Waterbabies - Chapter One*

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

This is the first of several posts I'm going to be writing in collaboration with Waterbabies Tees. Back when Edie and Mabel were just a bump, I had a feeling that they were going to love water. I could feel them turn when I took a shower or they used to go crazy if I took a bath and I did aquanatal classes throughout my entire pregnancy, where I'd always have the most peaceful night's sleep after. Overall I guess I just had a feeling that they'd love it. Once they arrived, they loved having a bath no matter whether that was a plastic tub in the livingroom, the kitchen sink or the big bath in our bathroom.

So I jumped at the chance to get them into lessons when Waterbabies got in touch and I'm so glad I did. We started our Chapter One lessons back in November and both girls, from the moment they got in the water loved it.

For those of you who haven't heard about Waterbabies before, they're the UK's number one baby swimming school and children can attend from newborn till they're four years old. In fact their youngest ever swimmer was just one day old! Props to that Mama because all I wanted to do with my day old babies was have a sleep!

On our very first lesson Edie and Mabel both took part in an under water swim... I also nearly did as I'm sure I nearly fainted in shock. They meanwhile loved the experience and I guess when you really think about it, it's no surprise that they have an affinity with the water - they did spend nine months in it afterall.

Prior to starting Chapter One, I guess I hadn't really thought about what baby swimming would consist of too much and I just assumed it would be splashing about in a pool, getting babies used to water. But Waterbabies is so much more than that! There is a huge focus on poolside safety and from our very first lesson, we were learning the skills needed if a baby should fall into the water.

I was talking to my health visitor about this and shockingly she told me that a baby dies from a swimming pool incident every year, not just in the region but in the tiny rural area we are based in which she covers. Sadly I've since discovered that that shocking fact isn't just our small area and that drowning is the second highest cause of accidental deaths of children under five years of age in England. So learning about swimming pool safety as young as possible is incredibly important.

From the moment Edie and Mabel got into the pool, both of them instinctively kicked away trying to tread water, whilst they weren't smiling, they were wide eyed and mouthed, looking round and taking everything in. I could tell they enjoyed it when we were singing (there's lot of this) and I was so proud of them both.

We swim at a lovely warm hydropool in Stockton which works out perfectly because it's half way from Jason's office to home. So I feed them before we go, the girls have a nap in the car on route and we meet J there. They're still currently feeding every three hours, so I take a bottle for straight after and repeat the process on the way home.

We're midway through our Waterbabies Chapter One journey and it has been wonderful so far. The girls always sleep really well the night after swimming (you know that baby sleep style when their arms are above their heads) and I personally really enjoy going - the other mum's we swim with are lovely and it's nice having a natter in the changing room after. In the few lessons we've had, I'm feeling a lot more confident about taking Edie and Mabel in the pool on holiday and I'm planning on taking them to my healthclub with me swimming as well as our lesson next week.

If you're interested in taking your baby swimming or learning more about poolside safety then I cannot recommend Waterbabies enough. Find out more about Waterbabies Tees Valley and North Yorkshire Moors who we swim with here or to find your local office, take a look here.

Prevention vs Cure | Sudocrem Care & Protect Review*

Saturday, 6 January 2018

It's always really nice to be contacted by a brand that I really love and then given the opportunity to work with. When Sudocrem got in touch about their new Care and Protect cream, it couldn't have come at a better time. It was actually nearly six months ago, when Edie and Mabel had just come out of hospital and we'd been home for a couple of weeks.

All the advice I'd received up until that point was to avoid using any lotions or creams and just use cotton wool and water... which I did for a while, until I realised what a faff on that was. At first, like any new mum I'm sure, I did as I was told and followed 'the guidelines' but it wasn't long before I got sick of kicking over various tupperware dishes of water all over the carpet and finding cotton wool balls everywhere. It also wasn't long before one of the girls got a very small sore patch. Preemie babies obviously have very sensitive skin and I dug out a tub of Sudocrem that I had in the bathroom.

The original Sudocrem is a medicated antiseptic cream to treat nappy rash and it worked like a treat sorting out that sore spot. Prevention surely is better than cure, I thought to myself and I decided to keep applying it on both the girls. Then as if someone had heard me, an email pinged into my inbox about Sudocrem's new Care and Protect cream which is designed purely for this purpose.

Containing vitamin E and Pro Vitamin B5 to protect baby's most delicate areas, the cream is a lot thinner than the original and rather than a tub, it's in a handy tube. Obviously given the fact that I have two babies, I do go through it a lot quicker than a singleton mum but a little goes a long way.

