Saturday, 24 November 2012

Hunkering down

It's chucking down outside and blowing a gale as I type this. The leaves are mostly all off the trees and clumping themselves in unsightly damp piles all over the garden, which needs a thorough sorting out before the winter months really kick in. I'm sure it should definitely be mulled wine season pretty damn soon. So before we get too entrenched in the gloom and energised by festive preparations, Martha and Tamsyn's 10 month birthday seems a good point to jot down a few, erm, jottings.
first time in the bath together!

 Since I last posted they have obviously developed loads, so much so that I hope I don't miss anything out! Both are now very active - Martha, who started rolling at about 5 months, has not moved on much although can now do a commando style crawl to inch by inch get to that toy she's desperate to gum on. She's pretty stable at sitting now too. And last weekend Granny Linda taught her how to clap which is very adorable to watch! Tamsyn was a late roller but once she got the hang of it she was off all over the place. She sat stably earlier than Martha and started crawling backwards at about 8 months, now can commando crawl and get to sitting from lying down, and has in the last few days just about got the hang of proper crawling forwards. She's not a clapper though.

cheeky Martha

They are both into everything. Gemma never seemed bothered about getting into dangerous places, tight corners, dangling cables, underneath the sofa / bookcase / table etc but these two are both menaces. Our blase "we probably don't need to childproof anything" attitude has become a bit more along the lines of "we really need to move those surround sound speakers before they get broken"... Tamsyn loves to be near the radiator or underneath the sofa. Martha likes to grab at stuff, so laptop cables, our specs etc are all fair game.

I haven't had them weighed since they were about 6 and a half months, and just established on solid food. Martha was still on 9th centile at that point but bruiser Tamsyn, who wasn't moving about much then, had jumped from 25th to between 50th and 75th. I think she has probably come down again now and both seem chubby enough though Martha is still the petite one.

Tamsyn has the only 2 teeth (bottom) between the two of them that she cut at 7 months. Martha goes through dribbly hand munching stages and you can just see a hint of her bottom teeth underneath the gum but so far nothing. I wish they'd get a move on.

Their eating patterns are fairly well established now. They both eat well, though neither is a big fan of fish and Tamsyn seems to hate anything with obvious lumpy bits like rice or bigger bits of pasta. She's also got an incredibly annoying habit of spitting straight out again whatever spoonful of food you manage to get in but will always, surprise surprise, eat pudding. Martha is easy to please and eats anything if she's hungry. They both do finger food ok, both like Marmite (hooray!) and Martha loves to chomp on bits of veg such as  broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage etc. They are on 2 'official' breastfeeds a day - early morning and bedtime. Early morning can mean 5am though :( and over the last few months I have fed at quite a few other times in addition. Neither twin is taking to formula out of a cup well at all and neither will do bottles. I am persevering with a mid afternoon cup of milk but hardly any gets drunk.

Both went through some kind of developmental / growth spurt between 7.5 and 9.5 months. With Tamsyn she just started to wake very early in the mornings - some days 4am but mostly around 5ish. With Martha it was a whole lot worse - she was waking anything from 1-4 times a night and not settling to sleep again without a breastfeed. During the day she was as happy as could be, daytime naps were always fine, but at night the demons came out and she was very difficult for a while. She then seemed to slowly be coming out of it, had a few good nights in a row, and BAM we got hit with bronchiolitis last week. Cue high temperatures, streaming cold symptoms, hacking cough and most worryingly, fast shallow breathing with a very crackly chest. Martha had it first - so any sleep improvement went straight out of the window. Then as it's contagious, Tamsyn got it too and is currently in the middle of it. One day I will sleep again. One day... Luckily both ate and drank well all through being ill, so no major cause for concern other than 2 massively grumpy babies day and night.

