The first 5 months

Seriously. WHAT is all the fuss about? I am either extremely lucky, half insane or half dead, but this motherhood biz is a piece of cake.

Granted, my dear babies are not mobile yet. Life may get interesting when I cannot find a child as it has rolled under the TV cabinet. (Mental note, move Sky box in the next two months). But life with these two darlings is, right now, quite lovely and stress-free.

Let me tell you about my last 5 months. I am hardly in the door when our neighbours start appearing. Let me paint you a picture. Our neighbours are all elderly and like a bit of gossip. So when our car turned into our street they were literally standing at our door. This was perhaps a little overwhelming. We have had some unusual encounters.

Encounter #1. One morning, a woman came barging at full speed into our lounge room (our front door was open as my husband was outside sorting out the car).

‘WHERE ARE THEY? WHERE ARE THEY?’ she exclaimed, a frenzy of blondey-grey hair and old-woman perfume filling my nostrils.

My husband popped his head in the door, eyes like dinner plates, um, this is Pat. She lives at no. 57.

Oh right. Yes, hello um Pat.

OOOOOOOOH aren’t they gorgeous, ooooooh they’re just gorgeous!!! kissing me on both cheeks. I had never seen this woman before in my life, and here she was, in my lounge room, kissing me and scaring my children.

Encounter #2.

I decided I would venture out on my own with the girls on PUBLIC TRANSPORT and meet my husband at his work. They are three weeks old. My husband and I sit at a table and start feeding the girls, conscious of the ticking lunch hour.

‘Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh. Twins!!!!’ exclaims an extraordinarily badly dressed Chinese woman at the table next to us.

‘Yes’ we smile.

She pulls her chair over and sits at our table. (Why?!)

‘What are they drinking?’ she says in very broken English.

‘Milk’, I say, looking at her tracksuit pants and ridiculously long hair that needs a good foot cut off the bottom. My husband is still glaring at me thinking WHY is she sitting at our table?

Breastmilk? se asks.

No. Formula.

Chinese madwoman starts shaking her head in disagreement.

‘Oh no this is very bad, you must breastfeed’.

Now, dear readers. If there is one thing you do not do to a new mother, it is TELL them what to do. I could literally feel the horns breaking through my scalp.

Um no, I am not breastfeeding (for I do not live in a barn and I wish to have a life I felt like saying but decided to remain polite).

‘How old are they?’ she asked.

‘Three weeks.’

‘Oh, in China you do not take your children out in first month.’

Well, lovely Chinese woman, you will notice we are not in China.

She then went on about her visa situation and how she could not stay in the UK. This is where I thought ‘WHAT is wrong with this woman? Not only has she just joined us at our table uninvited, she has also told me I should be breastfeeding and confined to my home while wearing extremely bad attire, clothing I would not even wear while painting the inside of our garden shed, and NOW she is complaining about Home Office. Home Office deserved a gold medal in this case, I thought.

Encounter #3

The girls are a couple of months old and we are out one Saturday night at our local Prezzo enjoying a 3-course meal, the girls asleep in their capsules and us celebrating their beauty with a bottle of Sangiovese house red.

A woman comes over and says ‘your girls are just beautiful. Here is a fiver to put in their moneybox.’

Another couple overheard the woman and presented us with another fiver.

By this stage I was getting concerned… Why were all these people giving us money? Do I look unkempt? Or maybe they just feel bloody sorry for my husband living with three women. In one outing we once made £17. Better order another bottle of Sangiovese then.

Encounter #4

Oh my God. She has twins. Oh my God. WHY is she looking so calm?, I heard a group of mothers at a local cafe whisper.

What was I meant to look like? I had visions of my hair standing on end like those cartoons when they blast TNT. They are just little people in this pram, ladies, not polar bears from the bleedin’ Arctic. How hard can it be?

And that’s just it. It’s not hard. It’s fun. It’s a joy. ‘Oooooh I bet it’s hard,’ say the group of people standing around me at the supermarket (the attention twins get is staggering – and no, I do not give a shit about your cousin’s wife’s boss who had twins and now they’re 47 and play the guitar).

‘Um no, it’s ok.’ I say.

‘Ooooh I bet you don’t get much sleep.’

‘Um no, they sleep from about 7.30pm til 5-6am then go back to sleep til about 7.’

Do you know what it is, people? People overcomplicate things. Like when you get married. Oooooh you MUST buy this, and you MUST buy that and you MUST do this or else your husband-to-be will leave you and you will die. Rubbish. It is the same with having a baby. Or two. Ooooooooh you must have this coffee warmer that attaches to your pram (just drink the bloody coffee like everyone else). Or this onesie for just £28 that will fit them for approximately 5 weeks. Or this vibrating, singing chair that is so bright you feel like vomiting whenever you set eyes on it. The key to happy children is:

Feed them.

