Wednesday, February 25, 2015

some numbers

Two. Courgettes. I spiralised two courgettes in my new spirilizer last night.
What is it? It is a kitchen appliance that, with a few twists, turns a simple root vegetable into perfectly formed noodles.

Not owning a spirilizer in this country right now is like not owning air. It is the item du jour, gotta have it, everybody has it, nobody eats carbs anymore.

So I made courgetti bolognaise for us last night, and just last week I made flower-shaped zoodles with a tuna sauce.

The pasta industry is dead.Next week I'm going to try and make noodles out of a celeriac. I don't even know what a celeriac is, but I suspect it's some kind of bland, boring turnip that tastes great when topped with a creamy carbonara sauce. (Still no carbs baby, still no carbs.)

Eleven. Months. Today Sebastian is 11 months old. It's one month until his first birthday.

Sixty three. Kilogrammes. That is what I seem to [mostly] weigh right now. If I could just shift the final 4, I would be "my ideal weight" again. I'm going to have to eat a LOT of celeriac noodles with lashings of air and water in order to shift the last remaining kilos. Because hell, even after working out thrice a week, running up all the escalators I can, eating very sensibly; it's a long, hard race.

That said. Thirty six. The number of cupcakes I have ordered for Sebastian and Molly's birthday party. To be fair, we are also going to include Sebastian's little friend, who is one day younger than him, in the party too. So it's a party for three little souls.

Thirty two. Weeks pregnant. This time last year I was on my first week of maternity leave, propped up in bed by millions of pillows, battling to breathe, heartburn of marathonic proportions, piles - yes those - and skin so itchy I thought I would pass out. What's significant with this week was not that it was my first week off. Twofold, it's because I had a big fall. Which doctors insist had nothing to do with Molly's death. It was also the week that her body stopped growing. And I didn't have a clue. Had they been identical twins, I would've got that extra scan and it probably would've been picked up. But because they were non-identical and in "good health," there was no "cause for concern."

One. Skiing trip. Last week, me and my team from work headed off to Milton Keynes [sidenote: never go there unless you're paid/sponsored/don't have to get out of the cab] where there is a massive thing called the Snow Dome. It does pretty much what it says on the box. There are two ski slopes and a button lift, and lots of artificially-made snow.
We skiied up and down this thing all afternoon. It was actually pretty fun. But I did yearn for the open Alpine air and apres-ski charm of Val d'Isere, if I'm honest.

Zero. Sebastian still doesn't have any teeth. He's my little toothless wonder.

Two. Nights until I have a night out with the girls. Fellow mamas and keen aficionados of champagne. And good times. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

how to do coffee outings with a baby

I think I have the Mums Who Coffee With Their Babies dialled.

Been meaning to impart this wisdom survival tactic now that I know what I'm doing my baby has started crawling and I can't actually visit coffee shops with him anymore because it's uncharted chaos.

For mothers-to-be, or those simply venturing out to buy a hot drink while carrying a child, this is how it is done. (It mustn't be crawling yet. I don't [yet] know how to do a [dignified] coffee visit if the child is moving. Sorry.)

Put a bib on the child

I've tried to do the whole "oh I'm just giving him five raisins, so he doesn't need a bib" thing before. I've also tried to just casually let him gnaw on an Organix Carrot Finger, thinking the whole rigmarole of pulling out the bibs, wipes, etc negates the relaxed atmosphere of grabbing a quick coffee.

There is always mess, and there is always aftermath.
I've given Sebastian his tea ("supper") while I've tried to casually sip on a flat white. This is so he is distracted for at least 45 seconds and I can then savour the taste of the Ethiopian beans.

If you like it, you shoulda put a bib on it.

Pick your coffee shop according to these three very important things
1) Your buggy must fit through the door without any heaving;
2) Notwithstanding, the cafe should ideally have a spot for you to park your buggy so that it doesn't take up space next to your table;
3)  Most importantly - it must have big tables that are not clustered close to one another.

I've been to coffee shops where there are lots of little tables all packed in together and I have had a bad time.

For one, Sebastian will turn around and try to pick the toast off a stranger's plate. Or knock over their teapot. And the whole session quickly becomes about trying to stop a cascading crescendo of destruction before it starts.

Secondly, other mummy friends have the same problem, so you end up throwing your coffee everywhere, apologising profusely to everyone around you, and not finishing a sentence with the person with whom you're trying to have a conversation with.

You need a big table, not one of those piddly Parisian cafe things. I live in London, and sadly restaurant tables the size of a dinner plate are commonplace. People are stuffed into small corners and are all but sitting on someone else's lap. So if you find a coffee shop or restaurant with wide[r] tables, stick with it.

