Les jumeaux en France: 20e journee

Well, I’m sure you have grasped that the lack of blog updates and photos can be attributed directly to the fact that I had eight consecutive nights of feral twin tag teaming, with all of the attendant screaming, crying, demand feeding and bed sharing. I was getting no more than 30 minutes of sleep at a time and, by yesterday morning, I was a total wreck. But last night Tristan and I had a Skype chat and decided that I should give Verbal Reassurance another go. Of course, you may be wondering why we’d stopped using that technique and returned to the endless and ineffective approach of shushing, patting, holding, jiggling, and otherwise trying to jump through hoops in order to convince the babies to sleep. It’s one of those things that just happens, and it wasn’t until this morning that I realised why: somebody I respect was very vocally disapproving when discussing with me, and it made me feel really bad about myself as a parent. Now, after the past eight days, I’ve had a change of heart and am much more willing to defend our chosen approach without feeling bad about it – for five reasons:

1. I wasn’t getting any sleep. The babies were getting bugger-all sleep. Physically, I was becoming worried about my ability to stay healthy and functional (and producing quality milk, in particular). I was also concerned that the ongoing lack of rest would be detrimental for Hattie and Joe. They’re growing and learning so rapidly, and contending with things like teething, and they need sleep in order to do all of that.

2. The toll that the disrupted nights were taking on me was too high. On an emotional level I can’t function without sleep. The prospect of two more weeks of bad nights was so grim that I wanted to run away – and not in a flippant way, but in a “seriously, hide my passport or else I’m legging it” way. Even before we had Hattie and Joe, Tristan and I had long recognised that tiredness is a real trigger for me for a lot of dark things – I start to feel very low and dark. And I can’t be caring for our children properly when I’m in that state.

3. I was worried that my relationship with the babies was being seriously badly affected. Without wanting to sound melodramatic, on one occasion I had to leave the screaming babies in their cots and leave the room, because I was genuinely scared that I’d lose the plot with them entirely. I suspect that most parents have reached that point at some stage. It’s very scary when it happens.

4. I’ve belated reminded myself that people who are not expected to tend to my children in the middle of the night have ZERO right to an opinion about the choices that we make about settling them to sleep. And people who haven’t experienced the special breed of hell that is dealing with two screaming babies all night, with no help, can [insert your favourite expletive here] themselves if they think that they know how I should behave.

5. The approach that I was using wasn’t bloody working! The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result – why did I think that Hattie and Joe would somehow start sleeping properly again, when I was endlessly resettling them? And I know that teething is disruptive, but they’re getting regular doses of paracetamol, so if they’ve got full tummies and clean nappies, and they’ve had pain relief, there really isn’t anything else that I can do.

Anyway, I did Verbal Reassurance for the first time last night. Hattie look over half an hour to resettle after the evening feed, but then she slept for at least two hours at a time during the night. She still had three feeds, but she settled again within a minute or two each time. And when she woke and wasn’t due a feed, she settled after being told to go back to sleep, within maybe a minute of crying. And Joe had his evening feed and a 2am feed, and then slept until 7am.

Enough of this boring stuff – onto the photos from today (I didn’t really take any photos during the past couple of days).

Here’s Hattie yesterday, finally getting the hang of drinking out of a cup:


I took advice from fellow twin mums about Hattie and Joe’s reluctance to drink water, and one tip I had was the “just use a proper cup and don’t worry about a feeder cup” idea. Another idea was to give them water with a bit of juice added at first, to make it more palatable,and then gradually remove the juice from the mix when they’re used to drinking. I used water and prune juice, to also address constipation issues, and both babies went for it.

Today Hattie had a lovely time by the pool with her Nanna, while I was feeding Joe:


Doesn’t that garden look lush and beautiful!

And then Hattie joined us for lunch while Joe was asleep:


She nibbled on a bread crust. She’s been very keen on food today, and wailed until I gave her some of Joe’s breakfast and dinner (fruit for both meals, today), and because she’s drinking now, I’ve let her go for it – hopefully her tummy will handle it.

Little Joe was feeling a bit fragile today, so I gave him a soothing icy watermelon teething net:


You can hear his appreciative watermelon-eating noises in this video.

Later, we watched a bit of TV:


And Joe was very happy to hang out with his big cousin Jordan (both babies are OBSESSED with Jordan):


We haven’t left the house since a supermarket visit on Saturday. During that outing, both babies were out for three hours, and slept in the car for the final 30 minutes, and had such meltdowns later in the day, when they were overtired. I’m sure that they should be moving towards two naps a day and longer awake time one of these days, but they still struggle to stay up and happy for longer than two hours at a time, and that leaves virtually no time to do anything. It kind of makes me feel like I could be anywhere, and in my very dark last few days I really wished that I could just take the babies home. However, it is lovely to be here, and Pat is so happy to spend time with us, and is awesome with the babies. My homesickness was the sleep deprivation talking, I’m sure!

11 thoughts on “Les jumeaux en France: 20e journee

  1. I am so glad you’ve done that verbal reassurance thing again! Always do what YOU know is best for your babies and for you (because that actually IS equally as important!). Never justify your decisions to others either! Glad its working, it always did for my kids and they were all great sleepers! Happy times ahead! Love you xxx

  2. Yes just do what works for you. Especially with two babies to care for, you can’t afford to let your health suffer for someones preachy opinions. Lack of sleep does BAD BAD THINGS to a mummys ability to cope.
    And oh my goodness look at that garden, what a paradise you are staying in!

  3. Oh magda, my heart goes out to you my dear. Severe sleep deprivation is an awful thing for mummies, as you well know. I really find it hard to believe that a friend would offer judgement on how you are settling YOUR children. You do whatever works for you. You are doing the best for your babies and you know them best. It looks absolutely gorgeous where you are and I have been thoroughly enjoying your blog updates and photos. Not sure if it would work, but one day if they are asleep during the day at the same time and you are not too knackered, you should head to the nearest village and wander around by yourself or sit in a cafe with a magazine……otherwise if it gets too bad you know that Poland is not too far away?! Take care. xxxxx

    1. Ahhhh – thanks, lovely Lenka! It wasn’t a friend as such, just somebody with whom I came into contact. But receiving such great support from so many lovely friends has well and truly negated it, which is wonderful!

      Slipping away for a couple of hours isn’t really an option here, as we’re very rural, but I’m definitely doing that when we’re in England and I want to go shopping. Can’t bloody wait! Any requests? Xxxx

  4. Good on you Jacq. The only piece of advice that I give new parents is that they know their baby best so follow your own instincts. We had a rough time early in with Kate when the midwife told us we needed to change her routine as she needed to feed more often even though she was gaining weight really well and was really settled. It turned into a complete disaster until Graham said why r we doing this (I was in a total haze from lack of sleep and a constantly crying baby so couldn’t even think that far) and when we reverted back to what we were doing it was so much better. By the time the boys came along I was very good at telling white lies to the midwives and plummet 🙂

  5. I second everyone else – nobody knows those babies like you do and no one else is at the sharp end, night after sleepless night. I totally agree on the sleep deprivation front and how easy it is to end up in a very dark place when your nerves have been worn to shreds. So glad to hear things are improving now and more sleep is being had by all.
    Yes it really looks like you’ve been vacationing in Eden from the photos! Shopping hmmmm. What about Kingston? I don’t think you’ll be that far away and on a nice day you could get an ice cream and sit by the river too 🙂 xx

    1. Ooh – that sounds lovely! I can’t wait I hit the English shops – NZ shopping is completely dire by comparison! Luckily, we had a fair bit of spare capacity in our luggage on the way here. I suspect that this won’t be the case on the way home!

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