Bathe them.

Change their nappies.

Smile at them. Even when you don’t really feel like it.

Talk to them. And it doesn’t have to be that coochie coochie coo nonsense.

Take them for a walk in the pram – it’s good for you and them.

Understand they need a routine but it changes.

That is it. Just because your baby is crying does not mean it needs a ridiculously ugly, expensive contraption to soothe it. Try interacting with your child. Oh wow look at that, it has stopped crying.

This is not to say I am some strange earth mother that gives my child leaves and twigs to play with. But I refuse to be one of those mothers whose lounge rooms look like a circus and every time the child voices a complaint panics and sticks them in front of yet another ugly gadget.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the first 8 weeks of twindom is gruelling. The most sleep you get at any one time is 3 hours. They poo and wee and vomm a lot. The washing machine is going constantly. Your husband leaves the house looking like a vampire. You eat peanut butter toast at 9.30pm for dinner again. But it does get easier. If you live in a two storey house a change table downstairs and upstairs is a godsend. So is a washing bin. You meet with friends and they say ‘oh they will start sleeping longer soon’ and you look at them one-eyed in disbelief. And then it happens. You wake up, panicking at 5am because you have slept over 5 hours and rush into their room…. And there they are STILL asleep and you cry because you know that a proper sleep is just around the corner.

And that’s it. The most important thing is to remember the WHOLE thing. That is, you wanted a baby more than anything else in the world. You created life. That is huge, and it is fabulous, so enjoy it. And have some more peanut butter toast and a Sangiovese.

 

The Big Day

On Thursday 6th March my dear husband and I bundled ourselves into our car and started driving to the hospital where I was booked in at 8am to have a couple of kids.

I cannot tell you how surreal the drive was knowing you will return with two children in the back. Two boys? Two girls? Nah. One of each? A family of four in any case.

The operation went. It did not, in my opinion, go well. People advised a caesarean was easy peasy. ‘You’ll go in, have a cup of tea, have a child, and have another cup of tea’. Incorrect. I will explain.

I was told there would be a dozen hospital staff in theatre – this was indeed correct. I felt like I was on the set of ER, a show I had grown fond of during my 8 MONTHS’ insomnia, waking up at 2am EVERY BLOODY MORNING. ER had kept me sane. (I was now addicted to Thirtysomething. The shoulder pads were worth waking up for.)

The staff were amazing. I was a wreck. I sat on the edge of the hospital bed surrounded by my ER folk and began to shake and cry. Absolutely uncontrollably. Yes, it was cold (I had been warned) but I was absolutely petrified. It is the weirdest thing knowing that in a few moments, you will be numb from the ribs down and be presented with two human beings that have not only made you drink 600 gallons of Gaviscon, 40,000 chai lattes and 38 million pieces of stollen, but will shape your life from hereonin. It was just all too much.

Before I knew it the first announcement was made. This was where, we finally found out who the hell had been pushing down making me feel like I had been riding a horse for a thousand years.

‘It’s a girl!’ the midwife exclaimed.

‘REALLY?’ Wow! I thought in my anaesthetic haze – I was starting to feel a little nauseous. Not from the news of a girl, you understand, but that anaesthetic is strong stuff. One minute passes. ‘It’s another girl!’

This was where I got confused. And if I wasn’t trying to vomit and dipping in and out of consciousness I probably would have asked ‘Are you sure?’

Two girls. Who’d have thought? My late mother would have thought. My late mother was bloody right. Cheeky bloody clever woman. She would be looking down now saying ‘I told you so. I told you you’d marry an Englishman and have twin girls.’

And then BANG there they were. Two little squashed up faces, Ivy and Elsie, who were no doubt 90% Gaviscon, appeared. Absolutely bloody wonderful. And you know what? All the 2am wake-ups, the waddling through Victoria station during peak hour holding my belly up panting like a dog, the despair I felt when Morrisons stopped stocking stollen ‘due to the Christmas period being over’ (not good enough), well it was all worth it. So was the look on my husband’s face. Fabulous.

To be honest the first 24 hours of motherhood is a bit of a haze. Every time I lifted my head I was sick. Water wouldn’t stay down. My dear husband was on the verge of a breakdown thanks to me feeling like death (the trapped wind after a caesarean is bloody painful), Ivy being in an incubator the first night due to fluid in her lungs and Elsie deciding to start choking. BUT we got there in the end. Five days later we were on our way home, ready to introduce our dear little girls to the world. My husband had never driven so slowly in his life. Doing 40 mph in a 70 mph zone, both of us were sobbing in disbelief of the two little humans in the back of the car. It was a journey more surreal than the one there. It was magical. It was amazing. And I will never ever forget it. The luckiest woman in the world.