You see, when you bring a kid to a public area, you bring a lot of crap with you. Wipes, hats, bottles, bibs, spoons, teething toys.
Then you forget that most tables at have a vase on it, salt and pepper shakers, a menu holder. Knives and forks.
You want something big. You need a dumping ground. So go to a place with big tables and lots of space between each one.
Chains are [sadly] usually more 'buggy friendly' than independent coffee shops, at least around Clapham anyway.

Some of the more buggy friendly chains in the UK are All Bar One, Byron Burger, Bill's, Costa Coffee, Nero.

Pay while the going is good

This is really important. It's the difference between being an amateur Mum Who Coffees and a professional. Some places do table service - a delight when the waiter thinks ahead and puts the coffee out of reach of little hands, but is a disaster when they plonk it down in front of the child - but this means you usually only pay right at the end.

Nine times out of ten I leave a coffee shop, my baby has declared he has had enough sitting around and starts to scream a little.
A panic starts to happen, and there's furious hunting through handbags for the right change or waiting for the card to be fucking approved and it's mayhem and disorder as the baby basically has a meltdown on your face.

Or, like one of my mummy friends, the child projectile vomits up her salmon risotto over everything and instead of being able to pick up her bag and run the fuck away, she has sit in her child's vomit waiting for the bill.

So. The moment they serve the coffee and cake, get the bill. Pay it.
If you have to leave in a hurry - which is pretty much always the case -  at least with my baby - you can.

Bring more snacks than is necessary

Ply little hands, and friend's baby's hands, with snacks. Do what you can to get your cuppa Joe. Out in a public place. With another adult human. Snacks are more distracting than toys.

(Even if, like mine, they eat their toys).

Do it in the afternoon

For some reason, there is more time. As your baby starts to drop naps and becomes more active, and then starts to eat and basically become a mini person, you'll find the day stretches out and starts to really lag between their afternoon nap and their bath time.

There are a good few hours there where you'll need to get out of the house and need a change of scene. This usually happens around 3pm, which collides pretty nicely with your dire need for a coffee because you haven't slept the night before and you're completely catatonic.

Morning coffees work well when the child is still sleeping four times a day.

After six months, it's afternoon coffees all the way.

People without children will stare at you

When you're a mum, you get judged. Especially by those who don't have babies. Yours will cry for no reason, or you'll wipe up its vomit with the arm of your coat instead of a muslin, or something will happen in public whereby other mums will look at you knowingly and give you an encouraging, exhausted smile, but others will just passively-aggressively frown at you. Because they somehow think you WANT your child to kick off. 

Learn to ignore and don't even look at these people. Sometimes your baby will start crying for no reason and you won't be able to stop it. It will feel like the whole world is looking at you, and you'll desperately start to sweat and beg your baby to calm down.

Just keep doing what you're doing. Don't even look around you. Your baby is going to drop stuff on the floor, smear stuff all over the high chair, scream loudly because they think it's fun, and cry. And it's going to be loud and messy.

If you care what others think, it'll debilitate you. So just keep on keepin' on.

Your coffee will never be hot

Just a final note. It's a common known fact that mothers never manage to finish (or sometimes even start) a cup of coffee. Because you'll have to attend to five other things the moment you sit down to take that first sip, and sometimes you forget you even made yourself a cup.

Don't worry, you'll get used to cold, or at best, luke warm, coffee. You might even start to not notice.

When I do finish a cup and it's still actually hot, I silently high five myself and get a real feeling of complete and utter satisfaction because I have managed to bust through my last best score.

It's like a little game of Tetris I play with myself to see how far I can get in my cup of coffee.

Try to pwn that shit.

Monday, February 16, 2015

the best gift ever (besides diamonds. everyone loves diamonds)

Wow, I have to say, this last weekend gone was one of the best I've had in a while.

When you are a mum - or a Stay At Home Mum (SAHM), your weeks merge into your weekends. You still have to get up to make bottles, you still have to change nappies, and you're still living your life according to your baby's nap and eating times.

Now that I'm back at work, I see my weekends differently. They're precious as fuck. I get to do the nappies and meals and bottles all day, but because I haven't done that all week, suddenly it's all very precious and fun and I get to spend time with my boys.

But. Being a working mum does mean you never get me time. Or it's seldom. I consider my me time to be my bath at the end of every day. I love a good bath, it's how I unwind. Some people smoke a doobie, some people have a bottle of wine. I have a long, hot bath to relax, be by myself, and warm my cold bones.

