The name’s Jallie. Jake & Ellie

Oh, Tara! Putting a howling pun in your latest ‘Gallery’ linky, & on a subject so close to my heart! You must know I couldn’t resist…

Yes, the subject this week is: ‘Bond’.

Not James Bond.

This bond:

DSCF2772

I know I’ve featured this before but it’s my all-time favourite photo. I’m overwhelmed with love & gratitude every time I see it. They’re 1 day old here.

The bond between twins is a bond like no other. I think only twins can really appreciate how precious, how special, it is. Although not a twin myself I have cousins around my age who are, & that’s just what they tell me. It’s a bond that will never be broken, a closeness unmatched.

After all, you can’t get much closer than this:

1-JW_36

They were born together, they live together. For nearly every moment of their lives, awake or asleep, they are together.

They were aware of each other even as little babies. They would reach out to touch each other, & try to communicate. Later on, at an age when children aren’t capable of much more than parallel play, they would try to play with each other. As soon as they were mobile enough they would chase each other. They’d hug & they’d kiss. Now they talk to each other, dance together, sing together, & yes: fight together.

1-At Peter's

They’re nearly 3 now & are at an age where they are becoming more independent. They’ve always had quite distinct personalities but as they get older their differences seem to become accentuated. Jake has always been the more affectionate & empathic of the two; it’s usually he who initiates physical affection. Ellie is a little more individualistic; she usually prefers to play by herself & gets irritated when Jake joins in / interferes.

They’re starting to make friends with other children. Up until recently they have always said that the other is their “best friend”; Ellie however now says that a little girl they know from their pre-Nursery group is her best friend.

It’s sad. Especially as I think Jake would still like Ellie to be his best friend. He won’t say it now of course because he isn’t hers any more. I guess it’s just a part of growing up, even growing up together.

Yet despite this their special bond still shines through. When Jake was sick recently Ellie was clearly moved, trying to be as close to him as she could, stroking him, hugging him, trying to make him better. She became distressed when she had to stay with me while he saw doctors with the Mummy. Even this morning when he hurt his finger she was rubbing his arm, showing great concern. Jake is the same with her. They often spontaneously hug,  & dance or sing together.

No matter what I think the twin bond will always be there, & in one way or another they will always have each other.

Jallie: you only live twice. Shaken, not stirred…

Why not have a look at what other bloggers have to say about the bonds in their lives in Tara’s brilliant Gallery? It never disappoints! Just click the pic:

Once Upon a Time in the West Midlands

There was a bit of trouble in the badlands of the Wild West Midlands today!

In the course of which my faith in humanity has been both damaged & bolstered.

The front wheels of our pushchair fell off this morning so I had to drive the twins to their afternoon playgroup at a local Nursery / School.

They had a terrific time, possibly the best ever there. They were running around happily, playing & laughing with each other & other children & parents there, there was a little obstacle course they enjoyed going over / through / around, pushchairs, little vehicles, they were making flowers with CDs, coloured paper & glue, they enjoyed the story, the singing & signing, the bananas & raisins, everything. It was a great crowd of parents there too & I had a great time chatting with them & with the staff.

I had a parcel to pick up afterwards so I drove off to get it. When I arrived I realised I’d left the card & my shirt back at the Nursery.

So (cue music) I jumped back on the saddle & mosied on back to get my vittals. When I turned around to go back out there was a locked gate blocking our exit. Whoa Lightning! This was sure news to me. It was reckoned that the man in the ironmongers shop next door had the key. So, donning my white hat, I strode in & asked him gosh-darn nicely if he woulda be a-minded to unlock that thar gate. He done gone & told me to – well, I won’t say. I’m sure he was a-wearing a black hat. I told him I had the young un’s on the steed, & that they’d only gone & been away from home for more’n 2 hours. He done & gone said: “So go & look after them then!”. Nice.  In some here parts he might a-been called a Varmint. A dang Varmint!

I skedaddled to the Nursery but even they were unable to talk sense into this piece-a-work! Half an hour gone, I’d took them inside, & we were still trying to get this thing fixed. At his leisure then the Ironmonger Man in the Black Hat had mosied on out of his small shop & over all of the 4 feet to the gate & had let us out. Us & many other right cross Mammas & Daddies with their young’uns in tow.

He was laughing. It was a great big joke to him.

