2015 was the first full year of parenthood for us after the twins were born at the end of October the previous year. It was also my first full year of blogging and going into the new year, I felt like I was the only blogger in the world who didn’t write a list of resolutions for the year going forward. In truth I wasn’t sure how long my little blog would last and if I would stick with it for a whole year, particularly as I was due to return to work that February. Baby twins, a full-time job AND a blog felt like an awful lot to juggle.
Naturally I’ve gone through phases with my little blog. For a while last spring I managed to publish a new post every day, sometimes twice a day, and this autumn there were weeks that only saw one post from me. I’m proud that I managed to complete twelve months of Me & Mine and The Siblings Project posts, which I know that we will treasure in the years to come.
Finding the time to schedule these pictures every month can be a bit of a hassle at the time but we always love the results and it’s been especially wonderful to have a picture of all of us together every month. It’s funny and touching and makes me feel a bit wistful to see how much the twins have grown and changed since last January – and we have changed too! Kirsty has found so much confidence as a mother and is loving staying home, and I am beginning to move forward from the disaster that was the twins’ birth and first few weeks and forgive myself for the part that I played in it. Once upon a time I was sure that I would be the sort of mother to stay home with her children until they were enrolled at school but actually, I’ve found my ‘place’ as a working mother and I’m comfortable and happy in who I am.
I thought it might be nice to share a post reviewing this year – the good and the bad. So here it is, our year.
The twins turned two months old two days before Janaury began. My first post that year was about birth trauma, which is probably a reasonable indicator of where my head was at that point. The twins were ‘good’ sleepers in that they spent a lot of their daytime asleep, which meant that people assumed that we would be able to get on with our lives in much the same way as we did before having children, but this sleep was conditional upon being cuddled up to a parent at the time. They also woke up for a feed every forty-five minutes, even through the night, and we were exhausted. I was still expressing milk for them every two hours as breastfeeding hadn’t gone well, resulting in a hospital stay for Balthazar. It felt important after that to measure exactly how much they were eating but expressing for twins certainly isn’t easy. It meant that Kirsty was doing most of the childcare whilst I was spending approximately a quarter of my day hooked up to a double breastpump, shovelling oats down my face and feeling generally self-loathing. Around this time the twins started to smile, which was probably the main reason that I didn’t leave them outside Waitrose in a box labelled ‘free to a good home’.
February started off on a positive note. In an attempt to claw back my confidence I wrote a post about self-esteem, which was received well in the blogging community and attracted a lot of favourable comments. I returned back to work around this time and enjoyed immersing myself back in the culture and being able to drink hot coffee in peace.
In February, our referral to the ophthalmology department at the hospital where the twins were born finally came through. It had been a mission to get that far, with two GPs dismissing Lysander’s swollen eye as a blocked tear duct. It wasn’t, and the third GP picked up on that and referred us, citing a ‘small cyst’ on the letter. We went to the appointment expecting a simple diagnosis and a reasonably easy fix but ended up being referred there and then to our ophthalmologist’s supervisor for a quick look. It was clear from the look on his face that he suspected something serious and we found ourselves being sent to one of the top ophthalmologists in the country, Mr Morrison at St Thomas’, for an urgent appointment the next morning. It was terrifying but we knew that we were in the best hands. Lysander had an MRI under general anaesthetic at the Evelina Children’s Hospital, confirming that he did in fact have a tumour – but it was benign. He started a regime of daily beta blockers to shrink the blood vessels to the tumour and a year on, it can’t even be seen.
In March we had another hospital stay – this time for Josephine-dog, who swallowed a bone and got it stuck. Much to my embarrassment I cried over every veterinary professional in the animal hospital every time I visited, and they took to discretely leading me to rooms that had boxes of tissues on the table whenever I walked through the door! Four days and two thousand pounds later she came home almost as good as new. We threw her a party to celebrate three years of being an English dog and we all wore party hats; it was silly but great fun.
In April I treated myself to a full-frame camera. Kirsty took some of my favourite pictures ever of the twins and I, during a spontaneous daytime bath. There were blossoms on the trees when we went out walking and I tried babywearing for the first time (and took one of my favourite pictures ever of Balthazar). The twins turned six months old and I remember thinking how grown-up they were, which seems funny to me now as I compare those pictures against the 14-month-olds in my home right now. Kirsty wrote them a beautiful letter which makes me choke up a bit whenever I read it.