Other than that, every other bit of time I have is dedicated to other people (husband, child, boss).

So when the Brit told me he had a surprise for me on Saturday, and dropped me off outside a beautiful townhouse in Chelsea with a, "see you in three hours!" I couldn't believe my luck.

Possibly the best Valentine's Day gift a man can give a woman [with child,] is three hours, all to herself. Not only that, three hours in a luxurious day spa set in a house down a quiet street.

It was a small 'hidden gem' of a place,which meant it wasn't crowded with millions of other relaxation finders. Instead, it was just me, in a one piece, hanging out in the plunge pool and in the steam room, drinking things like hibiscus tea in the relaxation room, in a thick robe, smelling of coconut oil and other Asian fruits. Just me. No need to talk to anyone, no need to think of anything in particular, just me. By myself. Until I was called to have a 90 minute facial by a woman who had a low, very calm, very soothing voice, which kind of puts you in a trance before you even set your head down on the treatment bed.

Fuck, it was absolutely devaan.

I couldn't help but think how lucky I am, and how good my life is right now. I have a gorgeous child who is starting to develop so beautifully - moving and crawling, smiling, coming in for hugs, laughing and copying the things we do. We are so lucky to have him. I have such a lovely, kind husband who gave me the gift of Alone Time while being pampered.
I have such a lovely job, doing things I love to do, and at a brilliant company. I live in a world class city. I have lovely friends. I am so fucking lucky.

"We use only natural, organic ingredients, picked by the hands of Buddhist monks in the free-trade forests of south East Malaysia," my facial lady said, purring.
"I will gently massage your face, hands, head and feet, and then rub oils over your skin that will both moisturise and flush out the toxins. At the same time."
The low hum of her entrancing voice had already made me quite sleepy, and I was starting to drool from the right corner of my mouth as she described the delectably relaxing things she was about to do to my skin.

"Is there anything specific you'd like me to focus on during our 90 minutes?"

"Yes....I suppose you can."


[silent pause. Panpipes music in the background]

..."Sorry.  Let me just bring this down a notch. I have a child. He is waking up in the middle of the night a lot at the moment because he gets stuck? Between the slats of his cot? Like, his arm hangs out? And we have to move him back into the lying down position, because he doesn't know how to do this by himself yet?  Sometimes it's three, four times a night. So we don't get much sleep. And I'm just so excited, I could literally pooh. just die!"

It was amazing. It was just amazing. I think it may have been the best facial I have ever had. I stumbled out into the stark greyness of Sloane Street where people like Victoria Beckham walk past, with oils and stuff all over my face, but I didn't care. I had a nap, my face had basically been remodeled, and I was excited to see my son and husband again.

I also drank lots of champagne this weekend. Which is always pretty exciting.
Not only did the Brit and I go out for supper, I went to one of my new mummy friend's houses and drank champagne with her too.

On top of this, I have realised that my incessant gym workouts are finally - finally - because it's taken a due amount of time - starting to pay off.
I am not dying in the middle of my workout, but instead getting that lovely feeling of increased energy in the middle of my run, so I know I can push myself harder and my fitness is at a good level.

I have also now lost about 4 kilos since our very meaty and wine-saturated holiday in South Africa.
To the point where I'm going to have to buy some more intermediate pants.

I have a wardrobe full of trousers. On the one side, there are my maternity trousers. These I haven't worn for about 6 months.
Then on the other, there are my "intermediate trousers." A few pairs I have bought to tide me through to the point where I can fit into my pre-pregnancy pants.

These are starting to look like my pyjama bottoms, I've realised. I am sitting here at work, in a, what I thought were, fetching pair of aubergine checked trousers (very ON TREND). Except that they are now too baggy and I look like I'm trying to be Kanye/just rolled out of bed.

I have grown out of my intermediate fat pants! Hooray! Except. That I still don't quite fit into my normal OLD Peas On Toast ones. They're still way snug.

So I'm going to need some intermediate- intermediate pants.

Fuck. This really does take it's jolly old time doesn't it?

Anyway. It is exciting to know that I'm getting some inkling of my old body back.

It's been a year to the week since I left work to go on maternity leave. I was the size of a rhino with an appetite to match, happily bouncing along with cards and presents from people at work for my twins. Twin sets, "double trouble" commentary, all those things, ready for the future. Little did I know that next week, Molly would stop growing. And the slide until her death would start. I just can't help but relive everything, week by week, and day by day.

Here's my little boy, uhb-sessed. He loves wheels. He is really is a boy's boy. Give him anything with a round, spinning thing and he will play for it for what seems like an endless nine minutes at least.

