Saturday, 30 July 2011

Back pretending to be a 'working mum'

I'm not quite sure what a 'working mum' is, I know what I was doing on maternity leave wasn't work but it was no less stressful or exhausting, but it was a lot more enjoyable.
So, is a working mum someone with less enjoyment... probably not, I love finishing work and spending time with the little ones, and probably enjoy it all the more now it's so short a time.
It's not like I've started a life sentence, I'm doing 3 1/2 days a week until mid-September, 4 days till Christmas and then full time from 2012.
Although, this is slightly wishful thinking, I found myslef catching up with emails twice 'outside of work' already- not exactly a promising start.

Going back to work did give me chance to put my new coaster and stationery to good use:
Working from home

I managed a day working from home, which was horrible knowing how much fun was going on two floors down. It probably didn't help that the first teleconference of the day was cancelled and I was the only one not notified- well, on the plus side no one knows I'm back so I get to ease myself back in (ho ho).
I did manage to scare the hubby witless with a schedule for the little people:
Twin routine
Then a day in the office, I can't even remember the last time I was in an office, I'm thinking early December, so when one of the team gave me a bottle of wine and a 'good luck' card, I knew it would be at least half an hour before I felt like I hadn't been away. So, by 5pm on the second day back the team had managed to make me start thinking again.
Wednesday, was a six-month summary with my boss, enough said. But, on the plus, went to Manchester (is that a plus?).
And Thursday morning spent trying to figure out what the team would be doing for the next six months.
But then came Thursday afternoon and Friday, and my little people made the world a better place:
7 month old twins
Roll on, next week... or alternatively, roll on September... moving to Wales and a holiday at Center Parcs... although I have no idea in which order!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Listography: Gigs to die for!

Ok, it's Monday night... and I've been thinking about this since Saturday. Kate Takes 5 set this weeks Listography is Top 5 Bands I'd Like To See Live.

I even had a long drive yesterday to think about it and still my brain frazzled.
So here goes:

1. All American Rejects

2. Nirvana

3. Blue October
Hubby meeting Justin

4. Green Day

5. Foo Fighters

I'm sorry, I can't justify any of these choices, becauses it's taken me this long to stop arguing with myself... there are just too many... aarrrgghhh!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The benefits of study! The Gallery!!

I'm having a go at participating in the Gallery- albeit a day late.
This week's theme is 'Travel'.

I am fortunate enough to have travelled quite a bit, with friends, family and the other half. Our travel plans for the future won't be so much 'have baby, will travel' as 'have babies, will travel, reasonable distances, by car'.
Art in Beijing
In 2007 I managed to escape to Beijing for ten days, this was life pre-children when I managed to fit in studying with work, rather than mummy-dom.
As part of my university course we went to Beijing, and we were able to change our flights home to allow for a bit of personal time.
I can't imagine that I would have chosen to holiday in China, it isn't in keeping with usual holiday destinations (Cuba, Jamaica, Anglesey, Caledonian Canal...). However, this opportunity was amazing- bored myself senseless (and everyone else) that the realisation was- I was in China!!

The memories are fantastic, we got to experience a different side of China to most tourists whilst we were there (car manufacturers, factory visits) as well as trying to fit in the touristy things (the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace). It helped no end being with a group- lots of random memories of chinese tourists wanting photos with fellow students- and having a new experience as a group.

Going back to university gave me a lot of opportunities and experiences. This was by far the most unexpected and the most enjoyable.

University trip to Beijing

The Forbidden City

The Great Wall of China

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

And so, the end is near

Less than two weeks until my maternity leave is over.
What a truly horrible thought.

As I sit here looking at my three sleeping babes.
Not usual behaviour I grant you, laryngitis has hit the Johnson household.
I am pondering on what the future holds.
Today my babies are six months old. We made it!
Seren adapted to mummy being home and daddy going out to work.
And just as we reached this milestone, we begin our next phase.

