10 reasons why my toddlers wake up at night… at least one of them!

  1. He lost his dog soft toy (found!)
  2. Too hot/cold (easy, I can deal with this one)
  3. Teething (when does this end???)
  4. His brother is screaming (…and I’m going to strangle him!)
  5. He lost his train (later found just under his own bottom!)
  6. He needed a Duplo polar bear (no, I’m not kidding this actually happened)
  7. He wanted mummy/daddy (more daddy than mummy, right? Especially after 1AM please)
  8. His brother went to his bed and woke him up for no good reason (argh!!)
  9. There was a disturbance in the Force (he didn’t tell me that, but my Jedi instinct could feel it)
  10. He wanted to catch a flight to see his nonna in Italy (what?!)

    I have given up! It is obvious that I won’t have a full night sleep till they leave for university. 16 years and counting… 

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    Bedside table

    A lot of things have changed in the past 16 months, but nothing has changed as much as my bedside table.

    I know it sounds strange but 17 months ago I had a lamp, a picture of me at 10 months with my dad, baby books, pregnancy vitamins and a box of tissue. Then the twins arrived and with them a lot of new things to dump on my bedside table just before collapsing on my bed.

    When I was still breastfeeding, I had a breastfeeding pump on it, lots of water and a collection of muslin squares. The baby books were quickly substituted by “how to breastfeed multiples” and “what to do when you are having two”. Another important change was the numerous ear plugs. 2 should be enough usually, but in the dark you definitely need more!

    After Christmas 2014, the boys switched to formula, so I had lots of empty milk bottles at the end of every night. I also had an alarm clock set at 3AM to go and switch places with my husband and let him sleep from 3 to 7. 4 hours each seemed a lot at the time then. My dad’s picture was there to remind me of an easier time.

    At 6 months, T finally decided to sleep more than 1 hour at the time, so my husband and I could finally go back to sleep in our own bed without shifts! The bedside table started a revolution. No more bottles, but a book to read at bedtime. For a brief period I thought everything was going back to normal…

    Then the teething started. The bottles came back accompanied by various syringes for Calpol. The nights were long again, the bedtime reading book ended up in the drawer not to be seen again.

    After a long long summer, we reached the time for mum to go back to work and the boys to start nursery. My bedside table still had a bit of room for the occasional bottle of antibiotics to fight ear infections or a red pen to mark some last minute homework. My dad’s picture was still there to guard over me.

    When Christmas got closer, a tablet appeared on the dusty bedside table. Last minute presents have to be bought online as the only time available to a twins mum is after bedtime! Some more medicines started to be deposited as well, with winter come sore throats, colds and pleuratis. Closely followed by codeine, throat sprays and Sudafed. My dad’s picture was sadly lost behind a pile of used tissues.

    A new year a new bedside table, a bigger one to hold more things. One ready for the life ahead, but also an empty one as the boys can now walk and grab everything. Drugs cannot be left out, a tablet would go toward certain death, even a book cannot be seen on the table without being dragged somewhere else in the house. The only thing that is still there is that picture of a 10 months old baby trying to steal her father’s hat. Somehow the boys look at it, but don’t pick it up. It’s almost as if it was untouchable. It will stay there to guide us through the next phase, through more sleepless nights and hopefully towards some lazy Sunday mornings in the future.

    Being a mum means…

    In the past 13 months I learned that being a mum means much more than sleepless nights. More than being responsible for another human being (or two). Being a mum is not as good as it looks in the movies, although I figured that out well before I got pregnant. It’s hard work and nobody has the courage to tell you how hard it really is. As a friend told me once, you learn on the job, every single day. But as all the best jobs, you can also have a laugh (or two). So what I really learned in the end is that being a mum means…

    Having a bottle of Calpol on your bedside table.

    Not being surprised in finding toothpaste in your hair after cleaning the twins teeth.

    Finding queuing in traffic relaxing… As long as there are no screaming kids in the back.

    Going to work to take a break.

    Never have a break (unless you are working!)

    Not being able to remember last time you had dinner without having to change a nappy half way through.

    Realise half way through a hot bath that you used Johnson&Johnson baby bedtime bubble bath instead of your luxury bath salts.

    Finding that your 8kg washing machine is tiny!

    Taking a power nap at a red light.

    Wondering why despite being knackered you can never go to sleep before 11PM.

    Secretly stealing the occasional baby biscuit when no one is looking.

    Having conversations about pooing, biting and teething.

    Blaming teething for that is wrong in the world (yes, everything!)

    Finding yourself singing “twinkle twinkle little star” while having a shower or going shopping.

    Going to sleep at night and thanking God that you only had twins (not triplets!).

    And after all of this, I am still looking forward to finding out what I will learn on the job in the next 13 months. I’m sure it will be amazing!

    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.

    image

    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?

    Don’t eat your brother

    My twins are VERY different. B is small, T is very tall. B has pale skin and light brown eyes, T is dark… very dark. B is loud, T is chilled. B takes a dummy, T sucks is thumb. If there’s one thing which they have in common though, it’s biting! As most babies their age, they put everything in their mouth, but sometimes they reach a little too far.

    Teething twins can be extremely difficult to handle, but they can also be hilarious. During one of the lesson for baby sign language, another mum asked me what I kept on signing to the boys. “I don’t think I fully understand it” she said. “It seems like you telling them not to eat something”. Yes, dear mum of a singleton, I am telling my twins not to eat each other!

    At that point I thought that it may also be useful to learn to sign lots of other things they might want to eat or bite when they are not supposed to. Today I was left without words (or baby signs) for what B tried to eat. I picked T up from the potty and moved him to the changing table to put a clean nappy on. As soon as I turned my back, B started to crawl at the speed of light heading straight for the potty. As any mum knows, you can’t leave a baby unattended on the changing table, but can you let his twin eat a poo?? You know you have nailed parenting when you can get a nappy on one child and sit him on the floor, in the time that it takes a 9 months old to crawl 2 meters!