Old Ladies can be Scary

A photo of a mum hugging her child
This isn’t me – this is what the perfect mum is sposed to look like…

“It takes a village to raise a child”, an old African proverb states, and this could well be true – but where is my village?

I need them every morning when my crib is in chaos, and no-one can find shoes, toothbrushes, or hairbands. I need them all to remove my eight year old son from his massive stash of lego bricks underneath which a carpet once prevailed.

I need them when I totally and massively fail as a mother, which is mostly every single morning before school, and, quite often, at bedtime too. I mean, what time is bedtime in a normal household?

In between, when they’re at school, everything is pretty sweet – me and bobba (le chat), we rub along pretty well.

But the village people – they need to step in.

Indeed to get support from all around you, as a parent, would be amazing wouldn’t it? For us all, collectively, to take responsibility for the next generation. For our elders to apply their wisdom to every child in the street and for us, and them, to listen?

I remember being shouted out by an elderly lady for dropping litter, when I was about eight and feeling utterly ashamed.

She wasn’t worried about shouting at some random child and letting them know what’s what. She was just giving me, and any other snot-faced binlid, the same story and probably, I reckon, she would shout at full-on adults as well – that lady took no shit.

Old ladies are scary right? But that chick had it sewn up – she was old school.

I mean: ‘Hellooooo’ – we all need to take a leaf out of that chicks book and get back to our roots – get back to saying NON, NON, NON and OUI, OUI, OUI and not be scared to do it, on the streets, at home and even on the bus!

A photo of me and my daughter
This is actually me…

Pea.s not all old ladies are scary

Twin Perks

Getting a ride on the back of my new loves bike was a profoundly altruistic experience, more so because I was five months up the duff, and we were wheedling through heavy Barcelona traffic.

Cycling our way to hospital, “Caballero”, the van drivers yell to my boy: a gentleman they considered him. As he humbly struggled to peddle me around, while I sat fat, blooming, getting a backie.

The twins

At that five month scan, our first – (eventually we had managed to decipher the bureaucratic Spanish health system) – the obstetrician asked whether we had planned our pregnancy.

“Errrr, no Señor”, we sheepishly admitted. He then proceed to interpret the scan image.

“…Your first child is here…” I looked across at my new love – he paled and fell back against the wall, desperatly looking for somewhere to sit down.

“There, there is the spine, the head and the vagina…”

“The second baby. Here, see the head, the spine, here, and the penis…Did you know you had twins?”

Shock, fear, joy and sheer disbelief flooded through me, fortunately I was lying down. Unlike Toots, who was clinging onto the cardboard walls.

“You are very lucky”, the obstetrician proclaimed as he left us in our newfound chaos.

We stumbled out of the hospital and gazed across at the steadfast, azure whims of the  Mediterranean sea.

We clung to each other in wondrous amazement. We were indeed blessed – we were magical. We could not believe this thing we suddenly held between us. Just an hour ago we had one baby and now, incredibly, we had two – we were: a family of four.

It was mind-blowing. More so, as we had met only eight months previously and had nothing between us except for a couple of rucksacks, a laptop, some books, our passports and a great and beautiful love for each other.

Nothing so far in our relationship had been conventional and now fate had dealt us another unexpected card. We truly believed our love was so magical that we had created boy/girl twins from it.

Little did we know at that time how common multiples are becoming as our generation parent much older and as IVF becomes more prevalent.

Eight years from that precious eureka moment Fealte & Rosebud have played a starring role in our lives.

And from those humble bycling beginnings we have continued on our quest for simplicity, knowing that the single most important thing we can ever give to our children is our love.

No need is there of great mounds of ugly plastic destroying our peaceful home.

No need is there of television or high-tech pushchairs, great monstrous high-chairs, massage classes or adidas trainers.

Pencils, paper, lego, books and latterly bikes are the most important tools in their lives.

Barefoot we plant seeds, water vegetables and make-up songs.

Research from TAMBA (The Twin and Multiple Birth Association) suggests that parents of multiples are more likely to separate – citing financial pressure as the main culprit.

But surely twins, or singletons, or three, or four children need as little or as much as you care to give them. Granted the costs of two high-chairs, two cots and two pairs of shoes at once may be great, but that is, surely, what IKEA was invented for.

No parent needs to lavish its offspring with the amount of material junk they do these days. No child can wear more than one pair of shoes at once. No child needs a mountain of DVD’s or plastic gadgets. No child needs to be taken to hand-signing or baby-yoga classes in a huge motor.

The amount of debt and expense taken on for the sake of an innocent child is incredible and cannot fail to rock the foundations of its parents as they struggle to keep on top of this mega debt.

And all for the sake of whose happiness?

UP la duff avec twins

To actually give birth to twins? Giving birth, twice, IN A ROW?? Who exactly does that kind of crazy shit? Well, me actually…seven years ago to be precise.