That's hummus smeared all over his face. 

Oh the love I have for this little urchin.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

birthday party invitation

My boy is going to be 1 next month.
One year old.

I have mixed feeling about this for so many reasons. He isn't going to be my baby-baby anymore, he will kind of officially be a toddler.  It's gone too fast, but yet, yay! at the same time. We've all survived the first year, all three of us.
The obvious sadness is that this was meant to be his first birthday as a twin. He came as a set. And now we are celebrating both his survival, while needing to commemorate his sister at the same time.

It's bought up so many feelings for me, and I have found myself having Molly Nights* frequently again. Maybe as I know it's coming. The big first birthday.

We thought of having a low-key thing to celebrate our Sebby while also remembering Molly. I can't explain how hard and weird this is for me.
If I were to just make an invitation saying "come to Sebastian's 1st birthday", I would feel like I am deliberately leaving out or forgetting his sister. I would also feel, again, that I was deliberately trying to not acknowledge her, and so it goes against every instinct within me to leave her out.

I'll feel guilty if I don't remember/mention her, and I'll feel guilty if I do. I just can't win this one.
(It's a good thing I'm starting therapy finally, isn't it?)

I also don't want this to overshadow his first birthday, something that we want to celebrate with joy. So there is such a fine line, and I want to try and balance it, but whatever I write or say doesn't seem to do either twin justice. I feel so alone  no one else I even remotely know has this problem - and I am not sure what truly the right thing to do is. Well, actually, I do know what the right thing to do is, but I have to choose my words and my thoughts so carefully.

We already decided months ago that the two dates we will remember Molly is Christmas and their birthday. At Christmas we put up her stocking with gifts for other children, and at birthdays we release balloons for Molly.

I'm also aware that this day is going to filled with laughter and tears. And will be for the rest of his life.

So. I made Sebastian's party invitations today. And this is what I went for in the end after multiple edits and thinking long and hard about how to include her:

We are just inviting a handful of folks we have met over the last year, all of them with a baby of their own. Our new 'parental' friends. As they know what it is like to reach the first year milestone!

It sounds all very grown up. And it is. For now. For the years to come, no doubt, all sorts of fun things will start to happen - like themes and too many e-numbers, and games and bouncing off the ceiling and blowing out candles.

But for now, the most important thing for me here is balance. I wanted two little birdies on the invitation, and I'll be getting some cupcakes made with their names on them.

What do you think?

*Nights where I end up reading through my old blog posts when I was pregnant with them both; or remembering in detail their birth; wandering what  she would be like and look like now; crying until I can't breathe and I feel totally empty and raw inside; or crying with the Brit and feeling white hot anger at the world and WHY is it that only people who have lost a twin really understand the complexity of our situation and in equal measure, the pain?

Thursday, February 05, 2015

write off

The week has been character-building thus far.

I'm now fine; and the Brit isn't hanging his head over a Turkish toilet.

Sebastian however, has gone from 'food poisoning' to a full-on bug. He's caught something from a little critter at nursery, and now they won't let him in.

This is what they do. They kick babies out until "their pooh is of reasonable consistency."

Which means I am off work for the rest of the week, feverishly playing mummy while navigating through a massive wad of stuff I have to get before the weekend workwise.

I can juggle this once a week on Fridays, as it's all planned and consistent. For three days? Fuck me. Let's put it this way, I didn't get out of my pyajamas yesterday, and I didn't wash my face. I took a video conference call wearing my PJs and hoped that the collar would make the person on the other end believe it was an actual shirt.

Gotta go. He's poohing/crying/my inbox is pinging me/Jesus please can my husband come back from Turkey in this lifetime/send cake.

PS: He's also decided to start crawling in the last 24 hours. I was getting worried, as most babies his age are all already doing it. This is a blessing, relief and curse. He's already attacked my low lying Kate Spade handbag and gnawed on my Mac cord.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

poisoning, tubing, snowing & sundry

Oh my goodness.

Allow me to paragraphify. Paragraphisize. Paragraph. Paraphrase. My last three days.

I'll start with the bad. I poisoned my family.

It wasn't even with the (frankly, devaan) generations-old rougaille I made from my great grandmother's Seychelles recipe, which I created from scratch for the first time. And was fucking delicious.

No. It was a pair of crumbed fishcakes - salmon and broccoli - from Sainsbury's that tormented the inner bowels of mine, my husband, and seemingly my child as well.
It was like a relay in the On Toast household. Sebastian decorated his room flamboyantly at 2am; and was found sitting in his cot with vomit smeared all over his boyish little face, shocked expression, but also, wierdly enough, a beaming smile.