 

 

 

 

 

37 weeks. On the home straight.

Well, here we are. After 13 million chai lattes, 450,000 pieces of stollen, 35 dozen hot cross buns and months of waking up every single morning between 2 and 4am, we are here. 37 weeks pregnant. I have a belly that is a whopping 1.2m, yes METRES in circumference, have put on a total of 12 kg and am extremely reluctant to climb the stairs, let alone leave the house. I have also discovered the Carpal Tunnel, which does not allow you to drive from England to France but is the area of the wrist which, when it has fluid, causes your hands to swell up and look like my dad’s (and may I just say, my dad has the biggest hands I have ever seen) and get pins and needles. A delight. Because you NEED that to happen along with everything else when you feel like a moose about to explode. Jesus.

And what a journey it has been. The strangest appointment I had was with Mr Consultant around the 32 week mark when they decided they needed to schedule me in for the infamous c-section.

Mr Consultant: “OK, let’s look at dates. How about this date?”

Me: “Whoa. Are we talking about THE date? The date of the c-section? The date of my children’s birthday? The date that they will be celebrating every year of their lives? The date that I will rush around for like a manic woman trying to find the right doll / teddy bear / toy car / pair of trainers / whatever? The date that I will use as an excuse to get everyone over and drink copious amounts of wine with? The date they will write on immigration forms, marriage certificates, drivers licence applications, tax letters? THIS NEEDS ATTENTION, Mr Consultant. I feel my hands getting clammy. Where is my husband when I need him? Picking someone’s birthday is big. It is not picking a dental appointment, Mr Consultant. Um, no, not that date. I don’t like the number 5. No, can’t be that date, cause that’s my brother’s ex-girlfriend from 9 years ago’s birthdate. I pick the date and hope to God it’s not the same as Stalin’s or Kim Jong-un’s. Maybe I should quickly check that on my phone? What is the name of that annoying chick on the telly – I can’t have my beautiful twins share a birthday with her, surely? OK I need to get a grip. I pick the date. There is an end in sight and it feels WEIRD.

And now back to the past week where we have had milestone after milestone. We had our last scan where we saw these delightful little critters who decided playing football was a good idea as I was lying on my back – may I say that lying on your back 37 weeks pregnant with twins is perhaps THE most uncomfortable thing in the world – it feels like a tap dancing elephant on your lungs. Foal B has finally turned around after spending most of the pregnancy breech which would be welcome news if I was attempting a natural birth. What it means for me now is I have 4 legs and 4 little feet all in the one area kicking me in the guts normally straight after dinner, causing me to down a litre of Gaviscon just to feel like I am not a fire-eater at a circus.

Next milestone was the last appointment with Mr Consultant. I walk, sorry, waddle, into the room and am greeted by yet another different midwife, a medical student and Mr Consultant. “Well, both babies are around 5lb 12 oz, a good weight, blood pressure is fine, urine sample fine, oh and Twin B has turned around so is head down.” I know what is coming.

“Are you sure you want a c-section?” OH MY GOD. ARE YOU SERIOUS? After all the discussions. The stares that made me feel like I had accidentally turned up at the hospital wearing a Big Bird suit. The counselling session with The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe who was more interested in my childhood than whether I understood the risks of a caesarean.

“Yes, Mr Consultant. I am sure. I AM SO SURE YOU PERSISTENT F*CKER! I feel like shouting. Instead, I say, 10 out of 10 for persistence, smiling politely. He laughs. “So, we’re all set. Do you have any questions about the caesarean?” he asks. “Well, as a matter of fact, I do”.

And this is where my Project Manager head is switched on. I have a number of questions (um, about 15) on my phone of which I start firing away to these three people. Whoever answers first wins a prize! I exclaim, to lighten the mood. They look at me, puzzled and then chuckle. Yes, it’s a joke, people, you can laugh… oh how my line of work is different.

Next appointment is with the anaesthetist. This is where things really start hitting home for us. I think the fact we are waiting in a section of the hospital entitled DELIVERY SUITE does it. “Oh look, there’s a paddling pool!” says my husband as he passes one of the delivery rooms. A flash of pina coladas and palm trees flicker my mind and then I realise where I am.

Sarah the Anaesthetist is lovely. She asks whether I have had any dental work. Um hello? DENTAL WORK? I start to wonder if we are in the right appointment. You like my teeth? You don’t like my teeth? Are they a bit yellow? Not straight enough? TEETH? I am having a caesarean, dear, why the hell are you asking about my TEETH? Oh sorry, I should have explained. Yes you should have, lovely Sarah, as I do not want a jaw realignment.

