Monday, 13 October 2014

Caution: Now Entering Uncharted Territory

So I woke up this morning and everything had changed. OK it hadn't really but it felt like it should have changed. This morning I awoke to find myself 35 weeks and 3 days pregnant. Those 3 days are very important; cast your minds back to 3.5 years ago and you may remember our twins, Edward and Harriet who inspired this blog, arrived a little unexpectedly at 35 weeks and 2 days. So today, I am entering uncharted territory. This is the longest I have ever been pregnant. Go me!

Hubby is getting increasingly anxious I think, as am I truth be told, as it really could be 'any day now' but my midwife reckons I will go full term and although bump is very low and heavy I am inclined to agree with her. I dont feel like its any day now. With E&H there were a few little signs (only spotted in hindsight of course) which I havent yet noticed therefore I will keep fingers (and legs) crossed until we reach november and then Sproglet is free to make his or her appearance whenever they are ready. We have given Sproglet the option of 3 eviction dates but whether they will oblige I couldnt say (I think its highly doubtful, but worth a try).

In the meantime we are pottering on as ever; E&H are in their second year at nursery and are thriving, hubby has recently started a new job and as a result of this employment we are looking forward to moving house and starting a new life in the new year. Just occasionally it feels as though life really is like waiting for bus; you spend years waiting for the opportunities and good times to show up, and when they do they all come at once!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

And Now for Something a Little Bit Different: The Rochdale Surprisers

Something a little different from the usual musings, but rest assured they still relate to Twindom!

Every woman needs ‘besties’, who she can moan to, confide in, get support and advice from on all manner of subjects, and of course can return the favour to when necessary. I am very fortunate, I have quite a few of these friends. We meet regularly around the kitchen table or on the sofa; gossip over cups of tea/coffee (sometimes these are even consumed hot!) set the world to rights, share pictures of our families, general chit chatty girly things I suppose. We have been friends for around 3 years now, and we’ve been through a lot; the most important thing, the one which connected us all together in the first place: we all have twins. 

We have shared the ups, downs and agonies of being pregnant with twins, enjoyed the perks of extra scans, shared the frustrations of non-committal consultants who refuse to answer questions but instead reply with ‘we’ll discuss that when you get to 38 weeks along’ and then in the next breath tell you to get everything ready as it’s unlikely the babies will stay put past 34 weeks. We’ve endured every daft question you could ever think of regarding twins. But still there was something missing in our bestie relationship, and that was we had never met face to face. Yes you read that correctly, all of our kitchen table gossiping had been done via the medium of social networking sites. For most of us it began on a parenting website when we first found out we were expecting twins (we were due in little clusters between February and May 2011) so it was fantastic to have people who were going through the same things at more or less the same time, and for those who were a few weeks behind they knew they could ask questions of what to expect at the next series of appointments and classes and it would be fresh in our minds. Our little group of 13 soon grew as a few experienced ladies joined us, mums who had survived the first few months of twin-mummyhood, and they soon proved themselves invaluable, especially to those of us who had no idea what we were doing with 1 baby let alone 2 together! After a few months of chatting on various parenting forums we decided to find a more private place to chat, and our group on Facebook was born. We shared photos of our growing bumps, had guess the weight games, who would pop first, what ‘flavours’ would Sarah R’s and my twins be as we were the only one who didn’t find out what we were having until they all arrived. Between us there are 3 sets of boy/girl twins, 3 sets of identical girls, 3 sets of identical boys, 3 sets of non identical boys and 4 sets of non identical girls, but most of us reckon 1 of those sets of non id girls are actually identical they look so much alike.

