Monthly Archives: January 2012

Nightmare on flight EK434

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OK I’m ready. I have put enough space between me and the trauma to feel I can speak about it without triggering the PTSD.

I work the school year, so I had about 5 weeks off over Christmas/New Year. I was dreading it. We had not one, but two family holidays booked. One with my family, one with my husband’s. Both involved about 3-4 hours of travel. Car. Plane. For the love of all things holy, won’t someone think of the children? We clearly didn’t.

I really can’t answer the question ‘how was your holiday’ at the moment. Not wanting to come across overly negative, not wanting to load the enquirer with my sad story and not wanting to lie, there isn’t much I can say. I’ll try to pick out the good bits. Holiday #1, Yamba: We had a great cabin at a Big 4, it had a BBQ on the deck which was awesome. Said deck also had an unbarricaded one foot drop off (so awesome). It had a fenced mini water park – truly awesome! My parents’ cabin did have an enclosed deck so we took our serenity busting team over there. A lot. Had many afternoons with wine and cheese and relatively happy twins running around on the deck. Had a great lunch at a local pub with an awesome kids play area. All good times are completely dependant on the containment and contentment of the twins. Complete exhaustion by the end of the week. Just shy of two weeks to recover and then, holiday #2, New Zealand (good bits): Caught up with an old friend a few times, so awesome! Had one day where Andrew, Archie and I got to go ‘out’ (read = away from the twins) and engage in such leisurely pursuits as canoeing and fishing. Took one twin, 4 year old and another 4 year old to an indoor play centre. SO awesome. I got to sit and have a coffee. Massive water slide for the kids down a grassy hill, that was fun to watch and Arch loved it. Arch idolising his older cousins. Complete and utter exhaustion.

The one day off in NZ occurred because one morning, being first up as usual. Andrew and I sequestered ourselves in an end room (we were staying at a big church camp site for a huge family reunion) to keep the noise away from sleepers at 5:45am. I had woken with a splitting headache and Andrew had just had it. The two of us were laying on the floor like two massively hung over teenagers, almost groaning in despair. Andrew’s Dad came in, took one look at the pair of us, sent us back to bed and almost didn’t let us near the twins for the rest of the day. Sweet respite. I actually had the chance to go for a couple of runs that week and one day I was wishing that a car would come along and clip me so that I could go to hospital and have a rest. Have someone bring me food. Nothing serious, just maybe a broken ankle. Just enough so that I would qualify for a medical airlift back to Australia and not have to deal with….THE FLIGHT.

There is a reason why online traffic is so vitriolic toward people who fly with toddlers. Because it’s FREAKING INSANE!!! So we have three of the four seats in the centre. On the way over, nobody was in that empty seat, thankfully.  If you flew on that flight, I am so, so sorry. I had to take trouble into the toilets for about 30 minutes as it was so out of hand. I wanted that bloody toilet to swallow me up. Humiliation. He finally fell asleep and once back in my seat, I was scared to move. Dead arm, dead leg, dead bum (right side).

On the way back, as we neared our seats, I saw that there was a man sitting in our row. Right, smack in the middle of what was about to be the worst three and a half hours of his life. I begged the cabin crew to please move him, upgrade him SOMETHING!!! This man will never fly with you again, I’m not kidding. After a lot of blustery arm flapping, they mercifully moved him. I truly hope he got first class. Twin one screamed like a banshee for about the first 30 minutes and then fell into a deep, long, Phenergen induced sleep. We managed to get him settled in the (now) spare seat. Twin two, not sedated (we were worried that the Phenergen had triggered the performance on the first flight) was OK for a while, but in true body snatchers style, once his brother was settled he turned it on. Hello toilet. This time I was in there for over half an hour. There was a queue outside. Believe me, better that you should have to wait for the toilet than have to listen to this. He finally, finally slept, and again, one half of my body was numb by the time we landed. While sleeping on me, I took full advantage and knocked back a couple of MUCH needed glasses of wine (by this time I was past caring what kind of a parent I appeared to be to others) and EVEN managed to watch about an hour of Contagion. Don’t anybody spoil the ending for me, I am bound to get to the DVD shop one day.