“We need to make sure you don’t have any loose crowns or anything in the unlikely event we have to stick a tube down your throat”. God, they think of everything don’t they?

We finally leave the hospital. Next time we come here will be for THE BIG DAY. We can’t quite believe it. It has been such a LONG journey. When I think back to the summer floating around in the pool in Kos, 11 weeks pregnant, nibbling on ginger biscuits trying not to be sick and not knowing it was twins, to getting stuck straddling the console of my car at Christmas panting like a fat dog, to having the baby shower on 16 Feb where I was absolutely spoilt by such fabulous friends, to now, it feels like a two year elephant pregnancy. Both physically and mentally.

That Neil Diamond song ‘Forever in Blue Jeans’ comes on the radio. If there is one singer that instantly reminds me of my late mother, it’s Neil Diamond. I burst into tears. I think of what she would be like if she was here. Probably laughing her head off – after all, she did always say I would marry an Englishman and have twin girls. We’ll just have to see if she’s right on all three.

31 weeks. Tales of being stuck.

I’ve gotten stuck. Absolutely, utterly, horrifically yet funnily, stuck. No, that is not the reason I haven’t written any blogs recently – I am not trapped in a small hole somewhere waiting to be heard as I yell “Help! Help! Rapidly expanding pregnant woman is jammed into Saddam Hussein-style hole!” I have, however, had some very hilarious encounters with small spaces. Let me explain.

Picture this. 23rd December. Absolutely pouring with rain. NEED last-minute Christmas supplies. Am in local Marks & Spencer car park, which is like Waterloo station at peak hour – and obviously designed by an angry man suffering with Small Man
Syndrome – I mean, really, can one average sized car REALLY get around that corner? Perhaps if you were 4 ft and driving a dodgem car, life would be much easier.

ANYWAY after circling this particular car park a zillion times while buckets and buckets of water are falling from the sky, I finally spot a space. I’m like James Bond in an Aston Martin – NO ONE is going to stop this pregnant woman from having this space on the end. And I can see why. I zip in, then try to open my door – only to bang it (don’t worry, husband, it
was gentle) on the concrete wall beside it. Oh f*ck. I cannot get out. It opens approximately 5 inches. Meanwhile behind me are a stream of cars circling like sharks – even if I wanted to reverse out and begin the whole searching process again for another 20 minutes, I couldn’t.

Right. I’ll climb over into the passenger seat and get out the other side. Excellent idea.

I grab my left ankle (lifting one’s own ankle manually by hand is now the only way to move one’s foot up to the knee – yes this is what overstretching of the stomach muscles does to you) and stick it over the gearstick. And to think I used to cruise through 4-5 sessions of Bikram yoga a week. Using both arms I then begin lifting myself over to the passenger seat.

And this is where I manage to get stuck. Stuck straddling, yes straddling, the middle console of the car, you know that bit that you normally rest your elbow on during a long drive that houses a couple of pairs of scratched sunnies and a spare phone charger, one leg in the passenger seat stairwell, one in the drivers seat stairwell, head jammed against the ceiling, babies starting to feel rather crushed and probably thinking WHAT THE HELL IS OUR MOTHER DOING?

In hindsight, I should have slid the seats back to allow for maximum foot and bump room. I think of this as the man in the car next to me (oh yes, did I forget to mention that the SPACIOUS car spot next to me becomes free while I am straddling the console like the bloody Lone Ranger?!) does a double take with a quizzical look on his face and I look the other way absolutely MORTIFIED, pretending this is what normal pregnant people do.

He walks off (I manage obviously to look a lot less distressed than I actually am) and I then begin to laugh. Like a crazy woman. IMAGINE what my husband would think if he saw me right now. Honestly if he were to see me right now I think I would absolutely DIE from a combination of laughter PLUS the fact I am so hunched over with two large babies in tact that my lungs would fail (may I remind you that a twin pregnancy means you lose 60% of your lung capacity anyway). I then get my sh*t together and decide the only way to get out of this predicament is to topple over to the passenger seat. So I do just that and I am now lying half on my back, head against the far passenger door, grabbing my right foot and manage to get it into the passenger seatwell (albeit positioned like a drunk) panting like a maniac, giggling to myself and praying that the man in his fancy bloody new car and spacious car spot nextdoor does not return (and God forbid if he purchased the last
pack of stollen during all this he would lose his life).

I open the door and hurrah! I am out.