We had often talked of meeting up, but trying to find a suitable date and place where we could all get together was like trying to find the proverbial needle. Sorting time off work and childcare was another hurdle to overcome as many of us also have other children to think about as well as our twins. There was also the small issue of feeling constantly worn out with all the sleepless nights, the constantly shifting daytime nap patterns, growth spurts, wonder weeks, sleep regression.. Then before we knew it we were celebrating 1st birthdays and we hadn’t managed to meet up. Blink again and we were wishing each other well having survived almost 2 years of raising twins, 3 years for some, and we still hadn’t met up. But then one of us, (perhaps unwittingly, perhaps not) provided the perfect answer. I logged into Facebook one morning to find I had dozens of messages, and discovered I, along with several others, had been invited to a wedding. The main do itself was to take place abroad, which meant most of us wouldn’t be able to go, but the reception was a different matter. And so a secret plan was formed; two of the group, Zoe and Sarah C, were going to the reception and would be staying locally, so it was decided that the rest of our little group would tag along and hopefully provide a very happy surprise for the bride (and fingers crossed, the groom too). Unfortunately not all of our group were able to attend, but everyone was involved in the planning and scheming that went on. And there was a lot of that! Trying to get 10 women, coming from all different corners of the UK to book train tickets/plan routes which would get us all to Rochdale at roughly the same time is trickier than you would imagine! Plus there were outfits to discuss, colour schemes (of clothes and hair), in my case there were dilemmas such as ‘did this top cover my mummy tummy better than that top?’, ‘which colour suits me better?’ and ‘which pair of killer heels (and they most certainly were) went with the whole outfit when it had finally been decided upon?’. And people wonder why I don’t go out often! In between all the planning there was one underlying fear shared by all of us, what if the bride found out about our plan? We were, we are, very close and talk about everything and anything so keeping quiet was hard, especially when Kym (our bride) posted about her own worries and we couldn’t say what we wanted to reassure her. We had set up a secret group for all our wedding chat, making sure we were posting/commenting in the right group was a constant worry. Our plans were very nearly blown when a post accidently appeared in the wrong group, but thankfully it was very quickly removed with minimal damage even though it had been seen; Kym just presumed (perhaps rightly so!) Zoe (the accidental poster) was having ‘a moment’ and nothing more was thought about it.

Suddenly, after what seemed like months of planning, discussions, worries about being discovered, worries about all the travelling, wondering if outfit choices were the right ones, hoping I would still fit in the selected outfit 2 months later, we, the ‘Rochdale Surprisers’ (thanks Sarah T) found ourselves waking up on Saturday 8th June and setting off for our rendezvous point of Rochdale, Lancashire, hoping we got on the right trains and didn’t end up in Edinburgh, or Bournemouth (I’m sure both of these places are delightful, but neither are where we wanted to be). We were travelling from all over the country; Laura from near Glasgow, Sarah C from near Newcastle, Becky from Hull, Sarah T from near Rotherham, Zoe and Becci were both already in Lancashire fairly close to Rochdale, Sarah R from North Wales, Sam from Somerset, Katrina from Northampton and myself from Lichfield, just north of Birmingham. Becky, Sarah C, Zoe and Becci were all driving, the rest of us were putting ourselves at the mercy of the great British railway network to get us to Rochdale at more or less the same time. Katrina, Sarah R and I had agreed to meet in Manchester as our trains arrived within 20 minutes of each other, and we decided we would rather face the Metro as a group than individually (a good choice as it turned out, Manchester was full of festival goers and the Metro was packed). Whether it was good luck or judgement I’m not too sure, but we managed to successfully  navigate our way from Piccadilly to Victoria stations and catch our connecting train to Rochdale, where we were going to meet Sarah T and Sam. Thankfully Sam had had the foresight to dye her hair bright pink and was therefore visible from space (well, at least the 100 yards from the metro station to the railway station) so after a few minutes of trying to decide whether or not to leave the safety of the station we spotted our fellow Surprisers and the first half of the group, Sarah R, Sarah T, Katrina, Sam, Laura and myself, had officially met.  
                            Together at Rochdale Metro Station, from l-r Katrina, Emily, Sarah T, Sam, Laura and Sarah R

After lots of hugs and some photos, and some careful studying of the map at the metro station by Sam and myself we set off in the wrong direction in a bid to find our hotel. So far things were going well! A few locals took pity on our group of lost looking women wandering aimlessly down the street dragging our cases behind us and very helpfully pointed us in the right direction. When we got to the main road we were told to look out for Sam and I decided we should take the left road while Laura and her map app reckoned the right, and given our performance so far we dutifully followed for fear of being forever lost in Rochdale. As it turned out both roads would have lead us to our hotel, and we got there just in time to see Zoe and her partner walking into the lobby, and Sarah C and her hubby were waiting in the bar. While we were chatting in the lobby and checking in Becky walked down the stairs having arrived about ten minutes earlier than we did. Nine out of the ten of us were here, altogether, in one place at the same time! With neither a computer nor phone in sight! I think I am right in saying there were a few initial moments of ‘oh goodness, now what do we do?’ but they passed very quickly and we spent the next hour and a bit chatting away in the hotel bar before heading off to find food before the big reveal.

