Tuesday, September 30, 2014

five surprising things i have discovered about motherhood

Five surprising things that have happened to me since I've become a mother.

(Things I never would've expected....)

I became more social 

It's true. One thinks when you have a baby that your social life just stops. The complete opposite happened to me, and it's been so good.

I tend to hermit a little bit. The older I get, the more I enjoy my own space. In fact, before I had my children, I started to cosy up to Sartre and his (frankly, brilliant) mantra of 'Hell is other people.' Hell is other people, still. I am incredibly picky as to who I spend my time with, and most of my friends here were my colleagues at work. As a result, I'm a horrible person.

My baby has changed that. I joined clubs, groups, made an effort with people I see, got back in touch with people I had lost touch with from years ago. The one thing we all have in common? Children.
Even if we had nothing to talk about before, now the subject matter is infinite. Pooh colour, sleep tactics, which brand of nappies we use, Annabel Karmel's chicken casserole recipe, how tired we are, nursery preferences, catchment areas for schools, Freddie the Firefly, what is that rash?, how long were you in labour for?, oh you had forceps too? -  the list is fucking endless.

And it's wonderful. I have made (and remade) a bunch of new friends I see regularly now. Being on maternity leave is obviously extremely helpful because I actually get to see them on a regular basis, during the week.

It's taken me away from being a travelling, working, loner, to a much more socially balanced human being. And I have Sebastian to thank for that.

 I like other babies now

Before I had mine, I could take or leave other people's babies to be honest. I didn't know what the big fuss was about, I just knew that you loved it a lot if you were it's parent.

There were very few babies I found cute. Some people get all broody and their ovaries start shaking when they hold a baby. I wasn't repulsed by babies, not at all. I just wasn't besotted with them. Every now and then I'd see a cute little tyker and think 'Hmmm. I might want one of those actually.'

Other times, I felt like I really had to Fake Coo. (Oooh....he's....so...pretty...)

Until now. I LOVE babies now. I appreciate what they are, their smell, their chubby little cheeks and flawless skins, their beautifully oozy fat rolls that I could just squeeze all day long. Their giggles and smiles.
I watch all babies now. I don't just look, I observe. I love them all. Even the slightly ugly ones.*

I am more maternal than I ever thought possible

Perhaps it's because I have not spent more than five hours away from my son since he was born. We are attached by the hip boob, but it's way more than that. I literally want the best for him, and I am seeking to give this to him  - whatever it takes -  and whatever cost, if I can.

I always knew I'd be heavily invested in my child, but I really am having trouble imagining being away from him for so long [during a work day.]

I just want nurture my little lad.

I didn't imagine that I would take to being a mum like this, and yet here I am, dreaming of raising him on goji berries and hand-reared free-frolicking Welsh lamb, while siphoning my salary - if I must work - into private schooling.**

I question - and ignore - child 'experts'

In the beginning, I would try and absorb every bit of advice hurled my way by health visitors, midwives, Gina Ford's, mother's who seem like they have it all under control.

Now, I deflect 99.9% of it.

Most of the time, baby advice only leads to one thing: paranoia and stress.
("Why isn't my baby sleeping like that then?" "You say my baby should have three naps a day, but you say my baby should have four?" "You say I shouldn't wean my baby before 6 months, while you say I should because he was premature?")

Almost all the advice I got in the early days was conflicting. (Still is.)

This is what my brain was filled with.

There is no manual for this job. There is no right way to do ANYTHING. The only predictable thing about a baby is that they are completely unpredictable.

No baby is the same. And that's why I wear a tin hat when an all-knowing midwife gives me her opinion on why my baby isn't sleeping through the night.

I really - no really - don't give a shit what anybody thinks anymore

When my brain is half-fried, my reactions are slow, my sharp-tongued wit is non-existent***, and I have nothing to offer strangers/friends/anyone anything accept a smile and ZERO chat? Before having a child, I'd care.

My fear is this: never be dull. Until now. I don't care if I'm fucking dull, my brain isn't firing on all cylinders, I have vomit in my hair, pureed butternut squash down my front, and I haven't put makeup on all week.

That's not to say I've let standards slip. I just choose when to up my game and when I can't.
When I go out without my child, I dress up. When I go back to work, I'll do the same.

