From sunset till dawn

When your twins finally start sleeping at night, you know it won’t work every night, but you believe that the long nights without sleep are over. You strongly believe it. You have to believe it! But you are wrong…

Objectively a “toddler night” is not as bad as a “newborn night”, but it’s your lack of training that makes it feel worse than it is. When you have a newborn that doesn’t sleep and you haven’t slept for 3 or 4 months, you just live in a sleepwalking mode ALL the time. You are very tired, but you almost don’t notice it anymore. After you had a few weeks of good sleep, you will find a sleepless night very difficult indeed. Last night was one of those nights.

It all started at 10, when we “woke up” B for his dose of antibiotics. Unfortunately we never really went back to sleep again.

Just drinking 5ml of medicine didn’t quench his thirst, so we gave him some milk, but that clearly wasn’t enough time with mum and daddy, so once we put him back in his cot he started to moan and moan and moan. After 20 minutes my husband had enough and went to pick him up. Mistake number 1. Once picked up, B realised he was in total control and proceeded to scream every time was put down. So my husband decided to bring him to bed with us. Mistake number 2. In fairness he did calm down and feel asleep, but not for long. After a couple of hours he woke up again and started to moan. He had a temperature.

Mistake number 3 must have been gave him even more more milk at 2.30AM. We thought he could be hungry or thirsty now that the temperature was down, so the logical thing to do was preparing a bottle of milk. That gave him the energy to start a rave party right in the middle of our bed. He kept on crawling from a side to the other shouting “Ah! Ah! RAH!”. It would have been really funny to watch… at a very different time of the day!

Finally at 3.30AM we convinced him that it was still night and he was supposed to sleep. So he fell asleep with his forehead touching my husband’s forehead. They looked really cute together, but the position implied that a very small baby now was taking at least 50% of the bed, leaving both of his parents on the edges. Not sure how, but my husband went right back to sleep and they both didn’t wake up again for another 3 hours.

The best part is that in all of this chaos, with people running up and down looking for medicines  and thermometers, bottles of milk and calpol, T kept on sleeping like nothing had happened.

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Skype family

My husband is English, while I’m Italian. Our cultures are similar, but somewhat different. As a consequence, our families are very different and this has become more apparent since having the twins.

When we announced that I was pregnant, for example, we received a happy, although composed, congratulation from one family, while a scream and lots of tears from the other. No need to tell you which one was the reaction from the Mediterranean family, right? Since then, many things about the different approaches to family life became apparent between our two cultures, but what really amused me was the reaction we got the other night when we called to share another big news: B can walk!

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I always knew that a baby’s first step is considered an extremely important milestone, but only now I fully understand why. It was a brilliant moment to see little B’s proud face when he let go of daddy’s hands to come trembling towards me. We were so pleased to be all there to take part in this enormous event. So important that my husband had the brilliant idea to call our families on Skype to let them be part of this special moment.

After sorting the dilemma “which family to call first”, we got my sister on the phone and asked her and my mother to go on Skype. Her immediate reaction was “we are having dinner!”, but as soon as I told her the reason why it was so urgent for them to be on Skype, they raced to the laptop holding their pizzas. They spent the rest of their dinner cheering on B in his numerous attempts to walk (or at least complete 3 steps in a row, if you call that walking).

We also tried to call my husband’s parents, but their reply was simple and clear: “we have just started to eat, we will call you back in 15 minutes”. No argument about the fact that the kids could be in bed in 15 minutes or that B could be too tired to perform, made them change their mind. They did called us back 15 minutes later.

If you used a stereotype, you may have thought that the Italian family would have never interrupted a meal for a video call and… you would have been right! They actually carried on eating whilst on Skype!

Unanswered questions

Becoming a parent means having more responsibilities, having less time for yourself,  but also having a lot more unanswered questions in your life. I’m not talking about “why is he crying NOW??” I’m more thinking of the little mysteries behind everyday things. For example, how can T fall asleep while B is screaming in the cot next to him, but then if I creep slowly in to the room (ninja style), he walks up immediately? How is that possible?

I also wonder about the interaction between the twins sometimes. Why do they randomly start shaking their heads together and looking at the ceiling? What does it mean? I’ll never know, but they find it hilarious and start laughing every time they do it.