So in the future, any and all family holidays will involve no driving, complete fenced containment, availability of chilled wine and cheese and absolutely NO flying. Until the twins are, say, about 30. My local dog park has a fence…..we just have to pop down to Bunnings for an esky.

Blame it on the booger

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Teething.

It seems to be the culprit for all unexplainable baby and toddler behaviour. Not sleeping, not eating, not drinking, nappy rash, face rash, generally cranky, dribbling, tantrums, rubbing eyes, rubbing ears, head banging, runny nose, runny eyes, fever and the Global Financial Crisis. Honestly, I have to stifle an eye roll every time someone tsk tsks at my grumpy babies and says helpfully, are they teething? And really, how the hell would I know? I long ago stopped paying attention to such things. I have too much on my plate to be shoving my finger in their mouths very five minutes in anticipation of a tell tale bump on the gums. Twin two had a mouthful of molars before I even realised anything was going on. Must have been what all that diarrhoea was about. Robin Barker, author of Baby Love sold me when she said “Teething causes nothing but teeth”.

After a bit of a half hearted google search tonight, I came up with all the usual suspects (see list above) but the best advice was from babycenter.com.au. “Celebrate your baby’s first tooth by taking lots of pictures, and note its arrival date in his baby book”

…….sorry, big pause. Just trying to catch my breath from laughing. Sentimental about teeth and keeper of baby books I am not. One of the biggest milestone celebrations my husband and I had was the first time Archie walked through the lounge room on his way to the bathroom declaring he was going to the toilet. A process which involved neither of us getting up off the couch. Now that’s worth putting in the baby book.

Do I know you?

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So, today was invasion of the body snatchers at my place. Trouble was tottering around with a benign smile on his face, quiet and gentle as a lamb, looking at books, cuddling me, making cute (quiet) noses and comforting his SCREAMING brother with gentle pats and gorgeous twin cuddles. The brother, on the other hand, was out of control. Inconsolable. What the hell? They used to do it as little babies when they would plot to take turns all day with sleeping and crying. OK, I’ve been screaming now for about an hour, that’s my shift done, can you cover me here while I nap? I am SURE they planned it. Not only that, but they seem to have split personalities at day care. Screaming? No, not really. Head banging? Only once. Inconsolable crying? Never. High voltage play? No, they’re quiet as mice. Excuse me, are we talking about the same twins?

My oldest decided a good game to play so that he would be able to get an equal measure of my attention until Daddy came home, would be “Upstairs Downstairs”. This involved me running upstairs to watch Octonaughts with him, then running downstairs to the playroom to comfort the twins, then back upstairs for Grandpa in my Pocket then back downstairs to stop the head banging. Upstairs for Giggle and Hoot, downstairs for screaming intervention, upstairs, downstairs…and so on. Funnily enough, it was kinda fun.

So we look ahead to another rainy weekend with great dread here, not sure what terrors the next 48 hours will hold. Will we head to Bunnings (again) because of the little playground? Will we brave it indoors with board books and Fisher Price our only weapons? Will we strip them off and let mud and nature take its course in the yard? Or will we just break the bank and take them all to Lollipops for the entire weekend, perhaps even beg them to let us sleep there?

Let’s count ’em

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After that awfully bleak post yesterday, I have spent the day thinking about all the things I wake up in the morning and feel grateful for. That was while I was supposed to be paying attention to the all freaking day meeting I was in.

Number one, and I do actually think about this regularly. I wake up every day without cancer. Every day! What an awesome reason to be thankful. Health is everything, and one of those things that you don’t fully value until you’ve had it threatened. Or seen someone else’s threatened.

Number two. I am not doing this alone. My husband has a former colleague with twins whose relationship ended in the first year. Every day I wake up with a partner in chaos beside me. I don’t just love him, I actually really like him.

