Monday, 30 November 2009

Lewisham hospital gets the thumbs down

Lewisham Hospital NHS Trust was rated as England's third worst trust for patient safety measures in a report out yesterday. I'm definitely glad I didn't know this before I went in for my Caesarean, or I might have been more nervous! I spent eight nights in Lewisham Hospital and my overall experience wasn't great. There were some fantastic individuals there, but everyone was severely overstretched and I didn't feel that I had any continuity of care. Maybe this recent report will prompt some change for the better.

No tears before bed

Mr A gets the 'best baby of the day' medal today for his exemplary behaviour at bathtime. I can officially announce that he has achieved his first tear-free bath ever! We've come close a number of times in the last few days, when he didn't cry until Young Daddy dressed him but today he didn't shed a single tear. So we're one step closer to swimming classes. Just E to crack now...

My NCT broodsheet (newsletter) arrived today and in it is an advert for underwater photographs. So cool - I'd love to get pics of E and A underwater. But the next photo session is in January and I think it's a bit too soon. I've decided to hold off booking swimming classes (due to start in January as well) as I don't think they'll enjoy them yet. So I'll wait for the next photo session, when I'm sure E and A will be happy water babies.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

West End babies

E and A made their first trip up to the West End today to do some Christmas shopping. Young Daddy carried Mr A in the baby bjorn, and I wheeled E in the single buggy, so that we didn't have to try to get the double pushchair round the shops! They were perfectly behaved throughout, and slept for the whole trip.

A has been giving us bigger and bigger smiles everyday and we're loving it. At the moment, the smiles come at slightly random moments, but he definitely treated Young Daddy to some beaming grins today. He's also a really chatter - he natters away to himself, especially after a feed. His favourite word at the moment is 'goo' and I just love it when he says it - it's just so cute!

We bottle-fed A all day to see if he was happier (I usually breastfeed him for a short while and then give him a top-up bottle as soon as he starts fussing,but this often leads to prolonged bouts of crying) and he did seem to be calmer in general. E, on the other hand, has decided that she'll do the fussing instead and hasn't fed well all day. I think my milk supply has been a bit low today (maybe because I'm tired? I hope it's not drying up), so E has had to work extra hard to feed, and she has not been impressed. We picked up some more of my special 'Mother's Helper' tea yesterday (supposed to aid milk production) so hopefully that will help get it going again. I got really emotional when Young Daddy questioned if E is starting to reject the breast like A has. I'm so keen to keep breastfeeding, but it's hard to know if I'm being selfish by keeping going. Would E and A be happier babies if I just switched to bottles? It's the question that goes round and round in my head constantly, but I haven't come up with an answer yet...

Friday, 27 November 2009

Happy 12 week birthday E & A!

Can't believe how quickly 12 weeks have flown past, and how much E and A have changed. They've been little angels today - bless them. xx

Thursday, 26 November 2009

A grown-up playmat

I've been looking for a large activity mat for E and A, as in the last couple of days A has seemed to really enjoy lying on his back and having a good kick around. I popped him on a pillow on the floor of the kitchen yesterday evening and it stopped his witching hour (post 4pm) screaming for a while and I even got some smiles out of him (he's been smiling so much more this week).

Having failed to find a mat that I really liked, I thought about buying a rug instead, but decided that it would just get covered in baby sick and would get ruined. Then I came up with the idea of using a bedspread. Cath Kidston immediately sprung to mind and once I'd checked that their bedspreads are machine-washable I was totally sold on the idea. It'll work as a large playmat when A and E are babies, but will still have a use once they've grown up a bit. I think it's a great solution, and I've already had E and A playing on it this evening.

Twins together

This evening, Young Daddy and I held E and A up to each other. A wasn't that interested, but E was absolutely mesmerised and stared at A with a curious smile on her face for ages. It was so cute - I really can't wait until they're properly aware of each other and can start interacting. A chats away to himself, so it will be funny to hear them chat to each other.

The good ol' days of Clothkits

I can remember visiting the Clothkits shop as a child, and it was a firm favourite with my mum, who was really disappointed when it closed. I've just discovered that the company was relaunched last year with a gorgeous collection of outfits to sew at home. Instead of following a paper pattern, the cutting lines are printed directly on the fabric for no-fuss sewing. Plus they do sewing workshops for kids and adults too. I've got to wait a little while until E and A are big enough for the clothes, but I'm looking forward to the day they are. Until then, I can get started with the toys, dolls and fab haberdashery offerings. Oh, and I could make myself something from the adult designs!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The perfect baby pic?

