Becoming Dad [Guest blog]

Today, being a landmark in the life of our family, Mr C has written a guest post about how he felt about becoming a father. He is a secondary school teacher from the north coast and has written education related blogs in the past. I hope to persuade him to add a few future contributions, but in the meantime enjoy a post told by dad

Twelve months ago today I became a father for the first time… and the second time.

In one year I completed my teacher training – in that time I qualified to teach your children how to use semi-colons, I qualified to educate them in the ways of the oxymoron, I qualified to affect their future career prospects in a tangible way that few people can ever have. Surely a year is enough time to qualify me to teach you all how to be a dad.

Except it isn’t. And I can’t.

What I am able to do is describe a little about how becoming a father changes you. Because it changes you – so everyone tells you. “It’ll be different when you have one of your own.” “You’ll forget what it was like before you had them.” Or as one fellow teacher remarked twelve months ago, “Welcome to a world of wanting to kill anyone who hurts your family.” He’s seeking professional help now.

Twelve months ago I changed. For a few seconds I got to hold the hand of each of my sons, carry out a ceremonial cutting of an already cut cord, and watch as they were taken away to be examined. In those few seconds I changed. But if you were to ask me how, I’m not sure I’d be able to give you a satisfactory answer.

There’s something there about how acquiescently I sacrificed my personal life. It’s a well-known fact that parents say goodbye to their social life when they have kids; we’d been warned about that by many smug been-through-it types. We were expecting it. Add to that the loss of sleep – including getting up an hour earlier to get the boys up and ready before work; and the inability to go further than the corner shop without military planning. I knew all that was coming. What I didn’t expect was that I’d not really care.

Maybe there’s the pressure that comes with being the perceived “provider” and all that that entails. Being a father is an odd situation. Biologically we aren’t set up to care for children the way mothers are. We modern fathers are supposed to be frustrated, or even intimidated, by our gender limitations. Trust me on this; I read it in an actual book.

Apparently we feel crushed by the responsibility of taking on a job that we feel utterly unqualified to carry out. We are meant to be terrified of doing the wrong thing. I do the wrong thing on a daily basis. I’m the king of doing the wrong thing. I have to say that the pressure I feel from my 9-5 work is harder to deal with than the pressure of having a family. Somehow the pressure I feel at home is more rewarding. It is less, yet greater. That, my friends, is an oxymoron.

I really can’t tell you how we change when we become fathers. If you came here expecting to hear answers I’m sorry. All I can tell you is that we change.

In my job I have taught many a teenage boy who has passed around his partner’s latest scan. My initial reaction is generally shock, followed by an internal shaking of the head in sadness. I worry for the child, I worry for the parents, I worry about society in general. I question how someone who doesn’t have all the answers to my comprehension tasks could have all the answers to fatherhood. But then I’m more than twice their age and I don’t have the answers either. I look at them, and they’ve changed. They may not have suddenly become literary geniuses, they may not have suddenly become wise beyond their years – but they have a look about them that says “I’m going to be a father and I plan to be the best father I can be.”

And that is the only answer I can give you. That’s how we change. Suddenly we want to be the best fathers we can be.

Twelve months ago today I became Dad, the only Dad they have, the best Dad I can be. 

  

Linking up with #coolmumclub

Mummuddlingthrough

Prawn, Chilli and Lemon Penne

 This is one of my favourite everyday pasta dishes and I am seriously proud of it. Its quick and easy to make, it’s healthy and most importantly it’s really really tasty. I make it really frequently and I enjoy it every time. Once you’ve tried it, I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a firm favourite with your family too.

I’ve recently started my #MissionHealthyMum and I’m on the look out for new, healthy and nutritious recipes. So you can expect to see more healthy eats popping up here.  

Ingredients – Serves Two

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 red chilli, de-seeded and chopped finely

olive oil

250g punnet of baby plum tomatoes, chopped in half

splash of balsamic vinegar

175g raw tiger prawns

50g Parmesan, grated and a little extra to serve

2 handfuls rocket

Juice of 1 lemon

Freshly killed salt and black pepper

150g dried penne

  

Method:

• Prepare all the ingredients, as above

• Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions

• Fry the garlic and chilli for a minute in a little olive oil to release the flavours

• Add the tomatoes and a splash of balsamic vinegar

• Cook for 5 minutes – the cherry tomatoes will start to break down and create a lovey tomato sauce

• Add the prawns to the tomato mixture and watch as they turn nice and pink. This will only take a few minutes

• Add a few spoonfuls of the pasta cooking water to the tomatoes and prawns to loosen the sauce

• Drain the pasta and add to the tomatoes and prawns

• Stir in the grated Parmesan and rocket

• Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the pasta and taste. Add more lemon juice if you fancy!