Three, my boys don’t really fight. Of all the noise and madness we have to handle on a minute by minute basis, fighting is not really one of them. OK pessimists, it may be yet to come but I’ll take what I can get. Apart from the occasional, he stepped on my toe scream and enthusiastic headlock, they play so beautifully together and find each other to be the funniest guys on the planet.

Four. I’ve had the privilege of education. It’s given me an open mind and a fulfilling job. Another reason to get up grateful.

Five. My boys are beautiful. The cutest things ever.

There’s more, but I don’t want to get gushy on your asses.

Fragile

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It’s a fragile day. The kind where you can feel yourself creeping up the Edinburgh Scale as each minute passes. The kind where you can’t find a park and you try not to cry. Where your shoes get all wet and you try harder not to cry. Where the doctor keeps you waiting 45 minutes so you’ve run out of parking meter and you quickly mention the quick thing but you don’t mention what you really came for.

The day started with a double scream fest. Another one. I couldn’t do anything other than hold one and settle him while the other one screamed, then put him down and hold the other one while the first one started up again. Days like these…you’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve experienced it. Your face is fixed, eyes blank but focussed and you try to go to your happy place. Where was that again? And poor, poor Archie, not a scrap of attention from me all morning. He kept shouting out to me from upstairs and the din was so loud around me all I could do was shout yeah that sounds great honey, back at him. Poor little darling. At one point he shouted mummy, can we go live in a spaceship? Yeah, let’s do it sweetheart, maybe there is a air lock of some kind we can use to drown out the screaming.

Later my neighbour came around to warn us that they were preparing for flooding. They are experienced in such matters and we have just moved in. So nice of her. How are you coping with our noise I asked. Ahh, she said diplomatically, yes, it’s loud. Honestly in defence of her, she couldn’t have shared her concerns in a nicer way, and I did ask, but it was the last straw of a really break point day. So now I know that I am that neighbour that people talk about. Not only does this suck for me, but now I know it sucks for others too. Those bloody screaming kids over the fence. I thanked her, closed the door, and then I really did cry.

But then, again, a little ray of sunshine giggled hysterically to see my face, ran and threw himself into my arms. A little piece of me came back home. And another learned to give kisses. Wet, all over the face kisses. Another piece. And the other one said, mummy, let’s play a cuddling game. Yes, let’s.

Playing favourites

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Boy, nobody really sums it up like this chick http://www.mamamia.com.au/parenting/carpe-diem-doesnt-work-for-me/ Check it out of you haven’t already.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been approached in public with awww…twins, what a blessing, how special, aren’t you lucky type comments. I do recall after one stretch of really difficult days, I was walking around some random Westfield feeling like my eyes and heart were about to fall out, and I ran into an old friend from high school. The squeal….OMG!!! Look at you!! Twins? Are they identical? Both boys? How many weeks did you carry them? Did you breastfeed? Did you have them naturally? Sure, I’ll answer your questions, and do you mind if I ask the results of your most recent pap smear test? Yeah, I sighed, it’s pretty hard work. OHHHHH BUT IT’S WORTH IT ISN’T IT? She replied rapturously. Heh, yeah I say. Don’t wish it away they say. It all goes too fast they say. But me? I can’t wait to have two toilet trained three and a half year old twins.

So back to my topic for today, favourites. I know it’s not acceptable to say you’ve got a favourite. It’s not acceptable to say a lot of things as a Mum. I love Felicity Huffman for being so honest as to say that motherhood was not the best experience of her life. She also said it’s really hard and I’m losing my mind. Love it. I digress. Favourites. One screams incessantly and one just smiles and cuddles. One throws toys at my head and one sits snuggled in my lap and points at books. Guess which is my current favourite. I tune out. I hear screaming and it’s like the boy who cried wolf. Yeah yeah, harden up, you’ll survive. So I hear trouble screaming (again) the other day and I just ignore. Then he keeps going. As usual. But I look at him, and his big blue eyes are looking back. So I pick him up and he holds me so tight, like he just really needed to hold me. And his little voice says mummy for the first time. My heart fills up to the top and I know that I’ll never be a good enough mummy for these two boys who need all of me and only get half.