Zoe and Sarah C were eating at the hotel so the rest of us headed out to find a local chippy; the first one we found we walked straight back out of, but thankfully there was another one a few doors up the road. Several portions of cheesy chips later, and some interesting glances from the locals including one chap who walked into the chippy after we did and whose eyebrows went up and his jaw went down, we were wandering back to the hotel filling our faces, and wondering what Kym would make of our arrival that evening. I was starting to get nervous in case it was a surprise too far; I think a few of the others were a little worried too. We were also hoping that the secret hadn’t somehow got out, a post by Kym that morning had made some of us wonder if she had cottoned on to what was going to happen. We had spent months planning this and didn’t want it to be blown at the last moment! We met back in the bar (there’s a theme developing here) to await the arrival of the final member of the group, Becci, along with her partner before heading off to the reception at the local rugby club.
Ready to go! About to leave the hotel, Sam, Becci, Sarah C, Sarah T (sitting), Katrina, Laura, Emily (sitting), Zoe, Sarah R and Becky

As the cars pulled into the carpark we all hoped Kym and her new hubby were well away from the windows, we had come too far to be seen now! Zoe had enlisted the help of Kym’s sister Kirsty to help us sneak in unseen, and she met us at the door. By this point I was really regretting wearing my lovely heeled sandals, and I wasn’t impressed to walk (teeter) inside to see a huge flight of stairs standing (or should that be ascending) between us and Kym. Zoe and Sarah C went in first with their partners as they were expected, the rest of us were gathered on the stairs, our hearts pounding as we waited for what seemed like ages before Kirsty said ‘ok ladies, come on in!’. This was it! Sarah T and I were first in, Kym had her back to us and was chatting to Zoe and Sarah C. Kirsty said more guests had arrived , Kym turned around and looked at us, and looked again as the recognition of who we were flashed across her face, then as we all filed through the door spluttered ‘oh, it’s my girls! It’s my girls!’. It was a really lovely, touching moment, there were lots of hugs, and not a dry eye between the eleven of us. Even as I am recalling this, some time later, I have tears in my eyes as the memories swirl around my mind. It’s safe to say the surprise was exactly that, Kym had no idea we were coming, and was delighted that we had.

Once the initial shock of our arrival had worn off, we were ushered onto the dance floor where I was pleased to learn we were posing for photos, not doing some ridiculous dance (they came later!), I could barely hobble in my killer heels (pathetic I know, but I had spent my career in steel toe capped rigger boots working on construction sites, so can you blame me really?) the other girls had obviously spent more time in such instruments of pedi-torture and were used to them. The drinks flowed, conversation carried on as though we had all met a dozen times before, and Kym’s gorgeous boys, looking very handsome in their little suits, ran around and flirted like troopers with everybody. Unfortunately Sam, who had been suffering with a migraine for much of the day, took a turn for the worse a few hours after we arrived, so when Becci and her partner said they were heading home (Becci was running the Race for Life the following day and wanted a good night’s sleep beforehand) she asked them to drop her off at the hotel. I joined her, I’m afraid I’m not a night-owl and my feet were killing me, and we left the others partying the night away. 

Twinkletastics together at last! L-r: Sam, Sarah R, Sarah T, Laura, Katrina, our blushing bride Kym, Zoe, Sarah C, Becky, Becci and Emily.

