Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Facing my fear

For those of you that don't know me too well or have not read my earlier blog pieces, I have a phobia of vomit, not a good thing to suffer from when it comes to being a mum.

Of course the twins were always returning bits of milk here and there when they were little, but now we're on to the chunky stuff, the kind that really scares me.

Don't ask me why and where my fear started as I'm not too sure, but it has been with me since the age of around 7. I have actually made myself terribly ill at times having fought the urge to spew, my body has remained full of bad things and therefore made me pretty much bed ridden, when had I not resisted, I would probably be right as rain within an hour.

The twins have been sick a few times over the past few months, however there has always been another person present and whilst I have not had to control the situation, nor have I really been able to cope with it.

Well, two days ago all of that changed my friends, as I found myself on my own with a baby and a car seat full of sick - gulp!!

Monday is shopping day, so I strap the kids in the car and head off on a 20 min journey to the supermarket. Now, we live pretty much out in the country and I'm used to there being lots of odd smells around wafting into the car. So when a slight whiff of curdled cheese drifted by me I put it down to some kind of new muck spreading on the farms. We do have mirrors that allow us to see the kids but I was only doing quick glances, oh except when Olivia began dancing along to a Destiny's Child song (if only I had a camera). Anyway, as the journey continued, the smell got stronger and it became a bit more familiar to me, it was beginning to smell very similar to what the kids had for lunch.

As I peered into the rear view mirror I became aware that Beaus blue top was now more multi-coloured!! Not only that, Beau's head was hanging down, so my first reaction was that he had passed out or choked on his vomit. My heart leapt into my mouth and I pulled into the side of the road without indicating (not good). Fortunately it turned out that Beau was actually looking down (and reading) a book - that acted as a receptacle for his vomit. When I called his name, he actually looked up...and smiled.

Deciding that I could not do anything on the side of the road, we all toughed it out for 10mins until we hit the supermarket car park. As you can imagine, I was a little bit panicky had to take a few deep breaths before I was able to get out of the car. The first thing I did was call Rick, but even as his phone was ringing I just thought to myself, what the hell's difference will it make me ringing Rick, what could he do from 25 miles away?? Needless to say that phone call lasted about 30 secs.

There was not an inch of Beau's clothing that was not covered, some vomit had even pooled in the little pocket of his top. The car seat was also a casualty of war, so there was no way I was going to avoid having contact with the enemy.

But, do you know what, when I looked at Beau and he looked up at me with a little fear in his eyes and made a little squeal, it was though someone placed a comforting hand on my shoulder and then I heard a voice in my head saying "You can cope with this Leah, you have to cope with this and you will. Just remember, the important thing is that you look after your son - this is not about you."

In that moment I felt so calm and then I guess my mothering instinct kicked in and in a methodical and composed manner. Normally, I don't take a change bag with me when I go shopping, but for some reason that day I did - complete with a change of clothes. so poor Beau had to endure a complete strip in the middle of the supermarket car park, but bless him, the boy did me proud and did not cry, scream or wriggle (possibly to do with the shock of being sat in his own vomit for 20mins!!)

Throughout this whole drama, Olivia was also amazingly calm, even though she had to remain strapped into her seat whilst I dealt with the whole situation. In fact, she kept my spirits up with her indecipherable chatter.

I was so very proud of the both of them, and for me it was also a victory.

Beau was perfectly fine after his little ordeal and happily chomped his way through half a pack of rice cakes and 2 slices of bread before I even got to the till in the supermarket!!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

working up to work

For those that know me well, before the twins I was a freelance PR. I've recently been in touch with a couple of my old contacts to make some enquiries about work. As much as I love spending time with the kids, I've begun to feel like I'm losing a real sense of myself. Days feel like they are drifting into one and I sometimes find myself so frustrated. It's like I'm existing in another world that is tiny compared to the real one. It's a world where I exist alongside those that are either collecting their pension or that don't leave the house until Jeremy Kyle has finished. Needless to say it can be depressing.

I admit, I'm in a fortunate position in that Rick's salary is ok and I don't HAVE to work. "Oh look at her lady muck, complaining". You may be saying, but I'm completely reliant on Rick, we don't have any spare money and I have no money of my own, so in turn no independence. I feel bad for Rick, even though we made this decision because we thought it was the right one. Everything he earns goes towards the house, us and the kids, I can't remember the time he's bought anything just for himself. At the same time, if I want anything now I have to ask Rick or I ashamedly have to admit (at the age of 33) my dad. I feel like a poor (as in no money) WAG .

It's not that I've ever earned a great amount of money anyway, but that's not necessarily the real issue, it's more a case of just wanting to feel useful again and having a day where I think that I've accomplished something.

By no means am I diminishing my role as a mother, but once you get into a routine there is not much to accomplish other than a pile of washing and getting through the day without too many tears and tantrums. Now, this may also sound completely silly and self-centred, but my kids are too young to acknowledge the effort it takes to be a mother and nor should they, but I can't help feel a little deflated when after I've changed x number of nappies, read umpteen books (many times), cleaned up food, faces and fingers, daddy or a visiting grandparent will walk in and I am but a distant memory.