The size of the tube also makes it really handy for carrying around in my changing bag and the cream itself has a lovely smell to it. In a blurry eyed moment of sleep deprivation during the four month sleep regression, I accidentally picked it up thinking it was my hand cream. Thankfully the result was really nice, unlike when I brushed my teeth with my moisturiser.

I've been using the cream since that point, so nearly six months and neither one of the girls have had any sore spots again, nor had any nappy rash. Depending on whereabouts you shop Sudocrem Care and Protect is priced around £4.29 for 30g or £5.99 for 50g. Other cheaper creams are available but to me, this is my go to. So much so that I stocked up in Sainsbury's (good old nectar points) and now have several tubes lying around the house.

Identical Twin Diaries: Six Months Old

Thursday, 4 January 2018

This post is probably going to be a bit of a ramble... I've been trying to write it for a couple of weeks now (as the girls are actually closer to seven months) but something always happens that stops me. Whether that's one of the girls wakes from a nap early, or work calls or getting to the bottom of the washing pile seems somewhat possible so I decide to do that instead. Something always seems to happen or need doing more than writing this post.

The past six months have gone by in a complete utter whirlwind, yet the days seem to pass by so slowly. I can't say I've enjoyed every second but I can say I wouldn't change it for the world. Being a twin mum is really hard work but it's not as bad as people made out to me that it was going to be prior to the girls arriving.

Edie and Mabel turned six months old on the 22nd of December and between now and the last update I wrote things have changed so much. I'm almost scared to write things down or say them out loud sometimes for the fear that I'll jinx it but we are in a really good routine, one where I feel confident that the girls are happy and they sleep really well. Since my last update post, we survived the four month sleep regression, started weaning (using our new Oribel highchairs which we were kindly gifted - another post on these soon), both girls started sleeping from 7pm - 7 am and I threw their dummies out the window!

In terms of physical appearances, they haven't changed much! They've put on weight of course and their hair has finally started to grow but their eyes are still blue. Edie has started to roll onto her side and they both can now sit up with support.

Things I want to remember: 

  • How they hold hands all the time! No matter how far apart they're put, they seem to find a way of wiggling back together again and holding hands. If one of them is a bit twisty, the other will often stroke the side of their head. I thought at first this was a bit of a fluke but when you see how flighty they are with their hands normally and then they turn very gentle - I don't think it can be. 
  • In December, Edie began sticking her tongue out all the time. She would do it non-stop and ruined any photos of her smiling. Thankfully she got over this within a couple of weeks but Mabel has now also just started doing it. Perhaps this is one of those odd developmental milestones that no one ever talks about or it might just be my two?
  • I mean this in the nicest possible way but it does make me smile when one sneezes or pumps and scares the other. They do a starfish style jump and the best shocked expression I've ever seen! 
  • The look on their faces when we went into Toys R Us for the first time. We had a last minute Christmas shopping trip and I'd been wanting to go have a look at light weight strollers / pushchairs to take on holiday with us this month... both girls were really twisty but the second we walked in, it was like they knew where they were and their faces lit up! If you follow my stories on Instagram then you'll have seen a hilarious picture of Mabel in a mini.
  • The faces they pull when eating new foods... so far we've only tried broccoli, carrot, turnip, parsnip, sweet potato and peas - the best reaction going to broccoli (as pictured)! 
Things I've learnt:
  • There's swings and roundabouts to babies sleeping through 7pm - 7am. Short naps. As they develop, I know their sleeping habits will change but it's really hard to get anything done when they don't have decent naps. Beggars can't be choosers though! 
  • Not something I've necessarily learnt but I wish we'd done more tummy time in the early days. They are really strong and developing well but they dislike been on their stomachs still and I think this is purely down to the fact I didn't do enough.
  • Everyone's an expert! From the lady on the tills in the supermarket to the random person in the street, no one seems afraid to stop a twin mum and offer their advice. I smile politely, thank them and move on because I don't feel the need to have my babies on three solid meals a day with puddings, nor do I feel the need to dream feed them when they don't want or need it... etc etc the list goes on. Instinct is best. 

Working 9-5*

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

As soon as I wrote the title for this post, I started singing Dolly Parton in my head - anyone else read it and sing it? It's not exactly true in my case either... for one, I'm currently off on maternity leave and also my job is anything but 9-5. I've worked in event marketing one way or another since graduating and I now predominantly work for our family events company, Imaginative Productions.

