I have two poorly babies. Nothing too serious - just the standard vomiting bug that rips through nursery as fast as mums head for a glass of wine once the kids are in bed. I only have one pair of arms though, which is tricky when both your children want to be scooped up in them all day long, not to mention back-breaking.
Thankfully I didn't get the opportunity to make too many cups of tea today because leaving them for 18 seconds to pop to the loo prompted the sort of screams that made me wonder if I'd left the back door open and a pack of wild animals had rushed in looking for a trampoline to play on.
"How are they doing?" Came the text from my boyfriend ...
"Not too bad but they're sticking to me like a pair of barnacles today :( ."
In every way.
They both want mummy and neither wants the other one getting in on the action. One wants to listen to the theme tune from Wissper over and over again, the other wants to fall asleep to Thomas and Friends. Mummy wanted to try The Clangers for a bit of nostalgia. Both objected to this in the strongest possible terms. Neither can be put down, not for a moment.
So I have now learnt that when you have 2 vomiting children you should ...
1. ... make no plans, who knows when they will eat / sleep / throw up. Schedules are for another day.
2. Not attempt anything as ambitious as sending an email. You have one pair of hands which is already insufficient for today's tasks.
3. Put wet wipes and kitchen roll everywhere - you will need an endless supply and they provide 30 seconds of entertainment every couple of hours which may just save your sanity.
4. Attempt to shower but manage your expectations. You may only get as far as getting wet before they wake up (again) and the smell of vomit will linger on you all day long anyway.
5. Bring as many clothes as possible downstairs for all of you - there will be a lot of changes, and you cannot leave the room for a second once they are up.
6. Avoid contact with each other. If you can get them both snuggled in to you at the same time do not let their limbs touch - this will provoke the same sort of reaction as their brother / sister flushing their favourite toy down the loo in front of them.
7. Remember that once they are well, you will come down with the same bug and your toddlers will behave like Duracell bunnies with new batteries while you crawl on your hands and knees longing for those tired grumpy babies who drove you mad yesterday but stayed in one place and didn't want to play with loud, flashing toys that play terrible tunes on repeat. You will also realise they coped much better than you!
Finally, once I had convinced them both that they needed to sleep, I trudged back to start Operation Disinfection and I checked my phone, wondering what the rest of the world had been up to while I was trapped inside a bio-hazard zone, and something popped up on my Facebook feed - A Twibbon for World Prematurity Day, and I remembered.
I remembered 15 months and 3 weeks ago, when I was told my babies were coming 6 weeks early and it was going to happen right now. I remembered when 24 people flew into the operating theatre and the anesthetist held my hand. I remembered when my boyfriend couldn't cut the cords, when my babies were were being resuscitated before we had even glimpsed them. I remembered they were rushed to NICU and we were told we couldn't hold them, touch them even, and were reduced to staring at them in their tiny glass boxes with machines filling their tiny lungs with air. I remembered the tubes going into their tummies to feed them and wires and IVs all over their little bodies, their eyes were covered, masks over their mouths and we couldn't hold them. I remembered aching and longing just to pick them up. And I remembered the moment when they were 2 days old and finally we were allowed to put their tiny hands in ours for the very first time through the holes in their incubators.
After what felt like just a few seconds of staring at my phone, my daughter was awake again, making a very sad moaning noise. Then her brother woke up and made a very loud screaming noise. Suddenly I couldn't wait to get them back downstairs for cuddles.
So as I sat on the floor, covered in vomit (again) counting down the minutes until help arrived and desperately trying to keep their feet from touching, I felt pretty amazing. If these are my little limpets, that makes me their rock, and despite the back ache and smell of vomit, I wanted nothing more than to be the rock they cling to. My premies are incredible, tough, funny, resilient and they took all the traumas of their early weeks in their stride. if they can make it through all that, I can make it through a few more hours of sickness.
The next day, If my twins could text ...
TWIN 1: "Why does mummy keep running into the kitchen?"
TWIN 2: "I don't know but she's not cooking anything and she's making funny noises but she's not laughing."
TWIN 1: "She looks sad. Shall we play with her? Maybe it will cheer her up."
TWIN 2: "I would but I can't find all the good toys ...?"
TWIN 1: "I'm going to give her a cuddle and a dummy."
TWIN 2: "Me too!"
TWIN 1: "No I want to do it."
TWIN 2: "FFS* I've told you a thousand times, I don't like sharing."
TWIN 1: "Please? I like the way she smells today ... It's like dinner."
TWIN 1: "OK, but keep your feet to yourself."
World prematurity day is November 17th
This post first appeared on WDNOTM.com
* my twins will never, EVER, swear!