Then, after changing sheets, spraying him down with the shower hose, the house looking like a refugee camp with bed linen everywhere, we went back to bed.

For one hour. For suddenly, like the force of Putain - Pootain - in the Crimean state, at pretty much exactly the same time, mine and the Brit's bowels decided to fall out of themselves.

As an aside, we have one bathroom. It is approximately 2.5mx2m. Oscar Pistorius' toilet might've been bigger. So let me just put it out there. You haven't truly truly been married, until you are sharing a bathroom, in the dead of night, simultaneously puking out of your bum and your mouth, together.

The last shred of dignity that we might've ever had, was finally laid to rest two nights ago. Hanging over buckets, baths and the throne, every half hour on the hour. For 24 hours.

I've had stomach bugs before, but this was a new level of scatological intensity that I've yet to experience until now.
Peeing out of the bum pretty much sums it up - yes, sorry, should've mentioned that there would be candid descriptions here -  and I'm not sure how, after 24 hours of this, there is anything left of me to be honest.

My poor Brit had an early flight to Istanbul, which he had to postpone, and while we lay there shivering and hallucinating, I wondered if, in fact, we were actually dying.

Now, I am back at work after 24 hours of hell. Which brings me to the next point.

Commuting is a special place in hell reserved for people who inadvertently poison their family.

Before I had Sebastian, it would take me 45 minutes, door-to-door, home to work, everyday. This is an average London commute, comprised of walking for 15 minutes, then a tube for half an hour, then walking for another 5.
In order for it to be 45 minutes, I'd need to leave home earlier than most, because the tube station that I use (Clapham Common) is the entrance - the springboard -  directly into hell.
It's a single platform, and it looks like this:
 But actually, it's more like this:
Now that I drop Sebby at nursery on the way, I'm getting on the tube half an hour later than I used to. And in order to actually get into a train, one has to throw themselves into the carriage, and rugby tackle their way into the inch of space between the doors and the gap.
 This is what the train looks like. But there is still room for four more people on here, trust me.
Today I had to wait for ten- TEN - stuffed tubes to go past before I could squeeze myself on, within an inch of my life.
Even then, the doors never close properly and there are delays, and today some kind lady had to tuck the belt of my my coat into the carriage for me.

It's mental.

And infuriating. Because now it takes me all in all over an hour to get into central London. There are just way too many people in this town.

Today was particularly bad, because it snowed last night.

Snow is always magical, soft and beautiful for a southern hemisphere troglodyte like myself.  Everything is hushed, even tyres going past on the road are quieter, as the snow forms a woolly blanket around everything.
Sweet, white snow also means we get some kind of pay-off from the blisteringly Baltic temperatures we've been facing. For the first few hours, it's lovely.

Then everything breaks.

See, no matter what, London just isn't prepared for snow. Whole airports will close, and the train system seems to come to an abrupt halt. Which is why my commute was even more than a disaster this morning than usual. London has yet to learn that a) it snows most winters, so they should be used to this by now and b) learn from it's more efficient Scandinavian/French/German relatives that stuff should keep working when the white stuff comes down.

Also, snow in a city never lasts too long. They put grit on the pavements to melt it, and the pollution, mud and tracks turn it all slushy and black.

But. It's still magical. Even for a little bit.
 Walking through the common was slippery, as they don't grit the foot paths.
 Clapham Common at the end of our road.
 Wrapping up warmly ahead of our nursery run.
Sebastian has a commutable sleeping bag. It's a thing here.

Then finally. Work.

Now that I've been back a few weeks, I can pretty much say that I'm actually enjoying being back. Commutes and missing Sebastian aside. The work itself, and office and all of that, is actually great.  I'm enjoying it more than I thought I would, anyway.

It's also had an effect on my hormones. Strange byproduct of going to work, I suppose, due to the fact that for one I actually take a pride in what my appearance looks like again (ie actually doing my hair, putting makeup on, wearing heels, shirts, skirts and tights) while also being surrounded by humans that are in no ways connected to my being a mother.

There are men everywhere. Not to say I'm lusting after a bunch of he-people (I'm a married woman, lest you forget), but suddenly I find myself more appreciative to the...male form. And therefore, my husband. Yes really.

Also doing something satisfying, and achieving something other than keeping my baby alive, does wonders for the confidence. (Ah, there she is. I've missed you.)

So. That was an interesting find.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

mary poppins: why you're not missing out even if you think you are

Before I ramble on about life at the moment, I thought I'd take a time out to talk about one person.

Defragmentalising. Defragmentifying? Defragging? Defragmenting. The Mary Poppins Agenda.

