To an English Friend in Africa by Ben Okri (1991)
Be grateful for freedom
To see other dreams.
Bless your loneliness as much as you drank
Of your former companionships.
All that you are experiencing now
Will become moods of future joys
So bless it all.
Do not think your ways superior
Do not venture to judge
But see things with fresh and open eyes
Do not condemn
But praise what you can
And when you can’t be silent.
Time is now a gift for you
A gift of freedom
To think and remember and understand
The ever perplexing past
And to re-create yourself anew
In order to transform time.
Live while you are alive.
Learn the ways of silence and wisdom
Learn to act, learn a new speech
Learn to be what you are in the seed of your spirit
Learn to free yourself from all things that have moulded you
And which limit your secret and undiscovered road.
Remember that all things which happen
To you are raw materials
Endlessly yielding of thoughts that could change
Your life and go on doing for ever.
Never forget to pray and be thankful
For all the things good or bad on the rich road;
For everything is changeable
So long as you live while you are alive.
Fear not, but be full of light and love;
Fear not but be alert and receptive;
Fear not but act decisively when you should;
Fear not, but know when to stop;
Fear not for you are loved by me;
Fear not, for death is not the real terror,
But life -magically – is.
Be joyful in your silence
Be strong in your patience
Do not try to wrestle with the universe
But be sometimes like water or air
Sometimes like fire
Live slowly, think slowly, for time is a mystery.
Never forget that love
Requires that you be
The greatest person you are capable of being,
Self-generating and strong and gentle-
Your own hero and star.
Love demands the best in us
To always and in time overcome the worst
And lowest in our souls.
Love the world wisely.
It is love alone that is the greatest weapon
And the deepest and hardest secret.
So fear not, my friend.
The darkness is gentler than you think.
Be grateful for the manifold
Dreams of creation
And the many ways of unnumbered peoples.
Be grateful for life as you live it.
And may a wonderful light
Always guide you on the unfolding road.
When I started writing this blog I found some sage advice on a website called Dads Guide to Twins which I thought I would reflect on now that we are nearly a whole month in!
“Lower your expectations. Whatever you thought you could get done wont get done.”
A major achievement in the B household these days is to have a shower or maybe even leave the house. Getting out of the front door with the full team needs the same amount of planning as an expedition to the south pole.
“Forget about you. Newborn twins require all hands on deck. Toddlers definitely need attention too. You will be busy and it will be a rare moment that you find time to do anything else.”
“You will be busy” he says! You will be f**king busy more like! Its a fun packed day to say the least. L is always a lot of fun and we still have time for a giggle but it is none stop. No two ways about it. On some days going to the loo is the closest thing you get to a bit of personal space!
I would put it more like GET HELP. Help is essential. At the end of a 5 day unassisted stretch you are beyond tired and that’s with two of us. Its amazing what an hour off can do for the soul! We are very lucky to have the help we do from C as well as from K’s parents who are helping out a coupe of days a week. We couldn’t do it without them.
“Let it go, whatever “it” is that you were expecting, particularly during waking hours. Time to relax? Let it go. Time for sleep? Let it go. Time to clean? Don’t even think about it. You get the picture.”
Yep we get the picture all right! A month in and I think we have already forgotten what “it” might have been. Time to relax is a precious commodity and may actually be more valuable than sleep tokens!
Obviously I’m exaggerating a little. Its doable and we wouldn’t change one thing (apart from the whole Intensive Care thing of course!). So far we are doing OK and K is being her usual super organised and efficient self while I sigh and huff my way round the house! I would however add a 5th bit of advice to this list.
You will be tired. Physically, mentally and emotionally cream crackered at times. Get over it and get on with it.
Inspired by another blog writer, the very funny @flossingthecat, I thought I would just share the music that was playing when I & E were born. Propped up on a stool in the corner of the operating theatre a tiny Sony radio/cd player was churning out hits from “yesterday and today” on some local radio station.
First out of course was I and she made her entrance into the world to none other than Robbie Williams Millennium! Not too bad.
“We have stars directing our fate and we’re praying its not too late” and all that. When told that Robbie WIlliams was playing when she was born will I’s response be “Who’s that?“. Probably but you never know.
E entered the world to Groovejet (If this Aint Love) by Spiller and Sophie Ellis Bexter. Not quite so good. You know the one…..
When told that Sophie Ellis Bexter was playing when she was born in a few years time E’s response will obviously be an indignant “Who’s that?“. To which we will no doubt reply “Haven’t the faintest idea“.
At the end of the day not the worst tunes. It could have been Crazy Frog and Steve Brookstein. “Who!!” I hear you ask!