My friend Ellie has just emailed me a link to the Sadie Olive blog and there are some absolutely beautiful photographs on there of one very very cute baby. Team the cute baby with some gorgeous vintage suitcases and you get a perfect combination in my opinion!

I hate bin day

Negotiating the pavements with my double pushchair is challenging enough first thing in the morning, but add an obstacle course of wheelie bins and I definitely experience a sense of humour failure! After having to move countless bins on my early morning walk today, I decided to nominate Bin Day as my 'Most Hated Day of the Week'. Other nominations include Mondays (all of them), and Vaccinations Day (coming up next week). Nominations will stay open for a while before I announce the winner of the 'Most Hated Day' prize.
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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Sickness strikes

Young Daddy has come down with a nasty stomach bug. Luckily for him, E, A and I were out most of the day today - we went up to Southbank again to meet a couple of NCT friends and visit the Christmas market. That meant that Young Daddy could sleep all day, although he was still feeling very poorly when we got home. He did his best to help with the evening routine - we skipped the bath and instead I gave E and A a quick sponge wash, but as soon as the babies were in bed, he quickly followed them.

I tried a different route up to town today that was much more successful than the one we took on Sunday. I ended up getting a train to City Thameslink (totally accessible, with a  lift from the platform to the concourse), and then walked through the City where I stuck out like a sore thumb in my parka and boots next to all the suits. The walk over Millenium Bridge to Tate Modern was so windy today I was a bit worried the whole pushchair would take off!

We all had lunch at Strada and the staff were really helpful and friendly, considering there were four babies to be fed, and three pushchairs to be accommodated. It was funny - I actually felt much more embarrassed getting out my bag of expressed breastmilk (to make up a bottle for A), than breastfeeding E. Silly, eh?

The market was a bit disappointing, and the most exciting stall was pick 'n' mix (we all indulged ourselves), and it didn't help that the babies were grizzling. Unfortunately E had not had a very good feed in Strada so her grumbling just got louder and louder on our way back to City Thameslink. I ended up having to feed her on the platform, whilst rocking A with my foot to try to keep him from crying. It was an interesting experience to say the least, but we made it home in one piece without any major meltdowns, so I think the trip can definitely be classed as a success.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Hairdryer heaven

I was out of ideas and at the end of my tether this morning with both babies crying. It was raining hard, my back was hurting too much to lug the car seats around and my hair was still wet from my shower. Then I remembered the magic effect of the hairdryer. I sat on the bed with a baby lying on either side of me and dried my hair. They stopped crying immediately and E even fell asleep. Now all I need to know is how long can a hairdryer run for before it explodes?

London calling

We made our first trip up to London yesterday so that Young Daddy could come with us. Our local station has no stair-free access so we walked to the next one down the line. E and A slept through their first ever train journey - I was definitely more excited than them!

It was strange walking along southbank, but having to negotiate a step-free route - my usual shortcuts are redundant for now. I'd seen online that Tate Modern has a baby room, so we headed there to feed the babies. Unfortunately it seemed to be a single room, and there was a long queue of people waiting to use it. I think the Tate could and should offer better facilities. I started to panic but we made our way back to Leon (where we'd had lunch) and fed E and A there over coffee in nice, relaxed surroundings.

The time flew and it was time to get the train home. It was here that my research let me down. We got off the train only to discover there was a flight of stairs to exit the station. Good thing Young Daddy was with us, or we'd have been stuck with my bad back. Next time I'll try a different route....

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Night smiles

E wouldn't settle down to sleep this evening, but it was hard to be cross with her when, whenever Young Daddy went in to settle her, she gave him the biggest beaming smile. Bless!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Another growth spurt? The eternal question..

I've had a nightmare day with Mr A today. He started the day ok, with a half-decent breastfeed and top-up bottle, and then slept until the next feed (we met a friend at Dulwich Park for a walk, tea and cake). But it was all downhill from 10.30am, when A teased me with a textbook 15 minute breastfeed, so that I was feeling all proud and happy. Then he unleashed his full temper and screamed non-stop for an hour, demanding two top-up bottles (60ml each, although he only had 20ml from the second). That didn't seem to make him any happier and I tried everything to get him to stop crying (we're talking full-on, red-faced, eyes closed screeching). Eventually he wore himself out and I put him to bed, where amazingly he did go to sleep.