Boy Dirt

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A friend posted this photo on Facebook and I had to use it. So timely after my ‘noise’ post. I cannot comment on girls and dirt and exploration, as I am the only girl in my family, however, I can say for sure, that my boys at least LOVE dirt. And noise.

Dirt. They love eating it, throwing it, smushing it all over their bodies, jamming it in the mouths of their brothers and wedging it is places that you won’t discover until the random, once yearly clean spring clean. Their grandfather wanted to build them a sandpit. Call me a kill joy, but given that they already bring half a wheelbarrow load of sand home in their pockets from day care, I was not keen to have the other half piling up in my lounge room, bathroom, kitchen and bedroom from our own backyard. At one point I gave a passing thought to whether I should give a passing thought to all that dirt that they were eating. Nah. At some point they are sure to figure out that it tastes like crap. Still waiting.

I’m sure there are placid boys and placid girls, high voltage boys and high voltage girls. So I won’t generalise and say it’s a boy thing. But as much as I try hard not to gender stereotype (and I find I have to a lot lately as my 4 year old keeps telling me what the boy colours are and what the girl colours are) there are some boy traits that I am glad of. Being a non girly girl myself, I can’t say how pleased I am that, unless my boys turn out to be, let’s say, more in touch with their feminine side, tulle and fairies and pink and princesses and tiaras and Hanna Montana and Justin Bieber and Bratz are unlikely to be a part of my future domestic environment.

The twins stripped off this afternoon and ran around with the hose (tank water in use). It was tear jerkingly hilarious how obsessed they were with their perky little best friends down below. They could barely see where they were going for all the bending over and fiddling. Now that is a boy thing. It is a life long relationship of love, fascination and confusion that begins in infant hood. When that nappy comes off, it is like those little hands can’t get there fast enough. It’s like, look mum, if you’re taking that nappy off, if it’s out there, I’m on it. It’s my God given male duty. I must play. Do not stand in my way.

Dirt. Noise. Willies. Love it.

Speak up

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I can’t talk to my husband sometimes. I really can’t.

I sit here at the end of another exhausting week, spew, green jelly and sweet chilli sauce on my shirt, BIG glass of wine nearby and I almost can’t tolerate a single sound. The kids are all in bed (no words to describe how I love this time) and I’m sitting in the quiet study alone. The only noise is the quiet sound of some Chinese movie my husband is watching. He never got over his love for Taiwanese soap operas and Chinese dramas.

Of all the things I love about my kids, the beautiful smiles, the silly dancing, the gorgeous imaginations, there is one thing I do not deal well with. The noise. There were times, as less than 1 year olds, that the twins would be going off at the same time. It was unreal. Workplace Health and Safety would probably have me wear hearing protection in my own home. If my husband was two feet away from me, I couldn’t hear him or talk to him. There were so many things that he and I wanted to say to each other. How was your day? Have you done the tax? What’s the plan for Saturday night? Where do you stand on same sex marriage? What are your thoughts on pokie reform? Ugh, we would sigh hopelessly, I can’t hear you. Let’s talk later. Which would turn into a mumbled conversation at 10pm while in bed. How was your day. Yeah good. You? zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

At 18 months and 4 years, our boys now have the capacity to all go off at the same time, which creates a cacophony the likes of which no man, woman or child should ever have to experience. It definitely seems to be a domino effect and any one of them on their own would be a dream child. It’s just that, like their parents, they can’t cope with the bloody noise so they freak out. Loudly. Sometimes I’ll yell too, just to join in the fun. My husband and I still can’t talk until 8 o’clock at night and sometimes, when we are in the middle of a cochlea busting sound experience, we just look at each other, roll our eyes and pour another wine.