Swimming has been appalling. Both have separation anxiety so will not go to the other instructor in the pool without screaming. Generally most classes are a cacophony of twin yells. However if one is ill and I manage to get to the class with just the other, it goes ok, they are both good little swimmers and it's not the water they dislike, just being away from me. Fingers crossed time will sort this out.

our big girl
Speaking of time, it is a mere few weeks until I am back at work, 3 days a week from January 2nd until Easter and 4 days after then. We have hired a nanny, Liz, who will come here Monday - Thursday to look after the twins and Gemma, and (most excitingly from my perspective) do all their laundry!! and lots of other stuff too obviously. Gemma is in preschool sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons at Wantage C of E primary school, and still goes to the Oxfam nursery all day on Mondays and Thursdays. She has developed too over the last 3 or 4 months, not only in her growth (she now looks very grown up in a pair of skinny jeans and seems sooo big :( ) but also in her attitude and behaviour. Since about September she's become slightly less clingy and whiny when separated from me or in new situations, and the entry to preschool has actually gone amazingly well. She is sometimes a bit tearful at drop off but her enthusiasm is clear from her happy abundant energy when I pick her up. She is talking about some of her new friends there (she's been going 3 weeks now) and seems to be responding well to the staff. Her ability in reading, writing, and drawing is coming on fantastically, she can write her own full name as well as Mummy, Daddy, Ellen and a few other words, and if you spell other words out for her she writes those too. She's coming up to her 4th birthday and we are currently planning a party for her, though I am trying desperately to head off any princess theme...

among the flowers at Eden Project

Bit of a massive update this one, with 4 months to cram in. Hopefully the next one, likely to be at the first birthday, won't be quite as lengthy. Maybe we will one day get round to re-creating and loading up all the photos we've taken this year too! (the ones here were taken on a family holiday to Padstow in September - the twins were 8 months)

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Happy half-birthday!

6 months ago I was a lot more physically uncomfortable than I am now, sat on our deck on a squishy beanbag chair, sipping a glass of red as the sun (YES! the sun!!) goes down, hearing the soft thwack of tennis balls from the club down the road. Our two littlest girls had made their entrance to the world, and I had just had a shower and been wheeled upstairs with them to our single room on the maternity ward, where I was to experience my first night as a mother of twins.

We've been having technical difficulties with, in that Apple have decommissioned the Mobile Me platform we were using to publish on. So until we can get our arses in gear and export all the content and thousands of photos we'd got on that site to a new one, my trusty old blog will have to do to mark the half birthday of Martha and Tamsyn.

Progress over the last few months, then. Since last posting, they have come on amazingly, though in some areas not as fast as their big sister Gemma. Martha has been rolling for about a month now - mostly from back to tummy, where she'll pop her little head up and look around for applause, give a cheeky smile and then stay like that until she does a face plant and starts getting distressed. A recent development is the pushing of the legs and scrabbling of the arms - possibly a pre-cursor to crawling? Tamsyn is a lazy bugger and swings her legs around a bit, arches her back a little, but ultimately is content to lie around on her back unless one of us moves her to tummy. Then she'll tolerate it for a while before getting annoyed. She absolutely adores the Jumperoo though!

At 4.5-5 months we had a bit of sleep regression - they were only waking up once a night for a feed but then regressed to twice or even three times. Not great. Since weaning though they have gone back to once a night, thank goodness, and it can be pretty late on, hooray! Daytime naps are down to 2 or 3 - once after breakfast (either in the car or at home); maybe one other one before lunch; and one after lunch. After 4pm they will rarely nap unless a 20min one in the car when I pick Gemma up from nursery. They are still going down really well at night, almost always asleep by 7.30pm.

Solids have gone down pretty well - after a week or so of tongue thrusting and face-screwing, Tamsyn has become a baby-hoover and will scoff pretty much anything on a spoon. She's also doing pretty well at sipping water from a cup. Martha has had a few blips, but technique is coming on, she eats fairly well (though not as much as her sister) and can also sip from a cup. They're on fruit, veg, porridge etc though the introduction of a weetabix the other day went down *very* well (Tamsyn was panting eagerly between each mouthful) and they can also tolerate fromage frais, yogurt etc. A big relief as Gemma was dairy intolerant until 12 months which involved a lot of faffing about with soy products.

