Category Archives: Tough Times in Parenting
After a day or so of TLC and occasional meds, Malc returned to his normal happy self. The fever was gone, and all he wanted to do was play with his brother and sister. One day goes by, and the next thing I knew, Marc was feeling warm. I took a peek into his mouth, only to find out that his front teeth were starting to come in as well. He was not a happy camper like his bro, but he was no where near as fussy as his brother. Marc was still trying to play, still trying to smile, and was happy with a little TLC from mommy and daddy. The only time that was tough for Marc was during the night. he had a real touch time catching some z’s.
The funny thing is, when people see me out and about with the kids, they assume that I am a single mother. Especially, when they see that I’m not sporting a wedding band. Then, when they see both of us with our children, they respond differently in a more positive way. Now, I’m not one to get shook up by other peoples judgments because I don’t have to explain my life to anyone. We are responsible for our family, and we decide when and how we do things. We have just started to plan our wedding that will take place, after I finish school in two years. This post is not about me or my situation. It’s about the stigmas attached to seeing a woman with children alone, and the judgments that are made on said woman.
Being a mom of multiples can be quite stressful at times, especially when mom has blogs to run, jobs to interview for, classes to pass, a weight loss plan to maintain, and a full sized family to look after. My days would be at the least overwhelming for the average person, and if it were a job most people probably wouldn’t come back the next day. I knew my life was going to change dramatically with the addition of twin boys. Every aspect of my life is different now, and this blog is one of the many ways that I maintain my sanity.
Finding a balance can be quite difficult at times, and I’ve learned that everything will not always go as planned. Soon I will be incorporating a return to work into my crazy schedule, and I will need to balance my papers for school around the children and the job. I am determined to get an Executive M.B.A. degree within the next few years. I returned to school six months after I had my two year old, and I attended part time during my pregnancy with the twins. I am now 8 classes away from graduation with an A.A., in Communications. Early next year, I’ll begin my three year accelerated B.S. and M.B.A. program in eMarketing.
This Tuesday, will be my first day back to work in over a year, and I’m both excited and anxious about returning to work. I can’t wait to have adult conversations again, but I know that I’m going to miss my babies. As much as I may complain, I enjoy singing songs with Marli and the boys everyday. I also enjoy teaching them new things because their little minds are like sponges. Not a day goes by in my house without practicing numbers, the alphabet, colors, shapes, and vocabulary words. Once I return to work, I’ll have to maintain our daily fun and learning practices to keep a sense of normalcy for the children. I don’t want them to ever feel like I’m too busy to spend quality time with them. Jason and I are very hands on with our children, because we don’t have a lot of family close by to offer a helping hand. I would never want to weaken the bond that we built between our little family.
I’m optimistic about my new career path, and the future that lies ahead, We have a lot of exciting things happening in the next few months. The next few weeks are going to be insane, but I’m sure that we’ll be able to adjust. I’ll let you all know how my first week went, next Sunday. Boy, I have to get used to having a full time work schedule again. I’m Super Mom! I can do this, and I got this. Bring it on!
I finally have my 2 year old on a regular potty training schedule, after a few months of her playing with the potty. Marli sits on the potty after each meal she has during the day, and once right before bedtime. At first, I was getting a little frustrated because she wouldn’t sit on the potty long enough to actually do anything. Then once I got her to sit long enough, it seems like she would just hold it until I put a pamper back on her. This potty training thing was really starting to frustrate me, and having newborn twins to look after was not making the situation any easier.
I knew that I needed something to help me get her potty trained a little easier. Since my baby girl loves to look at pictures in books, I figured that finding a potty training book would be my best option. I ended up finding a cool girlie potty training book called, “Big Girls Use the Potty.” The book has a cute potty story to follow for girls, with great pictures for her to relate to, as well as a cool potty training chart with reward stickers. Before I read the story to Marli, I let her spend some time looking at the book as she sat on the potty. The book distracted her, from the fact that she was actually sitting on the potty. She seemed to like the book, and she took interest in the fact that the little girls in the book were using the potty too.
I decided that reading to Marli and allowing her to hold the book herself, was the technique that I would be using to encourage potty time. After I included the book along with a few others to her potty routine, Marli has become pretty good at peeing in the potty. She gets a sticker on her chart, everyday that she does well on the potty. The book came with a 40 day chart, to mark her progress as we go along. For the days that she does extremely well, she gets the bigger stickers with the teddy on the potty as a reward. A little over a month into potty training, and my only concern now is getting her to be comfortable enough to relieve her bowels in the potty. I need to try and place her on the potty, right when I think that she’s about go number 2 in her pamper. I’m not frustrated with that fact that she is not comfortable with passing her bowels in the potty just yet. Her 2nd birthday isn’t until the 20th of this month, and I think that she will do it when I least expect it. As of right now, I am happy with Marli’s progress on the potty. I’m just not looking forward to doing it all over again with twin boys next year.
>Growing up, Hazel Bowden had a clear vision of how her life would be: she would have a good career, a nice home and no more than two children.
She certainly didn’t want to be one of those frazzled-looking mothers with unruly broods that she encountered in supermarkets.