I also have yet to keep giving a shit about the state of my stomach and my thighs. Ideally I'd like them to slim the hell down, but if someone thinks I'm fat, well, so be it.

* They're never ugly for long. 
** Wish list
*** Like now

Monday, September 29, 2014

foody outings

A few things really. I feel like I'm doing normal things again. Getting out more, to places where people don't have babies. Blatantly.

Mostly, I just bring Sebastian with me. He's old enough now to sit up and be mildly entertaining, and he eats normal food. (By eats, I mean he swallows it, but it also goes up his nose and he paints interesting abstract artworks of spinach waterfalls, for example, down his front.)

My aunt from New Zealand, I mean, New Zaylin, was in town over the last week to visit my cousin, and she stayed with us a few nights.
We went to high tea at The Orangery. (Recommended. But better if you don't have a baby who is two hours late for his nap and is cranky as fuck, so screams the Victorian cornices down with his lungs. Better still, don't bring a baby at all.)
A collar at high tea is very fetching. 

Now, The Orangery is a grand sort of building that sits in the Kensington Palace gardens. No one would know it's there unless they were told about it, or explored beyond the Palace itself. I had no idea, and I've been visiting the Palace for years.

It sits about 14 metres from William and Kate's private garden and wing of the Palace. Which doesn't matter in the slightest, only I mention it as it looks almost quite accessible.
The thing that's strangely and pleasantly odd about this such Palace, is that it doesn't really have high fences and ostentatious security everywhere. Buckingham Palace has more than enough of that to go around, with it's mile high golden gates, actual guards and so forth. Pomp and ceremony for all our American friends.

I suppose The Queen is quite security aware. And not really into Trellidors, so the high fences have to do.

Kensington is more low key. You have the gates (standard), for show, and then you have this piddly little green fence circling around the front of it.

Not even electrified. There's a camera every few yards or so, I mean, I nearly hurdled over it just to see what would happen.

Anyway, that's the vibe there and somehow it's all cool.

So we had a glorious high tea (after Sebby fell asleep....much to the relief of all the patrons there, trying to enjoy their cucumber sandwiches and Battenburgs. Excruciating.)

We also got a sitter one night and headed to Jamie's Fifteen  in Islington for cocktails and good food.
I haven't mixed my wine and cocktails in a while - it hurt the next day.
I had the pork chops, that parted like butter when my knife went through it - I mean, the last time I remember my knife doing that was when I was in Argentina, attacking a beef fillet - usually pork chops are kind of tough.
Not this guy. It was superb.

The next day I felt nauseas, the entire day. It wasn't the chop. It was a drink called 'Veshper' that did that.
And with a child, the Brit and I remembered why we only do this one in a blue moon now.
Luckily the chop - and evening in general -  was worth it.

I went to go and get my hair cut.
All my hair is falling out. I suspect I'll be bald by October (er, tomorrow...) , so I went to my hairdressers, who are open late into the night - because it's the sort of establishment that turns into a pub.
Where people cut hair and get drunk. An interesting and edgy combination.
Anyway, they were serving cake and wine when I went over, which is very nice.

The lady who cut my hair this time had three bullrings in her nose, was Italian and spoke very little English, and had dreadlocks.

Now, call me old-fashioned, but ordinarily, this would've made me nervous. Luckily, these days my nerves are dulled by lack of sleep and a general nonchalance towards giving a shit, so I let her have it.

"My hair is falling out. Please take off at least three inches off the bottom."
I knew my hair might fall out after pregnancy, but why the delay? It's suddenly happening, and in clumps. 

I told the Brit I was thinking about going 'mumsy the whole way' and getting an 'shoulder-length bob.'

He just about had a cadenza. Now whose old fashioned? He told me I must never cut my hair. Ever.
I knew he liked long hair, but forever's quite a long time to have the same hairstyle isn't it?

It was vaguely enjoyable, because the Italian lady was very nice in fact, and didn't try to talk to me too much, and I had a glass of wine in hand.
It never ends well when hairdressers talk too much and ask too many questions. Last time I had an awkward and shitty twins conversation with one, so when they ask me nothing and focus on the blowdrying, I'm much happier.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

six months

My little miracle is 6 months today.

It's been an emotional day, but as I was saying to the Brit, I just cannot believe how much I love this little soul. Everyday I love him more, but I can't grasp how. I don't know how I can love him more each day when each day I love him so much it's impossible to quantify. How do I squeeze out more love from my bursting heart? It's one of life's greatest and most beautiful mysteries.

