Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Breastapo

Hurrah for Kym Marsh who hit out at the Twitics who slammed her for not breastfeeding her baby Polly. I have written in the past about my choice to bottle feed my boys and it's one that I am proud of. I put my hand on my heart when I say that formula feeding made me a better mum. I don't think that it's the right choice for everyone, how would I know what works for other mums, but I do know that switching from breast to bottle was the best decision I ever made.

I think it might help if mums were a bit more honest about the reality of breastfeeding. My own mum breezily told me she had taken to it like a duck to water, but then her memory isn't what it once was, and no one admitted what an horrific experience it can be. From the moment my newborn latched his vice like gums onto my poor nipple it was sheer agony.

From the painful, swollen lumps in my breasts, to the stinky leaking milk spewing onto my top, from the bleeding nipples to my son's unrelenting appetite, nothing about breastfeeding seemed in any way natural or pleasant. I tried breastfeeding counsellors, asked my health visitor for help, in short I didn't just give up, but in the end enough was enough and all our feeding problems were standing between me and falling in love with my little boy.

From the moment I fed my firstborn a bottle our relationship was transformed and I could become the calm and caring mother I'd always imagined I would be, cradling him in my arms as he drank in his milk, rather than stiffening at his hungry cry and wincing as he tried to suckle.

Perhaps breast is biologically best, but for me it was so emotionally damaging that any physical benefits were outweighed by the trauma it caused psychologically. I don't advocate that no one should breastfeed, or that swapping to the bottle would make anyone else a better mother, I just think that every mum should be left to make her decision about what is best for her in peace. After all it's hard enough mothering a newborn without every Twit, Dick and Harry second guessing all your decisions.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


I don't consider myself a particularly maternal woman. In fact I think my blog has made clear my opposition to many mummy type activities such as finger painting, playgroups and helping with homework, but one thing I wholeheartedly approve of is cuddles. Not just for me you understand, I like to dole them out liberally and I love more than anything to see my boys cuddle one another.

Now each son has a different approach to cuddling. Number one son is very keen, and even at the grand old age of seven won't let me leave him in the school playground without planting a smacker on my lips and giving me a huge hug accompanied by a 'Love you mummy'. God I will be gutted when he grows out of this habit.

Number two son is equally generous with his favours and if ever I try to beg a smooch from a less willing member of the clan he will instantly beetle up and fling his arms around me covering me in kisses. You can't whisper the word cuddle without him bestowing one upon you.

These two older boys even want to get in on the act when mummy and daddy make a rare public display of affection and dive between us demanding a sandwich cuddle. You can't imagine the weird looks I got when I called them over by yelling 'Ham' and 'Marmite' the other day. But it all makes sense when you understand that we parents are the bread and they are representing their favourite fillings in our family sandwich cuddles. Or at least it makes sense to me.

The twins took a while to catch on and would frequently rush off in fits of giggles if I held out my arms to them. Now twin one will dive head first at my crotch, arms flailing at the mention of a cuddle, with often quite painful results, but at least he means well. Twin two though is just as likely to get an evil glint in his eye and declare 'No cuddle mummy, cuddle daddy', turning his back on me and grabbing hold of daddy or any other available adult.

But when he does deign to give in and give me a hug, it's well worth the wait as he buries his golden head into my breast and snuggles in deep. He has learnt young the old adage treat 'em mean and keep 'em keen.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Smug twin mummy

When I first found out I was having twins I thought it was some kind of sick joke. I am not one of nature's mothers and I was already finding it hard enough to juggle two little sons, without adding a double dose of newborn baby to the mix. I won't lie the first few months as the parent of twins is like tackling an assault course with the hangover from hell and was spent lurching uncomfortably from exhaustion to depression, to sheer terror at how we were going to cope.

If you had asked me back in the early days I wouldn't have wished twins on my worst enemy. Just trying to balance the needs of my two babies was so hard, without even mentioning their two big brothers who, I am ashamed to admit, were brought up almost exclusively by the television when the twins were first born.

But as fitness instructors persist in reminding us there is no gain without pain, and just as it is in an aerobics class so it is with twins. We have emerged from the inner circles of hell into a heavenly glade filled with two toddlers who can amuse each other. Result.

