When we last caught up with our intrepid heroine and her two tiny sidekicks, everybody was asleep…
0000 – 0100 Hattie wakes up for a feed at five past midnight, two and a half hours after going to sleep, and just over three hours since the start of her last feed.
Watching Joe sleeping peacefully, I contemplate leaving him undisturbed and just feeding Hattie. I can’t do it, though; any twin mother knows that doing so would guarantee being woken up again within an hour, when he was ready to eat, and then being woken again and again throughout the night as both babies pursued their own dietary timetable. I have to balance my desire to cater to the babies’ best interests with my need for at least two hours of uninterrupted sleep and, knowing how badly I fare when over-tired, I make the decision that is best for household harmony. But I rouse Joe to the slightest degree possible, and leave him swaddled while I feed him.
(Singleton parents will probably be clutching their brows at the thought of waking a sleeping baby. I don’t blame them: it’s a crazy, counter-intuitive thing to do, but it’s essential if you want to get any sleep as a twin parent, ever.)
Hattie feeds for 17 minutes and Joe goes for a few minutes longer. I use the time to check Facebook, and discover that Michelle, my lovely new twin friend who lives just up the road, has been admitted to hospital this evening with possible pre-eclampsia. She’s only at 30 weeks, so it’s very worrying.
I get the babies back into bed by 0040 – they didn’t really wake up for that feed, so there weren’t any issues with settling, thank goodness. While writing this part of my blog entry I’m listening to Joe yelp; he’s not crying, but his breathing is super noisy (because of a floppy larynx, which will apparently right itself in his first year) and it keeps sounding like he’s throwing up. He’s done that a couple of times in bed and it’s awful when it happens – it really upsets him, and it requires a lot of middle-of-the-night clean-up, and usually some bunking in with Hattie. We now put him down with a cloth nappy draped over his bedding, to reduce the risk of me having to hand-wash a milk vomit-splattered hand-knitted blanket. That’s never fun.
0100 – 0200: asleep.
0200 – 0300: still asleep. Hooray!
0300 – 0400: I wake up at 0350 after hearing what sounds like Hattie giggling! Very cute! The noises soon turn into more definitive “hello? Mummy? I’m hungry!” stirrings, so I scoop her and Joe (who is just stirring) out of their cots and take them back to the living room for their feed.
0400 – 0500: Both babies feed reasonably swiftly, but neither of them seem very sleepy afterwards. Despite this, I manage to get them back into their cots before 0500 – Hattie with her dummy, and Joe under some duress…
0500 – 0600: asleep.
0600 – 0700: still asleep.
0700 – 0800: woken up by Hattie just after 0700. I make an executive decision and leave her yowling on the sofa for a few minutes while I make tea and toast. It’s not serious yowling; it’s melodramatic Dowager Countess Maggie Smith “how DARE you make me wait for breakfast?! You should serve me the INSTANT that I wake up! This is an OUTRAGE!!” yowling. I get Joe out of bed as well and, while Hattie howls, he lies there and smiles at me. He then happily fills his nappy during the feed, so the three of us sit surrounded by a pooey stench. This is not uncommon behaviour from Hattie and Joe, which doesn’t always contribute to an enjoyable feeding experience (for me, anyway – they don’t seem to mind it).
0800 – 0900: both babies are put to bed at 0800, but they bugger around in their cots and don’t actually go to sleep until 0830. They’re not crying, though, so I leave them to it and have a shower and do another load of laundry.
0900 – 1000: Joe wakes up at 0900 and emits a series of blood curdling cries. Having eliminated wind and his nappy as reasons for his distress, I investigate the final thing that often bothers him, and – sure enough – he’s got some major goobie action going on. I squirt some saline up each of his nostrils and go fishing with a rolled-up tissue. This goes down as well as you’d expect, but at least it solves the problem. Despite having no further cause for complaint, he won’t let me put him down and cries in a heartrending manner if he’s anywhere but on me. Hattie wakes up 20 mins later, so I park both babies in their bouncy chairs to fill in some time before they’re due a feed. After the chairs lose their shine I transfer them to their play mat for a while.
They’re definitely starting to reach a stage where they no longer remain content with just being awake: they want to be entertained.
I end up doing the feed just before 1000, bringing it forward slightly because I can’t deal with any more of Joe’s “I am sick of this – where’s the milk” complaining (I give in after only a couple of minutes – that’s how annoying it is!)
1000 – 1100: after the feed I change the nappies and get organised to visit Anthea. Joe makes it slightly more challenging by screaming like a banshee any time I’m not holding him. In his perfect world he’d be an only child and I’d be a seasoned Natural Parent and devoted Baby Wearer. Instead, he screams at me from the sofa, and then screams at me from the change table, and then screams at me from his capsule. Proper, furious, ‘face like a squashed tomato’ screaming. Hattie just smiles throughout.
1100 – 1200: both babies fall asleep at 1100, as we’re pulling out of the driveway. Hattie wakes up half an hour later, but Joe sleeps through the entire visit. When Hattie wants to talk about it later Joe’s going to be all “Hattie, are you high? We haven’t visited anybody today!” and Hattie will probably put on her dowager countess voice and shriek “how DARE you imply that I’m a drug user!”
1200 – 1300: lovely Anthea makes me a sandwich, and then I feed Hattie. I quite like feeding one baby at a time occasionally – it feels like they’re sneaking an extra feed on the sly.
1300 – 1400: Hattie falls asleep as soon as she’s put back in the capsule, and continues to sleep on the way home and once she’s back in her bedroom. Joe wakes up after nearly three hours, and seems to be in a slightly more convivial frame of mind (only slightly, mind). Before starting his feed I quickly hang out some wet washing and chuck another load in the machine.
1400 – 1500: Joe views his feed as a golden opportunity to fill his nappy once again, and the stench is so bad that I declare a half-time break to sort thing out. When we’ve resumed proceedings he feeds for a while and then starts fussing, which is usually a sign of wind, so I throw him over my shoulder and he produces the kind of loud, resonant burp of which a beer-drinking adult male would be proud.
1500 – 1600: sitting around with Joe on my lap, swapping smiles. When he gets bored I put him back on the mat for a while, and then I put him in a bouncy chair. Eventually, he ends up where he wanted to be all along: lying on my chest, getting cuddled. Just as he’s falling asleep Hattie wakes up. So predictable!
1600 – 1700: a tandem feed – a bit early for Joe, but his appetite seems healthy nonetheless. Afterwards, Linda watches the babies while I pop out to the supermarket. On my way to the car I encounter the lovely Tui, who almost turns herself inside-out with excitement at seeing me. She’s adorable!
1700 – 1800: I get back from the supermarket and I bathe the two babies, and tonight Hattie is helpful and doesn’t wee in the bath water. Sarah from next door comes over for a baby cuddle, and then Sarah and Linda return to their respective homes and I give the babies a top-up feed. Can I be bothered trying to settle them to sleep unaided?! That’s the big question…
1800 – 1900: the answer is no: both babies are tired, but neither baby wants to settle. Joe continues to insist on lying on me in order to avoid grizzling, and Hattie’s started finding this Mummy-hogging behaviour objectionable.
1900 – 2000: I’m obsessively clock-watching. Tristan finally arrives home at 1920. Hooray!