I thought about this as I walked Sebastian to nursery this morning. Every mum who has ever watched Mary Poppins is ruined to find an exact replica. Everyone wants a Mary Poppins; someone to rear your child disciplined, yet full of song. Creative, but with a fastidious ability to tidy up.

But I was thinking about this long and hard. Is Mary Poppins really that amazing? 
We all want one, but we can't afford one [in the UK.] Is she just marketed really, really well?

Here are the reasons I think she is not all that a bag of chips.*

1) Just like Mrs Doubtfire, she's actually another person. And Julie Andrews doesn't mind her own kids, so essentially Mary Poppins doesn't exist at all. 

2) Sugar. Blatantly not on. It's highly frowned upon to give children under the age of 1 added sugar, at least in this country. So if you're going to give the medicine a chaser, does it have to be a spoonful of sugar, Mary? You're pumping the kids full of processed glucose granules, come on. How about a piece of fruit, Ms Poppins, fruit, smothered in omega 3 oils?
See? Sugared to the gills. In their two pieces from Bonpoint.

3) Power suits. When I was at home with the baby all day, I wore my sweat pants. My chunky jumpers, my sweat pants, and sometimes, I wouldn't even bother with the pants at all. Don't tell me you come in there looking like a British Airways air hostess and manage not to get irate when little sticky fingers (from the sugar you gave them prior) leave detritus on your shoulder pads.
4) Supercalerfragilisticblahblah.  According to some trivia film site, this word originated from "an urban myth that it had something to do with Irish or Scottish prostitutes."
If you're not teaching my boy about hookers, can you at least teach him a word that is slightly coherent? (And in three languages please?) What about "superfluous."
Or "discombobulated."
Or this:

5) Cherry Tree Lane. This road does not exist in London. However, it looks like the family lives somewhere off Holland Park, looking at the rest of the movie set. George Clooney and John Cleese live in Holland Park, as well as the country's top lawyers and investment bankers, so I'm guessing you come at quite a price Mary Poppins. I'm thinking at least £3 000/month after tax. So most normal families wouldn't be able to afford you at all.

6) The 'Feed The Birds' scene at St Paul's Cathedral. This is actually illegal, you know. Since the sixties it's illegal to feed the pigeons/sky rats due to the excessive defecation from this expanding avian population. Next you're going to start parking in loading zones or 'forget' to update your parking disc.

7) Apparently Mary Poppins and Mrs Banks never speak to each other in the film. The entire film. This might be the most problematic out of all the scenarios. Power suits, sugar, illegal bird-feeding and overpriced West London nannies aside, it's simply not feasible to not talk to the mother when you're employed as the house's primary child keeper.

 Maybe you were busy folding the laundry or singing lullabies, but I'm sorry, never a word exchanged? At all? That's impossible. How did you arrange their schedules or find out when to do the school run? Or talk about Michael and Jane's chicken pox infestation, or how Michael left his socks at rugby practice, or how Jane has a lactose intolerance, or what time she is getting back from work to attend the parents AGM?
Literally, not even possible. And frankly, what appalling levels of communication.

8) Your best mate is a chimney sweep. Let's talk about Dick van Dyke for a minute. I'm sure he's a lovely chap, and his delightful Cockney accent tickles the children pink, but it's a little bit odd isn't it? Especially in this day and age? The man needs to take a shower, for one, and for two, he just brings half of the East End's chimney sweepers around whenever he bloody feels like it so that they can dance on the roof of the house. I am not sure I approve. I have to assume you're also in some kind of sexual dalliance with the chap, which is your choice of course, but not on my watch.
9) You're just way too pretty. Nothing personal, but it's a woman thing. The nanny should never be prettier than than the matriarch. Don't want to tempt the husband and all that.
10)  I'm all for imaginative play, but it's scenes like the below that do make me believe that you might be doing loads of acid. With your lover.

Merely saying.

*Mostly because I can't afford her.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

until he is 1

 Little mini Converse. The kind of baby items that make your ovaries shake. The frequency of shoe buying for my son has increased tenfold in the last week, because it is a) freezing outside and b) I miss the little bugger.

Things continue to be bleak in the face of life.

The Brit and I had an excruciating snot extraction session at dawn's crack this morning, involving ear buds, a squirming and screaming Sebastian, and me, battling to hold in a vomit because I abhor snot on every conceivable level.

Pooh, vomit, fine; snot, please help me.