A few weeks ago Martha was poorly, a very high temperature for 3 days that wasn't being brought down by Calpol, GP couldn't find any obvious cause, and after the temperature went away we had reflux for a few days - so she has built back up to solids again gradually. However she seems to enjoy it and I'll be introducing a bit of protein soon and maybe some finger foods. They will both gum on a bit of broccoli or melon held in their mouths but seem to have no idea what to do when you give them a bit of food to hold. Gemma was 6 months when I started weaning her though so a bit older than the twins, so I'm taking it all a bit more slowly.

Both have a large variety of sounds now. Tamsyn has recently started waking in the night to have a chat. All very sweet, and I don't need to get out of bed, but she is bloomin' LOUD on the monitor... Size-wise Martha is still petite, Tamsyn comparatively a bruiser, although still only as big as Gemma was at the same age. They wear a mix of 3-6m and 6-9m clothes. Until weaning they were tracking their centiles on breastfeeding alone, something I am really pleased about. I think Tamsyn may have surged ahead recently though given the amount of food she's ingesting... They are now in the pushchair bit of the buggy which they seem to enjoy, and they don't even look too tiny in it. I am no longer a celebrity in Wantage for the car-seat/buggy contraption I was wheeling about, just a normal double buggy now!

Swimming has been a bit mixed. Martha has mostly enjoyed it, whereas Tamsyn screamed all the way through most of the classes until the very last one of term where she had an about turn and was as chilled as you like. We're booked into the next term so fingers crossed. 

I'm still breastfeeding them both, and they haven't had a bottle for a long time now. Initial attempts to get water down them at mealtimes in a bottle have failed miserably so it looks like it is just me and my boobs for milk supply for now - but I do want to get them to take a bottle again soonish so I have the option to have a half day off at some point. It's coming to something when mowing the lawn on a Sunday afternoon is classed as 'me-time' eh...?

What else. Well, they are both GORGEOUS :)



Martha enjoys a quick snack in the supermarket ;o)


Three gorgeous girls :o)

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Where does the time go?

OK a gap of a couple of months between posts is probably acceptable since we're dealing with baby twin girls as well as a particularly sprightly Gemma at the moment. But I do feel a little sad, as when Gemma was a baby I was pretty good at posting her milestones and what we'd been up to on a regular basis. We have now updated with new photos and a slight re-jig given that we now have 3 gorgeous daughters to take pictures of, but blogging has kind of fallen by the wayside a little.
Tamsyn left, Martha right; at 14 and a half weeks

So what have we been up to? Well, Martha and Tamsyn are now 15 weeks old, 3 and a half months and little wonders. At last weigh in Martha was 11lbs 4oz and Tamsyn 12lbs 6oz, Martha tracking just over the 9th centile and Tamsyn just over the 25th. At 14.5 weeks Gemma was 12lbs 7oz so in terms of weight Tamsyn is very similar and has the same chunky thighs too. I also think she's going to have curly hair like Gemma, although it's a little early to tell. She has gorgeous large deep blue eyes like Gemma too. Martha on the other hand although more petite has more of the facial expressions Gemma had. She has poker straight hair, very sticky-up especially after a bath, and lots of cheeky looks. She'll look you straight in the eye and I'd swear she is thinking up no end of tricks to play on us when she's older. Tamsyn is mostly in 3-6 month clothes now whereas Martha is still making use of the 0-3month ones. It makes for a chock-full wardrobe and mountains of laundry... They are both in cloth nappies too, a mix of TotsBots and Bumgenius, and are getting on brilliantly with them.

It's been lovely to see the girls develop over the last few months and while things are still very full on, we have got into some sort of routine. They are exclusively breastfed (tandem, rugby ball style!) now, and are very efficient at it, so feeds are very quick. They are 3 hourly during the day and anything from 3.5 hrs to 7 hrs at night - the bedtime feed is around 7pm after which I settle them in their cot (they are in together, top to tail after Martha's restless flailing around tended to hit Tamsyn in the face and wake her up. Martha screaming blue murder doesn't seem to rouse her though, bless her).  Then they go a bit longer and tend to wake around midnight-ish and again at 4ish, though each night is slightly different. During the day, after nursery run in the morning I will either leg it back home for the next feed or feed them singly out and about. Then it will depend on what we have on and whether Ali is picking Gemma up or not, as to what we do during the day. They'll nap sporadically, always in the car on the way to nursery, generally more in the morning than the afternoon, and mostly always a small catnap at least between feeds, though occasionally one or both will be awake from feed to feed.