The long months of pregnancy and the actual giving birth are two entirely separate entities. One talks to mothers, ‘on the other side’, so to speak, but it is like calling to an alien species…you say one thing, they say something back and you cannot even begin to fathom what it is. As you stand there and shout to them on the other side of the river, it dawns on you, the reality, that you’ll never comprehend them until the moment you yourself plunge into the deep waters of childbirth…

I spent the first five months of my pregnancy oblivious to the fact the I had twins inside my blooming belly, I thought my regular exhaustive collapses were simply to do with being up the duff; I had never done it before.
Living in Barcelona, meant that I had no idea what the Spanish medical profession were saying to me. I lived in a dreamworld of utter innocence, utter naivety with no concept of childbirth, down syndrome, injections, measurements, pregnancy yoga, holistic tummy rubbing, scans, NCT; I just thought it would all go along as it was, with me slowly getting bigger and bigger. I didn’t, or possibly, I couldn’t, or, more likely, I wouldn’t, consider that there was only one outcome of this process, just one conclusion that must and would happen.
In that fifth month we had, by some stroke of sheer good luck, managed to get further into the Spanish system and they invited us for a scan. I hopped on to the back of my honeys bicycle, clutching my tummy and his, we staggered off across town.
At this moment in my life, I had just met and fallen in love with my boy, none of my friends had children or were pregnant, most of them were snorting great lines of coke and going to festivals all over Europe. So we were quite alone in our experience, quite alone in our bubble of love and the seriousness of a baby was not really considered.
That day, the scan revealed two babies in my stomach; Romulus and Remus. We were dumbstruck. The Spaniards declared I would have to have a C-Section. Whatever that meant.
It is at this point I begin to realise that childbirth is the inevitable out-come of this pregnancy lark and one that I should, possibly, begin to consider perhaps, more seriously?
What is it with middle-class British women, that they just assume they should have a natural birth? Because that is just what I did, having had zero, conscious, thoughts about it before, suddenly that was exactly what I should have and a c-section was just not an option.
Very bloody strange considering many, many socialised and well-adjusted cultures including the Spanish and the French think it is just LUDICROUS to put oneself through a great deal of pain, when medical science has developed drugs to deliver a child sans agony.
But I am indeed a middle-class British chick and therefore coursing hellish pain, sweating, swearing, screaming in fact, is the (sub)consious choice I must and do make.
With this new fearsome reality slowly expanding in my damaged mind, I realise that the only way I could make this concept a possibility was to go back to Blighty. So at 34 weeks that is exactly what I did.
Woooaaaahhhh – suddenly it all becames real; as I understand EVERYTHING they are telling me, but of course, by this point it is all too late.
Having had no NCT or any other birthing advice I just carry on in my own, unique, oblivious way. Fortunately for me, I am actually very fit as I have just been living in a very accommodating city, which is small enough to walk around. This has kept me fit.
The day before my waters break I walk to my local Dr’s surgery some 2 miles away, where they tell me all is fine; bugger off, so I walk the 2 miles home.
That 4mile round trip is, I think, what did it; as the next night my waters suddenly break. And within the hour I am in a hospital delivery room. My boy has left me there and gone to park the car, when he comes back no less than 20minutes later I am almost ready to push. My first child is textbook – she is ready to rock – no questions asked and within two hours of my waters breaking I have hit full dilation and my baby is crowning. Nobody prepares you for this pain, but thankfully the contractions give you time to breathe and prepare for the next ARGHHHHhhhhhhhhh contraction – it hurts like hell but luckily for me – she slips out fairly quickly. And there she is my first beautiful child, seemingly just a huge pair of eyes and a tiny wee body all 4lbs of her. She is healthy and, as far as I can see, perfect. They put her into a clear plastic bassinet and focus back on me…oh shit – this is the point where being a twin mother clears into stark reality.
Time for round two.
As I lie there exhausted, stunned and disbelieving the medics begin to confer…
They, so it seems, would prefer it if my contractions could, well, continue, but like a normal single birth they have concluded since pushing out the first baby. I am given a small amount of time to get on with this naturally and I am silently willing my son to turn around and head south.
He has, since his sister vacated the spot, had a good stretch and begun to enjoy some well-earned space. He has no plans, as yet, to leave, thanks very much.
So, they decide to jump start me. A drip is inserted into my arm, which pumps pure, unadulterated pitocin into me – holy shit – I go from sedate recovery to full blown intense contractions within seconds. It hurts like hell and I feel incredibly angry and distressed…I’m suddenly, inexplicably back in the full hell-fire without so much as a cup of tea between sessions.
It is at this point that the doctors kick out the mid-wives, turn the lights on and roll up their sleeves. They are not happy. My baby son is in the wrong position. So some so-called pediatrician, who at the time I thought was just: f***ing b**ch; (seriously pain makes you do these dreadfully unsocial things), thrusts her arm deep within my womb and attempts to turn him around – this is so incredibly painful – I loose control and start shouting at her and physically try to yank her arm out. During the brief lapses between contractions, I apologise to all for my coarse and unnecessary behaviour, but during them I slip straight back into mad screaming lunatic woman; spitting foul words as these evil, incapable fools.
They try to calm me, they threaten me with a c-section if I don’t stop panicking but, goddamn it – it bloody hurts, I’m shattered and my new baby is lying just feet away listening to this uproar. I am basically, like most new mothers, I assume?, totally terrified and am completely out of control of a situation, that I think belongs to me, the terror and fear render me helpless to common sense or reason – the contractions make me weak and desperate for them to finish I beg, beg them to end it all for me right here, right now. Of course, they are completely, and, very sensibly, ignoring me entirely.
Twin babies are expected to birth close to each other, preferably in one continuous birth? Is that really true is anything human actually so text book? Of course not.
They wheel me to the theatre and some poor anesthetist tries desperately to read all the rules and regs out to me; a demented, crazed spitting animal before he is legally allowed to fill me with drugs. I say: Yes, YES, Yes whatever. And the poor man has to try three times before he can get the needle efficiently into my spinal chord.
Bliss – instant bliss. Suddenly, they are in control and I stop fighting, they get out the tools and whip out my son in seconds.
He is healthy, he is alive, he is undamaged, he is mine; I have two! His sister having been abandoned an hour before in the previous room.
Phew, its over. I did it. And all is back to normal..?