We produce the North East's largest and scariest Halloween haunt, Scream Factory which runs each October and our Christmas event, Dine With Santa... as well as working on other commissioned projects. It's headed up by my father in law but I work closely with my sister in law who is the event manager and my brother in law leads the site build. I feel quite lucky that I married into quite a talented family - all the sets are handmade by the team, as well as the majority of props. I absolutely love what I do, so combining that with been able to work with the people I care about to me is a perfect job.

However whilst off on maternity leave, various connections have got in touch to see when I'll be back to work for freelance projects. 'Drop me an email,' I've been saying whilst scrambling in the twins changing bag to find a pen and piece of paper...

So when Basic Invite got in touch about working together, I jumped at the chance! They're known for their breathtaking and affordable wedding invitations but pretty much do whatever kind of stationery you can imagine. From Bar Mitzvah invites to birth announcements, they literally cover everything and they are all completely customisable.

If you watch my Instagram stories, then you'll know they had a fantastic offer on Christmas and Holiday cards. I made some using their online builder featuring Edie and Mabel and they were just the cutest!

However I was most impressed with my business cards - so much so, I'm planning on ordering some compliment slips and other stationery in the new year ready for when I go back to work. The quality of the paper stock was fantastic and I love how affordable foiling is - even with shipping to the UK.

So if you're looking for some business cards for your blog, wedding invites or a really unique baby shower thank you card then you have to check them out. Click here to to take a look and start using their online customisation builder to make yours!

Pregnancy Problems - Varicose Vein Treatment*

Monday, 1 January 2018

Thankfully, other than extreme fatigue I didn’t experience too many negative pregnancy problems. Despite it been a (surprise) twin pregnancy, I was only sick the once and it wasn’t until the very last few weeks when I developed preeclampsia that I actually felt unwell.

In the last couple of weeks before I went into hospital, I’d been sent to see a physiotherapist as the pressure on the lower half of my body was causing me a few problems. I had a really sore back and my legs felt unbelievably tired. I was putting everything down to the fact I was carrying two babies and I’m very small framed… hindsight is a wonderful thing however and it is clear now that it was the start of preeclampsia.

Obviously when I found out I was pregnant I had began smothering on various oils and body butters at least twice a day (more if I had the chance) in an effort to combat any stretch marks. One thing I hadn’t considered however was the potential of varicose veins developing. While providing my treatment and a nice set of crutches to help me with walking, my physio mentioned them. A woman’s blood volume increases in pregnancy by up to 50% putting pressure and strain on the veins. While I understood my body would never be exactly the same after pregnancy, I certainly wanted to look after it as much as I could while I still had the time!

Thankfully I’d been doing everything I could to prevent varicose veins anyway. I’d taken daily exercise – even if this was just a quick walk up the road during my lunch break. I’d stayed within my recommended weight range during pregnancy – some people didn’t even realise I was pregnant, let alone having twins. I ate healthy, balanced meals and treated myself to sweet things when I felt like it. Not to mention I’d raised my legs while I slept (on my left side) and had avoided crossing my legs while I sat.

I also already had some lovely NHS compression stockings which I’d been wearing – these appear to come as standard when you find out you’re pregnant with twins. “Congratulations, there’s two heartbeats - now here’s some not-so-attractive socks for you to wear!”

Of course being the worrier I am, I came home and did a search on Google. If anyone can see my search history from the time I found out I was pregnant to the day Edie and Mabel arrived, it’ll be far better than any comedy. The good news is that in most cases symptoms disappear post-pregnancy but in a worst-case scenario, there is varicose vein treatment available.

In the last week before the twins arrival, I ballooned in size. Again, this was down to the preeclampsia, which I found out when I went in for my routine check at 34 weeks. My legs were swollen and I struggled to see them past my still small but big enough bump.

After my emergency section, I was given another pair of fancy looking stockings to wear whilst in hospital. They definitely didn’t add any glamour to my hospital bag attire but they did their job. Thankfully I came out the other end of my twin pregnancy with two healthy babies and after a few weeks, a rather healthy me.

When I look back at my pregnancy now… I am really pleased I stayed active and as healthy as I could. During the first trimester the exhaustion was unreal and it was so tempting to stay in bed all day. Even on the days when I really struggled, I’d take a walk out into my garden and just get some fresh air and I honestly believe this is what kept me healthy and well throughout most of the 34 weeks!