I assumed he was just tired, but he woke up after his nap in just as bad a mood and wanting more and more milk. Unfortunately, whereas earlier E had been good as gold, giving me time to deal with A, this time she decided she wanted the attention too so she started playing up. Once I was fairly confident they had both had enough food (despite them both still crying), I bundled them into the pushchair and went for a walk with Tuhami Mummy. Young Daddy got back from work in good time, taking pity on me after my dejected phone calls all day, and took them off for another walk as soon as I got home to give me time to recover. But he wasn't out long before he was back with A in his arms, as he couldn't get him to stop crying. At 5.00pm A had 100ml bottle (after rejecting the boob), then at 6.30pm he necked another 150ml. So is this the 12-week growth spurt come a week early, or just a miserable A for a day? We'll probably never know for sure, but I hope tomorrow's better than today.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Under the sea

Met up with Hackers Mummy this afternoon for a trip to the Horniman Museum's aquarium. The babies seemed to love the dark of the aquarium and the lights and shapes in the tanks. A slept through the whole tour, but Max and E enjoyed looking at the fish. It would have been rude to have left without treating ourselves to the cafe and a slice of cake. A perfect afternoon out!

A was hungry when we got home, so I settled down to breastfeed him, fully expecting to have to give him his usual top-up bottle as soon as he started screaming (generally around five minutes into a feed). He didn't want to settle, so I tried a slightly different feeding position, where he was almost sitting, and he happily fed until he was full. No top-up bottle required. Of course we shall have to wait to see whether this was a lucky one-off or if I've managed to find a solution to his feeding problems. I'm sure he'll be back to his usual fussing tomorrow morning, so I'm trying not to get too excited about it.

Artists' temperaments

I'd been looking forward to our trip to All Fired Up ceramics cafe since we's first discussed it a few weeks ago, and the visit was timed perfectly as Granny Jill could come along to hold one of the twins. There was a huge choice of ceramics available to customise and I assembled a huge pile of things to do.

Max and Hacker Mummy went first and Max seemed to really enjoy getting his feet painted, as did Harris who went next. So even though Iris, when it was her turn, did not seem amused by the whole activity, I was still feeling pretty confident that E and A would do ok. The problem probably started when I had to wake them up from their nap for their turn, so already they weren't in the best moods, and as soon as the wet paint touched their feet they went ballistic! Granny Jill held A while I tried to persuade a screaming E to print her foot, and then we swapped over. We managed to do two tiles and a photo frame before giving up - the twins were really losing it. Once the babies had finally settled down (a feed did the trick!) and reassessed my pile of ceramics and opted only to attempt one more item - a mug for Young Daddy. We did this quickly, but gave up after that.

Unfortunately then we had to say goodbye to Granny Jill, who had to leave to get her train home. We miss you lots, Granny Jill! With E and A settled back down to sleep (E got comfy on Mummy Williamson for the afternoon, after Harris went off to spend the afternoon with his daddy), we had a really nice few hours chatting and decorating our pieces.

It was strange heading home on my own, as it's been so nice having someone else around for the last few days. It was all going well, and the twins (or 'The Dudes' as Young Daddy calls them) seemed to enjoy my rendition of various nursery rhymes for a while, before they decided that each of them would much prefer to have an all-out paddy. Nat King Cole, earplugs (for me), a couple of sips (swigs) of red wine (also for me), and one running hairdryer later I managed to calm them down, and we waited for a late Young Daddy without self-combusting. Just about.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


A few people have asked if I have any pictures of me in the last stages of my pregnancy and I've just come across this one, taken in hospital a couple of hours before E and A made their grand entrance into the world. When E and A were a couple of weeks old and had regained their birth weights (E - 6lb01, A - 4lb10), I looked down at them and tried to work out how they could possibly have fitted inside my tummy, but seeing this picture I now know how they did .... I was huge! That is one impressive bump, even if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Granny Jill lends a hand

We've had Granny Jill to stay for a couple of nights. She hasn't seen E and A since they were about six weeks old, so it was great for her to come and visit and she was amazed at how much they've changed in a month. I've loved having someone around during the day, both to keep me company and hold a baby when they're both crying.

We've had a busy day today. First thing this morning we went out with the pushchair to the shops to pick up some essentials. Then after the 10.30am feed, we go ourselves bundled up and headed over to Crystal Palace Park to see the dinosaurs. It was a beautiful morning, and the park looked lovely - I hadn't been there for years (used to go lots as a child), and both Granny Jill and I were really impressed.

