anything for myaelf again, but Seb is going to be one TRES JOLI dressed baby.
I'm going mental for Petit Bateau, which cost an arm/leg/kidney on the high street, but a fraction of the price if you can find it, on eBay.
Gosh all this gambling is fun.
Last, but not least, the baby monitor screen. LOOk at his little big nostrils!
Yes. My world is pretty small at the moment.
The Brit luckily has the week off, so for the first time since before their birth, it is just us 3. And I have to say, we are starting to really enjoy our baby.
He is 10 weeks old today, and as he develops and his digestive system starts to mature he is slowly but surely becoming easier. I say this, and then suddenly we'll have a disastrous day full of crying, wind and not sleeping. Either way, we are starting to get to know him and the battles seem fewer. Mostly. Sometimes.
He's bloody smiling! Just when we were starting to wonder whether all the sleepless nights would amount to anything, he started beaming. Just before Mum went home.
He's also growing at a rate of knots - he has those pudgy little legs you just want to squeeze and he is a long boy. He will be out of his Moses basket by the end of the week.
Amongst all this, I've developed a bit of a problem.
Obsession with his wardrobe and baby clothes in general. Online shopping and eBay are merely clicks away and this newfound hobby is gong to start getting expensive.
But fuck it's fun.
My heart. My boys.
...suddenly they smile. Just in time. Their survival depends on it.
She has been here pretty much since the day after I found out one of my twins had died. She grabbed the next plane out of Johannesburg and has since been our meal maker, house cleaner, baby helper and above all, emotional supporter.
Mum was always going to come over for two months to help out with the twins. Once we found out it was twins, the panic about how we would cope in the first little while set in and mum offered to come over and spend some ample time helping us keep our household intact.
Well she has still done this, and now she leaves on Saturday. I am dreading her departure.
Not only because we will now have to totally fend for ourselves, (fuck!), but because I'll miss the familiar jingle of her bracelets in the morning when she gets up.
Her impossibly healthy recipes. And just having my mother around. On tap.
She has been so great with Sebastian too. She adores the shit out of the little guy. Mum was never a grandmotherly type. And yet he has managed to get coos and oohs out of her like I've never seen. Sebastian is her first grandchild, so am sad she has to go because of how much she loves him.
She has sat up with me thumbing through books and the internet trying to work out why he is crying (colic), come with me to his clinic check ups and the osteopath, helped me abate his crying by endlessly rocking him, being that extra set of hands to hold him if I need to go to the loo or have a bath. And given Sebastian is not a baby that likes to be put down - ever - helping hands has been an almost necessity.
Sure, of course we got on each other's tits. She was living in our little flat with us two, also fighting a fair amount of sleep deprivation. Sure, we shouted at each other a few times. Slammed doors and went for a walk around the block. We spent all day together, mostly inside.
But she has been there for me the moment she heard Molly had died. She helped me through labour, getting home, making sure the house was filled with food. Helped me sift through my constant crying and emotions.
And most of all, loved and helped care for Sebby.
Peas: Can you believe I have a baby.
Mum: No. It's hard to believe.
Peas: I know, isn't it?
This was yesterday.
Her going marks the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new. The end of the first two months and Molly, and now we are on our own.
I feel really flat and wonder if this is when the depression will kick in.
Either way, my mum had been invaluable and amazing. I'm going to miss her so much.
Dreading the goodbyes this weekend.
* Fuck. I have to do stuff on my own. Fuck!
While it's a way to say goodbye to her, I don't ever want to say goodbye to her. I don't ever feel like I have to, why should I? (Can you tell I'm angry now?)
It was good to sit and cry. And it was good to have our families around. But her little casket was so small.
We released some balloons on the river after the service, adding our messages to the ribbons and then that was that.
I feel more empty and depressed now than I felt for ages. Just flat. My mother and stepdad leave the UK next weekend (my mum has been here for two months - and has been such a huge emotional support to me, as well as helping me with Sebastian so much.)
I am not ready to let go. In all aspects.
This is Molly's teddy. It's been with her since she was born, alongside another teddy that's still with her. I asked for it back. It sounds silly, but I wanted something that had been 'with' her a while. Something that was hers.
Releasing balloons for her on the Thames near the crematorium.
Sebastian holds onto Molly's balloons before they're released...
I love this pic of my mum holding her grandson, during Molly's service. It shows her sadness and fondness for Sebastian all in one shot.
The plaque on her casket. They got her birth/death date wrong unfortunately - they were born 25 March.
Everyone wrote notes for Molly.
The Brit's made my cry my eyes out. The one on top.
The day has come. And the grief and sadness has suddenly come back, it feels raw all over again.
I found three poems that I will add to her casket tomorrow.
A Mother's Dream
I carried you so lovingly,
Within my gentle womb...
And little did I realize,
Your life would end too soon.
I never got the chance to say
"I love you, little one"...
Before I held you in my arms,
Your life on earth was done.
The grief is indescribable,
To lose a child this way...
All the many hopes and dreams,
Just vanished on that day.
I know I'll see the sun shine bright
Upon my baby's face...
When I finally get to heaven,
All my pain will be erased.
We'll soar the skies together,
As angels two by two...
We'll have a sweet reunion
This mother's dream come true.
Book of Life
An angel in the
Book of life
Wrote down my
And whispered as
She closed the book,
"Too Beautiful for Earth"
Her absence is like the sky, it spreads over everything.-CS Lewis.