• Serve up and enjoy! (Preferably accompanied with a lovely crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc)

If you enjoyed this / found it useful, please share this post and maybe even tweet me and let me know! You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest

  

  

I’m linking up with  #MarvMondays

Our Routine with Baby Twins

Warning: Please stop reading now if you don’t have one or more babies. This post will bore you to tears. We, parents of young babies, are obsessed with getting a baby routine that works for us and we will talk about it a lot. That’s just the way it is.   

Throughout my pregnancy, I did lots reading to prepare as much as I could for the twins’ arrival. One day I was persuaded by the no routine, baby-led approach to sleeping and feeding. The next, I was won over to the idea of implementing a fairly strict routine.

I was pretty terrified by the whole prospect of managing two babies on my own!

When the boys arrived and we finally brought them home, I soon realised that you can do all the reading in the world but when you have twin babies both screaming for food, cuddles or their nappy to be changed, I reckon most people (like me) just wing it in the early days.

That worked well enough when they were very young but as the boys got bigger, they weren’t as happy to wait to be fed when they got hungry and one would be getting upset as I fed his brother. So I tried to move to more of a structured routine in an attempt to pre-empt what they needed before they got upset.

Most parents find that they work out their own little routine but I found it really useful to read up on how what worked well for other people. So that’s why I’m sharing what’s worked well for us.  These are the routines that we fell into:

Newborn to 4 months routine

At this stage we only focused on a feeding routine. The babies slept when and if they wanted around the feeds. I kept the double pram with carrycots in our kitchen/living-room and they napped in the pram throughout the day. I woke them up if they were sleeping at a daytime or evening feed time. This is a bit controversial. For some, the idea of waking a sleeping baby is unthinkable. But with twins, you have to find what works for you and stick with it.

Our feed-times were

• Day-time: 7am, 10am, 1pm and 4pm during the day

• Evening: We cluster fed every two hours at 6pm, 8pm and the last feed at 10pm

• Night-time: I fed on demand at night-time.

Up until 12 weeks, this usually meant a feed at 1am and 4am. By about 12 weeks, they were managing to sleep through the night with only one night-time feed. My larger twin slept through the night from about 16 weeks and his brother slept through from about 20 weeks.

It’s always hard to know how much milk to offer and there’s not a stack of guidance available. I didn’t find the guides on the milk cartons terribly helpful. I generally worked to 2.5fl oz per lb. So when my babies weighed 5 lbs, I would aim to feed them a minimum of 12.5 oz over the course of the day.

Best case scenario is that you have two adults for each feed-time! In the first few weeks, I had a lot of help and often had a spare pair of hands to help with a feed. However, fairly quickly I had to get used to managing on my own during the day. I never really attempted to tandem feed because I wanted to get that 1:1 bonding time with each of my babies throughout the day. I would just place one baby on the play gym, positioned so they could see me whilst I fed and burped his brother.

If the baby on the play gym wasn’t happy and I couldn’t calm them with my singing (poor baby!) or a dummy, then I sometimes split the feeds. I would feed half a bottle to baby 1 then I’d swap babies and do the same for baby 2. Then repeat to finish off both feeds. One of my twins (I’ll not say who!) generally always needed to be fed first – he just wasn’t happy to lie and kick once he saw a bottle! Don’t feel bad if this is same with you – they will both get fed and it just makes it easier if you feed the fussier baby first!

 I should also mention that my boys were bottle fed (breast milk + formula) from the outset. The combination of a 10 week early delivery, weeks of tube-feeding, long stays in neonatal and heart-surgery meant that my plans to breastfeed were thwarted from the outset. I’ll keep the breast/bottle trauma for another post!

Thankfully I did have quite a lot of help in those first few months – mainly from my mum but also from an army of sisters, friends, aunties and cousins! The more help you can line up, the better!

4 months to 6 months routine

At around 4 months, the boys had stopped napping so easily in the pram and had started to fall asleep only when we went out for a walk. This wasn’t great for me as I needed some time in the house, when the twins were sleeping so that I could wash bottles, clothes and most importantly grab a cup of tea! So I introduced a morning sleep time, when I purposefully put them down for a nap. It took quite a few attempts to get it working and sometimes they’d be asleep in their bouncer seats before I managed to get them into their cots!