Trouble is (& I’m leaving the slightly laboured Western metaphor now…) apparently I was now the bad guy!  As my car was at the front of the queue to get out drivers behind were madly honking their horns & yelling abuse. In front of my 2-year-olds, who’d remained astonishingly calm throughout all of this. I & a staff member were busy strapping them in as fast as we could, yet still the tirade of horns & abuse persisted! I don’t understand why people have to be like this.

Even the teacher who was kindly helping me -1 of the nicest people I’ve ever met – came in for abuse, & apparently is quite upset. I’m seeing her in a group she runs tomorrow, & I’m bringing chocolates.

I love this Nursery, its people & its activities; the twins do too. They’ve had so many great times there, have learnt so much: singing, signing, arts & crafts. But a man who has no connection to it other than proximity having the ability to effectively detain children & their carers inside, allowing & blocking access & egress at his convenience? Who appears to take pleasure in detaining & distressing small children & their carers?

This also I don’t understand.

So how has my faith in humanity also been bolstered? Firstly in the kindness of the teacher in helping me get the twins back in the car, under fire. A lovely woman: Thank You.

Secondly in the unexpected support I received from a complete stranger & total twitter newbie. He tweeted to me that he was there in the school car-park & was shocked by the abuse we were getting from the Mums there. He also told me about how inconsistent the gate-keeper is & how frustrated many parents there are with him. I won’t name him as he may not want to be dragged into my sordid little affairs, but Thank You too. You know who you are.

Good. So how was your day?

*Rides off into the sunset. Cue orchestral music, roll credits*


Flying Solo

On Thursday I looked after the twins for a full day on my own for the first time.

From 6.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., without a break.

The Mummy is still on Maternity Leave, but she wanted to go in to work to take part in interviewing for a senior post, someone she’d be working closely with. Obviously she wanted to have a say in who it would be.

I’ve worked in the high-stress, competitive environment that is the City, & in pressurised, busy restaurant kitchens. But this child-care is by far the most demanding job I’ve ever had!

So: parents & carers, especially you Mothers, take note: the next time someone (usually a smug bloke, right?) implies that you’ve got it easy & that you should try working in a ‘proper job’ (whatever that is) – just send them to me, OK?

Jallie decided to make it extra hard for me by, unusually, napping at different – & odd - times. I wonder if the disruption of the Mummy not being around at all had unsettled them, although generally they were in a good mood. Usually you can count on having at least a break in the afternoon & often also the morning as they nap. Not a bit of it for me!

Feeding them both at once (before their morning nap) was difficult. I somehow managed to get them on a knee each, wrapping an arm around them & holding a bottle in each mouth. (I wonder if we’ll eventually evolve an extra arm or 2? I sure could do with that!). I then managed to lower Jake into a cot, then Ellie into the other. She wasn’t happy, so I picked her up again & lay with her on a futon mattress we’ve laid on the bedroom floor. She fell asleep almost straight away. This is a girl who really needs company!

After making sure the room was safe I went back to Jake, who was grizzling. I tried to settle him on the spare bed but he just wasn’t interested. So he stayed up & we played. Ellie ended up sleeping for nearly 2 1/2 hours – incredible!

Lunch was late because of this, & they ate well. Jake! He was actually falling asleep in his high-chair! His poor little head kept falling onto the tray, messy as it was. He’s never done that before, nor has Ellie! So I had to unstrap him, leaving Ellie alone (which she loathes), take him back upstairs & settle him in a cot. He went down straight away, fortunately.

Back to Ellie to finish her lunch, then I even managed to clear up & load the dishwasher! Then into the lounge for some play (while I had the cricket on :)).

Jake however only slept for half an hour. When he awoke I had to give him the rest of his lunch. Because the kitchen/diner floor is slate & too hard for just-walking babies to fall on, if I was to feed Jake in there I’d have to strap Ellie back in the high-chair. Without more food, I’d give that about 2 minutes before grumpiness ensued. So that was out. I ended up carrying a high-chair into the lounge & feeding Jake there while Ellie played happily on the floor, with a snack so she didn’t feel too left out. Everyone wins!

No-one wanted an afternoon nap! Except me. I actually ended up napping on the nursery floor, while energetic twin babies climbed & jumped all over me. I had to lie on my side in order to avoid being choked & castrated…

Up until then I’d been thinking that despite everything it was going remarkably well, much easier than I expected! I just conked out. In hindsight I think I was starting to get this lurgee that’s been going around, a congesty sinnussy thing; I had a temperature the next day.