At the moment, this phase -  for I remind myself that everything, but everything is a phase when it comes to rearing a child - feels like the dark and heavy early days. When he was born. And wouldn't stop crying from between 4pm and 10pm at night. The Colic Phase. The one that haunts my dreams and makes me ask myself whether I would ever be able to handle that again should I impregnate with another child.

Incessant wailing for the first two months of his life, and for no real reason at all. Scrolling through hundreds of websites and mummy forums trying to find anything to stop it, anything to help, getting on the phone to a charity called 'Crysis' to implore what else I can be doing to soothe my boy. All the while crying endless myself, as the shock that I hadn't bought home my baby girl sunk in, as well as new mummy desperation which held me by the throat.

That was grim times.

Now, I feel we are kind of back to that. Work is fine. I am actually enjoying being back at work. The coffee is fresh, the food is exceptional, and I am starting to remember what my actual job used to entail. I'm talking to journalists, banterising with workmates and typing ferociously into a keyboard.
I'm going to gym and for the first time in a year, there's an area in my arm that feels like it might even contain some muscle.

However, the morning and nights pale in comparison to my carefree, diarised, orderly, systematic days.
And we reached a real tipping point this morning when we found both his nostrils clogged with snot; not unlike green tile grouting. Which we had to chip away at, much to Sebastian's disdain.

Despite the weight loss, incessant crying, overtired temper tantrums, separation anxiety, streaming nose and cough, he has now also lost his voice so when he cries it sounds like the terrifying whine of a dog.
We lie awake dreading the middle-of-the-night wake up (thanks to being ill, he now wakes up in the night too. He hasn't done this in months and months), and the terrifying whining crying that inevitably comes.

It doesn't help that it is -1 outside, and when I collect him it is dark and painfully cold outside, and that I have to dress him 8 layers of clothing, which he doesn't fancy either. It's dark pretty much whenever I see him.

My only solace is two things;
1) he will be used to this in a few months. Being constantly sick and being with strangers in a room full of noise and activities will be normal.
2) he will be bigger. Each month he gets stronger, his immunity will get better and he won't be the youngest child in the group anymore.

In fact, in two months time my little baby boy is going to be a one year old.

So. As we trudge along amongst the trenches, my beacon of hope is the same as with everything that's happened in my life. Nothing stays the same.

I also start therapy next week. So this has to be a sliver of silver in a somewhat vacuous lining. 

And tomorrow is Friday. Which means I get to have my boy, all to myself, for three days.*

*Oh. The Brit is going to America for work for a week. Er, fuck? I am going to be a single working mum for a while. Apparently this is an incredibly tough gig. If I make it out alive - alongside this settling-in phase and all - consider me a fucking superhero. 
 Oh, and more shoes. Tweed booties, in fact. For toasty toes in this abhorrent time.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

phrases, phases, gigs and running

A couple of things.

These are the phrases you end up filling your weekends with
Where is the muslin
Where is the dummy
Where is the Calpol
Where is the bottle
Where are the nappies
Where is his hat
Did you bring his lunch
Did he sleep
Did you put vitamins in his food
How much milk has he drunk
Did he eat all of his food
Did he do a pooh
Did you find his socks

We have created a new tradition in our little family. (While saying the above sentences over and over again. I suspect we will be doing this for years to come). But every Sunday, we do brunch. We go out and get our errands done, and then we pick a new spot in which to eat. The spot must be new, it must be fucking great, and they must stock a highchair.

We feed Sebastian, and then we guzzle our brains out. Last week was Honest Burgers, the week before was Bill's. A lot of new and very exciting, well established and popular joints have opened up in our area recently, and we have gone back to embracing the brunch.

After having a baby, you don't brunch like you used to. Now, we plop Sebby in his chair and he dines with us.

Well, that's when he eats. My child is still on hunger strike.
But he left me a little reminder that he still somewhat takes a drink, by spewing milky yack all over me this morning and I have only noticed it on my clothes - at work - now.

I am also sad. For whenever I see him, he starts crying. Sees mummy and bursts into tears and starts having a fit.  He is fine with daddy and the nursery insists he is all smiles during the day there, but come the evening when he is buggered and the morning when he is sick and I have to bundle him in five layers of clothing (it's -1 outside), he cries and cries.

So whenever I see my child, he is crying.

How long will this last I wonder? It's heartbreaking.

I wish he would get his appetite back too. I miss his little leg doughnuts so much. Not to mention his smile. Or being able to read him a bedtime story because he hasn't fallen asleep from exhaustion.

I went to a gig.