We got back home in time for the 2pm feed, and as the babies were a bit grizzly after eating, we thought we'd prefer to go out than stay in and listen to them grumble! We took the single buggy and a sling over to East Dulwich and indulged in a bit of retail therapy. Young Daddy was having a terrible day at work, so we got him some floral gums as a bring-back from Hope & Greenwood. I personally can't stand them, and think even the smell is horrid so I'll be steering well clear of him this evening!

A's turn in front of the camera

It was A's turn to pose for the camera today so here are a couple of shots of him.

We've seen the light(s)

E and A are both so mesmerised by any bright lights, that we decided to get some Christmas fairy lights down from the loft a little bit early and they've become our new toy. I feel a bit of an idiot waving fairy lights around, but it definitely seems to calm them, so I'll stick with it. It won't be too long before the Christmas decorations are up, and there'll be fairy lights all over the house, so maybe we won't have any tears at all from E and A. Ha! A likely story! My friend Clare showed me these gorgeous fairy lights from  Mamas & Papas, so I may have to order them for Christmas.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Some cute E pics

I've still not quite managed to capture one of E's massive smiles, but here are a few snaps from the last couple of days.

Time off for good behaviour

Yesterday, Young Daddy gave me a couple of baby-free hours in the afternoon by taking E and A off to Crystal Palace park with my parents.

I've been in organisational mode this weekend, determined that systems, charts, lists and rotas will transform me into a domestic goddess to rival even Anthea Turner! I've finally put some of my own tips written in Ideal Home magazine to good use - creating a household manual being one of them. I've also worked out a schedule to theoretically keep the house clean by focusing on one area each day. We'll see how long the new regime lasts though!
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Saturday, 14 November 2009

Being entertained by Grandma Powell

With the weather so horrendous outside, we were keen to get out of the house and drove over to see Grandma and Grandpa Powell this afternoon. Now E and A are so much more alert, it's great that they are much more interested in everything, and Grandma did a great job of entertaining them with rattles and toys from my childhood. We even managed a couple more half-smiles from Mr A himself...

When twin babies become twin toddlers

Got a scary glimpse of life 12 months down the line yesterday when E, A and I spent the afternoon with Cavalli Mummy and Jack (14 months). Jack is so into everything and was on the go the whole time - pulling magazines and books off shelves, climbing into cupboards and dancing on the window sills - all the time with a gorgeous cheeky grin on his face. Imagining how it will be with two toddlers is definitely rather daunting! It also got Young Daddy and I thinking about how un-child-friendly our house is, but I guess we've got a year to try to childproof it.

Last night I did a deal with Young Daddy. In response to his request to be excused for the evening to meet Tuhami Daddy down the pub, I used the 4am feed as a bargaining chip. I absolutely hate the 4am feed - it's so hard to wake myself up, and then I find it difficult to get back to sleep before one of the twins wakes for their morning feed at 7am (or 5.30am, or 6am, or 6.30am!), so I was more than happy to let Young Daddy do it in exchange for him being given an evening off. In fact I was so happy, I'd actually like to do it every Friday!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Verbaudet gets my top shopping vote

Cavalli Mummy introduced me to Vertbaudet today and I think it's going to be a firm favourite, with the catalogue becoming well-thumbed. I'm definitely not a girly girl, and these clothes are the sorts of things I would wear myself so it's not surprising I like them. I'm glad I've discovered them just in time for Christmas!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

When you're breastfeeding it's really important to keep hydrated, and if you're like me, you get really really thirsty when the babies are feeding. To keep water near me without having to hold a bottle or glass I have a 'hydration pack' (available from Blacks), normally used by hikers, skiers, cyclists etc. You can just suck the water through the hose - I hang my pack on our bedstead, but you can just have it sitting on the seat next to you.

A shows me up

Went to baby clinic this afternoon to get the babies weighed and talk to the health visitor about A not smiling. It was my first solo trip to the clinic but E and A were very good - Esme only screamed a little bit when she was weighed (they have to be naked - something neither of them are that keen on), and A didn't let out a squeak when I undressed him, weighed him or dressed him. Unbelievable!

