Sunday, 28 June 2015

My first carry a year ago!

The twins are a year old!! I survived, we survived. I have felt the whole year through that time has just run away from me, that anything before the moment I am in could not have ever existed. This has made me sad because I have felt I've lost my newborn baby days, lost my four month old baby days, lost my six month old baby days and so on. Pregnancy I was able to soak in, to fully make the most of- having dreamt of my second baby, having loved my first pregnancy and becoming a mum, having lost a pregnancy in between- this was so very precious to me. And then the twins were born and in the intensity and exhaustion it became hard to be in the moment, to hold on to every moment, instead it has felt like the moments have just slipped through my hands- impossible to capture.

But a year on and I am enjoying remembering 'a year ago I was....' and it is good to know that I do hold moments in my heart, that it did really happen, that I do know and feel it happened rather than it being a simple fact. That I did make the most of those moments despite being exhausted and overwhelmed. And now I have two amazing one year old and I cannot wait for the next year!

My one year olds and their big sister

There is still a lot of haze and blur and great big chunks I cannot remember like the first evening at home- I remember getting home and how that felt but I do not remember going to bed- seems an odd thing to want to remember but I wish I could. I do however remember the atmosphere of those first few nights bonding quietly in the early hours of the morning with my babies- stuck between a longing to lie down and sleep and a knowing that this would only be for a short time and simply just being in that moment. And then the relief of the sun coming up, followed a couple of hours later with the joy at hearing big girl and David waking up.

My first chance to use a sling with a twin (baby girl) at 4 days old

Then there is my first carry. I remember how it felt- not how I'd dreamt of it feeling, I remember asking for a photo to be taken and I remember knowing this was not a carry that would work with twins. The photo shows me feeding baby girl- I know it was liberating to be freed from the sofa and my complicated cushion set up for tandem feeding. I know it was not easy to wrap her beautifully as I had so wanted to for so long. Instead it was hard to get her snug and secure and it felt very different to my solid large demo doll. But I do not actually remember her being in the sling. I know it was tiring just to walk from the living room to the bedroom to look in the mirror. I know a little later I needed to feed baby boy (I assume baby girl was asleep in the wrap but I do not know this) and I could not see baby boy through the slip knot making latching him on difficult- hence not a carry useful for a mum with newborn twins. I have no recollection sadly of when I first carried baby boy.

Twins a day old, just returned from hospital, set up in our tandem feeding arrangement
I remember feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and battered (not that the photo captures this!!)

It was all so different to what I had imagined- even though I was careful to have no preconceived ideas of what having twins would be like, I did have preconceived ideas of what having a single second baby would be like and especially how carrying that baby would be. It started when I discovered all that I had missed in the sling world for big girl when she was a year old (oh how I wished I'd known about ring slings and back carrying for that first year). As I learnt more about carrying the more I imagined how I would carry my next baby, including using a short wrap with a slip knot as l had read someone suggesting for a newborn instead of a ring sling based on the knot being soft and cushy next to a delicate newborn rather than the hard rings. I had loved this idea, secretly planning to do this with my soft bamboo Natibaby elves wrap for my second baby. So having dreamed of this for several years it was the first carry I choose.

I had also dreamed of carrying a baby out of hospital but then the reality of how I felt physically hit home. I was battered and sore and exhausted. The twins first days were spent intensely feeding and resting when I could. Simply moving about was tiring and painful let alone carrying a baby. So I did not get to use a sling until they were four days old. It felt at the time like an age and that I was losing precious time to carry, to try different slings with a newborn but I was not. I was busy doing what was important - feeding, resting and grabbing any opportunity to play or be with my first born (evidence shown that a game had preceeded this by my necklace). So actually what I learnt is how overwhelming those first few intense days are and how fragile our bodies can be following pregnancy and birth as well as how difficult it can be to wrap a newborn, all things I hope I remember when I work with mums in the future.

A year ago it was hard for me to find the time or to have the ability to think to be able to post and share my carrying journey but I hope to in the next few months share what I learnt about carrying newborn babies and twins in those early days. I sadly have not as many photos as I wish as I had not mastered the art of selfies and as I say I was very absorbed with the day to day survival which I feel I still am but I can reflect and see it is not quite as intense. Hopefully I will be able to share more on my experiences both now and a year ago. I will finish with a photo of me using a short wrap with a slip knot, a carry I now love to use!

My baby girl 11 months on in a short Didymos orient wrap with a slip knot- a carry I am now using more and more

Sunday, 14 June 2015

A Glimpse Behind the Photos

There has been a long pause in me posting a blog- all I can say is twins! I am hoping to start writing more but as well as giving information about carrying, I want to share the story behind the photos, to give voice to that which is not captured in the images. I have been experimenting with how to get my social posts more real, to not present a perfect, intimidating snap shot. I am finding this difficult though as not only in times of craziness is grabbing the camera the last thing on the agenda but my focus has been on the times I am carrying and these are usually the good times, the times that restore sanity and give me much needed reconnection- sometimes, but rarely, the sling is not the answer required and boy is that frustrating and definitely not a time for reaching for the camera or even for posting.

People have called me 'super mum' but I really need to make it clear I am not supermum. I am just a mum doing what she has to, as well as I can and simply getting through each moment as best as I can. I do not want to give the impression I am supermum. I am not trying to show off. I do want to share the virtues and the array of benefits of using baby carriers and slings and they do hugely make life easier around here. I love carrying and I would love others to benefit from all that carriers can offer but I want you all to know I have some pretty messy moments that I am very much not proud of.

I am not trying to show off but slings do enable me to get the essential basics accomplished-  in this case dinner! The photo hides my unbrushed hair, my tiredness and clothes I've not changed for several days.

It is often commented that I seem so calm, relaxed, ever patient and capable as I handle my twin babies and my four year old daughter. Whilst this can be the case, it makes me laugh as my days are managed by what feels like the skin of my teeth. It is a continuous, precarious fine balance which often gets tipped upside down but this is usually in the privacy of my own home. These moments involve shouting and screaming, leaving babies to cry, more crying, losing my temper, wanting to run far away, hating my children, more crying, feeling I'm no good, not knowing what to do/how to get to the next moment, more crying, questioning my parenting choices and more crying. Luckily they always are quickly counteract by the heart melting grin of a baby, by some wise words from my eldest, by babies falling into peaceful sleep, by a reconnecting cuddle or by some wondrous creative play.

A reconnecting cuddle with my baby boy after a fall out over naps (or the lack of)

I always question myself why in that moment did I snap? Could I not just have breathed, taken a moment, 'minded the gap' instead of falling head on into it? How could these beautiful children have seemed so hateful five minutes ago?

But I am tired, the anxiety levels are too high (these get increased by the frustration of not be able to get to one upset baby because I'm dealing with the other or their older sister and so on) and they have needs and wants that often are in conflict with mine. My biggest let down is expecting too much of myself, feeling I 'should' be able to do it all because everyone else does. I am all too often comparing myself to the other 'supermums' on Facebook and wondering why I am falling so short of the mark. I so do not want to add to another mum's feeling of inadequacy- we need to be supporting one another, sharing the everyday slog of it all, the emotional challenges parenting brings, acknowledging the relentless, ongoing hard work of parenting whilst celebrating the equal and luckily more poignant 'perfect moments'.

So if there are pauses in my posts/blogs it is because I'm trying to accept my limitations and trust the words I wish to share will be there when the time is right. I am not supermum but an ordinary mum, making the most of each day as best I can, busy surviving as best I can, accepting some days ensuring everyone is fed is the best I can do and anything above that is a bonus and ultimately remembering that:

I'm so Blesssed