In May the twins ‘helped’ us to vote. Lysander’s haemangioma had already shrunk enough that people had stopped commenting on it when we were out and about. He learnt to sit upright without assistance and was VERY pleased with himself! We spent five days in Camber Sands where it was far too cold to swim but we had a super time playing on the beach.
I started the month writing an open letter to the twins’ sperm donor. Without men like him, families like ours wouldn’t be possible and I’m so grateful that he believed in the system enough to make us mothers. The twins will be given his name and last known address when they turn eighteen, if they request it, and I look forward to being able to get to know him in person one day. Much to my astonishment, I found out in June that this blog had been nominated for two major blogging awards, Best Baby Blog and Best Blog Photography in the MAD Blog Awards. I was completely in shock, especially as the blog hadn’t even been running for a year at the time. I started to reach out to some other lovely two-mum families blogging their experience; it’s been a pleasure to get to know them and all of the ways in which we are similar and in which we are different. My grandmother turned eighty on the same day that Kirsty turned 26, and we celebrated with a party. Looking back, I was thinking quite hard about pregnancy at this time – I wrote a letter to my body apologising for the twins’ birth and bemoaned the lack of opportunity for a (free) accidental pregnancy. We were invited to go camping in the New Forest and the children’s toy brand Little Tikes kindly sent me to my first blogging conference, Britmums Live. Looking back on it, June was a good month!
In July my friend Becky and I went to the Bubble London kids’ fashion trade show, where we had a chance to meet and chat with some of my favourite brands. Most of my fashion reviews this year have come directly off the back of attending Bubble London so if there are any aspiring kids’ fashion bloggers reading this right now, go! The next show is at the end of January. You can say hi to me there. Kirsty continued to babywear and I took some of my favourite pictures of her babywearing journey, at sunset in the woods. We agreed to work with Vital Baby as the twins started to wean, taking part in their #weaningwarriors campaign. Rather than buy high-chairs we used to strip the twins down and put them in a plastic crate, which contained the mess beautifully and could be sluiced out after the meal! Genius. I don’t know why other mothers don’t do it. We took the twins down to the river and I had a chance to take my favourite pictures ever, featuring them dressed as tiny zebras and splashing in the water. To this day it remains one of my most popular posts.
In August I shared what having twins is really like. I also wrote a letter to the twins about being a part of our alternative family and how much we love them, and hope that they will be proud to be part of us even though they didn’t choose us. We took the twins to their first festival – more camping! – which was a bit of a disaster mostly because I thought that a night in August would be warm but actually I have never been so cold in all my life! The blog turned one year old.
September brought a love letter to Kirsty and a collection of memories that I never want to forget about the twins’ first year. The twins had a brightly-coloured picnic and spent some time with their great-grandfather at my mother’s house. I went to the MAD Blog Awards and won nothing, but had a marvelous time. The highlight of the evening for me was racing a 10-year-old on a microscooter well after midnight and almost crashing it into the wall of our very posh hotel! I had one of my favourite ever photoshoots with the twins in the autumn leaves.
In October we started a tradition of visiting our local farmer’s market when it shows up in town for hot coffee and delicious fresh bread, dried whitebait for Josephine-dog and cake for the grown-ups to eat whilst the twins nap. We were invited to review the TwinGo, a new twin babywearing solution on the market, which impressed Kirsty so much that she promptly bought one. With the twins’ first birthday approaching I wrote a reflective post about their relationship with Josephine-dog, what has worked and what hasn’t, and took some lovely snaps of the three of them. We were invited to the Little Tikes Ocean Explorers launch, which I attended alone as the twins had colds, and came home with an amazing goodie-bag! I wrote a letter to Balthazar and to Lysander for their birthdays and planned an elaborate party for the week before, which we had to cancel as they were still sick. Instead, we celebrated their birthday on the actual day with a halloween pumpkin hunt up the High Street – it was great fun! We finished the month with first birthday portraits in painted gold crowns.
In November I found out that I was being made redundant and stopped blogging for a little while in order to get my head round the news and concentrate on the job hunt. My in-laws kindly treated the twins to a surprise birthday party, which really was a surprise and almost made me cry (happy tears of course)!
The highlight of December was that the twins met Father Christmas. I left my old job on the 11th and started a new job on the 14th, which has consumed much of my time and creativity whilst I settle in to it. Kirsty has been doing an admirable job of effectively single-parenting the twins for five days out of seven, but on the weekends we did manage to take some photos of the twins walking that show how much they’ve grown and to capture the twins’ first taste of lemon.
So that was our year – ultimately a positive one, I think. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2016 will bring for us and will share my aims and resolutions both personally and for this blog soon.