New babies mean no sleep, right?
Wrong. New babies plus older children mean no sleep.
Okay so not many of us ever managed to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ with our firstborn, but dammit, I wish I bloody had done. There was so much opportunity!
They might not sleep much at night, but they sleep SHIT loads during the day, and I wasted it first time round showing off baby to countless visitors, and trying to prove we were totally in control (which of course, we weren’t). Oh, and watching baby sleep. What a bloody mistake that was!
Second (and third) time round, is a whole different kettle of fish, as you experienced Mummas know. The Twins were basically in the nocturnal baby category. Some of you will know the type. They slept all day. Like ALL day. But then from about 9pm they were awake until about 4am. Screaming. Just like this…
4am. I shit you not.
4am (I have to keep repeating it, to believe it) was the earliest we managed to get them to sleep for about three weeks. Even for like 10 minutes. It felt like a pain worse than death. How can they even stay awake that long, when in the daytime they were dropping off every 15 minutes?
This would have all been fine and dandy had we been able to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps”, of course, during the day. Yes alright, effing Gina Ford/Supernanny/Miriam Stoppard, we’ll try that shall we?
Except Toddler wanders in at 6.30am and wants to be full-on entertained. ALL DAY. Slight flaw in the ‘expert’s’ advice right there.
Our first night home was pretty horrific if I’m honest with you. We’d done the guilt-ridden ‘birthday celebrations’ (aka a supermarket caterpillar cake) for Toddler as best we could to make up for not even telling him it was actually his birthday yesterday.
The Other Half had even made a card for CBeebies. It went down really well as you can see…
The most unmemorable birthday ever over and done with, normal bedtime resumed for Toddler whilst his new little bros dozed away nicely.
We managed to eat (The Other Half is our chef) and even watch a bit of tele with the newest additions to our family snoozing happily in their bouncers at our feet. It was all going rather too well.
Take them upstairs to bed and all hell broke loose. I have honestly never heard such loud screaming. Shut your eyes and you’d think Twin Two had undergone some weird metamorphosis into a Pterodactyl and was circling the room ready to swoop on us with every cry. That night we renamed him Terry the Pterodactyl, a name that still stands today. His blood-curdling screams obviously set Twin One off (and no doubt woke the whole street up), and we literally prayed he wouldn’t wake Toddler or it really was game over.
Dummies. Where the f**k did I put the dummies I’d bought in a “my perfect babies won’t need them, but just in case” moment?
12 hours out of hospital and these clearly faulty newborns were being gagged with little bits of sanity-saving rubber. It’s all about survival, right? That’s if you call a total of two hours broken sleep a night survival.
The nights were frustrating as we tried separate moses baskets, both in a cot, in bed with us, rolled up blanket moulds, tilting mattresses, sleeping bags, swaddling blankets, white noise (not that it could be heard over Terry) and letting them sleep on our chests. One would settle whilst the other screamed and vice versa. God, it was shit. And I’ll admit now, we did a LOT of swearing. At each other, and even at them.
Until one night, we went rogue, and brought the bouncers upstairs. The bouncers?! How very dare we? Yes we know babies aren’t supposed to sleep in their bouncers at night. But there was actually a bit of peace and quiet, albeit limited.
Advice and regulations went out the window that night (and still do on a daily basis if I’m honest). Did I mention, it’s all about survival? There is the Mothercare way of parenting, and the Three Under Three with Newborn Twins way of parenting, as far as I’m concerned. And in those early few weeks, I’d have challenged anyone to tell me otherwise and walk away unscathed. I was a woman just about ‘functioning’ on serious sleep deprivation. I don’t do tired very well.
Night time was one thing, but days with two newborns and a just two-year-old were an absolute haze. I remember a friend with twins telling me she spent the first six months sat on the settee feeding her babies and knowing straight away I wouldn’t be able to do that because of Toddler. How apparent that became the second we were home. He still needed feeding, entertaining and exercising. Like a flippin’ excitable dog but in human form.
So the very next day we sucked it up and just got on with it. No sitting around cooing over babies in this house. Babies? What babies? Oh you mean those two little bundles of blankets and babygrows basically being left to get on with it in their (sanity-saving) bouncers?
Both the health visitor and midwife did their ‘day 3 phone calls’ whilst I was doing the emergency food shop in Morrisons. Admittedly, it was a little awkward answering questions about fanny stitches and breastfeeding whilst frantically trying to pack bags at the checkout but I didn’t think much of it at the time. Maybe I was on some kind of sleep-deprived high or something. Apologies to the old man behind me in the queue. Possibly a case of too much information in hindsight.
Day four and we had our first ‘fun’ family trip out to Saltram, our local National Trust property where I pretty much live, as I’m sure most Plymouth mummies do.
I say fun – I sat under a tree feeding The Twins inspecting my ever-increasing swollen feet (WTF??) whilst The Other Half entertained Toddler. That was our first encounter of all the attention twins attract from randoms. But more of that another time.
It was during these first few days that midwives turned up at our house to find us out and about. They’d then phone and ask why I wasn’t home for them to do certain health checks. It was like I was being told off. Why do they just turn up rather than ringing first? Maybe it’s because you’re supposed to be at home bonding with your baby in your pyjamas, not hobbling about National Trust places with pasty feet, or buying pizza and garlic bread in Morrisons.
Ah well, it made a change from McDonald’s fries…