We celebrated in our own little way, that my boy is half a year. I can't believe it.

We went to a final baby spa session this morning (nothing like getting pampered, is it, boy?)

He had the whole pool to himself this morning, so someone was a very happy chappy indeed. Kicking and twirling and following the floating toys.

 We stopped for a large cuppa and an even larger pastry (oh dear), so that Mummy could people-watch as commuters came out of the tube station.

It's been a while since I've been out and about with him during rush hour. It's so lovely to watch on the sidelines while taking in a tea. Everyone is very serious and look slightly haggled and tormented as they slog their way to work.

Sigh. I don't even want to think about it, but I do. The crushing reality is starting to weigh me down....

 Sebastian's little personality is starting to shine through. He can be incredibly smiley and very sociable (doesn't mind being handled, at least at this point, by anyone.). But he can also be incredibly serious. It melts our hearts.
 He eats anything that fits in his mouth.
I cannot possibly quantify or love anything as much as I love this little boy right now.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

my twin story page

I've put it all in one place.

Was therapeutic putting it together, despite the shed tears while rereading and wading through all of it.

It really felt like a dream, an expectation, the future was torn away from us.

Anyway, I have put it all in one place. How it feels to be pregnant with twins, having them, Molly, Sebastian, right through the journey to where I am now. It's been six months today, that I was going into labour to have my babies.

My story. Why I am like I am these days. And other support material for anyone else who has lost a child or a twin.

My Twin Story.

(Or if it's too heavy for today, you can find it linked on the right hand side bar).

Monday, September 22, 2014

swimming and ranting

I've been taking Sebastian to swimming lessons on Mondays.
This is us. Obviously we're not swimming, so this picture has nothing to do with anything, apart from the fact it's us. At a tea party on Sunday.

So. I had to buy myself a ...[gasp] one piece.
Now one pieces are all the rage,  except most have holes evocatively cut into the cloth and plunging necklines.

Except,  are usually encasing a giraffe in the latest issue of British Vogue.*

I've bought one with special panels and shit, in the hope it holds me altogether.
It's stupid really. All the other people I'm currently swimming with couldn't care less about the state of my stomach. They're babies. And mothers. Also with childbearing hips and stretched tummies.

Anyway, the lessons are pretty sweet. We all float around in an indoor heated pool with our babies, encouraging them to kick and love water.
I had a bad experience with water when I was a kid; my swimming teacher pushed my head under and held it there when I was about 6. I'll never forget it. I was the last in the group to put my head under (Always been a bit scared of water. Terrified, in fact), so she thought shoving my head into the depths of the pool would fix that.

How 80s is that? Health & Safety, Jesus Christ, hello?

I got a stamp on my hand saying "I went under water today!" I found the whole experience horrific.
I want Sebastian to have positive water experiences, at least as much as I can help him, and this little course teaches them to put their heads under and enjoy it.

Or so the lady says. "Don't worry. I've been doing this for 16 years and we haven't lost one yet."

So we submerge them, by using voice recognition. First by splashing their face after saying "Sebastian, Ready? OK" and he takes a gulp. Then gradually they go under. More and more. Their epiglottis closes over apparently, when they're babies. So they naturally don't allow water down any of their pipes, per se.

He seems to love it. And I do too.

I am feeling somewhat flat at the moment though. I have a very low tolerance for other people's bullshit. Have you ever noticed that bullshit en masse comes in waves? You'll find most people around you - family members, friends, acquaintances, whoever - behave and be normal together.
Then simultaneously they all go through a fervent and epic bout of being a dick. All at once.

The father won't talk sense again. The mother refuses to listen. The spouse neglects you. There are more chavs behaving like fools in the street than per usual. A Jehovah's Witness rings your doorbell. (Happened last week) The neighbour is hoovering at fucking midnight. One of the twins mums from the twins group you used to belong to has befriended you on Facebook and you should've declined, (and she should've had the sensitivity not to ask), but out of curiosity and sadness you accepted even though it means you now see her twins in your newsfeed and it's a constant reminder of what you don't have. And her twins are the same age as my twins/Sebastian would be, almost to the day.
How some people are fairweather friends - around when they need you or need something, then disappear once they find someone or something else.

