Housebound

If you ignore the horribly contagious disease, today has been a great day! B has chickenpox, so him and I stayed at home from nursery and work and spent all day together. Not sure when was the last time I had the chance to spend all day with only one of my boys. 

We had so much fun I almost feel guilty, as I should have been at work. Although obviously he couldn’t have gone to nursery so…

We said goodbye to T and daddy and dived straight into the Duplo box. The box is so big, B can actually fit in it! We built a train, a tunnel, a red train station, a yellow train station and even a green one. We took many passengers on and off. Then poo happened! 

We went for a bath, a long one with fish, penguins, squids, turtles and not one but 4 boats… all for B. No sharing! He was over the moon!

After a quick visit to the doctor, lunch and a nap we went back to a little bit more playing. We made a wristband! We coloured it, cut it and then… put it on a giraffe’s neck. Why not! 

It gets dark very early now, but that’s not a problem if you have light tubes to play with! Look at the smile on this little boy’s face… priceless!

By 5 PM we were ready to slow things down, so B picked up the Ratatouille DVD. He had never saw it before, but he likes “topi”, so he thought it was a good choice… I agreed! 

We didn’t have time to watch it all, but we really enjoyed the first bit and I stop myself from explaining the difference between topi and ratti. I didn’t want to spoil the fun, you see. We definitely have to watch this again and maybe, just maybe, invite T as well. 

At 5.15 grandad arrived. He’s taking over babysitting duties tomorrow so I can go back to work… my day home alone with B was over.

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The unexpected babysitter

As T had chicken pox this week, we had to come up with a plan to keep him out of nursery but not to miss too many working days. In a desperate moment of madness, I suggested my 25 year old brother-in-law, Kieran. Why madness? Well, before this week he had no experience of children or toddlers. He had never even changed a nappy and my plan was to leave him with a sick grumpy toddler. As I said, madness.

He was perfect! The weakness on his babysitting CV was his strength. Because he had no experience of toddlers, he listened to every word I said. We had a schedule, which he followed to the letter; a simple menu, which worked well; and a quick nappy masterclass to prepare him for the inevitable. T didn’t even poo on the first day. What a welcoming child! 

Kieran is not really interesting in jobs in childcare, but I would give him a great reference. He spent 4 solid days playing with trains. Only trains! But he never complained. He made T dance, eat, sleep, play and draw. He made sure he had lunch at the right time and a clean nappy before afternoon nap. In 4 days he only made one mistakes: broke a babybel in half (T went nuts!).

When it was time to say goodbye on Friday night, T said “bye bye” then pointing at Kieran he added “Kieran mine”. I couldn’t have chosen a better baby sitter for the week. I thought chicken pox was going to be a nightmare but I was wrong, someone up there has a masterplan for me and my boys and He always surprise us.

The return of chicken pox

I thought we had ticked the box. I believed we crossed the river never to come back. I thought we had been to battle and come back victorious… but I was wrong. Chicken pox is back and it is taking no prisoners!

Last year both boys had chicken pox. We had one falling ill with it and, as by medical school textbook, the other followed exactly 15 days later. We were lucky it wasn’t too itchy. We didn’t have any major scaring and the main problem was the waking up at night for the cough (apparently a very usual symptom, who knew?!). If you read this blog though, you know we are used to waking up during the night. With or without out highly infectious diseases!

As everybody knows, being a virus, you build an immune system to chicken pox so you can’t get it again. Or at least I thought so… in extremely rare cases, only on a leap year, if you live at a certain latitude and altitude and on a new moon night, your child may get it again!?! Actually there’s a more scientific explanation for it, but I’m not interested. I know it’s all been organised to annoy me and no one is going to change my mind about it!

Now let’s see if B gets it AGAIN as well… keep reading! 

Can you survive parenthood without Calpol?

Although the twins are pretty healthy little boys and they never had anything major, we occasionally have a fever (or two) to deal with. In my household we follow a very simple plan:

Cool – take all clothes off and see if it works

Cuddles – we have reached 10 episodes of Thomas & Friends in a row once!

Calpol – when it all fails, there’s always paracetamol 

A few weeks ago one of my colleagues was telling me about feeling his son kicking for the first time. That brought me right back! He confessed how what worries him the most is the fact that he won’t know what to do if (or when) the baby becomes ill. On the spot I told him not to worry and that lots of help and support is always available, but the more I think about it, the more I found that I was wrong. He will worry about it and that will make him take the right decisions. Do I need to call a doctor? Do I need to give him some more milk? Babies cannot talk and they cannot tell you if it hurts or where it hurts, they can only cry. It’s very frustrating of course, but it’s also empowering. You are in charge. You make the decision! 

You also make the mistakes…
1) Driving to the doctor with a very unhappy, sick and feverish boy… and seeing him improve and cool down in the waiting room. The doctor told me he had never seen such a healthy toddler in his life!