When my first two sons were toddlers I recall spending hours dreaming up ways to entertain them, from squidging Playdoh to finger painting, baking cupcakes and enduring endless kids classes, there was never a dull moment - for them at least.

If I stopped this frenetic activity they would instantly start to twine, bored, around my legs demanding attention. I could not sit with a cup of tea without them climbing into my lap, attempt to read a magazine without them 'helping' to turn the pages, or visit a friend without them whining for me whenever my focus drifted from them to the juicy gossip she was imparting. In short they drove me mad.

The twins on the other hand aren't really that interested in mummy. They may raise a hand and shout out a breezy hello as I pass, but they are far more interested in the in house playmate I so thoughtfully provided for them.

Just the other day I sat, Pimms in hand, as they happily played with our toy kitchen passing each other chicken nuggets through the serving hatch. I know this because they kept singing out to one another 'More more chicken nuggets'. I am hoping this is not a glimpse into their future career where the only skill they will need is the ability to recite the phrase 'D'you want fries with that?' in a tone that coveys an complete lack of interest in the response. Actually I suspect is more a reflection of the, ahem, varied diet provided for them on our recent Floridian jaunt.

Nothing I can do is half as interesting as what their twin is up to, and far from searching around desperately for something to catch their imagination, I am more scrabbling around to grab their attention. The lure of some boring adult is so much less attractive than the destructive antics dreamed up by a fellow two-year-old.

This has the upshot that I can drink tea, read magazines and even have lie ins unmolested by toddlers. In the morning we hear our twins chattering and squawking together in their cots. When we finally roll out of bed to breakfast them we discover the devastation they have wrought, but this seems like a tiny price to pay to be allowed to remain under the duvet until after 9am.

So now when a passerby exclaims that I have my hands full with my twins, I smile smugly and think to myself not nearly as full as that poor mummy with just one child snapping at her ankles.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Happy talk

I know it is wrong to have favourites, but I can't help it, my favourite age by far is two. Of course it is the age more usually prefaced by the word terrible, and often with good reason, but it is also quite terrific too.

You see for me people don't really come into their own until they learn to talk. Babies are cute and all but all that gooing and gurgling doesn't do it for me, even stroppy answering back is better than the dumb insolence of a newborn. I remember being terrified by the blank eyed stare of my firstborn son. I was convinced I had birthed the next star of the Omen and combed his tiny body for the mark of the devil.

But by the age of two I can't get enough of my chubby little angels. As the twins sprout new vocabulary every day their latest trick is to take me around the house David Attenborough style, giving me a wide eyed guided tour of the mundane. Everything they see they gasp and point at exclaiming its name with the same wonder the BBC reserves for a hitherto undiscovered sea creature or the coupling of some near extinct mammals.

Zach went through the contents of his entire toy basket, pulling everything out, holding it aloft and declaiming its name. 'Rocket', 'plane', 'choo choo train', 'honey toast' (note to self, must get around to tidying that thing out).

Once he had spread everything across the house to his satisfaction he then moved on to explaining the plot of Agent Oso to me. A complex matter involving many cows being transported in a trailer, which he summed up as 'Moo moo cows go brmmm brmmm'. I couldn't have put it better myself.

Developing language has enabled Jonah to give full rein to both sides of his slightly schizophrenic nature. In Hyde mode he may utilise his new skills to shrill out demands or refusals, increasing the decibels the longer it takes you to respond.

At breakfast time he will start with a polite 'Chinamon baggie pleath' (he has a slight lisp), asking for his usual morning repast of a plastic bag full of Curiously Cinnamon (Annabel Karmel eat your heart out - no really please do). Should you ignore him for a moment or two while attempting to feed the children who actually have to get out to school, though he will start to screech the same sentence over and over again at the top of his surprisingly loud voice.

However, just as you are about to put him out with the bins after the millionth demand, he will switch back to Jekyll and sing out 'Lub you mummy', his squidgy little face wreathed in smiles as he reaches up for a duddle. Cue mummy's heart splashing into a puddle at his tiny feet.