In a fit of rage, you wonder whether you can disappear into the night, with a suitcase under one arm and your child under the other and go to live in a little hut on top of a snowy mountain peak in the middle of Washington State (Twin Peak country. Yes. A thousand yesses), where no one can find or disturb you. Save for a delivery man who can bring you a gourmet cheeseburger once a month. Until you're fixed, and then you can rejoin society again.

Started out this post all sweetly didn't I? Explaining how lovely it is to swim with my baby boy. Only to end it with a rant.

I think it's time to face facts. This time 6 months ago, I was lying in hospital with a heart monitor wrapped around my belly hoping to God Sebastian would remain stable in the days following Molly's death. I was waiting for the day I would be induced to have my twins. I can't believe he is almost 6 months old (or 5 months corrected, as they say in prem circles. Urrgh.) It's a big milestone. It's the milestones that hurt.

I can't help but wonder what she would look like now. And how they'd be playing with each other.

Maybe it's also the wintry air.

* Actually, I haven't read British Vogue. For a fuck long time.

Friday, September 19, 2014

sciatica and chateaubriand

It really has been the best summer I've experienced since living here. I don't want to jinx it, but it seems to be going on and on. I distinctly remember September being a bit shit last year.

Oh, and we get to keep Scotland. Yay!

(Seriously. This place was on tenterhooks. Panic and disarray. No pressure Mr Cameron.)

It's been a hectically busy week since we got back from Cornwall.

So three things really.

I have sciatica.
I know, right? What is that even?
I have a pinched nerve in my spine, the doctor thinks I have a slipped disc. So my legs are in agony whenever I sit or lie down. Or bend over. Or bend down.
Which is what I do all day with a baby.

Having a kid is gruelling ok. Gruelling, on the old back. Physically laborious. So I am on the painkillers. And hoping it'll just sort itself out. Like, if a disc slips, surely it can slip right back in?

I am of the belief that if you leave a problem, it goes away [about 50% of the time.]

I had my twins feet cast in silver.

I've had a lot of jewellery made since my twins were born. I suppose it's a way of preserving them together; of preserving Molly.

This is a big thing though. We had her feet cast when she was born, and they have managed to put them in silver. Sebastian had his cast a month ago and they've also done his in silver.

I love that their prints look different, and yet there they are together.

We did date night

I dressed up, as the Brit had booked a nice, very Michelin-star-ry type restaurant for us. (La Chapelle in Shoreditch, if anyone's interested. It's inside an old chapel, quite literally.)

Food was glorious - all very cordon bleu (tiny portions, but made beautifully.) He loves that kind of vibe. The Brit can sit and watch chefs in a kitchen all day, and gets a serious kick out of beautifully presented, tiny little morsels that explode in your mouth, but similarly explode your wallet as they are fantastically overpriced.
I find it all a little pretentious, but he laps it up like fine naan bread.

Bless him. At least I can say my husband would never take me to a Nando's. The man researches his restaurants ad infinitum before going.

Anyway, I was tucking into my Roast Cumbrian fillet of Chateaubriand and slow cooked truffle and quail salad, when my fucking sciatica kicked in.

I couldn't sit up straight, and I sure as hell couldn't finish my delicious glass of especially paired Malbec.
I was in so much pain, we called an Uber while Brit finished up the Valrhona chocolate mousse.

Needless to say, I still got out the house.

On our arrival home, I could hear my baby screaming from the road. That's never a nice, calming thing to come back to. We have only had a handful of babysitters, so we are still very much Helicopter Parenting our way through handing over responsibility of our most precious thing in the world to a stranger.

Sebastian had woken up, seen the face of someone he didn't recognise, and threw a shit fit so loud, I heard it before I'd even pulled up outside our house.

He was hysterical. And it reminds me again of how heartbroken I am going to be leaving him with someone else in a few months time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


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

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

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

It was fantastic.

And we ate ourselves rampant. As did my son.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

sam & finn

I am battling a bit today and last night.

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

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

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

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

Here it is.

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

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

Monday, September 08, 2014

super juice

Wanted to share my Super Juice recipe with y'all. Someone asked for it the other day, so thought I'd share.

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

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

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

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

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

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

To make one pint glass:

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

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

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

Your concoction should look something like this now:

This will make about a pint of smoothie.

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

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

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

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

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