Predicament #2. Come home from work. Body is crying out for a hot bath. I get in, bubbles, candles, large glass of water to drink (I cannot tell you how much water these guys go through – I mean, I think they’re starting a bloody health spa in my
womb) and relax. After a good half hour I pull the plug out and try to get out. I said, try to get out. Come on, Eliza, you CAN get out. Try again. Water is now two inches deep. I cannot get out. Upper body strength was never my strong point, I have to admit, but THIS is ridiculous. I yell out to dear husband. He races upstairs to find me laughing, covered in suds, saying ‘I cannot get out.’ He leans against the bathroom door, with arms crossed, finding this all very amusing. I try again. Nope. I then attempt to roll to the side (think of large white suds-covered walrus in empty, slippery bath) and get on all fours hitting my arse on the tap before managing to pull myself up and FINALLY getting in a position where I can be assisted out by my husband without the risk of severe neck and back injury.

I think back to this very bathroom where I held the wee’ed-on pregnancy stick (on 18 July 2013 to be exact) and watched it turn blue in a matter of seconds (none of this 3 minute business) and NEVER would I have thought that I would get stuck in the bath.

I have not had a bath since.

My husband and I were in Morrisons doing the weekly grocery shop last weekend and the cashier says ‘oooooh not long to go now!’ Incorrect. 8 weeks to go, love. Eight weeks, not eight days, not eight hours, EIGHT WEEKS.

REALLY?! She exclaims. Yes. Oh wow, you’re big. Yes, I’ve noticed. 1m 18cm waist circumference actually.
‘Any weird cravings?’ she asks.
‘Um no, not really. Although I MUST have hot milk with cinnamon and honey at 4am every day or I feel like not living’. I then realise how ridiculous this sounds to a person who sleeps from say 10.30pm to 7am (e.g. a normal person) and not someone who STILL wakes up at 3.30am EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I’ve also noticed in the last few weeks how I have somehow attached a sign on my forehead thats says ‘PLEASE TELL ME YOUR MOST HORRIFIC STORY ABOUT GIVING BIRTH.’ No matter where I am, people see The Goosebump and then feel it is their duty to
tell me the worst pregnancy/labour story they can imagine (doctors accidentally breaking babies’ legs on the way out, women going into labour on the Central line at 28 weeks screaming, babies coming out and they are actually bears, oh no wait,
that was a dream).

May I just say, people, that although this is mildly interesting, it is not a welcome topic to a woman who has been stuck, straddling the console of her car like John Wayne, cannot walk for longer than 15 minutes without thinking her belly is going to DRAG along the ground, and has a wonderful rolltop bath and new fancy bath foam but cannot get out of it unaided.

Keep your bears to yourselves, and let me know when you’re up the duff. I will sit back with my enormous glass of grenache shiraz mourvedre, point as you guzzle your seventh bottle of Gaviscon and laugh my bloody head off.

25 Weeks and Blooming – Blooming Huge, That Is.

Whoever tells me that pregnancy is wonderful I may throttle with my bare hands. May I just say (and no offence, dear babies) that pregnancy is bloody hard. A friend of mine who had twins told me that it was the most physically enduring thing she had ever done. When my babies at this stage were the size of red kidney beans I took this information on board but thought ‘ah, she’ll be right, mate.’ Now, many weeks later I know EXACTLY what she means, and I didn’t even suffer from 5 months of morning sickness like she did. Now don’t get me wrong, I am so very lucky to have conceived, and I cannot wait til the little critters arrive, but being pregnant with twins is like a non-stop session of Bikram yoga, minus the sweat. In fact, the other evening, I was talking on my mobile with my best friend in Oz, and after climbing the stairs in our house she actually stopped mid-sentence and asked if I was ok I was panting so much. This panting may have been exacerbated by a large chunk of stollen hanging out my mouth. Now I deem myself a relatively fit person (well, was) having walked for over an hour Mon-Fri as my daily exercise, but now, well forget it. Even rolling over in bed is like climbing the Himalayas. And when I wake up at 3am (that’s right, folks, I am STILL not sleeping through the night) I no longer feel like I can climb the Himalayas upon waking – for I AM the Himalayas.

Alright, alright, enough of this bloody moaning. Let me give you a glimpse of my life over the past 4 weeks – where the hell has that time gone?!

23 week scan – Foal A (we call them Foals now) showed his/her little face and it was beautiful and cleft palette free. Of course I cried again. Seeing that little nose and lips made all the panting, moaning, sleepless nights and discomfort drift away.

Next for that week was the Survival class which was put on by TAMBA. Armed with gas masks, Kalashnikovs and bullet proof vests we and about 60 others waddled into a lecture theatre in some college in Holborn. To be honest, it wasn’t as good as what I thought it would be. I thought it would be about how we would survive (funny, that) and yet the lecturer seemed to just go on a bit about her twins and what they’re like now aged 17 – that they hang out in each other’s rooms when they’re going through a tough time. Not being funny, but don’t all sisters do that anyway? I need to know, dear woman, what the hell I should do when one wakes up screaming and the other one is fast asleep. Do I wake the other one up to feed it? Or do I leave it be until it starts screaming just as I’ve nodded off 45 minutes later? I think I have just answered my own question.

