Monsters

It’s pretty unbelievable that Zach and Jonah are already a month old. You don’t notice the changes so much when you see them every day, but when you think back to a month ago, the most marked difference is in their size. When they were born, they seemed unimaginably tiny. I had to rush out to Mothercare on the day we got home from the hospital to get a load of tiny baby sized clothes and nappies because, being twins, and being born a couple of weeks before their due date, they were a fair bit smaller than average at first. They comfortably slept side by side in the hospital crib, and then in a moses basket when we got home.

The tiny baby vests and babygrows have long since been consigned to the top shelf of the wardrobe, never to be worn again. And no, this time they will not be heading into a box in the loft, because we will most definitely not be needing them again. And the babies are now comfortably filling out a moses basket each, and it seems absurd that they could have gone in one together so recently. At their most recent weigh-in, they were both hovering around the 8lb mark. For Jonah, that means a 33% increase in body weight. When you look at it like that, it’s no wonder they seem so big now.

The other thing that grows hand in hand with the babies is the amount of formula they get through. The stuff costs a bloody fortune, and between them they’re getting through one of those big tubs of powder about every three or four days. We’re thinking about moving them up to the next stage (level 2 “for hungrier babies”) as they’re frequently polishing off their bottles and I can’t imagine it would be good for them, or even feasible, to ingest any more fluid in a day. I am also living in the vain hope that this will encourage them to go longer between feeds, consequently allowing us to get more sleep at night. Well a man can dream, can’t he.

As I write this, the baby monitor is sitting across the table, flashing and squawking at me, the signal that it is once again time to go and attend to my fatherly duties. So I’d better cut this short…

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Time flies…

…when you’re having babies. The little monsters are three and a half weeks old already, and as you may have noticed, I have very much struggled to find the time to sit in front of my computer and add anything to this blog.

I was at home on paternity leave until the end of last week, and as far as I recall, I spent pretty much every waking moment (and a large proportion of my non-waking moments!) either feeding or changing one or other baby, or washing bottles or doing laundry or some other delightful task. I have been back at work since Monday and in four days haven’t come within a country mile of clearing the backlog of stuff that was created while I was away.

To be fair, this week has been a heck of a lot easier than it should have been, thanks to my totally bonkers mother-in-law who has done the night feeds for the last 5 nights. I know exactly how awful she must be feeling by now, as I did a 7 day stretch the week before. It’s not the number of hours of sleep you get that does you in – it’s quite possible to get a total 6 or 7 hours a night in 1 and half to 2 hour chunks – it’s the lack of any long stretches of sleep. Five hours of unbroken sleep is an awful lot more restorative than 7 hours in bits and pieces. Tonight is the last night of the night-nanny service for a while, so I’d better make the most of it. Ursula and I are still working on the details of how the nights are going to work when we have to do them by ourselves and all get up and out for school and work in the morning. It’s not going to be fun.

So I’ve got a few minutes to kill before the bedtime feed (hence having time to write this) after which I will hand back over to the mother-in-law and not see any babies again until I get home from work tomorrow afternoon. I was planning to catch up on some of the contents of the Sky+ box while waiting to feed the boys, but that hasn’t been too successful, owing to the implementation of the famous Hirschkorn let-the-buggers-scream-themselves-to-sleep plan. This is a tried and tested childcare method which I’m convinced is the reason that both Jacob and Max are good sleepers, while so many of their friends and cousins are not. It’s also one of the hardest things you can do as a parent. The theory goes like this: if your baby is fed, winded, and clean of nappy, then they’ve got pretty much everything a baby could need to make them happy. If said happiness is not forthcoming, there is frankly buggerall you as a parent can do about it. Sure, you can pick them up and cuddle them, you can keep running up to their room every two minutes to stick a dummy in their mouth, only for them to start screaming again the second the dummy falls out, you can sing them a song, you can put them in a bouncy chair. But the second any of these activities stops, the baby will start crying again. And the more they associate this crying with all these forms of stimulation, the more reinforced these behaviour patterns will become, which is exactly the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve when you’re attempting to teach your baby that most useful of life lessons, that night time is for going to sleep.

So if your baby needs nothing but is still crying, let ’em cry. I know it sounds incredibly cruel and heartless, and you have no idea how close it brings a parent to tears of their own, listening to their newborn child screaming their poor little lungs out, but Jonah cried for about 20 minutes and is now as soundly asleep as you could possibly imagine. There are many caveats to this theory: I’m sure it wouldn’t work for everyone as all babies are different, but it sure as hell worked for our older two children and I’m determined it’s going to work for these two; I’m not under any illusions that this is any easy solution – Jonah will probably repeat exactly the same pattern tomorrow and the day after and the day after that, but give him a few weeks and he’ll have cracked it. The funny thing is that Zach has slept right through the whole thing, and that seems to have been the way with these babies so far. Either one or other of them will spend the evening fussing on, but rarely both. And while one is most selfishly disrupting his parents’ televisual viewing, the other sleeps on, totally oblivious to his brother’s bad behaviour.

The benefit of having done the baby thing twice before is that you know there is light at the end of the tunnel. This really hard part with sleep deprivation and all that only lasts a few months, and it won’t be long before life will return to some semblance of normality. A few things need to happen before that is the case though. Ursula needs to finish recovering from the c-section. She’s doing amazingly well, although has suffered all the way through from her typical inability to relax, and as a result has probably slowed the recovery somewhat. She’s pretty physically active now, although keeps overdoing it and finding herself completely knackered by the evening. Once she’s properly back up to speed, and also once she’s able to drive again, things will be more manageable.

Which brings to mind another that needs to happen before things go back to normal – the arrival of our new car. It was supposed to be here last week, but now every time I speak to the dealer, which is pretty much every day at the moment, there’s another delay. It’s now supposed to be here by the end of next week, or possibly early the week after. Until it arrives, we feel a bit like prisoners in our own house, as we can’t actually go anywhere with all six of us together, apart from to the park, which gets a bit boring after a while. If Ursula could drive, we could at least go out in convoy in two cars, but so far the only way we’ve been able to do that is to recruit an extra driver in the shape of my parents. So going out has been a bit of a drama, and will continue to be so until the car finally bloody well turns up.

Speaking of going out, Ursula and I actually managed to go out last night for our first night out since the babies were born, again thanks to night-nanny extraordinaire. It felt most odd, as if we were somehow breaking the rules by spending an evening on our own while our three week old twins were at home. It was great though, and for a moment we almost forgot about our millions of children. But not for long. Oh and Clint Eastwood’s low grumble from Gran Torino has now become a regular part of our family vocabulary.

One last thing: after months of coercion, Mrs H has finally succumbed and started her own blog, which will probably be much more interesting than mine as she’s going to have to figure out how to cope with four boys on a day-to-day basis while I get the easy option of going out and earning the money. I would thoroughly recommend you take a look.

I have now been typing for so long that I’m half an hour late for the bedtime feed. Oops. Still, the babies are both fast asleep still, so that’s another point for the leave-em-to-scream plan.