Sharks in the living room

If I thought that teething was a problem because of sleepless nights, endless crying and high temperate, I was wrong. All of that was nothing compared to the biting! In the past week, my two lovely little boys transformed into little sharks and the teeth mark on my left shoulder is a constant reminder of it.

When teething started, I used it to explain most of the problems with the kids. They didn’t want to eat as much as usual? Teething. They had a particularly bad afternoon with a lot of crying? Teething. They kept on waking up in the middle of the night? Teething. One evening my husband burnt some fajatas and he tried to blame it on teething as well! Obviously not everything is related to teething, but biting definitely is and it’s the latest of my problems. If you have only one child, he may bite other kids at playgroup, but you can keep an eye on him. He will try to bite you, but you are faster and wiser than a 10 months old (or at least I hope so). He may put everything in his mouth, but that’s just normal. If you have two children close in age, the younger one may try to bite the eldest, who will be too fast to be caught. If you have twins though, you not only have two babies try to bite each other, but you also have two sharks trying to bite YOU! No amount of teething gel will save you from at least a bite or two a day.

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It all started a week ago, when T came up to me for what I thought was going to be a hug. T loves cuddles, so it’s not unusual for him to climb on your lap for a cuddle while suckling. Unfortunately his intentions were very different. With a fast move, he hugged me and went for the bite on my shoulder. It wasn’t the first time one of the boys bit me, but this time it left a mark and I had to use some ice to help with the pain. T was renamed belva (the wild best in Italian) and life moved on. A few days later though, T himself came under attack when B found out that if he wants a toy, biting his brother’s hand generally gets him to drop it. The consequences up to now are two red marks on T’s face. As every good mother would do, I disguise them as mosquito bites when I’m out and about (don’t try this in England, nobody would believe you!).

The only question left is: where can I find muzzles for babies? Amazon?!

3 AM

With or without twins, when you have a baby you’ll find yourself up at 3 AM much more often than you would like to. The sleepless nights are known to be the hardest part of becoming a parent, but nobody told you about what really happens at 3 AM…

When the boys were a few weeks old, I used to be woken up by hungry twins who wants to be fed at 3 AM. Then we put them on a routine and for some reason the feeds ended up to be at 11PM, 3 AM and 6 AM. So once again I found myself not only waking up at 3AM, but putting an alarm to do it! It seems very strange to most singleton parents, as you would usually wait for your child to call you, but if you want to tandem breastfeed twins, you will need to be properly awake and prepared! I also used to have a midnight snack just before the 3 AM feed. After all, if you are breastfeeding twins you’ll need a lot of calories, which accidentally translated to a lot of bread with Nutella, in my case. 

A few months passed, the boys grew a little and the 3 AM feed wasn’t needed anymore. If you don’t have children you may think that could mean “sleeping”, but that’s not so simple… The rota virus period started, in which a lot of nappies were filled a little too quickly and B couldn’t eat for 5 days; so we found ourselves awake in the middle of the night to give him a bath after a poo explosion or begging him to drink a little bit of water. Most of this happened around 3 AM.

Once the rota virus was evicted (twice!!), T was obviously jealous of all this attention given to B at night, so he decided to join the party by having nightmares. He used to wake up every hour screaming. Not much intervention was required to stop him from crying, but someone had to go and see him every 60 to 90 minutes. My shift used to start at 3 AM… no need to turn off the alarm on my phone.

This carried on for a month (although it felt like a year), then being twins, they had to try a bit of teamwork and start teething at the same time… If you have a surround sound system at home, imagine using it to listen to babies cry at maximum volume. Now you know why we have two sets of ear plugs on the coffee table, in the kitchen, on the bedside table, in the nappy bag and even in the gloves compartment in the car.

More recently, after a random week of antibiotics for a skin infection (with one of the doses set for 3 AM, of course); I had high hopes for a full night sleep. Despite the lack of a sickness bug or colics, teething reached a new level, so this week, I have seen the clock hand on 3 every night. B was growing two teeth at once, so he had a very high temperature for 3 days in a row (1.5 day per tooth!). My alarm was once again set for 3 AM to check his temperature and give him some water. Even last night, when I didn’t hear the alarm as I was way too tired, B woke up at 3.15 probably wondering where I was. I guess he knows the schedule as well as me.

Now that the fever is down, the teething is under control, the antibiotics course is completed; what shall I fear next?

The pushchair dilemma

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First time parents have to add a long list of new words to their vocabulary: epidural, oxytocin, bumbo, jumperoo, etc… Hours will be spent trying to understand the difference between pram, pushchair and travel system, but also cot, cot bed and crib. If you don’t fully understand the last three words, your baby may find himself sleeping in a huge bed straight back from hospital, but it won’t be the end of the world. On the other hand if you don’t fully get the difference between a pram, a pushchair and a travel system, you may end up spending a fortune for no reason… especially if you have twins!

While I was pregnant I researched many different types of double pushchairs. You need to consider if the chosen one will fit in your car (or in the tube/metro if you live in a city). Or like my husband and I, you could buy a new car after you buy your pushchair. Crazy? Not at all, if you have a two-seater sports car and you sadly have to change it anyway. Once you sort transportation, you’ll wonder if side-by-side is a better option than tandem. You will also ask yourself if you will need to attach and detach the infant car seats without waking the babies up (yes, you will! Daily!). I was lucky and I found the perfect one for my needs after only a couple of shops. Still unsure of which option to pick between side-by-side and tandem, I went for a double decker. It is narrower than a side-by-side, so it can go through any door, but you can still clip on and off both car seats at once and it also has a huge space at the bottom for your nappy bag or your shopping. There’s only one unusual thing about this pushchair: it is so compact that at first no one notices the baby on the lower seat!