2) Wake up in the middle of the night with a crying child and after 20 minutes of uninterrupted scream, give him some medicine (just in case)… to then find out all he wanted was food and proceed to feed him 8 biscuits and a cup of milk.

3) Be absolutely convinced that those small spots on my feverish child were mosquito bites… to then find out he had had Chicken Pox and we didn’t notice!

4) Sending one child to nursery despite being sick at breakfast and hoping for the best… and being called 2 hours later to pick up the other one for being sick!

5) Rushing B indoors after falling in the garden, to wash his leg and clean his wound. Worrying about bacteria and infections… to then find out that all you need is a plaster. Of course, he is a toddler he forgets anything within 3 seconds and loves plasters!

Despite all the mistakes, the most important thing is that they survived 23 months and they will survive 23 more. After that I hope they will be able to tell me where it hurts or at least if it hurts.

When the rulebook goes out of the window

I am a very strict mum. There’s no doubt about it. I have a set of rules that everybody needs to follow (mainly the twins obviously). The no chocolate rule. The tidy up your mess rule. The going to bed at 7.30 rule. Etc… Sometimes I can be a little too rigid about my rules, but it’s only because I strongly believe it’s in the boys’ best interest. So IF my mind can be changed, I can be extremely flexible. And that is what happened last week… 

Monday

I’m about to go to work. B is not looking too good today, but I think he should still go to nursery.  Daddy calls 30 minutes later to tell me that he threw up. Mmh…

All rules still apply.

Tuesday

B has been ill for a couple of days now. He actually went to the doctor twice in two days. He has tonsillitis and then he had an allergic reaction to the antibiotics today. 

Rules still apply.

Wednesday morning

B is still not well and he has not been eating for 3 days now, so today I called the doctor simply to find out how long can toddlers carry on without eating (apparently two weeks!) The doctor though sounded really worried. Not about the lack of eating, but by the lack of drinking. We went to the doctor (again!) After checking that B wasn’t actually dehydrated yet, the doctor came up with lots of ideas to get him drinking again. In the end she said “try anything you want as long as he drinks something”. 

After trying everything in the usual list of drinks (water, juice, milk…), I went to the kitchen and got him some squash. I know many kids his age drink squash already, but I am not a big fan of it. After all it’s basically food colouring with a lot of sugar. It didn’t work anyway! 

Wednesday afternoon

I start to worry… We haven’t had a wet nappy since yesterday. 

Rules do not apply anymore! 

Anything liquid in my sight is now acceptable. He starts to drink a bit of my Earl Grey. Not great, but it’s a start. 

I try an ice lolly… no luck! 

Watermelon is even worse! 

I’m starting to panic so I drive to McDonald’s. All children love it, why not B? It works!! He drinks lots of Coke (not in the rulebook, but who cares) and we finally have a wet nappy. I have never been so happy to change a nappy! 

The day ends with chocolate milk. Yes, you read that right: chocolate milk. 

The power of mum’s voice

I haven’t spent a full night awake since the boys were much younger. Now the only reason to be awake in the middle of the night is an illness, but God invented Calpol for it (or maybe it was a scientist?!). What do you do when Calpol AND Ibuprofen don’t work? You sing…

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At the age of two there’s nothing as powerful as your mum’s voice. If she sings she can cure almost anything! The atrocious pain which makes a little boy scream and scream and scream, can be taken away by the magic of mum’s voice. The beauty of this is that, not only the little boy will feel better, but mummy will feel a hero. A superhero, in fact!

Unfortunately mums don’t run on batteries so after 7 hours of on/off singing (instead of sleeping), they have to go to bed. Grandad is here to take over, but he doesn’t have mummy’s magic power so he will have to go back to basics: ibuprofen and TV. Good luck grandad…

Mummy is going to sleep!

The ambulance ride

Last week I finally had a ride in an ambulance. That’s one thing off my bucket list, I guess. It was also the same day I saw my poor little boy shaking uncontrollably and foaming from his mouth. Not something off anyone list of things to experience! Not something I would like to experience again!

T had a febrile seizure, so we called an ambulance and took him to the hospital to get him checked out. The wait for the ambulance was an astonishing 40 minutes, which felt more like 40 years. I probably stopped breathing for the entire time. Once the paramedics were there I started to feel a little better. They didn’t seem worried. They told me they saw lots of these episodes and that it was a good idea to get him to a doctor, but there was no rush. I started to breath again.

The ride to the hospital, a interminable 45 minutes, was sooooooo long but it gave me the time to calm down, assess the situation and clear my head. By the time we got to the hospital I was so confident that T was going to be alright that I could actually walk without my legs shaking!

Fortunately my husband came with me so we could recall what happened together. Things happened so quickly it was difficult to give the nurse all the details without being confused. After checking in we had to wait for a doctor, but T was fast asleep so we had time to talk to each other. Breathe. Drink some water. Sit down.