Having lost a bit of enthusiasm for the lecturer I began eavesdropping on the couple behind me. Lecturer woman did provide this handy tip – have someone stick a casserole in the oven and turn the heating on just before you’re due to come home from the hospital – there’s nothing worse to coming home to an empty, cold house with nothing in the fridge for dinner. Fair point.

Couple behind me:
Man, sniggering: “Yeah, right, imagine me sticking a casserole in the oven – as if.”
Woman, hissing: “Stop it, Russell. You have GOT to take this seriously. This IS happening whether you like it or NOT.”
I do wonder how Russell is going to get on in 3 months’ time when his twins are screaming the house down and he’s burnt the casserole.

Next on the list of appointments for that week was the Consultant. You know, the one that looked at me like I was dressed as Big Bird when I requested a Caesarean.

I walk in the room – and the Consultant has either changed from a white haired white man to a black haired black man or I am having hallucinations from a stollen overdose.

“Hello, I’m Dr Cannotrememberhisname. “
“Hi – I thought I was meant to be seeing the Consultant?”
“Would you like to see the Consultant?”
“Well, you tell me, your team made me an appointment with the Consultant and now you are here. It’s a little like ordering fries, and being served mash. To be honest, I don’t actually care who I see, unless of course you are the cleaner or Head of IT, then we might be in for an interesting time.”
He was the Registrar, which, according to Holby City, is one under the Consultant, and he did look kind of medical, so I was ok with that.

He scanned my tummy. And there they were, hearts beating (Foal A at 147, Foal B at 157 – and no, people, it is a myth that you can determine the sex of a baby by its heartbeat – they can range anywhere between 120 and 160 for both males and females). Ah, little poppets kicking like mad.

I say to Dr Registrar: “Oh, please don’t let me know what sex they are – I want it kept as a surprise.”
Registrar: “Oh it’s ok, I don’t know how to do that anyway.”
Hmmmmmm.
This is a slight worry. You are a REGISTRAR scanning my belly with a piece of equipment that costs more than my car, and you don’t know how to tell the sex of a baby?
“You’re not the Head of IT, are you?”
No.

The appointment comes to an end and the receptionist makes me another for 2 Jan.
“Now, Eliza, just make sure you have an ultrasound before 2 Jan so we can assess that when you next come in.”
OK.
I trundle off down the hall to the Ultrasound Dept.
“Hi. I need an Ultrasound appointment before 2 Jan please,” to the girl sitting behind the counter who looks remarkably like a Bratz doll (Remember them? God they used to be hard to get out of the packaging for my nieces at Christmas – the poor things had more ties around their wrists than those infidels in Homeland).

“I can’t make you an appointment – they need to raise a form.”
Of course they do.
“Could you please call them and ask them to raise a form?”
“No, I can’t do that.”
Ah yes, that’s right – of course you can’t. For I am 25 weeks pregnant with twins and I must spend my entire afternoon waddling from one hospital department to another, knee-deep in bureaucracy.

Finally the appointment is sorted – from my desk at work a week later I might add.

Finally, I must tell you of my Asda car park moment. At 5am one day, having watched the last rerun of Friday Night Lights and thinking dear Lord what the hell am I going to watch now in the early hours, I found a cute little rocking horse on the Asda website that I simply had to have for my dear Foals.

I picked it up two days later from my local Asda. Got it out of the box, took one look at it before popping it into the car boot, and began crying.

Husband: “Why are you crying?”
Me: “Look at its little furry ears.”
Husband, looking slightly concerned that his wife has well and truly lost the plot: “Ah, come on now, it’s raining. You need to get in the car.”
“But imagine our babies riding this little horse with their cute little bums and ah god, look at its little furry ears,” I snort.

My husband deserves a medal. I have given him a new nickname of Scaffy, short for scaffolding, because, quite honestly, that is exactly what he is – and we’re talking ultra-strong, ultra-supportive scaffolding that doesn’t come down in a typhoon. That’s my husband. Did I tell you he works in IT? But he doesn’t know how to use an ultrasound. Snort.

21 weeks. Time is flying.

Many mothers have told me that after about the 18 weeks mark the time flies. They’re not wrong. This is exacerbated by the madness of the lead-up to Christmas where many start realising they have neglected their friends for the past year and decide they MUST catch up in a 6 week period starting mid November or else their lives won’t be worth living. (Personally I find this a bit strange, after all, if you want to catch up with someone why does it need The Christmas Deadline? So you can clink your glasses on New Years Eve thinking ‘yes! I am a good friend and caught up with everyone this year!’ Sorry, I digress.)