It's definitely been a different maternity leave.
With Seren I began my leave two weeks before she was due, which was fortunate as my dissertation was also due on the same day. It was non-stop, and to accomodate for this Seren arrived 5 days late so I had a bit of time to myself.
I knew that time off before, when my maternity leave is so short, would be a waste. So, with the twins, I once again planned to go off two weeks before they were due. Only, of course, I was pregnant with twins, who was to say when they were due, when my consultant said the preference is to deliver at 38 weeks I moved my start date.
And of course, the babies needed to be born at 36 weeks, so my maternity leave started the day the boys were born.
Which means I have been very fortunate to have my entire maternity leave enjoying their company.

With Seren, I have to admit to being vaguely bored whilst on maternity leave, by vaguely bored what I mean is I missed work. I had suddenly gone from a full time job and part time uni student to a full time mum. I was unconfident as a mum and the only thing I knew was my job.
So I spoke a lot to people at work and did lots of 'keep-in-touch' days.
Oddly, I didn't like KIT days. I always remember someone saying to me that when I went back to work after becoming a mum I would be a lot more relaxed and things would wash over me. Ha ha. When I went back to work I just got fed up of people 'dilly-dallying' around- why did I need to waste my time travelling to meetings in London if no-one would make decisions, I think I probably became more of a task-master as the quicker we got things done the quicker I could be at home with my daughter- understanding, as always, there is no point in half measures as we'd end up doing things three times over to get things right.

Things have been different this time round. I got a new boss just before Christmas and have yet to build a relationship with her, so the loyalty things isn't there. I got on with my old boss so enjoyed catching up with him. So, I haven't felt the need to stay in contact this time round.
This time my hands are slightly more full, even if I did want to keep in contact, what are the chances that people are free when my children are behaving. And there have no been any KIT days- have you tried to get childcare for three?

As if knowing how worried I am, the boys have started demonstrating their independence, no longer needing mummy at feeding time:
6 month twins drinking bottles
And Seren has been doing her best to muck-in:
Toddler feeding six month old
The other thing that makes me so fearful of going back relates to yesterday's post, how do you cope knowing that there will be no more 'six month breaks', that when I go back to work it's until I'm sixty-whatever. Really got to make the best out of annual leave I guess!

And, the worst part of all for any control freak, I have to pass responsibility for the three most treasured people in my life- to my husband. OMG.
Oh, I know, he'll be fine- he'll just put them in the playpen whilst he pops out for a game of squash.
I guess things will be a bit different for him this time- with Seren he used to go out with her in the pushchair with Miller (the dog) for hours. Hmmmm, this will be interesting. Fortunately, in the last week Seren has shown an interest in the buggyboard, so maybe there's hope yet.
Snow in Todmorden
So, the mission, get rid of the lurgy from this house, catch up with friends, enjoy some time in Cardiff and then best foot forward!

And then, look forward to September- holiday and then move house- woohoo!!

Monday, 11 July 2011

The boys are growing up

Yesterday I spent the day sorting the boys clothes out. They're now in 6-9 month, and as a coincidence they reach the milestone of 6 months old tomorrow.
The first thing that's odd about this is they're actually in the clothes which match their age, I never thought this day would come so soon! When they were born they were in early baby, then first size... and probably hit 0-3 months at 3 months.
Last night I suddenly realised that Seb needs bigger sleeping bags as he's definitely cramped in the 0-6 month ones.

It's an odd feeling, looking at clothes I could never imagine them being big enough to wear and getting them ready.
It's a sad feeling packing up their clothes which are too small.

We always wanted three children but never really thought about it too much, just taking one day at a time.
Once we found out we were having twins we couldn't imagine having any more, especially after the news was gently given that having non-id twins means there's an increased possibility of further multiple pregnancies.
Having twins meant we've had to get a new car so we can fit three seats across the back, face the reality of moving 200 miles to have the support of my family, and have the financial challenge of having two of most things- after thinking we had bought enough baby equipment with Seren.
At 20 weeks we found out we were having boys, and realised all of Seren's clothes we had kept were not going to be worn again, and we'd have to stock up on boys clothes.