Things were getting back to normal…

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Then a student doctor came in and asked “So, how’s little B?” I looked at my husband, he looked at me. We were both puzzled. “We really hope he is well. He is at home with the grandparents.” Isn’t he? Was there a second ambulance with our child following us and we didn’t know? The student doctor looked very confused.

We were back in the world of twins… completely interchangeable to strangers, very special to their own parents!

The 15 minutes wash cycle

When I bought my washing machine two years ago, I was puzzled to see that among the normal washing cycles there was also a 30 degrees 15 minutes super quick cycle. I often wonder who could be in such a hurry to wash something and only have 15 minutes to do it. Apparently having toddlers answers a lot of questions…

At 1.30AM on a Wednesday morning normal people are asleep in their comfy warm bed, but I have twin toddlers so I am not in the normal people category. I was awake and using the 15 minutes super quick cycle on my washing machine!

It all started when B woke up and screamed. Although this happens often, this was a very strange scream. Almost as if he was hurt. So I went to investigate and found him being sick all over his bed. I let my husband deal with him while I changed his bed and calmed down his brother. After a wash, a new pyjamas (for B) and 2 long lullabies (for everyone), both boys were in bed and ready to go back to sleep. Even daddy was back in bed. Mums though, can’t really go back to bed that easily, so I adventured downstairs.

Putting everything in the washing machine to be washed immediately was an obvious choice, but choosing the 15 minutes cycle was a brilliant idea! In 15 minutes I managed to empty the dishwasher, drink a cup of hot milk, get myself ready to go back to sleep, prepared a hot water bottle and even started to write this entry to my blog.  What a perfect length washing cycle!

Isn’t 2 AM the perfect time for a family snuggle?

The thing with twins is that if one wakes up… The other one follows! Not EVERY time, but certainly at the most awkward times.

Last night B woke up with a fever (as every week), so we needed to check his temperature. Then he needed some medicine, then he needed some milk, then… T needed exactly the same! Obviously T didn’t have a fever, so he only got some water of the Calpol syringe, and he didn’t really want any milk, a sip was more than enough. The important thing was not to miss out on something!

Twins often copy each other and that is part of their unique learning process. No singleton will ever have the same upbringing as a twin, because they will not have the constant comparison and company of their brother/sister. It is a magical bond, one which I envy on a daily basis. It must be so nice to never be alone. I’m sure this will change when they’ll grow up, but I haven’t met a 1 year old who craves solitude: “No mum,  don’t pick me up, I prefer to stay here by myself!”. For the time being they are loving being half of a pair and I am so grateful they constantly learn off each other. They have the concept of friendship and sharing imprinted in their brain even before they are born. We are still working on it, but we have a wealth of  opportunities everyday!

The disease factory

So I found out another thing that no one tells you about having kids. In the couple of years between getting pregnant and your twins turning 18 months you will spend more time in the hospital or at the GP than you have done in the pervious 30 years. To prove my point, I started to write this post while waiting for an Xray this morning.

When your GP and the pharmacy next door not only know you by name, but they can also tell the twins apart… you know you spent too much time there!

Since they turned 1, we collected an infinite number of colds, countless ear infections, a pleural inflammation (just me!), a never ending cough and the latest: a congiuntivitis. This is only in the last 2 months! I don’t think I have enough time and energy to recollect all of the previous diseases.

The funny thing is that this is normal. These are two healthy kids, not born premature, with a good diet, no underling problems or genetic issues! Technically there’s nothing wrong with them. Not the doctor or the nursery commented on how unusual this is, because it is apparently a known fact that once you have kids they will be ill most of the time (and you with them). No wonder people had 7-8 kids before antibiotics were discovered! The chances of surviving childhood must have been so slim. And this was BEFORE they invented nurseries!

I came to realise that nursery are a diseases factory and that’s why they keep B even with a fever or T with a eye infection. If the nursery didn’t accept children with a cold, a cough or conjunctivitis, they would be empty! It’s a rite of passage from infant to toddler and from toddler to preschooler. The survivors are rewarded with 13 years of education, also known as school.

It seems obvious now, when I look at young children they all have a cough or snotty noses, but when I wasn’t a parent I didn’t even notice it. When you don’t have kids you live in a parallel world where children are only smaller people, you don’t tend to pay much attention to them unless they are making a scene in the middle of the supermarket. Now children are the centre of your universe and you barely notice those young and carefree people that are around you. You tend to notice families and wonder how they found the energy to try for a second (or third) child. You notice only family cars and compare them to yours. Is there more space for a double pushchair in that Ford than in my Audi? Should I have bought that Volvo to fit a twin trike in the boot? Two seater cars, sport cars and Smart cars are now no more than obstacles on the road on your way to a play date.

The last thing you never seen or visited before is the baby products aisle in the supermarket. As muggles can’t see Diagon alley, non-parents can’t see the aisle of nappies, food pouches and bibs.

Now I’d better go and sort B out as apparently he has a fever… again!