Tea is normally at 5pm. Ellie fell asleep on my shoulder at 4.30. Great…

She lasted 45 minutes, but it again meant that their meal was late, although – again – it went surprisingly well.

After tea we played until the Mummy came back at 6.30. Boy we we glad to see her, especially Jake! I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so excited! He kept leaping on her, screeching with excitement, turning around, & then doing it again. Ellie of course was also really pleased, but in her typically gentler way :)

I had a brief, much welcome, break then we settled them to bed for the night – thankfully they both went down quickly.

We live in a tall, thin 3-storey house. The nursery, cots & changing table are at the top; kitchen/diner & lounge at the bottom. I lost count of the number of times I carried them, 1 at a time of course, up & down the stairs. I was shattered! My arms &  shoulders still ache. Although this lurgee I’m sure has a lot to do with that.

We’re planning to work part-time on alternate days come April, so I’ll have to get used to this. I really need to figure out ways to make it easier though.

I’m thinking Bungalows. Yep, a Bungalow would be a great. Anyone got one they want to sell?

It’s Just Not Healthy!

As we were trying to get ourselves & the twins ready to go out to Twins Club this morning we had a ‘phone call. It was from a very smug Doctor from Birmingham Children’s Hospital, responding to a message we’d left

- in November.

She seemed to think that this was perfectly OK, & only apologised when pressed. It was about trying to get the promised follow-up appointment that they seemed to have forgotten for Jallie’s reflux problems.

They’re OK now, basically because they’re several months older!

Sadly this level of dis-service, incompetence & rudeness seems to be considered acceptable, even the norm for the NHS; at least in my neck of the woods.

The human shoulder joint

Image via Wikipedi

Anyone who has been reading my “Dear So & Sos” will know that I’ve been having huge problems trying to get a much-needed shoulder operation done (ruptured tendon, probably the result of a fractured clavicle). It’s been at least 2 years – to be honest I’ve lost track – since I first went to the GP about it. After referrals, physio, X-rays, lost x-rays, redone x-rays, a scan, consultations I finally got a date for it: June last year. Unfortunately in the time they took for all this to happen my wife had become pregnant & given birth to twins, then 3 months old!

Even with the 2 of us at home 24 hours we were struggling. There was no way I could just ‘take time off’ for 6 weeks, even with 1 arm available. So I had to postpone & was given a Pre-Op Assessment for early September, which I passed, with the Op a month later.

3 weeks later though I’d come down with a seasonal allergic catarrh & chesty cough. Having been told I shouldn’t have the Op if I had a chest infection, I spent an incredibly frustrating week of ‘phone calls where I was transferred to every department & back again, messages left on voice-mails, many “I’ll ‘phone you back” lies & still I couldn’t find anyone who could advise me as to whether or not I should proceed. The day before the Op I finally got to speak to a Pre-Op Nurse, who said I shouldn’t. I then phoned the Waiting List Co-ordinator for the millionth time, who then had a go at me for leaving it so late to cancel! She’s lucky she wasn’t within my ‘phone throwing range. At least she didn’t transfer me to Cardiac that time, although I was getting to the point where I needed to be.

I was postponed ’til  November, then December, then November again. Lots more ‘phone calls & aggravation. Unfortunately by November I was still chesty: bumped again! Patient Liaison told me that they thought it was a deliberate scam just to clear room on the waiting lists.

More ‘phone calls, transfers etc. etc. later & I was given appointments to see the Anaesthetist & the Surgeon on December 20th & 22nd. They both cleared me immediately, & I was told that I was at the top of the waiting list.

A month later & I still didn’t have a date. I had made it clear over & over that January was the latest I could have the Op due to ending parental leave & looming work commitments. More ‘phone calls, aggravation, less hair & more wrinkles later & I was finally given another Pre-Op for: February 1st! We’d actually managed to push the deadline back a month so February would have OK,  just. What Op date did they give me? March 22nd! 3 months after being cleared by the Surgeon, nearly 5 months after the last Op date!

I’ve given up.

The incompetence, stupidity, callous bureaucratic indifference & rudeness I’ve encountered has been staggering; bad even by British business standards. To stay I’m p*ssed off about this is 1 of the century’s understatements. My shoulder is painful & getting worse, & I’m having to carry two increasingly heavy & active babies around, & up & down 2 flights of stairs several times per day.

