parenting

The first six weeks

Well, Hattie and Joe were six weeks old yesterday – or, as I like to think of it, we’re halfway to the stage at which we might find life becoming marginally easier – and it seems like a good opportunity to take a breath and reflect on what’s been going on.  Of course, this great plan may be curtailed if the babies wake up, so please forgive me if I don’t manage to publish this post for several days.  And expect this whole post to jump around a bit: if you’re looking for a logical narrative arc, you’re likely to be disappointed.

I am gradually getting used to being a mother, I think.  I still have my moments (several a day, in fact) where I find myself thinking about what my life is like now, and feeling totally bewildered by the degree to which it’s changed.

The real thing I didn’t anticipate was how much I would love my babies.  I had been told about the amazing unconditional love I’d feel, of course, but I don’t think that you can imagine what it will feel like to just adore these incredibly sweet, yet incredibly demanding little people.  The weird thing about this type of love is that, at this stage, it’s all give and absolutely no take. You spend every minute of your life trying to make this person happy and comfortable, and you’re rewarded by nothing more than crying, dirty nappies, and cold glares – and that’s if the baby deigns to make eye contact with you.  Hattie has had a glare that can rival Maggie Smith on Downton Abbey at her most disapproving: it’s like I’m an incompetent housemaid who has let her down.  And then – just when you’re starting to suspect that this child actively dislikes you – you finally receive some eye contact and a smile, thank goodness!  Hattie favoured me with my first proper smile yesterday, and I’m still waiting for Joe to cut me a break…

I still can’t believe that I have two children.  I look at them and am gobsmacked that they were inside me only a few weeks ago, and that I have seen them develop before they were born from seven weeks onwards.  And speaking of that, I realised the other day that their 19 week scan pictures really did give us a good idea of how they’d look when they were born!  Check it out – here’s Hattie in the scan photo:

Twin B (our daughter) - 19 weeks

And here she is now, with those pixie baby features more fully formed:

Hattie

Here’s Joe at 19 weeks:

Twin A (our son) - 19 weeks

And here he is now, with his chubby cheeks and pouty lips on show:

Joe

Incredible, eh!  And how incredible that Tristan and I created such gorgeous children.  I’m in awe when I look at them.

Speaking of Tristan, he’s the most amazing father.  I’m not at all surprised, of course.  And we’re both so glad that we’ve got more than fifteen years of loving each other ‘banked’ – life with newborn twins is stressful, and you wouldn’t want to tackle it with somebody who you didn’t unconditionally love and trust.  We’d been warned by a lot of people that many marriages don’t survive the arrival of twins, and we were horrified to hear it, but now that we’ve been through the first six weeks, it’s easy to understand how this kind of stress would really put a fragile relationships under a lot of strain.  We’ve certainly had our short-tempered, snappy moments, but we always get over it quickly, and we try to be kind to each other as much as we can, and cut each other a break (and also encourage each other to catch a nap – we both seem to spend half of our time trying to get the babies to bed, and the other half of our time trying to send each other to bed!)

One thing that sucks is the lack of time Tristan has had to spend with the babies.  He was given a pathetic paternity leave allocation of three days, and although he has some annual leave saved up that he could take now, his work is just too busy.  And his manager was all “oh, spending time with the babies is the most important thing and you should prioritise that” before Hattie and Joe were born, but now he’s all “oh, you’ve got to make sure you get through your work”..!  It’s particularly difficult that he is snowed under all day, and then gets home to spend a few loud and stressful hours with grizzly children and a worn-out wife.  Not fun!

The most challenging part of it all, for both of us, has been our inability to ‘solve’ the problems of baby behaviour.  In this respect we’ve obviously been totally unrealistic (although I’m sure that every new parent does the same things as us).  The grizzly unsettled behaviour that we deal with nearly every evening has been extremely trying, and we’ve worked very hard to try to get the babies to just feed and sleep.  At first we were convinced that colic was to blame, and that this was probably all about trapped wind.  Then, more recently, we started to wonder whether the babies suffered from reflux.  Have you noticed the trend?  We wanted to find a formal reason why stuff was going on, so we could then figure out a solution.

Then, on Monday, I took the babies to see a paediatrician (a free appointment for babies in their first six weeks – we didn’t have any serious concerns about either baby, but we figured that it would be good to have them checked out).  He was a great guy; really down to earth and calm.  When I told him about the unsettled behaviour and explained that we’d suspected colic first, and then reflux, he was incredibly kind as he set me straight: he said that it was just normal baby behaviour, and that the best way of dealing with it was to give up.  He said that, rather than getting frustrated each evening and trying (and failing) to get the kids to bed, we should just chuck them into a wrap or a front pack, eat dinner, watch TV, and relax – the babies would sleep on us, and then we could send them off to bed after their final feed.  I really like this philosophy, and I’m trying to relax a lot more about things like routines – I think I’ve recognised, at last, that we just need to get through these first twelve weeks, and that we’ll have plenty of time to get things organised when Hattie and Joe are a little older (and also that they’re too young to develop bad habits, so it really doesn’t matter if they spend half their time strapped to us right now, or if it’s easier to nurse them to sleep occasionally.  These days I’m all about doing whatever is required to get through each day (and I’m writing this at 2.30 pm, with a sleeping Hattie in the wrap).

Anyway, I think that I’ve rambled for long enough.  We are doing pretty well, all things considered, and we’re so excited about being able to watch Hattie and Joe as they start learning to smile, coo, and generally interact with us.  They are so lovely!

There were so many other things I was going to write about in this post, but I’m too knackered and now I can’t remember any of them.  Awesome.

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4 thoughts on “The first six weeks

  1. I just love the photo of Joe. I don’t think I’ve seen that before. He looks gorgeous and I have already commented on the photo of Hattie, who looks equally gorgeous. No-one can describe the love you feel for your children and no-one can describe the sheer horror of realising that these children are relying on you both for everything. Everything!!! And you don’t know what your are doing right and what you are doing wrong. And why don’t they come with a manual. Everything else provides instructions. Even really stupid people are good mothers and fathers; surely I can do it too. Well they too probably felt the same that you do (or did) but they survived and so will you. Survival is the name of the game and then one day, you realise, I know what I am doing and everything is okay. It will happen I guarantee it. Love to you all xxx

  2. I can’t believe people warned you that many marriages don’t survive having twins! Could there be a more negative comment?

    They are such gorgeous little babies, and you are Tristan are doing great – it’s fantastic they don’t actually have colic or reflux and are instead just normal, demanding babies. I agree with the doctor – do what you like, never mind a routine, just feed and cuddle when you like. Many mothers have older kids or are going back to work outside the home, so they are in a hurry to get their baby in to a routine, but you don’t have to worry about that, and that’s brilliant. They’ll settle in to a routine all on their own as they get older anyway xxx

    1. The main marriage message was “don’t split up in the first two years, as they’re really hard and it will get better after that”. Sadly, heaps of couples do split up, although it’s hard to imagine what kind of person would walk out on their spouse when they’ve got twins to worry about.

      I think their growth spurt is over, so I’m trying to get them back to their daytime routine today: I only had one ten minute period without a baby in my arms all day yesterday, which isn’t really sustainable – it’s one thing when both of us are here in the event, but not so great when it’s just me here!

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