But Hazel, 40, could never have foreseen just how off course her own life would go.
Today, she is the mother of not one, but two, sets of twins, who were born in the space of 12 months. She is thought to be the only woman in the UK to give birth to twins twice in a single year.
Hannah and Luke are now four and Sarah and Connor are three, and, for the first time since their birth, Hazel has the energy to take stock of her extraordinarily challenging and exhausting situation.
Perhaps, not surprisingly, the strain of the situation pushed her marriage to the brink.
In January this year she and her husband Andy, 38, a computer engineer, who live in Lytham St Annes, Lancs, with Hazel’s nine-year-old daughter Charlotte, from a previous relationship, discussed divorce.
Driven to despair by sleep deprivation, their relationship seemed beyond repair.
‘At one point, Andy and I were preparing 24 bottles, getting through 35 nappies and doing four loads of washing every day,’ she says. ‘I got up eight times in the night and the day would start at 5.30am.
‘Even going to the loo was a struggle and I’d sometimes do it with two babies balanced on my lap and the other two in their rocking chairs next to me.
‘I used to take such pride in my appearance – but now all I had time to do was sling on some comfy clothes. I never bothered to look in the mirror as I never saw anyone except Andy and the children.
‘In fact, there were times when I went three weeks without leaving the house. There was no reprieve, no chance to sit down and relax for a second.
‘I know some women can’t have children and I should feel grateful for having been blessed with twins – twice – but the day-to-day reality was hell.
‘One of the worst moments was two years ago when all four of them had a viral infection. For three days they were constantly being sick and there wasn’t a clean towel in the house. I felt awful as they all wanted a cuddle, but it just wasn’t possible.
‘Then Charlotte and Andy fell ill. It was a miracle I didn’t, but I couldn’t afford to be ill, I had to care for everyone. Even now, it’s not easy. I know most mums with four kids have a tough time, but the problem is them all being so close to the same age.
‘One of them does something naughty and before I know it they are all copying. If we go to the park, one might run off. But unlike most mums, I can’t sprint after them, as that would mean leaving the other three.
‘One morning in January this year, I reached breaking point. I lay in bed curled up in a ball in tears, unable to go on.’
Today, thanks to marriage counselling, the couple say their lives are back on track.
Despite the challenges of having four such young children, Hazel and Andy have learnt to embrace their unique family situation.
‘I battled for a long time with not being able to continue my career as an accountant,’ Hazel says. ‘But Andy and I have realised we lucky are to have this big family.
‘We can’t change our circumstances but we did change our attitude. After months of rowing, we’ve got back the closeness we once had.’
When Hazel met Andy on a dating website in March 2003, she had no idea they would face such challenges. At the time Hazel had recently split with Charlotte’s father and was focusing on her career as an accountant.
She says: ‘I would have been happy not to have any more children had Andy not wanted them.’
In February 2005, Hazel and Andy discovered she was pregnant three days before their wedding in Florida.
The couple had been renovating their six bedroom Victorian home, which they had planned to sell to fund a move to Canada.
Shortly afterwards Hazel started to suffer intense morning sickness. ‘It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I remembered reading that morning sickness is more intense with multiple pregnancies.’
Her 14-week scan confirmed Hazel was expecting twins. While her grandmother had given birth to twins, there was not a strong history of it in the family.
‘I put a brave face on because any baby is a gift, but at the back of my mind I was scared,’ says Hazel.
On September 22, 2005, Hazel gave birth four weeks prematurely to Hannah and Luke, who weighed 4 lb 15oz and 4 lb 14oz respectively, at Blackpool Hospital.
Hazel recalls: ‘The first time I held them, I felt an indescribable mixture of joy and despair. I kept asking Andy how we would manage but he said: “We’ll find a way.”
‘When I came home, Andy was wonderful. We barely got any sleep for weeks, but once we’d got into a routine I felt silly for ever thinking we wouldn’t be able to manage.’
Eight weeks after the birth she went back on the contraceptive pill. So when, four months after the twins were born, Hazel missed a period she panicked.
A pregnancy test confirmed her worst fears. The pill had failed and, once again, Hazel was gripped by the most horrendous morning sickness. Surely, lightning couldn’t strike twice?
It could. ‘Before the birth, I’d always been on the combined pill, but this time I went on the mini pill,’ she says. ‘You have to take it at the same time every day.
‘I didn’t mess up the timings, but it didn’t work. I’ve heard its not as reliable as the combined pill. I was one of the small percentage for whom it failed.’
At Hazel’s 14 week scan in March 2006, she was told that she was expecting her second set of twins.
This time there was no brave face. ‘I broke down in floods of tears,’ says Hazel. ‘When we told the stenographer we’d just had twins, she looked at us like we were idiots.
‘On the drive home from the hospital Andy and I didn’t say a word. The thought of a termination crept into my mind, but when I mentioned it to Andy, he said it was something he couldn’t live with – I quickly realised I couldn’t either.’
Hazel and Andy traded in their Renault Clio for an eight-seater Mitsubishi, imported from Japan. To keep costs down, cots and baby clothes were purchased from eBay.