After a couple of hours of fitful sleep I was awoken at 3am by very loud bangs and crashes, and shouts and yells, and something which sounded like glass shattering. I presumed a few drunken guests were having issues with the card reader on the entry door just as Sam and myself had when we returned some hours before. It wasn’t until later that morning that the causes of the disturbance were revealed. The other Surprisers had returned shortly before 3am along with Kym and Sy, and were sitting in the hotel bar when another wedding party returned a little worse for wear. One chap got a little possessive over his girlfriend, and wasn’t pleased she wanted to sit with other men in a room other than hers and her fella’s and all hell broke loose; doors slammed, doors kicked in, mirrors being shattered. The police were called, I believe everyone involved was cautioned. When we all went down for breakfast in the morning we were asked if we were part of the same party! I wonder if we would have been thrown out if we had said yes?! Breakfast was a very tasty affair, if a little somber; Sam and Sarah R had already left on their journeys home and the remainder of the Surprisers, as well as feeling a little delicate from drink and lack of sleep, were all a little down at the thought that our time together was coming to an end.

We checked out of the hotel just after 11am, Becky fluttered her eyelashes alluringly at the lad on the reception desk and managed to get her breakfast for free! The rest of us had to fork out £8. Then it was time to say goodbye; Becky, Zoe and Sarah C had all driven to the hotel so Laura, Katrina, Sarah T and myself said our goodbyes and headed off to the station. 

Laura, Katrina and myself were heading back to Manchester and Sarah T to Leeds, it was a sad moment when our train pulled out of Rochdale station and we left Sarah on her own, last one standing. At Manchester Laura dashed off one train and onto the next, leaving Katrina and me to face the Metro on our own. We had plenty of time to get across town, or so we thought. Half way between Victoria and Piccadilly stations the Metro stopped at a station, and didn’t move again. An ‘incident’ had occurred at the next stop, blocking the line, meaning all trams on that line couldn’t go past that station in either direction. We decided to get off and walk to the next stop to hopefully catch a tram back to Piccadilly. An older lady also got off our tram, and as she seemed to know where she was going we decided to follow her. Not only could we not properly keep up with her, but we (ok, I) saw a sign for the railway station and, perhaps foolishly in hindsight, followed it rather than the lady. After some 20 minutes of wandering around some of the less touristy parts of Manchester we finally found ourselves at Piccadilly station, and with about 5 minutes to spare Katrina got on her train and was gone. My train wasn’t due to leave for another 2 hours or so, the joys of a cheap advance ticket, so I found an empty seat and indulged in a spot of people watching until it was time to go. By 6pm I think we were all at home, the weekend officially over. We all had a great time, got on like a house on fire, and now we have heard each other’s accents I doubt we will read comments on Facebook in quite the same way again!

Now, where should we go for the next meet up?

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

A Brief Musing..

Edward and Harriet are now, rather unbelievably, two years old. I cant believe how much they have changed/grown/developed in just 2 short years. Yes some days drag on for what feels like an eternity but by comparison the weeks roll by so fast it really does feel like if you blink you will miss a pivotal moment in their lives.

Most of the time I absolutely love being 'mummy'; its great fun, albeit very tiring, but very rewarding. However, just lately Im finding myself (possibly controversially so) dreaming of escaping for a few days, maybe a week, and just being allowed to be 'Emily' for a little while. Its not possible, at present, which is perhaps why it is occupying more of my thoughts than it should. Ah well, Im fairly sure that if the opportunity arose to escape for a short while I would spend a goodly proportion of the time wondering if E&H were ok, what they were doing, whether they were missing me etc etc...


Saturday, 29 December 2012

A Very Lancastrian Christmas

So here it is, merry christmas.... or rather, there it was. After 4 long months of festive build up Christmas has been and gone in a flash. We are still opening gifts 4 days later, and still ploughing through the leftovers. We haven't had the traditional turkey curry yet but theres time!

Edward and Harriet have been well and truly spoilt, if anyone has any ideas where we are going to put all their presents, answers on a postcard please! They've had lots of books, dvds, baby dollies with a cot and pushchair, wooden trains, jigsaw puzzles, a music player, Playmobil zoo, mini aquadoodle (so we now have 2 pens! yay!) a tea set, and come New Year they will also have 2 boxes of sticklebricks to keep them entertained. I shall take this opportunity to thank all aunties, uncles, cousins, grandparents and great-grandparents, and of course Father Christmas for all the gifts they have given. Im not sure when all the toys will get played with but Im sure they will eventually.

