P&Q

Have you missed me? It’s over a month since I last posted (sounds like a confession – forgive me father, it’s been five weeks since my last blog post). The reason I haven’t posted is because in between looking after four children, doing stupid amounts of household chores, getting very little sleep and trying to keep my business afloat in the middle of a recession, I haven’t exactly had much in the way of spare time. When you have two babies in the house who need to be fed every four hours, you find yourself living from one feed to the next, using the two-and-a-half to three hours between the end of one feed and the start of the next to wash and sterilise bottles, sort out vast piles of laundry, sneak a minute or two to play with the other children, or sleep. We always knew that the first couple of months with newborn twins was going to be a slog, and boy were we right.

But today, I am feeling more human than I have felt in a very long time. The reasons for this are twofold. The first, and most important is that the last few days have been momentous in the life of our newly expanded family: the babies seem finally to have cracked night time sleeping. They have been going at least 6 hours at night for about the last five days, and last night they managed a near miraculous 9 hours. I didn’t bother setting my alarm clock this morning (as I haven’t for many weeks) as I expected to get woken up at some point between 5 and 6am. When I was finally roused at 7:45 it was actually by Max, not one of the babies (although they did wake up a couple of minutes later). It’s incredible the difference it makes to your psyche, when you get to have a few unbroken nights’ sleep. And it’s not just because of saying goodbye to getting up at 3 in the morning night after night, which leaves you feeling like a zombie for the rest of the day, even if you get to go back to bed for a few hours afterwards. It’s the little details, like getting to go to bed at the same time as your wife, instead of creeping around in the darkness trying not to wake her after the late night feed, so that she can get enough sleep to deal with early morning feed and similarly creep around trying not to wake me. Of course this may not last, and I may be getting way ahead of myself here, but I have to work on the assumption that we are past the worst. And boy does it feel good.

The second reason is that I am all alone in the house tonight, for the first time in years. Ursula, in her misguided efforts to get through the school holidays in one piece, decided to take all four boys down to her parents for a couple of days. I say misguided because, if you’d seen the amount of stuff she had to pack in the car this morning for a two day trip to country, you’d think it would have been considerably easier to just cope on your own with four kids for a couple of days.

Now you may think being alone in a house that is normally residence to six people would be a lonely affair. But you’d be very, very wrong. If I stop tapping on this keyboard, the only sound I can hear is an occasional car passing by my living room window. I have not had to bath anyone tonight. I have not had to read any stories. I have not had to shout at anyone for eating their dinner too slowly. I have not had to tell anyone that no, tonight is not a special night so they have to go to bed now, not in two hours’ time. I can go to bed whenever I choose, without having to think about how it fits in with babies’ feeding time. I will sleep more peacefully than I have in years, knowing that the only sound that will wake me will be my alarm clock tomorrow morning – if I remember to set it when I go to bed. In the morning, I will have one person to wash, dress and feed, not five (no I haven’t taken to showering or clothing the wife yet, although I do sometimes make her breakfast). There will be no school run, no arguments over when was the last time they had coco pops and whether they’re allowed them again, no bottles to wash, no screaming babies. The P&Q in the title of this blog refers to pure, unadulterated peace and quiet. Sheer bliss.

Now there is a possibility that by this time tomorrow, the loneliness will have started to kick in. I might just miss the cuddles with the babies, listening to another one of Jacob’s flights of fantasy about aliens or spaceships or being a pilot or a scientist, trying to keep a straight face while failing to instill any discipline into the irrepressibly cheeky Max, snatching a rare moment to have a conversation with my wife in between putting the children to bed and the start of The Apprentice. But if I’m honest, probably not. I have a feeling I can probably cope with just one more day of solitude without too much pain. When I get home from work on Thursday, mayhem will have returned, and there won’t be another break from it for the foreseeable future. So I intend to make the most of this very rare opportunity.

For the record, much has happened in the last month, which, were I a more dedicated blogger, would have been reported in more detail. The key points are:

1. We finally took delivery of our new bus, aka the Renault Grand Espace. It’s absolutely, in fact slightly scarily, enormous, but so far I’ve been very impressed with it. It may not be much of a looker but it’s incredibly practical with room for all six of us and plenty of space to spare, very comfortable and pretty well equipped, and it’s much nippier than you’d expect for something that ought to have a big number 23 sign above the windscreen. Ursula has been reluctant to cede full use of her Nissan Qashqai to me, eager to feel as much as she can that she’s still a yummy mummy rather than a bus driver, but all in all the upgrade has been a success.

2. We had the week from hell as far as family health was concerned. Ursula started proceedings by spending the weekend laid up with a nasty virus involving a sore throat, aches and pains and unbearable fatigue. I promptly caught it off her just as she was recovering and spent a couple of days feeling pretty ropey myself. Just as I thought I was getting better, I realised that my sore throat was, if anything, getting worse. Within 24 hours it was apparent that my illness had mutated into my traditional tonsilitis, the worst bout I’ve had in a very long time. At one point I was in so much pain it actually made me cry, something I don’t think has happened for about 25 years. All in all I was out of commission for five days, not ideal during the busiest time of the year at work, or when you’ve got two 7 week old babies that need looking after. To top things off, on the Friday, which was my worst day, Jonah came down with a very high fever, something that is very rare, and very worrying in such a young baby. Ursula took him to A&E and he ended up getting admitted, and spending 48 hours in the hospital. After a barrage of tests, it turned out that it was just a viral infection, probably the same one we’d both had, and after plenty of calpol and TLC, he was well on the road to recovery. So all was well in the end, but it was a very scary and traumatic few days, and I don’t think we’d have got through them without the amazing help and support of both Ursula’s and my parents. We’re very lucky to have so many people around us who care so much about our family.

There’s plenty more I could talk about, but having now spent the majority of my night off in front of the keyboard, I feel I ought to go and do something more appropriate like crack open another beer and fire up Resident Evil on the Wii. The reality is, I’ll probably go to bed in a minute. Oh dear.

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