They've been in the same cot since about 8 weeks old - we moved them out of the same moses basket at about 4-5 weeks old, and by 8 weeks they were starting to look a bit too snug even in separate baskets. Sleeping together or apart was one of the areas I was most anxious about before they were born but actually they settled equally well in either case and are currently fine apart during the day (mostly in car seats / pram / bouncy chairs) or together at night. Reading Gemma's blog from around the same age there is a lot they have in common, and I don't think we can expect any sleep miracles at night any time soon. Both girls are OK with being on their tummies, whereas Gemma hated it - but we haven't tried either in a door bouncer yet, as their heads, Martha's especially, are not quite as stable as Gemma's seems to have been at 14 weeks. Daytime sleeping patterns are fairly similar as is the fist sucking and early teething drool...

Personality wise, Tamsyn seems to be a sweet one and Martha a cheeky madam. Martha will scream at night times or whenever she thinks no-one is paying her any attention,  but calm down as soon as you lift her up. She loves to be on the move and if you hold her so she's looking over your shoulder and walk around a bit she will almost always instantly calm down from whatever paddy she's in. She's got a very knowing look in her eyes and an absolutely gorgeous big grin when she sees you. She'll coo and burble adorably too. Tamsyn is lovely, you can get a lot more smiles out of her just by talking to her and she loves being sung to. She settles wonderfully at night, after a feed I can just plonk her down in the cot wide awake and she'll chew on her hand for a bit before going to sleep, unlike her bigger sister who needs a lot more cosseting to go to sleep. Tamsyn also gurgles a lot. She does unfortunately seem to have more wind problems than Martha, maybe due to the fact that her tummy is huge, so sometimes is very screamy at the bedtime feed. She also loves being in her bouncy chair and the look of fierce concentration on her face as she strains to reach a little toy to bat is hilarious. She will totally go for it on a playmat too, kicking and waving her arms around like anything.

Gemma has been very up and down, though in the last week or two seems to have settled a bit more. We were so impressed with how good she was when I was in hospital and immediately afterwards, and she has taken to her sisters so well - she clearly adores them and nursery tell us her role play is all about mummies and babies and the babies are all called Martha and Tamsyn :) However since Easter week she has given us some very whingy, tantrummy days and bedtimes have regressed to the pattern we had 12 months ago - we have to stay in the room with her until she falls asleep at night, and she is waking one or two times at night too. She has now officially dropped her daytime nap and that was hideous for a week or so but her body clock seems to have adjusted now. We're not sure if it's terrible threes or delayed jealousy but I am trying to have more one on one time with her and not tell her off so much - hard when she's being a right little b*gger or when she's being rather too boisterous around her sisters. Hopefully she'll even out soon. She loves being on her new buggy board and I have become something of a celebrity around Wantage for the two carseat and buggy board combination on the buggy, as it is bloody huge. Can't wait until the girls are big enough for the buggy seats to be attached.

Reading lefthandedmonkey again over the past few days I think updates like this will happen there in future - mostly baby and milestone related rather than stuff about me. I may or may not update here too - past experience leads me to think those posts will be few and far between - but we'll see.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

One month on...

A little belated as they are over 5 weeks now, but in lieu of a proper website update to (which now needs a bit of an overhaul in light of the two new monkeys in the family) I wanted to get a few memories down for Martha and Tamsyn before I forget. Also Gemma's blog has taken a bit of a break recently so we'll be thinking about how best to capture all the goings on in our newly extended family!
At some point we'll also be updating the website with all the pics we've taken so far but to whet your appetite here's a few to break up the long post of baby stuff...