Nap-times:

• Morning: 8:30am to 9:30am – I put them into their cots for a nap

• Afternoon: I just let them have a nap in the pram when we went for a walk

At 4 months, I started to stretch out their feed-times, so they were taking bigger but less frequent feeds.

Our feed times were:

• Day-time: 7am, 10:30am, 1:30pm and 4:30pm

• Evening: 6:30pm

• Night-time: I fed on demand at night-time. My larger twin slept through the night from about 16 weeks and his brother slept through from about 20 weeks.

Knowing when to stop night-tIme feeds can be difficult. We stopped when we realised that it was simply a ‘comfort-suck.’ They’d have a few mouthfuls and then they were happy to settle back to sleep. When this happened, we simply gave them a dummy and they settled back to sleep. And that was the end of night feeding!

6 months to 10 months routine

With twins, you will spend a lot of your day feeding. But when you introduce weaning into the routine, you’ll start to wonder when you managed to fit anything else into your day! On top of what already seems like a mountain of jobs, you now need to make baby purees, clean up the mess and still feed the babies 4 bottles a day, each! Madness.

We’ve now managed to get into a routine that works for us all (well, most days anyway!). The boys are eating well and getting a good amount of sleep. We’ve had a few ‘bad’ weeks of sleep recently but that’s mostly been down to chest infections and teeth pushing through..

This is how are day looks with bottles, spoon feeds and naps

Bottle Feeds: 7am, 11am, 3pm, 6:30pm

Spoon Feeds: 8am, 12pm, 4:30/5pm

Nap-times: 9:15am – 10:15am, 12:45pm – 2:00pm

Bed-time at 7:15pm

There’s not a heck of a lot of time for much else!

The nap times are a bit erratic sometimes. Occasionally, they’ll sleep a bit longer in the morning and then not want an afternoon nap. I keep to the routines as much as possible and flex them a bit when we have outings and appointments etc.

11 months onwards

The boys are now 11 months and over the last few weeks, our routine has evolved again as they have become more interested in their solid meals and less interested in their bottles. I’ve dropped one of their morning feeds and adjusted their nap times to suit.

This is how are day now looks with bottles, spoon feeds and naps

Spoon Feeds: 7am, 12pm, 4:30/5pm

Bottle Feeds: 9am, 2pm, 6:30pm

Nap-times: 9:30am – 11:00am, 1:00pm – 2:00pm

Bed-time at 7:15pm

The twins are currently 11 months old so I’ll update this post as our routines evolve. I think the next change will probably be to drop the morning sleep and increase the afternoon sleep. Although this may not happen for another few months!

Our twins were 10 weeks premature so you may find that your babies move though these routines a little quicker.

Do you prefer to have a routine or go with a baby-led approach? Any tips much appreciated, go on, leave a comment!

If you enjoyed this / found it useful, please share this post and maybe even tweet me and let me know! You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest

  

I’m linking up with  #MarvMondays and #coolmumclub

Mummuddlingthrough

Review of the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep

When I was pregnant, I never even considered buying this as I had intended to breastfeed the twins. I read up on tandem breastfeeding techniques, bought a twin breastfeeding support pillow, watched lots of how-to clips and prepared for myself for a lot of time spent on the sofa! Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out like this. 

The boys were born very prematurely at 30 weeks, they were tiny and they were fed through a tube for 4 weeks (Benjamin) and 6 weeks (Harry.) They were so tiny that the logistics of breastfeeding was very difficult – they got tired very quickly and their little mouths were just too small. I expressed for the first 8 weeks but this also proved very difficult as despite pumping every 2 hours, my milk never properly came in. I was expressing maybe 20-30ml with each attempt. 

When we finally made the move to formula, some of the nurses in the neonatal unit told me about the Tommee Tippee perfect prep. I did some research and bought one before the boys arrived home. I never looked back and it is my second most useful / favourite baby purchase. First place is reserved for my pram – I love it! (You can read my review of the Uppababy Vista here!) 

So far, I think I’ve made about 2000 bottles for the twins over the course of the last 11 months! I miss it every time we stay over somewhere and I have to make a bottle the old-fashioned way!  

   

Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep – Reasons I love it 

• You can make a bottle in 2 minutes, at exactly the right temperature, ready to feed 

• It is so easy and straightforward to operate. My mum, who is a complete technophobe, has no difficulty using it! 

• You know that the bottle is exactly the right temperature. I find it hard to heat up feeds and know exactly when it is ready. The fear of scalding your baby is gone 

• When you are up multiple times in the night, this machine keeps the time you are out of bed to an absolute minimum 

• You can make a bottle with one hand – this is really important when you permanently have a baby on your hip!