It was difficult parting with Seren's clothes, and more difficult now packing away the boys clothes.

Facing the reality that, the strong indication is, we won't be having any more children.
I can't imagine now having four (or five!) children, we do have our perfect family.
But to never be pregnant again, to never hold a baby so tiny and want to protect it forever.
It's just such an odd feeling.

We've got so many good times ahead, but for now, here are my teeny tiny babies:
Newborn "Been Inside for 9 months"

4lb newborn twin boy

6lb newborn twin boy

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Listography: "Ice-cream, Ice-cream, I like lots of Ice-cream...

... for breakfast, dinner and for tea; so give some to me!"

Having spied this on Kate Takes 5 I took to reminiscing about my brother's favourite song!
So, the idea of this is  to write a Top 5 list on the subject of ice-cream.

Here goes:

1. The hangover cure of all time. The tangle twister:
Tangle Twister

2. Mint choc chip ice cream- what is there to say- chocolate, mint, ice-cream: perfect
Mint Choc Chip Cone

3. The orginal Feast. Before it got teeny tiny. My mum's favourite and therefore summer meant the freezer was kept stocked!

4. Not quite an ice cream but nothing beats a raspberry Slush Puppy. Memories of walking home from school.
Slush Puppy

5. Mini Milks. Not really sure why, but if you can give them to children they must be good for you.
Mini Milk

And, just to prove the love of ice-cream is hereditary and therefore it's not my fault I have to eat so much:
Seren enjoying ice-cream

Ice-cream in Kos

Goodbye Odessey

Living in Todmorden
Today our boat went sailing down the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, without us.
It's an odd feeling, we weren't going to live on it again and I have no intention of living on a boat again (famous last words).
So, it had to go.

But it was our first home, and we have lots of great memories of living there. And here are a few:
Fishing in Todmorden
Views of Todmorden
Snow in Todmorden

A snow boat

Boating in Todmorden
So, it's goodbye Odessey. No more "cry me a river" when I couldn't get the fire to light, no more parties ending with little boys telling secrets "mummy's sitting on the gangplank being sick", friends waking up with dirty trousers recalling how they underestimated the distance to dry land, no more avoiding eye contact with people on 'wheel barrow duty'.

We'll just have to look forward to bringing the children on their first barge holiday.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Me and my kindle

I love my kindle.
I feel like a traitor to the cause.
Although I'm not really sure why.

I don't have an MP3 player.
Although I did successfully make the transition from vinyl to tape to CD.

There just seems something odd about not being able to see your new purchase.
(Although, yes, the whole point of any book is that you can see it.)

I am a bookworm.
My dad will tell anyone the tale.
I was six or seven and I decided to run away from home.
I went upstairs to my room to pack.
I then went into the lounge to inform my mum and dad.
My dad tells me once I saw the light and decided to stay that my dad unpacked my suitcase.
It didn't have any clothes,
Only books.

Mr J and I used to hire boats in Scotland for the week.
It was a great idea, fantastic scenery and lots of fun travelling the lochs.
The true benefit was Mr J had lots of time to fish whilst I had time to read.

And then moving house came into play.
We decided to move last summer and did lots of car boots, selling books that I couldn't justify keeping.
By the time we decided to move, in June this year, we had to get rid of all the books with which I had filled those empty shelves.

And the kindle seemed like an attractive prospect.
All the money we'd save on bookcases.
My wonderful husband found the irony in 'paper' celebrating the 1st wedding anniversary and bought me a kindle.
And we have been inseparable since (me and the kindle).

I got very excited about covers, and gels, and lights for my kindle.
But being on maternity leave, I'm broke.
So, I wish-listed them.

One Saturday morning I let my guard slip.
I left my kindle lying on the sofa.
And as fate works it way sometimes cruelly, Seren decided to go 'muddy puddle' jumping on the sofa.
Needless to say it was more of a crack than a splash.