a few days before the birth. Gemma has a sympathy dolly bump...
So they have been with us more than a month now, and the progress they've made in that time is amazing. When I last wrote we were still in the JR, they had put on weight but were very much skinny minnies still and the feeding regime the paediatrician had put them on was ruling our lives. I was expressing constantly in order to build my supply of milk up, and they were having most feeds of expressed milk or occasional formula out of a bottle with very infrequent breastfeeds. We came home and things weren't much different for a few days, but we were really heartened when they were able to be discharged by the community midwife after a week to the health visitor as they had put on lots of weight. All the community midwives we saw dispensed a lot of common sense advice and a visit to the breastfeeding clinic was also a great help. One thing I learned quite quickly was to try and forget how things had been three years ago with Gemma, who was a natural breastfeeder and whose weight I never had to worry about. I don't think she even had a bottle at all until about 6 weeks. With twins it's a whole different kettle of fish and Martha and Tamsyn have both adapted to the bottle / boob transition in different ways. Martha who was a natural suckler from birth has become a bit more hit and miss and will be on and off faffing about for ages, quicker than Tamsyn at a feed but a bit more, shall we say, frantic for it. And Tamsyn has progressed from being rubbish at latching on, to settling down for a good feed each time. Over the past week they have become very good at tandem feeding, which is saving loads of time and means I can do the night feeds by myself. Last night I was feeding, changing and back in bed within 45 minutes which was excellent. They are keeping to a 3hr feed schedule still so hopefully will start to go a bit longer especially at night soon!

one of the 2 best days of our lives :)
At their last weigh ins, they recorded 6lbs 5oz (Martha) and 7lbs 5oz (Tamsyn) and this was at 3 and a half weeks, so I expect them to be a lot heavier at the clinic tomorrow. They certainly feel hefty and both are out of tiny baby and newborn clothes, Tamsyn because she's big, Martha because she seems to have incredibly long arms...

Tamsyn enjoying her first bath!
Today we were at the Nuffield Hospital for hip scans as Tamsyn was breech until 32 weeks, and also because of the multiple birth. Tamsyn's hips are a bit immature and there is still cartilage where bone should have formed by now, so we'll be back for another scan in 6 weeks. Martha has a bit of a flat head on her right as she naturally turns to the right when sleeping so we came away with a leaflet on how to correct this by positioning for feeds, tummy time, sleeping etc. Overall they are fine though, nothing to worry about and no real health issues. Evenings can be a bit of a trial as this seems to be when they are most awake - Martha in particular went through a bit of a growth spurt / feeding frenzy about a week to 10 days ago which was very hard as Tamsyn wasn't participating in the whole hourly feed thing and they went very out of sync. Luckily it only lasted 2 or 3 days. Phew.

Martha wasn't so sure
Both are now a lot more awake and alert during the day although Martha favours waking early before a feed, and Tamsyn is the more alert straight afterwards, normally having to be woken so I can feed both at the same time. A recent development is Martha wanting to be held after a feed so I have taken to wearing her in the Baby Bjorn sling around the house until she drops off, just so I can get something done! They are both using their hands a lot to explore, suck their fingers a lot (please, please let the thumbs be found soon so we can get rid of the dummies) and seem to like looking intently at the black and white contrast images next to their changing station.

Tamsyn looking angelic
All in all they're pretty good, the three hourly feed schedule bearable and the odd 4 or 5 hour reprieve at night very welcome...
Sleeping beauties
Gemma has been up and down since they came home. Mostly she is loving being a big sister and relishes the role of little helper, especially at bath times or when she's asked to fetch and carry stuff. She is very confident going up and down the stairs by herself now which makes things easier ;o)
Martha wide awake
However after the initial week at home, where she was fairly quiet but still very well behaved, we've had a few more tantrums and tears and a lot of attention seeking which was only to be expected I guess. Bedtimes have occasionally been a trial and we have had to get quite stern with her after traipsing up and down the stairs for yet another imaginary ailment or toilet trip "do you REALLY need another poo?". However in the past week, as the twins' routine has settled down a bit, so has Gemma and she seems a bit more accepting of the fact that her morning and evening / bedtime routines now involve Mummy feeding the babies most of the time. We are trying to spend quality time with her at weekends and when I'm not feeding I try and be with her as much as possible. She's actually been really good considering. Though has cottoned onto the fact that the loads of presents the twins have received quite often come with a big sister present attached...

