Sleep Inside My Sleeping Bag

When choosing a song title for this blog post title, I looked to ZZ Top. The title was very nearly another song from the same album, because “Woke Up With Wood” is what got us into this situation in the first place. Sort of. But Sleeping Bag was more appropriate.

At the time of writing, the boys are seven weeks old. They are still getting bigger by the day. When I placed him on the changing table to change his nappy the other day, Henry kicked off the packet of baby wipes that were sat on the end of it. Just seven weeks ago he was so small he almost fitted in one hand. Now I am struggling to hold him in just one arm.

We have a sink next to the changing table and I have got into the terrible habit of washing my hands after changing the boys and leaving them on there with my back to them. This was fine for the first few weeks, but now I have to remember that they are starting to wriggle. I know that if I continue with this practice, pretty soon I am going to hear a thud as they wriggle off the table and I will turn round to find them on the floor. Well, I will in the case of Arthur, but with Henry I suspect he would go right through the floorboards and through to the dining room below, because he is feeding so well he is becoming something of a knacker.

On the subject of washing hands, the moisture has been stripped so far out of my skin it has become so rough, it is catching in the weave of the nappy, much like the micro-velcro tabs that are used to do them up. On more than one occasion I have had a nappy stuck to my hand by nothing more than my own skin. I feel like I should be using that hand cream that only Norwegian fisherman can use. Then a Norwegian labourer told me it was shit and not to bother. I might try Mrs Aitchworld’s nipple cream to see if that works although at several million pounds per gram, I might not get away with this.

With twins, at the sort of age they are now, they have to have a check for hip dysplasia, which puts our boys up there with the top breeds alongside Retrievers and Alsatians as sufferers of this problem. In human multiple births it is down to the babies being in such cramped conditions during their gestation period that it can affect their joints, rather than any breeding abnormalities. We had the boys checked out last weekend – the dopey sods in the hospital actually gave us a timed appointment, which was a bit ambitious given our record of getting anywhere on time so far. However, we managed it by getting to the hospital several hours before the appointment (which could have cost us a fortune in parking were it not for an ingenious ruse) and we are delighted that they passed the test with flying colours and they are healthy little pups.

That said, Arthur did do his first vomit last week, which came like a bolt out of the blue. He’d done a couple of milky burps down my neck whilst being winded before now, but this was a proper full on sick. I’ve heard a lot of people describe a full on baby vomit as something akin to a scene from the film The Exorcist, but I’ve never seen it so I couldn’t possibly comment. But if I am to go with a film reference, I would say it was very much like Mr Creosote. I was wearing my favourite top too, so obviously my primary concern (beyond the health of my offspring, of course) was the state of that. Fortunately it wasn’t a target that scored a direct hit, but Arthur had been sitting on top of my favourite cushion (it had camper vans on it, okay?), which got the bulk of it, a muslin cloth caught some of the rest and the balance hit my trousers. Things I didn’t know last week that I know this week include the fact that you can wash an entire cushion in the washing machine rather than just the cover. Who knew?  Remarkably, not too much of the torrent actually hit Arthur himself, but there was a sufficiently milky glow about his baby-grow to warrant getting him into a new set of clothes.

I changed my trousers and grabbed a clean baby grow in order to change Arthur into something a bit cleaner. While he was undressed I thought it prudent to change his nappy at the same time and go for the full transformation into clean things. Upstairs we have a changing table that I mentioned earlier, but downstairs we have no such luxury, but have a full sized changing mat that we can rest on the floor. As it was downstairs that Arthur was located it was this mat I used. One thing you quickly learn is to have the new, clean nappy unfolded and ready to go as soon as the old one is off and the baby is cleaned up. I say quickly, but on this occasion, I hadn’t learned quickly enough and as I wrestled with the tabs on the clean nappy, trying to unfold it sat on the floor in front of the mat, a perfectly formed arc of urine (talk about the golden arches!) emanated from Arthur and onto my clean trousers.

This week Arthur did his second vomit. I had just fed him and was winding him, and he projectiled onto his own feet. I have never felt so proud – during my formative drinking years I was a bit of a lightweight and there was more than one occasion, while I was getting the hang of it, I managed to vomit onto my own feet after a night in the Railway Arms. Like father like son – that’s ma boy! Hopefully it will only be a matter of time before he is casually throwing up over his shoulder without even breaking stride. I hope so, because his third lumpy yawn managed to get my favourite top.

One of the things I missed off the inventory of things we bought in preparation for babies, months before they arrived was a baby monitor. Another was baby sleeping bags, which we have started utilising this week. When we were in hospital the nurses and midwives encouraged swaddling and indeed a lot of people recommend this once home. It gives the illusion, they say, of life in the womb where the baby/babies have spent the preceding few months cooped up and a feeling of continuity.

Our boys had different ideas on this of course and are proper little escape artists. We tried many different ways of swaddling, even resorting to YouTube videos in order to try and utilise a method that would keep them wrapped up for more than a few minutes. None of them worked. The only way we could keep them wrapped up in a cellular blanket would have involved duct tape, and as there is no mention of using it anywhere in any of the three-hundred-odd baby-rearing books that now adorn our bookshelves and we didn’t find a video that utilised it, it probably isn’t wise to use the stuff. It would have been easier to try swaddling the cats. We tried draping blankets over them and then weighing these down with other blankets, despite the fear of overheating them, but we needn’t have worried on that score because they were waving their hands outside the covers within seconds.

To address the issue we put to good use some sleeping bags that we had bought, under advisement, at an NCT nearly new sale. If you are a parent to be and fancy bewildering yourself about what you may or may not need for your new arrivals, go to one of these. Make it to one of the big ones for extra confusion. I have mentioned before the conflicting advice we received in hospital, which I will get round to expanding on at some point, but well before you even get to that stage there will be perplexity and puzzlement abound on what you will need. The sheer amount of stuff at these sales is enough to make the most organised of people, prepared with a list and armed with advice from other parents, start to doubt themselves. We went to our first NCT sale with parents of a three month old, so had sage wisdom to hand, although we did begin to fall apart a bit when they wandered off to pay for their items and we were left to our own devices for a few minutes.

Anyway, sleeping bags… the baby ones are like a pair of dungarees, but instead of trouser legs there is just a small, baby-sized sleeping bag. The boys seem to find them agreeable, they are simple to use and if necessary, the boys can be scooped up and comforted in them without having to worry about swaddling and blankets. However, there is an issue with them: they do hold a smell.

Now the boys can, at times, lie in their cot and have a fart-off for several minutes in one go. They trump away with the abandon that only someone wearing a nappy can – they don’t worry about following through, which is a good job because quite often they do. It’s always at its most spectacular when Arthur and Henry are lying down in bed and because the baby monitor is right next to the cot, sometimes we are treated to a festival of trumpage when we are downstairs, usually about to tuck into a nice meal. It’s like someone has started to play Paul McCartney’s Frog Chorus down the monitor. Sometimes, if one of us is in the room on our own with the boys, we have been known to join in, but our air biscuits sound very much different at the receiving end of a baby monitor and the one that isn’t in the room knows exactly what just went down.

The sleeping bags seem to collect all these waste gases. Sometimes Henry farts so violently that he lifts his legs in such a manner that it looks like the whole sleeping bag has inflated. If we had a naked flame in the room I’m pretty sure he could have taken off like a hot air balloon. Apparently I’m not allowed to play with fire near the babies though. They say health visitors frown upon it and on reflection, it probably would be quite hard to explain away.

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