A very brief round-up of 2012... E&H celebrated their first birthday, in as much as two 1 yr olds know about birthdays and celebrating! We also had our first family holiday to the seaside. P went off to deepest darkest Herefordshire for a week of singing followed by 4 days in Denmark for yet more singing. This was interspersed with some frantic PhD writing and more singing which finally culminated in the submission of the PhD (woooo!) and the recording of a CD in december. My year has been much less exciting in comparison, although Im sure there are many people who would give their left leg to spend their time feeding the ducks or playing on the swings and slide so I wont complain!

And what will 2013 hold I wonder? Hopefully a tonsilectomy for me (what a thing to get excited about eh?!) and maybe a bit of weight loss and a new job..

It may be a few days early but never mind,

Happy New Year!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

2012 (so far) In a Nutshell

At some point in late January I seem to have blinked and found myself teleported to mid October. Where have the last 9 months gone? I would love to say that we were having so much fun enjoying a very long and lazy summer that I simply didnt get the chance to post here, but as I now seem to be hallucinating about this fabled 'summer' we are apparently meant to have between June and September every year I must admit that blogging just didnt factor into our daily mayhem-packed lives.

Edward and Harriet are now, quite unbelievably, 4 days away from being 19 months old, so the countdown is well and truly on until they turn 2. They have changed so much in just 9 short months; when I left you all last Edward was cruising around the furniture and Harriet was just starting to wriggle around in a sort of crawl. Now they run everywhere, unless its the direction they dont want to go in. Their first steps came just after their birthday, and surprisingly it was Harriet who decided to stand on her own two feet first. Edward, not to be outdone by his younger sister, followed suit a week or so later.

We've had the excitement (and the financial horror) of buying their first shoes, the joy of their first seaside holiday and the first feel of sand (they didnt like it), we shall gloss over the first long distance car journey as it wasnt a pleasant event.. We've had first words (Im rather ashamed to say I cant remember what they were, their vocabulary has come on so quickly) and also sentences from Harriet who is proving to be a proper little chatterbox, as well as a sponge! Anything we say at the moment is repeated almost instantly, which is fun, but also makes you very aware of what you are saying. Im quite certain we will be having proper conversations very soon.

Those who know us, and see us regularly will probably be tired of hearing us saying how fast Edward and Harriet are growing, how quickly they are changing and developing etc but I cant believe how quickly things are happening. A few short months ago they were babies, who stayed where you put them, and now they are rampaging little people (theres a very good reason why they are known to us as the Mini Marauders) who are eager to get into everything.

I am fairly certain in my January post I said we were already looking forward to Christmas 2012, which considering we were only a month post-Christmas 2011 may have been a little premature. But now we are only 2 months away from said festive holiday I can safely say I am getting more excited every day. Last year was their first Christmas so it will always be special for that reason but this year they will be able to take part in it more, or should that say be able to take it apart..?

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Playing Catch-Up.. and Progressing Nicely

Christmas. Seems like a lifetime ago, especially now all the decorations are gone, the tree is smouldering in the fireplace, and we still havent found a home for all the presents. I didnt eat my bodyweight in mince pies, which considering I have a wedding to go to in June is probably a good thing. 'The Santa Clause' trilogy was viewed numerous times over the festive season and has now been put away, albeit reluctantly. 'Get to the important details' I hear you cry! It was, of course, Edward and Harriet's first Christmas, and it passed in a blaze of fairy lights, sparkly tinsel and mounds of screwed up paper. Oh and there may have been a few presents too. Nothing could have prepared us for the piles of gifts they received, we were still opening things 3 days later! I think they enjoyed themselves, they didnt really know what was going on but they got loads of new things to play with and keep them entertained. I would love to say they enjoyed watching Daddy on the telly on Christmas morning but they were otherwise occupied using Mummy as a climbing frame.

We thought Christmas 2011 would be the best one, the first as a family, and I'm sure we will always remember it fondly as the first, but we are definitely (already) looking forward to Christmas 2012!

Aside from Christmas, december was exciting in other ways. Edward decided that, having mastered crawling a few weeks previously, it was time to try something new..