I now know what my mum must've felt like when I was a child (a particularly precocious one too). It sort of upsets me in a way because, not having my mum here now makes me wish that I could be a child again and I would not said many of the things I spitefully said, nor had quite so many tantrums!

With this decision to try and return to work, all be it part time,  there is a part of me that feels extremely guilty and questions how much I could really possibly love my children. I have spoken to a few friends who have returned to work full time and they too have spoken about the guilt that they feel leaving their children and experience a great sense of failure to fulfil the role of an ideal mother.

But who decides what that is? and why do we put such great pressure on ourselves to be so perfect? It seems to be something that we as women do most of our lives, be it about our looks, friendships, careers or relationships.

It's not that I'm not happy, maybe just still a little unfulfilled, is that wrong?

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Food Glorious Food

Today I took back yet another book to the library containing a plethora of recipes that would supposedly tempt my children. 

I'd gone out bought the ingredients and ever so carefully and with love slaved over a stove in a bid to woo my children into the pleasant world of food appreciation. 

Reader, I was 50% Successful. Olivia has developed a fine love of food and 9 times out of 10 more than happily open her mouth to something new and adventurous. Alas I cannot say the same thing for Beau. It seems that he has an aversion to anything that isn't made of bread, has the texture of a crisp or the sweetness of a biscuit. We're OK with pasta as long as it's covered in tomato sauce and we can just about do cottage pie if it's mush. 

Beau's favourite food
The mush

Fromage Frais - a winner

I don't think it occurred to me just how difficult it would be to feed a child, well I say that but what I mean is to give them what you want them to eat.

It all seemed so simple when I read through the many Annabel Karmel books that I have renewed about 5 times on my library card. 

We started with bread as a finger food and that was a winner (well how could it not be!!) But then came the fruit and veg and it was as though we had rainbows floating in the kitchen as food flew off their trays and up into the air. It felt like we would be forever on baby mush and puree. No matter how appealing and alluring I tried to make things look (funny faces included) they weren't interested.

I'd read some where that if babies didn't start chewing food around six-eight months then their jaw muscles would not develop properly, so on top of the fact that I though my children would be mal-nourished they would also mute too (not so bad I hear you say).

Like most things that come with parenthood you think things are never going to change, but slowly and surely they do and suddenly they surprise you and do the thing that you thought would never be conquered. It's as though another bulb has gone on in their brain and messages are finally being transferred. "Try the food, try the food, it might be nice." or "use your legs, use your legs, it's quicker."

For me this change normally comes about after I have insisted to others that they are no where near making this change e.g. Being at a friends BBQ and telling them that Beau will never try anything he's given. My friend then offers him a bit of beefburger which he quite eagerly eats, followed by a few more. 

The battle, however, remains far from over with Beau, he hates any food that is green and if it's wet on his fingers, no chance, this pretty much rules out nourishing foods. So we've had to go down the old disguise it under a load of sauce route. He is a big fan of ham and would probably sit and a whole chicken given the opportunity.

Olivia on the other hand is proving to be a lot less difficult and devours most things she is given. Amongst her favourites are Blueberries, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts and strawberries.

One thing I am adamant I won't do is go down the play it safe and easy route of chicken nuggets and smiley faces. Of course they would probably happily eat those kind of foods but I want to make sure my kids eat a healthy range of food. I even felt guilty today because I tried them on tinned spaghetti, I don't eat that because it taste like anaemic tomato sauce and has a slightly weird after taste, so why on earth did I give it to my kids?  

However, having battled with Anorexia for most of my adult life, the responsibility of making sure my children eat well and grow up with a healthy attitude to food can be  really stressful. I sometimes worry though that maybe my issues with food will be transferred to my kids. It can be hard to try and think for them rather than think through me,  by that I mean how they eat is a reflection of how I eat. I don't want them to fear food like I have done in the past. We have to be careful because our children are actually so tuned in to their environment, our behaviour and our actions, this is of course how they come to structure and form their world, so I need to ensure that when it comes to decisions on their well being, I make will be the most valuable and beneficial for them rather than for me.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Praise be is not for me..but I did get The Help

Took the kids to a thing called praise and play at the local church the other day. But aren't you Jewish?? some of you may gasp. Yes I am Jewish but I'll also try anything that will keep the twins entertained for an hour or so.

However, whilst I appreciate there obviously had to be some religious content involved hence the word "praise", I was a little uncomfortable with how much emphasis there was on the whole "praise be to God thing" not that my kids took any notice of what was being said, Beau was too busy charging (well fast crawling) up the aisle and onto the altar (I had fears by the look of some women that both Beau and myself might be struck by lightening). Olivia mean while was just pointing at everything (that's her new thing).

There were quite a few mothers with children there but I think they may have gone to this with the same motive and that is to get out the house and be in the presence of adult company. So the whole thing felt a bit like a sham really, or dare I say it like a trap - "We're letting your children run amok in our church, you're drinking our (watery)coffee, eating our (cheap) biscuits, so YOU MUST LOVE  Jesus". Don't get me wrong they weren't spewing venom or chanting or anything like that, they were all lovely old dears. I just wasn't at ease with the environment. 