But most importantly I wonder about what other people must think of when they ask me: “Is it hard with twins?” Even one of the girl at nursery asked that the other day! If someone that look after babies and toddlers as a job still ask you this, it must be a very sincere question, right? I have a standard answer, although I’m always so tempted to bluff it and answer something like “it’s much easier than having only one! Are you kidding me? They are 1 year old now and I taught them to change each others nappies!”

Someone asked me: “how can you find the time to raise twins, build a cardboard castle, work full time and still find time to write a blog and cook lasagna from scratch?”. Time seems to change when you become a parent and some days feel as long as a week, but this question will remain unanswered to me, as well.

The day before I went to hospital to deliver the boys, my husband went to the supermarket and destiny made him meet a mum of twins, who told me that the first 6 months were going to be the hardest. Wisely he didn’t mention this till 6 months later! Now that they are a year old, we both ask each other: “how did we survive?” We can’t remember much, we were too tired!

Finally the most important question you ask yourself, that you are a parent of one or ten children, is always going to be: “how long till bed time?”

Could you sign here, please?

The twins started going to nursery 2 weeks ago, so my husband and I spent a weekend filling in forms to enrol them. They asked us lots of questions, from their doctor’s name and address to their preferred names. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Then I took them to a settle in session, when they could play while I was staying with them. The staff took the opportunity to ask me even more questions. This time the level of difficulty had definitely increased as well: what are their interests? I don’t know, they are a year old, probably foreign politics and discussions on the use of stem cells? Mmmh… In the end I told them that T likes books with flaps to open!

They also asked me: how do they like for their nappy to be changed? My husband told me I should have answered “they don’t, but if you find a way to change them without them rolling about, please let us know!” Shame I didn’t think of that.

After 2 more hours of forms to fill in, I thought they knew more about my children then me. I signed anything they put under my nose. I authorise them to use a sun cream, to change their nappies, to feed them (reading the entire menu, meal by meal). I also allowed them to take them out on a trip, give them medicine if they had a fever and cow’s milk to drink. I honestly couldn’t think of anything else I would need to sign… I was wrong.

On the first day at nursery they gave me another menu (the autumn menu apparently), with its form to fill in and sign.

On the second day they called me to ask me if they could give T some orange juice (they were allowed to give him water and milk, but nowhere I gave my permission to give him a bit of juice apparently).

On the third day B started teething again, so on day 4, they asked my husband to fill in another form authorising them to give him some teething gel.

On the fifth day they were so concerned about T, I had to sign a medical form to say that he occasionally finds it difficult to poo. Filling that in without laughing has been difficult!

In the second week, we thought things could improved. Except for sword fighting, the kids were now officially authorised to do ANYTHING! Even drinking orange juice! We were so wrong…

B scratched himself, with HIS own fingernail, on HIS face and he didn’t even cry or left a sign. But I had to sign another form that said that I had been informed. What?

Layer the same week, B had a fever, so we had to authorise them to give him some medicine. Fortunately he was fine after a couple of days, but the forms weren’t over yet.

My husband walked them to nursery with the pushchair and they fell asleep. When the girls tried to pick them up, my husband must have pulled a frightening face, because they stopped immediately. Waking a sleeping baby? Never! Waking sleeping twins? Unimaginable! So he suggested to let them sleep in the pushchair, but guess what he had to do then? Oh yes, sign a piece of paper to authorise them to keep hold of the pushchair till he returned.

It’s day 1 of week 3 at nursery and today I didn’t have to sign anything. Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

12 months in 12 words

On Thursday the twins will be 1 year old. It’s been the longest year of my life and both my husband and I changed so much, we can hardly recognised ourselves in the mirror. I need to spend a minute to recap all that has happened to us, before the memory fades away. Unfortunately time is precious when you have twins, so I can only spend 12 words on this…

Month 1: confusion
Month 2: breastfeeding
Month 3: sleepless
Month 4: sleepless Christmas
Month 5: baby blues
Month 6: sitting… at last!
Month 7: sleeping… at last!
Month 8: crawling… at last!
Month 9: swinging
Month 10: lasagne
Month 11: climbing the stairs
Month 12: cheeky twins