I will be 27 weeks on Christmas Day which is quite handy really, as I know exactly for the first time in my life how many weeks there are until Christmas by a simple weekly Wednesday arithmetic exercise rather than my usual ‘she’ll be right, mate’ attitude then realising 5 days before I need to buy practically everyone alive, presents.

Now enough of this chit chat. I need to tell you about my two hospital appointments of this week, the infamous ‘counsellor’ appointment and the 21 weeks scan.

I was greeted on Level 3 (which I might add is the same level as the Delivery Suite but luckily no heinous, murderous screams took me by surprise this time as I scurried past) by a lovely nurse who took me to the counsellor’s office. ‘Are you sure it’s today? I don’t have her down for an appointment today’ I heard from behind the door to the nurse. Yes, I am thinking. It is TODAY. Unless of course the letter notifying me of my appointment was of course written by a chimpanzee living in Sri Lanka who hacked into the NHS computer system and decided to send me a letter with a faux date on it. This is not getting off to a good start now, is it?

I was told to take a seat as the counsellor was in a meeting. Ah yes, of course. Looking around I ask the nurse ‘where is the waiting room?’ We don’t have one. Is there a chair I could borrow? No. Hmmmm, where does one propose one to sit then? On a pocket of air? Oh actually don’t worry I have a magic carpet in my handbag. Excuse me while I stick my Aladdin hat on.

I find a seat outside the ward aptly facing a large vending machine full of nutritious snacks for expectant mothers and their anxious partners – crisps, fizzy drinks, chocolate bars, oh and a ‘healthy’ muesli bar that contains as much sugar as the whole of northern Queensland’s cane fields, but don’t worry as it contains at least four nuts. Just as I am thinking about stollen and chai lattes for the 17th time that day (it is 10am) the counsellor appears.

Hello Elsa. Elsa? Hmmm. Interesting. Lisa, Elizabeth, Alicia, I have been called all of these, but Elsa? That’s new. ‘Hello, I’m Eliza.’ She apologised. She also apologised about her Sri Lankan chimpanzee’s secretarial error. I tucked my magic carpet back into my bag and withdrew my claws.

She was lovely. She actually looked like The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. I thought I would step into her office and be greeted by a waft of blueberry oatmeal muffins sitting on a wooden dresser and a jug of freshly prepared lemonade. God why can’t I stop thinking about food? Alas I was greeted by a faded maroon sofa with a scrunched up old tissue sitting beside one of the cushions.

We chatted for an hour and exactly an hour. In fact she knew (without the aid of a watch or clock) exactly when it was 10.59am and time was up – she clearly had been doing this for a while. Within the first five minutes she told me she was a fan of ‘women being empowered to make their own decisions’ (ok ok, Hilary Clinton) and that ultimately it was my choice. Thanks very much. Now if you could stop your mate Mr Consultant downstairs from looking at patients who elect for a caesarian as if they have four heads, you’ll really have excelled. I found it quite odd that she didn’t really go through any of the risks of a caesarian with me, but was far more interested in my childhood. How were my primary school years? Very good although somewhat marred by thoughts of having to push twins out 25 years later??? Psychotherapists think far too much in my opinion.

Next appointment – next day – with my hubby. The Scan. This is The Big One where they check everything from their spine to what car they’ll be driving at age 27. It was great to see them again – and my how they have grown (must be all the stollen). Heads are 5cm wide and they were facing each other having a chat (I’m sure those bag things they’re sitting in doesn’t hamper their ability to have a good ol’ chinwag). They were in the shape of a loveheart, little poppets. Twin A (this is the one closest to escaping first if indeed I was having a natural birth) was hiding and wouldn’t let the sonographer see his/her face. Twin B was clearly having a good day and thrashing about practically waving to the camera. Their thigh bones are 3cm long. Their waistlines are 15cm. Twin A’s weight is approx 14oz (395g) and Twin B’s is 1lb (444g) which personally I find a little daunting considering twins are normally around 6lb each at 38 weeks when they hopefully will be entering the real world. You mean they are going to grow SIX times the size? Jesus! Already when I have a meal the stretching pain that wraps my entire torso from either side of my spine to right across my belly is extraordinary and all I can do to relieve it is lie down. Not especially helpful after lunch at work, I can tell you (my boss thought I was joking when I asked him when he was going to buy a reclining chair for my desk). We are told that because Twin A was hiding his/her face, we have to come back in 2 weeks to have another scan (to check for cleft palettes). Absolutely fine, I thought, as I get to see them again sooner.