Deciding to take responsibility for the situation made of my stupidity, I phoned Amazon to see what they could do.
I admitted to leaving the kindle on the sofa. But instead of allowing myself to place any blame on my daughter, I told the man something had dropped on the screen. The only thing that came to my mind- a hard back book. It turns out that isn't covered under the warranty.
I wasn't even trying to be ironic, but yes, the hard back book kicked the kindle's butt.

Fortunately, the man seeing the humour of the situation, and hearing three troublemakers in the background (the hubby was out), understood the meaning of 'respite' and offered me their replacement deal and three days later me and the kindle were reunited.

The main reason I prefer the kindle is the benefit it brings to being the one to put the children to bed.
I write this, hoping my husband only pretends to take interest in my blog.
The twins are now very good at settling at bedtime. I probably could put them down, turn the monitor on and go downstairs. But, to save any inconvenience of running up and down the stairs (as if!), I choose to stay with them for half an hour just to make sure they are asleep. Oh, and that gets me 30 mins of reading time. And, then it's time to put Seren to bed, and the same rules apply. Oh yes, one whole hour of reading every night!
The kindle helps, because I don't lose my page if I do have to see to the babes, if Seren decides she wants a cwtch and mummy to stay in bed I can read my book. And all of this can be done with one hand- the multi tasking mum can get lots done.

So, I've nearly finished reading Michael Connolly's books, using the connectivity to make sure I'm reading them in order and everything. The kindle means I'm not waiting round for books and I can read them as I want.

I am a convert to the kindle.
I may even think about investing in an MP3 for all the train journeys once I'm back at work.
But I really should invest in a kindle cover first so lightening doesn't strike twice.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Space Centre, Accrington

Last week we made our first trip out to a twins outing, organised by Cal Howard at Rossendale & Bury Twins Group we went to the Space Centre in Accrington. Talk about a baby gem on your doorstep. The Space Centre is part of the Childrens Centre at Church (one of those Sure Start places which the government seem intent on closing...).

The first benefit of the Space Centre is it is limited to 25 people, this meant that the worries I usually have at soft play centres were reduced as the area was easy to navigate so I wasn't too far away from the babes at any point. The Space Centre is designed for children and families which meant unlike most soft play centres there was as much to benefit the twins as there was for Seren.

The Space Centre has a bubble tube, fibre optics, a sparkle cave and infinity hut, as well as 'the usual' ball pit and slides.
Baby twins at the Space Centre
I have not been to a place with so much variety before and (although I may need to eat these words) it seems to be a place where Seren could do more damage to it than it could do to Seren- what I mean by this is that everything is designed to create a safe and secure play area, the floors were padded so if Seren fell the floor looked after her, the boys could be left to 'play' whilst Seren explored.
Toddlers at the Space Centre
The other learning of the day was how much fun it is to be around so many other twins and siblings.
So intent on enjoying their baby status I have not really thought about what it may be like as they get older, and, whilst it doesn't appear easy, it looks like it's going to be so much fun. Not only do the boys have a 'BFF' to drag around and create mischief but they also get use to sharing, playing and interacting from the word go. There were twins there who were Seren's age and with a bit of encouragement from mum I was witness to an apology and hug from brother to sister, I couldn't help but watch in wonderment, Seren hasn't really interacted with many children her own age and I couldn't imagine her in this situation, she'll say sorry to me or the boys but there are usually a few tears first. As much as this says more about us than being a mum to twins I can't help but look forward to my three growing up and creating mischief as a family unit.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

6 months in- it's twins, triplets and more week!

So, for the first time ever I became aware that it's twins, triplets and more week,  a recent documentary on multiples recently described twins as now being "a penny to the dime" (I think that basically means "two a penny") and that's probably the main thing I've made myself remember since becoming a mum to twins.

Mari's World has invited mums of multiples to link up a post for the carnival week being held over on her blog. Being new to this blogging thing I don't have many to reflect on, so thought instead I'd write my first review, the product is self-centred- a review of a twin mum- six months in!