Dec 4th 2011:  Edward pulled himself up to standing for the first time, and after that there was no stopping him. A week later he was confidently cruising up and down the length of the settee but not so confidently landing on his bum when he wanted to get down and chase the cat. A few tumbles later however and he had figured out how to climb down as well as stand up. Clever boy! Harriet discovered she could sit up quite happily without the safety net of the V pillow behind her, although she does still like to fling herself backwards without warning. By the middle of january Edward was trying to stand on his own (he's growing up far too fast). We had come to the conclusion that Harriet wasnt going to crawl, she has always hated being on her tummy, even for a few minutes. New Year saw a new form of locomotion (Little Eva would be proud) as we discovered we had a bum shuffler on our hands (she takes after Mummy). Just when we thought we had her sussed she's apparently decided that crawling isnt so bad after all; for the last 2 days she has put herself on her tummy and happily stayed there for about 20mins at a time, and has even scooted forwards. She's also trying tp pull herself up to standing but once she is standing she can cruise a little along the settee :-) Clever girl! But, as with Edward, she's growing up too fast.

On the 19th Jan Edward and Harriet had their 9-12 month development check, which if I'm honest I was a little worried about. As ever though I needn't have worried as they passed with flying colours. The health visitor couldn't believe that Edward is cruising and trying to stand, or that Harriet stands too, as they are still considered premature; their actual age is almost 10 months, but corrected they are just over 8.5 months old. We dont think of them as prem babies though :-) They are doing well weight-wise too, Edward is now 21lb 9oz and Harriet is 17lb 10oz.

The next milestone is approaching rather too quickly for my liking, 9 weeks and counting..

Sunday, 27 November 2011


Today is quite an important day, Sunday 27th November. It's the first sunday in Advent so I can officially start eating my own bodyweight in mince pies (and since having the Sprogs thats gone up quite considerably), I can also start the official countdown to being able to watch the Santa Clause films (always wait until after 1 Dec for those). But most importantly, at least to us, today Edward and Harriet are 35 weeks and 2 days old. Why is that important? Because they were born at 35 weeks and 2 days gestation, so today they have been outside for the same amount of time as they were inside! And I think thats important.

8 short months ago (short in some respects, tediously long in others) E&H came into our lives as bawling tiny pink and squidgy little creatures. Now they are huge bawling pink and podgy creatures. Both have fully mastered the art of sitting up unaided, although Harriet much prefers to lounge in her large V pillow and watch the world go by (she's going to be big in the sport of people watching I think). Edward has been desperately trying to crawl for about a month, he gets around rather quickly doing a caterpillar-meets-Action Man crawl, although as Im typing he is actually properly crawling across the floor to attack the changing bag!! Clever boy :-) No crawling signs from Harriet, we are fairly sure she will just train Edward up to fetch things for her. They are getting very talkative now as well; standard baby ramblings mostly, dadada, bababa, mumumumum (wow thats made my eyes go funny) but also the occasional waggawaggawagga and quackquack from Harriet. Maybe she was a duck in a former life?

At the moment we are gearing up for their first Christmas, not by going overboard on presents but with shiny sparkly lights and decorations! They were both mesmerised by the giant foil snowflakes in Sainsburys, even though a) the snowflakes were 3' wide and red and b) E&H have never seen a snowflake before. Maybe thats why they were so fascinated? Because of their reaction we have decided to get some foil decorations to hang around the place :-) Im hoping we will be going Christmas tree shopping in the next 10 days or so too, then we will have to construct the playpen to go around it.. Im looking forward to Christmas this year, not that I dont every year, but to have 2 little'uns around marvelling at everything and playing in mounds of paper, ignoring their presents will be great fun. And they will able to join us in sampling all the food goodies too, well most of them. Not sure how well Edward will do as he hasnt got any teeth yet, but there are still 4wks until the big day. Harriet on the other hand is busy perfecting her chewing skills with her pearly whites; the first came through on 11.11.11 and the second appeared rather aptly when we were at the BBC Good Food Show 13 days later. She's putting them to good use, her scrambled eggs didnt stand a chance this morning.

Right Im off to enjoy a rare moment of peace while they are napping and to make and drink a hot cup of tea. I know, outrageously rock and roll isnt it!