Actual. There I was. The only 30something mummy, in the heaving throng of Brixton Academy, watching a Die Antwoord concert. Surrounded by a group of Irish folks. It was as surreal as you can get.
My Favourite Irish Gay Friend is a cult follower; I know three songs.
We dressed up, grabbed some tacos from a Mexican hole in the wall, (eating. V. important), and then we headed into the craziness that is their die-hard followers and Die Antwoord.

They are nuts.

The stage setup included a massive blowup baby with a boner. Not even joking.
 My mate took the photos, I was kind of gaping at the bass. The bass was oomcing oomcing, and I could hear her weird little voice over it, just about, but if I didn't concentrate, it felt like a lot of noise.

They are also downright creepy. This guy with the mask on the screen will forever haunt my dreams. I might've been the only person to go to a gig without actually being a fan, but it was nice to do something different for a change. Might even go and download some choonage now.

I'm still running

And I feel less insane.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

my bump journey

How precious Saturday mornings have become.

The working week is over, and I survived. It's 3:34pm and I'm still in my pyjamas, but I intend to remain that way until I go out tonight.

My little boy has decided to refuse all food. He is either teething really badly (likely - he has every, single symptom and hasn't got any teeth yet), or he is traumatised by the fact his life has been turned upside down and to control the situation, has stopped eating. I was warned this might happen. It's heartbreaking.

His little fat leg doughnuts have shrunk considerably, almost to nothing - he is skinny again. It's crazy how quickly this happens to babies. Why can't this happen to me?

It's been 10 months, and it hurts to look at these pictures sometimes, but I finally got round to putting together a collage of my bump when I was pregnant.

The Brit took one of my bump every week, every Monday night. From 9 weeks until I was induced at 36 weeks.
The big milestones for me were:

9 weeks: I felt so sick, I remember struggling not to projectile vom over my fellow tube commuters in the morning. And the tiredness was ridiculous, I felt like I would pass out on the spot every afternoon, so I'd need to get up from my desk and walk around the building - aimlessly - just to stay upright.

12 weeks: You can tell everyone, as the most 'risky' stage of pregnancy is over (not with twins, it turns out.) But the morning sickness and tiredness start to go away and you feel 8 000 times better.

15 weeks: I was starting to show (That or they must've been like "Wow. She's really packed it on, hasn't she?), so I told work. I had to hide it the week before when I was with my colleagues in San Francisco at a conference. Where we usually all booze. That was hard. Pretending to booze is hard work.

19 weeks: I suddenly started to get big. Beeg. You could now tell I wasn't carrying a singleton, or many would've assumed I was onto my third child.

20 weeks: The best scan. They didn't look like shrimps anymore, they had arms and legs and were moving and waving and doing funny things like kick each other. Everything looked healthy and normal. We asked not to know the sexes, although I just knew it was a boy and a girl.

27 weeks: I was sizeable, so we thought we'd better go on a babymoon before I couldn't walk properly/actually enjoy it. I was sore, being kicked everywhere, and generally life was getting pretty uncomfortable. I was guzzling bottles of Gaviscon. We still drove to France and had a few days there. Mainly eating.

30 weeks: This was the last scan where I saw Molly alive. By now they were large enough that I couldn't see their whole bodies anymore, only pieces of who they were - heads, chests, hands. All was still normal and healthy, even though Molly (Twin 2) was the smaller twin.

31 weeks: Commuting was becoming the ultimate ball ache, walking was hard work, I was huffing and puffing and generally, pretty miserable to be honest. Everyone else who was pregnant and at the same timeline as me, had neat, compact little bumps and they all seemed very spritely. My bump was heavy and weighing me down. It was time to leave work.

32 weeks: I spent most days propped up by a fortress of cushions on my bed, not lying fat or they'd surely suffocate me, but not sitting upright either.
Molly, up until this point, was breech. They'd been lying yin and yang for all this time, and so they booked me in to have a c-section at 37 weeks and 5 days, on 4 April.

However, she suddenly decided to turn, and in the bath one night, I saw and felt it. It was like something out of Alien.
They estimated that this was the week Molly stopped growing. So when she was born, she was the size of a 32 week baby.

34 weeks: It was sometime between now and 35 weeks that she gave up the fight and died. I didn't notice that she wasn't kicking, as she was always a graceful little thing. She didn't kick the hell out of me directly in my ribs like Sebastian did (he was a boy from day 1. No question about it), she kind of fluttered. She would flutter, it felt like butterflies.

35 weeks: I went in for my final scan, and they confirmed that she had no heartbeat.
I stayed in hospital for a week to have Sebastian monitored.

36 weeks: I was induced. I was in labour for 18 hours, right up until the point where Sebastian got stuck and so I had an emergency c-section.

This was my twin journey.