Twin Exhausted

It’s an Ian Gillan Band song. The title of this chapter, I mean, in order to keep the musical theme going. I wish I’d have thought of it sooner, but then I promised myself I wouldn’t get exhausted. I accused the naysayers of being overly dramatic. I would like to say wholeheartedly that they are completely wrong. I’d like to, but I can’t. They aren’t wholly correct either. So again I say, in your face.

The tiredness is, largely, being managed. I say largely because there are some days when the boys behave like utter shits. But on the whole they eat, they sleep, they fill their nappies and are happy. Feeding times are a little random, but we have a rough routine that involves six feeds a day at almost regular intervals. To get ahead of the sleep game, knowing it will be interrupted, we just go to bed straight after clearing up after our evening meal. It means we get a couple of hours in early doors. Well, most of the time we do. Occasionally we have skipped days and then I understand tiredness. The result of this of course, apart from minimal tiredness when we do get to bed at a reasonably early time, is that nothing really gets done and makes for a very dull week. So we promised ourselves that we would make a point of going somewhere at least once every weekend.

The first weekend outing was a simple walk into our local town, just four days after we got home. It was a sunny, pleasantly warm in fact, fifteen minute stroll, a wander round a few shops, a hot chocolate and an Earl Grey in Costa (other coffee shops are available) and then a meander home again. It was a great confidence boost that proved we could get out of the house, contrary to the consensus we had been faced with that we would never leave the house again. One midwife, who should have been the pinnacle of support at the time she was visiting, did all of her usual checks and then made herself comfortable on one of our sofas in order to regale us with the story of her friend that had twins and didn’t leave the house for six months. Needless to say she didn’t come back to the house again. The bitch-faced cow.

We have since been to Hoylake to visit family friends and have lunch, although we arrived at nearly 3pm. We also attempted a trip to Sheffield for a family birthday bash and I fear we may have been similarly late, especially as we stopped off at an ice cream farm on the way (the rum and raisin was divine!) but we never found out because the car broke down just outside of Buxton. (If anyone can give me any pointers why the inlet manifold would split on a 2001 BMW 530d, I’m all ears!). We have also been to local family for meals and we still do our weekly shop at the local Aldi with the boys in tow.

Planning all of these trips has required planning of almost military scale and despite being late we have always made it on the day we said we would. Usually the delays are a well-timed arse explosion just as we put a boy into a car seat. And once that has been cleared up the other one will drop a similarly explosive incendiary. Women will claim that they are the only gender that can multi-task, but I am getting pretty adept at it. Only the other day I changed Arthur while Dave the cat was sitting on my shoulder watching.

Our biggest triumph was, when they were only twelve days old, getting round an Ikea. We even got there at the sort of time we wanted to, which was around lunchtime for the meatballs. Ordinarily I would hate meatballs, but I am all over them like a tramp over chips when it comes to the Ikea variety. Especially when served with chips – I really am like a vagrant on the aforementioned.  Just getting through a meal was a chore – people kept coming up to our table to admire the boys. And on the table next to us was a lady with her mum and her daughter, both of whom were one of twins, a theme that recurs quite often (more of which in a moment).

Everyone knows it takes a good couple of days to get round an Ikea if you don’t follow the short route. Foolishly we didn’t, even though we knew exactly what we were going there for. Mind you, we say that every time and we end up coming out with armfuls of things that we had no intention of buying but did because they were a bargain, and a receipt that requires a tree to be felled in order to make and a bill so big that it makes the UK national debt look tiny. No, we followed all of the arrows, and, just like the restaurant experience, people kept stopping us to admire the twins and questions about them. “How old are they”. Twelve days. “You’ve done really well to get out then”. Why thank you. “Are they identical?” Erm, do they look it. One has dark hair, the other blond. One is chunky; one looks like he has been stretched out on a rack. And my favourite, “Are they twins?” No, I wanted to say. Henry here is actually 8 years old but is really, really tiny. And can’t walk, which is why he is in a child’s car seat in a trolley. You big daft cock.

It took us about four days to get round the entire store. And then when we got back to the car with all of our trolleys full of purchase, we forgot that we couldn’t just fold the seats flat and chuck it all in because we had child seats in the back. Of course, back in the day, my dad would have just folded down the seats of his Austin Maxi and chucked us kids in there with the flat pack furniture. Different times.

Everyone we meet seems to have a twin story. Or at least they try to have a twin story. We had one person who tried to claim affinity because they had two children less than one year apart: “That’s the same isn’t it? I know exactly what you are going through”. No. No it isn’t. And no; you really don’t have a clue. When Mrs Aitchworld was pregnant I was talking to a customer about it. It turns out that she had IVF twins, who were now about ten years old. And she had an employee who also had IVF twins, about a year older than that. And both of them told me that don’t listen too much to advice from anyone that hasn’t had twins, because they will have not one single idea what it is like. Both of them are right! And for all of the twin related stories, we haven’t met a single pair of twins together yet. They’re all talking a good talk but they aren’t delivering with cold hard evidence of a living sibling with them that was born on the same day in attendance. We also seem to meet quite a few who are in the generation that the twin gene has skipped… “My mother was a twin and I have twin nieces”. Well done love!

Despite much breast feeding going on, we are also bottle feeding the boys. Lots of them. It means I can help with the feeds and get involved. It is mostly expressed breast milk, but we occasionally succumb to the odd formula top up. And bottle feeding involves sterilisation. I cannot stand the smell of sterilising fluid; I am retching just thinking about it now, so we have employed our under-utilised microwave and a water-filled steriliser.

I have to confess I rarely use a microwave. I’m not a Luddite, but I don’t really trust them. Despite growing up in parental enforced poverty (my dad, throughout my entire childhood, was stashing all his spare cash for his retirement instead of wasting it on his children) one of the nods towards modernity was a microwave, introduced into the Aitchworld familial home in the early 1980s. This thing was bigger than a conventional oven on the outside, but could barely fit a dinner plate on the inside. Oh how we had many ruined meals at the hands of this thing! I think this is where my distrust comes from.

Anyway, our microwave in the current Aitchworld household is hardly used, save for the odd jacket and occasionally softening butter. (What? I promise I am Northern, but I don’t like the way cold butter tears the bread!). But since Arthur and Henry arrived the microwave has been pressed into service to sterilise bottles, teats and breast pump parts and has gone from being used a couple of times a month to several times per day. The turntable wheels have actually worn through the coating of the base of the microwave. It still works as it should, but I still thought a new one was in order.

And what a microwave it is; a thing of beauty and all shiny to behold. It is “fully digital”, no less, and has many, many settings including, peculiarly and specifically, an Au Gratin setting. I only just know what one of these is, never mind how to go about cooking one in a microwave – if I did make one, surely I would just whack it in the oven? What this thing also does, and as a result I am ready to throw the damn thing out, is make a series of digital beeping sounds at the end of the cooking process, instead of the analogue ping of a bell like the last one did. It also continues to do this every couple of minutes until either the door is opened or the stop button is pressed. This is fine during the day, because this is when breast feeding predominantly happens, but after a night feed, when we tend to use bottles to expedite the whole mealtime process and get back to sleep, it means you can’t just leave them when you sterilise them. Of course I didn’t read the manual, I am a man. I didn’t know that this was the case so the first time we used it, we set it going and went off to bed. A couple of hours later I woke up to the sound of a series of beeping sounds every couple of minutes and through my tiredness I was left wondering why there was a lorry reversing randomly around our kitchen downstairs. Of course, it could be worse – if I was tone deaf I might think it was an ice cream van. I’d order a rum and raisin, naturally.

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