So we again we go in search of some sort of engaging activity for me and the twins to attend.

A luxury of mine, well no it's a necessity, is to read a book when I go to bed, I can't go to sleep unless I've read a few pages of something. I normally have about 3 books on the go. By reading, it gives me a chance to switch off and pull away from everything that is going on in my mind, it's like I can shut the door of one part of my brain for a while or wind down the clogs.

I've just finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stocket. It's based in Mississippi in the 1960's and is based around three women,  Skeeter, a young white woman called Skeeter and two black maids Aibleen and Minny).They have been united by Skeeters idea to write a book about what it really feels like to be a domestic servant in white southern households. This obviously was a very taboo subject back then and could put all these ladies lives at risk. 

As I read on through the book I could sense the tension and fear that all these women felt, but at the same time, the pride, tenacity and commitment to each other to get this book together. It not only covers political and racial issues, but also explores the relationships between mother / daughters, friends and care givers. There are many poignant moments which will make you laugh, cry and maybe growl a little.

I enjoyed it so much I finished in under two weeks (yes I know some people can read a book in two days, but not when you only have time to read for 20 minutes a day!) The film is coming out soon but I definitely recommend you read the book first.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The first year

Wow, just realised that my last blog was all the way back in May. Has it really been that long??!!

Even though my days are pretty much predictable, time has gone quite fast. The twins have celebrated their first birthday, been on their first big holiday and accomplished various milestones

I can't even really remember what they were like when they were small, I just get little snippets from time to time, which I try to piece together like a Guy Ritchie movie.

You always read about gushing mothers who remember where and when their babies started to crawl or ate their first piece of proper food etc etc, but to be honest everything just tumbles into the next and you lose track of significant events.

I'd be lying if I said it has been 100% wonderful and that motherhood has been complete bliss. I have actually really struggled, not in the sense of coping because I have a wonderful support unit around me, but more in the sense of coming to terms with my new life and accepting change.

To have twins is a complete blessing, absolutely, but it was such a shock to the system when I realised how much children engulf your life. It's like a complete tidal wave. Although they are not actually attached to you, there is this invisible connection in which it feels as though my heart is beating for theirs, my mind is thinking for them and I feel every scrap, scrape, pain and illness that they have to endure. Of course, I can kiss the little cuts and banged heads, but when I have been unable to "mend" things the feeling of failure is hard to push away

For instance, Beau had a terrible tummy bug for at the end of July. He was first poorly on a weekend with friends and then it continued a few days later when we went on holiday to Ireland. Being a tummy bug, he was  obviously sick. Unfortunately I have an ridiculously silly phobia of vomit (I've not being sick since I was 7 years old..or eaten a Beef and Tomato Pot Noodle!). If this had been Rick, I would've stuck a bin next to him and run out the room, but this is a baby and they don't wait for bins or bowls. No folks, this was a case of suck it up (not literally) and stick it out.

I will be honest here though and say that whilst I coped OK with the projectile vomit on my clothes, there were times when I was afraid to go near my own son because I was worried he might be sick again (many times he was) So Rick had to take the helm a lot of the time and I don't think there was an item of clothing of his that remained untouched by vomit. It's not surprising then that Beau and Rick developed a deeper bond during that time.

a poorly Beau
It wasn't just the vomiting I was so unnerved by but also Beau's listlessness at times, it made me see how vulnerable a child really is, but not just any child, my child and, reader, I admit, I just crumbled. The whole thing sent me into one of those hyperventilating, panicky mums that I never thought I would be. So I'm left with the uncomfortable feeling that I was not a good mum and that Beau sensed my unease with his illness.

And that is a constant source of conflict within my brain, am I being a good enough mum? Am I giving it my all, 100%?? There's no teachers to grade you and no boxes to tick, so how do you ever know??

So enough of the negative energy I hear you so..Ok, let me inform you of the highlights of the last year

  • Watching Rick change his first nappy..he was sweating
  • Walking out of hospital with two baby carriers
  • Lying on a play mat in between my two babies whilst they kicked their legs up in the air and gurgled
  • Watching them discover their hands and feet
  • Midnight feeds with each twin individually - playing them lullabies and holding them until they went to sleep
  • Seeing their smiles 
  • Hearing them laugh and continuing to love every time they laugh
  • Watching Olivia as she teaches herself to read (swear to God)
  • Beau's commando style crawling
  • Every morning seeing them smile when we come to get them out of bed
  • Being told that we have very well behaved children
  • Listening to the funny little noises that they make as they discover their vocal cords
  • teaching Beau and Olivia how to give kisses 
  • Watching and listening as they learn to interact with each other
I'm sure there have been many many more, but not all come to mind

I'm excited about the next year as we will really begin to see are little ones grow and develop their own personalities. 

I love hearing their noise in the house, it's so comforting, will I be saying they can actually talk and start making sense..hmmmm???

The intention is to keep this blog updated with not just their progress, but mine too.