So, all in all, a good week in Hospitalland, and what topped off the week was seeing my hubby’s face as he felt the twins kick through my large belly. I am such a sop now that I cry at practically everything (do not get me started on the John Lewis Christmas cartoon advertisement when the rabbit’s ears fold back because he’s sad – I have to turn it off) and seeing Ian’s face light up with joy killed me. Why are you crying? Because I am an emotional timebomb, dear husband, now pass me the stollen.

Halfway. 19 weeks.

What an amazing and bizarre feeling it is to feel your baby, sorry, babies, moving around inside your belly. For me it happened at the 18 week mark. At first I thought there was a spider crawling on my tummy on the outside (which funnily enough happened the week before while I was sitting on the couch – I had been gardening, but still, how the hell did it get down THERE?) Then when it happened more and more frequently and the sensation became stronger, I realised our house wasn’t plagued by a nest of the infamous false widow spiders but was in fact my children letting me know their acrobatic sessions had begun. And now at 19 weeks, the position of the feelings have changed. One of them had been doing some sort of physical exercise to the right of my navel, now it’s up much higher (unless that was just the Indian curry) and that’s in just a week.

I’m also finally putting on weight. In fact in the last 5 days I’ve put on 2kg (which could also be due to Morrison’s bringing out their Christmas Stollen Slices, which in my opinion are the best in the world ever – a tiny hint of marzipan rather than a big slab of the stuff running through the middle – this is important).

I would also like to tell you that my standing-at-the-bus-stop-punching-my-left-butt-cheek-cause-it-is-so-bloody-sore back pain has eased, so much so that yesterday I wandered around the west end for FOUR hours absolutely fine. The reason for me wandering? I needed some winter bump-friendly clothes. Not a lot, but just something. Some tops that cover my belly, really. I was beginning to look like one of those Aussie blokes who drive a ute in the Northern Territory – don’t know if you’ve ever been to the NT, but the one thing I noticed while driving in the outback was the amount of men driving utes aimlessly giving evil stares to a city couple driving a hire car. Think Wolf Creek. Those men DO exist, and I found myself checking my rear vision mirror every 5 seconds after passing said scary men and saying to my husband ‘He’s gonna turn around. He’s gonna turn around. If he turns around and follows us I am turning around back to Darwin. Is he turning around? He’ll lock us up in a shed and disable our spinal cords. He’ll bury us in the desert and I’ll never eat stollen again.’ Wolf Creek was not the best movie to watch before embarking on a trip to the Northern Territory, let me tell you.

ANYWAY I am in H&M on Regent St which is one of only a handful of maternity wear shops in the whole of London – apparently pregnant people ONLY shop online and do not wish to visit a store in person because they are too busy on their couches eating stollen. I tried on three tops and tested out the future ability of them to stretch in the tummy area by shoving my jumper up them like you used to do when you were playing dressups at age 6. Yep, these will do nicely thanks. Then for the trousers. I bought a couple of pairs of underbump elasticated waist jeans from New Look weeks ago which I have been living in. Saw a nice pair ofunderbump slightly dressier black skinny leg trousers in H&M. Their sizes often don’t fit my arse at size 12 so went for the 14. Do you THINK I could even get them over my KNEES? What is with that? WHAT are you trying to do to pregnant women’s psyches, H&M? I pulled my jeans back on (size 12 I might just add again) and walked out of the store wondering what the hell I was going to wear to this client meeting I have on Tuesday. That was short-lived as someone walked past with a Le Pain Quotidien bag which I knew would be containing something deliciously sweet and hi-carb in it. Something like stollen.

So what’s in store over the next few weeks? Well I must admit, this is where the baby websites struggle for content. Basically the babies have grown all their major organs and other vital parts so the websites’ week by week accounts of what your baby is doing becomes a little dull. This week they’ll be moving around. This week they’ll be able to suck their thumbs. THIS week they’ll be moving around AND sucking their thumbs. Going from growing a brain back in the day to ‘moving around’ is a little bit of an anti-climax in my opinion. It’s a bit like baking a Black Forest Gateaux successfully and then moving on to cooking a piece of toast. No offence, twins. So rather than reading repetitive updates I am focusing my reading time on blasting this NHS counsellor woman with more stats about c-sections than she will ever know to let her know yes I am informed, yes I do know it costs the NHS £800 more per operation and no, you won’t be talking me out of getting my babies out via a scalpel. Thanks for your time, now you just let Mr Consultant know that you have assessed my mental state and stick a tick next to the box that reads ‘patient is aware of risks of c-section and would rather eat her own head than attempting to push out twins naturally while stuck on the A2 in peak hour traffic.’ Thanks. The appointment is on 12 Nov. I’ll let you know how I get on.