Pyjamas

What do you wear when you sleep? … Okay, and now think back to the time before you had children. Is there a difference? No? Wow, I am not sure how you managed that.

See, before I had I my boys, my mood decided what I wore at night. If I wore anything at all. But there was definitely the possibility that I wore something that looked a little sexy. But those sexy negligees have been at the bottom of my wardrobe for some years now. It all changed when I was pregnant. I suddenly realised that I would be in the hospital for a while and might need something that covered everything if I had to roam the hallways. So I bought my first full pyjama since I was a kid: a pair of long soft baggy pants and a vest with buttons, so I would have easy access for breastfeeding.

Once the boys arrived I realised that one of ‘those pyjamas’ was not enough. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not the kind of person that wants to walk around in pyjamas all day. But when you have to get up at night to tend to your children and you’re wearing only a short negligee, you’ll get cold very quickly. So then you have to put on socks, slippers, a bathrobe and/or pants, depending on the season. All this takes time and effort, and you are seriously sleep deprived. And now imagine doing that six times per night. You have to prepare for the worst every time, as you never know how long it takes to get your child back to sleep. So, very soon I had more soft and cosy but very not sexy pyjama pants in my possession than I had ever had in my life. Because really, the only thing you want when you are woken up in the middle of the night is to be back in your bed as soon as possible, preferably while you and your bed are still warm.

As the weeks and months go by, and you are still doing this 3 to 6 times per night, the negligees end up at the bottom of the pile. And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it still has not changed. My children were born more than 3 years ago and I still have to get out of bed at night regularly to comfort them.

I don’t care about negligees anymore. All I care about is sleep.

Silence

Sometimes she has a few moments

of quietly floating amongst the clouds

then the noise starts

again

like a helicopter whirring

closer and closer

a crescendo of voices

mom, mommy, mom!

silence

is a twin mother’s

needle in the haystack

 

(c) Carien Touwen 2018

*PS. This weekend I went on a writers retreat and this is one of the pieces I wrote during the workshops.

Monday morning

You know it’s Monday morning when…

  • You want to rinse out the potty in the bath and accidentally turn on the shower and get soaked
  • You realise only after making the boys’ sandwiches that their lunchboxes have been in their backpacks since Friday
  • You’re running late, are finally ready to go and then one of the boys needs to do a ‘kaka’

Smile!

When you go somewhere with twins, you usually get a lot of attention. People nod friendly, start to smile when they notice you or even say ‘Bonjour’. The last two years I got very used to greeting and smiling to people I have never seen in my life. But recently I realised that those people don’t actually see me at all.

When I bring the boys to school I always come across some very friendly people. But when I have dropped the boys of and walk back the same route on my own, those friendly greeters are suddenly completely different. I smile at them and they don’t response at all, it’s like they have never seen me in their life.  And suddenly I realised that this is probably true, all those friendly people were only looking at my boys…

‘When I don’t sleep, nobody sleeps’

Having twins meant that we had more than two years of bad nights full of interrupted sleep. The first months with new-borns are like that for everyone with a new baby, but when they started sleeping a bit better and did not need night feedings anymore we always had one baby keeping us up or waking us for something. We managed to deal with all problems that came up in this half asleep- half awake state and always fell asleep again as soon as the problem was solved.  We were tired but learned to live with this kind of sleeping, 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep was all that we could hope for. At least our boys slept till 8 in the morning, so we did not have the early mornings some parents have.

When our boys both finally slept through the night, we started getting used to 8 hours of interrupted sleep again. It was heavenly! But it was incredible how much more exhausted we were those first months that they slept well. It seemed our body suddenly realised we had been doing everything by the skin of our teeth.

So now we are used to this rhythm and finally feel a bit more human. This has a great disadvantage though. Because when one of them wakes up at night now, we are in serious trouble. When one of them cries, we hardly manage to get up. Our brain is so fast asleep it does not seem to know what to do anymore. Console him? Feed him? Sing a song? Hug him? Change his nappy? Put him in our bed? The amount of things one can do seem endless now, but in the middle of the night we suddenly are clueless. So by the time we’ve figured it out, we are totally awake and falling asleep is not easy anymore.

Last night we had a great episode of this. A two hour ‘I-don’t-want-to-sleep-and-we-all-have-to-suffer-tantrum’. The only one that slept between 4 and 6 a.m. was our other son, he has mastered ignoring his brother’s cries so well that I am envious. I am not sure how I managed to get the boys to school this morning, but I did. When I came home I accidentally looked in the mirror. It seems I have aged ten years overnight and got some brand new wrinkles. So I think it’s back to bed for me today…

© Carien Touwen 2017

Dreams

I have always been a vivid dreamer, but when I was pregnant with our twins I had even more interesting dreams. I often dreamed about how it was to give birth. And in my dream I always heard the same thing after number two was out: ‘O, O, we missed one. There is another baby!’