Whisbear Review: My Newborn Sleep Saviour*

Thursday, 7 December 2017

My last couple of posts have been about the girls sleeping patterns and now we’re out of the dreaded four-month sleep regression… I thought it was a good time to write about their newborn sleep.

We’ve received quite a few nice things to try out for the twins since they were born but by far Whisbear has to be one of my favourites.

I was admittedly a little hesitant at first… I was a little worried that Edie and Mabel would become reliant on white noise to be able to fall asleep. White noise is something, which Jay needs to fall asleep to and I personally can’t stand.

Whisbear arrived the day before I went into hospital. I put him with a pile of the girls things in their room and headed for my routine appointment. Little did I know, the next time I’d walk in that room, I’d have my twins in my arms!

We left hospital in a pretty good routine and on our first night at home, it all went out the window. Rather than trusting our instincts, we followed ‘the guidelines’ and I’ve sharp learnt that guidelines are just that – not hard and fast rules.

Now I wasn’t so naïve to think I’d have newborns who would sleep through the night but I had planned on keeping them on the same schedule. Not to mention I never realised how noisy babies were when they slept. Of course like most new parents I was very alert to their noises but I actually recorded them one night and played it to family members (who’d already had several children) and even they were shocked. It suddenly felt like we were all over the place and after a couple of days of barely any sleep, I was wondering what to do.

I decided to make a plan to get us back on routine… so I dug out Whisbear and sent Jay to the shops for emergency batteries!

Whisbear, is by far no ordinary bear. He’s cute in a completely unconventional way and plays a continual shhhhhhhh noise for up to 40 minutes. The bit I love most about him though, is his cry sensor. So sensitive that even the smallest of trumps from a babies bum will set him off.

He was my wildcard and he worked.

I had my alarms set for every three hours but I planned on making use of those precious minutes between for some much-needed rest. I decided to move the girls into their own room on a night and made a bed for myself so Jay could have our room as running a family business meant he was soon back at work.

On a night Edie and Mabel shared a cot back then sleeping next to each other on cosy dream supporters whilst during the day they slept in moses baskets in the livingroom. On the first night of our new routine I placed Whisbear between them, set him off and the silence was golden. It was almost like they were asleep but in tune listening to him. The slightest noise from one of them caused him to set off again, resettling them so I didn’t even have to move. I finally managed to get some decent sleep and woke up for the next feed feeling of course, like any new mum tired but not exhausted. 

Whisbear worked like a dream. He became part of our routine and the girls seemed to realise he was a signal for sleep. They cut down feeds dropping them one by one over the nights and began sleeping through…

Then the four-month sleep regression hit us (see my last post for details). Admittedly our little bear couldn’t help change science and the girls went through a rough patch. I honestly believe that our solid routine and Whisbear helped get us through it.  They’re thankfully now out of it and sleeping through again – I’m already drafting part two of my post about how we survived this horrible month with virtually no sleep.

I kept Whisbear as part of our routine throughout the regression and he’s back working his magic. They now have separate cots but the slightest whimper from one of them and he begins to shush.

We did on occasions try other white noise products but had no such luck with these. In my eyes no one compares to Whisbear.

Obviously we were sent Whisbear to review and received the product free of charge but as with all my posts, these are 100% my honest opinions and I would recommend anyone expecting to give him a try. He is by far the best white noise product I've come across and I'm so thankful to have him. His batteries ran out a few weeks back and I now have an emergency battery drawer dedicated purely for him – as you can tell, he holds a special place in my heart.

If you're interested in finding out more about how Whisbear can help your new baby sleep then take a look at their website. They also have a fantastic competition running at the moment to win the ultimate sleep bundle - check out their facebook page for details. 


IDENTICAL TWIN DIARIES: 22/23 Week Update – How we overcame the four-month sleep regression (I think)

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

I felt like my last update post had a really negative feeling to it, most likely because when I wrote it I was desperately missing sleep and struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel. In just a couple of weeks things have completely changed for the better and I’m no longer sitting in the middle of the night praying for the girls to sleep. I don’t want to jinx anything but they seem to have gone back to good sleeping…

As I explained in my last post, the girls had dropped down to one feed a night and then out of the blue they suddenly started waking lots. Edie got over it a bit quicker than poor Mabel and was only waking up a few times anyway. Then out of the blue, she started sleeping through and when I say sleeping through I mean from 7pm – 7am.  She seemed to deal with things naturally whereas Mabel seemed to be waking from habit EVERY 40 MINUTES!