Lots of mum of twins may think of this as a blessing, because they don’t get recognised straight away and stopped constantly. I find it a little annoying that I don’t get to answer my share of silly questions: are they twins? Are they identical? Are they IVF? Why they are not wearing matching clothes? Etc… Once people notice the baby on the lower seat though, I get to answer the most ridiculous question ever: do you ever forget about the bottom one??

All you can eat

We are currently on holiday at the seaside in Italy and that opens up a variety of topics to discuss. From why you shouldn’t introduce your twins to lasagne (as that will be all they want to eat from then on) to the correct use of swim nappies (leave them on after being in the pool and quickly go back to the hotel room will almost certainly end up in a disaster). Despite this, I think I’ll spend my precious time (they are sleeping now!) to discuss eating at a restaurant with 10 months old twins.

Looking around our table, it is obvious that feeding any child in a restaurant can be hard, but if you have two, if they are particularly hungry, if they are also tired from a long swim in the sea and if you don’t have their usual food, you have a recipe for disaster!

First of all, if the restaurant has a high chair, even if it’s dirty, you must use it… trust me,  that will make your life so much easier! Unfortunately here we only have a couple of seats that clip on the table, but no one had a pen to mark an area in which T and B could grab things! In the past 4 days they got hold of pretty much anything, from a knife to an entire plate of pasta, some bread, a glass of wine and a huge number of napkins. Most things ended up on the floor! One asks for food or water, while the other grabs your fork; then you turn to pick up the fork and the first twin is already half way out of his seat to get hold of your napkin! Are we sure they are to young to work as a team??

My boys are really good with food, so I shouldn’t complain, but finding some food without salt in Italy is almost impossible. The only baby food available is a soup of potato, carrot and courgette. First of all it’s over 30°C, so I can’t see who would want a soup for lunch and dinner.  Secondly I don’t see how anybody would eat that insipid blob, when you could have lasagne or pizza or spaghetti! My boys agree with me, so they enjoyed some pizza, monkfish and ricotta tortelloni, sausages and cream pasta, lasagne and even ricotta and spinach cannelloni. I can’t wait to see what they are going to eat tomorrow.

10 months old kids love finger food, unfortunately this is a little messy and may create some problem in a restaurant. Usually I would have avoided finger food when out and about, except for a very small and easy to clean rice cake. Realistically I can’t use this trick for 14 meals in a row so I tried to find something to keep them occupied while mum and dad can eat their dinner. Breadsticks seemed to work for a few days, but then both twins caught on the idea that the food that adults eat must be better! After this revelation, the floor under their seats had more colours than a rainbow. Some food was gobbled down, while other was spat out in less than a second. Either way, they usually had so much to eat that they fell asleep on the table!

If after reading this, you still insist on taking your twins to a restaurant… GOOD LUCK!

Flying with twins

I believe it is impossible to write a generic post about travelling with twins, but as I have the famous MoM (Mum of Multiples) superpower I’ll attempt to write one anyway. If travelling with one baby is hard enough, two crawlers make the word “flying” a living nightmare.

If I only had one baby on my trip yesterday, it would have gone one of two ways… T was all smiley and clapping hands, then we took off and he fell asleep on daddy (who doze off even before him). Even after waking up, he politely accepted a breadstick and proceeded to happily looking around without moaning or asking for attention.

B didn’t stop moving for a second. From the moment we left the car and put him in the sling he started to wave at people, then wanted to walk everywhere (holding on, obviously) and he even tried to steal daddy’s sandwich. Then he managed to cut himself on a piece of aluminum foil and we weren’t even on the plane yet! Once we finally managed to check in, pass security and reach the plane… he wanted to climb mummy, walk up and down the aisle, chew on the safety leaflet, destroy a packet of breadsticks, wave and smile at everybody, try to grab another passenger’s newspaper, got hold of the hair of the person sitting in front of me and pull off one of the seat advertising cards, stopping only for a few minutes to eat a rice cake. My neighbour described him as lively, I would have chosen spirited!

If I only had one of the boys with me, it would have been so much easier… Despite all of this, we arrived to our destination safe and well. We didn’t even accidently leave B on the plane!

(Also see “5 things to remember when flying with twins” in my pages)

Sleep when they sleep

The most common advice that all new mums will hear is “remember to sleep when the baby sleeps”. In principle it’s not a bad suggestion. If you had someone else cleaning the house, preparing your meal, expressing milk and showering for you, then you could sleep when the baby sleep.

I know mums who will not clean their house to take a nap. That is perfectly acceptable. Make your visitors do it.

I also know mums who would go a few days without a shower to have time to nap. I am with you, girl! Just don’t come to my playgroup, please.

I personally couldn’t go without a meal to catch up on sleep, but I know plenty of people who could. I guess they weren’t breastfeeding twins!

Now, let’s say that you have twins, you manage to finish all you need to do while they are magically both asleep, so you decide to lay on the couch and close your eyes… THEY WILL WAKE UP! It’s a twins mum rule. At least one, if not both of your lovely twins, will wake up the moment you close your eyes. My suggestion is: don’t even try! I mean it, don’t try. You will feel frustrated and more tired. Have a cup of tea instead, you can always drink it later even if they wake up. My twins are almost 10 months old now and the sound advice of sleep when they sleep is now reversed: sleep even if they are awake. You probably can’t do that so easily with an only child,  but with twins you can. T and B wake up at 5.30AM every morning and I simply turn the monitor off. They learned that I will come and get them for their breakfast at 6.20AM, so they entertain each other till then. We moved their cots close, so that they can sit up and talk, while I get an extra hour in bed every morning.

Despite all of the sleepless nights when they were younger and all of the cry now that they are teething, I have to confess that sometimes I still leave the monitor on and listen to their conversations in amazement.