To those who have been really generous and sent presents and cards, thank you so much and we'll be sending out thank you notes soon. Life with twins is certainly more than twice the work but so incredibly rewarding!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Martha and Tamsyn - their birth story

 Our girls are here! At 37 weeks and after a planned induction that was a little later than *actually* planned, they came into the world with relative ease and only a little fuss. If you're a man you might want to stop reading now, fingers in ears and 'lalalala' (or maybe not, there won't be too many graphic details!). Here is the birth story of Martha Alison Brown and Tamsyn Elaine Brown, born 22nd January 2012.

My induction was booked for Saturday 21st Jan, and I was asked to go to hospital the day before to be examined to see if they would start me off overnight. When we got there there were no beds on delivery suite due to a sudden influx of inconveniently labouring women, so they stuck me on a ward. No news the next morning or for the whole of Saturday, which was really disheartening as we had really geared ourselves up for it to happen that day. Luckily as the girls were pretty snug and happy where they were it wasn't urgent I was seen that day but it was a bit hard to take.

Anyway overnight on Saturday they finally took me down to the observation area next to the delivery suite and examined me, I was 1-2cm dilated and having pretty constant but pain-free tightenings, so they decided not to start the official process of gels and drips as they thought things might progress overnight. In the morning I was slightly more dilated to 2-3cm but no other change. The doctor decided to break my waters for me as she thought that would start me off and yes it did!

In the company of the lovely midwife Jenny who we were really lucky to have with us all day, my waters were broken at 10.40am and strong contractions started soon afterwards. By the time Jenny went for her lunch at around 1.30ish I was only 4cm dilated. Ali had been into Headington and brought the papers and a Starbucks latte for me and I had a spell on the rocking chair, reading the Observer magazine and sucking on the Entonox gas and air through contractions. I decided against an epidural as while the contractions were really long and painful, I was managing on the gas and air.

"Nothing will happen any time soon, you're not ready, so I'm off for my lunch" said Jenny, handing over to 2 other lovely midwives. Hmmm. By just after 2.15pm I was high as a kite on gas and air and contracting pretty permanently. "You're not ready to push yet!" "Oh yes I bloody am" and Martha made a pretty swift entry to the world at 2.47pm weighing 5lbs 5oz, and demonstrating excellent lung capacity with her screams. I was as shocked as anyone it had happened so quickly and there was immediately a team of paediatricians, doctors, midwives etc to look after her and focus on twin 2 who was preparing to make her way out.

Our second little lady caused a bit more bother - she turned around after Martha was born, still head down but now back to back so they lost her heartbeat. All of a sudden there were millions of people in the room, they broke the 2nd lot of waters and although scans showed her heartbeat and her moving, the team in the room became so concerned they got her out with forceps after giving me a local anaesthetic to numb some of the pain. However at the point they were about to wheel me to theatre (apparently - I was fairly oblivious to this due to a combination of absolute agony and gas and air) I pushed hard and out Tamsyn popped at 3.06pm.

After I'd delivered the placenta (Ali has pictures for those who are curious, it was fascinating to see it though pretty gruesome) and got stitched up (the doctor had to cut me as forceps were involved) I got to have skin to skin with the babies and Martha started to feed straight away, bless her. Tamsyn was a bit trickier and didn't really get the hang of it but we had great support from the lovely midwife Renata. I was in a room recovering by about 8pm.

We were all discharged home on the Tuesday after the birth on the Sunday, which in hindsight wasn't the best plan, as we were straight back in the next day after the girls were weighed by the community midwife and had lost more than 10% of their birthweight. We're in the JR fattening them up and they are doing brilliantly, so we hope to be out again at the weekend.

Overall the whole experience was very different to Gemma's birth which was far less 'managed'. I don't feel it was any the worse for that though, just different but still wonderful; and the team at the JR, once they got going with inducing me, were and continue to be amazingly professional, caring and supportive. Our 2 girls are here, safe and sound and that's what matters most. Their big sister is delighted with them and has been a little treasure over the past week while Mummy and the babies have been in hospital. Ali and I are so, so lucky!

Our lovely new girls
Tamsyn Elaine Brown
Proud big sister Gemma with Martha

Martha Alison Brown