So as I mentioned in my previous post we began trying lots of different things to try and help both girls but mainly Mabel, stay asleep for longer than 40 minutes at a time. Funnily enough 40 minutes is the length of a baby sleep cycle so all signs did point to the fact it was the four month sleep regression.

I felt it was really important to write this update post sooner rather than later because I want other mum’s who might be reading to know – it is temporary and you will sleep again.

A few people scared me by saying the effects of the four-month sleep regression are permanent. I was horrified thinking for the next few years, I’d never get another solid four hours let alone eight!

However I’d like to make it clear that this isn’t exactly true. After a lot of researching online during those lonely hours, it seems the changes to a babies brain that take place during the four month sleep regression are permanent but the changes to their sleep aren’t.

I should point out that my girls were in a really good routine and had no problems at all going to sleep on a night… our issue was keeping them asleep. I spent hours during the night trying to get one of them back to sleep while Googling in the other hand what on earth I was doing wrong. As soon as one would drop off, the other would wake up. There was a stack of information about what to do if your baby wouldn’t go to sleep but that wasn’t my problem… my issue was I couldn’t keep them asleep or get them back down without a fight.

I’m obviously no expert at all when it comes to babies. I wing it on a daily basis and just do what I think is best for them and I try not to beat myself up about it. I rely on my sisters in law who both have been there done that and mine and Jay’s Mum’s for advice. And I’m not going to lie after a month of trying various things and nothing seeming to work – I was at the end of my tether. I felt like I’d gone from really enjoying being a Mum to desperately wanting to go back to work.

I’m a little bit scared to write this down just in case I jinx things but the good news is both our twins are sleeping through. Mabel sleeps 7pm – 6.30am most days now and Edie 7pm – whenever I wake her up (she clearly takes after her Dad!).

I’ve had quite a few questions about the girls sleep and I’ve seen a few Mum’s on Instagram and other blogs comparing and I think it’s really important to remember that no baby is ever the same. As much as we all want one… there is no magic cure. Some babies wake once, twice, three times and others not at all. Despite being identical, Edie and Mabel are prime examples of this.

So how did we overcome the regression: Quite honestly, I’m not sure which bit that I did was the thing, which stopped Mabel waking up so much. So what I plan to write about is the things, which I did and the routine, which we have and perhaps they might give you some ideas to try what might work for you.

Our Bedtime Routine:
I was always taught consistency is key and from about 3 weeks old, we’ve followed the same routine. Though I have done this on my own a few times, I generally rope in an extra pair of hands.

Around about 5.45pm, I lay the girls on a towel and whip their nappies off so they can have some time to kick and roll about while I go run the bath and pop their vests and pyjamas on the radiator.

A great tip I picked up from a fellow twin mum, Louise was to always use the same bath products, as the smell will give them a sign that it’s bedtime. We use Johnsons Lavender bubble bath, talc and moisturiser. I tried a few at the beginning and this was what worked for the girls and didn’t dry them out.

6.30pm (ish)
Both girls have a little massage with the Johnson’s moisturiser after their bath, new nappies and then their vests and pyjamas put on. Then they have their last bottle of the day. I currently use a slower teat for their last bottle and then they go to bed in their sleeping bags, usually awake but on the odd day they have fallen asleep beforehand. We turn Whisbear on and I don’t know why but I always tell them, even if they’re already asleep, ‘it’s bedtime, sweet dreams.’

They’re normally in bed for just before 6.50pm and asleep by 7pm. I’ve *touch wood* and thankfully never had too much of a problem, putting them down to sleep and I think it’s because both me and Jay have always stuck to our routine. It’s quite funny because on the odd occasion we’ve been late for one reason or another, Edie and Mabel certainly let you know about it.

We tried dream feeding them but this never seemed to work for us, so we stopped doing it. During the early days and even now still I feed on demand if they wake up and they want milk then I’ll give it to them but what we noticed was that Mabel didn’t want feeding – she just wanted to go back to sleep and didn’t know how.

So we kept doing our routine throughout the regression and we also tried lots of other things, which I plan on covering in a second separate post. But if you’re struggling with sleep with either one baby, two or three… please don’t think it’s forever because it’s really not. Stay strong and remember to talk. If anyone tells you to nap when they do, try your very best not to punch them and instead ask your mum or someone you trust to take them for a couple of hours while you get some much needed rest. You can do this Mama’s!