So when the twins were born, I checked with the doctor to be sure there were not three baby’s. I even had an extra name ready,  just in case. And honestly, a tiny part of me was a little disappointed that there were only two 😉

© Carien Touwen 2017

Our changing body

We all know a womans’ body changes a lot during pregnancy. The thing that really amazed me (not to say… freaked me out) is what happens to your organs while the baby grows. We know the baby is pushing on our bladder and that this only becomes worse during the pregnancy. But did you realise what happens to our intestines and stomach when women are pregnant?

This beautiful video shows how amazing the female body is. And this is only with one baby, imagine how much more squished your organs get with more than one…

The hospital bag – some advice

After week 30 of your (twin-)pregnancy it is time to get your hospital bag ready. It may sound a bit early, but trust me, it’s better to have it prepared. You never know when you have to go.
Usually hospitals provide you with a list of things to bring and a lot of these items are very logical. First of all: think of your ID-document, to register you in the hospital.
Of course you need to bring your chosen ‘first’ clothes for your baby’s, but also important, little hats, socks and body’s and warmer clothes to bring them home in. In Belgium, hospitals will provide you with the other firsts, like nappies, cream etc. So no need to pack those.
Then of course you need to pack your own stuff like toiletries, clean underwear, breast feeding bra’s and pyjamas.

My advice; please make sure your pyjamas fit this description:
– loose and wide fit, so it will not hurt anywhere it already hurts
– big enough so it will cover everything if you need to wander the hallways
– buttons at the top for easy breast feeding
– pretty enough so you can wear them receiving the first visitors ( if you care about that stuff)
– pretty enough to be seen with in the first pictures (if you care about that stuff)

These are all the necessities that the hospital will mention, but I urge you to add the following to this list:
FOOOOOD!
I am not joking. Hospital food is crap and a natural delivery can take a long time. The hospital will not feed you in the delivery room, instead they hang the scary thought of emergency C-section over your head and in the meanwhile you have absolutely no energy to do what needs to be done. (making that C-section more likely to happen I think…)
So please bring energy bars, chocolate cookies, bread sticks etc. and anything else that fits in your bag. If you don’t need it during the delivery be grateful and it will still come in handy when you realise, in the days after, that hospital food is never sufficient. I am talking from experience here, I had my partner bring me fast-food every evening I spend in the hospital to silence my ever growling tummy.

 

PS. And for those of you who are pregnant now: please don’t worry about a prolonged hospital stay! If that happens there will be loads of time to get other things you may need there. Your partner can bring it and so can visiting family. So don’t look for troubles that are not there, take it one day at the time and prepare that bag so you don’t have to think about it anymore.

© Carien Touwen 2017

How many nannies?

Having twins is exhausting, especially the first three months when they need to be fed at least 7- 8 times a day and there is only a feeding regime, lots of crying, basically no sleep and 16 nappy-changes a day. This is the time you need help the most. The best help you can get is friends and family bringing food, or having someone cook and clean for you.
I was so grateful to have some maternity care the first 5 months, even if it was only a few hours a week in the end. The lady would always make dinner for a few days for us, and that was how I managed to eat healthy and keep my energy up those months.

A few weeks ago I read about Beyonce, also a proud mother of twins now. Apparently she hired SIX nannies to help her take care of the twins. This is on top of the two nannies she already has walking around for her eldest daughter.

It made me think. If I had that kind of money, would I have wanted six nannies in my house those first months? Six faces that my kids would see more than me? So many strangers walking around my house, minding MY kids, while I was still recovering?
Honestly, I can’t imagine. Yes, I might have wanted a bit more help and would have done so for cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping etc. so I could rest a bit more.  But those first months are so important for bonding, I want to be the one to feed and comfort my twins. So no, six nannies is not what I would have done, even if I could afford it.

What would you do if you had unlimited resources? Would you hire six nannies to take care of your twins?

Time for me

So the other week I had some time to go shopping. I felt I could use some new shirts and some time to myself.
More than an hour of going in and out of shops later, I realised I had not been looking at lady’s clothes at all. I had seen great shoes for twin A, a cute hat for twin B and bought some new socks for the both of them. I had also been looking at backpacks and lunch boxes for school. Then I saw some really cute shirts, for them of course.
But what about me, I thought a bit later, while wandering the pyjama department. O, that looks great: Nijntje (Miffy), Minnie Mouse and stars. The boys would really like me wearing those.
Wait a minute! I have never looked at Minnie Mouse in my life and now I am suddenly considering pyjamas like that, just because the boys like mice and rabbits? That was just too ridiculous. I fled the scene, quickly paid for the boys’ new shirts and ran to a café. Apparently ‘shopping for me’ is something I have to re-learn.

© Carien Touwen 2017