No trumps

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Sometimes I feel like I unintentionally hold a trump card around other parents and pregnant people. When the war stories start to come out in conversation, people (sometimes) defer to my apparently superior brand of kid chaos and pregnancy horror. And I always always feel really wrong about this. I still remember being a first time mother of one. I still remember that inadequate feeling, the post natal sadness, the newness of the fun and that awful feeling when you’ve listened to hours of screaming, you’ve tried food, cuddles, milk, dummy, teddy, patting, rocking, music, white noise, new nappy, a bath, a play, a song and all that’s left is to yell WHAT???!!! WHAT DO YOU WANT??!! And then recoil at your own reaction. The mother guilt. Ahhh the guilt. Someone once told me that motherhood, is guilt. She was damn right.

A friend and his lovely wife were over for a visit a few weeks ago and I suspect that she may have been having a not so fabulous pregnancy. She hinted at it and we got talking about being pregnant with twins. I told the Target story and the not being able to climb stairs or walk anywhere story and then she kind of clammed up about her experiences. I felt really guilty that again, my story had trumped someone out of theirs. And sadder still that this is her first and she should be milking that sucker for all it’s worth (sorry about the unfortunate pun). And enjoying or whinging as much as she pleases.

My point is, I have twins but I do not have any trump card. If there was anything I’d want my mother friends to know it’s this. That your experience is your own and no one else’s. That motherhood is hard (at times) no matter how many you’ve got on the boil. That the first can be just as much of a challenge or delight as the seventh. Although, may I just say, that if you are having seven kids….seriously sister, what the hell? That situation is not even going to fit in a people mover. Don’t get me started on the Octomum.

A break in the weather

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So I figure I am about up to 5 or 6 months, which is about when Rafi started sitting up and both boys started holding their own bottles. This was such an exciting milestone for me that I felt I had to post photos of it all over Facebook. Twins holding own bottles was to me like letting the poor dog off the leash in the park. Me being the dog. While I was hugely proud of this accomplishment, both boys would go on to disappoint me bitterly by walking early. Twins and they walk early. Really? Thankfully I had the foresight to invest in a massive 2 by 1 meter play pen which would become my saviour and the boys’ nemesis.

Around this time I had two breaks from the circus, both of about 36 hours. One of great pleasure and one of excruciating pain.

One Saturday night about 6pm I began to get pain in my stomach that slowly escalated to labour-like proportions. We lived across the road from a major hospital so I walked myself to the emergency room. WALKED myself to emergency I said. So it turned out that all the squishing that my boys had done to my poor insides had resulted in gall stones that I had to have out. Is it sad that I was super excited that I got to stay in hospital OVERNIGHT? I had the best sleep of my life. The nurse commented in the morning that I had had a big sleep and I said I have 4 month old twins. She looked at me with this awe-like expression and went…ohhhhh. It was like I’d said I’m about to crack the cancer cure. That was the night in emergency. The actual night I spent after the surgery I was blessed to have the world’s most resonant snorer in the bed next to me and slept not one wink. Frickin karma.

The other 36 hour break was a visit to Sydney that I still can’t quite believe I did. Yes that’s right, I left my husband with 5 month old twins and a 3 year old and jaunted off to Sydney to meet a friend who was taking me to the opening night of STC’s Uncle Vanya. Breathing the same air as Richard Roxburgh, Hugo Weaving, Jackie Weaver, Jon Bell and of course, my girl crush Cate versus leaving my husband up to his ears in baby, it was a no brainer, but I do still carry some guilt about it. God bless that man. I even got to meet Cate and babble some nonsense to her about also being married to an Andrew (CRINGE!) and having twin boys. I always fantasised about having twins she said. Be careful what you wish for I said. I touched Rich Rox’s back as I squeezed past him in the crowd and tried not to spill my wine on him. Melt. I gaped at Hugo’s actual face up close but had no guts to talk to him. After chugging enough aforementioned wine I did have the guts to talk to Dan Wyllie and tell him the stage production of Cloudstreet in which he played Fish was one of the greatest things I’d ever seen. I think by this stage I was past caring if I looked and sounded like a groupie. Hi Hugo.

My 36 hours in Sydney reminded me that life goes on, cool and fun things still happen and while I was entering what would probably turn out to be one of the most stressful few years of my life, that me and Andrew would go on, life would go on and cool and fun things will continue to happen to us.