I’m only writing this post so that we have something to look back on to remind us what these early weeks are like. There is nothing remarkable really about this day. There are many many families with days like this. This one is ours though so here goes.
2.45am to 3.15am – 1st breakfast for I & E An early start to the day but depending on whether you can pull off the tandem feeding thing its back to bed by 3.15am.
6.45am to 7.15am – 2nd breakfast for I & E As your head hits the pillow after 1st breaky they seem to be up again for a top up! This time its up and downstairs to start the day.
7.30am to 8pm – Breakfast for L Big sis is up at a very sensible 7.30ish for her breakfast of milk, Cherios and toast. Then its an hour of play time.
9.00am – L’s morning nap Amazingly after a hearty breakfast L usually has a little nap to get her ready for the day! Its a very sensible idea. Breakfast – little nap – off to work. Sounds good!
10.00am – L’s up and running Refreshed and ready for action L is up and off to one of her social appointments. Swimming, play group etc etc.
10.45am to 11.15am – Elevens’s for the girls Next feed for the girls.
11.30am to 12.00 L’s lunch time After I & E its L’s lunch time which can take a while!
12.30ish – L’s lunchtime nap! Back to bed for big sis for an hour or so. Busy morning for the lady of the house!
1.30pm – L is up for the rest of the day A busy social calendar but it can be a long afternoon from here on in!
2.45pm to 3.15pm I & E late lunch As L is up and about this one can be a bit trickier!
3.30pm to 4.00pm – L’s second lunch/early tea After a generous 30 mins off and a cup of tea its L’s time to eat again!
5.30pm to 6.00pm – L’s milk time. When she can be bothered that is!
6.00pm to 6.30pm – L’s bath time. One of L’s fave times of day.
6.30pm L’s bed time. An amazing sleeper our girl. long may it continue! Thats the last peep until the morning.
6.45pm to 7.15pm – I & E’s tea. Nice and quiet this one. All is calm.
7.30pm – Us time. Something to eat and a quick catch up.
8.30pm – K’s off to bed. Depending on the rota for the night!
8.30 to 10.45 – Bit of down time. Keeping the twins occupied and catching up on the Sky+ library!
10.45 to 12.00 – Late night feed. Takes a while this one and at the mo the twins are hard to settle. Its dark and quiet so time to be awake of course.
And there we go another day done! The hard part is getting anything else done of course! We owe a big thank you to the Special Care Unit for getting I & E onto a four hourly feed pattern that has helped maintain our sanity!
A few of our friends have had twins and one of the things they have told us about is feeding both of the girls at the same time. Even the sound of this sounds fraught with difficulties. After a couple of attempts it’s proving to be just as difficult as it sounds.
The level of concentration required is probably beyond most blokes. So far it’s certainly beyond me! Ayrton Senna winning the Brazil Grand Prix in torrential rain stuck in sixth gear levels of concentration is what I’m talking about. My concentration span on a nice day with a good nights sleep and a healthy breakfast can stretch as far as 4 minutes. This seems to be someway short of what’s required particularly as most of the time I have missed breakfast and not slept.
Believe it or not thats not even the trickiest bit. It appears to require 20 minutes of intense concentration on TWO things at once. Yep thats right two things at the same time. What’s that I hear you say? Surely it can’t be done! At the moment I’m inclined to agree.
We have been given some feeding bean bags which can be moulded to fit the babies perfectly and with one either side of you the idea is that you can feed one with each hand. This brings us to the next major problem. Using your other hand. I am very right handed and use my left hand for very little when I think about it. I don’t even change gear with my left hand as I have an automatic car! Having to carefully control the position of the bottle with my left hand while doing this with my right hand as well requires a level of multi tasking that currently I am not capable of! Nods of agreement from my significant other.
My current multi tasking skills don’t go far beyond watching Sky Sports News while reading the paper and drinking a cup of coffee. That’s THREE things at once. Not bad I hear you say (maybe?).
The first attempt I managed 5 minutes (1 minute beyond my previous concentration record please note) before exasperation levels hit dangerously high levels and K came in from the kitchen to rescue the situation. Apparently the ice cool demeanour that I try to maintain internally never actually makes it to the surface and the grunts, tuts and heavy sighs were a dead giveaway that all was not going well. I had spun off on the first lap.
The second attempt was an improvement. While still falling short of Sennaesque performance levels there was definitely an improvement. Maybe not that much “simul-feeding” as you might say or the full race distance, more alternate feeding and retirement at the first pit stop. But still Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that and there’s certainly going to be plenty of opportunity work on my technique!
Mrs B strolls down the stairs this morning. ”I fed them both at the same time last night”. “How was that?” I ask. ”Not a problem really”. Says it all.