I am aware that there are many much more badly affected than me: people, including babies, have died needlessly due to negligence & incompetence here.

Even so, the NHS has badly let me down.

Sadly in my experience this is pretty typical NHS. Its clinical staff are among, if not the, best in the world; the admin & managerial staff are mostly utterly useless.

Believe it or not the point of this post isn’t just to have a rant. From where I’m sitting it’s clear that the NHS – to use a phrase from the last Government – is not “fit for purpose”. It needs radical reform.

I know the coalition Government are shaking things up; to be honest I don’t know the details. What I do know is that its hard to find anyone who thinks they’re doing the right thing.

Please don’t misunderstand me: free universal health care is something this country should always be proud of; an example to, & often the envy of, the world.

But that’s not much good to me when I can’t get the operation I badly need, or to the thousands of others who have had similar or worse experiences.

In its present form it’s just not working. What’s the solution? I don’t know. But it has to change.

Viva La Difference: I Get Around

Back in November I did a ‘What’s Been Happening Over the Last 6 Months While I Haven’t Been Making Proper Posts’ post called “This Blog is Pointless“.  It was about how much the twins had changed in that time, with lots of pictures of course.

I said there “It just goes to show that babies, even twins, develop at very different rates & in different ways. In fact, that’s probably a subject for another post…”. And I always meant to do it, just haven’t had/made the opportunity.

Well, as I will probably have inscribed on my tombstone, “better late then never”. So this, dear reader, is that post.

For the first 3-4 months of their lives they couldn’t do much else but lie on their backs. In July, at about 4 months,  they started rolling onto their fronts. After that they gradually found themselves able to lie on their sides, then move around by rolling.

Then things changed. Around late October, at about 7 1/2 months, Ellie started sitting up by herself. Jake would stay sitting if plonked on his bum but couldn’t do it himself.

Then Ellie started crawling.

Then, on November 4th, she stood up. She managed to pull herself up in her cot to a standing position by leaning on the rail. I still remember how shocked I was.

Poor little Jake,  (I say ‘little’; he weighs a ton compared to Ellie),  was still lying on his belly, kicking his little legs, arms outstretched,  & rocking vigourously while hyperventilating. He then seemed to get a bit confused as to why he wasn’t moving! He seemed quite happy about it, & to be honest, it was really funny to watch – so none of us minded.

Well it works in the swimming pool doesn't it?!

Ellie then, quite frankly, just started showing off. She started trying to climb, bear-walking style:

If the Daddy won't move to Eleanor, Eleanor will move to the Daddy

Every time she spotted an open door she would zoom towards it with incredible acceleration, with a determination that would flatter an Olympic athlete:

Held back from the Abyss by the Hand of Mum

She could support herself with 1 hand while trying to take a step:

"Look, Ma - one hand!"

She even tried to climb into the TV (& it looks like rugby presenter Simon Lazenby has a new fan…):

"Don't go towards the light!"

This is how it was at the time: at a music / play group while Jake was rolling around noisily trying to nick other babies’ toys, Ellie was sitting quietly on a cushion, looking like ‘butter wouldn’t melt’. Then the leader turned off the music;  she straight away jumped up & crawled right across the room at top speed to yell at the tape player. I guess she was enjoying the music! Afterwards, by the way, just as the music stopped again Jake – right on cue – blew a huge raspberry. Not such a fan then, I guess.

Then, just before Christmas, Something Changed. Maybe Ellie went just that little bit too far with her Gangsta-stylee pants exposing taunt

"These young people! Why do they have to wear their trousers so low? How do they even walk?!"

Whatever it was Jake just suddenly seemed to get fed up with Ellie getting around so quickly & easily while he could only twist & roll. So he started to sit himself up:

See: The World's Youngest Strongman!

crawl:

"Oh no you don't - this toy's mine!"

And finally (“Anything you can do I can do better!”) pull himself up to a standing position:

Howdy neighbour!

It seems amazing to me that twin babies born only 2 minutes apart can develop at such different rates.

After being behind for so long Jake has now clearly pulled ahead. He’s now very good at opening doors that aren’t properly shut: which lead to The Great Escape. But that’s for another post & another time, I think :)

Title courtesy of The Beach Boys. And France