After getting them weighed I was waiting around to speak to the health visitor. Both babies were fussing a little bit, so I was holding E and the healthcare assistant offered to hold A. While she was holding him I was chatting to her about him not smiling so she made some faces at him and he prompted smiled three times in a row! How stupid did I feel? So thank you very much A for making your mum look like a total fool! I had spent the whole day really making sure I made loads of eye contact with him and smiling lots and lots (my face is aching), as I realised that often when I talk to him I mirror his facial expressions. So there was no more mirroring from me today, just lots and lots of smiles and it obviously worked.

After that I decided not to wait around for the health visitor - if the smiles don't develop over the next week I'll go back to talk to her, but hopefully there'll be no need.

Chasing the elusive A smile

Despite a few glimmers and almost, nearly there, half smiles, we're still waiting for A to smile properly. E has been at it for weeks and now seems to do nothing but smile and chuckle (when she's not screaming, that is!), but A doesn't seem to be following suit,despite being nearly ten weeks old (babies apparently normally smile at six to eight weeks).

I know that babies develop at different rates which is why I've been trying not to stress about it, but I have to admit that it's starting to worry me slightly now. It's not that he always looks unhappy - he is definitely engaging at a certain level, he makes eye contact with me and his expression is interested, but it would be so reassuring for him to give me a big beaming smile. I'm really concentrating on trying to interact with him and encourage him as much as possible, so we'll see how we get on.

It's baby clinic this afternoon, so I'll go along to speak to the health visitor and get some advice and hopefully some reassurance...

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

A pain in the neck

One of the results of Young Daddy not being around during the days anymore is that inevitably I'm spending a lot more time lifting and carrying the twins. What started as a stiff neck has rapidly spread into pain all over my back. Young Daddy treated me to a full body massage at our local beauty salon, and I'm going back this week for another massage. I'm also trying to fit in hot baths where possible (I'm heading up to have one now with my Grazia, and I've added the muscle pain relieving bath salts I was gullible enough to be persuaded to buy at the beauty salon), and sleeping with a hot water bottle at night. I have a really good position set up for breastfeeding, but I think my posture isn't great when I'm bottle feeding so I'll have to work on that.

We'll see how I get on, but I suspect a visit to a physio might be on the cards...

Being stuck in the house with two babies screaming at once is not fun. This morning I decided to try to distract myself by playing music. E and A have previously shown a liking for Nat King Cole so I had that playing downstairs when they were having their morning scream, and it was Sting & The Police in the nursery. I do think the music calmed them slightly, and my crazy dancing even shocked A into silence at one point!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Seeing double

E, A and I went to our first mother and baby group today. Our health visitor posted us details of a local twin club. I would probably never have ventured there on my own, but my new twin mum friend from down the road was keen to give it a go with her four-month-old twin girls, so I went along with her. We were really nervous before going in as we had no idea what to expect but people were very welcoming.

A and E were the youngest twins there - there was one set of five-month-old girls and then the other twins were toddlers. It's nice to see older twins as it gives you a little glimpse into the future, when the twins will play with each other. I think E is starting to be aware of A and she really stares at him sometimes, but it will be great when they start interacting properly.

Amazingly A and E were on their best behaviour and behaved like the little angels I know they can be (sometimes!). A settled himself into a bouncy chair and promptly fell asleep, while E was enthralled, and just gazed round intently. She has become so much more alert and aware over the last few days, so much so that she doesn't seem to want to close her eyes and go to sleep, there is just so much to see!

Not a good start to the week

When I saw about a million lone magpies on my first walk of the day yesterday (I've added two magpies to this post so you don't have to suffer the same bad luck), I should have known I was in for a horrible time! E and A kicked off in spectacular style today, as usual all focused around feeding. It all started badly with the 7am feed, when poor Young Daddy had to leave me for work with two screaming babies. And it didn't get any better. I was at the end of my tether by 10.31am, after the 10.30am feed went even worse than the 7am. After a disasterous attempt at a lunchtime nap, I decided to head out to the library, only to discover it's shut for an hour over lunch. I was not impressed.

What was great about yesterday was the amazing support I got from friends. When Tuhami Mummy, Daddy and JD turned up on my doorstep I burst into tears - Tuhami Daddy took JD off round the block and Tuhami Mummy offered a sympathetic ear. And another friend gave me a fantastic pep talk on the telephone, reminding me that bad days like these come along, but are often followed by good days. I was 99.9% ready to throw in the towel and admit defeat in the Breastfeeding War, but she urged me not to make any rash decisions, and she was right - E turned into a textbook breastfeeding performance for her last feed of the day....


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