 • You can use the machine with lots of different types of bottles – I use it with both Tommee Tippee and NUK bottles 

Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep – A few niggles 

• The only thing I have found a tiny bit frustrating is the loud beep that comes from the machine when it is time to add the formula. It’s no issue during the day but I think it startled the babies a little when we were getting up for night feeds 

• You do need to order replacement filters for the machine – I’ve had to do this every 3 or 4 months but my usage is particularly high as I have twins. This isn’t really a niggle – just something you should take into account when purchasing 

In my opinion, this is a necessity for twin mums!! And a very handy piece of kit for anyone else! 

If you enjoyed this / found it useful, please share this post and maybe even tweet me and let me know! You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest

**Please note, I have not been asked to provide a review of the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep and I purchased this machine myself. All views are my own.**

We're going on an adventure
Twins in Christmas costume

Our First Family Christmas Photo Album

Last December we hardly dared imagine a Christmas with our babies. I was 26 weeks pregnant and it was five weeks after an extremely risky surgery on my placenta. We had so many hopes but we knew the risks were high.

Our babies had Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, a deadly disease that affects a small percentage of identical twin pregnancies. You can read all about my twin pregnancy here. Against all the odds, the boys made it through. They were very premature and very small but they made it.

And this year we had two 11 month old bundles of fun to spend Christmas with. Here’s a few snaps from the festive season!

 

I love the Christmas stocking tradition. My mum made the best stockings ever and I still got one until two years ago (!) when I got married and the mantle was passed to Mr C. He’s been doing a great job of carrying on the tradition. This is us hanging the twins’ stockings on Christmas Eve! I’m sure they didn’t really have a clue what was going on, but they made a fantastic attempt at joining in with Mummy and Daddy’s excitement.
  

On Christmas Eve, they gave us a rather fabulous gift of a full nights sleep! Unfortunately it was  one of the very few full nights sleep we saw over the two week holiday.

On Christmas morning, before we headed to Church, the boys came down to a bag of presents each to open and play with. The wrapping paper was definitely the biggest hit!

It’s been a really special time, sharing our celebration of the Christmas story and all that it means with our beautiful little miracles. 

 Our  First Family Christmas  Photo Album After our Christmas morning service  at Church, we headed up to my parents house. The boys are such sociable wee things and they  just love all the attention when there are plenty of grandparents , aunties, uncles and cousins around. 

The best purchase I made this Christmas were these high-chair toys. They kept the boys entertained the whole way through a delicious Christmas Lunch.

  

We had a lovely few weeks spending lots of time with the boys and with both sides of the family. I loved having Mr C at home for two weeks. Looking after baby twins is a lot easier with two pairs of hands!

 Our  First Family Christmas  Photo Album 

But just to keep it real (!) the photos don’t show everything and like every other parent at Christmas, there’s a lot of mania behind the scenes! 

They don’t show the hours that went into the planning and packing for a few nights away over Christmas and New Year. It doesn’t show the despair on our faces at 3am when the twins were both screaming and we just didn’t know how to settle them!Amplify the panic to settle screaming babies when they start to waken all of their little cousins who were staying in the same house. 

The last minute Christmas-shopping trips that needed to be fitted around the daily bottle, nap, meal schedules weren’t exactly straightforward.

 And there’s no photographic evidence of the number of coffees and the volume of under eye concealer that saw me through the last two weeks!!! But all things considered, it was pretty special really.

How was your Christmas? You can join in the conversation below or tweet me and let me know! You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest if you’d like to see more posts. 

 Our  First Family Christmas  Photo Album 

I’m linking up with  #MarvMondays

Banana Breakfast Muffins

The boys weren’t eating well last week thanks to the teething demons and so I had a glut of bananas. I decided to make some banana breakfast muffins to use them up. They are are so quick and easy and are perfect for a weekend brekkie.  


Wet ingredients:

50g butter, melted
50g peanut butter, melted
2 medium eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125ml milk
2 large ripe bananas, mashed

Dry ingredients:

250g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 pinch salt
115g caster sugar

Topping:

Pine nuts, to decorate

Method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 190 Degrees Celsius

2. Place muffin cases in a 12 hole muffin try

3. Prepare all of the wet ingredients and mix together in one bowl

4. Sift the flour and mix all the dry ingredient in another bowl

5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients

6. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases

7. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with pine nuts

8. Pop in the oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden

Perfect served with a steaming mug of coffee.