She says: ‘We tried to be light-hearted and joked about getting a mini bus, but there was no denying our future was irrevocably changed.
We would never be able to afford a holiday and our plans to do up and sell the house were impossible.
‘I became so big that I couldn’t look after Hannah and Luke. My bump stopped my arms reaching the changing table. When I was six months pregnant Andy had to stop working so he could help me, which made us worry about money.’
On September 19, 2006, Hazel gave birth five weeks early to Sarah and Connor, weighing 5lb 9oz and 5lb 12oz respectively.
On Hannah and Luke’s first birthday, three days later, Hazel was still in hospital. Missing such a milestone in her babies’ lives only drove home how difficult balancing the needs of all her children would prove.
She says: ‘I lay there in tears, feeling I was neglecting the first twins. I blamed myself that Charlotte, too, would suffer and none of them would ever have a normal life.’
On top of everything, Hazel calculated that it would cost £660 a week for all of them to attend nursery full-time, which added up to nearly £35,000 a year – about what she had been earning – so there was no point in her going back to work.
She says: ‘Being a parent means you lose your freedom, but suddenly I couldn’t go out without it becoming a military operation. When we did go out as a family strangers seemed to be condemning me for having so many babies.
‘One time an old lady actually came up to Andy and I and said: “Did no one tell you about contraception?” She pointed at Andy and said: “I hope he’s going to have a vasectomy.” I couldn’t believe it.’
Instead of such comments uniting Hazel and Andy, the pressure affected their relationship. By the time Sarah and Connor were eight months old they were arguing.
Hazel recalls: ‘Usually our rows were about money. The babies were costing us a fortune as we were spending £160 on nappies and £80 on formula a month.
‘We moved Hannah and Luke onto cow’s milk to save money as soon as possible and Sarah and Connor wore their hand-me-down clothes.
But we still spent £140 on shoes and £40 on wellies every three months. Our electricity bill is now £120 a month. It used to be £60.
‘Some mornings I woke up wishing I was in a different house with a different family. Looking back I can admit now that I was depressed but I was trying to be superwoman.’
In August last year Hazel and Andy talked about separating. She says: ‘While a part of me wished I’d never met Andy and unfairly blamed him for what had happened, I still loved him and wanted to have our old relationship back.
‘I also didn’t want our children to grow up in a broken home and knew that Andy and I owed it to them to try and sort things out.’
In November last year, Hazel and Andy agreed to see a marriage counsellor. ‘We needed to spend time together without talking about the children, but it was easier said than done,’ says Hazel.
‘Even when we reached a point when all four slept through the night, when the youngest were four months old, all I wanted to do was climb into bed and sleep. Finding time for romance was impossible.’
As the twins all get older, life is becoming easier, says Hazel. ‘All four twins have started going to nursery in the mornings, which gives me a chance to try to catch up with things that I’ve been wanting to do for years.
‘Now, we are happy with the little things we achieve as a family. Just making it to my mum’s house for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon is an achievement, as is Andy and I making time for a walk, just the two of us.
‘The twins are incredible. They’ve had to be very independent because it wasn’t possible for me to baby them.
Hannah and Sarah love emptying the dishwasher, which is unheard of in most families. They have such a strong bond that they don’t really need other friends.
‘They all adore their big sister Charlotte and they’re always saying they wish she had a twin too. We might have had teething problems but Andy and I love our unusual family and we are stronger for it.’
While Hazel and Andy have found happiness with their unique family, they are adamant it won’t be added to. Andy, taking the old lady’s advice has had a vasectomy.
Lightning will definitely not be striking for a third time.
My 23 month old daughter Marli is as cute as a button, with a personality that can light up any room. As we approach her second birthday next month, she is starting to develop a not so cute attitude accompanied by temper tantrums. Whenever she doesn’t get her way, she begins to cry extremely loud while throwing her toys around. This is where parenting can get pretty tough, because a crying two year old combined with fussy twins can give anyone a run for their money. What I usually do to handle Marli’s tantrums is calm her down with her bobo (pacifier, I know it’s time for it to go), and tell her that it’s okay to be frustrated, but it’s not okay to throw things around. Once she’s calmed down some, I have her help me pick up her toys so she can learn to clean up after herself. That method doesn’t always work, and sometimes I have to step out of the room for a second to prevent my frustration levels from rising. My days are pretty tough with twins and a toddler at home, I am still learning new tips to help me get through my days.
For the most part, Marli is a good girl. I know that the birth of her twin brothers was pretty rough for her, because she was so young at the time that they were born. To our surprise, she adjusted pretty well. Marli has been playing with her brothers and kissing them like Elmo, since they came home from the hospital. I include Marli in everything that I do for the boys, while making sure to make time for her and I to do things together. Everyday, we sing, dance, color, read, count, and sometimes we even play Wonder Pets. She surprises me everyday with how fast she learns new things. She can say her alphabet, count to twenty, and she’s pretty good at matching games (Thanks PBSKids). My pediatrician says that she is very advanced for her age. Do you find that children who are a little advance for their age, tend to be more rambunctious in their toddler years? How do some of you other moms of multiples deal with your toddler’s temper tantrums? Feel free to share your tips by commenting below.