Being a mum to twins hasn't been so different to being a first-time mum- both unpredictable, difficult, emotional and thoroughly enjoyable.
The biggest revelation is that it is not unique to you, you have got it easy- because no matter how difficult you are finding it there is someone who is stronger than you could ever imagine being.

I have found so much support in these six months from TAMBA where not only does amazing literature and research get produced to support parents of multiples but also there is a fantastic forum where people can share their experiences. At times when I have found it most difficult there have been people there to talk you through it, but more so most parents have been in similar if not far more difficult situations which leave you in awe.

When I have been struggling with a toddler and two babies, other parents have multiples with larger families or younger siblings, where support networks seem too far away to me others are coping with families on other continents. It is by no means a competition, but the message is clear- multiple mums are not alone, and there are mums who will listen to the rants, the tears, the tantrums and the amazing stories of love, they will offer support, advice and guidance, and to my knowledge never judge.

The key thing for me has been to enjoy every moment, even though sleep deprivation dictates otherwise. No matter how much you can't bring yourself to believe it, it does get easier, the milestones where sleep increases, the feeds decrease... and then you realise you may have wished it away, that the six month baby gurgling at you is no where near as tiny as the newborn you had the privilege to cwtch at the weekend. That your babies are growing big and strong and that's an achievement- sleep deprivation has been worth it.

My journey as a twin mum started well, the shock of motherhood had been absorbed with my daughter, the twins were- in the main- going to have to fit in with the lifestyle of a toddler. And in my world we did well, my husband was told to write off the first six weeks while we adapted as a family, but we did better than that- at four weeks old the twins had their first trip to Eureka! and we were managing to get lots of trips out (even if we never managed to leave the house before 11).

At six weeks the optimism reduced and continued to do so, at a time when the feeding time should reduce we were increasing, the energy which got me through the first six weeks was fast depreciating and two hours feeds were taking their toll, the fear of going out to do a feed was ruling our lives- when Tiny wasn't feeding he was projectile vomiting and there was no way of controlling it, activities were created for Squeaks in the house or garden and a new routine emerged.

At 10 weeks Tom was admitted to hospital and had keyhole surgery, and as his mum I went to pieces, but it was hard not to be strong, surrounded by parents who have coped with neonatal care and other illnesses, Tom had something which could be sorted with this procedure.

We took a while to regain the confidence in getting out and about but nonetheless we are getting there. I have realised that multiple mums and twin groups are a must do which I have not been involved in as much as I should. That some parents of singletons have the ability to knock your confidence with one statement. That people can make the most random comments, some verge on unthoughtful. That all mums have it difficult but support can boost anyone. That no matter how 'on the ball' some people are, every parent has some concern about their baby. Lots of people have similar experiences to you and have come out the other side.

We're not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, Seren still hasn't reverted back to sleeping through, she still cries if she doesn't get the attention she deserves, but on the other hand the babies sleep through, feed four times a day and it takes on average 30 minutes.
My health visitor once told me when I was feeling like a rubbish parent that people will always tell you what they or their children are doing well but don't mention their concerns or bad habits.
For me, I know my daughter is verging on spoilt- what can I say she was our first we didn't know any better, we have learned and the twins are in a fantastic routine- but therein lies the biggest joy of twins- they have each other!- they communicate, they pacify and they soothe- and as a result sleep 13 hours a night.

What have I learned in the last six months?
  • I forgot that babies need more than four feeds a day.
  • March 2009 was longer ago than I thought.
  • Sleep deprivation and constant feeding is a phase.
  • Which serves to prepare you for the next one.
  • Project management skills are just as useful outside of work.
  • Time management is best served doing things in tandem rather than twice.
  • My mum is the best, I have no clue how she brought us up (and neither it seems does she).
  • Other mums are like swans- graceful and elegant, and paddling like mad to keep it all together.
  • I should have listened to my ballet teacher about appearing graceful and elegant.
  • Big sisters are very useful distractions to crying babies.
  • Crying babies are great material for a toddlers first impression.
  • Men are good cooks.
  • Being a mum to twins isn't something you can choose but it's the best surprise ever.

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