If you enjoyed this / found it useful, please share this post and maybe even tweet me and let me know! You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.


I’m linking up with  #MarvMondays

Our Winter Wedding

Two years ago today, I said ‘I will.’

Not in fact ‘I do.’

It was a fantastic day. We celebrated our love and commitment with our best friends and family. The atmosphere was relaxed and being 3 days after Christmas, everyone was in the mood for a party.

Six months after we tied the knot, we headed off on a fabulous honeymoon to Singapore and Thailand and once we got home, we  discovered  I was expecting a baby. Then five months later we found out we were actually expecting two babies! It’s been a year with the highest highs and the lowest lows. The twins battled TTTS, spent months in neonatal and Harry underwent open heart surgery when he was 3 months old, weighing only 4lbs. Bringing them both home was fabulous and it’s been crazy, wonderful, tiring chaos since then!

So with all the craziness, two years later and we still haven’t got a wedding album put together or any of our wedding photos printed and framed!

So, if no-where else right now, here’s a little collection of my favourite snaps from a beautiful day.

Happy Anniversary Mr C.

S&S 247

Our winter wedding Our winter wedding Our winter wedding Our winter Wedding Our winter wedding

12 Reasons Not to Bring Your Baby to a Wedding

Last weekend we played a game of babies vs. wedding.

It wasn’t a fun game.

And the babies definitely won.

This was our second attempt at wedding frivolity with the twins in toe. The first was semi successful. There were no major screaming/vomit/poo related incidents. But did we enjoy it? Not so much.

We did a lot of pre-wedding preparation, we packed a car very very full of stuff, we rushed to get bottle feeds and spoon feeds fitted in between the ceremony, the meal, the speeches etc. It was a lot of work. And there wasn’t much pay-off.

I was determined that this wedding would be fun.

My cousin was getting married and I’d been looking forward to the wedding for ages. It was in the most gorgeous location, all my family were going and we were all staying over. The ceremony was beautiful (I left the boys with their Daddy for this part), the bride was stunning, the venue was charming and the speeches were witty.

But for us, the wedding was a lesson in how our lives had changed irrevocably. Weddings will never be the same again!

Here’s 12 reasons you should never bring your baby / twin babies to a wedding:

1. Fantasies of fairy-tale days out with beautifully dressed babies that smile and coo all day are just that. Fantasy.

2. Every second of the ceremony will be spent on high alert. Waiting to grab the baby bag and run out as soon as the baby makes the slightest noise. If you don’t, you’ll get disapproving looks all day from at least 5 guests…

3. You will end up with vomit / snot / poo (delete as appropriate) on your favourite dress.

4. You won’t actually get that catch up with your long lost university friends. If you do, it’ll not be like the old days over a nice bottle of wine. It’ll be 2 minutes snatched here and there between bottle feeds / nappy changes / spoon feeds etc.etc.

5. The military planning required to get you all to the wedding on time, in clean clothes and with enough supplies for the day requires serious forethought, time and mental energy.

6. Unless you’ve booked to stay over, you can expect a heated debate / row with your other half about who’s driving home. If you’ve booked a room, add another day to the planning of the excursion!

7. Wedding venues do not provide baby entertainment. A day without a play gym, jumperoo and a baby walker = a very long day indeed.

8. Babies do not like schedules that are not built around their needs. Weddings are all about the schedule. You’ll spend the day trying to fit all the baby stuff around the ceremony, drinks reception, meal, reception, speeches, first dance etc.etc.

9. If you are not the designated driver, expect to lapse into baby babble and/or an attack of the yawns after a few sips of champagne!

10. You will get indigestion. As you try and shovel the lovely meal down as quickly as is humanly possible so you can pick the baby up so they stop disturbing the peace!

11. You will be the couple that you used to write off as party poopers. As you try (unsuccessfully) to slip out of the party at 9pm, when everyone else is just about to hit the dance floor!

12. You’ll feel really guilty when you get home and realise you hard about 100 photos from the wedding, all of which feature the babies looking cute; none of which feature a bride or groom.

I have learnt two main lessons from our babes at wedding experiences:

One: avoid bringing babies to weddings at all costs. My best friend is getting married in a few weeks time and Granny and Granda are well and truly booked In to babysit!

Two: social media is a liar. A big fat liar. Here’s some of the photos that Mr C posted on Facebook. He managed to capture some of the few moments that the boys were relaxed, happy and not vomiting. So everyone now thinks we are the model family, with model babies. Until they read this post.


I’m linking up with  #MarvMondays and #coolmumclub

Mummuddlingthrough